A treasure lost…

American Sara Whately came to England with a single goal: recover a long-lost family treasure. Her father had long ago renounced his title and abandoned his country, but desperate financial straits call for desperate measures. Gaining access won’t be easy. The jewels are hidden on an estate Sara’s grandfather lost long ago in an unlucky turn of the cards. And then there’s the vexing, villainous, valiant Viscount Reath…

Sinclair Stratton, Lord Reath, has always gotten everything he wants—money, privilege, and women. But after ten years abroad, he’s returned to England, ready to make amends for his youthful follies. He plans to return his ill-gotten estate to its rightful owner, but the man is impossible to find. And despite still being one of the most sought-after rake’s in town, a bold American beauty he keeps encountering, seems to be immune to his charms and dashing good looks.

While Sara has promised to not just search for her grandfather’s jewels but make an attempt at fitting into society, it might just be that Viscount Reath is the treasure she actually needs.

A gentleman approached a young lady standing nearby. He bowed as the young lady curtsied. They exchanged a few words and then, with the brightest of smiles, they both went off to join the others who were assembling for the next dance.

“Would you care to dance, Miss Whately?” Lord Reath’s quiet voice startled her out of her reverie.

“Oh. I… I would be most honored to dance with you, sir,” Sara said, copying what she had just heard the other young lady say. She curtsied and then placed her hand on his outstretched arm.

This should not be difficult at all, Sara thought, eagerly. She could simply copy what the other dancers did.

Keeping a close eye on the woman next to her, Sara attempted to do just as she did. Unfortunately, she found by looking around that she should be doing something slightly different. Not every couple did the same thing at the same time. Sara quickly realized that she was supposed to lead the second couple behind them but had no idea what she should be doing.

Lord Reath looked at her oddly. “No, Miss Whately, it is you who are supposed to turn now,” he said gently. Sara turned, but went the wrong way.

“Take his hand first,” he said, directing her to the partner of the young lady standing next to her.

And then finally, he began to laugh. “Miss Whately, do you not know how to dance?”

Sara looked at him, completely frustrated. It had all looked so simple! But when actually called upon to do the steps, she just did not know what to do and when.

And now he was laughing at her! Sara swallowed the lump that had suddenly formed in her throat.

The vexing viscount took her elbow and directed her back to her aunt. Still laughing, he said, “Miss Whately, you only needed to tell me that you did not dance, and I would have been happy with that. You did not need to attempt something of which you have no knowledge.”

“Sara, what was that?” her aunt said, pumping her fan vigorously in front of her face.

Sara looked from her aunt to Lord Reath. Looking down at her hands clenched in front of her, she blinked a few times rapidly to clear the tears that had sprung to her eyes.

“I am sorry, sir. It looked so much easier than it actually was. I am afraid I never learned how to dance.”

“Nor appropriate conversation, from what my friends tell me,” Lord Reath said, still laughing at her.

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Meredith Bond