The Fontainebleau Fan
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Miss Meg Hayward expects nothing more than an even exchange with Nicholas Barrington Wadsworth, tenth Earl of Wakefield, who mistakenly purchased her hand-painted copy instead of the antique fan once owned by Madame Pompadour. But it is not so simple.Until now, Meg and her sister Olivia have lived a quiet life in rural Sussex, where they struggle to earn a meager living while their baronet father sinks further into decline. When Meg and her sister arrive at his Lordship’s imposing London townhouse, they truly feel like country dowds. Worse yet, his lordship angrily accuses Meg of being a swindler. Matching the fury of the unexpectedly young and handsome Earl, Meg refuses to give him the original fan until she has her copy in her hands. Since, he says, the fan was a gift to the Dowager Countess, his grandmama, Meg and Livy must journey to his country estate in Berkshire. To their chagrin, the Earl escorts them, riding a magnificent desert horse alongside his elegant chaise, as if they were his prisoners.The elderly Lady Wakefield, with a devious twinkle in her eye, is amused by her grandson’s blunder. She invites the Hayward sisters to be her guests. Impressed by the skillful painting of the copied fan, the Dowager asks Meg to paint the one solid wall of her new glass conservatory. Meg is hesitant, but when she sees how the invitation irks the imperious Earl, she agrees to the assignment, ignoring the twinge in her heart at the thought of being near him for weeks. Lord Wakefield has a hard time overcoming his exasperation. His attraction to Meg is as unwelcome as it is irresistible. For her part, Miss Hayward feels an annoying fluttery tingle whenever he is near.As the Earl finds himself powerfully drawn to the lovely artist, he and Meg engage in frequent skirmishes. Watching her skillful painting and reluctantly enjoying her witty charm, he yearns to take her in his arms. But she stubbornly turns away, all too aware of his hesitancy. Only when he finally confesses his respect, his eager commitment to her, and his enduring love, can Meg allow her heart to reply in kind.