Publication Date: August 15, 2014
Seven years ago Fran and Alex were very much in love. Yet because Alex was only a younger son with no prospects to speak of, Fran’s family pressured her into breaking the engagement and marrying a rich, titled man instead. Filled with bitterness, Alex left England for the New World.
Now he is back, more dangerous and more cynical than ever before. He has found fame and fortune as an adventurer, traveling the world from America to the Near East and writing about his travels for Allan’s Miscellany. He has come to London to drum up interest for his friend’s archeological excavations. Soon, he finds himself the darling of London society, admired by men, wooed by women.
Fate has not been so kind to Fran. After a disastrous marriage, which has left her with deep emotional and physical scars, she is widowed and now lives in genteel poverty.
By chance, Alex and Fran’s paths cross again. They have both changed so much, and past betrayals and past hurts still divide them. So surely there can be no second chance for their love…
Evading a carriage, Alex dashed through the rain across the slippery road and towards the entrance door, where he collided with another damp person. And a lady at that.
Damn impolite, Crenshaw.
“I do beg your-”
The lady looked up, hazel eyes widened with surprise, and as their gazes met, he felt as if she had punched him in the gut.
Tendrils of sodden auburn hair had escaped from under her widow’s bonnet and clung to her cheek. In contrast to the evening before, her skin now glowed rosy, and indeed, she almost looked like the girl he had known.
His insides clenched unpleasantly.
Gritting his teeth, he inclined his head. “Lady Clifford.” Which made him sound like a fool-a fool who stood gaping in the rain at that! “Frances,” he said and opened the door for her, indicating she should proceed him inside.
It gave him opportunity to assemble his scrambled thoughts.
And to study the neat indentation of her waist in the tight-fitting black pelisse she was wearing.
“I am most sorry I nearly bowled you over just now,” he said once they were inside the shop. He felt strangely reluctant to just let her slip away, even though that would have been much safer for his peace of mind, of course.
Not that he had ever behaved wisely around this woman. So why start now? he wryly asked himself.
She brushed raindrops from the sleeves of her pelisse, brushed at the wetness on the skirt of her pelisse and her dress, and seemed rather reluctant to meet his eyes. When she finally did look up, the rosy hue on her cheeks had deepened-whether from embarrassment or from the warmth inside the shop, he couldn’t tell.
A smile trembled around her lips. “Don’t think anything of it,” she said softly. “We were both eager to reach somewhere dry.”
As if she had suddenly become aware of what she was doing-smiling at him-the smile abruptly disappeared and she looked away again. She hugged her middle with one arm and rubbed her other hand over her wrist.
She looked…weary. And uncertain. Surely some degree of embarrassment was to be expected when one bumped into the man whom one had jilted seven years before in favor of a far richer man, but…
Suddenly her hand fluttered up to her chest, hovered there for a heartbeat or two, before, with a small sigh, she let the hand fall down to her side.
He had known the old Frances Harrington. Indeed, once he would have readily agreed that he knew her better than any other person in this world. Miss Frances Harrington wouldn’t have avoided his gaze; she would have fearlessly faced the challenge this surprise meeting presented.
This woman, by contrast, was so evasive and self-contained it was scary to think she used to be that other Frances Harrington, the girl he had known.
Last night he had already noticed that Lady Clifford held herself back and kept to the background.
What the devil, he asked himself, had happened to Frances Harrington?
A new author that I have discovered and fallen in love with her writing! When I start reading a novel and don’t want to put it down I know it is one that I will read many more from. The story of Frances and Alex is one that will keep you literally engulfed in their world. You find out that due to the harsh world that theu live in love is not always on your side when your the oldest daughter or the second son. I felt sorry for Frances because of what she had to go through by herself, even though she did everything her family wanted her to they basically turned their back on her. She was misused and broken, but tucked away still only loved one man! Alex had his heart ripped out and decided to become an adventurer. When he comes home from his latest escapade and sees Frances the wall starts to crumble again. Can these two have another chance at love? The emotions that you feel especially when you find out exactly what Frances has endured will wreck your heart. The romance here was swift but I loved how the author focused on the story line of these two broken hearts more. This was a very enjoyable read especially since there were a little bit of everything and the author knows how to keep you on pins and needles to figure out exactly what happened to dear Frances. I highly recommend it and will enjoy reading the next installment.
Award-winning author Sandra Schwab started writing her first novel when she was seven years old. Thirty-odd years later, telling stories is still her greatest passion, even though by now she has exchanged her pink fountain pen of old for a black computer keyboard. Since the release of her debut novel in 2005, she has enchanted readers worldwide with her unusual historical romances.
She holds a PhD in English literature and lives in Frankfurt am Main / Germany with a sketchbook, a sewing machine, and an ever-expanding library. Her new series about the fictional magazine Allan’s Miscellany combines her academic research on Victorian periodicals with her love for story-telling.