Enjoy an excerpt:
Highland Manor, Royal Tunbridge Wells, 1822
Lady Honor Baxendale left the cook in the kitchen, mulling over the receipts for the following week’s dishes. Her mother was lying down in her bedroom suffering from one of her megrims. Mama’s nerves had worsened of late, especially since Honor’s stepfather had developed such a bad temper.
The house seemed to be constantly in an uproar.
Honor searched for her younger sister, Faith, and found her curled up in the corner of the cerise-striped chintz sofa in the morning room, beside the canary in its gilded cage.
“You might take a walk in the sunshine, Faith. It does lift one’s spirits.”
After Honor opened the French windows, a perfumed breeze swept in to ruffle the curtains. Beyond the terrace, the azalea bushes flaunted their mass of pink and mauve blossoms. “Why not go outdoors on such a beautiful day?”
Faith gestured to the bird which chirped and hopped about. “I am talking to someone who will listen.”
Honor joined her on the sofa. “I am listening. Don’t I always?”
“Yes. But you cannot help me with this, Honor.”
“You’ve been so horribly bored shut away in the country, dearest. Have you asked Papa to take a house in London for the Season?”
“This morning. I begged him, but he was deaf to my pleas. He means to marry me off to Lord Gillingham. And I have no say in the matter.”
Honor drew in a breath. “With me still unwed, I had hoped he’d give you one Season, at least.”
“It’s business. One of us must marry a Gillingham.”
“I’ll talk to him.” Honor doubted anything she said to her stepfather would hold weight. She was aware that she wasn’t in his favor.
“It won’t help,” Faith said in a doleful tone. “His mind is made up.”
“You get on well with Lord Gillingham.” Honor tried to sound positive while appalled at the notion. She would have to think of a way to prevent it. “He’s a personable man, is he not?”
“He’s an amusing partner to sit beside at dinner, but I don’t love him.” Faith poked a restless finger through the bars of the cage, and the bird hopped along the perch to inspect it. “You are fortunate, Honor. Papa doesn’t force you to marry.”
“I am a lost cause. I would not like to see you become one.”
Faith gave a watery sigh and sniffed. “I shouldn’t like that. Just think, if tragedy hadn’t befallen you, you would be happily married now, with children of your own.”
“Yes, dearest.” Honor patted her sister’s hunched shoulder. She couldn’t shrug off the guilty feeling. She’d been glad when her stepfather failed to consider her attractive enough for his business partner’s son. But Faith should not be denied the excitement of London, with its routs, balls and soireés. Faith was so pretty. She would cause quite a stir, and would enjoy the whirlwind of a Season so much. Honor’s mind skittered away at the thought of her own Season, some years ago, which had ended in disgrace. Faith’s come-out would be far more successful. Why couldn’t her stepfather trust her to find a suitable husband? He seemed too panicked to consider things carefully.
“I shall speak to Mama. We might wrangle a Season out of Father yet.” Honor opened the birdcage and removed the water tray to refill it.
“You are wasting your time.” Faith stood and picked up her shawl. “If anyone needs me I’ll be on that walk.”
Book #2 LADY FAITH TAKES A LEAP
Released 1st April