Read Love in the Afternoon Online

Authors: Lisa Kleypas

Love in the Afternoon

Praise for

Seduce Me At Sunrise

"Has plenty to keep readers turning the pages: wit, suspense, secrets to learn, and, of course, lots of love and passion."

--The Monitor

"Each member of the family is a delight to meet, and the depths of emotions and love they have for each other are shown magnificently . . . a spectacular story that continues the saga of the Hathaway family."

--Romance Reviews

"Lushly sexy and thoroughly romantic . . . superbly crafted characters and an intriguing plot blend together brilliantly in this splendid romance."

--Booklist

Mine Till Midnight

"Vintage Kleypas . . . An unforgettable story peopled with remarkable characters and a depth of emotion that will leave you breathless with the wonderment of knowing what falling in love is really like."

--Romantic Times BOOKreviews

"Kleypas's effortless style makes for another sexy exploration of 19th-century passion and peccadilloes, riveting from start to finish."

--Publishers Weekly

"Will steal the hearts of readers."

--Post and Courier (Charleston, South Carolina)

MORE...

"Captivating . . . The love story brims with humor and touches of pathos as the characters struggle with lost love and relinquishing grief to embrace life anew."

--Fresh Fiction

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"Strong characters, compelling romance, an intriguing story, and steamy passion."

--The State (Columbia, South Carolina)

"Aside from creating wonderfully alluring characters in Cam and Amelia, Kleypas shows sexual tension, sensitively handles prejudice, and expertly weaves in a bit of the supernatural to round out a tale that is pure delight.

Cam and Amelia's romance is well-paced and is a pleasing balance of wit and passion. Their relationship is . . . riveting from beginning to end."

--Romance Reviews Today

"RITA Award-winner Kleypas presents another wonderfully entertaining, lusciously sensual historical romance."

--Booklist

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St. Martin's Paperbacks Titles by

LISA KLEYPAS

Married By Morning

Tempt Me At Twilight

Seduce Me At Sunrise

Mine Till Midnight

Smooth Talking Stranger

Blue-Eyed Devil

Sugar Daddy

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Love in the Afternoon

LISA KLEYPAS

St. Martin's Paperbacks

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Table of Contents

Title

Copyright

Dedication

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Epilogue

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NOTE: If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as "unsold and destroyed" to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this "stripped book."

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.

LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON

Copyright (c) 2010 by Lisa Kleypas.

Excerpt from Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor copyright (c) 2010 by Lisa Kleypas.

Sketch of dog by Hillary James

All rights reserved.

For information address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.

ISBN: 978-0-312-60539-1

Printed in the United States of America

St. Martin's Paperbacks edition / July 2010

St. Martin's Paperbacks are published by St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.

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To my brilliant and utterly fabulous friend Eloisa. If I may paraphrase E.B.

White: "It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Eloisa is both."

Love always,

L.K.

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Prologue
Captain Christopher Phelan

1st Battalion Rifle Brigade

Cape Mapan

Crimea

June 1855

Dearest Christopher,

I can't write to you again.

I'm not who you think I am.

I didn't mean to send love letters, but that is what they became. On their way to you, my words turned into heartbeats on the page.

Come back, please come home and find me.

--[unsigned]

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Chapter One

Hampshire, England

Eight months earlier

It all began with a letter.

To be precise, it was the mention of the dog.

"What about the dog?" Beatrix Hathaway asked. "Whose dog?"

Her friend Prudence, the reigning beauty of Hampshire County,

looked up from the letter that had been sent by her suitor, Captain

Christopher Phelan.

Although it wasn't proper for a gentleman to correspond with an

unmarried girl, they had arranged to send letters back and forth with Phelan's sister-in-law as a go-between.

Prudence sent her a mock frown. "Really, Bea, you're displaying far more concern over a dog than you ever have for Captain Phelan."

"Captain Phelan has no need of my concern," Beatrix said

pragmatically. "He has the concern of every marriageable miss in Hampshire. Besides, he chose to go to war, and I'm sure he's having a lovely time strutting about in his smart uniform."

"It's not at all smart," came Prudence's glum reply. "In fact, his new regiment has dreadful uniforms--very plain, dark green with black facings, and no gold braiding or lace at all. And when I asked why, Captain Phelan said it was to help the Rifles stay concealed, which makes no sense, as everyone knows that a British soldier is far too brave and proud to conceal himself during battle. But Christopher--that is, Captain Phelan--said it had something to do with . . . oh, he used some French word . . ."

"Camouflage?" Beatrix asked, intrigued.

"Yes, how did you know?"

"Many animals have ways of camouflaging themselves to keep from being seen. Chameleons, for example. Or the way an owl's feathering is mottled to help it blend with the bark of its tree. That way--"

"Heavens, Beatrix, do not start another lecture on animals."

"I'll stop if you tell me about the dog."

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Prudence handed her the letter. "Read it for yourself."

"But Pru," Beatrix protested as the small, neat pages were pushed into her hands. "Captain Phelan may have written something personal."

"I should be so fortunate! It's utterly gloomy. Nothing but battles and bad news."

Although Christopher Phelan was the last man Beatrix would ever

want to defend, she couldn't help pointing out, "He is away fighting in the Crimea, Pru. I'm not sure there are many pleasant things to write about in wartime."

"Well, I have no interest in foreign countries, and I've never pretended to."

A reluctant grin spread across Beatrix's face. "Pru, are you certain that you want to be an officer's wife?"

"Well, of course . . . most commissioned soldiers never go to war.

They're very fashionable men-about-town, and if they agree to go on half pay, they have hardly any duties and they don't have to spend any time at all with the regiment. And that was the case with Captain Phelan, until he was alerted for foreign service." Prudence shrugged. "I suppose wars are always inconveniently timed. Thank heavens Captain Phelan will return to

Hampshire soon."

"Will he? How do you know?"

"My parents say the war will be over by Christmas."

"I've heard that as well. However, one wonders if we aren't severely underestimating the Russians' abilities, and overestimating our own."

"How unpatriotic," Prudence exclaimed, a teasing light in her eyes.

"Patriotism has nothing to do with the fact that the War Office, in its enthusiasm, didn't do nearly enough planning before it launched thirty thousand men to the Crimea. We have neither adequate knowledge of the place, nor any sound strategy for its capture."

"How do you know so much about it?"

"From the Times. It's reported on every day. Don't you read the papers?"

"Not the political section. My parents say it's ill-bred for a young lady to take an interest in such things."

"My family discusses politics every night at dinner, and my sisters and I all take part." Beatrix paused deliberately before adding with an impish grin, "We even have opinions."

Prudence's eyes widened. "My goodness. Well, I shouldn't be

surprised. Everyone knows your family is . . . different."

"Different" was a far kinder adjective than was often used to describe 11

the Hathaway family. The Hathaways were comprised of five siblings, the oldest of which was Leo, followed by Amelia, Winnifred, Poppy, and

Beatrix. After the death of their parents, the Hathaways had gone through an astonishing change of fortune. Although they were common born, they were distantly related to an aristocratic branch of the family. Through a series of unexpected events, Leo had inherited a viscountcy for which he and his sisters hadn't been remotely prepared. They had moved from their small village of Primrose Place to the Ramsay estate in the southern county of Hampshire.

After six years the Hathaways had managed to learn just enough to

accommodate themselves in good society. However, none of them had

learned to think like the nobility, nor had they acquired aristocratic values or mannerisms. They had wealth, but that was not nearly as important as breeding and connections. And whereas a family in similar circumstances would have endeavored to improve their situations by marrying their social betters, the Hathaways had so far chosen to marry for love.

As for Beatrix, there was doubt as to whether she would marry at all.

She was only half civilized, spending most of her time out-of-doors, riding or rambling through the woodlands, marsh, and meadows of Hampshire.

Beatrix preferred the company of animals to people, collecting injured and orphaned creatures and rehabilitating them. The creatures that couldn't survive on their own in the wild were kept as pets, and Beatrix occupied herself with caring for them. Out-of-doors, she was happy and fulfilled.

Indoors, life was not nearly so perfect.

More and more frequently, Beatrix had become aware of a chafing

sense of dissatisfaction. Of yearning. The problem was that Beatrix had never met a man who was right for her. Certainly none of the pale, overbred specimens of the London drawing rooms she had frequented. And although the more robust men in the country were appealing, none of them had the unnameable something Beatrix longed for. She dreamed of a man whose

force of will matched her own. She wanted to be passionately loved . . .

challenged . . . overtaken.

Beatrix glanced at the folded letter in her hands.

It wasn't that she disliked Christopher Phelan as much as she

recognized that he was inimical to everything she was. Sophisticated and born to privilege, he was able to move with ease in the civilized environment that was so alien to her. He was the second son of a well-to-do local family, his maternal grandfather an earl, his father's family distinguished by a significant shipping fortune.

Although the Phelans were not in line for a title, the oldest son, John, 12

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