With This Ring
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.