Linda McLaughlin. A woman of many faces. Here she’ll treat us to some historical romance. Elsewhere, writing under the name of Lyndi Lamont, she co-writes ‘steamy to erotic romance’ with Lyn O’Farrell. Yeah, you heard me. With her good girl’s face on she can be pleasantly improper. Lady Elinor can’t make up her mind how much she wants to wait. And her abusive aunt’s probably uptight cos she’s not getting it anymore (if she ever did). Linda tells me she’s bipolar, there’s nothing wrong with her that a little lithium in the water wouldn’t cure. The aunt, of course, not Linda. Some Greek philosopher it was who said there isn’t a thing a good rodgering can’t put straight. Good man!
Lady Elinor. Here’s her dilemma:
‘Lady Elinor Ashworth always longed for adventure, but when she runs away from her abusive aunt, she finds more than she bargained for. Elinor fears her aunt who is irrational and dangerous, threatening Elinor and anyone she associates with. When she encounters an inquisitive gentleman, she accepts his help, but fearing for his safety, hides her identity by pretending to be a seamstress. She resists his every attempt to draw her out, all the while fighting her attraction to him.
There are too many women in barrister Stephen Chaplin’s life, but he has never been able to turn his back on a damsel in distress. The younger son of a baronet is a rescuer of troubled females, an unusual vocation fueled guilt over his failure to save the woman he loved from her brutal husband. He cannot help falling in love with his secretive seamstress, but to his dismay, the truth of her background reveals Stephen as the ineligible party.’
“Would you like to take a walk? There is a remarkable view of the city from the top of the hill, but do not forget your bonnet. You do not wish to get freckles on that lovely complexion.” He playfully touched the tip of her nose with one finger.
She laughed and donned the straw hat, but left her gloves on the blanket. “I never freckle.”
He moved closer to tie the ribbons under her chin. The brush of his hands on her neck sent shivers through her.
“We do not want your hat to blow off. It can be windy on the hill.”
He stood and held out his hand to help her up. She was acutely aware of the warmth of his bare hand enfolding hers. It was quite improper but also quite pleasant. Fingers linked, they trudged up the hill.
“Oh,” Elinor gasped softly when they reached the top. London lay before her, viewed through a slight haze. Nevertheless, she could see the spires of the city’s many churches. The sheer size and scope of the panorama comforted her. Surely, in such a large city, Aunt Sarah would not find her.
“Worth the walk, is it not?” Stephen Chaplin said as he let go her hand and stood behind her. He put one hand on her shoulder and used the other one to point out various landmarks. “There is St. Paul’s. Do you see the dome?”
“Yes,” she whispered, acutely aware of his closeness. The heat of his body seemed to envelope her and she breathed in his scent, a combination of soap and musk. She had to force herself to concentrate on what he was saying.
“That is the City, and over there,” his arm swept to the right, “is Westminster and Mayfair. And in the distance, you can see the hills of Kent.”
She looked past the city and saw the faint outline of hills. Turning around, she smiled up at him. “It is a lovely view. How can I thank you for such a pleasant day?”
His gaze grew more intense and he leaned toward her. Was he going to kiss her? Should she let him? Of course not, her head answered, but her heart sped up and she leaned toward him.
Then he blinked and abruptly drew back. “There is no need to thank me. It has been my pleasure. Now we had best return. Madame Latour will be wondering what has happened to you.”
Oddly disappointed, Elinor let him lead her back down the hill. For just a second she had thought he might kiss her. Had wanted him to kiss her. She sighed. What was wrong with her? Under the circumstances, it would be beyond the pale for her to lead him on. After all, she would only be in London a short time, just until her father sent for her. She needed to concentrate on getting word to him about her predicament.
Before she lost all sense of the propriety demanded of the daughter of an earl.
All form and propriety it was back in those days. Playing the waiting game. Talk about making life hard for yourself. But I love reads like this one. You get to see how ingenious people can be. Women in particular. The cunning behind the beauty. Stiff upper lips will melt, believe me!
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