The Maid of Milan
by Beverley Eikli
After three years of marriage, Adelaide has fallen in love with the handsome, honourable husband who nurtured her through her darkest hours.
Now Adelaide’s former lover, the passionate poet from whose arms she was torn by her family during their illicit liaison in Milan four years previously has returned, a celebrity due to the success of his sensational ‘tell-all’ memoir, The Maid of Milan.
High society is as desperate to uncover the identity of his mystery ‘muse’ as Adelaide is to protect her newfound love and her husband’s political career.
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Publish Date: March 15, 2014
Publisher: Choc Lit
Print ISBN: 978-1781891285
Page Length: 356 pages
Heat Rating: Sensual Romance
Praise for The Maid of Milan
“Tired of the average, run-of-the-mill historical romance? If so, The Maid of Milan is the book for you! With a complex plot, extremely well developed characters and lots of twists and turns, this book will captivate you from start to finish… “I absolutely loved this book! The author’s willingness delve into subjects not usually written about in historical romance novels, while staying true to the regency era was refreshing and very entertaining.” ~ My book addiction and More
“…there is something here for everyone – romance, scandal, politics, blackmail, forgiveness – so settle in and enjoy the ride!” InD’Tale Magazine.
“I kept reading and hoping for a happy conclusion, but couldn’t figure out how it could possibly end happily. This author was wonderful and managed to surprise me with the ending and the result was not what I expected but even better.
“I highly recommend this story to anyone who is not looking for a typical romance. This is even better.” ~ It’s Raining Books
“The book has the genteel opulence of Anthony Trollope’s The Palliser’s but underneath the waving fans it is all gritty intrigue…This is the first book I read by Beverley Eikli and I can say I am now a fan.” ~ Robyn K (Glasgow)
“…the twists and turns had me thiking long after I put my kindle down. I haven’t read a book from this author before but have already bought and started another.” ~ H McIntyre
“…I love the unpredictability of the story line and that the characters are complex and therefore real… I think even those who don’t normally read historical romance will find this story a brilliant one. I highly recommend it.” ~ Chris Mack
**** 4 Stars Not your typical historical romance, March 21, 2014 by It’s Raining Books
I began reading this story expecting it to be another typical Regency romance. Wrong. This was certainly not a typical story of any kind.
Addy is married to Tristan and loves him dearly. However, he doesn’t really allow himself to get very close to her. Her mother appears to actually hate her, and does everything in her power to disrupt her marriage. In spite of this, Addy is beginning to get closer to Tristan and her to her.
Then Tristan’s best friend, James, comes to town with his very young fiancé, Beatrice. Unknown to Tristan and Beatrice, James and Addy had been involved years before, and she had become pregnant with his child. Upon his return, he spends most of his time neglecting his young fiancé, and chases after Addy. She now wants nothing to do with him, realizing what a mistake she had made in the first place.
She spends so much time trying to avoid him, while her husband keeps trying to encourage her be more friendly to him. I really began to love both Tristan and Addy, and hoped that they could work out their difficulties. It was almost impossible, however, as her mother kept putting everything possible in the way of her happiness.
I kept reading and hoping for a happy conclusion, but couldn’t figure out how it could possibly end happily. This author was wonderful and managed to surprise me with the ending and the result was not what I expected but even better.
I highly recommend this story to anyone who is not looking for a typical romance. This is even better.
***** 5 Stars Secrets and lies- regency style, March 19, 2014 by Robyn K (glasgow uk)
I have to be honest, when I got this book I thought it was going to be another fluffy Regency bodice ripper romance with some rake in mole skin trousers. Was I wrong! This book is nothing like you would expect. The only way I can describe it, is as a Regency version of Dynasty. It has everything, secrets, lies, blackmail, love triangles, death, drug addiction, jealousy, affairs, scandals, oh and some bodice ripping too- the only thing it is missing is Joan Collins. However, I think Mrs. Henley, Adelaide’s mother runs a close second.
Mrs. Henley forces Adelaide to go along with the story that she created in order to save Adelaide, but all it does is eats her away from the inside. She is later put in a position that the only way to get out of one lie is to tell more.
No one is who they seem in this book, except for Tristan. Tristan is truly honourable man with a moral compass who repeatedly saves Adelaide.
Adelaide’s only real crime is being young and in love and obeying her mother. Time after time, her loyalty to her mother and her husband are tested. In the end, you learn who the true villain is and why.
The book has a genteel opulence of Anthony Trollope’s The Palliser’s but underneath the waving fans it is all gritty intrigue.
This is the first book I read by Beverley Eikli and I can say I am now a fan.
The Maid of Milan gripped me from the start and kept me there. I read it in a day, I just couldn’t put it down. I highly recommend this unique book.
Read an Excerpt
It was not the name by which she knew him. Since inheriting the title, he’d won celebrity as a poet and become the darling of the gossip columnists. Adelaide’s mother couldn’t keep those snippets of the real world from her, though she tried.
James. Fifth Viscount Dewhurst. Adelaide closed her eyes against the afternoon sun and tried to block her last memory of him: desperate, pleading. Not the James she knew – the irrepressible charmer who knew no woman could resist him, least of all Adelaide.
Tristan must have misinterpreted her shocked silence for memory failure, for he squeezed her hand and repeated, ‘Lord Dewhurst. I’m talking about my old friend, James.’ Very gently he added, ‘He and his wife were very good to you, if you remember.’
If you remember… Her husband’s reference to her previous life was almost more painful than the reference to James, though panic quickly succeeded shock at his next remark. ‘James is coming to visit us? Here?’ She gripped Tristan’s arm tighter and concentrated on the path. One foot in front of the other, head down so she didn’t stumble on the stones that bordered the hydrangeas from the neat gravel walkway.
Tristan continued to talk in the measured, comforting tone he used when her equilibrium was unsettled. In the past he’d sought her reassurances that she was comfortable with his plans; that there was nothing he’d neglected to facilitate her comfort. Always Tristan put Adelaide’s feelings first. Not today. Tristan was too excited at the prospect of seeing his boyhood friend to recognise her horror, assuming Adelaide would be delighted to play hostess since she’d foolishly voiced the desire just last week to entertain more often.
She remained silent as she walked at his side, contemplating her own strategy if this visit was a fait accompli. She just needed to know when, so she could prepare.
‘At the end of the week!’ She repeated Tristan’s calmly delivered answer to her question in the tone Black Jack, the South American parrot she’d owned in Vienna, used to mimic the death throes of a man at the end of the gallows.
A good thing her husband considered Adelaide an invalid, that he’d misconstrue the flare in her eyes, the gasp as she pressed against the pain in her side – her heart?
‘Adelaide, you are discomposed. Perhaps I should not have invited James without consulting you, but I thought since…’ Concern clouded his kind blue eyes as he trailed off.
‘He was very good to me.’ She whispered the old litany. It’s what Tristan liked to believe.
‘He was. Shall we go back to the house?’ He stooped to cup her face in his hands, as tender with her as if she were another of his rare hothouse blooms. As if she might wilt at the suggestion of anything beyond the ordinary, the mindnumbingly mundane.
And yet today she more than wilted as she stumbled on the smooth, carefully raked gravel path. Her heart was in danger of tearing in half. James. Here, at Deer Park …?
She pushed away the fear, straightening of her own accord. Adelaide could be a good deal stronger than Tristan believed her. Than her mother painted her.
‘So silly of me,’ she murmured, smiling as she tucked her hand once more into the crook of her husband’s arm, firming her step, indicating with a nod that they continue their usual morning walk. Minutely managed and predictable. Around the path that bordered the maze, over the little bridge and across the lawn, skirting the deer park beyond the iron gated border to the dower house where her mother would be waiting. Keeping up the pretence of recovery in response to his troubled gaze, she added, ‘Really, I’m perfectly fine.’
How many times had she made similar reassurances? Of course, she hadn’t been fine when Tristan had made her mistress of Deer Park three years before; a marriage offer she’d only accepted because she believed she’d be dead of grief within the twelvemonth. And if not dead, then at least free of her mother. Neither had happened.
‘So James has left Milan.’ She forced herself to say his name. It came out as a faint thread of sound.
James. He needed to stay far across sea and land if she were to have any peace in this life.
‘James’s father died three months ago so of course he must return from the Continent and take up his responsibilities at Dingley Hall.’ Tristan stopped and put his hands on her shoulders to study her more closely. ‘Darling, you’re very pale. Perhaps we should call Dr Stanhope—’
‘No!’ She truncated the hysteria in her response, adding with commendable calm, ‘Please, let us carry on.’
Tristan was clearly not convinced by her assurances, but he returned to his commentary as they walked sedately through Deer Park’s beautiful gardens. ‘James’s standing has changed with his father’s death, and now that his book has become a sensation so have his fortunes. He’ll be able to put to rights all that his father almost destroyed through his love of gaming.’ He gave a half laugh. ‘I’m told my old friend is nearly as famous as those fellows up in the Lakes. I daresay I should read The Maid of Milan before he arrives. Perhaps you’d enjoy it, Addy.’
The Maid of Milan. Dear God! An image of herself and James, naked limbs entwined upon a vast expanse of white linen tablecloth in the Villa Cosi after the guests had gone, seared her brain.
No, she was getting beyond herself. James had continued living in Milan with Hortense, the wife he despised. Of course there’d have been other women after Adelaide had been dragged, screaming, from James’s arms. Adelaide could not be James’s Maid of Milan. Not after the terrible finale to their affair. In three years Adelaide had heard nothing from him. Nothing, except that one terrible, terrible letter …
The following scene takes place after Adelaide has decided she cannot be present for the visit of her former lover and the man who was her husband’s childhood friend. Here, she is suddenly caught off-guard.
Mrs Henley knocked and they entered as Tristan rose, his forced smile replaced by one of pleasure when he saw Adelaide. He took a step forward, extending his hand for hers, the flare in his eyes as intense as the day she consented to be his wife, and Adelaide felt an unexpected jolt somewhere in the region of her heart, her determination bolstered to bridge the distance between them, despite the oppressive presence of her mother, always a footfall away, it seemed.
She stopped, pulling back as a warm, fragrant breeze stirred the papers on his desk.
The French doors from the garden had been thrown open, and the heavy tread of Hessian boots upon the wooden floor pulled their attention towards the muslin curtains which swirled in eddies, silhouetting the shape of a man: a slender man of middle height – the only ordinary
thing about him – dressed in a black cutaway coat and buff breeches, who materialised before them like a young demigod, smouldering with an enthusiasm he did nothing to inhibit, for good manners were always in abeyance to the passion that ruled James’s life.
‘Tristan!’ Tossing his low-crowned beaver upon the ottoman, James strode forward, arms outstretched, his voice taut with emotion.
Nearly four years, it had been, and from first impressions it was as if nothing had changed. Inky curls framed his delicately boned face and his eyes were like coals burning the fire within. No, nothing had changed, she could see, for James was still like a coiled spring, eager for love, eager for life, as ready to give as he was to take … without discernment.
Adelaide froze with nowhere to go, tense with premonition while shafts of sensation, painful and familiar, tore through her. Could this really be happening? Unwillingly, her gaze was fixed upon James’s profile, dusted with dark stubble, tapering up to angular cheekbones delineated with the slivers of sideburns sported by the fashionable Corinthians of the day.
In four years he could not be so unchanged whereas she …
She touched her face, her heart. She was a mere husk of what she’d once been. Tristan knew nothing of the passions that burned within her when her heart was engaged – and she didn’t know if he ever would, for suddenly she felt reduced to nothingness by the force of James’s personality.
She’d been his equal once – a woman of fire and vitality – and she’d loved him with a savagery that her mother claimed bordered on insanity. She’d been a child, thrust into adulthood by this charismatic older man. Married older man. But as she looked between the two men before her it was Tristan who made her heart beat faster, as much with longing as with fear of what he would think of her if he knew the truth.