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Hélène de Bonnefoi’s spirit has been squashed by the ever-critical aunt and uncle who raised her. Serving as nanny and stand-in mother to her cousin’s child has saved her from the convent, especially after her cousin’s death. When suspicious accidents threaten the toddler, Hélène overcomes her near-blindness to seek the help of the child's father, a colonel in Louis XIV’s army.
Jean-Louis, Colonel de Cantière, has spent his life proving his worth, integrity, and honor, first to his family and now in the army. When his daughter’s caretaker appears in his camp during a siege, claiming someone is trying to kill the girl, his loyalties are sorely tested.
Hélène must convince Jean-Louis the threat is real. But the true danger is to the heart of a shy young woman who has always loved her cousin’s husband from afar and to the colonel’s desire to resist complicated emotions.
His first view of Mademoiselle Hélène took his breath away. She was sitting in a beam of light, smiling down at the little girl who sat next to her on the bench. Her hair glinted gold in the sunlight, and her pink lips parted as she laughed.
“Mademoiselle Hélène, Colonel de Cantière is here to see you,” said the woman.
Jean-Louis bowed deeply and raised himself again to find Mademoiselle Hélène curtseying to him and the little girl staring at him, wide-eyed. Mademoiselle Hélène’s features had gone blank, erasing the sunshine and beauty he had witnessed.
“Ondine, chérie,” she said to the girl. “It is your papa, come to see us. Get up and curtsey, ma petite.”
The girl stood up on the bench and bobbed clumsily, clutching at Mademoiselle Hélène for support and reassurance.
Jean-Louis hadn’t seen his daughter since his wife’s funeral, over a year before. She likely had no memory of him, and yet her mistrust cut him to the heart.
“Please, Monsieur, join us for breakfast,” said Mademoiselle Hélène in the soft, shy voice that made him want to protect her.
He gritted his teeth. He was ridiculous. There was no threat here. It was leftover nerves from the battle and a lack of sleep, surely. The long argument with the Prince de Condé to get leave for two days to solve the problem, coupled with the long journey, had sapped what was left of his wits.
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