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Category: Historical Period (Page 1 of 5)

Be Careful What You Ask a Hero

“There you are,” Amelia, Elizabeth’s dearest friend, exclaimed as edged past a group of giggling young ladies to where Elizabeth was standing under the balcony. “Where did you disappear?”

Feigning interest in the quheroadrille while keeping a keen eye open for her informant, Elizabeth answered with nonchalance. “I’ve been enjoying the opulence and gaiety of the evening.”

“Why are your answers always so vague?”

“They are not…” Elizabeth’s words trailed off as Amelia tilted her head and raised a dubious brow. “The less you know, the better.”

Amelia crossed her arms and frowned, attempting to appear hurt— a tactic she’d been using since they were little girls. “You’re my dearest friend. I would never betray your trust.”

“I know.” On a loud sigh, she conceded, “I will answer three questions.”

With Elizabeth’s acquiescence, Amelia’s features brightened. “Thank you! Oh, I have to make sure I ask wisely.” She paced a couple of feet before edging closer to Elizabeth and whispered, “Have you ever killed anyone?

Elizabeth was already tired of this game, but since she agreed… “Yes”

“Yes?” The single word escaped Amelia’s mouth with a high-pitched squeak that startled a couple of gentlemen standing several feet away. She lowered her voice, peppering Elizabeth with questions. “Who? When? Are you carrying a weapon now?”

“You do realize that you just asked three questions?”

“It all falls under the first,” Amelia stated matter-of-factly.

“I’ll somewhat indulge you just this once. You needn’t worry about all the details. However, I will answer the latter. I always carry my pocket pistol. A lady must be prepared for danger. Next question.”

“Vague as always,” Amelia mumbled before continuing. “Have you ever donned a disguise?”

“Yes.” Knowing her friend all too well, Elizabeth included the answer to the question that was sure to follow. “I sometimes dress as a lad— it’s much easier to sneak around in breeches.”

A slight gasp escaped Amelia’s lips, but thankfully she did not probe further into that topic. “Since this is my last question, I have to make sure it’s one that I’ve always wondered about.” She squinted her eyes as if scanning her mind. “I have it! What is your most treasured possession?”

“The medallion my grandfather gave me.”

Amelia’s brows creased together. “That’s not what I was expecting. What medallion?”

Elizabeth clamped her mouth shut and turned away, knowing she’d just revealed too much. It was good thing that was Amelia’s last question. She really needed to guard her words more closely in the future.

“I know. It’s confidential.

“As I said earlier, the less you know, the better.”

Elizabeth noticed that they had attracted the attention of several curious lords and ladies. It was past time she ended this little interview and searched for Captain Alexander in the immense crush.

About the Series

What if your favorite superheroes had Regency-era doppelgängers? And what if a group of them were recruited by the Duke of Wellington to gather intelligence for him during the Napoleonic Wars while they protected their own parts of the realm?

You’d get The Heart of a Hero series.

Nine authors are bringing nine full-length novels to you this summer, each telling the story of a man or woman who is a hero in all senses of the word.

The Series on Amazon

HeroAbout the  Book

Alanna Lucas  contributes Only a Hero Will Do to the series.

Defender of the realm…and his wary heart…

Captain Grant Alexander is an enigma in London society. Dashing and handsome, he coldly eschews marriage. But the ton knows nothing of his role in the Legion: to bring Typhon, the traitor who seeks to destroy the British monarchy, to justice.

When Grant is thrown together with fellow Legion member Elizabeth Atwell, he’s instantly beguiled yet exasperated by this beautiful viscount’s daughter. She has little interest in combing the marriage mart for a well-bred, well-heeled husband, but is adept at code-breaking and handling a bow and arrow. She also refuses to do as she is told, insisting she accompany Grant on his mission.

As Typhon continues to evade capture and dark forces are at work, Grant realizes he must act, not only to protect the realm but Elizabeth too…not to mention his heart, which is in danger of thawing every time she comes close…

Can you guess which superhero inspired Alanna Lucas’s Regency-era doppelgänger?

Find it on Amazon

~Excerpt~

“Why in bloody hell are you wearing breeches?”

Elizabeth pulled her arm from his grip. “It is rather difficult and impractical to sneak about in a dress.”

“Where have you been?” The words came out harsher than intended. Did she have no concept of danger?

“I believe you know the answer to that question, Captain Alexander, and you’re welcome.”

“That was you at Hell’s? You fired the pistol?” His temper flared. “What were you thinking? You could’ve been hurt.”

Elizabeth replied sharply, “I fared better than you.” Ignoring his question, she stated, “You’re bleeding.”

“It’s nothing.”

“It’s not nothing? Come here.” She grabbed his hand and pulled him toward the window.

The warmth of her hand sent a bolt of desire through him. Pale moonlight caressed her upturned face and full pink lips. He wondered if her lips tasted as sweet as they looked. What in God’s name was he thinking? Control yourself. You’re here to protect her, nothing more.

Pulling his hand away, he sucked in his breath as desire and anger collided. “I cannot believe you were traipsing all over London at this time of night as if you were taking a stroll in the park.”

“It wasn’t all over London, and I know how to fend for myself.”

“That’s beside the point.” He softened his tone. Every word he spoke was laced with concern. “Elizabeth, what were you doing at Hell’s Gaming House?”

“One of the letters I decoded mentioned the gaming house. I decided Fulcher might have some answers. Clearly I was not off the mark since you believed so as well.”

Rubbing the back of his neck, Grant tried to reason with her. “You can not go gallivanting all over the place. You’re the daughter of a viscount.”

“I know very well whose daughter I am. I don’t need you to remind me of it.” She took a step closer. The pleading tone in her voice went straight to his core. “Don’t you see? I don’t want to be just the daughter of a viscount. I want a life of my own choosing. I’m not some simpering miss.”

“No, you’re definitely not.” His gaze traveled over her face, settling on her brown eyes filled with intelligence and independence of spirit. A rapid thumping pounded against his chest. Time seemed to stand still, wrapping them in a blanket of moonlight.

“Grant,” she whispered his name as she brushed her fingers across his sore cheek.

About the Author

Alanna Lucas writes sweet, spicy, seductive historical romances. When not daydreaming of her next hero and bygone eras, Alanna can be found reading, spending time with family, or plotting her next travel destination. For more information about Alanna and her novels please visit her website- www.alannalucas.com

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Tragically Orphaned Lady Makes Surprise Appearance at Ball

Jean Baptiste Camille Corot, Lady in Blue (1874)

You’re reading it here first, ladies and gentlemen of the ton. Lady Margaret Folton appeared in person at the Harrison gala evening last wearing a confection of pale blue and cream lace. This reporter is just as stunned as you are and would not have put pen to paper without seeing the truth of it with my very own eyes.

We all know the confirmed spinster’s tragic tale of how she became an orphan – her parents, the Earl and Countess of Breckenshire and victims of Madame Guillotine – and have treated her noted absence from society with careful and due consideration. Having been forced to witness her parents’ execution, it is understood that Lady Folton would keep to herself. After all, we outstanding and illustrious members of society can understand the enormity of such an event on a child so small.

But last evening, we saw nothing of the tragically orphaned child or of the reclusive spinster. No, indeed. Lady Margaret Folton gained the floor with practiced ease and earned respect. Every head turned to take her in just as every breath held in anticipation. She was the very princess of children’s fairy tales, standing on the edge of a ballroom waiting for her story to begin.

But alas, marriage-minded mamas, I leave you with this grave note. Lady Folton was seen partnering with none other than Viscount Pemberly, the gloriously decorated naval captain, newest addition to our ranks, and this season’s most desired match. So be ware, mamas. It appears the previously thought confirmed spinster is stepping down from the shelf.

To Save a Viscount

by Jessie Clever

When an assassin threatens England’s spy network, Lady Margaret Folton must find the killer before it’s too late. Hardened from being forced to witness the murder of her British spy parents by French revolutionists, Margaret approaches this mission like any other, with steely determination and a resolute focus on the necessary outcome at the cost of all else.

Commodore John Lynwood, newly returned from the Mediterranean, finds himself granted the title of viscount in honor of his service during the war. Plagued with a string of good luck throughout his life, the title serves as another reminder that Jack has done nothing to earn the glory and prestige that comes with his position, and he’ll be damned if he’ll enjoy such an honor.

But when Jack is accidentally granted a title meant to be used as bait to lure the assassin into the War Office’s trap, Margaret must face the tragedy of her past and decide which is more important: the assignment or love?

Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Nook | iBooks | Google Play | Smashwords

Now available on audio!

The books in the Spy Series:

1/2. Inevitably a Duchess (A prequel novella)
1. Son of a Duke
2. For Love of the Earl
3. A Countess Most Daring
4. To Save a Viscount

Excerpt

London
August 1815

He had grown so accustomed to the sound of gunfire that he did not hear the shot that was meant to kill him.

This would have worried Richard Black, the Duke of Lofton, if he had had time to think on it. But as the situation inherently required immediate action, prolonged and abstract thinking on the subject was neither prudent nor wise. So he refrained. Instead, he wondered whom it was that smashed into him at incredible speed, sending him tumbling backwards off the walk along the Thames and into the bitter, black water below.

He had been meeting his contact there along the water at an unholy hour, and darkness had lain all about him. The exchange had gone as planned, and he now held the knowledge that he knew would prove key to his current assignment with the War Office. But as the inky water of the Thames closed over his head, he wondered if he would ever get that information to the necessary people.

And then as the last of the light disappeared, he thought of Jane, his wife. His Jane. He did not think of her in specific instances or certain memories that lay in his mind. He thought of her in pieces. Her smell. Her laugh. The sound her hair made as she brushed it at night. The way she always laid her hand on top of his whenever they should find themselves sitting next to one another. Her amazing talents with chestnut roasters.

He would have laughed if such an action would not speed up the inevitable drowning that suddenly became all too real, flushing thoughts of Jane from his mind. His arms began to push against the water as his feet began to pulse, driving him toward the surface. Only he did not move. Whoever it was that had slammed into him still held him about the waist, dragging him deeper into the water. He began to struggle, the need for air and life and Jane surging through his veins in a way he had never felt before.

And then a hand brushed against his cheek, and slender fingers came to rest across his mouth. He wanted to open his eyes, but he knew it would do no good in the black water. But he let the feeling of his attacker’s hand brush against his skin, the shape of it press into his face, the narrowness of limb and the delicate arch of bone.

It was a woman who held him beneath the water.

And he stopped struggling.

About the Author

Jessie decided to be a writer because the job of Indiana Jones was already filled.

Taking her history degree dangerously, Jessie tells the stories of courageous heroines, the men who dared to love them, and the world that tried to defeat them.

Jessie makes her home in the great state of New Hampshire where she lives with her husband and two very opinionated Basset Hounds. For more, visit her website at jessieclever.com.

Connect with Jessie…

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Get a free book when you sign up for Jessie’s Newssheet 

Vauxhall Vixens: A Sneak Peak at Peter and Alice’s story

Peter de Luca, violinist, had been employed at the Royal Vauxhall Gardens for nearly a week before he caught sight of the lady gardener. She was tall, her dark hair caught up in a white cap, and wore a brown apron over her dark gray skirt. He had seen few females at Vauxhall in the afternoons before the gates opened, and this one stood out from the rest because she seemed to have authority over the other gardeners. He saw her unrolling a sketch and giving instructions to two young men who listened respectfully and showed no signs of resentment at being ruled by a woman. She wasn’t simply a supervisor, however, as he later saw her viciously attack a shrub with a shovel and her own considerable strength.

“A strong one, for a filly,” said a voice behind him.

Peter wheeled around to find himself facing a short, rather stout gray-bearded man with friendly brown eyes and an approving smile.

“Nathaniel Stephens,” he said, extending his hand. “I have the honor of being head gardener here. Miss Crocker there is my assistant.”

Peter shook his hand and nodded. “She is at that,” he agreed. “Miss Crocker. She’s not married, then,” he observed.

Mr. Stephens cocked his head and gave Peter a speculative look. “Calls herself a spinster. Lives with her grandfather. Wouldn’t take no guff from any man, not my Alice.”

Peter raised an eyebrow. “I’m quite sure no man would dare to.” Her name is Alice.

The older man chuckled. “Don’t get me wrong. Alice is a lovely, sweet-tempered young woman. Would make some lucky man an excellent wife,” he added, with a side-long glance at Peter. “But I told her when I hired her that she’d have to be iron-fisted from the start. Demand respect and all that. Men don’t usually like taking orders from a woman, but they come to respect her. Gal’s real talent is design. She could go far if she were a man.” He rubbed his chin. “Might do it even so,” he added.

Peter nodded and was about to respond when he heard the first notes of instruments being tuned. “Peter de Luca,” he said, by way of introduction. “Violinist. Rehearsal time, so I must go. Honored to meet you, Mr. Stephens.”

“Nathaniel.”

The old man had a twinkle in his eye, and Peter suspected he had matchmaking on his mind. Too bad, because Peter could not consider marriage… at least not until he’d cleared his name.

***

Alice found her feet tapping in time to the music of the orchestra rehearsal while she inspected the site for the new illumination, which would honor the new Duke of Wellington after his victory over Bonaparte at the Battle of Paris. If only the designer had included the measurements! It was difficult to decide how to arrange the plantings without some inkling of the space requirements. With luck, the fellow himself would arrive soon, since the spectacle was planned to open the next day.

Miss Catherine Stephens, Vauxhall soprano

Miss Stephens must be singing tonight, she thought as she found herself humming the tune of the popular Northumberland ballad about a brave lass who rowed out in a storm to save her shipwrecked sailor beau.

O! merry row, O! merry row the bonnie, bonnie bark, 

Bring back my love to calm my woe, 

Before the night grows dark. 

She liked the idea of a woman rescuing her man instead of the other way around. It might seem romantic to be rescued by a handsome prince, but one could not always be a damsel in distress, could one?  Alice knew from her mother’s marriage that there was no happiness or romance in a marriage where one partner held all the power. She herself had no intention of placing herself in the power of any man. She would be responsible to no one but herself… and perhaps her employer, as long as she was permitted to work for a living. A pinched expression came over her face. She could work as well as any man, better than some, in fact. Why did so many men feel threatened by that?

Tucking the rolled-up plans under her arm, she made her way down the covered walk toward the Orchestra building to check on the new flowerbeds, unconsciously swinging her head to the music.

A storm arose the waves ran high, the waves ran high, the waves ran high,

And dark and murky was the sky, the wind did loudly roar,

But merry row’d, O! merry row’d the bonnie, bonnie bark,

O! merry row’d the bonnie, bonnie bark

And brought her love on shore.

When the music stopped, she smiled her appreciation to the musicians, most of whom she knew by sight. There was a new violinist, though—one whose dark good looks even she could not ignore—and he was staring right at her!

I must look a mess, she thought, her hand moving involuntarily to her hair. The band struck up another tune and she came to her senses.

Don’t be a nitwit, Alice! You’re a gardener and gardeners get dirt on them. 

Why did she care what a musician thought of her? In any case, it was rude to stare, and staring back could be mistaken for an invitation for dalliance. She’d learned to take care not to show too much friendliness to any of the men, and even then it was tricky.

She took a turn to the left and nearly barreled into her supervisor, who was arranging potted plants in eating-area.

“Whoa! Best watch where you’re a-goin’, Miss Alice. Were you dreamin’ of an admirer? Or perhaps it was that new violinist, Mr. de Luca. Showed some interest in ‘the lady gardener,’ he did.”

He did? 

Alice felt heat creeping across her cheeks. Not for the first time, she lamented her inability to control her blushes. The last thing she wanted was to encourage Mr. Stephens in his matchmaking. A happily-married man himself, he had a tendency to wish the married state on those around him as well.

“A new violinist? I had not noticed,” she lied.

Mr. Stephens chuckled.

A Vauxhall Collaboration: Susana Ellis and Jonathan Tyers

Susana: I’d like to introduce Mr. Jonathan Tyers, the entrepreneur who transformed the “Old and New Spring Gardens” from a disreputable outdoor adult park into the lovely Vauxhall Gardens, popular among all levels of society. Mr. Tyers has graciously agreed to assist me in my quest to bring the gardens back to life for Anglophiles and history lovers everywhere.

Mr. Tyers: Indeed, it is so gratifying to make the acquaintance of someone who shares my passion for bringing back the simpler pleasures of life. I understand that you wish to feature some of my employees in your romantic novels?

Susana: Yes, a series of novellas and short stories, spanning the length and breadth of its existence, from the 1730’s until 1859. I-er-understand that you kept a close vigil on it even after it passed from you to your children and others over the years.

Mr. Tyers [shaking his head]: I did so as long as I could, but toward the end… well, it was too painful. Nothing lasts forever, of course.

Susana: Nonetheless, I would like to highlight the memory of Vauxhall by creating stories about some of the workers and performers who contributed to its success.

Mr. Tyers [with a knowing grin]: A capital idea! I like to believe that I had a small part in encouraging suitable matches among my deserving employees.

Susana: I believe I recall that you provided wedding rings and a fabulous dinner at your own home for two happy couples.

Mr. Tyers [chest thrust out]: Yes, indeed. We put on a feast for fifty employees to celebrate the union of two of my bar-men with two bar-maids. Provided transportation all the way to Denbies, in Dorking—more than twenty miles, you know.

Susana: I knew you would be just the one to assist me with my project!

Mr. Tyers [leaning forward]: I shall certainly do what I can, Miss Ellis. What do you wish to know?

Susana: The first story is about a woman who worked as an under-gardener in 1814, and Peter de Luca, a musician.

Mr. Tyers: Ah yes, Alice Crocker. As I recall, Nat Stephens, the head gardener at the time, insisted on hiring her as his assistant even though there were plenty of able-bodied men who could have filled the position. He insisted she could handle the physical labor required as well as anyone, and she had a knack for design like none other. Singular, I thought at the time. But she had no husband to object, and Stephens was pleased with her. A bit of a distraction for the men at first, I noticed.

Susana [grimacing]: Couldn’t keep their minds on their work, eh? She was too pretty or something?

Mr. Tyers: Not pretty. Attractive, I suppose. A Long Meg, solid and strong too. [Chuckles] Gal knew how to handle herself around lecherous men, she did.

Susana: Intriguing. I take it she wasn’t fresh out of the schoolroom, then.

Mr. Tyers [scratching his head]: Don’t know if she went to school, but she was in her caps. Near thirty, I’d guess, when she came.

Susana: I must find out more about her… her family, where she grew up, what she did before she came to work at Vauxhall, and most of all, how she learned to manage men at a time when lone women were considered fair game for predatory men.

Mr. Tyers [stepping backward]: Pray recall, Miss Ellis, that not all men were guilty of such appalling behavior.

Susana [smiling sweetly]: Of course not, Mr. Tyers. I appreciate your constant efforts to prevent such incidents during your tenure as manager of Vauxhall.

Mr. Tyers [nodding]: Indeed I did. We hired watchmen and constables…

Susana: Yes, yes. I am sure no one could have done more. Now tell me what you know of this Peter de Luca. He was a musician, I believe.

Tyers: Played the violin in the orchestra at Drury Lane. I believe Mr. Hook brought him in with several other new players at the time. Most of our musicians worked in theaters during the colder months and came to us in the summer to earn a little extra coin. Not well paid at all, musicians. Passionate about their art, though. I like to think I helped them out a bit, too, as well as entertaining the visitors. Families have to eat, you know.

Orchestra at Drury Lane, 1843

Susana: Of course. About Peter de Luca…

Mr. Tyers: Yes, well, he was Italian—popish, you know. A widower, I believe. Brought his little tyke with him at times, never caused a problem. Quite well-looking, he was. Caught the attention of many a maid. Why even Mrs. Billington fluttered her eyelashes at him…

Susana [gritting her teeth]: A womanizer? That will never do. I cannot have a hero who was a womanizer.

Mr. Tyers [opening and then closing his mouth]: Womanizer? You mean, a philanderer? I really can’t say. I saw no sign of it. Nothing outside of the usual.

Susana [with a deep sigh]: The usual. Hmm, sounds like a double-standard. I shall have to investigate this Peter de Luca more thoroughly before I match him with the excellent Miss Crocker.

Mr. Tyers [narrowing his eyes]: You are a most singular lady, Miss Ellis. Er—is this characteristic of all ladies of the future?

Susana [chuckling]: I wish! No, seriously, I just like to make sure my heroines get a hero capable of giving them their HEA.

Mr. Tyers: HEA?

Susana: Happy-ever-after. You know, the happy couple stays together into their golden years and beyond. A requirement of every genuine romance.

Mr. Tyers [smiling]: Yes, well, that is what we all hope for, do we not? By all means, let us do what we can to make suitable matches among my worthy employees.

Stay tuned for further news about Susana’s and Mr. Tyers’s matchmaking efforts in Susana’s new series, The Vauxhall Vixens.

Intrigued by Vauxhall Gardens? Join Susana on Facebook for daily tidbits about Jonathan Tyers’s successful creation.

https://www.facebook.com/vauxhallgardens/

A former teacher, Susana lives in Toledo, Ohio in the summer and Florida in the winter. She is a member of the Central Florida Romance Writers and the Beau Monde chapters of RWA, Maumee Valley Romance Inc., and is a member of the (in)famous Bluestocking Belles.

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Felicia: her thoughts as she contemplates retrieving her lost daughter

In Chapter 15, Anthony, Lord Kendall, calls upon Felicia to inform her that he believes her long-lost daughter may be at the Foundling Hospital. She and her maid Maris, a loyal friend from their days at the Pleasure House, reflect on the possibility that the much-anticipated reunion may take place that very day!

The Foundling Restored to Its Mother

Felicia [eyes glowing]: Oh Maris, can this really be happening? I’ve dreamed of this moment for ever, but always in the end believing it to be impossible. [Swallowing] If she had found a suitable home, where she would be nurtured and loved, I should, of course, have been glad for her and refrained from interfering. But I had to know!

Maris [tugging a brush through Felicia’s thick, curly locks]: ‘Twas ol’ Beazley that stole ‘er from ya, may she rot in ‘ell. And tol’ ya she was dead, besides. Witch!

Felicia [nostrils flaring]: I can’t tell you how that troubled my thoughts, dear Maris, worrying over in what manner such a woman might dispose of my child, and all of them so very disheartening.

Maris: As bad as that was, ’twas better than thinkin’ ‘er dead. Gave ya somethin’ ta live fer.

Felicia [clasping Maris’s hands in hers]: It did indeed. I shall always be grateful to you for reminding me of that fact at a time when the world was black and I had no hope.

Maris [tearfully]: No need, miss. ‘Twas out of selfishness, not wantin’ ta lose the only friend I had.

Felicia [turning and giving Maris a quick kiss on the cheek]: We have been through a lot together, have we not? I could not have made it through all those months at the whorehouse without you reminding me of my responsibility to my child. I should never have met and loved Charles, God rest his generous soul, and never have obtained the means to support myself respectably.

Maris [with a secret smile]: Or met Mr. Jamison, er, Lord Kendall ‘e is now, who seemed that eager ta find yer daughter fer ya, miss.

Felicia [flushing]: Don’t tease, Maris. There can be nothing between us. He is very kind, that is all.

Maris [snorting]: Kind? Kind, you say? Ye’ve called ‘im a jackass more ‘n once, and so ‘e was too!

Felicia [tugging at her neckline]: Yes, well, perhaps he was rather disagreeable in the beginning, but it had to be a bit of a shock to discover that his uncle left half of his fortune to his mistress. I’m inclined to forgive him for all that, especially now that he has sought to reunite me with my daughter. [Rises from the chair.] Cynthia. Oh Maris, she is three years old already and her name is Cynthia! How will I ever explain how I lost her?

Maris: Jis’ like that. She was lost and ya found ‘er.

Felicia: Or Anthony did. How can I ever thank him? [Maris chuckles.] No, no, not that way. Never again that way! I shall ever after be a respectable lady, for myself first, and also for my daughter. Cynthia. She shall have everything I can give her, that I never had myself.

Maris: A father?

Felicia [turning pale]: No, but a doting mother will surely be enough. We shall be very happy, just the two of us. And you, of course, Maris. We shall find a house in the country, near a village, with children and cows and fresh air.

Maris: And Anthony?

Felicia [folding her arms across her chest]: What about him? Anthony will go on with his life, take his seat in Parliament, marry some noble young lady with whom he will have a passel of children, and become a bastion of London society. He and I will never cross paths again. And that is the way it should be.

Maris: If you say so, miss.

Felicia: I do say so. [Looks toward the window.] Is that a carriage, Maris? Where is my bonnet? Oh Maris, I’m going to be a mother! Do you think she’ll like me? What if…? If she’s been abominably treated, I shall never forgive myself. Has Mrs. Grey finished preparing the nursery, do you think?

Find out what happens when Felicia and Anthony visit the Foundling Hospital in an attempt to retrieve her daughter in the next installment of Susana’s Resilience, on wattpad.

 

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