Please welcome Amara Royce back to the blog! She’s here to tell us about her new book and she’s giving away on copy. All you have to do is tell her you want it!
First the cover.
Now the blurb.
In bustling Victorian London, a desperate woman turns to the last man who would ever want to come to her aid…
Years ago, when Helena Martin escaped to London with a dashing captain, she had no idea she was endangering her entire village. Little did she know, the arranged match she fled was the little town’s last chance at prosperity. Now, with her beloved grandmother’s health failing, Helena must face the damage she wrought. And she must do it with an unlikely escort: her jilted fiance’s brother.
Daniel Lanfield is undoubtedly attracted to Helena—and furious with her. Though it was unintentional, her thoughtlessness has caused great misery to their village. Yet Daniel is uniquely positioned to help her return home, and strangely compelled to keep her close along the way. For no matter what their pasts, the desire between them now is ever-present…
And an excerpt
As her friend spoke, she froze, a chill spreading downward from the crown of her head to engulf her. Daniel Lanfield. It couldn’t be. There must be plenty of Lanfields in England. After so many years and so many miles, what were the odds that one of the Marksby Lanfields would visit London—would be here at this place and this time? Inconceivable. They were devoted to the village and to their family’s business and held a disdain for anything metropolitan. Still, with dread sinking into her skin, she turned to look fully at the man beside her.
He looked nothing like the boys—young men—she remembered, but much change was bound to happen over a score of years. No, she was wrong. He did look like the boy who was supposed to be her brother-in-law. His brown eyes could be Daniel’s eyes. The shape of his face was perhaps broader from time and age but still that same strong square that marked the Lanfield men. His broad shoulders and his bearing reminded her of the elder Mr. Lanfield. The fall of curling hair beneath his cap, that was what had always distinguished him from his brother Gordon, who’d kept his straight hair closely cropped. This could be Gordon’s brother. Please, heavens, let it not be him.
“Someone should stay with you to make sure you don’t suffer a relapse,” he said, his accent nostalgically familiar and his faint smile achingly conscientious. She couldn’t deny it any longer. While his older brother had been rather distant and stern, Daniel had always been the kind one, the attentive one, the one to reach out to help others. The polite concern and deference in his eyes now said he didn’t recognize her. Best to keep it that way.
“No, no, sir. You should feel free to go about your business. You too, Mrs. Clarke—I’m sure the boys need more attending than I do. Now that I am free of those chaotic masses, I will be quite well.” She had to make him leave before he figured out who she was. Averting her eyes, she said pointedly, “I do not do well in the presence of large groups of people. I would be much better off by myself.”
Marissa nodded and said a hasty good-bye to Mr. Lanfield, exchanging cards with him and insisting he dine at the Clarke household as an expression of gratitude.
“Far be it from me to cause you discomfort, Mrs. Martin,” he said after Marissa left them. “I’d not feel right, though, leaving you unattended. ’Tis no trouble to spend a few moments in your company while you indulge your sons. This visit to London has been filled with activity—meetings, dinners, interviews. Today’s been my first chance to breathe all week.”
“You are not from London?” She shouldn’t ask, shouldn’t encourage conversation, but she craved information about her childhood home. It had been so long.
“Does it not show? I’m but a country bumpkin from a small village to the north, near the city of Bradford. Surely, I must stand out like a pig amid a herd of sheep.”
“Not at all,” she replied honestly. His speech and mannerisms were as cordial and appropriate as any of her husband’s business associates had been. He didn’t have the smoothness of a metropolitan industrialist, but his forthright demeanor held its own appeal. And that voice, the stretch and twist of the vowels…it stirred a deeply buried longing for the home she’d given up when she ran off with Isaiah, breaking her engagement with Gordon. If this truly was his brother, Daniel, she prayed he wouldn’t realize her identity. “But I really think I would benefit from some quiet. I hope you understand.”
“Aye, of course. ’Twas a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Martin. I wish you well.” He stared at her a fraction too long for her comfort. She nodded and was relieved when he finally turned and walked away, his gait slow and hesitant, as if he was reluctant to go.
She put her bonnet back on and had just finished tying the ribbons when she felt a strange awareness and looked up. He hadn’t gone far, it turned out, and he looked at her with a puzzled expression. Then, to her chagrin, he began walking back in her direction. She calculated what she could do, where she could go, before he returned, but there was no way to escape without being obvious.
“Mrs. Martin,” he said, coming to stand before her again. “Forgive me if this seems intrusive, but I can’t help feeling that perhaps we have met before. May I know your husband’s name and, if I may be so bold, his occupation?”
Now she had a choice to make: tell him the truth and risk his recollection, or lie and risk him later finding out the truth from Marissa, assuming he accepted her dinner invitation. Despite that one long-ago promise she’d broken, she strove to maintain her integrity in all things, and this could be no different.
“My husband was Captain Isaiah Martin,” she said formally, a tendril of pride wreathing through her. Even now, she sometimes couldn’t believe he’d chosen her to be his wife those many years ago. And she couldn’t believe how fortunate she’d been to choose him as well. “When he retired from the military due to injury, he worked in various capacities for what is now the LNWR.”
Daniel Lanfield blinked twice, gave the curtest of nods as his expression turned ominous, and then turned on his heel and walked away without another word.
So apparently he hadn’t forgotten her.
His reaction was better than she’d expected.
Amara Royce writes historical romances that combine her passion for 19th-century literature and history with her addiction to happily ever afters. She teaches English literature and composition at a community college in Pennsylvania. When she isn’t writing, she’s either grading papers or reveling in her own happily ever after with her remarkably patient family.