Happy end of February!
My Facebook friends tell me it’s been a dreadful winter in other parts of the country. Even in Southern California we’re having a cold (for us) snap, with afternoon highs in the low 60s. Brrrr. We’re such wimps out here!
What we all need is a little romance to warm our hearts!
Leap Day Romance
Two years ago I blogged about Leap Day, and by the time I’d finished the post, a Leap Day-themed romance began to take shape. It took me a while to write that story, but it’s here! I considered waiting to launch this story on a February 29th, but decided there was no time like the present.
If you’ve read The Marquess and the Midwife, you’ll remember that Ameline helped deliver a baby on Christmas Day, and the mother, Miss Smith, only barely survived.
But she did survive, and A Leap Into Love is her romance story. This is much sweeter than my usual romances, but that just seemed to be what worked best for a “widow” and widower surrounded by children.
Here’s the blurb:
Can a gentleman be too charming? The ladies of Upper Upton think so.
And it’s almost Leap Day, when a man who refuses a lady’s proposal of marriage must offer a forfeit.
When the single ladies of the village conspire to teach their charmer a lesson that might bankrupt him, the town’s loveliest young widow steps up to warn him.
His secrets and hers make them a perfect match—and she’s the lady he wants. But she won’t accept his proposal, not even to rescue him.
As Leap Day approaches, the clock is ticking. Can he convince her in time to say yes to his offer and take a leap into love?
They stepped out of the inn yard and onto the road. Arthur settled himself on his shoulder and snuffled his neck.
He should offer the lady his arm, but she’d put some distance between them, walking in the other wheel rut. “And so what is the verdict on the worsted?”
She bit her lip. “The worsted.” She sighed and squinted at Wills who was ranging far ahead. “We shall buy some of it. Depending upon your price, of course. Mrs. McClintock will be along tomorrow to examine it and talk to you. But in truth…” She stopped, bit down on her lip again and raised her eyes to him. “There is a plot, Mr. Grant. I feel honor-bound to tell you. You must…” Her gaze skittered along the bushes hedging the lane as if someone lurked there eavesdropping. “You must leave town on twenty-nine February. There is a plot.”
Twenty-nine February. “A plot.”
Twenty-nine February was Leap Day.
The fog lifted. He’d heard of the tradition but never seen it practiced: on Leap Day a lass could propose marriage to a lad. Miss Gurnwood wanted Mrs. Smith to propose to her brother. The stringy young vicar needed a wife. And what had that to do with a plot against himself?
“They mean to conspire, all the unmarried ladies in town. They mean to ask you to marry them.”
He swallowed a chuckle. He’d drawn ladies to his handsome self since he’d begun sprouting whiskers. It was good to know he still had the knack. “And why would they do that?”
Her chest rose with a quick breath. “Why? You’re a widower, they say, and in need of a mother for your children.”
“Is that all?”
She pressed her lips together. “A man who is…well-spoken, reasonably young, and well-established is rare in a village like this.”
“And braw and handsome.”
“Yes, and a…a…well, I must say it: a man friendly with all the ladies. They mean to take you to task. They mean to ask you to marry them, and when you say no, they mean to ask as a forfeit the silk and muslin cloth you purchased at auction today.”
Artie squirmed and looked to his mother, sensing her disquiet.
He patted the plump bottom, and the babe settled. “If I say no. And of course I’ll have to since I’m not some eastern potentate setting up a harem. It’s a diabolical plan. Not too far ahead, Wills,” he called.
“So you see, you must leave.”
“I’m not one to run from trouble, Mrs. Smith.”
Not any kind of trouble. As an officer of the 42nd Foot, he’d fought every skirmish he came across with nary a scratch. It had been an act of charity, taking food to a sick family in Lisbon, that had felled him with a dire case of the mumps and sent him home on half pay.
In the distance Will swung his lantern, well out of earshot.
And Wills was more proof that Alexander Grant didn’t run, not even if the problem was not his own.
He’d set his mind to what was right, so he might as well go ahead with it, and directly too. She’d not go away thinking he was anything but dead serious.
He touched her arm.
“Mrs. Smith, there is another way to thwart them.”
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