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Monday Puzzler > Puzzler: 11 May 2020

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message 1: by Leigh-Ayn (new)

Leigh-Ayn | 1184 comments I loved this book.

She would not let him unsettle her any further. “Mr. Hero, we’re God-fearing people in this village. We’ve enough trials and tribulations to handle on a daily basis. Your placement in the community is simply a poor match. I’m sure you understand.”

“I do,” he soothed.

When he walked back to his chair, she couldn’t help but notice the exquisite cut of his morning coat. It fit him like a glove, and the buttons reflected the firelight as if gleaming in approval of him.

Heroine took a sip of her tea in a desperate attempt to regain her bearings. No matter how handsome Mr. Hero was, she couldn’t let her thoughts drift anymore. “I’m a fair person, and I won’t let you go away empty-handed. I’ll give you a cash settlement to leave and provide a stipend until you acquire another parish better suited to you.”
Mr. Hero’s brow drew into neat lines. “But I’ve been appointed to lead this parish. Only my brother and the bishop can change my appointment.”

“I’ll write the bishop and explain the circumstances. I have little doubt you’ll be assigned a new parish within the month. Since I’m in a generous mood, I’ll pay your stipend for two years. You could use the money and hire a curate to take your place until you’re ready. Perhaps you could travel or”—she waved her hand in the air—“something.”

“Or something?” Resting his arm on the back of the chair, he studied the fire.

Eventually, a tenuous but somewhat peaceable quiet enveloped the room, occasionally interrupted by the crack of a log breaking in the fire. Heroine allowed herself to relax. The vicar had never made it a secret that he wanted to marry an heiress, which meant he was motivated by money.

“My offer is generous. As soon as you accept, I’ll contact my solicitor and have the papers drawn up.”

He turned to her and flashed a brilliant smile, one that bespoke his ready acceptance. Heroine smiled in return.

“Your generosity knows no bounds, my lady.” He leaned toward her as if to speak with her intimately.

She matched his movements, anxious for his agreement. When their gazes caught, he studied her with such an intensity that she believed he could see every fear, hope, and want she possessed. Something tugged deep inside her chest, and she tried to ignore it, but the pull became more powerful, more resolute. Perhaps it represented the constant loneliness that shadowed her every day of her adult life.

But she feared it was more. This man might have the power to peel a layer from her very essence, one that she’d carefully cultivated to protect herself. Never again would she allow herself to be manipulated in the name of other people’s wants and desires. She’d fight Hero Surname with every power she possessed. He’d never discover her secrets. The quicker he left their village, the better it was for all, including her.

He nodded once, and she allowed herself to relax for the first time this morning.

It was done.

“How could I refuse?” He smiled.

Such a simple act emphasized his angular cheekbones and the perfect set of those wide green eyes. Sister and friend had declared him handsome. Unfortunately, Heroine completely agreed.

“Excellent. Until you’re reassigned, I’ll allow you to tutor my son. That’ll add additional monies to your savings.” She relaxed slightly and smiled. “I’m so happy that we’ve come to a mutually beneficial resolution.”

“I thought it was for the benefit of the village.” He tilted his head slightly.

“Of course,” she said hastily. “That’s what I meant.”

“My lady.” His voice deepened. “I am truly sorry, but I must decline your generous offer.”

Shaking her head slightly, Heroine must not have heard him correctly. He couldn’t be turning her down. She was offering him the world. Or at least, a nice salary that not many in the church would ever hope to earn. “You mean the tutoring? If you’re not interested, I understand.”

“That’s not it,” he said.

“You mean you must ask permission from the bishop?”

He shook his head with a devilish grin.

“Then you must seek the Earl of L-ton’s permission?”

A deep rumble started in his chest. At first she thought it a growl, then she realized it for what it was. He was laughing. Goose bumps broke out across her arms. Whether it was from the cold or the sudden onset of disquiet, she couldn’t tell. She hadn’t said a single word that could be construed as funny.

Finally, he wiped his hands down his face. His fingers were uncommonly long, and his hands were huge. He leveled the most mesmerizing gaze her way.

“No. My brother always looks out for my best interests as family should.” His voice was so low, it practically sounded like he was humming in a deep baritone. “I refuse because it was you, Lady Nickname, who asked.”

She tightened her stomach at the hateful name. “I know all about you, your hunt for an heiress, and your tomcat ways.” She threw the proverbial gauntlet down and waited for him to accept the challenge. She would not, in no uncertain terms, allow him to stay.

“My reputation precedes me, I see.”

“One well deserved, I have no doubt.” She straightened in her seat. It was time to strike the fatal blow. “Surely, you’ve seen the articles in The Midnight Cryer.”

He nodded with a sly grin that reminded her of a mouser out for a midnight stroll, one on the hunt for perverse pleasure.

She’d not let him succeed.

“I’m particularly fond of the description ‘a debauched lecher who has mastered carousing.’ But between you and me”—he bent forward as if divulging a secret—“it may be gauche, but I’ve kept all the ones that featured me. I do enjoy reading about my escapades.”

“Like the time you were caught swimming in Lord Peters’s fountain with Lady Peters and Mrs. Hemsley completely naked?”

“Someone had to save them from drowning. As I recall, I was still wearing clothes,” he said. “I can’t vouch for the ladies’ attire.”

“Oh really?” She stared in disbelief. “What about you stealing a kiss from the Duchess of Southart in front of her duke?”

“There was mistletoe. Come now, my lady, you wouldn’t deny a man a simple holiday merriment?”

His expression reminded her of a guilty child feigning innocence.

“The article that said I was ‘sniffing’ after the Countess of Eanruig’s hand is incorrect.” He leaned back in his chair and grinned as if pleased with himself. “She was sniffing after me.”

Unbelievably, she found herself leaning forward to hear his words, hungry for his gossip. She exhaled silently. Best to get ahold of herself before she lost her nerve and her advantage.

“Sir, we don’t need your stench of scandal in Village. You’re a wild rake.”

“As in untamed?” He arched one brow.

“Uncouth,” she proclaimed.

The most devilish half grin graced his lips.

“And wicked,” she huffed while looking down her nose, but really it was more looking up as he was so tall.

“Birds of a feather . . .” he murmured.

“Careful, Vicar. You’re showing how provincial you really are.”

“I consider it ‘pastoral.’” His deep voice softened as if charming the devil’s minions.

“You and your reputation are not welcome in our community.” There. She’d said it. The words to drive him away. She didn’t want to insult him, but sometimes it was best to go for the jugular as they say. He didn’t need to know that she was the only one in Village who subscribed to The Midnight Cryer. Nor did he need to know that she watched for articles about him as fervently as he did.

“How ironic? You do realize that you’re welcoming me by gracing me with your presence. Speaking of reputations, what does that say about you?” He tapped the indentation in the middle of his perfect chin with one long, masculine finger. “I think it suggests you’re interested in me.” He had the audacity to laugh.

“I’m interested in getting you to leave.” The clipped words echoed around the room.

“You haven’t lost any of your rudimentary charm, Lady Nickname. You’ll just have to try harder.” He narrowed his eyes. “I’m staying. Now, when shall I meet the marquess?”

Aly is so frigging bored | 857 comments Mod
Oh, oh, I know this one! Great choice of book!

message 3: by Dls (new)

Dls | 2093 comments Mod
I definitely haven’t read this!

message 4: by Susan (new)

Susan (susaninaz) | 1017 comments Funny but realistic. I want to meet them!

message 5: by Chocolatesoup (new)

Chocolatesoup | 384 comments I don't recognize this one

message 6: by Manda (new)

Manda Collins (manda_collins) | 1917 comments Mod
Don't know it

message 7: by Stacey (new)

Stacey (staceyissassy) | 1275 comments I know this one and I really enjoyed it. :-)

message 8: by Leigh-Ayn (new)

Leigh-Ayn | 1184 comments Book is a new release from Janna MacGregor and is called Wild, Wild Rake

message 9: by Susan (new)

Susan (susaninaz) | 1017 comments Wild, Wild Rake is the link.

message 10: by Leigh-Ayn (new)

Leigh-Ayn | 1184 comments Susan wrote: "Wild, Wild Rake is the link."

Thanks! I can't attach links with my iphone app!

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