she doesn’t have, she’s got only two things in her favor: her late husband’s diary, which she was never meant to see… and the man who was her first-and only-love. Losing him broke her heart, though she’s been careful to hide it for
the last ten years. But when he comes to her aid and vows to stand by her this time, no matter what, she can’t help but hope things will be different this time.James Weston has blamed himself for letting Olivia down when she needed him years ago, and he will not do it again. Fortunately, his unusual life has equipped him well to outsmart the villain chasing Olivia. Unfortunately, being so near her again threatens to expose every secret in his heart…even those that should stay hidden forever.
To Olivia’s mingled delight and surprise, Mother herself brought up the Westons that evening. “Haverstock House!” she exclaimed. “They’ve bought Haverstock House! Everyone in town is speaking of it. What is the neighborhood coming to, Sir Alfred?”
Father grunted. “I hear Weston paid a very pretty sum for it. Lord Malke’s steward mentioned wagons of new furnishings from London.”
That gave Mother pause. “Indeed!”
“I told you: well-heeled.” Father glanced at her, sitting quietly in the corner stitching her sampler. “Their boy seemed to like our Olivia.”
Instead of protesting that she was only a child, Mother turned to look at her as if struck by a new thought. “Did he . . . ?” But although Olivia was curious to hear what her mother thought, that was the last of the conversation.
Within days, true to Jamie’s prediction, Mrs. Weston came to call on Lady Herbert. Olivia only saw her leaving, but the next day Jamie himself came to Kellan Hall. He greeted her mother very politely, even charmingly, and then glanced at Olivia. “I’ve come to escort Miss Herbert to Haverstock House.”
Olivia barely managed not to goggle at him like a fool, but her mother was beaming. “Yes, of course. Olivia, fetch your bonnet. Mrs. Weston has invited you to visit her daughters, and I consented. Good society is so important to raising young people with manners and decorum!”
“Yes, ma’am,” she managed to say, even as her heart jumped. She ran for her bonnet and pelisse.
Jamie grinned as they left her house. “I told you my mother would call.”
Olivia couldn’t keep back an excited laugh. “I just didn’t know it would result in this!”
From then on she was permitted to visit the Westons almost at will. Daphne was also invited, but she went only a few times, and stopped entirely after getting into an argument with Penelope Weston over whether ladies should be allowed to drive carriages. But Olivia was soon fast friends with both Abigail and Penelope, who became as dear as sisters to her as the years went by.
Jamie was there as well, although less frequently as they all grew older. He wasn’t sent away to school as most boys were but had a series of tutors and instructors. Mr. Weston traveled frequently on business and often he took his son with him. Olivia thought that sounded dull, but Jamie said he enjoyed it immensely.
“It’s far better than sitting at home learning Latin verbs,” he told her. “I’d much rather visit shipyards and manufactories and see how things are really done. Even visiting the bankers is more intriguing than any mathematics exercise.”
She had to smile. “When you put it that way, perhaps I agree.”
He laughed. “It’s all in the way I put it! You’re much too easy to persuade, Livie. You’d let yourself be tempted into all kinds of bad behavior, wouldn’t you?”
Only by you, she thought. He’d been able to lead her astray since that first morning in church. “I don’t know what you mean,” she told him. “I’m a very respectable girl.”
“And yet I like you anyway,” he replied gravely.
She put out her tongue at him and he pulled one of her loose curls, just like any brother and sister.
Linden was born a reader, not a writer. She earned a math degree from Harvard University and wrote computer software before turning to writing fiction. Ten years, twelve books, three Red Sox championships, and one dog later, she has never been happier with her decision. Her books have won the NEC Reader’s Choice Beanpot Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award, and RWA’s RITA Award. Since she never won any prizes in math, she takes this as a sign that her decision was also a smart one. Visit her online at www.carolinelinden.com.