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Sophia Pennworthy wants nothing more out of life than to spend her time in her father’s study, reading books on every subject imaginable, especially the palmistry books her personal maid and mentor suggested for her. Her mentor knows the reason Sophia stays locked away with her books, firmly on the shelf: it is a rare mark on her palm . . .
Angelic good looks hide the devils' soul in Ethan Manchester. His exploits and string of broken hearts are legendary with the Ton. Since his father’s death his mother has been pestering him to settle down and have an heir. Settle down? Never, but the engagement will be announced tonight at the Pennworthy’s masquerade ball. Megan Pennworthy is the most logical choice, but before he ties on the old ball and chain he must find out who that lovely creature is giving palm readings near the garden dressed as a fortuneteller. Why, he just may have to have his fortune told . . .
“This isn’t going to work,” Sophia murmured as Lorna fastened the violet veil around Sophia’s face. “I’m never going to be able to do this.”
“What have I told you about intention?” Lorna reminded her, dismissing her fears.
Sophia turned, her worried eyes encountering the loving eyes of her dearest friend. “I know, I know.” She sighed, then recited, “Intention is everything. I must believe I can do this, and it will happen.”
Sophia smiled at the elderly woman, a woman who knew her better than her own mother. Lorna was small and thin, her hair liberally streaked with gray. She had an exuberance that shined in her brown eyes and a wisdom that Sophia someday hoped to achieve. Lorna started out as her nanny. Through the years she went from mother figure to spiritual advisor, mentor and dear friend.
“I wish I could be as confident as you,” Sophia insisted. “This wouldn’t be so difficult then.”
“It won’t be difficult if you believe,” Lorna reminded her, scolding.
“All right, all right! I believe you. The party will be fun. I will have a good time. Everything is going to be fine.” She chanted the words automatically, but her insides still felt like jelly. She took a deep breath to calm her frazzled nerves. “Why does Father have to announce the engagement tonight? Why couldn’t we have just have a nice little dinner for the happy couple, instead of this fiasco?”
“Now dear, you know it was your sister’s idea. She has the catch of the season. She wants to show him off.”
“But Ethan Manchester? He’s the devil, Lorna! Everyone knows about him—his reputation is legendary.”
Lorna finished adjusting the veil on Sophia’s head. She wore the costume of a fortuneteller. Sophia was unaware of her striking beauty; her strawberry blond hair, hidden by the veil she wore, covered everything on her face except for her eyes. Her sky blue eyes shined, heavy lashes fringing them. Violet gauze was wrapped around her full breasts, ending above her navel, then starting again at her hips to fall in graceful waves at her ankles. As part of the costume she wore no shoes, her toenails painted bright red. She wore bangles at her wrists and ankles, and a faux diamond winked from her navel.
Indeed, this was a far cry from how she usually dressed, preferring to hide her curves in plain gowns; her hair tied up in a haphazard bun. Having been on the shelf these past nine years, she did not feel the need to dress to impress.
“Have you ever met the man?” Lorna asked, placing a brush on a nearby vanity.
“No, every time he came to call I was in another part of the house.”
“Then how do you know you won’t like him?”
“Lorna, please! His sexual exploits are common knowledge. He leaves a string of broken hearts wherever he goes. Why, just before he set his sights on our poor little Meg he was rumored to have had an affair with Lord Wellington’s wife! An affair with a married woman!”
“That may be true, but that was before he met Meg. Don’t you think a man can change?”
Sophia shook her head passionately, the veil she wore fanning out behind her. “Not Ethan Manchester, not a chance. He’s too much the scoundrel, a spitting image of his despicable father. I’m just afraid that he’s going to break Megan’s heart.”
“Megan’s a big girl now,” Lorna reminded her as she fixed Sophia’s veil again. “She thinks she can take care of him. She’s being very stubborn about this, and I think she can change the man. I think you should give them a chance. There. All done.”
Lorna smiled as Sophia turned around.
“Maybe you’re right.” Sophia caught her image in a mirror and frowned, pulling at the material around her bosom. “I feel naked,” she complained, muttering through the veil that shielded her face.
“Don’t worry, child.” Lorna patted her on the back before pushing her out the door.
If you love historical romance do not miss this one! It is a keeper that you will read in one sitting, rapidly turning pages as you curse Ethan’s “control” and share Sophie’s inner emotional turmoil. Within her reach is an absolute ecstasy of certain love, yet she is constantly denied by circumstances and a pig-headed male. There are many unexpected events in Sophie’s adventure and readers will be surprised more than once as the story unfolds. Erotic moments are spicy but not graphic. The usage of palmistry increased my enjoyment of the story and makes the essence of this romance unforgettable. The traits of the fated lover’s line on Ethan and Sophie’s palms are expanded throughout their journey in a totally unpredictable manner. My one concern is that the author needs to do a little more research on the distances able to be covered by horse, but for this reader, an error in this regard did not distract from the story. I would absolutely recommend The Fated Lover’s Line and will be sure to buy future Claire Hope releases.
Reviewed by: Naomi 5 Angels
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 286
Paper Weight (lb): 12.0
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