Lady Sarah’s Redemption
by Beverley Eikli
A spoiled heiress embarks upon a dangerous charade and falls in love with her enigmatic employer, a man with secrets darker than her own.
When high-spirited Lady Sarah Miles assumes the identity of a drowned governess to escape an undesirable marriage, she assumes her troubles will be over within the fortnight.
Arriving at the grand estate of reformist MP Roland Hawthorne to take charge of the tortured widower’s rebellious sixteen-year-old daughter, Caro, Sarah unexpectedly forms a strong attachment to the occupants of her new household. Instead of pursuing her original plan to punish her father, gaining the trust of the motherless sixteen-year-old and the love of the girl’s father becomes her most important challenge.
But when Sarah’s deceit plays into the hands of an unexpected adversary who uses Caro as a pawn in a high stakes game of revenge, Sarah must risk everything she holds dear – including her love for Roland – to redeem herself.
Heat rating: Sweet but filled with intrigue
What readers are saying:
“Pleasurable regency that has a lot of actions with turns. Sweet and clean with no sex is just how I like them.” ~ Amazon Reader
“The love story/ romance was clean and wholesome. The ending left you feeling warm and fuzzy.” ~ Amazon Reader
“Full of action, scandal and quite a tumultuous love story. If you like historical fiction with suggested romance, or sweet and HEA, this is the book for you.” ~ Amazon Reader
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Publish Date: July 17, 2012
Print ISBN: 978-1478289081
Print Length: 220 pages
Heat Rating:Sweet but filled with intrigue
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Read an Excerpt
The following occurs shortly after Sarah has taken up residence in the household of which she is to be the new governess.
The nursery was as Spartan as she had feared, the expressions of her charges hardly compensation. Not one to be daunted by a trio of little girls, Sarah swept past them to the window.
“First lesson, girls! There’s a difference between staring, and paying attention,” she said, softening her stern tone with a smile as she turned. Despite the appalling deprivations she’d have to endure, there were compensations, she decided, her optimistic nature rising above the gloom. It could even be fun: the erudition of three sponge-like little girls. It gave her a sense of power she was unused to at home, despite her privileges.
“Yes, miss.” Their blank looks were replaced with curiosity. Even Caro did not look quite so hostile.
“And while we’re waiting for the sumptuous fare about to be laid before us, you can tell me what you’d like me to teach you. I’ve no doubt I’ll be the best governess you’ve ever had.” She warmed to her task. She loved to learn. Now she’d find out if she were as gifted in imparting her knowledge. “I’m an authority on all the graces, with a special passion for the classics and, believe it or not, Caro, the sciences.”
Harriet looked down at her exercise book where she’d drawn a stern-faced insect wearing a monocle and lisped, “I want to learn about worms, and Mama says Caro’s going to need a lot of help if she’s to catch a husband.”
“Worms? We’ll make a worm farm, then.” Sarah spoke above Caro’s protests. “As for Caro-” Her tone was thoughtful. Caro glowered and mumbled something incoherent as she stared down at her empty place setting.
“Enunciate, Caro.” Sarah spoke crisply. “All I caught was the word ridiculous, and I do concur, it’s a ridiculous notion you’ll never catch a husband. Certainly you’re no beauty but that’s sure to change. I was at my most unprepossessing at sixteen, and I remember girls far worse off who turned into veritable swans and waltzed off with nabobs and dukes.”
“You didn’t hear, Miss Morecroft,” Harriet piped up as nursery tea — predictably, egg and toast — was served. “Caro doesn’t want a husband, but nobody ever listens.”
“Not want a husband?” Sarah frowned as she took her seat at the table.
“Finding a husband is not life’s most noble pursuit,” mumbled Caro.
“Noble? There’s nothing noble about securing a husband but unless one intends to be a nun it’s a young woman’s most important enterprise. A girl must use all her wits and wiles to ensure she is as well-placed as possible.”
“Caro wants to be a blue-stocking,” said Augusta.
“Will you be of independent means some day?”
“What?” Caro was clearly affronted.
“Unless you are,” said Sarah patiently, “an indulgent husband who will grant you the latitude to pursue your intellectual leanings is a far more desirable proposition to playing unpaid servant to those in the household who feel they have a legitimate claim upon your time.”
“You’re not married,” Harriet pointed out, “and you’re much older than Caro.”
Caro sounded triumphant. “So if there aren’t enough of the good ones to go around—”
“There are,” Sarah interrupted. “In fact, during my first Season out I found the perfect husband after turning down half a dozen manageable suitors.”
“But you didn’t marry him, did you?” Despite herself Caro looked interested.
“He died on the Peninsula two weeks before our wedding day.” Sarah toyed with her food. She was dismayed to have experienced only the slightest pang recounting this distant chapter in her life. Not so long ago she’d believed she’d never get over it. Could she really have lost her heart? Certainly, she’d lost it to Captain Danvers, seven years ago. But was she now so old she was immune to the heady sensations that accompanied being in love?
When the girls pressed her she was tight-lipped. For one thing, she was not sure what the Hawthornes knew of Miss Morecroft’s history. For another, she hadn’t the heart to pursue the topic. Her first love had ended in tragedy, her second in disappointment. James, her distant cousin whom she loved like a brother, had betrayed her by supporting her father’s cork-brained quest to marry the two of them off to each other, simply because James was next to inherit Lord Miles’s title and estate.
“Not another word on the subject!” Sarah rapped upon the table for silence. “Life contains many disappointments.”
“You must be very brave, Miss Morecroft.” Admiration shone from Augusta’s serious dark eyes. “You’re not scared of spiders, are you? You wouldn’t even be scared of Master.”
“Your dog?” asked Sarah, and Caro giggled.
“My father,” she said. “Everyone’s scared of him.”
“Goodness.” Sarah frowned. “Nobody should be scared of their father. Why, mine’s the world’s most terrible ogre but I’m not scared of him. Or rather, I wasn’t,” she amended, hastily.
“You defied him?” whispered Caro, round-eyed as she fidgeted with her lilac sash, her food untouched before her.
Lilac! Shuddered Sarah. Only the most unfeeling guardian would dress a girl of Caro’s colouring in such a shade. Transferring her attention to the girl’s intense expression, Sarah said, “Not outright. That would have been to no purpose.”
“Then how did you manage such a thing?” Caro strained forward as if the question were of the greatest importance.
Sarah chose her words, carefully. Caro might not be such a lost cause, after all. “must learn cunning while all the time appearing ever so meek and obedient. They think they’re getting their way when, really, you’re getting yours. Take these eggs, for example,” she added, gaining inspiration from the soft-boiled eggs that were growing cold in front of them. “Pass the charcoal, please, Harriet.”
Perplexed, the girls watched as Sarah drew a face on her egg. She pushed it towards Caro, together with the charcoal.
“Now draw the face of whoever frightens you most in the world.”
With great deliberation Caro pencilled in sideburns, a head of wavy hair, adding a smart cravat before touching up Sarah’s attempts at a face.
“You’re quite an artist.” Sarah’s tone was admiring. “Obviously this is a man of consequence. Now, face him squarely and tell him what you feel. Then chop off his head!”
The girls looked at Sarah, horrified.
“I couldn’t possibly,” gasped Caro.
“If you can’t even tell it to an egg, small wonder the man himself reduces you to a quivering jelly. You’re hardly going to get your own way if you lose your nerve every time he looks at you. So go on, face your egg sternly and tell it what you really think. Come now, Caro. Say: “I despise the way you …”
Caro hesitated. Then taking a deep breath she hissed, “I hate knowing you’re ashamed of me, that you’re so concerned at the impression I make upon people who in your opinion matter but who I don’t ever want to see again. I hate the way you ignore me, think I’m ugly and stupid-”
“Right! Well, I’d be surprised if your egg hadn’t got the message-” Sarah cut in. Caro’s voice had risen alarmingly. “Perhaps now is a good time to cut off its head.”
“So I cut off your head! Like this! So I don’t ever suffer the agonies of your ill opinion again!”
Seizing the bread knife, Caro sliced it through the air, wielding it with as much enthusiasm as any London executioner.
In shocked silence they all watched as the egg shot out of its cradle and hurtled through the air towards the door, levelling off at chest height … at the precise moment the door opened.
And as nursery dinner made contact with the immaculately clad torso of the handsome gentleman Sarah had made eyes at earlier that day, Caro cried out in anguish, “Father!”
Praise for Lady Sarah’s Redemption
Rachel A Hyde, 2009
I enjoyed this twist on the old gothic novel standby plot of the governess in the mysterious household. This imaginative writer stands a lot of the expected clichés on their heads and treats the reader to something rather different and refreshing. Spoilt Lady Sarah has some lessons to learn, as does man-with-a-past Roland and his “ugly duckling” daughter Caro. There are some surprising turns in this novel and the characters find themselves in rather more peril than might be surmised by reading the above description. The ending is a bit far-fetched in some respects, but don’t let that put you off diving into this talented new writer’s debut novel. If you think standard Regencies need a bit of shaking up, then this might fit the bill.