It’s one thing for a girl to lose her way, quite another to lose her heart…
Genny Hayes could charm a bear away from a pot of honey. But raised in the forests of Yosemite, she’s met precious few men to practice her smiles upon. Until a marvelously handsome photographer appears in her little corner of the wilderness and she convinces him to take her clear across the country and over the seas to England, where she has a titled grandmother and grandfather waiting to claim her. On their whirlwind journey, she’ll have the chance to bedazzle and befuddle store clerks and train robbers, society matrons and big city reporters, maids and madams, but the one man she most wants to beguile seems determined to play the gentleman and leave her untouched. Until love steps in and knocks them both head over heels…
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Behind a Lady's Smile
By JANE GOODGER
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2015 Jane Goodger
All rights reserved.
His little shadow was back.
For two days, Mitch had noticed ... someone. He wasn't quite sure whether it was male or female, but that didn't matter. Out here in the middle of nowhere, where a man could disappear and never be found, a man had to be careful. A man had to make certain his rifle was loaded, his canteen was filled, and he listened to his gut. And right about now, his gut was telling him whoever had been watching him for two days was up to no good.
"You wait here, Millie." Mitch patted his mule and tied her to a scraggly white pine. If Millie really got in a mind to escape, the sapling wouldn't do much to keep her in place, but he very much doubted Millie would get in the mind to do more than nibble on some grass.
Mitch was no stranger to the mountains of Yosemite. He guessed he knew them better than most. He knew how to walk silently and he knew when to make a noise that might scare a grizzly away. That was one creature he wasn't ashamed to admit he didn't much care for. He'd seen the results of a bear attack and was quite certain he didn't want to be on the receiving end of those razor-sharp claws. Other than grizzlies and men with guns, he wasn't afraid of much else. A man who'd seen and done what he had learned not to be afraid.
Whoever was trailing him was high up, likely taking little peeks over the rocks that jutted out above him like crooked teeth. He climbed silently, his boots pressing into the thick cushion of pine needles, until he was pretty sure he was above his prey. He scanned the area, Winchester in hand, fully loaded and ready to fire. And then he saw a movement, a flash of hair.
"Well, damn," he whispered, looking at the girl through his gun sight. At least he thought it must be a girl with that long, pale braid down her back. She was lying on her stomach, no doubt staring at Millie and wondering where the heck the man she'd been spying on had disappeared to. His eyes moved down, following the trail of her braid, until he reached the decidedly feminine curve of her backside. Definitely female.
Now, he didn't like holding a rifle on a woman or a girl, but he'd learned the hard way that women and girls could be just as dangerous with a gun as a man, so he wasn't about to take any chances. If any of his friends back home saw him, they'd probably punch his jaw. But this wasn't New York City and that girl was no debutante, and so he held his gun on her real careful. She turned her head and he saw the delicate curve of her smooth cheek, and seeing that bit of feminine beauty in such an unlikely place did something odd to his stomach. It was like seeing the first crocus after a long and terrible winter. He eased his gun down; the girl didn't have a weapon that he could see, and he relaxed slightly.
"Looking for someone, darlin'?"
It happened so quickly, he wasn't even sure what occurred. She shot up to her feet, took one step back, and a rock beneath her foot slipped—then she disappeared, just like that, over the edge, backward. He heard a sickening thud and then a scream and his blood ran cold.
"Shit." Mitch ran as fast as he could through the rough terrain, his ears filled with the sound of a female crying out in agony. He flew around a cluster of large boulders, grateful at least that she was still screaming. Screaming meant she was alive.
There she was, lying on her side, clutching one leg, which was obviously and grotesquely broken. He swore again and ran over to where she lay. And damn if she didn't try to scuttle away when she saw him, her bright green eyes filled with as much fear as pain.
"I'm not going to hurt you," he said, hunkering down beside her. She looked up at him, eyes wide, her face smudged with dirt, making it difficult to determine her age. "I promise."
She just stared at him, panting like a trapped, frightened animal and he wondered if she could speak. What the hell was this girl doing out here anyway? There wasn't a town for miles, and the only people he'd seen since he'd been in the valley were his own crew. She was dressed in oversized men's clothing, sleeves and pant legs rolled up to accommodate her smaller size.
"My name's Mitch Campbell," he said, softly, looking her over to see if she had any other obvious injuries. Her arm had a nasty scrape, but other than that, he couldn't see anything. "What can I call you?"
She swallowed and looked away. "Genevieve Hayes."
Mitch was stunned. More than stunned. She sounded decidedly British. Upper-class British, like that Lady Something-or-other who'd come to New York when he was a kid to give a speech on abolition. "Where are you from, Genevieve Hayes?"
"Here. I live here."
She closed her mouth tightly and pushed herself back, then let out another terrible cry of pain.
"Miss Hayes, I swear to you I'm not going to hurt you. I want to help you. You're hurt. Looks like you broke your leg pretty bad, and I can't just leave you out here to fend for yourself. If there's someone nearby who can help, let me get them and I'll be on my way. Please."
She looked away again, no doubt weighing her options. "My father died eight months ago."
"And your mother?"
"When I was eight."
Holy God, she'd been living on her own for nearly a year. "Do you know anyone else? Anyone else living nearby who could help you?"
She shook her head. Hell. She was alone, with a badly broken leg—a condition he was partly to blame for—and Mitch became painfully aware that his plans for the next few days were about to change drastically.
"All right. I need to see that leg of yours. I'm going to have to cut off your pants leg. Just the right one, okay? I've set more than one bone, in case you were wondering." He tried to sound confident, but the truth was, the thought of setting her leg was making him slightly ill. He had set two broken bones in his life, one during the War Between the States and one on the trail not three years prior. But he'd never set a bone so obviously broken and never on a girl. Hell.
He took out a wicked-looking Bowie knife and her eyes grew even wider. "Miss Hayes, will you please stop looking at me as if I'm going to murder you?"
Her expression didn't change, but her breath hitched slightly and he wondered if she were trying not to cry. As gently as he could, he cut away the fabric of her pants, revealing her leg. "Holy Mother of God." He had to look away.
She let out a low moan.
"Don't look at it," he said, himself unable to look at her leg for long. "This is good. It didn't break the skin so there's no chance of infection. And I think you only broke the one. Okay?"
She nodded and two tears slipped down her cheeks, leaving clean tracks in their wake.
"I don't have any whiskey," he muttered, mostly to himself. "I'll be right back. I need to get something for a splint." He jogged to where he'd tied up Millie, and without thinking, he grabbed the camera tripod still tied to the mule's back and snapped one of the legs in two. Perfect. In less than five minutes, he was back.
"Good, you're still here," he said, and thought he'd nearly won a smile.
He reached into his pocket and drew out an incongruously clean piece of linen, carefully embroidered with his initials by the sweetheart he'd left at home five years ago. She'd long since married another, but he kept the handkerchief anyway, not for any other reason than it came in handy. It was the last vestige of his New York life tucked in his trail jacket. "It's clean. Put it in your mouth and bite down hard. This is going to hurt like the dickens. I don't want to hurt you, you understand? But I have to set this leg or you'll never walk right again."
"Do what you must," she said, taking the handkerchief from his hand. She fingered the soft cloth, noting the embroidery, before lying back down and stuffing it into her mouth.
She nodded and closed her eyes.
"Please, God," Mitch said, grabbing hold of her leg as gently as he could just below her knee and wrapping his other hand on her slim ankle below the break. And then he pulled and she screamed, instinctively trying to push away from him with her other leg. Instantly, his skin was bathed in sweat, his hands were shaking. "Hold still. Please, Miss Hayes. I'm almost there." Another pull and then he could feel the bone almost snap back into place. Sweat dripped into his eyes despite the cool late May air, and he wiped at it impatiently with his shoulder.
"How old are you, Miss Hayes?" he asked, trying to distract her from what he was doing.
She pulled the cloth from her mouth, her face pale beneath the dirt. "I'm not certain, but I think twenty."
Placing the wooden pieces on either side of her leg, he carefully wrapped strips of her ruined pant leg around the splint, wincing each time she cried out. "You don't know?"
"Lost track, I'm afraid."
Finally, he was done. He knelt, head down, breathing heavily, with his hands on his thighs, never in his life so glad for a task to be completed.
"It feels quite a bit better now. Thank you."
He smiled. She sounded so damned proper.
"We have to figure out where to put you. You can't stay here and you can't come with me to camp. We move around too much and I don't think that would be good for you."
"There are more of you?"
"Ten of us working for the United States Geological Survey. My job's to take photographs. See Millie over there? She carries around my equipment. Since you've been spying on me for two days now, I'm pretty sure you saw me working."
She nodded. "But I didn't know what you were doing."
"Government wants to know what's out here, to see if there's anything to see." He tilted his head and studied her. "How long you been out here?"
"We moved here after my mother died."
"And where were you before that?"
"Philadelphia. That's where I was born."
"Then why do you sound like you came from England?"
Her face lit up so suddenly, Mitch was momentarily stunned by the change. Despite living in the wilderness most of her life, her teeth were straight and white and not a single one was missing. She was very nearly pretty.
"I do? Truly?"
"Like you're best friends with the queen."
"My parents came from England, so I suppose I talk the way they did."
"Makes sense. So, Miss Hayes, where do you live now?" He looked around. "I haven't seen a house since we came into the valley."
She craned her neck to look back up the mountain. "Up there a ways."
Mitch looked up past the rock hanging and saw nothing but pines and more rocks, then looked back at her. "How far?"
"Do you see that rock that looks like a bear's head?"
Mitch looked up and saw nothing but big pine trees. "To the right. Our cabin is just below it."
And there it was. He cursed. She didn't look like a heavy thing, but he wasn't certain he'd be able to carry her all that way. Putting her on Millie would be far too jarring and he was in no mood to listen to any more female screams. He'd have to carry her.
"I don't suppose you can walk it," he said, anticipating the shake of her head. "All right, then. I'll carry you." He hunkered down by her side. "Put your hands around my neck and see if you can hoist yourself up a bit with your good leg."
"Perhaps I could try to walk?"
"Miss, I'm pretty certain you can't even stand, never mind walk. Now put your hands around my—"
"I could at least try ..."
"Put your goddamn hands around my neck or I'm going to put them there for you. If I was going to kill you, I would have done it by now."
The look she gave him nearly made him laugh, part anger, part rebellion, part something he couldn't put his finger on, a certain devilishness that was about as unexpected as her being out in the middle of this wilderness. She put her hands around his neck and let out a scream when he straightened, bringing her slowly to a standing position. "Holy Jesus, will you promise to listen to me from now on?"
"Yes, sir," she said, her hands still around his neck. She was shaking like a leaf and he was afraid she was about to faint. Cursing himself a thousand times for frightening her off that cliff, he carefully lifted her into his arms. She tried not to scream, he could tell by the way she clamped her mouth shut and closed her eyes, but it came out anyway. Every time he hurt her, he felt sick. And hell, she weighed nothing. Didn't this poor girl eat?
He began walking, trying to be careful not to jostle her, but maneuvering around rocks and trees made his task nearly impossible. More than once her broken leg tapped against a trunk or branch and she'd stiffen and cry out as if someone was sticking a knife into her. Or smashing her broken leg. Her arms were tight around his neck, her face buried against his neck. He could tell how much pain she was feeling by how tightly she pressed her head against him.
Mitch had carried more than one woman in his arms, mostly to a warm soft bed, but none had felt like this one. There were no soft curves, no creamy flesh. This girl was hard and pointy. Hell, he could feel the bones of her spine against his arm. She'd been living alone for eight months, through what was no doubt a difficult winter, slowly starving to death.
And she didn't smell like any woman he'd ever held either. There was no sweet perfume, no floral scent. She didn't smell bad, just different. Like clean dirt heating up on a summer day. He nearly laughed out loud at that thought. Imagine telling a woman she smelled like dirt and trying to convince her it was a compliment.
Despite her slight weight, she was getting heavier with every step he took. Just when he thought he'd have to set her down, he saw a tiny building not twenty yards away. A man could walk right by that small cabin without even knowing it was there. "I see it. Almost there." He was looking at the cabin so he didn't see the branch lying across his path. His boot got caught and he started going down, knowing there was nothing he could do.
It was almost worse than the first time, worse than when he'd set the bone. Genny, already dizzy with the pain, nearly lost consciousness as they hit the ground. She screamed, she couldn't help it. But she screamed into his shirt so it wouldn't seem so loud. Even to her own ears, her screams were terrifying. They lay unmoving, with her still in his arms. As they'd fallen, he'd twisted his body so that she fell atop him. His chest worked like a bellows beneath her, his arms were like solid, warm bands around her, giving her comfort as the searing pain began to ebb.
"I'm so sorry, darlin'," he said, his voice low. Then he let out a string of foul words. They lay that way for some time, until Genny wondered if he'd hurt himself. Then what would they do?
"Are you injured?" she asked finally. She felt his chest move, little jerky spasms, and she realized he was laughing.
"I am not injured, Miss Hayes. I'm just scared to death to move in case I hurt you more. I'm not certain I can take hurting you again. I'm about to die from it."
"I'll try very hard not to scream again."
His grip on her tightened slightly. "You go ahead and scream. I'll move real slow and you just hang on as tight as you want. We're almost there. See?"
He pressed his nose against her hair and took a deep breath. Then he chuckled again, though she didn't know why.
"Can you put your good leg down and brace it against the ground? Good girl. Now, I'm going to sit up and get us standing again. You ready?"
She took a deep, shaking breath, knowing what was coming next.
She'd never known anything could hurt this much. She'd always figured childbirth was the worst pain. She remembered her mother screaming when she was trying to have her little brother or sister. She was only eight, but she remembered it like it was yesterday, how she thought her mother was being silly for crying so much. In her world, the most painful thing she'd experienced up until then had been a badly scraped knee. Surely having a baby couldn't hurt more than that.
But when her mother died, Genny realized there was a pain much, much worse than a scraped knee. There was pain that could kill you.
"I'm ready," she said, even though she wasn't.
He stood, slightly shaking. She could feel the tremors move through his body like a small earthquake. She held on tight, letting out only a small sound when the pain got too bad. Her father had always said she was too tough for her own good, just like her mother. Genny had never thought of her mother as tough. She was soft and sweet and would sing to her right after her prayers. Genny knew she was nothing like her mother. Her mother had been special and beautiful; she would have known that even if her father hadn't said it.
Then Mitch lifted her up into his arms and she didn't cry out at all. When they got to the cabin, he kicked at the door and it swung open. "We made it," she said. "There's a bed to the right." She still slept up in the tiny loft, but she knew sleeping in her father's bed for now would be more practical.
Excerpted from Behind a Lady's Smile by JANE GOODGER. Copyright © 2015 Jane Goodger. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Well written. Happily ever after but not your typical prince charming. Believable characters and story. I enjoyed this book and you will, too.
Really enjoyed this book. The characters were fun, the plot line was interesting, and the writing was a nice balance between action and romance.
Pretty good story. It has sex in some form all the way through it, however. and pages and pages of explicit sex. That is why i gave it only two stars. Good literature doesn't need such entertainment.
I was given this book in exchange for an honest review. This is a story of adventure and getting exactly what you asked for. Genevieve has spent most of her life very isolated in wild west California. She does not really remember her mother and her father's death leaves her utterly alone to take care of herself. To keep a promise, she needs to find her way back to England. It was a delight to watch Genevieve move through society with her pure innocence in how people are with others. Mitch is a rugged man with dreams of his own business and takes on the task of seeing Genny to New York to sail to England in order to make money to follow his dream. In no time at all, they fall in love and endure some heartache as they travel and finally reach their destination. There, the find that their destination is in each other's arms and hearts. From Genny's charming to Mitch's gruffness to the antics of Genny's 'maid' Tillie and Mitch's mother, I thoroughly enjoyed this story and did not want to put it down. A wonderful, heartwarming read!
Genny has been living alone in a cabin near Yosemite after her father died 8 months ago, knowing she won’t survive the winter she must do what her father told her find a way to her grandparents in England. She discovers some people nearby and begins to follow them when she is injured. Feeling guilty for Genny’s injury Mike stays to care for her and when he learns her grandparents are titled, decides to take her to England in hopes of a reward. Sweet romance, a wonderful historical read!
Genny got just what she deserved happiness.
This was a great adventure with a focus on the early photography process. I enjoyed the emphasis on happiness with who you are instead of being the rich elite.
Wonderful. A great blow to the stodgy "Ton"
This is book 1 in the Lost Heiresses series. Mitch Campbell is hiking through Yosemite taking photographs when he feels as if someone is following him. Turns out he was right. Genevieve "Genny" Hayes is so startled when Mitch finds her, that she falls and breaks her leg. Mitch soon learns that Genny needs help making her way to England to meet her grandparents, the Duke and Duchess of Glastonbury. Seeing a way to finally open his photography studio, Mitch agrees to get her to her grandparents as soon as her leg is healed. Genny has grown-up in the wilderness without a true understanding of how a young lady should behave. And she really doesn't understand why she gets a funny feeling when she is around Mitch. They soon find their way to New York where they spend some time with Mitch's mother and Genny is taught some of the things she needs to know to be presentable in England. The voyage across the ocean brings Mitch and Genny closer than ever. Can their romance survive their meeting the Duke and Duchess? This was a good story to read. It just seemed a bit farfetched in the level of trust that Genny had for Mitch. I found myself continuing to read, just to see what would happen when Genny finally met her grandparents. Not one of my favorites of Goodger's, but still an enjoyable read. Thanks go out to Kensington Books via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
The gorgeous cover for BEHIND A LADY’S SMILE grabbed my attention right away, and the content is just as wonderful! I had read and loved Ms. Goodger’s previous book, and BEHIND A LADY’S SMILE strengthens my opinion of the author. Since her father’s death 8 months ago, Genevieve "Genny" Hayes has lived all alone in a cabin in the woods near Yosemite. She has seen a man about, and now she is watching him: he’s Mitch Campbell, who is with a team for the United States Geological Survey. Mitch dreams of opening a photographer’s studio in New York. But Mitch sees Genny, and inadvertently scares her, and things literally go downhill from there: Genny hurts herself, and Mitch takes care of her because he feels responsible, which in a way he is. Genny also happens to mention that she is the granddaughter of a duke; even though she has no idea what it means. Mitch knows it could mean a lot of money, and he could open his studio, and so on their way to England they go. BEHIND A LADY’S SMILE is one of the most enchanting books I have ever read! The story is clever, Genny is absolutely charming and Mitch is very engaging as well. I also like that it’s a Victorian romance set in the American West. I could not say enough about Ms. Goodger’s writing: the story is different, the characters unusual, the pacing is perfect, the prose is lyrical and very descriptive. The author’s attention to detail is simply spectacular: she makes a bygone era come alive with her vivid descriptions, and character development is stellar. The dialogues are also a high point: Genny’s speech is distinctively English, due to her father’s education, while Mitch’s is American, and the author pays particular attention to the differences. I loved how the romance slowly progressed, and even though Mitch is completely captivated by the sweet and naïve Genny, he behaves like a gentleman, even though it tries his patience. The adventures they experience are highly entertaining and entirely plausible. BEHIND A LADY’S SMILE is book one of Jane Goodger’s new series, Lost Heiresses, and I can hardly wait until the second instalment comes out. Perfectly delightful! I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Very good from start to finish.
I’ve read one of this author’s earlier titles and was impressed: her heroines have edges that are just one emery board from cutting: and Genny is no different. A sweet and biddable girl, she’s got a touch of naïve pragmatism where others are concerned, and a wickedly devilish sense of humor in her pranks. The granddaughter of an English earl, she was with her father in Yosemite when he died, leaving her alone in the wilderness. When she spots a photographer, she is covertly watching him. Mitch is living hand to mouth, photographing the wilderness to make a name for himself and set up a studio back east in New York. He spies the woman watching him, their confrontation results in her injury. These two were interesting, from Mitch’s first feelings of guilt to mercenary interest when Genny reveals her connections to an English earl and her request he accompany / assist her in her travel to England, their tentative friendship starts. While Mitch took quite a bit of time to not mistrust completely, I don’t ever feel that Genny was wholly unaware of his motives (money) in agreeing to get her to England. An on the road adventure begins where Genny’s personality and indomitable optimism, as well as several well-played pranks start to work on the shell that Mitch has put forward. Light, fun and humor filled, these two characters develop and grow individually and as a couple and make for a delightful read. I received an eArc copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Too much sex..