Courting the Country Miss
Cynical and broken-hearted, Leticia banishes dreams of marriage. When her childhood friend, Tristan, wagers he can find her the perfect husband, she hopes the challenge will coax him to forgo his devil-may-care lifestyle. Meanwhile, Leticia throws herself into forming her charity school but meets opposition—even from the people she’s helping.
Guilt-ridden that his past mistakes robbed Leticia of true love, Tristan vows to set it right, but match-making has its pitfalls for a repentant scoundrel. When he finds two ‘perfect’ gentlemen to court her, he discovers his own deep feelings for the lady.
Though Tristan seems to reform, Leticia doesn’t dare risk heartbreak with a notorious rake. When opposition for the school takes a deadly turn, can Tristan protect her from a madman bent on destroying their dreams and their lives?
Tristan searched for Leticia among the dancers. Her eyes sparkled and her cheeks flushed, painting a lovely picture.
“Pretty thing, isn’t she?” Rowley said.
“Perhaps you each should ask her for a set,” Tristan suggested in a nonchalant tone to no one in particular.
Wynn straightened further, Rowley looked thoughtful, and Seton appeared to be bracing himself for battle, gulping and tugging at the hem of his waistcoat.
Wynn glanced back at the others, his gaze resting longest on Tristan. “Deuce take it, lads, I cannot approach her without an introduction.”
“You could ask the hostess,” Tristan suggested.
Wynn looked around. “I don’t see her.”
Tristan growled under his breath. He’d rather introduce Leticia to a bug than to Wynn.
Wynn pinned Tristan with a look. “If you’d be so kind.”
Tristan sighed. “Very well.”
Flanked by Wynn, Tristan ambled toward the dance floor as the music ended. A laughing Leticia and her partner—a true dandy in a bright yellow and blue brocade waistcoat with a green tailcoat—left the floor. Her partner left Leticia with her mother, bowed, then pinched some snuff as he wound through the crowd.
“You’ve developed a liking for peacocks, I see,” Tristan teased Leticia.
Leticia gave his arm a playful swat. “Mr. Pottinger is a fine dancer and a pleasant conversationalist.”
Green. Her eyes were green—the exact shade of a new leaf in spring, moments after it opens. How could he have missed such an intriguing shade of green all these years?
“Uh huh.” Tristan raised his brows as if he didn’t believe a word of her assessment of the dandy. Which he didn’t. Before Leticia got tempted to do something unladylike such as crack her fan over his head, Tristan turned to Wynn. “Please allow me to introduce you to Mr. John Wynn. He’s here with his family, including a rather spirited sister, I understand.” He hoped Wynn heard the warning in his voice.
Wynn flashed a debonair smile, but at the last second, his gaze flitted toward Tristan as if he feared Tristan might reveal a secret.
After a last look of challenge, Tristan said, “Mr. Wynn, meet one of my oldest and dearest friends, Miss Wentworth.”
“A delight to make your acquaintance, Miss Wentworth.” Wynn bowed low.
Leticia smiled as if she’d found a missing puzzle piece. “Wynn? Oh, yes, I met your sister. Spirited, indeed.”
Wynn wasted no time. “Miss Wentworth, if I may be so bold, will you do me the honor of standing up with me?” He gestured toward the dance floor where dancers lined up for the next set.
“I’d be delighted.” As she placed her hand on Wynn’s proffered arm, she glanced at Tristan as if to say, ‘I know you’ve put him up to this.’
Tristan would take the earliest opportunity to ensure she knew he did not put Wynn up to it and that the scoundrel failed to meet the criteria for a suitable husband, by Leticia’s own list. And his own.
Perhaps this matchmaking business would be a greater challenge than he first supposed.