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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?
Enjoy an excerpt:
Emily plopped down onto a chair in the corner of the hall and tugged off her muddy boots while the guests began to retreat into the front parlor. She watched as Lady Bernice looped her gloved hand through Nicholas’s arm and laughed up into his smiling face before they disappeared behind the others.
Well, that was surprisingly easy. Nicholas hadn’t even looked at her, not once since he’d seen the lady standing in the hall surrounded by the welcoming throng.
Suddenly weary right down to her bones, Emily rose and made her way slowly up the long curving stair case and down the quiet hall. She found Tilly in her room bent over a hot iron.
“You’re back,” Tilly exclaimed. “Hurry, you must dress. We’ve another guest and she’s a pretty thing, for all that she’s a giant.”
“Yes,” Emily agreed.
“You’ve seen her then?”
“She’s quite impossible to miss.” Emily fell back onto her bed with a groan.
“What are you doing?” Tilly demanded. “Luncheon is in an hour and you need to bathe and I’ve to do something special with your hair. I thought this fine lavender dress would do nicely, makes your bosom look bigger.”
“Oh Tilly, are you thinking to dress me up to compete with that amazing creature?”
“What? That bovine is no competition for you! Get into the bath,” she nodded to the open door across the chamber and the steamy bathing room beyond.
“I’m tired. Just have a tray brought up.”
“And let that one steal your man right out from under you?”
“He is not my man and she’s welcome to him.”
“You listen to me, Emily Ann Calvert,” Tilly ground out between her teeth as she marched over to the bed. “You get your skinny butt into that bath.”
“All right, all right.” Emily held her hands up in surrender as she climbed off the bed. “Good Lord, child, when did you become a harridan?”
“When you lost sight of your wits.”
“I assure you I lost sight of my wits months and months ago.”
“Don’t I know it,” the girl muttered as she whipped off her mistress’s guernsey and went to work on the buttons of her shirt. “And enough is enough, miss. You’ve been wallowing in self-pity all these long months.”
“I have not.”
“Oh boo hoo, my worthless fiancé dropped me flat as a flapjack.” Tilly pushed Emily’s breaches down her legs, drawers and all.
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
“Oh woe is me, Da dragged me across the ocean to marry a stranger.” Tilly herded her into the bathing room and into the tub.
Emily laughed at the ferocious frown on the girl’s caramel-skinned face.
“Poor opium addled me, I’ve gone and stabbed myself right through the heart.” Tilly dunked her head under the water.
Emily came up sputtering and coughing water.
“Oh, it’s just so unfair, I’ve got a big strapping handsome man wants to marry me.” Tilly rubbed lilac-scented soap into her hair, digging her little fingers into her scalp.
“It’s my fortune he wants to marry,” Emily ground out.
“So what?” Tilly demanded before she dunked her head once more.
“Stop that,” Emily sputtered, water dripping into her eyes. “Are you trying to drown me?”
“Who cares if you use your fortune to catch him? The real trouble is you don’t think you can keep him once you’ve landed him.”
Emily had no argument. It was true. She did not believe for one moment she could ever hope to keep Nicholas Avery. And she would not share him.
“When did you begin to doubt yourself?” Tilly gently rubbed a soapy linen square over her mistress’s back, down her long arms. “You were always so sure of yourself, Em. As long as I’ve known you, my whole life, you never thought there was one thing on God’s green earth you couldn’t do. No matter who told you otherwise, no matter that maybe you shouldn’t ought to be doing them things. You always knew you could.”
About the Author: 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.
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