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Wenna Chenoweth’s future is secure, until dashing Devon Courtney’s illicit flirtation gets her dismissed from her job as a lady’s maid. With nowhere to turn, Wenna is forced to accept Devon’s bold proposal: To be his bride. To enter society on the handsome aristocrat’s arm. To give him the heir he requires. It’s a foolproof plan. Except Wenna finds herself falling hard for a man who can never love her for who she is….
Wenna is passionate, mysterious, and ill-suited to the idle life of a society wife. She’s also exactly the kind of woman who could endanger Devon’s hopes to build his own future far from his family’s influence. For the spirited beauty has embarked on an unthinkable plan of her own—one that could lead him to surrender his resolve, and sacrifice everything he believes he holds dear….
Yet amid the wondrous landscape of colonial South Australia, anything is possible. Perhaps even love between two people the boundaries of society would keep apart….
After a harrowing tour of duty abroad, Captain Lord Henry Challoner fought to keep his memories at bay with two of his preferred vices: liquor and ladies. But the gin did more harm than good—as did Henry’s romantic entanglements, since he was supposed to be finding a suitable bride. Next stop: The tiny village of Gloucestershire, where Henry can finally sober up without distraction or temptation. Or so he thinks…
A simple country schoolteacher, Rachel Everett was never meant to cross paths with a gentleman such as Henry. What could such a worldly man ever see in her? As it turns out, everything. Beautiful, fiercely intelligent Rachel is Henry’s dream woman—and wife. Such a match would be scandalous for his family of course, and Rachel has no business meddling with a resident at the famed, rather draconian, Puddling Rehabilitation Foundation. All the better, for two lost souls with nothing to lose—and oh so very much to gain.
“Quite right. I haven’t the best reputation. A sensible girl like you is wise to be wary. See, that’s why I want to marry you. You’re sensible.”
Rachel curbed the urge to throw her inkpot at him. She didn’t want to be sensible at the moment! But really, of course Henry didn’t love her. She didn’t love him either. She hardly knew him, and she wasn’t even supposed to know as much as she did. She’d be getting a visit from members of the Puddling Rehabilitation Foundation any second to accuse her of sabotage.
Someone would have noticed him walking down the hill to the school on such a filthy day, and would blame her for being some sort of Circe. Unless he was planning on plunging into the stream and getting even wetter, the school as the final destination.
She stood up. “While I am grateful for both your offer of escort and of marriage, I must decline both. Good day, Lord Challoner.”
He rose too, with a blinding smile. “At least take my umbrella.”
“Did you hear me?” Rachel cried.
“Yes. I have my good ear turned toward you. And I’m getting better at reading lips. Of course, when I look at yours, I forget what you’re saying and just want to kiss you.”
Well, that was almost romantic. Rachel tried not to feel a pleased flutter.
“I insist you take the umbrella.” Henry propped it against her desk. “I assume you don’t wish to be seen with me.”
“You assume correctly.”
“Very well. Shall I leave first?”
“Don’t you have a hat?”
“No, I hate them.”
Blast. He would be soaked by the time he climbed back up the hill.
He was probably used to marching in the rain. Beneath the scorching sun. Under conditions in countries she couldn’t even fathom or find on a map. It wasn’t as if it was an Indian monsoon out there—just a heavy warm English rain. Rachel had not been looking forward to it herself, but hadn’t been afraid to brave the elements. Why should she worry about a strong, healthy man?
Yet she did. She’d worried last night when she’d left him unconscious in the cool night air. Henry needed someone to take care of him. Care for him.
No, Rachel. No. But she picked up the umbrella and took hold of his arm, ignoring the warning voice in her head. Sometimes being sensible was overrated.
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