Derek Hale, Earl of Osterbrook, has inherited, following the death of Lord Montfort, a run down house in Yorkshire he neither needs nor wants, convinced his staff are robbing him, and with the mystery of a missing ward, he manages to get himself talked into a ridiculous bet, that he cannot pass as a steward until Midwinter, nearly two months away. So can he maintain the charade? Find the missing child? And manage to turn the shambles of a house around, or will he give up and let Peter take the thousand pounds he bet.
Derek is a simple horseman from the mountains, Stiles is an enthusiastic university graduate ready to make a name for himself. In any other situation, they would have gone their entire lives never having met. It’s probably a good thing then, that they both happened to be in the wrong place at the right time.
Stiles wakes up and suddenly the war is over, he’s no longer a penniless mage, and living in an exquisite manor married to the man he’s been in love with for far too long.
“It’ll be fine,” Stiles says gallantly. “I am certain I will just fall in love with my husband all over again, and I will find plenty of joy doing that.” He winks at Derek for good measure. Derek blinks.
Derek doesn’t expect much from his arranged marriage. When his inattentive husband, Lord Stiles Stilinski, tells him he’s free to look for a lover, he doesn’t know where to start, until a dashing bandit named the Red Fox catches his eye. ~ The Fox winks again. “Have a good night, Derek,” he purrs in a sultry tone, and then climbs back on the horse and disappears into the night. Derek walks up the path towards the manor in a daze, and it isn’t until he’s inside when he realizes he never told the Fox his name or where he lived.
Stiles was always a sick child. He was never supposed to live beyond his infancy—shocking many when he reaches adulthood. With his inevitable death looming over his country, Stiles chooses to accept a successor through marriage. His advisors commission a painter to capture the prince’s likeness in order to advertise him to potential candidates. Only, Derek Hale isn’t like most painters—or humans, for that matter.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single alpha in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a mate.
Whether or not Derek Hale felt that way was hardly a concern to the neighborhood — the very fact of his arrival was enough that the surrounding families seemed to consider him the rightful property of one or another of their eligible sons and daughters. That was, of course, before they met the man.
Stiles is an omega who is bullied by his beta stepmother into wearing a dress during the day, so when his new suitor turns out to be painfully shy around society he pretends to be a servant girl (a homely one) to get to know the real person, whilst his step mother tries to marry her alpha daughter to her omega ward despite neither of them want it, and the sheriff (called Josiah) tries to remain constantly drunk for the entire weekend.
Stiles Stilinski has lived 19 years without revealing his secret. He’s a fine gentleman, a stellar horseman, and a sassy addition to any conversation, but he keeps his true feelings to himself. When the Hale family moves into the county, the Stilinski’s throw a ball in their honor and Stiles in swept up into the gravity of the eldest son. Propriety tells him to keep his distance, but can he ignore the urges pulling them ever closer? At first sight, Stiles is already undone.