Kasey Michaels

A Gentleman By Any Other Name

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      Praise for USA TODAY bestselling author


      “Michaels has done it again…. Witty dialogue peppers a plot full of delectable details exposing the foibles and follies of the age.”

      —Publishers Weekly, starred review on

      The Butler Did It

      “Michaels truly shines in this gem of a historical romance rich in witty dialogue and intriguing political maneuverings.”

      —Booklist on Shall We Dance?

      “If you want emotion, humor and characters you can love, you want a story by Kasey Michaels.”

      —New York Times bestselling author Joan Hohl

      “Kasey Michaels aims for the heart and never misses.”

      —New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts

      “Kasey Michaels creates characters who stick with you long after her wonderful stories are told.”

      —New York Times bestselling author Kay Hooper

      “Michaels demonstrates her flair for creating likable protagonists who possess chemistry, charm and a penchant for getting into trouble. In addition, her dialogue and descriptions are full of humor.”

      —Publishers Weekly on This Must Be Love

      Kasey Michaels

      A Gentleman by Any Other Name

      Dear Reader,

      In the twelfth century Thomas à Becket was assassinated at Canterbury on the alleged orders of his friend King Henry II. Legend has it that Henry ordered Thomas’s body burned and the bones scattered. It is possible the remains, buried in the cathedral at Canterbury, were found and destroyed during the Reformation. Then again, the monks may have hidden the body, even interred the bones in another man’s grave.

      Perhaps this is why Ainsley Becket, a student of history, among his other, varied and not always laudable pursuits, found a small, secret satisfaction in coming to Kent in 1798, bearing the name A. Becket. For he, too, had been “murdered” by his best friend, and he had relocated himself to a place where he would not easily be found.

      With him, Ainsley had brought his children, those of his heart, and Cassandra, the infant his beloved Isabella had borne him. His children. His redemption, his promise, his reason for drawing breath, his hostages to fortune.

      Over the ensuing years the second oldest, Courtland, became Ainsley’s strength, his rock. Morgan, the fiery one, had been orphaned when her sailor father, name unknown, buttoned his pants and got up from the lice-ridden bed of her prostitute mother, who had sold her to Ainsley the day she was born.

      Then there was Eleanor, Ainsley’s sea sprite, his delicate flower, his conscience. Spencer, the wild one, was Ainsley’s potential heartbreak, with Fanny and Rian hotly contending for the same honors.

      And lastly, there was the oldest, Chance, the boy Ainsley had rescued from a Port-au-Prince pub. Old enough to remember his beginnings, Chance had spent all of his thirty years trying to forget.

      I invite you to come along with me as we meet Chance and all of the Beckets of Romney Marsh.


      To Michael Robert Seidick.

       Welcome to the world!






























      London, 1811

      CHANCE BECKET SAT IN the formal drawing room of his Georgian house located in Upper Brook Street, not two blocks from Hyde Park, unaware of his expensive, fashionable surroundings.

      No, not unaware. Uncaring.

      How could he not care? Wasn’t this what he wanted, what he’d always wanted? What he worked for, what he longed for…what he had achieved almost entirely on his own?

      Perhaps that was the rub. He had done nothing entirely on his own. His extensive education had been a gift from his father, Ainsley Becket, the mysterious, reclusive and very wealthy Becket of Romney Marsh.

      This house? This house had been a gift from his late father-in-law. Even the furnishings, the fine silk sofa he slouched in now, had come to him along with his wife, Beatrice.

      Chance sipped from the wineglass that had moments earlier dangled from his fingertips, nearly spilling onto the fine Aubusson carpet.

      He was a sham, a farce, living no more than the shallow dream of a reality that had fallen far short of all his youthful expectations. Gentlemen were born, not constructed out of whole cloth. All he’d achieved was the pretty shell; there was nothing pretty inside.

      And yet, this was all he had, all he could ever hope to have, which was why Alice had to be rescued from him before she became as shallow and unfeeling as himself.

      “Mr. Becket, sir? There is still one more waiting on you downstairs. Perhaps you are fatigued. Shall I send her off? Or do you wish to see her?”

      Chance blinked away his self-pitying thoughts as he looked at his butler. “Forgive me, Gibbons, I’m afraid I was woolgathering. What a thoroughly depressing afternoon this has been. But there’s another woman? I had thought that profane Billingsgate drab was the last of them.”

      “Oh, no, sir, there’s still the one more, and I apologize again that Mrs. Gibbons still feels too poorly to have handled this chore herself and you’ve had to take the trouble. She’d be up and about if she could be, sir, but her nose is still running a treat and—”

      “The last applicant, Gibbons, if you will. Concentrate, please. Time is running short if I am to have someone for Alice before we leave.”

      “Oh, yes, sir. This last is younger than the rest, sir, and with a civil tongue in her head, if I may say so.”

      “Please, Gibbons, don’t raise my hopes. And please don’t apologize yet again for your wife’s illness. I’m sure she didn’t take to her bed with that putrid cold you keep telling me about simply to thwart me in my hour of need.”

      “Yes, sir. I’m sorry, sir. That is—”