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When Gwenllian Lloyd literally knocks dashing Daniel Wyckliff off his feet in Bath’s Sydney Gardens, she is unaware intrigue looms before her. The year is 1804. England fears invasion from Napoleon’s France. Gwenllian has just met the man of her dreams, but is he a man she can trust?
Bath, England 1804
Daniel Wyckliff could have sworn the pug was smiling. Its pink tongue lolling out of a mouth quirked in a wide grin, the dog careened across the strip of lawn and into the grove like a fat rabbit, forcing him to swivel on his good left leg to prevent the pug from running smack into his shins. He had a glimpse of a swiftly retreating curled tail before he turned and a body collided with his chest.
Already off balance, Daniel reeled back with the impact. His boot heels slipped on the grass still wet with morning dew, and he knew with dreadful certainty that both he and his assailant were going down. His weak right arm, hidden beneath his Carrick coat, was next to useless, but his reflexes raised his left, ready to repel his attacker.
As his hand clutched its shoulder, he felt soft flesh beneath thin muslin, and realized she was a woman. Pulling her toward him just before they hit the earth, he deftly managed to cushion her fall with his body.
His breath burst out in a painful rush as his back struck the ground hard and the weight of the girl thudded upon his chest. He blinked, tried to breathe. Then he felt her stir and he was looking up into pale gray eyes.
“Are you injured, sir? My deepest apologies, I was chasing--and I know I am far heavier than I appear. Oh, please be unharmed, sir.” She spoke with a slight lilt. Welsh, perhaps?
A sudden wheezing and snuffling manifested at the right side of his face and Daniel felt a hairy muzzle inspecting his cheek.
“No, Oliver,” the woman ordered. “The gentleman does not need any pug saliva.” She reached out and gently pushed the dog away from him.
Still flat on his back, Daniel gingerly tested a deep breath and chuckled with his exhale. “Why not? I have heard that pug saliva can cure most anything.”
Her eyes lit up. “Do you like pugs, sir? I find so few gentlemen truly appreciate what lovely, useful dogs they are.”
He fleetingly admired the poetic license she took with her choice of adjectives. Either that or the definition of ‘useful’--and ‘lovely’ for that matter--had changed this year.
“I like pugs,” he answered.
She beamed. It was a smile he felt all the way to his toes, setting his mind racing almost as quickly as his heart. Had she noticed his impaired limbs? With a flash of uneasy self-consciousness, he realized it was exceedingly important to him that this woman think him a vigorous, able-bodied male.
Attempting nonchalance, he reached across with his left hand and fondled the dog’s velvety, black ears. “I believe this is the first uncropped pug of my acquaintance. You have a penchant for the unorthodox, I take it?”
“I must admit that never before has a lady tackled me in Sydney Gardens. If this is a new fad come to Bath, then I am all for it.”
“Oh goodness, what am I doing?” she gasped, seeming honestly appalled with herself. “I assure you I am not. I shall remove myself from you at once, of course.”
She started to roll and he heard the distinct sound of tearing. She froze. “I believe my dress is caught, somewhere.”
She tried to look about her, but her loosened bonnet kept blocking her view. With an impatient tug, she pulled it off and tossed it to the side, revealing dark locks cropped and curled in the short, tousled Titus style. Rather daringly short hair for a lady. When she glanced at him again, he was struck by how light her eyes were in contrast to her tanned complexion and black hair. She had a wild, gypsyish appearance, too dark for fashion to consider her beautiful and yet…
“I cannot find the catch.” Her brows knit with concern.
“If you would permit me?”
AUTHOR'S BIO: Susanne Saville has earned a Master’s Degree in History and a second Master’s Degree in Library Science. The casual observer might suppose that this primarily qualifies her to dispense fries at fast-food restaurants. However, Ms. Saville has worked as a Reference Librarian and as a History instructor at Georgia Military College. She currently resides in New England and, along with writing, delights in researching, spending quality time with her cat, and eating fries at fast-food restaurants.
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 264
Paper Weight (lb): 11.0
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