Title: Jack of Diamonds
Author: Meredith Bond
Genre: Regency Romance
Can the Ladies’ Wagering Whist Society help a young woman with a dark secret allow light and love into her heart?
Lydia Sheffield is always laughing, always joking, always charming, always surrounded by adoring gentlemen. She wants to enjoy the season, and not yield to Regency society’s expectation that she quickly marry and have children. She also has a secret lurking within her—one that will keep her from ever taking a risk on love.
Lord John Welles has a secret of his own, but Lydia has discovered it. She noticed what no one else did, that this attractive, upstanding gentleman is filching diamonds from unsuspecting ladies. Lydia extracts a price for her silence—a fake engagement to her for the season. John never expected to want to make the arrangement real, nor that Lydia would be so dead-set against it. There’s something she’s not telling him, and he’s determined to find out what it is.
Can John discover Lydia’s secret in time to save his heart from breaking? He’ll need to convince her to take a chance on love, on life… and on him.
It will take the Ladies’ Wagering Whist Society to help John win his diamond.
Lydia Sheffield grasped onto her friend Tina’s arm, certain that she had to be imagining things. “I’m sorry, but did you just see that?”
“See what?” Tina asked, following her line of sight.
“That man.” Lydia followed the man with her eyes across the crowded ballroom, trying to indicate who she was speaking about without outright pointing in his direction. “That man heading out the door, the one in the gray coat. He just stole two diamond pins from a lady’s hair!”
“What? You must be imagining things, Miss Sheffield,” said Lady Norman, Tina’s mother, with a little laugh. “No gentleman would steal pins from a lady’s hair!”
“No, I’m certain… Oh, he’s gone,” Lydia said, feeling strangely disappointed. She let go of Tina’s arm, but her heart was still pounding. She’d never actually witnessed a crime before.
“He must have just accidentally bumped into her,” Tina said.
“Yes,” Lydia said, not believing it for a second. “Perhaps it was that.” Truly, who would steal hairpins from a lady at a ball? No one could possibly be so brazen! Besides which, everyone here had been invited, and no member of the ton would be so desperate that they would resort to stealing. No, Tina was right. She had to have imagined it.
Lydia turned back to Tina and her mother. “Yes, you must be right.” She forced out a little laugh. “No one would steal hairpins from a lady at a ball.” She shook her head, trying to dispel the image from her mind’s eye.
“Perhaps you need some fresh air as much as I do,” Tina suggested.
“Oh, no. I’m fine. Truly,” Lydia said, giving another laugh. What she really wanted to do was follow the man and see where he went. But there was no way to do so politely. No, she was stuck right where she was.
“Well, then, if you don’t mind, I think I’m going to get step outside for a moment. If one more person insults me to my face, I’m not entirely certain I won’t actually scream,” Tina said, putting on a brave smile.
“Oh, dear!” her mother said, looking a little worried.
“It’s all right. I’m sure that a brief walk in the garden will make me feel better. If you’ll excuse me.” Tina gave them both a little curtsy and headed out the French doors to the garden.
Lydia had been doing her best to be a good friend to Tina Ayres when she’d imagined she’d seen the theft. Tina had just made her society debut that very evening and was having a hard time of it.
Lydia had been half-listening to Tina and her mother discuss how rude people could be when the man caught her eye. She’d been casually scanning the people crowding Lady Kershaw’s ballroom when she noticed the gentleman move in what almost looked like a furtive manner behind a group of ladies.
The women were probably discussing poor Tina, as every once in a while one of them stole a glance in her direction. It was what nearly everyone at the party was talking about after all. Before today, Tina had been known to a number of ladies of the ton merely as a modiste—granted, she was one who made beautiful, extremely flattering gowns, but this evening her father, the Earl of Ayres, had re-introduced her as his daughter. But for Lydia, it was the gentleman in the gray coat who’d held her attention.
He was incredibly handsome in a rather ordinary way. He was of average height with dark blond hair. His clothing was completely ordinary, nothing spectacular, or particularly memorable. It was true that his face was handsome and his physique on the athletic side, but other than that he was completely forgettable. Lydia had just been trying to figure out what it was about him that captured her attention, when she’d seen him pluck the pin from one of the older ladies.
Lydia studied the woman’s complicated coiffure. It was a maze of braids and curls all held together by a dozen or so diamond hairpins. Had the man—could she call him a gentleman?—pulled a pin from the lady’s hair?
“I can’t help but wonder who that gentleman was, though,” Lydia said to Lady Norman after Tina left.
“Maybe I know him. What did he look like?” her friend asked, even though she was still watching her daughter’s retreating back. Lady Norman was always so helpful and more than willing to step in as a sort of chaperone to Lydia since her father usually made himself scarce the moment they walked into any party.
Lydia pictured the gentleman in her mind. “He was tall but not very tall. Brown, maybe dark blond hair. He wore a dark gray coat and black waistcoat with gray embroidery. Quite elegant, actually, in a very understated way.”
Lady Norman turned back to Lydia. “I don’t believe I’ve seen the gentleman.”
“Oh, well. It’s all right. I’m sure I’ll see him again.”
“One always does,” Lady Norman agreed.
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It’s a brand-new year, full of possibilities Did you make any resolutions/goals for 2020? If so, please share one.
I have resolved for 2020 to be better at going out with friends—I tend to be a home-body, but being social is important and good for your mental health.
Why is your featured book a must-read in 2020?
I love putting heroes and heroines who don’t seem to be a natural fit together. Lydia Sheffield is an outgoing socialite, John Welles is an introverted Robin Hood, together they blend and bring out the best in each other. If you love fun stories with a touch of deeper meaning to them then this is for you!
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Runs January 1 – 31, 2020.
Drawing will be held on February 1, 2020.
Meredith Bond's books straddle that beautiful line between historical romance and fantasy. An award-winning author, she writes fun traditional Regency romances, medieval Arthurian romances, and Regency romances with a touch of magic. Known for her characters “who slip readily into one’s heart,” Meredith loves to take her readers on a journey they won't soon forget. She is currently living in Europe enjoying the Bohemian life.
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