USA Today bestselling and Rita Award-winning author Lorraine Heath has created a lush, emotional love story.
Camilla Hutchenson, countess, sponsor, darling of the ton, has reached a staggering level of social power. But one man has managed to distract her attention from her schedule of charity endeavours and teas - and not just because he holds the deed to her estate.
The man in question, Archibald Warner, is the new Earl of Sachse. Though at first meeting he suspects his new ward of being nothing more than a social bit of fluff, the more time passes, the more he finds himself drawn to her. But there is something she is hiding from him, and she hesitates to show him her real heart, even though she wishes she could learn to trust him with it. For somehow she knowsâ¦if only she can give him the chance, he will teach her everything she could hope to learn about love.
"Honestly, Sachse, I don't know how you expect to find a suitable wife if you refuse to be fitted for new clothing."
Archibald Warner, the seventh Earl of Sachse, watched as Camilla Warner, his predecessor's widow, paced before him, clearly agitated, wringing her delicate hands, furrowing her youthful brow. While the previous earl had been older than any man Arch had ever known -- not that he'd ever met the fellow, and based upon what he'd learned so far he was rather glad that he hadn't -- his widow was two years Arch's junior. And the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen.
Today she wore a fashionable dress of the palest pink silk, which accentuated her trim figure and complemented her alabaster skin. She was quite at home in his residence -- it had been part of her husband's holdings -- and had removed her decorative hat upon entering his library. The sunlight pouring through the windows glinted off her upswept brown hair, touching upon it and causing it to glisten, making it appear that many of the strands had been spun from gold.
All Season, she'd been an exemplary hostess, accompanying him on most of his outings, introducing him to this duke and that earl, this marquess, that viscount. She knew the history of every aristocratic family and details about their lives that some might prefer she didn't know. Without looking in Debrett's, she could advise on the proper hierarchy and where one should be seated based on rank so as not to give offense to anyone else at the table.
He was truly amazed that she'd mastered all the etiquette and protocol, which he tended to bumble. He couldn't have been more grateful for her assistance ... usually.
This afternoon being a rare exception.
She'd arrived at his residence only moments ago and before he could even offer a proper greet-ing, she promptly began to scold him because he had no desire to be fitted with new clothing. Rather he preferred to sit in his library -- the only advantage he'd found so far to being the earl was the abundance of books at his disposal -- and finish reading the novel he'd begun yesterday. He often wondered if he should advise Camilla when she went off on one of her tirades that he'd served for a time in Her Majesty's army and was quite skilled with a rifle.
"Sachse, have you listened to a single word I've spoken?"
He looked into her earnest brown eyes. She cared so much about things for which he cared nothing. And yet the intensity with which she cared intrigued him.
"Perhaps I should simply marry you; then I would not have to be concerned with a new wardrobe." Or a good many other things come to think of it. The notion did have some merit.
Although judging by the exaggerated rolling of her eyes, she disagreed. "You cannot marry me. I am barren. You must marry a woman who can provide you with an heir."
She spoke with practicality, but as always, he heard her hesitation and her slight quiver over the word barren. She tried so hard to appear unfeeling, but he'd long ago deduced that it was simply a well rehearsed act. Much of her behavior was a performance, which more often than not irritated him because she did not trust him enough to reveal her true self.
Whatever had the old earl done to make her think that she was naught but an actress upon his stage?
"Therefore," she continued, "you must see your tailor when he arrives this afternoon and not find yet another excuse to leave the house before he gets here."
"I have very little interest in securing a woman who places such high regard on the cut of my jacket."
"It is not your jacket that will impress her, but rather what it tells her about you."
"Which would be what exactly?"