Readers of Lisa Kleypas and Judith Ivory, and anyone who likes a compelling, emotionally engrossing Regency-set love story will relish this new book from the wonderful Kathryn Smith.
About the Author
Kathryn Smith has always loved happy endings. From the bedtime stories her wildly imaginative mother told, to the soap operas she wasn't supposed to watch, Kathryn loved to speculate as to how the characters would end up. Needless to say the entire Smith household heard about it when things did not go as young Kathryn thought they ought. Through her school years, Kathryn wrote stories and books for her friends to read. Even during college, when she studied journalism, her need to make up her own tales often drove her to late nights at the typewriter, writing about sexy men and the women they fell in love with. Fortunately, Kathryn's idea of sexy has changed over the years. Instead of rock stars and spies she writes about lords and...well, spies. The best part is she gets to share these stories with a few more people than were in her homeroom class!
Read an Excerpt
For the First Time
"You are going." Devlin Ryland looked up from packing his valise long enough to acknowledge his oldest brother's presence.
"Yes." He took one more shirt from the pile on the bed and placed it in the worn leather bag. His evening clothes were packed as well as extra trousers, cravats, shirts, and one extra coat. The extra coat was his one concession to fashion. There were going to be people at Brixleigh Park who made a point of never wearing the same thing twice. He should at least have a little variety.
Darkly handsome, his features much more chiseled and rugged than Devlin's own, Brahm limped into the inner sanctum of the room. Devlin could tell from the heavy thumps of his cane against the thickly varnished floorboards that his brother's leg was bothering him.
"I thought you were apprehensive about seeing Carnover again."
Buckling the straps on his valise, Devlin shrugged. "We all have our demons we must face. You told me that." And Lord knew that Brahm had his share of demons.
Both hands on the carved, burnished silver head of his cane, Brahm leaned slightly forward. "But Carny is supposed to be your friend. Not a demon."
"He is both." He didn't have to explain. No doubt Brahm understood better than he should.
A kind smile curved Brahm's mouth -- a sight that had been all too rare these few months since their father's death. "What are you going to do?"
Another shrug. He was packed and ready to go, yet he wasn't ready to leave just yet. "I do not know. Perhaps seeing him will be easier this time."
"You mean perhaps the dreams will not come back."
Straightening his shoulders, Devlin met Brahm's concerned gaze evenly. "Yes."
"What if they do?" Obviously Brahm wasn't done with him yet. Was this simple brotherly concern, or was he worried that Devlin might do something to embarrass the family in Devon? He'd have to come up with something fairly outrageous to top anything Brahm himself had done. Pissing in a punch bowl was hard competition.
And somehow, he couldn't imagine Brahm giving a rat's ass about the family's social standing. His brother was worried about him, plain and simple.
"I'll be all right."
Another rare smile. "I do not doubt it."
Silence followed as Devlin turned and picked up the Baker rifle leaning against a chair near the window. He'd been up till three in the morning cleaning and oiling it, polishing the scarred wood until it gleamed, scrubbing the barrel inside and out until the cloth came away without a hint of black. He slipped it into its case and placed it on the cream velvet bedspread beside his valise.
"What are you taking that for?" Brahm asked. "Are you planning to do some shooting in Devon?"
This time Devlin shrugged just one shoulder. "I might."
"You cannot bear to leave it behind, can you?" What bothered him more, the insight or the compassion in Brahm's tone? It probably seemed foolish to Brahm that his younger brother was so dependent on something as inanimate as a gun, but he wouldn't judge him for it. Brahm never judged. Either because it wasn't in his nature, or because he knew he had no right.
"It's part of me." That rifle had been his constant companion for years. It had been there with him when he saw friends and fellow soldiers shot to bits on the battlefield. He had slept with it, eaten with it beside him. Hell, the whole time he had been in the army he didn't even take a piss without the Baker with him. How could he just "leave it behind" now that the fighting was over? He couldn't.
The Baker never turned its back on him, never let him down, and, like Brahm, never judged him.
"You have to forgive yourself for what happened, brother. Forgive and accept."
There it was. As the oldest, Brahm couldn't help but take responsibility for his younger brothers. This included trying to solve all their problems, even when he had more than enough of his own. He always seemed to know what they "had" to do. Unfortunately, he never seemed to know how to achieve it.
"Have you forgiven yourself?" Devlin asked, slipping the strap of the rifle case over his head so that the Baker rested at an angle across his back. Its weight was welcome and familiar.
Brahm shifted his weight, still resting against his cane. No doubt his leg was aching like the devil. "Not quite. But I'm trying. You have yet to attempt even that."
"How can I forgive what I did?" Picking up his valise, Devlin stepped around the foot of the bed toward the door. Brahm blocked his path.
"It was war."
He snorted. "Was that what it was?" How easy it was for someone who wasn't there to think he knew what it had been like. One had to be there to know, and sometimes Devlin wished to God that he had been sensible enough to stay the hell home.
Brahm's russet gaze was shrewd, and saw far more than Devlin was comfortable with. "Would you rather Carny had been killed?"
"No." But sometimes he wished it had happened differently.
"Of course not. He is damn grateful you did what you did." A thump of Brahm's cane punctuated his pronouncement. "So am I, for that matter. If you had not acted you might have been killed as well."
"Perhaps that would have been for the best." It was maudlin, but sometimes when the dreams got bad ...
If his brother didn't need his cane to remain upright, Devlin had no doubt Brahm would have hit him -- God knew where -- with the gleaming heavy oak ...For the First Time. Copyright © by Kathryn Smith. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.