Scars of a Passionate Revenge (Preview)

Chapter One

“Well, my friend,” Cecil said, raising his glass with a flourish. “It is good to see you back in town, at long last.”

Benedict lifted his glass and chinked it against his friend’s. “Cheers, Chalmers. I must say that I am glad to be back.”

Benedict took a swig of whiskey, feeling its heat burning pleasantly as it coursed down his throat, and looked around the room. Nothing had changed at White’s in all the time he had been away. The same oak-paneled walls, the same groups of gentlemen drinking, playing cards, and exchanging news. But out there in the wide world, everything was changing faster than anyone could even imagine.

“So what are your plans, now that you are home?” Cecil asked.

Benedict glanced at the fair-haired, smiling man who was sitting opposite him. Cecil Grant, the Viscount Chalmers, had been one of his closest friends for many years; he knew all his secrets—well, most of them—and the two had shared many adventures over the course of their lives. This next phase of life, though, was going to be different.

“I have seen the world, now, you know,” Benedict said, somewhat pensively. He raked a hand through his dark hair, and flexed his muscular shoulders. He was still stiff from the many hours stuck in his cramped cabin, onboard the ship on which he had travelled home from the Americas. “There is so much to see, so much to learn. It will not be long before we have railways here. If those old codgers in Parliament would just pass the act, and let the real men get on with the work… well, then everything will change. You’ll see.”

Cecil laughed softly. “I am sure that not everything will change. But men like you will thrive, Benedict, no matter what happens.”

“You flatter me, Chalmers,” Benedict said smoothly. But he knew that his friend was right. He had worked hard all his life. And here he was, drinking with a viscount at White’s, even though he had no title and his father’s career had ended in disgrace. He had proved himself, through his determination to be successful. He knew that he could have his pick of the young ladies of the ton, and of the women found in less respectable places too. But there was one thing he still had not achieved. Revenge.

His brow furrowed in thought. “There is some outstanding business, as you well know…”

Cecil held his gaze across the table for a moment, then took another sip of his drink. “All this from your childhood? It still troubles you so?”

Benedict drained his glass then set it down on the table in front of him with a thud. He gestured to a nearby waiter to fetch them another decanter, before he began to speak again. “It is impossible to forget. All those years of service that my father gave to that man, the baron. All those years I spent living alongside them, but never accepted by them. We were not their inferiors! And yet my father felt that every day, until that last day when they betrayed him.” Benedict could hear the barely suppressed rage in his own voice as he recounted the story that his friend already knew so well.

He took a breath before making his final declaration. “You ask what I will do now that I am back in England. And the answer is that I am here to right some wrongs, at long last. The Baron of Danneville cannot go unpunished forever.”

Cecil let out a sigh and refilled both their glasses from the decanter of whiskey which had appeared on the table, almost as if by magic. “Do you not think it’s time to let it go? It is ancient history, and you have achieved so much in life. I know that the memories cause you pain, but honestly, what happened all those years ago has not hindered your success in life.”

Benedict huffed. “If only I could remember it all! That is the problem, as well you know. I cannot remember what happened leading up to the fire, and I am determined to find out. I cannot for a moment believe that my father was guilty of what they accused him of. He was not a thief! I must find out the truth, and have my revenge.”

“Well, I see you are decided,” Cecil said with a wry smile. “And I know you well enough to know that once you have set your mind on something, there is nothing that will persuade you to relent. So you have my support on this, as in all things, Benedict.”

“I am glad to hear it,” Benedict replied. “Now, I will have another hand of cards out of you shortly, but first, I must remind you of your promise.” He leaned forward and lowered his voice; he knew that most of the gentlemen in the room would not care two figs about what he was saying, but he was not prepared to risk jeopardizing his plans, should the wrong person overhear them. “You promised you would accompany me to the Riversdale ball, in a few days’ time. That is the best way, you see, to meet the baron again and hone my strategy to expose him.”

Cecil nodded. “I promised, and I will stick to my word. But I still think you would be happier if you tried to let it go, to forget about it, and to appreciate what you have now. Perhaps once you have seen him, you will feel differently about it all.”

Benedict rolled his eyes. “I will not. I will be all the more determined to proceed with my plans, once I have set eyes on the old wretch. But let us forget about it for now, and I shall thrash you again, and take all your money!”

Cecil grinned. “Or perhaps I will take all of yours,” he said with a smirk, then gathered up the cards on the table, shuffled them thoroughly, and began to deal out their hands for another round.


“Well, now that I have indeed relieved you of all your money, I think we should call it a night,” Benedict said a while later. He had drunk perhaps a little more whiskey than he ought to have done, but he still felt fully in control of his faculties as he got to his feet and prepared to leave the club.

Cecil followed him down the stairs into the opulent entrance hall.

“Shall I summon a hackney coach for you, Sir?” the footman at the door enquired.

“I think I should prefer to walk back to my rooms. What do you say Cecil?” Benedict turned to his friend, who was swaying a little as they stood in the hallway. “I rather think that the fresh air will do you good.”

Cecil nodded. “You are right, Benedict, of course,” he replied.

They emerged into the street and Benedict breathed deeply. The crisp evening air was mingled with the smells of the city, some less savory than others. But he loved the sense of anticipation in the air, even late in the evening. London was a city of such potential, such adventure. He had loved his time travelling overseas, but London would always be home, and he was glad to be home again.

The two friends walked through the streets of St. James in silence; theirs was the kind of comfortable, established friendship that did not need constant chatter. Their lodgings in town were not far apart, and they would be able to make most of the journey home together.

Benedict’s eye was drawn to a movement in a gloomy alleyway just off the main street. Even in this rather prestigious part of London, there were dark corners where piles of rubbish festered among the animal muck and debris of the streets, and it was next to such a pile of trash that he saw the movement again.

He stopped in his tracks and held up a hand to Cecil. “Wait, I think I can see a child amongst all that rubbish.”

Cecil let out a sigh. “You cannot save them all, you know,” he said in a low voice, following Benedict’s gaze. “It is tragic indeed, but there are such sights to be seen on every corner in London. You will get used to them once you have been home for a while.”

Benedict ignored him and turned off the main street into the alleyway. “Is there someone there?”

A shape emerged from the darkness, a small shape that moved slowly into the dim light from the gas lamp on the street.

Benedict let out a gasp. It was a child, and a ragged one at that. He was nothing but skin and bones, and his tiny frame was barely covered by the torn and filthy clothing that he wore.

“Are you alone, my boy?” he said gently, stepping closer to the child.

The child flinched and Benedict realized in a horrible moment that he might be afraid of being abducted, or worse, by a strange gentleman approaching him in the darkness.

“I promise I won’t hurt you,” he said, in as reassuring a tone as he could muster. “I want to help. Now, are you alone, or do you have an adult with you?”

The boy tilted his head slightly to one side, and Benedict looked in the direction he was indicating towards. A man stepped forward, looking almost as pathetic as the child in his attire. He had a terrible pallor to his skin, and dark circles under his eyes.

Benedict pushed down a surge of anger at the predicament these people had found themselves in. How could society be so cruel, to allow some to feast and flourish, and force others to look through piles of rubbish to try and find something to fill their empty stomachs?

He reached into his pocket, ignoring the sighs emanating from Cecil, who was standing behind him.

“You are hungry?” he asked the man.

The man nodded. “We have not eaten now for several days, Sir.” His voice was weak, and Benedict thought that the man looked as if he was not far from death.

Benedict took a bundle of bills from his pocket and handed them to the man. “Be sure to feed the child first,” he said. “I am trusting you to make good use of this money. Find shelter, and then find work.”

The man’s face lit up when he realized the value of what he had been given. “Sir, I cannot tell you what this means. I promise I will put it to good use.”

Benedict nodded curtly, then turned to the boy. “And you, young man. What will you be when you grow up?”

The boy hesitated for a moment, looking up at him shyly before responding. “I will never be as smart as you, Sir,” he said quietly, eyeing Benedict’s fine clothes.

“Well, if you have a little luck, and you work hard, then perhaps one day you will be.” Benedict took off the cap that was settled on his own head and dropped it onto the boy’s head, watching as his face lit up with glee. “Now, you shall wear that cap when you go and ask for work, and remember me. How does that sound?”

The boy nodded. “Thank you, Sir. I will do you proud, I promise.”

“Well then,” Benedict said. “I wish you both luck. We must be on our way.”

The man and the child repeated their thanks, as Benedict and Cecil took their leave and resumed their walk home.

Cecil let out a low chuckle as they continued past an ale house; shouts were emanating from inside, where there was clearly a brawl going on.

“What do you find so amusing, my friend?” Benedict asked.

“Well, how do you know that will not go and spend all your money on ale as soon as you have walked away from them, or put it all on a horse?”

Benedict shrugged. “I don’t know that,” he replied. “But I prefer to believe the best of people. I think he will feed his child, and hopefully find shelter for them both, then in the morning, go and look for work when he has had a chance to wash and acquire some decent clothes.”

Cecil nodded. “It is admirable, how you see the best in people. I wish I were the same.”

“It is a matter of choice,” Benedict said. “But there are people who I know are not good, people who have done terrible things. And those people do not deserve my kindness. Be under no illusions, Cecil. I am no bleeding heart.”

“You cannot save every poor person you see, though, my friend.”

“I know that,” Benedict said, realizing that his voice had come out a little more sharply than he had intended. “But I will help whoever I can. That is who I am, and it will not change.”

Cecil shook his head as they continued their walk homewards. “You are a better man that I, Benedict. I will say no more on the subject.”

Chapter Two

Alice suppressed a groan as she heard the door of the drawing room swing open. She looked up from her book to see that her intuition was indeed correct; her stepmother, Dorothea, was standing in the doorway, glowering at her.

“You are hiding in here, I see, with your book?”

Alice glanced at the book in her hand—a romantic novel that she was sure Dorothea would not approve of—and placed it down on the sofa next to her, its title hidden from view. She had been rather enjoying it, the way it allowed her to escape into another world, and she was not in the least bit happy for her solitude to be interrupted. But it could not be helped. Dorothea had as much right to be in the drawing room as she did, after all.

“I was not hiding,” Alice replied. “I was simply reading my book.”

Dorothea looked at the book with disdain. “You should not spend so much time reading. It will affect your eyesight. And no one will marry you if you have a squint!”

Alice sighed. Of course, any conversation with her stepmother would come around to the subject of marriage sooner or later. There was no point in hoping for anything else. She braced herself for more.

Dorothea crossed the room and sat down opposite her, smoothing out the skirt of her morning gown as she did so. Dorothea always looked impeccable, even if they were not expecting company. Alice wondered how she had the patience for it, preening and primping herself all day long.

“Alice, I wanted to speak with you about your behavior at the soiree yesterday evening,” Dorothea said, a frown creasing her face and her piercing blue eyes fixed unflinchingly on Alice’s face.

Alice looked at the floor, trying hard to resist the urge to roll her own blue eyes. She had known that this was coming, and she had been dreading it.

“You did not dance at all!” Dorothea exclaimed. “I do not know how you think you are going to find a husband, if you are not prepared to exert yourself a little on the dance floor, and try to look your best. Everyone knows that the best matches are made while dancing. And you rejected Lord Grisham, and at least two other eligible gentlemen! Whatever were you thinking?”

Alice bit her lip. Should she accept the telling off, or protest? Experience told her that the conversation would be over sooner if she just accepted what her stepmother said and apologized, but something in her rebelled against that approach.

She thought for a moment before speaking. “My ankle was hurting. That is why I chose not to dance.”

“I do not believe a word of it!” Dorothea exploded. Her eyes blazed and she sat up straighter, almost as if she was trying to make herself bigger, more intimidating.

Alice tried to hold her resolve, but it was not easy in the face of such rage. “It is true, Madam, I assure you. I slipped when I was in the garden with Clara yesterday, and my ankle was not recovered sufficiently for me to be able to dance.” It was partly true, what she was saying; she had taken a slight tumble the previous morning, but she would have been quite capable of dancing, if she had wanted to. She had simply not felt like it, and none of the gentlemen who asked her had been at all handsome. But of course she could not admit that to her stepmother.

Dorothea glared at her. “I do not believe your excuses,” she said icily. “But the fact of the matter is that you need to learn to behave like a proper young lady. You are old enough to be married now, and yet I do not see you making a scrap of effort!”

Alice winced at that. She was twenty-four years old, so quite old enough to marry, but she simply had no inclination toward marriage. Why would she, when she had her freedom now? Not to mention the fact that she was yet to meet a gentleman whom she found remotely interesting. There had been not a single tempting prospect among them at the soiree last night.

Dorothea cleared her throat. “It is high time that you started to behave properly. If you leave it much longer, then you will be a spinster. You will be too old for anyone to want you, and your poor father will be saddled with providing for you forever. And that will not do!”

But my father wouldn’t mind providing for me, Alice thought to herself. He wouldn’t ever force me to marry against my will, against my inclination.

She sat silently as Dorothea continued to berate her.

“A lady in your position must find a husband. Surely you know that. You cannot imagine that you can be single and live alone, like some kind of eccentric?”

Alice shook her head. There was no point in arguing with Dorothea once she had got herself into a state like this.

“And your poor father!” she went on. “He has been so unwell, and your behavior is making him sicker by the day!”

At this, Alice jerked her head up and glared at her stepmother. She knew that his illness had nothing to do with her; he had been sick for some time, and she was sure that her unmarried state was completely unrelated to his illness. But it was just like Dorothea to attempt to make her feel guilty. She tried not to allow her stepmother’s toxic insinuations to take root in her head.

If anything, she reflected, as she stared past her stepmother and out of the window towards the gardens, her father had always encouraged her to be herself. He would not have tried to make her dance if she did not want to.

Not that he had been paying her much attention lately, she thought, a little bitterly. Or even for the last few years, nay, for as long as she could remember. Since Dorothea had come into their lives, in fact. Alice’s own mother had died in childbirth, and her father, the baron, had married Dorothea when Alice was only six years old. And since that day, she had felt her father slipping away from her. He had allowed this woman into their lives, and it almost felt as if he had allowed her to build up this barrier between them that still existed now, even after she had been living in their home for all these years.

“Are you listening to me?” Dorothea barked, interrupting her reverie.

She turned to face her, pulling at a stray strand of blonde hair that had fallen out of its arrangement.

“And stop fiddling with your hair, for goodness’ sake! Honestly, you are barely fit to be seen. What if we should have visitors this morning?”

“I do not think we are expecting anyone, Madam,” Alice replied quietly, tucking the strand of hair behind her ear.

“Well, of course we are not expecting any gentlemen callers for you!”

Alice felt her cheeks burn. It felt so unfair that she had to put up with this treatment from her stepmother, but she knew that answering back would only make things worse.

“In fact,” Dorothea said, looking at her intently, as if she was plotting something, “I think I shall have to ask my maid to help you to get ready for the next ball. Clearly that girl who looks after you does not know what she is doing. Yes, indeed, my Marie shall get you ready for the Riversdale ball, and make sure that you look your best.” She paused and glared at Alice. “And you will dance! With anyone who asks you.”

Alice’s heart was racing by now. She desperately wanted to fight back, to tell her stepmother that she would not do as she was told, that she would only behave as she herself saw fit. But she did not want to get into an argument. It would change nothing, as she knew from previous experience.

Instead, she simply nodded. “I am sure you are right, Madam,” she said in the most neutral voice she could muster. She got to her feet and picked up her book. “Now, if you will excuse me, I have a headache. I must go to my room and rest.”

Dorothea let out a sigh of exasperation. “There is always something the matter with you!”

Alice ignored her and crossed the room, not even looking at her. She left the drawing room and ran upstairs to her room, then pulled the bell for her maid. She shuddered at the thought of Marie doing her hair for the next ball. She was French and a proper lady’s maid, as befitted the wife of a baron, but she was very rough when dressing hair, and pulled hard to tighten one’s corset. She hoped she could think of a way to make sure that her own maid, Sarah, could help her instead. She was much kinder and gentler.

Sarah arrived within a few moments, and Alice asked her to bring up some tea. She had been about to call for some when Dorothea had arrived in the drawing room, but she did not want to share a pot with her stepmother. She was happier alone, in the solitude of her room, with just her books and her thoughts for company. Thoughts which often took her into a fantasy land, where she did meet a man she wanted to marry. Someone handsome, someone intriguing. Someone who would take her away from this house and make her his bride.

The pot arrived and Alice prepared her own cup, then decided to make one for her father too. She thought of taking it to him herself, but she did not want to run into Dorothea again.

She called Sarah back into the room. “Please will you take this to my father?” she asked. “And please also take him some pastries from the kitchen. I do not think I have seen him at breakfast for a good few weeks now and I worry that he is missing out on some of the cook’s best delicacies. A good apple tart is sure to make him feel better!”

Sarah smiled at her mistress. “Of course, Miss, I will do it right away.”

Alice nodded. “Thank you, Sarah. I am so worried about him. He has been ill for such a long time now, and the physician cannot seem to find any cause for it.”

“I am sure the tea and cake will cheer him up, Miss.” Sarah looked at her closely. “Is there something else troubling you? You seem a little upset, if you do not mind me saying so.”

Alice looked at her maid fondly. She and Sarah had been together for a long time now, and Alice saw the girl almost more as a friend than a servant. And in truth, Sarah was often the only person she could talk to about her feelings, and her troubles. She let out a sigh. “My stepmother has just been upbraiding me for not dancing with the gentlemen who asked me to at the soiree last night. I do not understand why she will not just leave me alone, to make my own decisions. Is it so hard to believe that I would prefer to choose my own husband, or even to have none if I never meet anyone who I can truly love?”

Sarah placed a reassuring hand on Alice’s arm. “I am sure that your father will see things your way and support you.”

“I hope so,” Alice replied. “I really do hope so.” She shuddered a little at the thought of her stepmother pushing her into a marriage that she didn’t want. She could only hope and pray that her father recovered his strength soon, so he could support her as she navigated this Season, and the next, and however many it took for her to find a husband, or accept her fate as a spinster.

“Please do go to him now,” Alice said, and Sarah withdrew, carrying the laden tray to take up to the baron. Alice sat back in her chair by the window, picked up her book again and tried to relax. Her father may not think of her much, but the least she could do was show some consideration towards him.


The baron looked up in surprise as the door to his chamber swung open, and Sarah entered, carrying a tray laden with pastries and a cup of steaming tea.

“Miss Alice asked me to bring this up to you, My Lord,” she said softly, with a slightly wobbly curtsy.

He felt a little sorry for the girl; it must be hard to curtsy while carrying such a heavy tray. “Set it down here, my dear,” he said, patting the counterpane next to him. It was several days now since he had left his chamber, and it was rather pleasant to see a new face. “That was kind of Alice, to think of me.”

“My Lord,” Sarah replied, dropping another curtsy. “Is there anything else that I can fetch for you?”

“No indeed, I am quite delighted to have been brought such an array of treats.” He looked at the plate of apple pastries and scones on the bed next to him. “Although I am sure that I shall not be able to eat all of that!”

Sarah gave him a shy smile, then withdrew from the room, leaving him alone with his thoughts.

He took a sip of tea and enjoyed the sweet taste. He did always prefer the way Alice made it, although he would never admit that to Dorothea, of course. She would not like it at all! But she constantly nagged him about having too much sugar; she said it was not good for him. And she meant well, naturally.

He wondered for a moment why Alice had not brought him the tea himself. He had seen very little of his daughter lately, since he had been kept to his room for the last few days, and he would have liked to see her today and to chat with her.

He heard footsteps outside his room, and he wondered for a moment if it was Alice coming to see him. He tried to suppress the feeling of disappointment that fluttered in his chest when he saw Dorothea standing there instead.

“You have tea!” she declared. “Who brought you all that?”

“Hello, my dear,” the baron greeted her. “One of the maids brought it up for me,” he said simply. She looked rather tense, and he did not want to wind her up any further. He knew that if he told her it was from Alice, she would become even more annoyed.

“What are they doing bringing you cakes, for heaven’s sake?” Dorothea said. “It is the last thing you should be eating, with your health as fragile as it is!”

“I rather thought the opposite, I must confess,” the baron replied. “I was hoping that the nourishment might help me to get my strength up. I was just thinking that I would like to accompany you and Alice to the ball next week. I feel that I have not supported her as much as I should have done this Season.”

Dorothea scoffed. “It is entirely out of the question for you to go to a ball, when you have been so ill that you have been stuck in bed for days. I do not know where you get this nonsense from.”

The baron raised an eyebrow and looked up at his wife. She had a sharp tongue at the best of times, but she seemed to be taking things a little far today. “I think I can make the decision myself, as to whether I am well enough to go to a ball, don’t you think?”

She looked back at him, and he saw something soften slightly in her face. “Of course, My Lord,” she said, in a much gentler tone. “It is only that I worry about you so much, you know. I do not want your health to take a turn for the worse. I do not know what we would do without you if… well, if the unthinkable happened!” She reached up and wiped at her eyes, although the baron did not think he had seen any tears springing forth.

“Scars of a Passionate Revenge” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

In a world where love is a rare treasure, Alice will settle for nothing less than a passionate connection. While her heart bears the scars of her mother’s loss, her greatest fear is that her stepmother will try to force her to marry a man who could never ignite her soul. However, a chance encounter with a tempting stranger in the garden at a ball changes her life forever. Is he truly a stranger, though? As childhood memories resurface, his gaze reveals no recognition, shrouding their shared past in mystery.

Will Alice unveil her true self or let the mystery between them grow?

Benedict did not grow up a gentleman, but he has struggled and fought all his life for the position in society that he holds now. Scarred both physically and by the flames of a bygone tragedy, he is consumed by a singular purpose; vengeance upon those who ruined his family. His obsession with revenge takes up every waking moment, until he meets the alluring Alice and burning desire grows within him.

Will he allow her tantalizing beauty and her wit distract him from his mission?

As their memories of the past and hopes for the future collide, Benedict and Alice can no longer ignore their smoldering attraction for one another. Will they admit their feelings to one another and give into temptation? Or will the secrets of the past and the scheming of Alice’s stepmother keep them apart forever?

“Scars of a Passionate Revenge” is a historical romance novel of approximately 60,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!

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