The Baron Regrets by D.S. Dehel Genre: Contemporary Romance, Cozy Mystery
Tessa Winthrop, an art restoration specialist, is hoping for the job of a lifetime—one which would cement her reputation in a field dominated by her male colleagues.
Working for Baron Lucien Stanhope—or Leo as he prefers—challenges Tess’s talent, intellect, and emotions. Leo is charming, handsome, and way out of her league. It doesn’t matter, though, because she only is there for her art and the mystery surrounding master painter Giovanni Remini.
When a night of passion leads to consequences that could mean the end of her career, Tess fears that the baron regrets having ever met her.
But fate has more in store for them, and sometimes regrets are the beginning of better things.
“Robert, I would like you to meet Ms. Tessa Winthrop. She is the art historian and conservator I have hired to work on Willows.” Leo had not moved from just inside the door. “Tessa, I would like you to meet my brother, Robert.”
Robert did a double-take and dropped the remote before hopping up and heading towards them.
Tess’s first thought was that while Leo was like a model in a magazine, she would look at him, think, He’s handsome, but then turn the page and forget about him. However, Robert was also like a model, but she would tear his picture out to be used as a reference. He was that striking.
The brothers were a study in contrasts. Although they were the same height, Leo appeared taller because of his thin, aristocratic build. Robert was more muscular and wore clothes that emphasized the fact. Leo’s hair was ash brown and wavy, possibly curly, but it was short and slicked back. Robert’s was straight and dark blond, worn fashionably long.
Up close, she noticed Robert’s eyes were the color of the sea on a sunny day, while Leo’s were a stormy gray.
“I’m the spare,” Robert said, shaking Tess’s hand and not letting go. He turned to Leo. “And here I thought you were hiring another dowdy artist. You didn’t tell me she was beautiful.”
“Robert is my younger brother and an incorrigible flirt. Don’t listen to a word he says.”
“That’s not a nice thing to say. Tess is beautiful. She reminds me of Botticelli’s Venus.” He tugged Tess closer to him with the hand he was still holding. “Don’t pay any attention to Leo. He’s just an old bore who has no taste in women.”
Leo rolled his eyes. “She looks nothing like Venus.”
“How insulting.” But Robert’s outrage was clearly feigned.
“Well, at least he didn’t say I look like Picasso’s Woman in a Green Hat,” she quipped.
Behind them, Leo snorted. Robert smiled, but Tess could see he did not know the Cubist painting. I bet Venus is the only painting you know.
“I hate to interrupt your vain attempt at wooing Tessa, but I would like to show her where she will be working.” Leo was now the formal, serious man of the interview.
It was Robert’s turn to roll his eyes at his brother.
“And it’s gauche to flirt with staff.” Though she may have been teasing, she had a rule to not get involved with her employers.
Finally, Robert dropped her hand. “But my dear, you are not staff. You are an expert restorer, and thus fair game.”
“You stay away from her.” Leo pointed a finger at his brother. “Let her work.” Then he walked out of the room.
D. S. Dehel is a lover of literature, good food, and the Oxford comma. When she is not immersed in a book, she is mom to her kids and spoiling her rather coddled feline, Mr. Darcy or her equally pampered puppy, Jameson. Having finally retired, she spends her days dreaming up new plotlines. She adores literary allusions, writing sex scenes, and British men. Actually, make that hot men in general. Her devoted husband is still convinced she writes children’s books. Please don’t enlighten him.
If you’ve read Inferno, you know the idea of a pilgrimage is one that is near and dear to my heart. Ironically thus far, all of my literary pilgrimages have been accidental. I’ve simply been in an area and gone to see the author’s home/gravesite, and often, I’m not a huge fan of the author. This was the case for Balzac and Proust.
There are two, though, that are rather special, but like the others, these trips were serendipitous. In 2007, I chaperoned a student trip to Europe, and because I am conversant in French—and have spent some time in France—during our free afternoon, I was allowed to take a smaller group of students and chaperones across Paris to Père LaChaise cemetery, ostensibly to find Jim Morrison’s tomb, but also to see the renowned resting place of so many people. There, we sought out Oscar Wilde’s grave. The story behind his last words and gravestone itself are legendary, so we had to stop and leave our “mark” on the angel headstone.
[Here I went on a half hour trip down the rabbit hole to find the picture.]
I’ve always been a fan of Wilde’s sensibility, and this was not only good fun, but done with a sardonic respect that Wilde would appreciate.
My second literary pilgrimage came later that same week when I was in Florence. Ever since I had to take an art history class in college (long story), Italy had long been on my bucket list. For years I had been teaching the 13th Canto of The Inferno to my Honors 10 students, and this was a chance to take pictures of his house to show them. During our free time, my 17-year-old son and I ventured off to find Dante’s house.
We promptly got lost.
The entire sum of my Italian at that time was ordering gelato. (I have my priorities.)
We found a cat, a bookstore, and had a blast exploring, then we finally found Dante and toured the museum.
Alright, one more. Last October I finally made it to Venice, and after quite the serpentine trek to find our boutique hotel, I discovered that we were staying in the same apartment block where Casanova was born. The museum was closed, but I snapped a picture anyway.
2020 being what it is, my trip to visit Yeats’s tomb was canceled, but I have been to Coole park. (There were no swans. I was annoyed.) Having said that, Coole park and its swans are a part of my upcoming Christmas Short, “The Seventh Swan.”
I suppose if there’s a point to all of this it’s get out there and explore (once we can). You never know what fun will find you.
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