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About Pretty Poison
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?
Emily took an unsteady step back, then another. Nicholas dropped his hands to his thighs, leaned his head back against the tree and closed his eyes. His chest rose and fell, his panting breath sawing in and out through his open mouth.
Nicholas opened his eyes and looked at her the very same way her brother Charlie looked at her when he knew he’d been found out in some mischief. “You never told me.”
“You never asked,” she countered.
“A gentleman does not ask a lady her given name.”
“Oh, are we pretending you are a gentleman?”
He had the grace to look abashed, but only barely.
“Did my aunt never tell you?”
“Yes, I’m sure she did.”
“You forgot? We were nearly betrothed to be married and you could not be bothered to remember my name? Why did you not ask your father or your brother? Surely they…” her words faded away when he slowly shook his head.
“I kept thinking someone would say it eventually. Then it became something of a family joke…” It was his turn to allow his words to wither away.
“A family joke,” she repeated.
“No, not a joke precisely, more a humorous game,” he amended.
“But when you followed me into the stables, surely you could have asked me then?”
He looked away from her intent gaze. “I didn’t recognize you.”
“You didn’t recognize me?” she repeated as realization dawned. “When you kissed me, who did you think you were kissing?”
Nicholas cringed at the question.
“Who?” she demanded desperately.
“The stable master’s daughter,” he admitted with a wry shrug.
Emily opened her mouth, snapped it shut again. There were no words. No words for the ridiculousness of the situation in which she found herself.
“What’s your name?” he finally inquired with what she supposed was meant to be a charming, self-deprecating smile.
But Emily didn’t feel like being charmed and she wasn’t for a moment fooled by his attempt at boyish humility.
“Good Lord, you really are a stallion in search of a mare,” she finally said, amazement lacing the words.
“No.” He lurched away from the tree trunk, tripped over a gnarled root, righted himself. But Emily was already turning away from him, turning toward the path that would lead her back to her aunt’s house, back to face his family, who had made her into a joke.
“Wait, Miss Calvert,” he called as he ran to catch up to her.
He laid a hand on her arm as if to halt her. She shrugged his hand away and picked up her pace.
“Please, just let me explain,” he said as he fell into step beside her.
“There’s nothing to explain, I understand perfectly,” she said, proud of how calm and controlled her voice sounded. “You are in need of a broad mare and any lady will do. And while you are making up your mind, you will kiss whomever you please.”
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.