Does she dare gamble on the one man who wants her to go all in, or risk losing her most important hand yet?
After making a wager of marriage to settle her father’s gambling debts, Ella Bowen-Thorn Renwick escaped the husband she foolishly began to fall for and disappeared into the Scottish countryside carrying a secret. Four years later, and the owner of her own bakery, she is still not free of the demands of men when a violent and anonymous blackmailer threatens her, her livelihood… and her daughter. And then, there is him…
Viscount Renwick still mourns the wife he began to love before her untimely death-- that is, until he discovers her alive and well living in Scotland. Now, Devon’s face to face with the wife he thought he’d buried and the daughter he never knew existed. He’d like nothing more than to welcome Ella back into his arms, but mysterious and troubling incidents and a history with an unloving father have Ella trusting no one.
Now he’ll do anything, even make a wager he isn’t sure he can win, to reclaim what he lost.
But, if Renwick convinces his wife he’s the husband she always dreamed of and the father their daughter deserves, will the scandalous secret the blackmailer is holding threaten their future together once more?
“You like being a baker?” He asked with genuine curiosity and surprise.
"Well, the hours are atrocious, but do I like making my own way? The answer is yes. I make the decisions and there is no one to tell me what I am doing is wrong. It is a good feeling."
"You know, it is possible to depend on someone and not be frightened they would ridicule you."
She turned then and looked up at him. Was he saying he would never ridicule her? "I think it is human nature for a man to always question a woman's decision.” They had made their way to the folly which she hadn't realized was overgrown with vines affording its occupants with complete privacy. He was calculating, she would give him that.
"Two people can have differing views on a topic without ridicule. I have seen it." He helped her sit on the bench, then propped his booted foot on the seat next to her and rested his arm on his raised knee leaning down to face her. "If the two people see each other as equals it can work. Just like two business partners."
"Do you truly feel that marriage is a business venture?” She asked all innocent. She gave him her best card face hoping not to give away the importance of his answer. He studied her face. She knew he guessed his answer couldn't be so simple as a yes, or no. After several moments he attempted to answer.
"Well, I think that anytime two individuals are joined in a common goal, that yes they must treat each other as a partner. I daresay the benefits far outweigh most business ventures. Unfortunately, I can't answer past that, because I have never spent much time considering what a marriage would entail, until now. I am terribly out of my element here. You lived in a home with both parents for some time what say you?” He had answered her question in such a way that he didn't answer it at all. Blast!
Birds chirped as they jumped among the vines of their haven. The air seemed heavy and warm. More like a summer day than spring. He waited. She knew she couldn't answer him using her own parents, because she would never want what they had. She would not accept anything but a love match. Instead she spoke of the one example she had. The baker and his wife who took her in when she needed it most.
"I do know something of how a true marriage can work. It was not a Ton marriage. The two people were a team as you said. They worked together every day listening to each other, but it was more than that. You couldn't see it or even explain it, but it was how they looked at each other. How they spoke to one another even when they were disagreeing. I think it was very rare, and possibly unattainable.”
He shifted and turned to walk to the other side of the gazebo leaving a cool breeze in his wake, making her shiver.
"You are talking of a love match?" he asked with his back turned to her. She couldn't read anything in his words.
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A former middle and high school English teacher, Clair has had a lifetime love affair with reading. Once she read Pride and Prejudice as an extra read in high school, she was hooked. Clair began pursuit of publication when she was a new mother in need of a hobby. Her oldest daughter will be graduating in 2017, so you do the math. Clair is a firm believer that a reader finds a piece of who they are or learns something about the world with every book they read. She wants her readers to be empowered and to have a refreshed belief in the goodness of people and the power of love after reading her work.
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