by Lynne Barron
What’s an American heiress to do when a pair of britches, a plunge into a pond in the dead of winter and a broken betrothal force her to set sail across the ocean to an arranged marriage with a fortune hunting Englishman?
With her hopes and dreams sinking to the bottom of the sea like so much lost treasure, Emily Calvert falls into the pretty poison she finds in a little blue bottle.
Can Nicholas Avery, a charming aristocrat with a faulty memory for names and a family in dire need of financial salvation, convince the wounded lady that the blessed oblivion she finds in his arms is sweeter than opium?
When Emily’s movements stopped Nick looked up to find her standing in the wash of sunlight streaming in through the open hayloft door, her hands on her hips. “You must stop doing this.”
Nick smiled at the picture she presented, a fiery fallen angel with a bemused smile on her lush red lips and her coiffure listing to one side. “Why?”
“Why?” she repeated with a huff of amused irritation. “Because you must find a wife and you won’t find one so long as you spend all your time following me about stealing kisses.”
“I’ve found a wife,” he stated and chuckled when her eyes widened.
“I am not going to marry you, Nicholas Avery.”
“Oh,” she cried in exasperation as she spun to grab up her coat and march down the narrow steps, leaving Nick no choice but to follow her from the dairy barn.
Nick fell into step beside her, smiled when she tucked her hand around his arm in what was surely an unconscious gesture.
“You have a duty to your family,” she told him primly.
“I’m fully aware of my duty.”
“I would hate for you to find yourself married to the Nasty Baggage, or one such as her.”
“I’m certain I would hate it even more.”
“I’ve a mind to help you,” she said, her words slipping into the slow drawl, part Irish brogue and part southern belle, that never failed to send desire thrumming through his blood.
“Help me, will you?” he asked, copying her cadence.
“Someone must,” she replied. “Lord knows you’re likely to make a muck of it if left to your own devices.”
Nick stopped walking, threw his head back and roared with laughter. Emily was right, he’d made an absolute muck of his courtship of this complicated woman.
“I’m that sure I don’t know what has you hollering like a loon, but just stop it right this instant before someone comes along and decides it’s the bin for you,” she admonished but Nick didn’t miss the humor sparkling in her eyes.
“The loony bin.”
“Ah that bin,” he murmured, thinking an asylum just might be exactly where he belonged for thinking he could simply woo Emily Calvert, kiss her into submission.
“Come along then,” she said, tugging on his arm to get him moving once more. “If you’re a good boy, I’ll help you to find a nice little heiress, perhaps not one with red hair but surely one with a store of useless knowledge.”
“I’ll not have her if she isn’t in possession of a tangle of fiery curls and emerald eyes,” he declared with a wolfish grin.
“Nonsense, I have it on good authority that Englishmen prefer golden curls and china blue eyes.”
“Not this Englishman.”
“Now then, Aunt Margaret is expecting another herd of broad mares in three days’ time,” she replied, ignoring his softly spoken words. “If I know my aunt, and believe you me I do, this lot will be superior to the first, seeing as how she only invited them as window dressing.”
“Figured that out, did you?” he asked.
“As soon as I met them. Although I was thrown off by the inclusion of Miss Sanderson.”
“She’s here for Carmichael.”
“And a lovely match they’ll make,” she agreed. “Especially as he isn’t in need of her fortune.”
“Is that why you don’t want to marry me? Because I am in need of your fortune?”
Emily’s astonished gaze flew to his. “I’m not so naïve as to think that matches aren’t made every day with an eye to financial gain. On both sides. I only meant that Adelaide Sanderson will not have to wonder if it’s her fortune or her person Lord Carmichael wants.”
“I want both. No, that’s not right. I wish it weren’t so, but I need your fortune. You, I want.”
“It’ll pass,” she replied airily. “Once we’ve matched you with the perfect wife, I’ll become a distant memory. Years from now, if you remember me at all, it’ll be to laugh about how you kissed me in the stables thinking I was the stable master’s daughter.”
Write About What You Know.
Every Creative Writing Teacher and College Professor said these words to Lynne Barron in one form or another. But what did she know?
She knew she enjoyed the guilty pleasure of reading romance novels whenever she could find time between studying, working and raising her son as a single mother.
She knew quite a bit about women’s lives in the Regency and Victorian era from years spent bouncing back and forth between European History and English Literature as a major in college.
She knew precious little about romance except to know that it was more than the cliché card and a dozen red roses on Valentine’s Day.
Then she met her wonderfully romantic husband and finally she knew.
Passion, Love and Romance.
And she began to write.
If you would like to learn more about Lynne Barron and the Idyllwild Series, please visit her website at LynneBarron.com or follow her at Facebook:
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