Lady Felicia Casey sat in the second row of pews in the church in the centre of Town. The church was the largest in Town, fitting for the marriage of a duke. The stained glass windows depicted the popular stories in the Bible, and though they were beautiful, all eyes were focused forward.
Felicia’s eyes were fixated on Lady Sierra, soon to be Duchess of Montgomery. Sierra’s white laced hands were resting in the Duke’s; her brown eyes focused only on him. Felicia sighed, thinking that her best friend was the luckiest woman in the world to be marrying for love.
“She should have worn a satin gown,” Lady Casey, Felicia’s mother, whispered to Felicia.
“It’s a very lovely gown for Miss Sierra,” commented Lord Casey, Felicia’s father.
Felicia sat in the middle of the two of them, always the one to create space between them, so they didn’t have to be bothered by one another. Yet, her father had already butted in with his opinion, which he was always quick to give.
“But she is marrying a duke. She should have worn the finest gown money could buy,” Lady Casey whispered back. Felicia sighed once more, always hating being caught in the middle of her parents’ bickering.
Why do they have to bicker on such a wonderful day? Felicia thought as she kept her eyes on Sierra. All the while, her parents commented on the gown, to the coat and trousers the duke was wearing.
“At least His Grace has chosen a fine wedding outfit,” Lady Casey whispered. “Surely his good opinion of fashion will rub off on his wife.”
Lord Roberts was wearing a black as night coat and trousers that had been lined in gold thread. In Felicia’s opinion, Sierra was the most beautiful woman dressed in the church. Her pearl coloured gown flowed around her with a long train of lace. Gold thread was weaved through the hem and the bodice of the gown. A beautiful terra was pinned in her long blonde hair where the vela of sheer material covered her face.
“My good opinion of fashion has yet to rub off on you,” replied Lord Casey.
Felicia closed her eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. She prayed silently that no one would notice the heated expression on her mother’s face or the way her father stuck up his nose at his wife.
“If there are any that would oppose this marriage, do speak now,” said the priest in his booming voice. Felicia relished in the silence, thinking that at least her parents had a good sense of when to be perfectly silent. But as soon as the couple exchanged their vows, her parents were back at it.
“I’ll have you know that young ladies look to me for fashion advice,” Lady Casey said. “Just as Felicia. She will tell you.”
“You are one of the loveliest women in attendance, Mama,” Felicia was quick to say, knowing how to appease her mother.
Lady Casey was dressed in a gorgeous light blue satin gown with dark blue lace trim at the neckline, hem, and sleeve cuff. Her dark blonde hair was curled and pinned with pearl-encrusted pins. A large light blue hat rested on her head like a crown with large white plum feathers poking out of the top. Her mother certainly knew how to make an impression in society.
In comparison, Lord Casey wore a navy-blue coat, a pressed muslin shirt, and light blue trousers to match his wife. Silver thread had been used to embroider designs in the cuff of his sleeves and trousers. Together, her parents were among the most fashionable couples in attendance besides the bride and groom themselves. Since her father was an earl and a successful businessman, they could both flaunt their wealth.
Felicia, on the other hand, had settled for a simple emerald gown of muslin and lace. She was comfortable in her gown and felt pretty enough, even though it was not her intention. After all, this was Sierra’s day, and as the bride, she should shine the most. It was a concept her parents didn’t seem to comprehend.
When the ceremony came to completion, and Lord Roberts folded back Sierra’s veil, Felicia held her breath as the couple that truly loved one another shared a tender kiss. It wasn’t a quick, chaste kiss that couples often shared at weddings when it was a marriage of convenience. Instead, it was a kiss that lasted just long enough to show everyone in attendance that they were truly in love. Considering that most of the Ton were sitting in the church, no one would dare say that Lord Roberts and Lady Sierra hadn’t married for love alone.
The congregation stood as the couple faced the crowd together. Felicia clapped her hands in excitement as they headed down the aisle, arm in arm as they made their way towards the open church doors waving at everyone in return. There would be a wedding brunch at the duke’s townhouse before the newlyweds took their leave to the countryside for their honeymoon. Lord Roberts’ countryseat was rumoured to be a massive estate that Sierra had said she was looking forward to being mistress over.
“I shall plan the menu each day with the housekeeper, and if the estate needs a feminine touch, I shall speak with the butler about making the necessary improvements,” Sierra had told Felicia not two nights ago when they had visited at her parents’ townhouse.
“You shall be too busy with your husband to think about food,” Felicia had teased. “The thrills of passion and being a wife will keep you in bed that the last thing you’ll think about is what meals to plan.”
“Felicia, you are so naughty,” Sierra had whispered. “But I do look forward to the wedding night.” The young ladies had giggled all night, making Felicia hope that one day she would be able to marry for love as well.
Now, as she followed Sierra’s parents down the aisle towards the church’s open doors, the married couple already in the duke’s carriage and heading towards his townhouse, Felicia couldn’t help wondering when it would be her turn to marry. She and Felicia had both attended the previous Season in Town, but it was only Sierra who had captured the attention of eligible gentlemen.
As Felicia walked behind her parents, who, of course, had to stop from time to time to talk to other wedding guests, she wondered why she hadn’t been successful this past Season. Perhaps it was the fact that she didn’t enjoy balls as Sierra did. Felicia found them quite overwhelming instead of magical or romantic. She preferred drawing compared to socializing or taking long walks outside instead of attending tea parties. She felt she didn’t have the same things to talk of that concerned other young ladies.
Things that her mother was overly concerned about. The latest fashion. The most eligible gentleman in Town. The wealthiest family in Town. The latest gossip of the Ton. All these things her mother was very knowledgeable about. The same with many of the young ladies she had been introduced to by Sierra at balls. But none of these things interested or concerned Felicia one bit.
“Felicia, darling. Don’t slouch,” her mother said over her shoulder.
Felicia straightened her posture the best she could, not wanting her mother to bicker at her later for not trying her hardest to look her best in public.
Felicia gazed around the church as she stuck close to her parents. No one in the entire church interested her enough that she wanted to speak with them. She only wanted to make her way to the duke’s townhouse, where close friends and family were gathering to enjoy a meal before the couple went away to the countryside. She wanted to spend as much time with Sierra as possible before she truly had to say goodbye.
It was a small relief when she could finally step up into her father’s carriage outside the church. It was a beautiful spring day where the weather hinted at summer. The sun was shining, without a single cloud to obstruct the light. It was truly a perfect day.
Felicia sat on one side of the carriage with her mother while her father sat on the other. After three taps to the side of the carriage, the driver flicked the reins to the horses and had them stepping forward to take them to the duke’s townhouse, the carriage rumbling along the cobblestone roads of London, England.
“Felicia, can you believe the hat Lady Minton was wearing? Who would ever wear black feathers to a wedding? That is quite unsightly,” Lady Casey said, trying to entertain herself with a bit of gossip.
“If black is unsightly on a wedding day, perhaps the groom then shouldn’t wear a black coat and trousers,” Felicia observed, hoping to put her mother off speaking to her. She didn’t dare entertain her mother’s gossip habit, or she would be talking the entire time in the carriage.
“It’s unsightly for a woman,” Lady Casey said, correcting her daughter. “Really, my dear. You should know better. I have taught you all I know about fashion, etiquette, and the way of high society.”
“Of course, Mother,” Felicia replied, focusing her eyes on the passing buildings of Town. There were so many people about that day that she could easily see herself disappearing into the sea of people and just being herself for once. But that thought was shattered as the carriage came to a halt once more.
Felicia followed her parents into the luxurious townhouse of Lord Roberts. She had dined at the duke’s home before, finding it quite lovely. It wasn’t over the top like her parents’ own home. Instead, everything was nicely done and thought out. From the hardwood floors to the flowers kept in white vases in the foray. Felicia believed that the duke had better taste than Sierra should give him credit for.
“My word, Lady Sierra is so lucky,” Lady Casey said as they entered the house. “She will never want for anything. Felicia, my dear, you should ask the duke if he has a cousin you could marry. It is high time you follow your dear friend’s good example.”
“Yes, Mother,” Felicia replied, feeling mortified by the comment. She glanced at the footmen, seeing how they were holding back their laughter at such a statement.
Felicia followed her parents into the large dining room, seeing small white tables set up all over for guests to sit and congregate. She spotted Sierra and her husband walking about the room, visiting with the guests. Sierra looked truly happy, a bright smile on her face as her long brown hair framed her heart-shaped face.
“Come, let us sit,” Lord Casey said, gesturing towards an empty table.
“Why sit when there are prestigious families to speak with?” Lady Casey questioned.
“Do as you please,” Lord Casey said with a huff, going over to sit at an empty table and have a footman bring him a plate of food from the large buffet on the side of the room. All sorts of marvellous things had been prepared from a slowly roasted goose that was quite plump to several puddings and tarts baked for the special occasion. Roasted spring vegetables were paired with cold soups smelling of exotic spices.
Felicia knew at that moment she had to make a choice. She could either side with her father to enjoy the wedding feast, like most wedding guests. Or she could side with her mother and follow her around the dining room to visit with everyone invited by the wedding couple to attend the brunch.
Seeing an opportunity for escape, Felicia made her way towards the buffet table where she saw Sierra standing alone, trying to grab a bite to eat between visiting the families with the duke. Being such close friends with Felicia, she knew her parents wouldn’t complain if she were spotted speaking with a duchess in public.
“You are absolutely gorgeous, Your Grace,” Felicia said as she approached.
“Come now,” said Sierra. “We’ve been close friends since we could talk. I don’t think titles are necessary.” Sierra took a tart from a silver serving tray and plopped it into her mouth, chewing quickly before washing it down with a glass of sherry.
“Are you doing alright?” Felicia asked.
“This has been such a wonderful day, but I’m afraid if I don’t eat anything now, I shall faint during the trip to the countryside,” Sierra admitted. “Who knew being married could be such work?”
“Well, I am happy for you and Lord Roberts. The two of you deserve one another,” Felicia said.
“How are you faring the wedding?” Sierra asked, looking towards her parents. “I’m thinking Father is ready to retire for the day already, and Mother is red in the face from all the smiling; she is so happy.”
“I feel the same as your father,” Felicia admitted. “I long to return home and take to the parlour where I may draw to my heart’s content. It is far better than having to listen to my parents bicker about fashion or food.”
“If Lord and Lady Casey can find a fault in anything, they’ll be quick to tell the other,” Sierra said with a sigh. “If only you had been so successful this past Season. Then we would both be married to men we love and escaping the harsh eye of the Ton.”
“You must write to me when you have retired to the Montgomery Estate. Tell me what it is like in the countryside, and I shall reply forthwith. That is, as long as you have the time to write between your adventures in the bedchamber and eating a bit of food to recover your energy,” Felicia teased.
“My dear, one day I hope you meet a man as naughty as you. You will need a man with plenty of passion to tame your desires,” Sierra said softly, leaning towards Felicia as she spoke before eating another tart. Felicia just chuckled as she shook her head.
“I fear I may not meet a man as you have. I should just settle for a marriage of convenience to be rid of my parents,” Felicia said with a sigh.
“You will find love one day, my dearest friend. I just know it,” Sierra said, patting Felicia’s shoulder.
“Did you find something suitable to eat?” Lord Roberts asked as he joined their small party. “I’m about to eat an entire goose breast myself.”
“But you’ll ruin your nice clothing,” Sierra said with a smile.
“The wedding ceremony has come to a glorious end, and now I am famished,” Lord Roberts said with a chuckle. “I need to eat something.”
“I’ll leave you two to feast,” Felicia said with a curtsey.
“Lady Felicia, I hope that you will come to visit us soon,” Sierra spoke up, looking towards her husband for approval.
“Indeed,” the duke added. “As my dearest wife’s best friend, you should certainly join us in a few weeks’ time.”
Felicia was rooted in her spot, thinking quite an invitation was too soon to extend, considering the honeymoon they would soon be on.
“That is very kind of you, Your Grace. I shall write in a few weeks to ensure that such an offer still stands. I can only imagine the type of privacy a newly married couple might want for months to come,” Felicia said with a smirk. This made the duke laugh openly as Sierra clearly blushed.
Felicia made her way back to her father’s table as he thoroughly enjoyed the wedding feast. She thought it was best to leave the recently married couple alone while they ate, and though Felicia wasn’t very hungry, she thought it would be good to at least eat something.
“Try the roasted goose, Felicia,” Lord Casey said between bites. Felicia just nodded in reply.
When the footman brought her a plate of food from the buffet, an arrangement of delicious things to eat, Felicia simply picked at her food as she gazed around the room. She spotted her mother socializing with other women in attendance, laughing freely as she remained ever posed and composed. Felicia felt she didn’t have the same type of charm as her mother, nor desired to be the centre of attention.
“Felicia, you should take care to be married before too long,” her father spoke up. “Like your dear friend, you should marry for wealth at your soonest convenience. Though you may not be able to catch a duke, an earl would be suitable.”
“Of course, Father,” was all Felicia could think to say, considering how often this line of conversation had appeared with her parents since Sierra had announced her engagement.
The time eventually came for Felicia to say her goodbyes to Sierra as the couple prepared to leave the townhouse. They had both left the dining room to change into their travelling clothes. Sierra was now wearing a gorgeous cream gown that Felicia thought was very soft as she hugged her dear friend and said her goodbyes.
“You may always write to me,” Sierra said softly as she looked into Felicia’s blue eyes. “I will be sure to respond in a timely manner.”
“You’ve always been the best of friends,” Felicia said as she let go of Sierra. “I will surely miss you, but my happiness for you outweighs that of my sorrow. You are a beautiful bride and will no doubt have many happy days with your husband.”
“I certainly hope so,” Sierra said with a soft laugh as she hugged Felicia once more before turning to her parents to say her goodbyes. As soon as the couple was ready, they departed from the house and made their way to the waiting carriage. A part of Felicia wanted to go with them, but she knew it would be terribly inappropriate.
Felicia sighed as she returned to the dining room, where the wedding celebration continued. She saw that her father was now conversing with other gentlemen, laughing and enjoying a glass of sherry. In a sea of people, Felicia felt utterly alone now that her dearest childhood friend was gone.
Slowly, Felicia made her way around the dining room, thinking that if she walked, she was doing something productive. Her mother had said that walking allowed her to display her slender figure. She used it as a way to pass the time.
Eventually, when the feasting came to an end, Felicia was able to step up into the carriage after her parents and relish in the knowledge that she would soon be home. At least there, she would be alone and content. She would draw until no longer feeling sadness about losing her friend to her lover.
My dearest Sierra,
I hope this letter finds you well. It has been four weeks since we last saw one another, and I feel enough time has passed to write to you and enquire about your happiness in the countryside. I have continued as normal, drawing in the parlour and taking frequent walks in the garden to pass the time. With the Season over and the heat of the summer making Town miserable, at least my parents have not pushed me to attend any social functions.
I long to know how you are faring,
Felicia thought about the letter she’d sent her dear friend a few weeks ago, hoping to receive a reply soon. She felt she had waited an appropriate amount of time before enquiring about her happiness. But more than anything, she hoped that a letter to the new duchess would produce a reply that would allow her to leave Town for the time being. She dearly wished for a holiday away from her parents and in the company of her closest friend.
Felicia was in the parlour early, the morning a week after she’d posted her letter to Sierra, with her drawing paper stretched out on the table below the open window. A warm summer breeze was blowing through the window, forcing her to use a teacup and pot to hold down her paper so the wind would not blow it away. With a graphite pencil in hand, she sketched what came to mind.
Sometimes Felicia would create replicas of the wonderful gardens she had seen when participating at various balls. Throughout the night, she would venture to the gardens, looking out over the trees, bushes, and flowers to take in the splendour that was nature at night. Then at home, she would try to recreate the scene from memory and use her graphite pencils to create the image in black and white.
Drawing was the only kind of relief she felt from the type of home life she had to endure. From the moment her parents woke up to the moment they retired for the evening, they were constantly bickering. They would argue about everything and anything that came to mind. Her father would try to impose his opinion on her mother, and in return, Lady Casey would do her best to prove her husband wrong.
Therefore, Felicia stayed out of their way and remained alone in the parlour where she knew only the maids would disturb her. The household had a good housekeeper that always ensured that Felicia ate when she lost track of time as she focused on her drawings. As long as she could stay busy and enjoy what she was doing, Felicia didn’t care what her parents were fighting about, and she had long given up on trying to get them to stop.
Deep down inside, Felicia knew that her parents were miserable with one another. They had married for convenience only, and since she was an only child, it told Felicia that her parents disliked each other so much that they weren’t willing to try for another child. Her father had a cousin that would inherit title and estate when he and her mother passed away. Therefore, it was up to Felicia to marry for wealth to support her the rest of her life.
However, wealth had never appealed to Felicia. She wore fine gowns because her mother insisted that she wore the most fashionable fabrics. When she was alone, Felicia dressed in simple linen and cotton gowns because she found them more comfortable. As she drew, she would roll up her gowns’ sleeves and wear an apron to protect the material from the graphite paper’s smudge.
Felicia knew she could live the rest of her life happy if she could just draw. She wasn’t sure if her future husband would approve of such hobbies since most young ladies were most interested in playing the piano or cushion embroidery. From what Felicia had learned about society, a gentleman wanted a pretty face for a wife, not someone that was talented in one thing or another. Therefore, it was no wonder that the duke had fallen in love with Sierra. She was a true beauty.
Felicia’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of giggling. She sighed as she looked towards the closed parlour door. She was up early, far earlier than what she would have expected of her parents. Therefore, she was certain her mother did not know she was in there as she ushered her lover from the house.
“I don’t want to leave you,” said a husky voice.
“But you must before my husband rises for the day,” Lady Casey replied. “I will write to you soon.”
Felicia then heard passionate kissing that made her stomach sick. She didn’t want to hear how her mother’s lips smacked wetly against her lovers. Then, she heard the front door open and close, ever so softly, before hearing the footsteps of her mother hurrying back to her bedchamber upstairs. Felicia sighed as she tried to focus on her drawing once more. The fact that her parents took lovers was no secret to her. She just wished it would one day stop, so she didn’t have to hear such nonsense.
A light knocking came to the parlour door sometime later. Felicia was so lost in her drawing that she hadn’t paid much attention to the passing of time. She called over her shoulder for whoever to enter. She smiled when she saw her ladies’ maid, Miss Mathews, enter the room with a tea tray.
“You must be famished, My Lady,” Miss Mathews said as she entered and set the tray down on the table beside her drawings. “I see you’ve been hard at work this morning.”
“I find the morning and evening sunlight are the best to work in,” Felicia explained. “Thank you for bringing me breakfast.”
“Of course, My Lady. The post has just arrived, and I wanted to deliver you this letter,” Miss Mathews said as she pulled a letter from her apron pocket and presented it to Felicia.
Felicia’s heart began to race as she took the letter even though she had graphite smudges on her fingers that stained the envelope’s fine paper. When she saw that the letter was from the Duchess of Montgomery, she felt a wave of excitement wash over her as she flipped the letter over and pulled at the wax seal till it gave way. She unfolded the letter and began to read with earnest as Miss Mathews poured her a cup of tea.
My dear Felicia,
Thank you kindly for your letter. It was with great joy that I did receive it. The passing of time had not been known to me. I have enjoyed being married so much. It was not till your letter that I realized that four weeks had passed. I wish you could experience this same happiness that I have felt since our parting.
With this letter, please let Lord and Lady Casey know that you are formally invited to join us in the countryside for the rest of the summer. Both Lord Roberts and I look forward to you coming to stay with us. I am intent now on finding you a good match, and since many lords have retired to the country during the heat of summer, I am confident I could be a good matchmaker for you.
I look forward to your arrival,
Lady Sierra Roberts, Duchess of Montgomery
Felicia was overwhelmed by such happiness that she could hardly contain her glee. She handed the letter back to Miss Mathews and said, “Please take this letter to my parents right away. And then have my trunks prepared to journey to the countryside. I have been invited to stay with the duke and duchess, and you’ll surely join me as well.”
“I do love the countryside,” Miss Mathews said with a smile. “And I have never worked in a duke’s home before.”
“It shall be a lavish experience for us both,” Felicia said with a smile. “I will need fine gowns for dining with the duke and duchess, as well as their guests for dinner parties.”
“Of course, My Lady. I shall go right away,” Miss Mathews said with a curtsey. She then left Felicia to share the news with her parents before preparing to leave right away.
Felicia was so happy that she could hardly think of what she needed to do first. She stood from the table, cleaning her hands on her apron before she took the cool, damp cloth on the tea tray to finish scrubbing her hands and fingers clean of graphite. She then sat on the other side of the table as she sipped her peppermint tea, enjoying a plate of poached eggs and buttered toast. She had just finished eating when her mother flew into the room.
“My word, my dear Felicia! What great news from the duchess,” Lady Casey exclaimed. “It is so good of her to extend such an offer to you. There may still be hope for you yet this year to marry.”
“I am pleased to see you are happy about the letter. I told Miss Mathews to prepare my things immediately so I may begin my travels today,” Felicia said as she sipped her tea.
“Of course,” Lady Casey said. “Your father has certainly agreed to you leaving Town and will send two footmen with you to ensure you arrive at the duke’s estate well.”
“Miss Mathews will be coming with me as well,” Felicia stated.
“Certainly the duchess will have a ladies’ maid for you when you arrive,” Lady Casey retorted. Felicia hated to argue with her mother and had to think of a conclusion to their conversation quickly.
“But Miss Mathews is well aware of the requirements for me when I am to be seen in public. You can instruct her on which gowns I am to bring with me and which ones I shall wear for particular occasions,” Felicia said, standing.
“That is a splendid idea,” Lady Casey said with a smile. “I shall instruct her immediately.”
Felicia was pleased to see her mother go and turned back to her drawings as she pulled off her apron. She summoned one of the maids to take the work to her room and pack it for her, that she may take it to the countryside. She wanted to show Sierra her latest drawings. She would take all her drawing paper and pencils with her, even if she thought Sierra could provide anything she might want during her stay. She wasn’t the type of person to take advantage of someone’s wealth. Instead, she would bring her own supplies to keep her busy during her idle time.
By noon, Felicia’s things were all packed, her trunks were loaded onto her father’s carriage along with Miss Mathews’ things, and she had been dressed in her finest travelling clothes. She felt silk was unnecessary but wasn’t going to complain since she was being given the freedom to leave Town on such short notice. Miss Mathews was waiting outside with the two footmen and driver while Felicia said her goodbyes to her parents.
“I hope that you will have a lovely time with the duke and duchess,” Lord Casey said. “Make sure that you write to me as soon as you are settled so that I may know you arrived well.”
“I will send my letter back with the carriage and the servants,” Felicia promised.
“Please be on your best behaviour,” Lady Casey said. “Things may be more relaxed in the countryside, but that doesn’t mean you should ever let your guard down. Rumours in the countryside reach Town in just two days by letter.”
“Of course, Mama. I shall not disappoint you,” Felicia said.
“I do hope when you write to me it will be with the news of your engagement,” Lady Casey said with a smile. “I’m sure the duke can vouch for any proposal given to you.”
“I will be sure to let him know that you have given him such permissions,” Felicia said as she curtsied to her parents. “Farewell.”
Her parents said no more as she turned and left the house. With each step away from the townhouse, Felicia felt a sense of freedom washing over her. She was helped into the waiting carriage by a footman, and Miss Mathews soon joined her as she was settling into the vehicle. As soon as the carriage door was shut and secured, she smiled as she looked out the window.
“I am excited about this grand adventure,” Felicia confessed to her ladies’ maid.
“As I am, My Lady. Thank you so much for speaking up for me to come along with you,” Miss Mathews said with a bowed head.
“There is no one else I think would be suited to assist me for whatever Lady Sierra has planned for us,” Felicia said with a sigh, looking out the window as the carriage rumbled down the cobblestone roads of Town.
Felicia was eager to see the familiar sights of London pass away. The noise, the congestion of people, and the steady flow of other carriages and horses, carts and donkeys. In an hour, the carriage had cleared Town’s outskirts, where the poorest of the locals lived in small cottages. As the carriage was pulled over one of the main bridges leading into Town, Felicia said her silent farewells to the area, the coach meeting the dirt of the main roads that crossed through the country.
It had been quite some time since Felicia had been to the countryside. Once, when her mother was ill, they had travelled to Bath to enjoy the area’s healing waters. Once she recovered, they returned swiftly to Town. It had been in Bath that Felicia had enjoyed long walks amidst the forest surrounding the house they had rented for the time being. She had felt close to nature as she took in the area’s flora and fauna. It had been the squirrels and chipmunks that had scurried all around the trees that brought her joy and laughter. Not the tea parties her mother hosted even though she wasn’t well. Lady Casey had certainly worked hard not to let anyone know that she wasn’t well.
“My Lady, are you not worried about the bandits and thieves that patrol these highways?” Miss Mathews asked after a while. Felicia was so enthralled with the passing scenery that she had almost not heard her travelling companion.
“No, I dare say that I do not,” Felicia admitted, focusing her eyes on her lady’s maid. “I trust the men my father has assigned to this carriage. I’m sure at least one of them, if not both, is carrying a pistol.”
“I’ve read terrible stories in the papers,” Miss Mathews admitted.
“Fear not,” Felicia said with a smile. “We shall be to the duke’s countryseat in two days and will no doubt have no care in the world.”
“You must be looking forward to a small reprieve from Town,” Miss Mathews said with a smirk. Felicia wondered if her father’s servants knew of the affairs he and his wife kept.
“Yes, Town can be quite overwhelming sometimes. Lady Sierra has promised to introduce me to society in the neighbourhood we’ll be going to. If all goes well, I shall also be married this year,” Felicia said with confidence.
“I do hope that you will be successful,” Miss Mathews said with a smile. “You deserve to marry well, and for love.”
“Why, thank you, Miss Mathews,” Felicia said, knowing that her lady’s maid had always been very kind to her. And no doubt, Miss Mathews wished to obtain a higher position in being her lady’s maid once she was married to either an earl or a duke.
As the day faded away, they stopped in two villages. The first was so Felicia could stretch her legs and enjoy a meal at a local tavern with her footmen following closely to her. The second was so they could rest for the night at an inn. Felicia and Miss Mathews shared adjoining rooms, while the footmen slept in rooms below their level. Felicia had no fears or worries about staying in a public inn because they had stayed at a fine inn with comfortable beds and good food to eat.
Come morning, Felicia was looking forward to seeing her dear friend. She hoped to arrive at the duke’s estate by noon and spend the rest of the day talking with Sierra and learning how she had been faring as a married woman. Felicia sure felt happier than she had in a long time. She was away from her miserable parents and could enjoy the fresh air and pleasant scenery that the country had to offer. She could easily imagine taking long walks in the morning before the heat of the day set in and enjoying the coolness of a sitting room with Sierra in the afternoon.
Felicia was so lost in her thoughts and hopes for the future that the morning seemed to pass away quickly as they travelled by carriage to the duke’s home. They didn’t make any stops, knowing that she could have a meal as soon as she arrived at the house. She was so excited to arrive and see her dear friend that she didn’t dare make any more delays in their travels.
When the duke’s large manor came into view as the carriage turned from the main road to the lane, Felicia couldn’t help leaning forward and looking out the window. The house appeared to be constructed of many wings and at least two storeys high. It was as magnificent as a palace but more inviting than a castle. Roman columns framed the front of the manor, while pristinely pruned hedges guarded the front. Felicia was amazed by the number of windows, thinking the manor had to be well lit. It was a beautiful white house and a well-kept landscape. Everything Felicia had dreamed about when coming to the countryside.
Felicia couldn’t wait to explore the house and grounds, seeing cleared land as far as she could see, as well as a well-kept garden. She was so excited that she couldn’t help smiling widely.
“At A Tempting Lady’s Service” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
Even though the overbearing parents of Lady Felicia Casey expect her to marry for wealth and fortune, she is not at all tempted by fine gowns, busy parties and the luxuries of high society. She would much rather spend her days enjoying the freedom of the countryside, where she would be able to focus on her love for drawing. When her closest friend, the Duchess of Montgomery, invites Felicia to stay with her for the summer, she couldn’t be more excited. However, the very last thing she expected was to be captivated by the seductive gaze of the art tutor she meets at her friend’s estate. Even though she knows that such an attraction is forbidden, she dares to dance on the wild side. Risking to tarnish her name, will she dare to surrender her heart to the most alluring man she has ever met?
Mr Ernest Reed is the enticing master gardener that works for the Duke of Montgomery. However, he is much more than that, as he happens to also be a very talented painter. Ever since he was a child, he dreamt of becoming a renowned artist, whose paintings will one day capture everyone’s hearts. Nonetheless, when he is introduced as a drawing tutor to the stunning Lady Felicia, his fiery dreams begin to change. He is instantly enraptured by her alluring beauty and quick wit, making it hard for him to resist the sparks that are flying between them. Soon, he will be completely unable to forget her magnetic brown eyes that set his body and soul on fire. Fearing this summer affair will burn into nothing more than dust, will he dare to defy everything and fight for what he deeply desires?
More than anything, Lady Felicia and Ernest get to discover a world full of love and endless lust. After sharing their first passionate kiss, they are completely enchanted by each other and their flaming chemistry is undeniable. However, as honour is clashing with irresistible desire, it’s difficult to tell if their lustful journey will survive the threats casting their shadow upon it. As another wave of bad luck hits and their burning affair is exposed, will they be able to mend their tattered reputation and bravely face the scandal? Or will everything that has made their blazing love grow be taken away from them forever?
“At A Tempting Lady’s Service” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.
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