1871 - Born to privilege and duty in Virginia, Olivia Gentry comes of age as women begin to find their social and political independence. She has been raised and educated to carry on the Gentry family’s successful horse breeding stables with her brothers at Paradise, their family home. Having been deceived in love as a young woman and unsure of her instincts, she is wary to commit to a marriage, but she cannot deny her long-buried feelings for a family friend.
Jim Somerset has been in love with Olivia Gentry from the moment she gazed up at him as a young girl. A farrier by trade like his father before him, he and his business’s future are inexorably entwined with the Gentry family. He has watched her be courted by statesmen, and considers her and her goals out of the reach of a common workman, like himself. But he is fearful that he will never rid Olivia from his mind and from his heart. Has the moment come for him to reveal his passions for her? Find out in the third installment of the Gentrys of Paradise.
“You must tell me,” Jim Somerset said finally when he could no longer be silent. “Has someone hurt you? What has happened? Shall I take you to Matt or Adam?”
Olivia’s face reddened and she shook her head. But her eyes stopped and widened at something over his shoulder. He looked back and saw Richard Armsworth staring at her.
“Do not bow your head. Look up at me and smile even though it’s not what you wish to do,” he said softly.
She responded to him with a tentative smile, her hand quivering against his palm. She was a singularly beautiful woman. She was dressed in a gown the color of honey, accentuating her dark red hair and matching the pale freckles across her nose. It was then he noticed a tear in the fabric of her dress, a few threads sticking out at odd angles, at the corner of her squared neckline. She looked down to where he was looking and peered up at him with panicked eyes. He danced her right out of the large, open double doors at the back of the hall, and to the deserted side of the building.
“Why is your dress torn? What has happened?”
“Nothing . . . I can’t . . . nothing.” But she was gulping for breath and did not finish her words.
“Armsworth? It’s Armsworth, isn’t it. Has he hurt you?”
She grabbed his forearms. “Don’t do anything. Please.”
His skin itched with the desire to do violence. His heart was beating hard in his ears and his fists were clenched. But she was pleading with him, and he didn’t have the heart to deny her anything, especially when she was in such a state.
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