An Innocent Heart (MF)
[BookStrand Historical Romance]
Harrison Kinnington, Earl of Warwick, has been obsessed with solving crimes ever since his best friend was murdered years ago. He has no tolerance for the pickpocket stalking him until he finds out this particular thief is a cleverly disguised woman.
Louisa "Lou" Parker has found a clever way to survive the hard streets of London, by becoming one of the street urchins Harry helps put behind bars. As they are continually thrown together, Harry becomes faced with the challenge of realizing his dream of revenge pitted against his growing love for Lou.
A BookStrand Mainstream Romance
“My lord,” she said to him, forgetting momentarily to use the low voice of her disguise. Her naturally feminine voice rang out though she was quite unaware of it. “The innocence of your kind was left behind in a nursery, so please, don’t make the rich and beguiled out to be more than the sum of their positions in society. For when were they generous of mercy to the hungry and homeless? What I took from them was a small pittance for a meal and survival.”
“How long have you been on your own?” he asked quietly.
She looked at him sharply. His cold voice had disappeared and had been replaced with a flat tone. He wasn’t looking at her, but she was almost glad not to have those brilliant blue eyes staring into her own.
“Four years,” she replied warily. “But I’ve not been a pickpocket for that long. I did have a job. And I do have plans for the future. But the past couple of months have been difficult. If it’s all the same with you, maybe we can reach a compromise.”
“What’s your name?” he asked. “If we make a deal, I have to have something to call you by.”
“Lou Parker. Just Lou.”
“Lou?” he questioned. She nodded. “A bargain, hmm? What would a dirty little ruffian boy have that might be of any interest to me?”
If she didn’t know better, it almost sounded as if he was joking with her. Lou sat straighter. “I don’t like stealing, Lord Warwick,” she informed haughtily. “If you are kind enough to provide meals, then I will work for you for a designated amount of time. I assure you, I will show up each day to complete my tasks, but each night I must be allowed to return to my home.”
He didn’t answer right away. She could see that he mulled over all she had said. Lou also noticed that they were pulling into a large manor driveway. The home was very large surrounded by extremely well-maintained grounds. In her talk with Lord Warwick, she had failed to notice the large gates they had driven through, but glanced behind her to see them being closed.
“Where are we?” she asked dazed. “I thought we were headed to Bobney Street.”
Lord Warwick glanced at her as he pulled the phaeton to a halt. Two footmen hurried forward to assist them, but Lou just sat for a moment, mouth hanging open, staring at the massive pillars that decorated the front entrance.
“Come down,” Lord Warwick ordered softly.
Lou snapped out of her trance and used the steps the footmen had provided to step out of the coach. She felt Lord Warwick move to stand beside her, but she couldn’t, for the life of her, pull her eyes from the large home.
“Who lives here?” she asked.
“I do,” he answered, half amused. And then, before she realized what he was doing, he reached up to yank off her cap, which was still fitted low on her forehead. Her auburn hair tumbled to her shoulders and burned like fire in the bright sunlight. “Now, Lou Parker, what is your proper name?”