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A shy, late bloomer, the Honorable Judith Leslie survives her debut into Regency society despite ridicule of her height and her ruddy Scottish complexion from her more delicate contemporaries. But she surprises even herself when she boldly greets the eligible yet reluctantly marriageable Peter Tenwick, Viscount Caxton, at her first ball.
Their mutual attraction is instant, but when they speak to their respective parents, they learn that opposition to the union runs deep and personal. So deep that Peter’s father arranges for him to marry instead the worst of the ill-tempered shrews who have made Judith’s season so unpleasant.
In order to marry, Peter and Judith must not only overcome their parents’ objection but find a substitute suitor for Peter’s fiancée. Those obstacles become the least of their worries when Judith is kidnapped by a gang of smugglers and Peter must act fast to rescue his heart’s treasure.
Page Count: 200
Word Count: 47462
“You seem quite at home near the water, Miss Leslie, yet I believe you come from the Midlands, do you not?”
“I do. But my mother is Scottish, and my brothers and I spent our summers on Loch Lomond. I swim like a fish.”
“How intriguing.” His gaze roamed the length of her body as if he were gauging her buoyancy. “What sort of fish?”
“Does it matter?”
“Certainly. Fish are quite different, you know. There are those which swim near the surface, stopping now and then to snatch a dragonfly. Others stay near the bottom, flitting over the sand and feeding off scraps other creatures leave behind, drab in color and usually quite ugly. Then there are fish who swim near the middle, neither too cold nor too warm, too dark nor too light. Those fish, of course, are the most vibrant and colorful.” He stopped and looked her over once again. “Yes, I believe you’d be that sort of fish. Beautiful, swift, and clever, gracefully dancing in the rays of the sun filtering through the water.”
Judith’s mouth dropped open. Never had anyone called her beautiful, let alone graceful.
“I’ve rendered you speechless. Is that a first?”
Judith snapped her mouth shut. “Yes, I rather think it is. What a lovely thing to say. I’m sure no one has ever used any of those words to describe me, let alone all of them in a single sentence.”
He reached out and stroked her cheek. “They are all true.”
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