Winning Violet -- Becky Lower

Winning Violet

Everything’s coming up roses for an English miss and an American gentleman in this delightful new series from the author of the Cotillion Ball saga!

After British soldiers killed his wife and child during the War of 1812, Parker Sinclair vowed to never set foot on English soil. But as Thomas Jefferson’s landscaper, one must sometimes make the ultimate sacrifice. The last thing Parker expects to find is an educated English beauty who can teach him so much more than how to plant a magnificent garden.

An expert at cross-pollinating roses, Violet Wilson’s dreams of becoming the first woman recognized by the Royal Horticultural Society are fading because she’s afraid to leave the quiet solitude of her family’s nursery. Distrustful of men after a traumatic encounter, she’s not keen on disrupting her routine to help the American landscaper, but she soon blossoms under his kindness and respect.

As they fall in love, can this shrinking Violet take the risk of leaving behind all she knows for a new life with Parker? Or is he considering a different ending altogether?

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Time to face the inevitable. She could be cordial, as her father had requested. She’d be the epitome of frosty English grace. Teach him quickly and send him on his way with a boatload of roses. Sell him much more than necessary, in order to gain more profit from his visit. More money in the nursery’s coffers wouldn’t make up for the lapse in Violet’s work, but it would at least be something to point to with pride. She pasted a smile on her face, left the confines of her small office and strode out to meet her father and the American.

Her footsteps faltered as she caught sight of their guest. She’d been expecting an older white-haired balding gentleman, possibly stooped over from decades of tending young plants. Yet the man standing in front of her was neither white haired nor stooped over. Instead, he towered over her by at least eight inches. His arms were well developed from his work in his American nursery, and his buff-colored breeches were sculpted to his toned legs. Her gaze traveled up, over his broad shoulders to his face. His mop of dark hair had been tossed about by the wind and his eyes were the blue of winter ice. He couldn’t be more than in his early thirties, if that. Certainly not what she’d envisioned. Not what she’d hoped for.

Their eyes met.

He smiled ever so slightly.

Violet caught her breath, her heart pounding against her rib cage.

He didn’t speak.

Neither did she.

A hot stretch of silence spooled between them.

What had happened to her sharp tongue? Instead of being razor-sharp, her tongue had glued itself to the top of her mouth.

“Ah, there you are, Violet.” Her father entered the greenhouse after his guest, filling the void in the conversation. “This is Mr. Parker Sinclair, from Philadelphia. Mr. Sinclair, meet my second eldest, Violet.”

Violet extended her hand, expecting him to kiss it the way a proper English gentleman would have.

Instead, his big calloused fingers wrapped around hers, squeezing ever so slightly. His palm was tanned and nicked with scars. She shouldn’t have noticed. Why had she? Her breath climbed her throat in a thin wisp of air.

He pumped her hand heartily as if attempting to extract water from a well. Held on far too long. His thumb tightened its grip on the soft flesh between her thumb and forefinger and she couldn’t breathe.

His scent–rich and earthy–surrounded her, invading her nostrils.

Her stomach tightened, burst into a kaleidoscope of butterflies. Alarmed, she tugged her hand back.

Slowly, he let go. His eyes flashed at her.

Bloody American.