Sophia Barberry stood in the salon of her 5th Avenue townhouse, delicately frowning to herself. All of New York society was stuffed into that room, with its high ceilings, expensive oil paintings, and glittering chandeliers. And even though Sophie was surrounded by the whose-who, she couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to her life.
Across the room stood her future husband, and a man that she barely knew. Lord Benedict was to inherit the Cumberland dukedom, and he certainly looked the part. His navy coat and tails were immaculate, his waistcoat made by the finest tailors, and his hair was done up in the Roman style, but written on the future duke’s face was nothing but disinterest. He was a shockingly handsome man, with sandy blonde hair and aquamarine eyes, his stature was erect and composed, his bearing immaculate, but Sophia couldn’t get over that smug look on Benedict’s face.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Sophia’s father, Henry, began to say, “we have gathered you here today to announce the engagement of our daughter, Sophia Barberry, to the future Duke of Cumberland!”
Henry was a balding man, short in stature, and he held a glass of champagne aloft. The other guests did the same, toasting what seemed to be an advantageous marriage for all.
Sophia did not hold a glass up, but continued to frown. The arrangement was more advantageous for Lord Benedict than anyone else. She knew full well that the dukedom was suffering from poverty and that her family’s wealth would amend that quickly. Henry was a titan of the shipping industry in New York, and his wealth was renowned. It made perfect sense that the current Duke of Cumberland took it upon himself to reach out to the Barberry family in order to secure the match.
Not only was Lord Benedict inheriting Sophia’s wealth, he was also going to be keeper of her beauty. Her dark raven hair and green eyes were the stuff of legend in New York, and her compact, petite form was admired by all. But just because Lord Benedict towered over her at his stunning 6’4” in height, did not mean that he could tower over her in spirit. More famous than Sophia’s beauty was her fierce intelligence and will. She always wished that she could escape the marriage game, but knew that it was impossible considering her status. Sophia would be perfectly content to spend the rest of her days in the library, hungrily reading books and expanding her mind. But alas, duty called.
That’s not to say that Sophia shunned marriage altogether. The fact of the matter was that she was terribly bored with New York society and all its trappings. Escaping to England was a welcome solace for her, and Sophia couldn’t wait to see all the sights abroad. She had never traveled outside of the United States, considering that Henry and her mother, Constance, kept her under lock and key for most her life. Finally, the prison gates were open and Sophia was ready to see the world. If only she could do it on her own.
Yes, Sophia would reinvent herself in England. She’d no longer be the reclusive beauty that made tongues wag from up and down 5th Avenue. Finally, Sophia Barberry would become the worldly woman that she always wished to be, and if that meant having to hang on the arm of the Duke of Cumberland then so be it.
“Have you anything to say, M’Lord?” Henry Barberry said to Lord Benedict, and all eyes turned towards the future duke.
Just then, Sophia sneezed, and Lord Benedict darted a gaze her way, as though his future bride had purposefully stolen the spotlight.
“On behalf of the Cumberland name,” Lord Benedict began, “I’d like to express my happiness.”
Silence. That was all that the future Duke of Cumberland had to say. His words were as icy as his demeanor and Sophia found herself wishing for a more eloquent husband.
Just then, a servant passed with a silver tray and Lord Benedict hastily picked up a flute of champagne as it passed. He smiled warmly at the servant and thanked him for the refreshment, and Sophia had to wonder if perhaps Lord Benedict wasn’t a nice fellow after all, but merely disguising the fact. She had observed him for the better part of the afternoon, and noted that he was cordial with those around him, so why was it that every time they had briefly encountered he was aloof and almost sullen? Sophia thought that it was very British of him, indeed. Was it not custom in their country to be cold to those that they were least familiar with? It was a puzzle that Sophia had not yet solved.
“Daughter, have you any words?” Henry asked, and Sophia felt all eyes turn on her.
Sophia cleared her throat and thought of what to say. She did not fear public speaking so much as the dread of saying the wrong thing. She was accustomed to saying the first thing that came to mind and had trouble censoring herself. Often that got Sophia into a great deal of trouble, because what sprung from her mouth was the truth. Nobody wanted to hear that.
“I’m delighted to be a part of the Cumberland family,” Sophia began, looking around the room tentatively.
But I do wish that I was marrying someone that would smile now and again. Or at least be more than a sculpture made of ice.
“And this union between Cumberland and Barberry is, I know, one that is pleasing for all involved,” Sophia went on. Everyone that she knew surrounded her. There were aunts and uncles, cousins, godparents, society aficionados that Sophia was raised with. They all had polite smiles on their faces as she spoke. Sophia assumed that it must be the effect of the champagne on them. “Of course, the customs in America are quite different than the customs in Britain,” she continued, “and I’m sure that in time, the duke and I will grow to understand each other’s differences, and learn from one another.”
“Here, here!” Henry said, raising his glass aloft again.
Sophia looked towards her mother, Constance, whose eyes were shining. Why should her mother be so proud of the situation? Constance knew full well that Sophia was not keen to marry, but she couldn’t help but note that motherly pride that comes from seeing one’s only child married off to someone of high standing. But the fellow didn’t even have money! How was it that New York society was so impressed by her marriage to a poor duke? Sophia reasoned that it was because Americans were keen on all things British. Somehow, in their eyes, it made Sophia superior for becoming a Duchess. But Sophia could clearly see beyond all that and comprehend the situation for what it truly was: a business transaction. And it was a transaction that didn’t even benefit the Barberry name in any way.
But Sophia, wise as she was for being at the tender age of 19, knew that it wasn’t about money so much as it was titles. To have a daughter have an English title was appealing for any American, no matter what their financial standing. Sophia was going to be a prisoner to that fact, but she’d make the best of it.
“Canapé?” a servant asked Sophia, presenting an assortment of tiny finger foods on a silver tray.
“Why not,” Sophia replied, taking a small pastry and bringing it to her mouth. The contents of the pastry were what she perceived to be spinach and cheese, and her tongue delighted in it. If her American family was obsessed with all things British, their palates favored all things French. French cuisine was the chosen repast of Constance, who chose to have French food served at all her dinner parties and family affairs. For breakfast there were croissants, lunch was quiche Lorraine, and dinner would be steak Diane. Sophia didn’t mind this food. On the contrary, she had grown to love the richness of it, but she did fear the food that would greet her in Britain. She had heard horror stories about the bland, Spartan repast of the United Kingdom. But as with everything else, she would make the best of it.
As the guests began to mingle and eat their finger food, Sophia looked across the stately salon and noticed that Lord Benedict was eyeing her. As soon as their gazes met, Lord Benedict would look away. Such strange behavior from a future husband.
“Are you excited?” Kitty Carmichael, one of Sophia’s oldest friends asked.
“I suppose,” Sophia replied wistfully.
“I’m so jealous that you’re going to London.”
“I think we’re only in town for a few months of the year,” Sophia explained. “The rest of the time is spent in the country.”
“A British country estate! How dreamy,” Kitty replied
“I’m told that it’s very impressive. Hopefully, the Barberry bank account will bring it back up to snuff,” Sophia said wryly, taking a sip from her champagne. She looked back over to Lord Benedict, who yet again looked away. Was their entire marriage going to be just so? Was he always going to look away from her, even when she was standing in a state of undress in his chambers? The thought made Sophia quite uneasy.
“I can come and visit, can’t I?” Kitty asked, entwining her arm within Sophia’s.
“Of course, you can come. There will be plenty of guest rooms to choose from.”
Sophia wasn’t making it up, or even boasting. Willow Grange, the name of the Cumberland country estate, was supposed to be quite palatial, with a staff numbering up to thirty. Sophia was mildly daunted by the notion of having to care for such a grand estate. And considering that the current Duke of Cumberland was in such poor health, it would be no time at all before Sophia would have to be up for the task.
“I’m just so excited,” Catherine said, swooping in and taking Sophia’s other arm. Catherine was Constance’s sister, and the two looked very much alike. That being said, Constance married a rich businessman and Catherine was merely a spinster. Because of that status, she would accompany Sophia on her grand trip across the Atlantic to her new home.
“It will be a good adventure,” Sophia said to Catherine, quite looking forward to the notion of sailing across the sea.
“I hope I don’t get sick. Rough waters always make me rather ill,” Catherine said. “But oh my! Look how handsome your husband is,” she went on, looking across the way at Lord Benedict. “I wish that I could say I wasn’t jealous.”
Sophia frowned to herself. It was so like Aunt Catherine to be garish. She was always saying the wrong thing, in Sophia’s estimation. And for her to admire the beauty of a man that was ten years her junior was embarrassing, at best.
“I agree,” Kitty chimed in. “I’ve never seen a man so dashing in all my life. Do all British men look like that?”
“Like what?” Sophia asked.
“Like a painting or something. He doesn’t even look real.”
“Oh, he’s real enough,” Sophia assured her.
Gazing across the way once more, Lord Benedict’s eyes met hers and Sophia gave a pleasant smile, hoping to ease whatever tension might be between them. Lord Benedict did not smile in return but rather, tightened his collar and looked at her sternly.
So, that’s how it’s going to be, is it? A lifetime of stern gazes and cold sentiments.
Even though Sophia didn’t know who her future husband was going to turn out to be, she couldn’t help but feel excitement in her breast. She was beginning a new life, in a new country, and there was no telling what might happen to her there.
“Lady Sophia,” Sophia said aloud as she looked at herself in the vanity mirror. Just to her right, a large window was open to the vast blue sea. “Lady Sophia,” she repeated, trying the name on for size.
Sophia wasn’t quite sure how she felt about it. It was going to be nice to be called a lady, and a duchess, but she still found it hard to fathom that that new life was just on the horizon.
She got up from her guided vanity table and took a little walk around her first class cabin. The SS Victoria and Albert was the finest ship on the sea, and Sophia was enjoying one of the most luxurious rooms on the top floor. There was no balcony, which was unfortunate, because Sophia wished to step out into the sea air in private. In lieu of that, she would take a stroll twice a day along the promenade at the top of the ship, where she would greet fellow passengers. Sophia had met a lot of good friends on the trip thus far, but the one acquaintance she had yet to make was that of her future husband.
It didn’t trouble Sophia too much that Lord Benedict was still being distant. She had her books and a beautiful cabin to keep her company, as well as Aunt Catherine and her maid, Arabella.
“That gown is lovely, M’am,” Arabella said, folding some garments in the corner.
“Thank you,” Sophia replied, taking another look at herself in the mirror and realizing that her violet gown was, indeed, quite exquisite. It was accented by amethyst jewels around her neck and dangling from her ears. The color of the gown showed off Sophia’s raven hair and shocking green eyes. “Where is Aunt Catherine?”
“In her room, I believe. She has taken ill yet again this morning,” Arabella explained.
It seemed as though Aunt Catherine had been sick for almost the entire trip. She had quipped before that she hoped it would not be so, but in truth that’s exactly what happened. The tossing of the vessel to and fro seemed to have played a cruel trick on Aunt Catherine’s stomach, and she was only seen once in the dining room, and very rarely on the galley.
Although Sophia was sad for her aunt, she still welcomed the privacy that she enjoyed without her presence, and didn’t mind Arabella’s company in the least, who was a quiet, shy sort of girl. Arabella had what Sophia considered to be an unfortunate physique. She was rail-thin to the point of looking emaciated, with her eyes popping out of her head. Sophia couldn’t quite understand why her maid was so underweight, considering that she was fed well, but she chalked it up to far too much strain and activity.
Those were the very things that Sophia avoided. Although she was trim, Sophia thought it was appropriate to have some healthy, womanly curves on her frame. To achieve that, she liked to find the right balance between exertion and repose, and she always chose meals that were not too heavy, while still being nourishing.
Sophia was a marvelously healthy young woman, and that also afforded her clarity of thought and an even temper; when she chose to use it.
“It will be a nice, sunny day today,” Arabella said, her folding done. “You should be afforded a nice turn on the upper deck.”
“I look forward to it,” Sophia replied.
“Perhaps Lord Benedict should like to join you,” Arabella added.
“Perhaps not,” Sophia replied plainly.
Although Sophia knew that she had to have some sort of escort at all times, she often ignored the fact. She’d walk here and there on the ship, disregarding whether or not Arabella was behind her. For this reason, Arabella was always in a frantic state, trying to catch up with her mistress.
On that morning, Sophia had the sudden inclination to check in on her aunt before going to the dining room for breakfast. And so, she opened the door to her room and made a hasty retreat down the hall without giving notice to her maid, who proceeded to run behind her.
Aunt Catherine was not afforded the same luxury that Sophia was, and for that reason she was two floors down in a much more diminutive room. Sophia did not mind mixing with the lower classes, and for that reason she would nod her head to each passerby, greeting them as she would anyone else in proper society.
“Good morning,” she said to an elderly man that slowly walked by using a cane.
“Good morning,” the old man replied, tipping his hat and no doubt in awe of Sophia’s beauty.
“Good morning,” Sophia said to a young couple, no doubt on their honeymoon.
“Good morning,” they both replied with eager smiles.
Looking up and down the hall, Arabella was in awe of just how much more luxurious the middle-class accommodations were compared to her room on the bottom floor of the boat, practically undersea.
“Here we are,” Sophia said, happening upon Room #609. For whatever reason, Sophia thought that the number sounded quite unlucky and perhaps that was why poor Aunt Catherine was so sick. Sophia knocked upon the door.
“Come in!” she heard Aunt Catherine’s voice cry.
Sophia opened the door and found her aunt splayed across her bed, a glass of water by her side.
“Poor dear,” Sophia said, pulling up a chair beside her aunt’s bed.
“I’ll live,” Aunt Catherine replied, coughing a bit.
“Arabella, may I have a damp towel?” Sophia asked.
The damp towel procured and handed over, Sophia folded it and placed it upon her aunt’s forehead.
“There, there now.”
“You look lovely today, as always,” Aunt Catherine said, her voice hoarse.
“I’m about to have breakfast, and then enjoy a walk in the sea air.”
At the very mention of breakfast and sea air, Aunt Catherine gagged ever so slightly and closed her eyes.
“May I get you anything?” Sophia asked.
“No, no. I can’t stomach a thing.”
“Perhaps some Pepcid drops?”
“If you can find them, yes.”
So, that business being done, Sophia left her aunt’s chamber and made her way up the stairs and back to civilization. On the upper deck, she couldn’t believe her eyes. She was greeted with that same beauty every morning, but it still shocked her each and every time. The sky was a light blue with fluffy white clouds, and the sea itself was a deep blue, the waves gently crashing all around them. Lords and ladies passed on either side, their apparel in various different rich hues. Some ladies held parasols, while gentlemen extended their arms so that their companions could gingerly hold on.
Did Sophia wish to hold onto the elbow of Lord Benedict? Not particularly. She was perfectly fine on her own, escorting herself. But off in the distance, at the far end of the deck, Sophia could see that Lord Benedict had plenty of company of his own. He was chatted with two fellow lords, holding what appeared to be a cup of tea and a saucer. He seemed happy enough, and from that distance Sophia could marvel at how pleasant and affable Lord Benedict appeared in the company of others. He fellow was even smiling; something that he had never done in Sophia’s presence.
She watched as his gaze turned towards her, and Sophia quickly looked away, feigning disinterest.
The bell was sounded to initiate the breakfast, and Sophia walked into the stately dining room through a large glass door. The dining room itself was pure opulence, with high ceilings and a domed roof with frescoed heavens; little cherubs flying around in the soft clouds. There was a light airiness to the dining room which Sophia admired. Should she have say in the decoration of Willow Grange, she would surely remember the interior of the dining room on the SS Victoria and Albert.
She found her assigned table and watched as a footman pulled out her chair. Seating herself, Sophia smiled as she admired the center of the large round table. There was a glorious assortment of fruits, arrayed in a tower, as well as fresh pastries that smelt of warm butter. Waiters walked from table to table in their white coats, pouring tea and presenting bread baskets that smelt just as fresh and delectable.
An apricot pastry was placed upon her china plate with silver tongs, as well as a round of fresh white bread and a bit of jellied fruit.
“How do you take your tea, M’Lady?” a waiter asked.
“Cream and two sugars, I thank you,” Sophia replied.
Next out of the kitchen was a hot tray with poached eggs, delicate sausage, stewed tomatoes, and roasted mushrooms. It was a very English breakfast but was not dull in the slightest. That being said, it was a hearty meal and Sophia figured she’d have to take two turns around the galley in order to ensure proper digestion.
Lord Benedict was seated across the table from her, as he had for most of the trip. It was not customary for unmarried couples to be seated beside one another, and so Lord Benedict kept his distance.
Again, Sophia did not mind this so much, mostly because it gave her the opportunity to observe her future husband. He chatted with those seated beside him, and smiled even more as he sipped his tea and heartily ate his eggs and sausage. She noticed the way that he buttered his bread, and Sophia thought that observation to be of importance. She was of the opinion that you could learn a lot about a person by the way that they buttered their bread, and so she watched him keenly.
For one thing, Lord Benedict had rather large, masculine hands. There were large veins on the tops of his hands and rests, and due to his coat she could not see if those veins extended into his forearms, but she had the feeling that they did. He buttered his bread deliberately, gently, but also with a strong hand. A warm flush came to Sophia’s cheek as she watched and shouldn’t help but wonder what the meaning of it was. Why should the way that he buttered his bread fluster her so? Sophia turned away and returned her attention to her own breakfast.
“I hope that all are attending the grand ball this evening,” a woman at the table remarked. Although she had not spoken to the woman directly, she knew from word of mouth that it was Lady Christie, a wealthy English heiress not unlike Sophia herself. The difference was that Lady Christie was getting on in years and had not chosen a husband yet. She enjoyed spending her time, and money, traveling throughout the globe with her chaperone. Sophia thought that that kind of existence sounded ideal.
“We shall be in attendance,” Lord Naughty replied, his wife by his side.
“There’s nothing else to do,” Lord White added with a scowl. He was the sour one at the table, and had been traveling to America on business. Lord White had the face of one that always suffers from dyspepsia.
“And you?” Lady Christie asked, turning towards Lord Benedict. “Will the happy couple be joining.” She looked back and forth between Sophia and Lord Benedict.
Sophia felt Lord Benedicts eyes light on her, and there was a moment of trepidation between them.
The happy couple. Sounds strange.
“We will be in attendance, yes,” Lord Benedict replied.
His use of the word ‘we’ surprised Sophia. It still sounded strange, just as calling herself Lady Sophia in the mirror had sounded strange. It was all words and no substance. In Sophia’s estimation, there was still no ‘we.’
Breakfast having been done, and Sophia’s belly warm and full, she took her stroll around the promenade and felt the cool breeze in her hair. Arabella had set her curls just right that morning, and that meant that they did not give one inch in the wind.
The morning exercise left Sophia feeling tired and she retreated to her chambers to spend the afternoon with a book in hand. Although breakfast and dinner were grand affairs on the SS Victoria and Albert, the afternoon tea was up to one’s choosing. Should they like to take tea in the dining room, they were met with an impressive selection of sandwiches and cakes, or if one chose, they could enjoy the meal in the comfort of their own room.
And so, Sophia spent the better part of the day just like that. She read her book as hungrily as she ate her cucumber and salmon sandwiches.
As the day wore on, Sophia was pleased that she had spent the afternoon in repose, for the evening would prove to be quite alive with entertainment, gossip, and general carousing. Arabella helped her to prepare, switching out her morning gown for a shocking silver ensemble that made Sophia appear to be a fine, gilded stature. Gold and crystal embellishments hung from her ears and were strategically placed in her curls. Soft pink gloves completed the ensemble.
“A vision,” Arabella said, the preparations being done.
“I thank you,” Sophia replied politely.
Going back up to the top level of the boat, Sophia could see that the dining room was utterly transformed. The round tables had been removed and the space was expansive, allowing for dance and hobnobbing. There was a four-piece orchestra playing on a little stage, and waiters walked about greeting guests with flutes of champagne and exquisite finger foods.
Other refreshments were displayed on a side table where guests had the opportunity to serve themselves. Sophia was grateful for the light repast, considering the tower of delicacies that she was served at teatime.
Sophia took a moment to feel sorry for her companions down below. There was Aunt Catherine, of course, whom she had not seen all day. Then there were the lower classes who were not invited to attend such a grand ball. Were they down below her that very moment, looking up and dreaming of what others could freely enjoy? Sophia thought that it must be so.
Just then, Sophia felt something knock into her side and she jumped.
“I do apologize,” Lord Benedict said, shock written upon his face. No doubt, he was surprised that he had run into his future wife so unexpectedly.
“Quite alright,” Sophia replied, as though talking to a stranger.
Lord Benedict looked down at Sophia’s dress and then looked away, as though having been caught staring.
“Lovely evening,” he said cooly, not remarking upon Sophia’s appearance.
“Isn’t it?” she replied, looking out at the starry night sky. Although in her estimation, those glittering jewels in the black sky could not compare to the jewels that were glittering in that ballroom. In fact, Sophia was sure that the most expensive accessories in all the world were to be found in that very room. All the pirates of the sea would be more than happy to know the location of the SS Victoria and Albert in that moment.
“Would you care to dance?” Lord Benedict asked, and Sophia was shocked. She never dreamed that he would ask such a thing, considering his coolness towards her.
“Of course,” Sophia replied.
They were cordial as they danced, but Sophia couldn’t help but admire Lord Benedict’s handsomeness. He was wearing a fine navy blue coat and tails, as was the fashion. His blonde hair was as Titan as ever. There was a cleanness and freshness to his appearance, which Sophia admired, and he smelled of expensive soap. Yes, she did find her future husband’s exterior to be pleasing enough, but she knew nothing of his interior and wondered if she ever would. Was there even much of an interior to know?
They danced two dances, which was appropriate for a future married couple. Had they not been bound to one another in any way, to enjoy a second dance after the first would have caused a scandal. They pleasantly carried on, making polite conversation here and there.
“A lovely crowd,” Lord Benedict said.
“Very refined,” Sophia replied.
“The little beef pastries are delicious. I recommend them,” he added.
“I shall have to try them.”
There was no admiration on Lord Benedict’s part of Sophia’s apparel, nor her movement during the dance. There were no compliments paid. By the end of the second dance, Sophia felt nearly invisible in her future husband’s presence.
And so, when Lord Benedict gave Sophia a bow and excused himself to go and speak with some gentlemen friends, Sophia sighed to herself.
What a bore.
She felt terrible for thinking it, but it was the truth. Lord Benedict was dashing, and a little vacant, in her estimation. But could she be sure? There was always the chance that perhaps Lord Benedict was concealing his true self for reasons that Sophia did not know. Perhaps he didn’t wish to offend her in some way, or he was merely behaving as he ought for a future duke that is marrying an heiress for her money.
Whatever the reason for Lord Benedict’s blandness, Sophia thought that she ought to not concern herself with it. The ball grew tiresome and Sophia found that she wanted to do something else; namely, she wished to return to her book.
And so, without informing her maid, Sophia left the ballroom and returned to her chambers where her book was dutifully waiting for her. She lit a taper by the side of her bed and spent a pleasant rest of the evening reading about the Medici’s of Florence. Arabella eventually brought her a chocolate biscuit to enjoy while she read.
Sophia read for some time before there was a knock at her door. Thinking that her dress was not appropriate, she ignored it, only to hear the knock once more. Thinking that it could not be prevented, Sophia got up from where she sat and gently opened the door a crack, exposing the face of Lord Benedict on the other side.
“M’Lord?” Sophia said, uncertain as to why he was paying a call at that hour.
“May I come in?” he asked.
From the way that the future duke was walking, Sophia suspected that he was perhaps a tad drunk. Was that to be a prelude to the future? She had to wonder.
“I have to apologize to you, lady,” Lord Benedict said, pushing back his tails and seating himself.
“What for?” Sophia replied.
“For my distance.”
Sophia’s heart was suddenly warmed. The distance was all too clear, but she never imagined for a moment that Lord Benedict would confess to it.
“The marriage was not my idea,” Lord Benedict plainly confessed.
“I did not assume that it was.”
“And please understand that I shall . . . try to warm myself to you.”
Warm himself to me? Sophia thought it was a rather strange thing to say. Yet still, she appreciated the effort at communication.
“You are to meet my family quite soon,” Lord Benedict said, cheeks flushed. “I fear that I have not explained them to you yet.” Lord Benedict went to pull something from his pocket, and as he did so, the item came tumbling out onto the floor. He leaned over to pick it up and began to fall.
“Let me get it,” Sophia said, leaning over to pick up what turned out to be a small portrait of the Cumberland men.
Sophia examined it; the father stood in the center, with two men flanking him. She recognized one of them to be Lord Benedict, but the other one was quite a mystery.
“Who is this?” Sophia asked, pointing to the mysterious man.
Lord Benedict narrowed his eyes and inspected the portrait.
“That is my brother,” he said with a huff.
“Yes, unfortunately, you’ll be meeting him, as well.”
“He has a kind face,” Sophia reasoned.
“And a bastard’s heart. His name is Hugh.”
Sophia continued to look at the figure of Hugh in the portrait. Although Lord Benedict was handsome, Hugh could be said to be downright dashing. He took her breath away, and Sophia quickly handed the portrait back to Lord Benedict so that she wouldn’t be caught staring.
“I must go,” Lord Benedict said, putting the portrait back in his pocket.
“Goodnight, M’Lord,” Sophia said softly.
“Goodnight, Lady Sophia.”
Although a tad awkward, Sophia found it touching that Lord Benedict felt the need to come to her room, even if he was a tad drunk.
As she lay in bed that night, feeling the boat gently toss and turn, she couldn’t get the image of Hugh out of her mind. Where Lord Benedict’s eyes were steely, Hugh’s were kind.
“The Scandalous Life of a Betrayed Heiress” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
Sophia Barberry is an American Heiress of the highest order, but she’d much rather spend her time with her nose in a book. When her father seals an alliance with Lord Timothy, the future Duke of Cumberland, Sophia embraces her fate. But the heiress’ new life ends up being far less grand than she ever imagined. Her new husband proves himself to be distant and refuses to embrace his duty. When she becomes closer and closer to the Duke’s brother, will the gap of her non-existent husband be filled?
Philip, the Duke’s military-minded brother, with no riches to call his own, had no choice but to turn into a soldier. Having served a long time overseas he took the decision to have some time off with his brother. As a soldier, he tends to find Americans rebellious and unsophisticated, which creates an undeniable tension between him and his brother’s wife. With time, this friendship will turn into something dangerous for both of them. Is this relationship worth risking everything he has?
In a world where secrets cannot be revealed and hidden desires are forbidden, Sophia discovers that there’s much more to her new life in Britain than meets the eye. Caught between the ignorance of her husband and the love of his brother, will she choose to risk it all for passion?
“The Scandalous Life of a Betrayed Heiress” is a Regency romance full of mystery, love and adventure. If you like powerful heroines and mysterious lovers, then you’ll adore Lucy Langton’s Regency tale.
“The Scandalous Life of a Betrayed Heiress” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.