After seeing her two older half-sister sisters miserable in their arranged marriages, Cleo Renfield vows to leave London Society and return to the shelter of the country. To fend off her sisters’ attempts at matchmaking, she convinces her old friend, Lord Hastings, to pretend to a courtship. Good old Leslie is always up for a lark. And his reputation is questionable enough to make her family reconsider their plans to marry her off.
With his father dead and closest friends married, Leslie finds himself at loose ends, so he agrees to Cleo’s audacious plan only to find that the girl he once knew has grown into an enchanting young woman. As his friendship with Cleo blossoms into something more, can he convince her to stay in London and make their false courtship a true love?
This sweet traditional Regency romance was originally published by Kensington. Uncommon Courtships. Forever Loves.
“An enjoyable, feel-good romp.” -- The Romance Reader Connection
Here’s a taste:
“I will not introduce you to that woman,” Cleo declared. “I am supposed to be attaching your regard for myself.”
“And a tremendous job you are doing too,” Leslie replied. “Shall I threaten to fall upon my nonexistent sword if you don’t marry me right away or will following you about with puppy-like adoration suffice?”
She could not help but giggle. “Oh, falling on your sword would be far more entertaining.”
“Bloodthirsty wretch,” he quipped. “So, what exactly do you plan? And how can I help?”
She purposely looked out at the dancers. He was as game as he’d always been, but she could not shake the feeling that the playmate of her youth was gone. She could not remember admiring the feel of muscle under his coat as she did with this man. She could not recall being so acutely aware of how tall he was, and how tiny she felt beside him with her head near his chest. Nor imagine how it might feel to rest her head against his chest and feel his arms around her. She shook her head again.
“Cleo?” He pulled on her arm so that she must face him. “You do have a plan, don’t you?”
His dark eyes were narrowed with obvious confusion. His head was cocked as he watched her, and she could see that the sophistication he put on was little more than a mask. Deep down, he was still the same old Leslie from her childhood. He knew her better than most people, surely better than her sisters. He’d ridden, and hunted, and fished with her. They had shared scrapes and scraps together. Surely he would understand.
“Yes, Leslie,” she admitted. “I have a plan. And it is not so far from what you jokingly suggested. I think we should pretend to fall madly in love with each other and behave so reprehensibly that they have no choice but to leave us alone, once and for all.”