Flora smiled as she looked over at her maid who was sleeping soundly, her head back, and a small dribble of drool coming out of the corner of her mouth. Flora knew Miss Taylor would be mortified if she could see herself in that moment, but Flora found the sight utterly amusing.
They had been travelling for some time now, and Flora did not blame her maid for falling asleep. Flora might have fallen asleep herself, but she could not stop looking at the countryside.
It was a lovely fall day in early September, and the leaves were just starting to change. Flora could see the small hints of orange and red taking over the green of the leaves, and though the grass was still green, Flora suspected that soon it would start to yellow. There was a sweet smell in the air that Flora adored.
She had been in London for the last several months for the London Season, and Flora had not realised how much she missed the countryside until her journey had begun. The air in Kent was clearer, and Flora felt as though she could finally breathe a little easier now that she was away from the city.
Flora leant her head against the window of the carriage. She was happy to be away from London not just because she was travelling to see her best friend, Abigail Waldren, but because she would be away from the prying eyes of the Ton.
Flora released a heavy sigh as she thought about the past Season. Her mother had been excited and anxious. She had fretted for months about the upcoming Season. She put the dressmaker in their small village to work making more dresses than the woman probably had the capacity to create.
At twenty-two, Flora was nearing the age of spinsterhood. In just two years, she would be twenty-four, which meant that she had one more London Season to secure a match.
The thought made her stomach turn. Flora did not think there was anything wrong with being a spinster. She knew several ladies who had not married, and they appeared content enough.
But Flora did not desire that life for herself. It was not that Flora was desperate for a husband, but that she could not imagine bringing shame to her mother by not securing a match.
And, if Flora were honest with herself, she did not desire to be a burden on those she loved. Spinsters were not just looked down upon by society; they were dependent, forever, on the charity of their family. As an only child, Flora would be an albatross to her mother and father, a symbol of failure. When they passed, Flora was not sure what would happen to her.
The problem was that Flora did not know what kept her from making a match. Though she was not the most beautiful women of the Ton, she was not homely. Her hair was a light brown that sometimes looked golden in good lighting. Her hazel eyes were specked with gold, and she often received compliments on her features.
She was not titled, but her family did well for themselves, and whoever married her would receive an adequate dowry.
Men had been interested in her, but no one had made an offer. They came into her life, courting her for a period of time before they eventually stopped calling upon her.
Her mother suggested that the impediment might be Flora’s curious nature. Though Flora took up feminine pursuits such as, embroidery and the piano forte, her favourite hobby was reading. Flora loved a good book, and it was not something that she felt she needed to hide.
If she were to marry someone, they should know everything about her.
For the past five Seasons, making a match started to get more and more challenging, and this last Season had been the most difficult.
The carriage rolled on, and Flora continued to watch the scenery as she fell deeper and deeper into her thoughts.
The difficulty of the last Season was why Flora was heading to Kent for an extended stay. Her best friend, Abigail, who’d been married at the end of the last Season had written to Flora offering her the opportunity to come to the countryside.
Flora jumped at the offer. She desired nothing more than to escape the expectations of her family, at least, for a time. Though Flora would consider herself close to her parents, she could not spend the remainder of the fall and winter with the weight of their expectations weighing down upon her.
Flora worried that her mother might marry her off at the first young man that looked her way. When Flora received the invitation from Abigail, her mother had been excited at the prospect of eligible young men in the village of Kent.
She suspected that it was the only reason her mother allowed her to go to Kent at the end of the Season.
Though Abigail had mentioned some eligible young men in the area, Flora suspected that she was just being facetious. Flora was not travelling to Kent to find a husband. In fact, she would be glad in no one mentioned the marriage market for the next several months.
Sighing once more, Flora tried her best to focus on anything other than the weight of the last few months. She was coming to Kent for a breath of fresh air, and to see her friend. It had been nearly a year since she looked upon Abigail’s face, and Flora was eager to see how marriage suited her best friend.
The carriage hit a small bump causing the Miss Taylor’s eyes to fly open with a start. Flora hid a smirk behind her gloved hand as her lady’s maid looked at her with wide eyes.
“I believe that we hit a bump,” Flora told her as way of explanation.
Miss Taylor nodded, discretely wiping the drool off her chin.
Flora looked back at the window, her stomach clenching in excitement as she caught sight of Abigail’s home.
The large, white structure seemed to pop up out of nowhere as they cleared a small hill, and Flora held her breath at the sight of it. It was done in the Georgian style, and the front had two large, white columns framing a very impressive doorway.
One side of the house was covered in purple climbing wisteria, which Flora thought was the most charming thing she had ever seen.
“There is Abigail!” Flora yelled out.
Flora could see Abigail. She was standing at the front waving excitedly at the carriage. Flora wondered how she knew that they arrived, but as the carriage stopped in front of the door, she did not spend too much time considering it.
Instead, she flung the door open, not content to wait for the footmen to assist her. She tumbled out of the carriage, her skirts tangling in her legs, and she nearly tumbled to the ground in her haste.
“Flora!” Abigail cried out.
She rushed toward her, her own skirts flying behind her. Flora righted herself just in time for Abigail to slam herself into Flora’s arms. “You made it!” she squealed.
Flora laughed and tightened her arms around her friend. “Was there a doubt that I would?” she asked. “I wrote to you a week ago to remind you of my arrival.”
Abigail laughed and pulled away. “I did not doubt it,” Abigail told her.
“She was simply overcome with impatience.”
Flora drew her attention away from her friend in time to see Abigail’s husband, Anthony stepping out from the doorway. His dark blonde hair caught the sunlight making the strands dazzle. Anthony was a handsome man with a calm, easy nature that suited Abigail’s more frenetic character.
Flora smiled at him.
“I am glad that you made it safely,” he said, tilting his head slightly.
“Thank you both for having me. You have saved me from a dreadfully boring Autumn at home, and I will forever be grateful.”
Abigail laughed. “Oh, come now. Home is not that boring. Though, I suppose after all the excitement of London, the countryside can feel a bit of a letdown.” Abigail frowned as she spoke, and Flora knew that she was worrying that her friend might be bored in Kent.
If there was one thing that both Flora and Abigail had in common, it was their desire to please the people around them. Something that Flora found to be true of most women.
“I am happy to be in Kent,” Flora told her friend, looping her arm through Abigail’s. “The Season was not the same without you in London.”
Abigail’s cheeks reddened in pleasure. “I am sure that you had a wonderful time. I was happy to stay in Kent,” she looked over at Anthony. “But I did miss the balls.”
This made Flora laugh. “I will tell you all about them,” she said. “But first, you must show me your lovely new home!”
Abigail’s face lit with excitement, and Flora knew that her friend desired nothing more than to do just that.
“Come along,” she said, practically dragging Flora up the small stairs to the entrance. “It is lovely.”
Flora looked back, opening her mouth to mention her lady’s maid. Miss Taylor traveled a long way to attend to her, and Flora wanted to ensure that she was properly set up.
“Miss Watson manages our home,” Anthony explained, seeing the look in Flora’s eyes. “She will ensure that your things are prepared, and your maid is settled.”
Flora nodded and turned her attention to her friend.
“The house is quite large,” Abigail said, as she led Flora through, “but cosy nonetheless.”
Anthony snorted slightly behind her, and Flora wondered how he felt about his wife’s description.
Their home was much larger than her family’s, and as she walked through, she felt as though she could not take in every room.
“I had that chandelier imported,” Abigail said, proudly as the three of them passed under a small, crystal chandelier. The gems caught the light, and they reflected tiny rainbows around the room. “I thought it would liven up the space a bit. I can be so dark in here.”
Flora said nothing. She continued allowing her eyes to roam over the space. The house was filled with portraits of Anthony’s family members, thick oriental rugs that made Flora want to throw off her shoes and touch with her stocking feet, and velvet furniture that made everything look decadent.
The entire place depicted a family with wealth and status, and whilst Flora was not penniless by any means, her family had come into their fortune in just two generations, and their home was not nearly this grand.
As Abigail continued the tour of the house, Flora felt herself beginning to relax.
“I have so many plans for the two of us,” Abigail squealed drawing Flora’s attention away from the house and back to her friend.
“You do not need to go out of your way,” Flora said. “I am simply happy to spend time together. I have missed your presence.”
“You will not dissuade her,” Anthony said, giving her a small smile. “I have tried to, believe me.”
Flora laughed. Abigail could be headstrong in her own way, and when she set her mind to something, there was no changing it.
Abigail playfully smacked her hand against her husband’s chest. “Do not tease. I have to make sure that Flora gets to know the good people of Kent. After all, I did promise her mother.”
Flora’s brow rose. “You spoke with my mother?”
Abigail’s cheek’s pinkened with colour. “I knew that she would be reticent to allow you to join me. After all, Kent is not London, and I suspected that if the Season did not go as she hoped, which it appeared not to, she would desire to keep you close.”
This time Flora blushed. She looked over at Anthony who had the good sense to keep his face blank. She appreciated that. Though it was no secret that she had not had any luck in London, she felt embarrassment over speaking on that in front of Anthony.
“I knew that if I suggested that there were eligible men in Kent that she would have to relent, and she did.”
Flora sighed. It was not that she did not desire to meet a potential suitor; it was simply that she thought that she could come to Kent simply to enjoy her best friend’s company. She had spent the last several months trying to make a match, and she was not sure that she had the energy to continue such things.
“I promise that it will be fun,” Abigail said. “We are going to have a dinner party this evening. Very informal, but you will be able to meet with some of the local men and women.”
Flora sighed. “You did not have to do that,” she said. “I promise that I am more than content to just spend time together.”
For a moment, Abigail looked disappointed. “I suppose that I can cancel…”
Flora shook her head. “Of course not!” she exclaimed. “I am happy to meet the people of Kent. I simply want you to know that I am happy to be in your presence.” She turned to Anthony. “And I want to thank you both for your hospitality.”
“There now, none of that,” Abigail said, her face immediately bright. “We are both so glad that you are here.”
She looked over at her husband. “Correct?”
Anthony chuckled. “I am happy that you and I will get better acquainted.”
Flora held back a chuckle at Anthony’s diplomacy. She was grateful for him, but she did not want to offend her best friend.
Abigail pulled her arm slightly. “Now,” she said, her brown eyes sparkling, “tell me everything about London.”
Flora plopped down on one of the overstuffed chairs. Abigail had brought her to the drawing room for a quick respite.
“This is where I take my leave,” Anthony announced. “You two enjoy yourselves.”
Flora nearly called out to tell him that she did not wish to run him from his own home, but Abigail did not give her the chance.
For the next hour, Flora thought nothing of her circumstances, and instead, she enjoyed her best-friend’s company hoping that Kent would be the breath of fresh air that she needed.
Lionel sighed as he walked towards his neighbour’s home. The Autumn air was cool, and though it was just early into September, Lionel suspected that it would only be a few weeks before the trees surrounding his property turned red, orange, and yellow, and eventually, fell. When they did, he would have a clear view of the Waldren home. It was much smaller than his own, but the Waldrens had been his family’s neighbours for generations.
That was the only reason that Lionel had accepted their invitation for dinner that evening. Normally, Lionel was not the type to attend such things. He was not a social man, and since he was unmarried, he had no wife to drag him to these types of things.
He was only willing to attend this dinner because he liked the Waldrens. He had known Anthony since they were boys. They had both gone to Eton and then Oxford together, and though they were not best friends, they were close to one another.
Abigail Waldren was new to the town, but in the past year, she had done a great deal to integrate herself into the town, which Lionel thought was admirable. He knew of several young ladies who married and immediately desired the thrill of the London Season.
Lionel did not understand why.
He did not find London incredibly appealing. Going to the city was a necessary evil for his business, and one that he would have been happy to avoid. This past year, he had decided to stay in London for the Season, and it had not gone as well as he hoped.
As Lionel trekked towards the Waldren’s estate, he shuddered as he thought about what had occurred. The Season had been pleasant enough. The mothers of the Ton descended upon him like ferocious lions on a gazelle, but Lionel had not minded it terribly. They did all the work for him.
As Earl of Kent, he was a commodity to them, and Lionel received more invites than he knew what to do with. He called upon several young ladies who he found pleasant enough, but he had been unable to make a match.
All the ladies had their qualities, but Lionel could not see himself spending the remainder of his life with any one of them. After all, there was only so many times that a man could listen to the piano forte before he wanted to throw himself into the nearest body of water.
Lionel chuckled as he recalled some of the inane conversations that he had engaged in during that time.
Lionel was nearly to the Waldren’s home when he caught sight of a young lady in the garden. She was leaning down to smell one of the last August roses that had yet to die in the coolness of the September air.
She was not Abigail Waldren. Lionel did not recognise her, and he knew all the young ladies of Kent. Most of them had done everything they could in the last few years to make themselves seem appealing to him.
Lionel took a moment to study the young woman. She was slight. He suspected that her head would barely pass his shoulder. Her hair was a light brown and pulled back from her face in a mass of curls. When the sun hit it, Lionel noticed that there were golden streaks throughout.
He could only see her side profile, but he suspected that she was lovely. Her small nose wrinkled in delight as she sniffed the rose, and her pale skin was slightly flushed.
Lionel wanted to walk past her trying to move as quietly as possible. But he was not going to be able to escape the young woman. His boot stepped on a stick, and he cringed as it snapped under his weight causing the young woman’s back to straighten quickly. Her eyes met his and Lionel was surprised by the golden flecks in them.
“Good evening,” he said, tipping his head slightly.
“Good evening.” Her eyes were curious as they looked at him. “Are you here to see Mr Waldren?” she asked, getting immediately to the point. Lionel was surprised. He was not used to young lady’s being so forceful.
“I am,” he told her.
She looked at him expectedly, and Lionel realised that she was waiting for him to give her his name.
“I am Lionel Vanden,” he said.
“Lovely to meet you, Mr Vanden.” Lionel did not introduce himself by his title. He did not see the need for such formality. Yes, he was Earl of Kent, but unlike some, he did not go around expecting everyone to bow to him. He found that when people learned of his title the way that people treated him changed drastically.
Most people always treated him with deference even when it was clear that they did not care for his character.
And Lionel preferred for people to treat him however they felt. He did not feel the need to put on airs, and he did not understand why others did.
“And you are?” he asked when he realised that she had not told him her name.
She flushed. “Apologies,” she said. “I am Flora Sedley. I am visiting with Ab—Mrs Waldren.”
“Ah.” Lionel stuffed his hands in his trouser pockets unsure of what else there was to say.
“Are you here for the party? I believe that you may be slightly early, but I am sure that the Waldren’s would be happy to accommodate you. I came out here to pick some flowers.”
Lionel’s eyes widened slightly. He was surprised that this Miss Sedley would speak so freely to someone who was a stranger—one who had walked into the yard of the home she was staying with little more than an introduction.
Lionel reached into his waistcoat and pulled out his watch. He looked down at the face not surprised to see that he was a few moments early. He prided himself on always being on time.
“I am aware that I am slightly early, but if there are no guests, I can wait. I do not wish to impose on the guests.”
“I am certain that the two of them would be happy to see you. I imagine that you must be a close friend. Abigail told me that she was only inviting neighbours and close friends for this evening’s meals.”
Lionel shrugged. “I do not know if I would consider myself a close friend.”
“No?” Flora asked. “Why would you attend such an event if you do not consider yourself close to the Waldren family?”
This young woman talked a great deal. Normally, that would make Lionel balk, and he would immediately make it clear that he did not care to have any more discussion. But there was something about this young woman that he found intriguing.
Perhaps, it was the open, large smile on her face. She looked with wide eyes as though she were genuinely intrigued by whatever it was that he had to share, and something about her made Lionel believe that she was being sincere.
“I am their neighbour,” Lionel explained. “It is only proper that I answer their invitation.”
“That explains why you were able to walk onto the property,” Flora said. “Abigail mentioned that the properties were closer than normal to one another. Do you know why that is?”
Lionel released a small sigh. He had not expected to have to run the gauntlet of questions when he answered the invitation.
“I do not,” Lionel told her. “I’ve been told that the Waldrens built their house so closely because they wanted to appear wealthier than they were. I have also heard that the Waldrens were great friends of my ancestors, and they built their home close because of that friendship.”
“How fascinating,” Flora said.
Lionel snorted. He could not help himself. Naturally, the two of them had begun walking towards the house. They were not too far, but Lionel’s steps matched hers, and her short legs did not cover a great amount of ground.
“It is decidedly not interesting,” he told her with authority.
“I think that it is fascinating,” she told him. “I have never known two estates to be so close with one another. There must be a reason for it. It is a mystery lost to the dredges of time.”
Flora spoke with such passion, and Lionel found himself becoming more interested in what she was saying even though he found few things as intriguing as she appeared to.
“Are you from Kent?” he asked, surprising even himself. Lionel was not normally the type who cared about the stories of others, but he found himself wondering who this young woman was.
She laughed. The sound was light and pleasing. “No,” she told him. “I am simply visiting for a short whilst. I am friends with Abigail. Best friends since we were children.”
Lionel nodded not saying anything else.
“I came from London, but my family normally resides in Cornwall. I have not been able to see Abigail since her marriage to Mr Waldren, so I thought with the Season at a close, this fall would be a wonderful time to pay her a visit.”
Lionel smiled at her politely not saying anything else. He enjoyed the sound of her voice. There was something openly charming about her that he found pleasing.
Before Lionel knew it, they were standing at the door of the Waldren’s house, and he found himself disappointed that they had covered the yard so quickly.
“We should probably go inside,” Flora told him. “I am sure that the other guests have started to arrive.”
Lionel said nothing. He stood there for a moment watching the young woman walk into the house trying to shake off the feelings that this mysterious young woman elicited in him.
He needed to shake them off. After all, there was a dinner party to attend.
“The Wallflower who Seduced the Earl” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
After a disappointing Season, Flora Sedley decides to visit her best friend in Kent in order to avoid the marriage market delirium. She can not wait to have a peaceful time, reading and taking long walks in nature. However, fate has other plans… The day she crosses paths with the seductive Earl of Kent around the gardens, her life is about to change forever. She could never have imagined that her pleasure trip would turn into a sinful journey of unbridled passion…
Conquered by burning love, will she manage to restrain from lust?
Lionel Vander, the Earl of Kent, thinks that marriage of convenience suits him perfectly fine. However, there is absolutely nothing convenient about the sinful feelings he begins to develop when he encounters the most ravishing wallflower. Just when he is ready to compromise by marrying the woman his father chose for him years ago, temptation, disguised as a charming young lady, is about to ruin his happily-ever-after.
Will he let his tantalising feelings for her put his reputation at risk?
Lionel and Flora’s lives are turned upside down, and their fateful meeting will develop into a scandalous adventure. As Lionel’s prospect fiancée larks to destroy their growing romance more schemes, doubts and deceits will jeopardise their match. Yet, unable to stay away from one another, will they find a way to fight for their lustful affair? Or will society’s necessities and prejudice steal their hopes for love?
“The Wallflower who Seduced the Earl” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.
One thought on “The Wallflower who Seduced the Earl (Preview)”
Hello there, my dearest readers! I hope you enjoyed this little treat! I will be waiting for your comments here. Thank you 😊