As the Little Season draws to an end, one question is on every person’s lips. “Who is Elias W.?”
We understand from reliable sources that this young boy was found, dear reader, in a workhouse! A child of the gutter, we might be forgiven for assuming, and of no possible interest to proper families. However, his reception into one of the highest households in the land suggests that at least one of his parents was of very high birth, indeed.
All over London, people are wondering who it was. The W. family, despite their high estate, have had their share of scandal–generation after generation of rakes, at least two of whom (now sadly no longer with us) might have sired the boy. Since one was the father and one the brother of the lovely lady who has taken the boy home with her, perhaps all is explained.
And now, or so it is said, the lady is looking for a husband, after years of refusing all offers. Is it for the boy’s sake? Beyond a doubt, she will find one. She is no longer in the first flush of her youth, but she is still one of the great Diamonds of the ton. And the loveliness of her person pales in comparison to the loveliness of her dowry.
Still, should it prove (as some have whispered) that the link between Elias and the W. family is on the maternal rather than the paternal side, any gentleman might think twice about the cost of bringing such a scandal under his roof. Even the new Viscount B., who has been seen much in the lady’s company.
Like Elias, Lord B. has been sprung on Society without warning, when all believed that Lord L., his father, had male offspring. He has, by all accounts, been practicing medicine in the Royal Navy. An odd pass time for a future earl, it is true, but not as odd as continuing to work as a doctor in one of London’s worst slums.
Still, a man who does not turn up his nose at providing treatment to thieves and prostitutes might tolerate a workhouse brat as a ward for the sake of beauty, whether of the lady or her delightful money. Perhaps, after all, the Diamond and the Doctor are made for one another.
To Claim the Long-Lost Lover
Novel 3 of The Return of the Mountain King
Sarah Winderfield has refused every offer of marriage she has received since Nathaniel Beauclair convinced her to run away with him seven years ago, and then disappeared without a word or a trace. But now she needs a husband. She has a child to love and to protect, and the child needs a father.
She does not expect to meet Nate also on the marriage mart. Should she let him explain? Can she believe him?
Dragged back to England to feed his father’s pride in family, Nate refuses to give into the man’s demands that he take a wife. The only woman he will ever love is lost to him, married to a husband chosen by her father—or so his abducters said seven years ago, while they were beating him.
But when Nate finds that Sarah is still single, he rushes to London. Surely, they can find again the promise they believed in when they were young?
Through a labyrinth of old rumours and new enemies, two long-lost lovers must decide whether or not to claim one another, and win the bright future they both desire.
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“You look lovely this evening,” Nate told Libby, as she joined him in the foyer.
His father’s wife glowed with pleasure. “And you look very fine yourself, Bentham,” she replied.
He bowed and offered his elbow. “Madam, your carriage awaits.”
“I am so looking forward to this evening, Nate. Perhaps tonight you might meet the young lady who will be your wife!”
Nate smiled and nodded, keeping his reservations to himself. Not unless my Sarah is present. But she is not yet in town, so it won’t be tonight. And even if she was in town, she would surely not be visiting the Hamners. Lady Hamner had been a ward of the Duchess of Haverford, and—according to Libby—the Dukes of Haverford and Winshire had been feuding since Winshire arrived back in the country with a whole quiverful of foreign-born children.
He allowed day dreams about their next meeting to while away the carriage ride and the wait in the street for other carriages to move out of the way. Libby continued to chatter, but she seldom required a response beyond ‘Is that right’ and ‘If you say so’.
It must have been a good thirty minutes before they were announced by Lord and Lady Hamner’s butler. Libby led him over to the Hamners to be introduced, and Nate looked around as he crossed the room.
A profile caught his eye. He shrugged it off. He had seen Sarah wherever he went for the past seven years, and a closer look always disclosed a stranger. This stranger turned towards him, and he stopped in his tracks, cataloguing changes. The fair hair was slightly darker. The heart-shaped face he remembered had matured into a perfect oval. The slender body of the long-remembered girl had ripened to fulfil its promise. But, beyond any doubt, Lady Sarah Winderfield stood on the other side of the drawing room, a smile on her lips as she talked with her friends.
Her gaze turned toward him just as Libby tugged on his arm. “Bentham! Are you well?” He let her pull him along, and Sarah’s gaze drifted away. He wanted to cross the room to her; accost her; demand that she recognise him and all they’d once meant to one another.
Some modicum of sense kept him stumbling after his step-mother. Men change between seventeen and twenty-four, he reminded himself. And people who have been through experiences like mine more than most.
Still, of all the meetings he’d imagined, he’d never envisaged one in which she didn’t know him.