The perky Lydia Villers is determined to leave behind her life as a social butterfly and do what she's always dreamed of doing, pursue a career in natural philosophy. A shame the only scientist available to assist her is the one man she had once hoped to wed.
The brilliant Frederick, Viscount Worthington, Worth to his friends, has been betrayed too many times, including by the bubbly beauty who now wants to work at his side. How can he believe Lydia's intentions are true this time? After all, someone is intent of sabotaging his efforts to create the perfect hot air balloon. But with the help of Miss Thorn and her beloved cat Fortune, the enthusiastic young lady and the wary lord might just discover that only together do they make the perfect chemistry.
This sweet, clean Regency romance is the sequel to Never Envy an Earl. Fortune's Brides: Only a matchmaking cat can hunt true love.
Here's a little taste:
Lydia was the picture of domesticity. Scarlet fabric flowed across her lap to pool on the floor on either side of the spindle-backed chair. Head bowed so the glow from the lamp on the table beside her glinted on pale curls, she took careful, even stitches. Something inside Worth unfurled, warmed, as if he'd come to the hearth after a long time in the snow.
She inserted her needle in the pin cushion on the table, smoothed her hands over the fabric, picked it up, and
He took a step back, and she must have noticed the movement, for she glanced up with her usual sweet smile.
"Experiment number twelve," she announced.
He ventured into the room, feeling as if the walls leaned too near on either side. Now that he looked closer, he could see any number of holes in the fabric, thread hanging.
"Unsuccessful?" he asked.
"I suspect it depends on your measure of success," she said, voice cheerful. "Miss Pankhurst advised me to attempt a stronger bond between two panels. I have attempted several lengths of stitches and now width, as in rows set side by side. So far, none has prevented the fabric from tearing on a good tug."
"Perhaps you should test the strength of your thread," he suggested.
She held up the spool. "I was only given one strength. Perhaps you could remedy that."
"I'll speak to Charlotte."
She nodded. "Nothing coarse, I think. Silk, three-ply at least, undyed."
Here less than a day and already she was dictating. "Rather specific. Your reasoning?"
"A hypothesis, if you will." The world sounded strange on those rosy lips. "Miss Pankhurst reports that the more tightly woven fabric best meets the criteria you provided her, which she is, apparently, not at liberty to tell me. The combing and dying process must provide some stress on the thread. Therefore, tightly woven, undyed thread might also meet your criteria."
Flawless. He bowed to her. "Madam, you impress me."
She picked up her needle and drove it into the fabric. "I also hypothesize that you are too easily impressed."
Worth straightened. "Based on what evidence?"
She began sewing again. "You must have accepted my brother's word before pursuing me last year, though I'm certain you could have found evidence to suggest it wasn't your best course. You accepted my word initially, with insufficient evidence in the end to sustain it. You obviously accepted someone else's word against mine. I can vouch for my brother's insincerity, and my own sincerity. Of course, I don't know who commented against me or perhaps you simply realized your mistake."
His heart was pounding painfully, as if each thrust of her needle pierced it. "Lydia, I "
She sighed. "Thirteen. I really could use that thread. Perhaps you could find some."
As soon as he found his dignity again.