How far will a man go…
Talented but troubled, the Chandler family seems cursed by bad luck—and so Nathaniel Chandler has learned to trade on his charm. He can broker a deal with anyone from a turf-mad English noble to an Irish horse breeder. But Nathaniel’s skills are tested when his stable of trained Thoroughbreds become suspiciously ill just before the Epsom Derby, and he begins to suspect his father’s new secretary is not as innocent as she seems.
To win a woman’s secretive heart?
Nathaniel would be very surprised if he knew why Rosalind Agate was really helping his family in their quest for a Derby victory. But for the sake of both their livelihoods, Rosalind and Nathaniel must set aside their suspicions. As Derby Day draws near, her wit and his charm make for a successful investigative team…and light the fires of growing desire. But Rosalind’s life is built on secrets and Nathaniel’s on charisma, and neither defense will serve them once they lose their hearts…
When the farmer had led his chestnut away again, Nathaniel dangled the medal before Rosalind’s face. “Look there, Rosalind Agate. I’ve finally won a medal, and I didn’t even have to tidy myself up for a meal.”
“Or arise early.” At the end of its white ribbon, the medal turned in a slow breeze. It was a small circle of some silver metal, maybe tin, buffed to shine and catch the eye. “It’s pretty,” she said. “I’m glad he gave it to you. He wouldn’t have won without your help at the right moment.”
“Oh—well.” He shrugged this off, then stuffed the medal into the pocket of his waistcoat, from which the ribbon poked out alongside his fob. “This is a pleasant village, isn’t it? If home felt like this, I mightn’t be so eager to take to the road.”
“And how does it feel to you?” She couldn’t seem to stop asking questions. Her tidy control was packed away. Today she was a woman who danced, and who owned a ribbon so green it would bring a man to his knees.
The thought made her smile as she blinked up at Nathaniel. His eyes were blue, as blue as the Suffolk sky in springtime. She had learned the shade of their brightness.
Slowly, he smiled. “It feels,” he said, “like the sort of place where a man might kiss a woman with a crown of red flowers in her hair.”
Her heart thudded a bit faster; her knees went watery. “It does feel that way,” she whispered. “To me too.”
He tipped up her chin, his hand strong yet gentle along the line of her jaw. “Thank God for that.” And there in the shadow of a building once devoured by flame, he lowered his lips to hers.
* * *
Once their lips met, Nathaniel could not imagine how he had waited so long to kiss her.
Oh, there were reasons on reasons not to. She was his father’s secretary, and he had some sort of business arrangement with her about…something…
Honestly, who cared about the reasons why not? There were even more reasons why this was right.
The soft, almost hesitant curve of her mouth before he covered it with his own.
The surprised inhale that smoothed into a hmmm of pleasure.
The sweet-spiced taste of her as her lips parted, letting them fit together more deeply with his. As the tip of his tongue brushed hers, setting them both to shivering, he tasted the candied almonds. He tasted the heat of her and breathed in her scent. She was flowers and laughter and all the joys of a muddled morning. Of a race won. A medal for doing what was right.
Her hands wound around his neck, nails trailing lightly through his short-cropped hair. He could have groaned at the feeling, gentle and intimate, and he bent to wrap her more closely within his embrace. His hand trailed from her face to her shoulder to her back to fit her close to him. To press against her, solid and smiling and crimson-crowned and lovely.
She made another little hmm, and he went tense as a bowstring at the erotic sound. He laced his fingers into her plaited hair beneath its wreath of blooms. Feeling the shape of her head through her sleek hair was intimate. He almost felt as though he were holding her thoughts. Could he tell what was on her mind? How could he understand her, a woman so eager for sweetness but who had never yet claimed it?
Publisher and Release Date: Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2 February 2016
Time and Setting: England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars
Review by Wendy
A Gentleman’s Game – the first book in Theresa Romain’s new Romance of the Turf series – has a freshness and quirkiness in style that sets her apart from a lot of others out there at present. I confess to knowing nothing whatsoever about the world of horse racing, which is the basis for the series, but even though I had to concentrate hard to get into the story, my lack of knowledge didn’t actually cause me any problems while reading.
The characters, however, I adored immediately. Was there ever a more charmingly disarming, completely-unaware-of-his-own-attractiveness hero than Nathaniel Chandler? For me he steals the show; and his treatment of and kindness to, his father’s secretary – the unfathomable Rosalind Agate – with her mysteriously secret agenda, is the kind of treatment and kindness any woman would give her eye teeth for. Rosalind too is an extremely likeable character, modest, no nonsense and efficient. “her accent as tidy and crisp as the angled streets of Mayfair”. She suffered horrific scarring to her body after a childhood accident and bears it all in a pragmatic and non-self pitying manner, preferring to dwell on the positives rather than the negatives, in that the scars remind her to be thankful that she is alive.
Nathaniel is forever trying to please his critical, overbearing father, but is always found wanting and left frustrated by his inability to please him. Sir William Chandler does not trust his son to carry out any really important task on his own, despite the fact that Nathaniel travels the length and breadth of the country at his Father’s bidding, successfully carrying out his orders. Although there is a family of four siblings, the only two who have any closeness to speak of are Nathaniel and his younger sister Hannah (heroine of ). The family fragmented when their mother died and Sir William left his young and grieving children to travel on the continent before contracting an illness that left him wheelchair bound and eventually brought him home; albeit still very much in control of his faculties and unwilling to share the running of his horse training and stud farm business. Father and son have never quite recovered from this episode in their lives and I thought it clever of Ms. Romain to introduce the subject of alcoholism into the story as a possible result of their estrangement. Nathaniel’s lack of self worth and loneliness is astutely picked up by Rosalind, herself having being all but alone since her accident at age thirteen.
I loved the journey and funny little stories surrounding the horses and the young couple on the road to Epsom where two of the Chandler’s thoroughbreds are to compete in the Derby. However, I felt that there was too much going on to allow me to completely enjoy the delightful love story developing between Rosalind and Nathaniel. And too, quite a complicated ‘espionage’ plotline which didn’t quite add up with too many odd character names, threads and loose ends. Perhaps the rest of the series will reveal more. I did, however, adore Theresa Romain’s beautifully drawn characters – especially the divine Nathaniel, and her very compelling style which has definitely wetted my appetite for more of her work in the future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Historical romance author Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in the Midwest.