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Author’s Note

Acknowledgments

For OuiOui. With a kiss on the cheek, perhaps a little too close to the ear.

Chapter One

A small village in Kent, Spring, 1845

Simon Davenant had just three days to woo and marry a woman.

Not just a woman—the woman.

Right now, the only things standing between him and the object of his affections were an exuberant field of colored tulips, a walkway of white crushed stones, and seven years of pointed silence on his part.

It had been that long since last he’d set foot in Chester-on-Woolsey—seven long years in which he’d buried himself in his work, trying to forget dark hair and darker eyes, the feel of her skin, the sound of her laugh.

It hadn’t worked. Everything he’d done had reminded him of this place.

Simon had walked to Barrett’s Folly—the little property she had inherited from her aunt—from the railway station three miles distant. He’d diverted from his destination only long enough to leave his valise at the inn in town. The man who had assigned him his room was new to the area; he’d not even blinked in recognition when Simon gave his name.

At that early hour, only the bakery had been open. He’d stopped for a bun, but old Mrs. Brandell hadn’t remembered him, either. There was no reason the little village should recall him. He’d merely spent his childhood holidays here.

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