This Book! This Book! I really want to read it! (And read it I will.) It looks amazing. Read an excerpt below and get excited to read as well.
Brighton, England 1820
Amelia Moore wants only one thing—to secure the future happiness of her younger sister, Clara. With their stepfather’s looming death, the two sisters will soon be on their own—without family, a home, or a penny to their names. When an invitation arrives to join a house party at Lakeshire Park, Amelia grasps at the chance. If she can encourage a match between Clara and their host, Sir Ronald, then at least her sister will be taken care of.
Little does she know that another guest, the arrogant and overconfident Mr. Peter Wood, is after the same goal for his own sister. Amelia and Peter begin a rivalry that Amelia has no choice but to win. But competing against Peter—and eventually playing by his rules—makes Amelia vulnerable to losing the only thing she has left to claim: her heart.
As servants set up the picnic, I took the opportunity to pull Clara away a few feet, just out of earshot.
“How was the morning? Really?” I asked.
“Fine.” Clara looked away into the distance. “Sir Ronald’s lands are truly lovely.”
“Only, what? Tell me at once, Clara. Did something hap- pen?”
“Not something. Someone.” She glanced over her shoulder to where Georgiana was laughing at something her brother said. I could almost guarantee it was not as funny as that.
“What can I do? I could force her down the hill. Roll her ankle?” I tried to lace humor in the idea, though I was frighteningly willing to follow through with it.
“Georgiana? She is tolerable. As I’ve told you, Amelia, I only want Ronald to be happy. I just want an equal chance at being his happiness.” She spoke with determination, as though she had to convince herself she was capable. “He is a good man, and he’d make a good match for me. For us. We could stop worrying about Lord Gray and live our lives.” Clara sighed, brooding again. “But I can hardly get a word in edgewise with Georgiana’s brother here.”
“Mr. Wood?” My voice squeaked on his name.
“Yes,” she exclaimed, annoyed. “With every bit of conversation, even the weather, he finds a way to turn it in Georgiana’s favor. It is maddening. For half a minute, I’d like to talk to Sir Ronald about his life here, what it’s like to be master of all this. But when I try, guess what the conversation turns into?”
“Georgiana.” I groaned, feeling her frustration. “Perhaps I can pull her into conversation, distract her.”
“No.” Clara shook her head. “It is not so much Georgiana as it is Mr. Wood. Amelia, I need you to distract him.”
“What?” Surely I’d misheard her. My confidence in swaying that man to my will was infinitesimal, if it existed at all. Not to mention that I loathed him and nearly every word that came from his mouth.
“Just for the afternoon. Please, Amelia. I will go mad if I have to hear him spout on about his sister for one more minute.”
One afternoon. I rubbed my temples. Suddenly, the miles I’d walked earlier were not so exhausting. The ache in my feet, welcomed. But having to spend time alone with Peter Wood? That was misery indeed. I peered over my shoulder and saw him standing between Sir Ronald and Georgiana like mortar between bricks. Clara was right. Something had to be done.
Lifting my shoulders and straightening my back, I anchored my resolve.
“Well, Clara, you are fortunate now more than ever to have a clever sister. I may not be the most beautiful woman here, but I can find a way to keep Mr. Wood at bay.” I set my chin. “Do take advantage of whatever time I can give you. It will not be earned painlessly.”
Clara’s eyes brightened in excitement, and she pulled me into a happy embrace as she squealed into my ear. “For all that is bad in my life, you, dear sister, keep the good at an equal balance.”
I heartily agreed. We rejoined the company just as the servants finished laying out the picnic.
Cold meats, cheese, fruit, and breads were offered along with lemonade. It was quite a handsome feast.
Sir Ronald beckoned Clara over to his blanket to share the small spread he’d prepared, and as she settled in beside him, Georgiana positioned herself on his right.
Realizing my duty, I searched for wavy brown hair and listened for a deep, velvety voice, finally finding Peter dallying near a servant at the carriage. For now, at least, he was occupied on his own.
Chapter 4, pages 35-37
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