Lessons in French

Lessons in French

3.7 60
by Laura Kinsale

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Laura Kinsale's unique and powerfully written love stories transcend the romance genre. In this, her first new book in five years, she delivers a poignant, funny, sexy, Regency romance sure to delight her many fans and attract a whole new readership.

Trevelyan and Callie are childhood sweethearts with a taste for adventure, until the fateful day her father

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Laura Kinsale's unique and powerfully written love stories transcend the romance genre. In this, her first new book in five years, she delivers a poignant, funny, sexy, Regency romance sure to delight her many fans and attract a whole new readership.

Trevelyan and Callie are childhood sweethearts with a taste for adventure, until the fateful day her father discovers them embracing in the carriage house and, in a furious frenzy, drives Trevelyan away in disgrace. Nine long, lonely years later, Trevelyan returns. Callie discovers that he can still make her blood race and fill her life with excitement, but he can't give her the one thing she wants more than anything-himself.

For Trevelyan, Callie is a spark of light in a world of darkness and deceit. Before he can bear to say his last goodbyes, he's determined to sweep her into one last, fateful adventure, just for the two of them.

Praise for Lessons in French:
"Laura Kinsale creates magic. Her characters live, breathe, charm, and seduce, and her writing is
as delicious and perfectly served as wine in a crystal glass."— Lisa Kleypas
"I loved it! Lessons in French is a delicious new Kinsale that couples the charm of Midsummer Moon with the intensity of Seize the Fire or The Shadow and the Star. Intrigue, drama, secrets, passion, and a grand romance make this a wonderful addition to Laura Kinsale's already excellent repertoire."— Jennifer Ashley, USA Today bestselling author of The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie
"A rich and rewarding romance from the legendary Laura Kinsale!"—Mary Jo Putney, New York Times bestselling author of Loving a Lost Lord
"A truly gifted writer, Laura Kinsale is one of the romance genre's brightest stars."—Loretta Chase, New York Times bestselling author of Don't Tempt Me

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Often flat and uninspired in its interactions, this by-the-numbers 1820s romance relies on complicated subplots and the heartstring-tugging tale of reunited childhood sweethearts. Lady Callista Taillefaire has been jilted three times and is resolved to devote herself to raising cattle, particularly her prize-winning bull, Hubert. When her lost love, Trevelyn, returns from nine years away, that resolve is firmly tested, but no sooner is their romance rekindled than he is convicted of forgery and forced into exile. Readers may enjoy the history lessons in several creaky but soundly constructed tales of Trevelyn’s wartime experiences with another of Callie’s former suitors, but Kinsale neglects to fill in the background details for Trevelyn and his unsavory valet, ex-boxer Jock, preferring to follow romance conventions with monotonous regularity. (Feb.)
Library Journal
After a five-year hiatus, Kinsale is back in stellar form with this delightful tale of an aristocratic, independent, bull-breeding spinster and the beguiling French émigré who once stole her teenaged heart, as they try to overcome the past and begin the difficult, passionate journey back to trust and love. VERDICT Complex, well-depicted characters (including a noisy, most memorable bull), a multilayered plot peppered with secrets and surprises, breathtaking sensuality, and exquisite execution will keep readers enthralled. Funny, clever, and laced with whimsy, this lighthearted charmer is pure magic; a surefire winner for all collections. Kinsale (Shadowheart) resides in both Santa Fe and Dallas.
From the Publisher
"A definite gem of a book." - Romance Rookie

"A lighthearted romp in the romance genre." - Drey's Library

"A really sweet story of old lovers rediscovering each other. " - Chris' Book-a-Rama

"Laura Kinsale spins such a fine web of a story, you find yourself ensnared from page one with no desire to be let go." - Wendy's Minding Spot

"Charmingly written with such witty dialogue." - Pudgy Penguin Perusals

"Kinsale's gift for smart and effervescent dialogue is clearly evident." - BookLoons.com

"Enchanting and completely charming!" - Seductive Musings

"From the start of the book I fell in love with Callie and Trev. " - My Reading Room

"An intriguing Regency romance." - Genre Go Round Reviews

"Plenty of light-hearted humor, and also some serious events, making this lovingly written story pure enjoyment." - Romance Reviews Today

"Intrigue, mystery, secrets, wit, misunderstandings, miscommunications, lots of drama and a grand, sweet romance." - My Book Addiction and More

""Funny, clever, and laced with whimsy, this lighthearted charmer is pure magic; a surefire winner for all collections." A Starred Review!" - Library Journal

"A bit of mystery, some exciting romps, and odd but lovable characters... absolutely yummy! " - Huntress Reviews

"Kinsale is back in a big way. Her fans will not be disappointed with this one." - Readin' and Dreamin'

"A welcome return from Laura Kinsale." - Reading Adventures

"You will laugh, you will cry, you will sigh - you really can't ask for more." - All About the {n}

"An intriguing Regency romance." -

"A fun romp through Regency romance!" - My Ever Expanding Library

"A warm, witty historical romance that is sure to delight and captivate." - Romance Junkies

"This is a novelist who knows how to capture readers and write only keepers. " - Rakehell

"A fun, satisfying romance!" - Starting Fresh

Once Upon a Romance
Lessons in French was a lesson in life, love, and laughter for me... This wonderful novelist has been "missing in action" for the past five years and I, for one, am elated that she's returned.
— Amy Lignor
Night Owl Romance
Heartbreaking, poetic, and desperately hopeful -- Lessons in French just might be Laura Kinsale's best yet. A Night Owl Romance Reviewer Top Pick
— Kyraninse
The Romantic Times
One of the most beloved authors of the genre returns with a lighthearted, joyous love story... [Readers] will delight in the engaging characters, Kinsale's sparkling sense of humor and the pure joy of reading a romance crafted by a master.
— Kathe Robin
Coffee Time Romance
The characters crackle with energy and life.
Romance Reader at Heart
Playful and amusing.
Barnes and Noble Heart to Heart
A classically romantic and elegant read.
— Michelle Buonfiglio
Mrs. Giggles
A lighthearted romantic romp.
— Mrs. Giggles
From one of the genre's much-admired historical authors... a worthy valentine for the season.
— Christie Ridgeway
Affaire de Coeur
Kinsale takes us on a journey of intrigue.
— Tiffany Viale
Thoughts from an Evil Overlord
Lessons in French has everything a reader is looking for in historical romance.
— Elizabeth Bogardus
She Read a Book
Laura Kinsale is an absolute star... the story is beautiful.
— Martina Cote-Kunz
Alpha Heroes
A perfect balance of drama and farce, weighty and trivial, darker and lighter. Whether you're new to Kinsale or a longtime fan, I encourage you to pick up Lessons In French. C'est l'amour!
— Nicola Onychuk
Musings of a Bibliophile
Smart and witty and adorable.
— Brieana Louis-Jackson
All About Romance
Her prose, as always is enjoyable and smooth, her history feels historical, and her setting seems fully realized.
— Rachel Potter
Cindy Reads Romance
An entertaining tale... Welcome Back Ms. Kinsale!
— Cindy Watson
Gossamer Obsessions
Laura Kinsale demonstrates her trademark wit, depth, detail and romanticism can serve a light-hearted historical romance just as well as they can with a darker one.
— Anime June
My Over-Stuffed Bookshelf
A great read with a wonderful romance.
— Amy Jacobs
Yankee Romance Reviewers
An adorable Regency story that is sure to tickle your fancy.
— Terra Studer
Leslie's Psyche
A beautiful love story about friendship and loss, loyalty and love.
— Leslie Gladnick
Apprentice Writer
Giving LIF to someone feeling down or disheartened would be humanitarian service.
— Maya Missani
Medieval Bookworm
A wonderful addition to the genre. I sincerely hope Laura Kinsale doesn't leave such a long wait for her next romance!
— Meghan Burton
Babbling About Books and More
Twenty pages into reading, I stopped and thought, this is the reason I read historical romance. Welcome back Laura, we've missed you dearly
— Kate Garrabrant
Scandalous Women
A heartwarming love story... very reminiscent of Georgette Heyer.
— Elizabeth K. Mahon
A lighthearted, romantic romp.
— Amy Lignor
Books Like Breathing
Lessons in French was such as sweet and quiet romance.
— Grace Loiacono
The Book Faery Reviews
Cute, witty, with a bit of fun adventure, I recommend Lessons in French to those who'd enjoy reading a light romance.
— Farrah Kenendy
Everything Victorian and More
Lessons in French has everything a historical novel should have: history about the era, romance, peppered with a little suspense and wit.
— Barbara Davis
Love Romance Passion
Cute, lighthearted, and full of whimsy.
— Keira Gillet
Romance Rookie
A definite gem of a book.
— Jill Dunlop
Drey's Library
A lighthearted romp in the romance genre.
— Audrey Salick
Chris' Book-a-Rama
A really sweet story of old lovers rediscovering each other.
— Christina MacLean
Wendy's Minding Spot
Laura Kinsale spins such a fine web of a story, you find yourself ensnared from page one with no desire to be let go.
— Wendy Hines
Pudgy Penguin Perusals
Charmingly written with such witty dialogue.
— Karen Gervasi
Kinsale's gift for smart and effervescent dialogue is clearly evident.
— Martina Bexte
Seductive Musings
Enchanting and completely charming!
— Carrie Divine
My Reading Room
From the start of the book I fell in love with Callie and Trev.
— Crystal Fulcher

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Product Details

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Lady Callista Taillefaire was a gifted wallflower. By the age of seven-and-twenty, she had perfected the art of blending into the wallpaper and woodwork so well that she never had to dance, and only her most intimate friends greeted her. She could sit against the pink damask in the ballroom or sit against the green silk in the refreshment chamber. She didn't even have to match to be overlooked.
"Did you hear that a carriage came to Madame de Monceaux!" The scarlet plume on Mrs. Adam's headband swayed alarmingly as she leaned near Callie's ear. "I believe it is-" But she suddenly broke off her confidence and took Callie's hand. "Oh, do look down! He is starting this way again."
Callie obeyed, instantly developing a profound interest in the catch on her bracelet. She had not quite succeeded in becoming completely invisible at these affairs. There were always the gentlemen of a certain category who solicited her hand, just in case she might be clutching her eighty thousand pounds in it, Callie supposed, which would save them the trouble of a stop at the bank as they carried her off.
"There, you are safe!" Mrs. Adam said gustily, as if Callie had barely scraped through with her life. "Let him pour the butter-boat over Miss Harper, if she is so foolish a girl as to listen to it."
Callie let go of her bracelet. She had found that looking down and discovering a flounce had come loose from her hem, or a stone had worked its way into her slipper, was evasion enough to discourage the hopeful abductors. Even for eighty thousand pounds they were not very persistent. She was, after all, Lady Callista Taillefaire, who had been jilted three times. Even a gentlemanwith dishonest designs would have to ask himself what, precisely, could be wrong with her.
She had wrestled with this question herself. Indeed, she and her father and her sister and their acquaintance and all the local gossips and probably two or three of the wiser village goats had spent a good deal of time dissecting the matter. No satisfactory answer had been agreed upon. Her father had attributed it to the general decline of British Manhood into Riot and Villainy. Her sister Hermione felt that Callie showed a deplorable lack of respect for the fashion in caps. The gossips largely blamed it upon Napoleon. During the French wars, they had blamed everything on Napoleon, and even five years after Waterloo he had not outlived his usefulness in that regard. The goats, being commoners, very properly kept their opinions to themselves.
It was Callie's own conclusion that she was quite plain, and had red hair, and she was very stiff and shy with gentlemen, even after she became engaged to them. Perhaps more so after she became engaged to them. Her eyes were neither brown nor blue, but some grayish-green middling color, her nose could politely be described as Grecian, having barely escaped the threat of Roman, and her fair skin flamed with unbecoming splotches of pink in the slightest touch of wind.
It was also true that she had a habit of lugging newborn calves into the kitchen from time to time, which might be considered eccentric in the daughter of an earl. But since her family had taken care that no rumors of this peculiarity should escape beyond Shelford, Callie felt that she was not held to be actually dangerous.
Mrs. Adam eased her ample figure from her chair, giving Callie's hand a squeeze and a pat. "Bless me, there is Mr. Hartman going in to tea. I must speak to him about the altar-cloth, but I will be back directly. You'll be quite all right now that the sets are forming."
Callie nodded. Having escaped the looming threat of being dragged off by her hair and ravished, or at least required to dance, she dared a glance at Miss Harper as the young lady took her place. The girl seemed to be enjoying her swim in the butter. Callie gazed at the couple, imagining herself-suitably embellished with golden hair and flower-blue eyes and eyelashes that were the toast of England-dancing gracefully through the figures. She made light and witty conversation. Her smile pierced the fortune-hunting gentleman to his heart. He was so taken with her that he forgot all about her fortune and fell desperately in love for the first time in his cynical and dissolute life. He vowed to give up gambling and drink on her behalf, and fought several duels with men of vague but wicked demeanor in defense of her honor. Finally, when she refused him, having selected from among her large following a gentleman of steadier nature, he threw himself from a sea cliff, leaving a poem of unrequited love in which Callie was thinly disguised as a mythological heroine with a name at least eight syllables long, which she would look up later. The poem was published in all the papers and made the ladies weep over it in their boudoirs.
She blinked, realizing the music had paused. The gentleman who had thrown himself from the cliff in despair was conversing with Miss Harper on the topic of how many sunny days the town of Shelford had enjoyed so far in the autumn.
Callie could never think of what to say to gentlemen. She could feel her cheeks turning splotchy if she tried. There had been one, once, who had been so easy to talk to that she had quite lost her head over him, but that had not turned out well. It was quite settled by now. She was born to be a spinster. The gentlemen would have to declare their undying devotion to other ladies. Callie would be too much occupied with developing a delicate constitution and a dependable recipe for tapioca-jelly.
Her father, of course, had understood none of this, because he loved her. He had thought her pretty, and stubbornly refused to be convinced otherwise by the abundance of evidence. As long as he lived he had persevered in escorting Callie to each London season, arranging betrothals, signing settlement papers, and raging almost to tears each time the gentlemen broke it off. By the third time, Callie had really been more distressed on her father's behalf than on her own. She was not by nature a violent person, but she had given serious consideration to sewing a teasel-burr into her former fiancé's unmentionables, or even perhaps recruiting a live black-beetle for this mission, but decided in the end that it would be a disservice to the bug.
In any case, she had found no occasion to tamper with his personal linen, although the lawyers had been pleased to make his bank account smart by the removal of ten thousand pounds to avoid a breach-of-promise suit. He had departed on a ship for Italy with his beautiful, penniless new wife, while Callie sat with her crestfallen father in the study and held his hand.
The thought of it made her wrinkle her nose, blinking back the sting. She missed her father painfully, but it would not do to let her eyes fill with tears in the midst of a country dance. She turned her face down, brushing her nose with the feathers of her fan, concentrating on the swish and thud of the dancers' feet on the wooden floor and the off-key note on the pianoforte, waiting for the moment to pass.
It was only a local assembly, nothing so glittering as a London affair, but still Callie would not care to make a scene. For a year after the Earl of Shelford's death, she had at least been spared the agony of any social occasions, but now that they were out of mourning it was her duty to accompany Hermione.
Callie kept a careful eye on her sister's partners. It was up to her to make certain no fortune-hunter stole Hermey. Their cousin Jasper wasn't precisely the sharpest needle in the pincushion, and since his elevation to the earldom, his lady wife was most anxious to see Callista and Hermione packed up and departed from Shelford Hall. An early wedding for Hermey would be just what Lady Shelford liked, and she would not be particular as to the groom. Any person would do as long as he wore trousers and promised to take Callie along with her sister.
So Callie put on her gray gloves, hid her red hair as well as she could under a lavender turban, and sat herself at her guard post on the row of satin chairs along the wall, watching her sister dance with a most suitable baronet. He had taken leave from his promising position as an under-secretary in the Home Office and traveled up from London particularly to pay his compliments to Lady Hermione. Along with his addresses, it was to be hoped, though that had not yet transpired.
Her favored position in the Shelford assembly rooms overlooked the dance floor and the entry. She had only to lift her lashes to see each newcomer, without any noticeable turn of her head. It was late now. The crush of people in the arched doorway had long since cleared, and so she merely glanced when a single figure appeared there.
For an instant she looked away again calmly, seeing only another smartly dressed gentleman who paused to watch the dancers. It was as if recognition struck her heart a moment late-a sudden rush of heat to her face, a squeezing of her throat. She found she could not catch her breath.
It was him.
She threw a panicked look toward him, knew it certainly, and then had nowhere at all to look or to run. She was alone on the wall of chairs. Mrs. Adam was vanished to the refreshment room and everyone else danced. She stared down at her toes with desperate concentration, hoping and hoping and hoping that he would not recognize her.
He might not know her. She had not instantly recognized him. He was older. Of course he was older-one could hardly suppose that she herself had reached the advanced age of twenty-seven without him doing the same. In the first blink of a look, she had seen a dark-haired handsome gentleman; it was only with her second panicked glance that she knew his face: sun-darkened and harder, all the smiling promise of youth matured to a striking man.
He stood with a quiet confidence, as if it did not concern him to arrive late and alone, or to receive no welcome. Any number of people here knew him, but no one had seen him yet save Callie-none who acknowledged him, at least. He had been gone from the vicinity for nine years.

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What People are saying about this

Amelia Grey
"One of the most beloved writers of romance is back.... She's better than ever, and she's worth the wait! Her wit is laugh out loud funny and her poignant moments are so heartwarming. I'm glad she is back, and I do believe she is better than before and I know, like me, all her fans will be saying her new book was worth the long wait!"
Elizabeth Hoyt
"Laura Kinsale is the gold standard in historical romance! Funny, sad, witty, and deeply sensual, Lessons in French is an exquisite romance and an instant classic. Laura Kinsale's writing is such a pleasure I know that I'll be rereading Lessons in French for years to come."--(Elizabeth Hoyt, New York Times bestselling author)
Jade Lee
"Laura Kinsale is a master! I love her books! Lessons in French is one of those rare books that should be savored. Each word is a gem...I loved it!"--(Jade Lee, USA Today bestselling author)
Laura Lee Guhrke
"Kinsale is a master storyteller. The sheer beauty of her writing never fails to inspire me."--(Laura Lee Guhrke, New York Times bestselling author)
Lisa Kleypas
"Laura Kinsale creates magic. Her characters live, breathe, charm, and seduce, and her writing is as delicious and perfectly served as wine in a crystal glass. When you're reading Kinsale, as with all great indulgences, it feels too good to stop. If there is one thing I wish for every romance reader, it is to experience the singular and extraordinary pleasures of a Laura Kinsale novel."

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