Sometimes taking a risk is worth it....and sometimes there's no other choice
Blurb: A historical romance set in northern England in 1864-5. Melanie Grey has to face the future alone, scarred and penniless after an accident has destroyed her previous life.
The duke’s face swooped toward her. Knowing what was to come, Melanie cowered from him. Grinning, showing his worn, stained teeth, he reached for her, hooked his fingers in the white bodice of her nightgown and jerked. The fabric ripped with a screech that drowned her whimper of fear. Scrabbling backwards, she saw the hectic flush of crimson on his cheekbones and knew he had been drinking heavily. He edged toward her across the bed, his movements clumsy, and clutched fiercely at her wrist.‘No, please, not tonight,’ she begged, wincing at his punishing grip.
He shook his head. ‘You will do as I wish,’ he said. ‘All night long, if it pleases me.’
As always when the dreams struck, Melanie woke muddled and exhausted. The bitter taste of them often upset her for hours afterwards, but she must be ready to face the interview with Lord Jarrow. She scrambled out of bed and rushed through her toilette, determined to shake off the remnants of the dream and give a good account of herself. Seclusion would be ideal, she thought with wry cynicism, if only she could be allowed to enjoy it.
Standing outside the Master’s study with her references clutched tight in her hand shortly after nine o’clock, she took a deep breath in an attempt to stop her heart skittering around in her chest.
Mrs Dawkins, plump and encouraging, patted her arm. ‘In ye go,’ she whispered. ‘Just remember he’s got a heart of gold. It might not look that way at first, and I’d not tell everyone, ye understand, but ye…I don’t know why, pet, I’m sure, but ye seem to fit Gavington.’
She waddled away towards the kitchen at the back of the house.
Melanie watched her go, and then looked at the imposing door with its bright gilt furniture. She lifted her hand to knock and hesitated once more. Her stomach rolled unpleasantly, and for a brief moment, Melanie wished herself anywhere but outside Lord Jarrow’s study door. Tucking her chin into her high starched collar, she patted the curving loop of hair to ensure it masked her disfigured cheek. Then there was nothing else to do but take a deep, calming breath, and knock at the door.
A low grunt answered her. She took it to be an invitation to enter.
Victorian Beauty is available on Amazon Kindle: Here
Jen Black, author of Far After Gold and Fair Border Bride.