Harriet Godwyne is staying with her uncle in Kent again. She comes every summer and spends at least a month here. She is walking in the cherry orchard when she sees a man riding towards her. It turns out to be the Earl of Connought. He has come to kiss her. He wagered his friends that he would have a kiss from Harriet before noon on this day. He steals a kiss from Harriet. Harriet can't believe that she is still so affected by his kiss. Once again, she can't feel her feet.
Harriet was engaged to Connought at one time. It was seven long years ago. It was Harriet's first season out and she fell head over heals in love with Connought. The morning after their engagement, Connought was seen kissing Harriet's cousin, Margaret. Harriet broke off her engagement at that point. She could not excuse Connought's behavior. No amount of pleading on Connought's part could sway Harriet. She remained steadfast in her refusal to marry Connought. They have both remained in love with the other and neither of them has married yet.
Connought goes back to his estate of Kingsland. As he walks in the billiards room, his two friends know that he has gotten his kiss just by the look on his face. Charles proposes another wager. The wager he proposes is that Connought can have his revenge. He must get Harriet to agree that she would marry him if he were to ask her. This must be accomplished within seven days. If he doesn't manage this task, he must ask Arabella to marry him the next morning. If he does manage to win Harriet's love within the seven days, his friend, Laurence Douglas, must ask Harriet's cousin, Margaret, to marry him. Connought agrees to this and the wager is begun.
Meanwhile, Harriet finds her cousin and their friend, Jane. They can tell at one glance that something is wrong with Harriet. She explains that she ran into Connought in the orchard and they ended up arguing. The three of them decide on a wager as well. Jane is the one that comes up with it. Jane gives Harriet a task. Harriet must obtain, by fair means or foul, three items of Connought's before seven days are up. The three items are Connought's pocket watch, his riding crop and the emerald stickpin he wears at fancy occasions. If she cannot manage to do this, she must ask Connought to marry her. If she can win the wager, Margaret must marry Laurence.
Now the fun begins as Harriet and Connought each try to win their respective wagers. This is definitely complicated by the fact that they are in love.
This is a wonderfully engaging Regency Romp. The characters are very well rounded and quite believable. The story is very well written and thoroughly entertaining. I was engaged in the story from the very first page and totally entertained by it. This story delivers exactly what it promises, right down to the heartfelt sigh at the end of it.
Chere Gruver, May 2003