Tuesday, 19 July 2011
Grace Elliot: A Dead Man's Debt
After deliberately humiliating a suitor, Celeste’s despairing parents exile her to the country. But once there she discovers a sketch book of daring nude studies and is shaken to find the artist is her hostess’s eldest son, Lord Ranulf Charing. This darkly cynical lord is exactly the sort of dissipated rogue she despises most…if only her blood didn’t heat at the thought of him…
Nothing is as it seems. Lord Ranulf’s life is a façade. Only he can save the Charing’s from disgrace as a blackmailer seeks to ruin his late brother’s reputation. But just as Ranulf dares to open his heart to Celeste, the fury of his nemesis is unleashed… facing him with the stark choice between true love and family duty. However when Celeste guesses the truth behind his rejection, Ranulf underestimates her resolve to clear his name and in so doing places the woman he loves in mortal danger….
Holding his nose, in one gulp Ranulf swallowed the bitter draft and braced himself for the after effects. Smethwick’s concoction burnt its way down his gullet into his stomach and within seconds the familiar nausea was rising. Within five minutes he would be shaking and his skin deathly pale, all part of the success of his disguise as Vincenzo. As Smethwick repeatedly assured him, make up not matter how well applied could be spotted close and only the physic was foolproof.
“Here Sir, let me help you on with the padding.”
In old fashioned knee breeches, silk stockings and buckled shoes Ranulf grunted as Smethwick strapped a theatrical hump back in place, too afraid that if he opened his mouth to speak he may vomit. It took the addition of a flouncy shirt frothy with frills, a richly embroidered waistcoat and then a paint stained smock to complete the costume.
Already the potion had creased his skin and stomach cramps made it natural to stoop. The final element was a fine wig of real human hair, grey to the side of silver, flowing around his shoulders. His eyelashes and brows had been bleached and with cotton padding in his cheeks, the disguise was complete; the athletic, virile Lord Charing was replaced by a shuffling old man, with flowing grey hair and a hunched back.
"Well, how do I look?” Ranulf mumbled, turning this way and that in front of the mirror.
“Awful, sir, truly awful,” Smethwick grinned, “your own mother’d not know you at this moment.”
Downstairs, the front door bell rang. The maid, the daughter of Smethwick’s oldest friend, hummed as she pattered along the corridor to answer it.
"That’ll be Black now sir. Best I keep a low profile in case she recognises me.”
“Do that. Thank heavens this is the last sitting…I don’t think I can bear that woman for much longer.”
"How goes the painting sir?” Smethwick fussed around, arranging locks of hair to fall in a more natural disorder.
“A masterpiece, one of my finest works.”
“That’s good then sir isn’t it?”
“Oh yes, you could say that… an image rich with irony… “
“Right you are then sir, best settle in the studio before Alice shows her up….”
Grace Elliot leads a double life as a veterinarian by day and author of historical romance by night. Grace lives near London and is addicted to cats, acting as housekeeping staff to five mischievous moggies.
Grace believes intelligent people need romantic fiction in their lives as an antidote to the modern world and as an avid reader of historicals she turned to writing as a release from the emotionally draining side of veterinary work. Her debut novel ‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ is a story of blackmail, duty and unexpected love.
Now available from most eBook stores including Amazon, price $2.99.
My blog is at: http://graceelliot-author.blogspot.com/
My Website is at: http://www.graceelliot.webs.com/
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