IT TAKES TWO TO TANGLE. In October, her third holiday historical romance—SEASON FOR SCANDAL—will be released.
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He made as though to release the canvas cover again, but Jane stilled his hand. Warm fingers under hers; the same hand that had been painted, so long ago, clutching his father’s shoulder.
“Why do you never see them?”
“Then why don’t they come here?” She knew she was prodding and prying, but what had she to lose?
Her question had silenced him. His shuffling feet went still; even his breathing seemed shallower. “I’m used to things as they are.”
Jane’s nostrils flared. She was ready to rip up a pasture herself, or to shake Edmund by his sturdy, broad shoulders until his teeth rattled loose in his head.
But a quiet thought cut through her frustration: used to things. He hadn’t said he was happy, only that he was accustomed to the present state of affairs. And she knew she hadn’t imagined his wistfulness. A wistfulness that had nothing to do with Jane, yet made her feel closer to him all the same, because it revealed something that he wanted.
“Your sisters.” She paused, not wanting to press too hard and shatter the moment. “Did they like their gifts?”
Edmund pulled in a deep breath. “It’s best for all of us. They get what they want of me, and I know they are taken care of.”
“If you think that giving someone a hat is taking care of her, yes.”
Why had she said that? She hadn’t come up here to pick a battle with him, but to pick up clues. What made Edmund happy or wistful. Why he never visited his family in Cornwall. What drove him to look at paintings he’d had hidden away long ago, judging from the dust motes shaken free of the canvas, floating in the weak light.
But he didn’t fight her. This man, who had inherited his mother’s determined jaw and his father’s deep eyes, only bowed his head. “It’s not. It’s nothing of the kind. But it’s all I can do.”
“Why—is that?” She changed her question to a milder one. Why don’t you go back, was what she’d wanted to ask. What happened to all of you?
This time he did let the painting’s cover fall over the image. “It’s no wonder I made a muck of our marriage, is it? If we learn by example, I’ve had very little to go on.”
“What rubbish. We cannot possibly learn everything by example.” She folded her arms against the cold that leaked in around the window frame. “If we did, I’d still be living in a poky little cottage like my mother. Probably with my mother. Seeing the same people every day, living my life in the same tiny rounds.” She took a deep breath. “Sometimes people don’t belong in the family they’re born into. And it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. Or they are.”
“But you do belong in your family. With Xavier, I mean. Your cousin. You’re so much alike, in your stubbornness and daring.”
Yes, she thought so, too. And she knew herself to be lucky now. “One reprobate can always manage to locate another.”
Excerpt from SEASON FOR SCANDAL ©2013 by Theresa Romain. All rights reserved.
Series: Holiday Pleasures #3
Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Zebra (October 1, 2013)
Jane Tindall has never had money of her own or exceptional beauty. Her gifts are more subtle: a mind like an abacus, a talent for play-acting—and a daring taste for gambling. But all the daring in the world can’t help with the cards fixed against her. And when Edmund Ware, Baron Kirkpatrick, unwittingly spoils her chance to win a fortune, her reputation is ruined too. Or so she thinks, until he suggests a surprising mode of escape: a hasty marriage. To him. On the surface, their wedding would seem to satisfy all the demands of proper society, but as the Yuletide approaches, secrets and scandals turn this proper marriage into a very improper affair.
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