During a rare white Christmas at Brambledean Court, the widow Elizabeth, Lady Overfield, defies convention by falling in love with a younger man in the latest novel in the Westcott series.
After her husband's passing, Elizabeth Overfield decides that she must enter into another suitable marriage. That, however, is the last thing on her mind when she meets Colin Handrich, Lord Hodges, at the Westcott Christmas house party. She simply enjoys his company as they listen to carolers on Christmas Eve, walk home from church together on Christmas morning, and engage in a spirited snowball fight in the afternoon. Both are surprised when their sled topples them into a snow bank and they end up sharing an unexpected kiss. They know there is no question of any relationship between them for she is nine years older than he.
They return to London the following season, both committed to finding other, more suitable matches. Still they agree to share one waltz at each ball they attend. This innocuous agreement proves to be one that will topple their worlds, as each dance steadily ensnares them in a romance that forces the two to question what they are willing to sacrifice for love...
SOMEONE TO TRUST by Mary Balogh
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“I hope,” Colin said later when he was standing at the bottom of the run watching the action and Elizabeth had just come down with the Reverend Kingsley, “I did not offend you with the snowball in the face?”
“Oh, let me see,” she said. “Was that the first one or the fourth?”
“Numbers two, three, and four were part of a fair fight,” he said. “The first one was not. I hope I did not offend you. Actually I meant to hit you on the shoulder.”
“What?” she said. “You are not such a star bowler after all, then?”
“As for numbers two, three, and four,” he said, ignoring the jibe, “you really need to learn how to duck, Elizabeth.”
“The third time I did duck,” she said, “and got it in the face anyway.”
Her cheeks were bright red and glowing. So was her nose. Her hair beneath the red-brimmed bonnet was wet and pulling free of its pins. Her eyes were sparkling, her lips curved into a smile. She looked really quite beautiful with animation to add to the usual smiling serenity. She appeared young and vibrant. But she ought to be offended. He had concentrated most of his attack during the fight upon her, perhaps because she was concentrating most of hers upon him and had been so very obviously enjoying herself. She had missed by a mile with every snowball but one, and that had shattered harmlessly against his elbow.
“Yes. Thank you,” he said when Dorchester offered him the sled he had just ridden down with his wife. The two of them wandered off together, hand in hand.
Colin turned to Elizabeth. “Shall we?”
“But can I trust you?” she asked.
“Always.” He clapped one gloved hand over his heart and they trudged up the hill side by side.
They did two runs together. The first was flawless. Colin’s only regret was that the slope was not longer, but this was the highest hill in the park and it really was not bad. The second run was not so successful. Bertrand Lamarr, on his way down with Abigail, swerved to avoid colliding with his twin and Boris, Molenor’s eldest boy, and Colin had to swerve to miss them both. He was on the outer edge of the run and hit soft snow before reaching the bottom. He tried to correct their course, but the sled had other ideas and went plowing farther in, veering wildly from side to side before upending its occupants into deep snow close to the bottom.
There were shouts from outside their cocoon of snow, though none sounded deeply concerned. Elizabeth was laughing and sputtering—from beneath Colin. He was laughing too as he raised his head and brushed foolishly and ineffectually at the snow covering her bonnet and shoulders.
“I will never live that one down,” he said.
“I forgot to ask in what ways I might trust you,” she said. “Foolish of me.”
“With your life, ma’am,” he said, grinning at her. “Behold yourself unharmed and only snow caked. At least, I hope you are unharmed.” It occurred to him that his weight might be squashing her.
And then the most ghastly thing happened.
He thought about it afterward—he could not stop thinking, in fact—and squirmed with intense discomfort every time. What the devil had possessed him? And what the devil must she think even though she had assured him that she would not think about it at all.
He kissed her.