The year is 1814, and Lydia Perkins is in London for the Season. Sadly, the Perkins don't care if Lydia makes a suitable match. All her mother's hopes lie in the beautiful but vapid Kitty, and Lydia is expected to answer her every whim. In an effort to mix with the ton, the sisters find themselves at St. Barnabas Church, gawking at the soldiers wounded at the Battle of Toulouse, the final battle that sent Napoleon into exile at Elba. Kitty faints prettily and is revived by a pair of admiring dandies, but Lydia is drawn to the suffering of the men.
Among them is Major Sam Reed, grievously wounded himself, but in fact an earl: Lord Laren of Laren Hall, Northumberland. Major Reed could be recovering in comfort, but instead he chooses to stand by his men. Despite her parents' objections, Lydia returns to nurse the soldiers. As she learns the joy of being useful, she and Major Reed become friends. Finally he makes a curious proposal: Would she marry him, be his wife in name only, and travel with him to Northumberland? During the war, he invented a wife to appease his rich aunt. If he doesn't produce "Delightful Saunders" in the flesh, he stands to lose his fortune.
Can Lydia leave her indifferent family and embark on her first real adventure? She discovers that not every adventure is a pleasant one, as she falls in love with a man who might see her as merely a means to an end.
Originally published in 1997.
|Publisher:||Epicenter Press, Incorporated|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.69(d)|
About the Author
A well-known veteran of the romance writing field, Carla Kelly is the author of thirty-one novels and three non-fiction works, as well as numerous short stories and articles for various publications. She is the recipient of two RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America for Best Regency of the Year; two Spur Awards from Western Writers of America; two Whitney Awards, 2011 and 2012; and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Romantic Times. Carla's interest in historical fiction is a result of her lifelong study of history. She has a BA in Latin American History from Brigham Young University and an MA in Indian Wars History from University of Louisiana-Monroe. She's held a variety of jobs, including public relations work for major hospitals and hospices, feature writer and columnist for a North Dakota daily newspaper, and ranger in the National Park Service (her favorite job) at Fort Laramie National Historic Site and Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site. She has worked for the North Dakota Historical Society as a contract researcher. Interest in the Napoleonic Wars at sea led to a recent series of novels about the British Channel Fleet during that conflict. Of late, Carla has written two novels set in southeast Wyoming in 1910 that focus on her Mormon background and her interest in ranching.
Read an Excerpt
She was about to leave. Her courage was draining away as fast as the blood from that poor unfortunate soldier eight rows over. She decided to try one more time. "Major, I …."
"I heard you. It just takes me a moment to turn around. Don't leave, please."
She came closer. Taking great care of himself, the officer shifted his whole body on the cot, rather than just his head. "Well, miss?" he asked, his words clipped, his lips tight.
She thought for a moment that she had angered him, and then she realized that he was in pain. It showed in the tightness around his mouth and the way he squinted at her, even though the room was fairly well lit. Oh, dear, she thought as she slowly untied her bonnet and set it aside. I do not know which of you is worse off.
She took a deep breath, which was a mistake in that foul room, and gestured toward the surgeon. "He said I was to relieve you here, so you could go lie down."
The officer said nothing, but she knew he was regarding her intently, measuring her. Oh, this is nothing new, she thought, with a sudden burst of confidence. People have been measuring me all my life. "The surgeon said that I could probably hold his hand as well as you can. Sir. Or Lord Laren, or whatever you choose. You are supposed to lie down now."
Again a long pause. "Make me," he said at last.
Lydia sighed. "You are going to be difficult," she observed, more to herself than to him.
"I usually am. Make me."
If I even stop to think about this, I will never act, she thought. So I will not think about it. "Very well, sir. Since you are so stubborn," she said as she sat on his lap, took the soldier's hand from his, and held it in her own.
She did not know what to expect, but she did not anticipate the laughter that rose up from the nearby cots. "Got you, Major!" one of the men said. "She's out-thought you, sir!" said another with an arm missing, who sat up to watch.
"Oh, very well," the major said, and he did not try to hide the amusement in his voice. "Lads, such an opportunity, but I will remember that I am an officer and a gentleman." The men laughed again as the major patted her hip. When she rose up in indignation, he moved out from under her. "Very well, madam, since you are so persistent." She blushed as he sniffed her hair close to her ear, his breath warm on her cheek. "And, by God, you smell better than my stinking soldiers. Sit, madam, by all means. Hold his hand tight. And then when he's dead, you can hold mine."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Love this book,read it about seven times! Characters are great.
With This Ring -- the best book yet, by this author; there are more of hers to still read! Hooray!
Finally a book about people who come alive and form a believable story that you are happy to read about! The development of the personalities are so well done and no gratuitous sex scenes that take over and interfere with the plot. I like to focus on the plot. Give me more like this.
Wow! I have enjoyed every Carla Kelly book, 10 so far. Looking forward to reading many more.
I thought halfway through this book, laughing yet again, that I couldn't remember the last time I enjoyed a book this much! Yet it also took an in depth view of medical treatment and care of the soldiers during and after the Napoleonic wars (abysmal!) and had characters that really expended themselves out of love for each other. I also really enjoyed Picton, who I have seen mentioned in many books but have never before encountered as a character. There were some sex scenes in the later part of the book, but the characters were married and the description wasn't very graphic nor was it erotic. PG-13 I would have preferred less but can tolerate that amount.