One good proposition deserves another…
Heiress Augusta Meredith can’t help herself—she stirs up gossip wherever she goes. A stranger to Bath society, she pretends to be a charming young widow, until sardonic, darkly handsome Joss Everett arrives from London and uncovers her charade.
Augusta persuades Joss to keep her secret in exchange for a secret of his own. Weaving their way through the treacherous pitfalls of a polite world only too eager to expose and condemn them, they begin to see that being true to themselves is not so bad…as long as they’re true to each other…
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She tilted her head, setting the loose curl free again. “Are you doing what you wish?”
Doing what he wished? No, of course he wasn’t.
Right now he wished he could make her smile as she had when giving away her gloves. He wished he could dispense with his conscience and plead for her to take him as a lover. He wished he could pluck the pins from her sunset hair and send it tumbling over her naked skin, wished he could stop kissing her only to make her cry out in pleasure.
But always, in the face of a wish, came prosaic reality. A scarred wooden table, a plate of mutton and potatoes, a wedge of cheese. An adequate fire and a roof over one’s head. Such a reality was perfectly acceptable, even if it didn’t hold the luster of a gemlike fantasy.
“I try to wish,” he said in a calm voice, “for what I know I might attain. For respectable employment for a reasonable wage. For a reasonable employer.”
This brought a faint smile to her features, but the expression fell away in another instant. “That seems a very small dream.”
“What on earth do you mean by that? It’s a very suitable dream.”
“But it’s not really a dream, is it? It’s what you have now, just shuffled about a bit.”
Again, he folded his arms. She lifted her hands, placating. “As you say, it’s perfectly suitable. And if you insist that it’s exactly what you want, then I suppose it is a dream, after all.”
Of course it wasn’t a dream. It was good sense. It was practicality. “I don’t know what else I ought to wish for. This is my life. I am a man of business for a nobleman.” Remembering Chatfield’s words, he added, “I am not in bodily danger, nor in mortal peril. It could be far worse.”
“It could be. But if you want it to be better...”
“Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to buy happiness.”
“No one is fortunate enough for that.” She turned over her fork and scratched the tines into the surface of the table. “That’s not what I meant. I know happiness can’t be bought, or I would have bought it.”
Historical romance author Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in the Midwest, where she is working on her next book.
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