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RURAL SOMERSET, ENGLAND, 1813 . . .
“I can’t help you, Lady Eleanor.”
Anne Paxton Smythe stared at the elegant noblewoman sitting across from her, hoping she seemed courteous but firm. She struggled to exhibit a serene smile, but could barely keep from fidgeting.
It was folly to refuse an aristocrat’s request, and she had to wonder if she was putting herself at risk, if all she’d achieved would be rent asunder simply because she’d stood her ground.
From the instant the exalted lady’s coach-and-four had rumbled up the lane, Anne had been