Any Time. Any Place. Any Day. Getaway.

Love Birds of Regent's Park
by Ruth J. Hartman

Product Information

Genre: Historical Romance

Length: 150 pages

ISBN: 9781940695006

Heat Level: 1

eBook Price: $.99

Print Book: $6.56

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Lucy Ashbrook finds a pleasant diversion when she visits the Regent's Park Bird Sanctuary to sketch the different birds that live there. Birds aren't the only pleasing thing she finds, though. A certain Sanctuary worker, Oliver Barrow, has stolen her heart. But Lucy's father will have none of it. No daughter of his will marry a common laborer.

Oliver Barrow loves everything about his work at the Sanctuary. The birds, the trees, the ponds...a certain young miss who mesmerizes him. Miss Ashbrook is beautiful and sweet and shares his love of birds. But Oliver has a secret that just might get in the way of anything more than friendship developing between them. And he can't share that secret with her. Not yet.

How can Lucy convince her father of Oliver's worth? That love isn't just for the birds?

Chapter One


London, England
1814


Lord Conrad Croome, the fifth Earl of Lofton, glared at the back of Alfred’s head as he followed the butler to Mr. Ashbrook’s study. Portraits of generations of the indecently wealthy family lined the dark paneled walls of the entryway. The smell of beeswax rose from the wood and tickled his nose. Certainly, Ashbrook could afford to spare no expense in the care and furnishing of his vast estate.
At long last, after years of showing up at the man’s home every week, sitting quietly in the parlor with Lucy and biding his time...Conrad had the means to force Ashbrook into giving him what he wanted. What he deserved.
The butler turned and motioned toward the open doorway. “He will see you now, Lord Lofton.”
“Thank you.” The words leached out from between Conrad’s clenched teeth. No use letting on to Ashbrook that things between him and the servant were anything other than a visitor to the home thanking a servant.
“Very good, my lord.” Alfred appeared to be docile and subservient. Of course, Conrad now knew the man would betray his employer for enough money.
The door snapped closed behind him. Conrad smiled at the top of Mr. Ashbrook’s bent head and waited for the older man to acknowledge him. The large study, paneled in wood, smelled of cigar smoke. A window behind the settee allowed a glimpse of the massive, manicured lawn.
After today, things will be different. This is the last time I shall be required to wait. He nervously tapped the large portfolio of valuable papers beneath his coat.
Ashbrook glanced up and frowned. The man always wore a frown. That feature, added to his bulky frame, could be quite off-putting. “Lofton. Have a seat.” He looked back down at the papers strewn about his desk as if Conrad wasn’t even there.
In but a few moments, he’ll be treating me with much more respect.
Conrad walked to the settee across from the large desk and sat. And waited. Nervous energy caused him to fidget. His fingers drummed on his knees and his boots tapped. Nothing he told himself made a difference. It was as if he couldn’t stay calm.
“Well?”
Conrad gasped and jumped.
“What’s gotten into you, Lofton? See a ghost?”
“N-no...of course not.”
Ashbrook waved a hand at the papers on his desk. “What’s it to be? Haven’t got the whole of the day now do I?”
Resentment at being treated lower than mud on the man’s boot washed over Conrad. How dare he? Fidgeting was replaced by calm assurance that Mr. Ashbrook would indeed speak to him. Now.
Lucy’s father rolled his eyes. “Speak your piece, man, so I can—”
Conrad held out a hand toward Ashbrook.
The older man stopped mid-sentence and stared, opened-mouthed. “How dare you interrupt me in my own home? Why, I have a mind to—”
“To what?”
Ashbrook stood. His meaty hands squeezed into fists. “I’ll not put up with—”
“Sit. Down.
Widening his eyes, Mr. Ashbrook stared at him. “I beg your pardon?”
Conrad patted his coat. “Trust me when I tell you that you will indeed want to hear what I have to say.”
“You can’t speak to me that way.” He looked toward the closed door. “Alfred! Get in here!”
The door remained closed.
“Alfred!”
Silence mocked Ashbrook’s bellow for assistance.
Conrad smiled. “Perhaps your butler is otherwise engaged.”
Ashbrook stared toward the door a few seconds longer and slowly swung his gaze to Conrad. “I don’t know what you think you’re doing. Perhaps you’re foxed. Or Bedlam might be your next stop. But there must be some explanation for your outrageous behavior, Lofton. And if you think you are going to marry Lucy now that you’ve—”
“Oh yes. I’ll marry her.”
“She’ll not be giving her inheritance to the likes of you.”
Conrad removed the papers from his coat. “She will, and you’ll give her to me gladly.” He tapped the top of the portfolio. “And you’ll be giving me much, much more than just her inheritance when we marry.”
“But—”
“In fact, as soon as I disclose what’s in this envelope, you will grant me anything I ask for.”
Red, the shade of a sunset, covered Ashbrook’s round face. His gaze slid to Conrad’s hand. He lowered his brows to a frown. “What’s that?”
“If you sit down, I will tell you all about it.”
Ashbrook opened his mouth but no words came out. He plopped onto the chair. Air whooshed out from his mouth with a low whistle. “Fine. I’m sitting. Get it over with, whatever this thing is you feel is so important. Then you’re leaving and never returning.”
“I think not.” Conrad opened the portfolio, tugged the pages free, and placed them on his lap. “You see, it has come to my attention that you have some very lucrative business heading your way.”
“I am a successful business man, Lofton. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have all that I do.”
Conrad nodded. “True. However, this information is very specific.”
“Preposterous. You’d have no way of knowing anything about my business unless I had told you myself.”
“Perhaps that was the case. Before.”
“Before?”
Conrad waved the pages back and forth.
Ashbrook narrowed his eyes. “You keep fumbling with those blasted papers. What do they contain?”
“Secrets. Yours.
“I’ve heard enough.” He stood abruptly. His chair legs scraped the floor as he pushed away from the desk.
Conrad remained seated. “No. I think not. You see, Jeffrey. May I call you Jeffrey? Or would you prefer Father, since I will soon marry into your family?”
Ashbrook’s eyes bulged. “I don’t know what’s gotten into you, Lofton, but I’ll not put up with any further nonsense!”
“I wouldn’t call something that will double your fortune nonsense.
“But...I—”
“Yes, that’s right. What I have in my possession is proof of your future deal with Lord Proust.”
“Impossible! Why no one else knows...how did you come by that?”
“That’s my secret. And no, I won’t be sharing it with you.”
“A spy!” Ashbrook looked wildly about the room as if someone might be hiding in a corner or behind the drapes. “Who’s been spying on me? My servants are all trustworthy, and Lucy is too stupid to do something like that.”
“You won’t find out who gave me the information. What remains, however, is how we will go about you giving me half of your earnings through Proust.”
“Even if you do have the information you claim to have, there’s no way in—”
“Let’s be reasonable, Jeffrey. I’ve read through these documents thoroughly. And I was smart enough to create a copy for myself. It seems you and Proust have formed an alliance that might be of interest to the public. Shall we say an...illegal alliance? That certainly wouldn’t make you popular now, would it? And I’d wager you’d lose a vast number of business associates as a result.”
Ashbrook ground his teeth together so violently that Conrad heard it from several feet away. He stormed toward Conrad and thrust out his hand.
Conrad tilted his head. “Certainly have a look. As I said, that’s not my only copy.”
He lowered his eyebrows and read the first page, his eyes moving left to right across the paper. Then on to the second, third, and fourth. With each page, his face grew redder.
Conrad sat quietly and waited. His heart thumped in his chest. It was going to happen. He was finally going to get his due!
Crushing the pages in his hand, Ashbrook threw them on the floor. He paced across the room from his desk to the door and back.
And still, Conrad waited.
Ashbrook stopped abruptly and closed his eyes. When he opened them, he peered directly at Conrad. “I see you are in possession of what you claim. I seem to be at your mercy, Lofton. What’s it to be, then?”
Conrad stood. “To begin with, I want to marry your daughter. As soon as possible.”

Ruth J. Hartman spends her days herding cats and her nights spinning sweet romantic tales that make you smile, giggle, or laugh out loud. She, her husband, and their three cats love to spend time curled up in their recliners watching old Cary Grant movies. Well, the cats, Maxwell, Roxy, and Remmie, sit in the people's recliners. Not that the cats couldn't get their own furniture. They just choose to shed on someone else's. You know how selfish those little furry creatures can be.

Ruth, a left-handed, cat-herding, Jeep driving, farmhouse-dwelling romance writer uses her goofy sense of humor as she writes tales of lovable, klutzy women and the men who adore them. Ruth's husband and best friend, Garry, reads her manuscripts, rolls his eyes at her weird story ideas, and loves her in spite of her penchant for insisting all of her books have at least one cat in them. Or twelve. But hey, who's counting?

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