Since the untimely death of her young husband, Regina Everleigh has been consumed by her grief. After more than a year spent sequestered in her rooms at Stonebridge Manor, the once lively young woman is encouraged to venture into town—her first small step toward healing. But Regina is shaken out of her stupor when she makes a most unexpected discovery: a foundling baby girl. Regina is instantly enthralled with the infant and determines that she will claim the child as her own—a deception that seems, in the moment, to be harmless. But when her husband’s cousin Radcliffe comes back into her life, Regina quickly becomes entangled in a tenuous charade.
Radcliffe is immediately taken with both the charming baby girl and the woman he believes to be her mother. As Regina and Radcliffe are drawn together, first as friends and then as something much deeper, the future is bright with unspoken promise. But when the truth of the baby’s parentage is revealed, Regina stands to lose all that she has come to cherish.
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“Gina knew that some form of a lecture was coming. In most situations, a maid would never speak so comfortably and casually to the person for whom they worked. But Emerald and Ruby had grown up with Gina, and they mutually shared an attitude of responsibility for Gina’s best interests, every bit as much as they worked together to care for her daily needs. Occasionally they both shared tea or a meal with her since she’d not eaten any meals outside her rooms for months now. But she couldn’t recall both being in her room together at this time of day. She sensed some kind of conspiracy and discreetly slithered deeper beneath the covers until they flew abruptly from over her face and she found herself looking up at Emerald, with the much shorter Ruby at her side. Both were scowling with determination, and Gina wished she could feign ignorance regarding what this might be about, but she knew exactly why they might feel the need to unite in confronting her. Nevertheless, that didn’t mean she wanted to discuss the matter—even with these women she trusted completely. She only wanted to continue on as she had been doing since Dwight’s passing. Life beyond her bedroom, sitting room, and personal parlor held no interest for her whatsoever. She had devoted herself to Dwight in every way, perhaps believing that her efforts could eventually create positive changes between them; but now she would never know. She’d worked hard to convince herself that there was a happy and hopeful future with him. And then he’d abandoned her. Of course, she knew he’d not intentionally met with a riding accident that rainy spring morning, but he had gone out riding when she had requested that he stay in due to the weather being so dreadful. He’d promised he wouldn’t be gone long, insisting that he only felt the need for a brief jaunt to get some fresh air. But the drizzle had turned to a downpour, and the meadows and woods through which he frequently rode had become muddy—or at least that’s what she’d been told by those who had found his body. When he’d not returned after many hours, his cousin and some of the servants had gone searching for him. It had been the unanimous opinion of all who had seen the location of the accident that the horse had apparently lost its footing on a muddy incline and Dwight had fallen from the saddle. The horse had loyally remained with its owner of many years, unharmed but very dirty. Apparently, Dwight had died instantly, according to what the local doctor had said about the way he had hit the ground. Gina found some comfort in knowing he hadn’t suffered, but in the depths of her grieving she had never been able to shake the feeling that he’d abandoned her, even if he’d never meant to do so. And with his death, all hope of creating a better marriage—and becoming a mother—had shattered into far too many pieces to ever be mended.”
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