Lessons in French

Lessons in French

by Laura Kinsale

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402245640
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 02/01/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 242,807
File size: 949 KB

About the Author

Laura Kinsale, a former geologist, is the New York Times bestselling author of Flowers from the Storm, The Prince of Midnight, and Seize the Fire. She and her husband divide their time between Santa Fe and Dallas.


Laura Kinsale, a former geologist, is the New York Times bestselling author of Flowers from the Storm, The Prince of Midnight, and Seize the Fire. She and her husband divide their time between Santa Fe and Dallas.

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.

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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Lessons in French 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 62 reviews.
srbSH More than 1 year ago
Although there were occasional "light" moments, funny or comical were never words I have used in connection with this wonderful author until Lessons in French. Trevelyan Davis d'Augustin is an endearing, but failed hero who time and again has had to find his way out of a pickle caused by his temper or impulsivity. His solutions are often over-the-top intricately staged distractions under cover of which he makes his escape. His childhood best friend, the intriguingly named Callista Taillefaire, as solidly earthbound as Trev is out-of-bounds, could be convinced to join in many of his escapades until Trev was forced to leave. During the ten years without Trev, Callie's interests turned to animal husbandry, raising prize bulls, mucking about in the farmyard while other young ladies were mucking about at balls. But now her cousin Jasper is the head of the family with a wife whose purpose is to push the two Taillefaire women out of her house and into marriage (or spinsterhood). Lady Callie is a self-effacing heiress, and her claim to social fame is that she has been jilted 3 times. She copes by retreating into daydreams. But even those don't help when Jasper loses Callie's prize bull, Hubert, in a wager and she realizes that nothing is hers. Into this mix returns Trev, whose maman is gravely ill, and the two friends fall into familiar patterns. Puzzling to Trev is why the three jilts. Is it blackmail, as he's led to believe? Is Callie's fortune intact? Why won't she believe that he loves her and that she's beautiful. Callie wonders what happened to Trev. Is he married as the scandal sheets say? Their final escapade is to retrieve the bull, but it's also time for Trev to stop hiding under beds, in closets, or even in plain sight. It's time for Callie to come into her own, to speak her mind and rescue Trev. In the Author's Note, Kinsale explains that she wanted to write "light" with this book. Amusing, sometimes downright silly secondary characters help her to this end.
dayzd89 More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars. Lessons in French by Laura Kinsale is a lovely, refreshing read. I found myself really caring for the characters, especially for Callie and Trev. All the obstacles they faced strengthened their relationship/friendship in the end, and I love the fact that they had history together and weren’t just strangers that looked at each other and immediately fell in love. There is an actual story to their romance, and that is rare to find in books nowadays with the plethora of instant love that ignites between characters. Callie is a sweetheart, and the fact that she has a profound love for animals made me really connect to her. While other people see cows and pigs as dirty barn animals, she sees their intelligence and kindness. But she’s not only loving toward animals; she’s always keeping others in mind and doing whatever she can to help. She’s selfless in a lot of ways, and it really endeared me to her character. Trev is also a sweetheart and unfortunately as one finds out in the novel, people take advantage of that fact. I recommend this novel to historical romance and romance fans alike. It has wonderful characters, witty humor and the right amount of passion to make a great story.
bookwormygirl on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This was such a fun story. Ms. Kinsale is very talented when it comes to creating her characters and their witty dialogue. I thought Callie and Trev were amazing together - their chemistry, their conversations, the situations they can't help but find themselves in - it was pure joy to read. Some of the secondary characters were quite fun too, I especially enjoyed Trev's maman. There really was never a dull moment for Callie and Trev. There were so many obstacles thrown in the way of their love - and on more than one occasion I questioned their "happily ever after." But needless to say, love conquers all, and I thought everything was wrapped up rather nicely.I love a historical romance that takes place in the early 1800's - and even more so when it relates to country life. I loved all the descriptions of the village and the local villagers as well as what information we received of life after the Napoleonic Wars.All in all, Lessons in French has everything a reader is looking for in a light-hearted historical romance. You will laugh, you will cry, you will sigh - you really can't ask for more.
reading_crystal on LibraryThing 7 months ago
What a fun book. I loved it from the start. It is my first book by Laura Kinsale and I will definitely be checking out her backlist now. From the start of the book I fell in love with Callie and Trev. Callie has been engaged three times yet never married and she feels she will spend life in spinsterhood and she is comfortable with that. Trev is one of those wounded men, he's been a bad boy and doesn't know if he can change his ways. He's in love with Callie but doesn't think he's good enough for her so every time he gets close, he pulls away. Callie has always been in love with him too, but doesn't think he returns her love. It's a wonderful romance in that they keep getting close in the beginning of the book for Trev to pull away. But you know they love each other so you keep reading.I loved the dialogue. Especially between Callie and Trev and Trev and his maman. The dialogue is very witty and had me laughing out loud several times when reading. I would have to say that Ms. Kinsale is a master of dialogue based on this book.The plot got a little slow to me at times, but never too slow, I wanted to keep reading. I wanted to learn more about Trev and Callie and what crazy situation they would get into next.If you love historical romance this is a book for you.
knittingmomof3 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Snippets from my blog review:Lessons In French is a deliciously delightful historical romance novel that will leave the reader wanting to read more of Kinsale's novels. While this novel is a light read, it is not lacking in plot, character development or romantic story. Kinsale has once again proven why historical romances are such a delight to read and while Lessons In French may not be her deepest and most complex novel, it is indeed an intriguing read that will sweep the reader off their feet and transport them to another time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an enjoyable romp. The characters were delightful. I also liked that the only conflict were the misunderstandings between the characters. I liked how that both were hung up on their own perceived inadequacies and didn't want to be rejected, which felt realistic. P.S. This is the same review I submitted to GoodReads.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bought this book because it was the deal of the day and am pretty glad I didn't spend the full $7 on it. Callie, a rich man's daughter, has a youthful indiscretion with Trevelyan, a local French immigrant. Callie's father puts a quick end to it and the parties move forward. Fast forward 10 years. Callie has been jilted 3 times and she can't understand why. She may not be particularly beautiful but she is certainly rich. Still, it doesn't look like she will be marrying anytime soon and so she decides to put her efforts into finding her sister a husband who will tolerate his sister-in-law enough to house her.  Enter Trevelyan. He returns to visit with his dying mother when he runs into Callie. Trevelyan is astounded she hasn't married. Old habits die hard and they pick up almost where they left off - that is, participating in escapades and such.  The most interesting character in the novel is Hubert, the bull. He provides great levity and becomes the focus of Callie and Trev's attention.  
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I've read several Laura Kinsale books, but this is by far my favorite. It's a lovely romance, but it also has a lot of humor. I always love a book that can actually make me laugh out loud, and this book difinately does that. The characters have a lot of depth, and the banter is very witty. The relationship between the two main characters is amusing to watch as it grows. Trevelyan is irresistable! I recomend this book to anyone!
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I have read all of Laura Kinsale's books and loved them all. She is not a "formula" romance writer. She has always managed to make each book distinctive and, in so doing, not everyone appreciates all her work. However, I will continue to keep watching for any new work by Laura Kinsale.
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