Wealthy Regency heiress Eugennia Welch is afraid to tell her bluestocking friends the truth: she secretly wishes a handsome prince would ride in and propose marring. When charming Corinthian Kevin Whattling does just that, she is stunned. He claims to have admired her for some time, but only came forward now because he must marry an heiress to discharge his debts. How can she believe anything he says?
Once one of the most successful intelligence agents among the aristocracy, Kevin Whattling gave up his commission when his younger brother was killed in an illegal boxing match. Now deep in debt, his only hope is to marry a wealthy wife. But as he tries to convince Jenny he is besotted, he finds himself falling under her spell. When a danger from Kevin's past threatens them both, they must trust each other to win a love far greater than any fortune.
This sweet traditional Regency romance was originally published as The Bluestocking on His Knee by Zebra.
Finalist, Booksellers Best Award
"A very entertaining story with a fresh approach." Rendezvous
"A quirky, charming novel." Numbers on the Spine blog
Here's a taste:
She would accept nothing less than complete honesty. He admired her for it. He put on his most solemn face. "Very well, if you insist. I am grossly in debt and only a quick and advantageous marriage can keep me from Debtor's Prison. I have been told I could have any woman in England. I'm sentimental enough to want to feel at least a little affection for the woman I marry. I've looked over the prospects carefully, and you were my first choice." His grin broke free. "In short, Miss Eugennia Welch, I intend to marry you."
He knew it was a bold statement, but the lady before him froze and stared at him, eyes wide, and he had a sudden sinking feeling he had overplayed his hand. She recovered her composure with an obvious effort and rose to stride majestically to the door. Convention demanded that he rise as well, but he did so with a tremor. She was going to order him out, perhaps even direct her staff to toss him down the steps for his audacity. He didn't like having to defend himself against the elderly butler.
She threw open the door, and he tensed.
"Fiching, leave Mr. Whattling and me alone for a time, if you please," she said to her retainer, who looked surprisingly stunned for one whose profession required an impassive front. "Leave the door open and see that we are not disturbed. If I raise my voice, you are to come in immediately with Stevens and Jenkins."
He looked at her askance, then bowed before what he saw in her face. She turned to Kevin.
She was an open book. Every feeling, every thought flashed across that expressive face. Disappointment in him, as if she had hoped he might be different than the other men who had been rumored to have proposed. Embarrassment that she had once more met a man who preferred the fortune to its owner. Chagrin her servants would soon know of it unless the butler was more close-mouthed than most. The way she clasped her hands behind her back was a clear attempt to calm herself.
"Mr. Whattling," she said firmly, "I appreciate your frankness. Let me be equally honest." She opened her mouth, then shut it again, as if seeking the right words. He made himself remain still, waiting. Finally, she sighed. "We can have little in common. What makes you think we could possibly suit?"
He couldn't help his grin. "Come driving with me and you might find out."