Published: December 29, 2012
Original Avon Regency Edition 1993
Level of Sensuality: Kisses +
“There is something.” His voice, low and intense, alerted her to a change in him, and she looked up. “You could kiss me,” he said. “A kiss for every trout your brothers have cost me.”
Other Books In The Series
Poor Bel Shaw. Her carefree days of family fun and fishing must come to an end. It is her duty to assure the future prosperity of her large and close-knit family by making a good marriage. To add to her gloom, she is chased from her favorite spot on the river by the handsome and high-handed Nicholas Seymour, who apparently thinks he can buy the beautiful Bel as well as property. The outrageous bargain he proposes is a dozen kisses for the fish the Shaw’s have ‘stolen’ from his land. But claiming the first kiss has staggering consequences—for Nick who cannot resist another—and for Bel, whose passionate response will lead to discovery, scandal, ruin … and the sweetest bargain of all.
RWA RITA Finalist, 1994
“Lucinda’s Best Beach Books: This sparkling little story is the essence of Regency Romance.” --Manderley
“Definitely the most romantic fish tale I’ve ever read. The sexual tension build-up definitely worked because toward the end I was screaming out loud at Bel and Nick to “just rip your clothes off already!!!!” Successfully steamy stuff—loved it.” --Reader review
Who can resist Nicholas Seymour, the shy but naturally arrogant new Earl of Haverly? --Regency Rake of the Month, Romantic Times
The path they had chosen followed the uneven edge of a wood of elm and silver birch and lay in gentle loops like the undulations his settling line would trace as he finished a perfect cast. Strains of music from the opening set drifted out to them on the still air.
Rallying, he asked, “Are you fond of dancing, Miss Shaw?”
“Yes,” she answered. “And you, Lord Haverly?”
Nick considered and rejected the truth. “You needn’t call me that, Miss Shaw,” he said stiffly. “And you must remind me to return you to the ball in good time.”
“Must I?” asked Bel. She raised an eyebrow. “And what am I to call you?”
He laughed. “I suppose it’s asking too much that you would call me Nick?”
She appeared to weigh the idea. “It is,” she replied, suddenly serious.
They walked on in silence until Nick began to develop a distinct aversion for the dry, brittle sound of gravel underfoot. Then a new thought occurred.
“Miss Shaw, you did agree to accompany me just now.”
“And you were aware that one likely consequence of our leaving the group was that we would become the next topic of conversation among those who remained behind.”
“Nothing is more certain,” she replied.
“Then it is no new resentment that keeps you silent in my company? Merely the old?”
“What am I to call you?” she demanded, glancing up at him.
It was a mistake to look into his eyes, Bel discovered, for he had a way of looking at her as if he had quite forgotten the existence of any other person. The quivery knot inside her expanded and sent tremors along her limbs.
“If not Nick, you mean?” He appeared to ponder her question. “I have other names. I have certainly been called other things, few of which I can repeat to you. Farre calls me ‘lad’ as often as not. There is ‘sir,’ or if you prefer, the more contemptuous ‘sirrah.’ But which of these allows you to express the exact shade of distance and implacable resentment you feel toward me—I cannot advise you on that.”
“You are being kind, you know,” she said.
He laughed a brief harsh laugh. “Now that’s something you have not yet accused me of being. I cannot recall doing a kind act in my life.”
“No ‘little nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love that are the best part of a good man’s life?’” she teased.
“Don’t let the poet mislead you, Miss Shaw. You know what I hope for, even here among your friends and family. You refused to speak to me in the village the other day on account of it.”
She knew. Their bargain.