A Lady’s Seaside Dream (Preview)


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Jillian sat at the dressing table. She turned when her maid, Christina, came into the room, set aside the book she had been reading and looked up inquiringly at Christina, who was carrying a pile of linen.

“Just bringing in the clean petticoats, my lady,” Christina said with a friendly grin. She put the things down on the bed and went to the window, drawing the curtains wide.

Jillian smiled up at her fondly. “Thank you,” she said. “It’s a fine day. I think I might go walking.”

“Of course, my lady,” Christina agreed. “It is a very fine day out.”

Jillian nodded. She looked out at the sky; soft blue with early springtime. There were blossoms thick on the trees that she could see beyond the window and she felt an urge to go outside and smell the sweet flowers. She felt a bubble of joy well up inside her, seeing how the weather had improved in the last week.

She would definitely be going out for a walk. The warm days were an invitation to her to go exploring, finally free of the confines of indoors. Not that, she thought with a smile, the indoors was so bad. Where there was a book and a fireplace, she was well-content.

“I’ll go down to the garden now, Christina,” she said. “If Mama sends for me, I’ll be in the arbour.”

“Yes, my lady.”

Jillian went to the door, pausing to tuck her long auburn hair into a braid. She always wore it in an informal style, though her mother insisted that she was twenty years old now—too old for it to be always loose around her face.

She shrugged and grinned to herself, wrinkling her small nose in amusement at the thought. She had never reckoned herself to be particularly beautiful, with big hazel eyes,  pale skin and a wide mouth. But then she had such little experience of others that she had no real idea. She had hardly seen people her own age outside of her debut, which was two years ago when she was eighteen, and even at that there were only five or six other people of her own age present.

She walked down towards the front door and, as she reached the stairs the butler, Mr Aldwell, came up them.

“My lady.” He inclined his head politely. “I was just coming to find you. There is a visitor for you.”

“For me?” Jillian felt her heart race. She so rarely had visitors here in the tiny earldom of Nollport that she could almost guess immediately who of the handful of possible people it might be.

It is Emily, probably, coming to return a pattern she borrowed for a tapestry. Or it is Arabella, who was going to help choose dresses for the celebrations coming up as summer progressed. Or it is Gertrude…

“Yes, my lady. It’s Mr Jeremy Stilbridge.”

“Jeremy?” She felt a wash of delight run through her.

“Yes, my lady. Shall I see him in?”

“Of course!” Jillian clapped her hands, barely able to control her excitement at the thought. “Do show him in. I’ll tell Mama and Papa. They’ll be so pleased to see him too.” She ran up the stairs to the drawing room, thinking that at least one of her parents might be in there. It was mid-morning, and her mama sometimes sat there to do her sewing.

“Mr Jeremy Stilbridge, my lady,” Mr Aldwell said, coming in.

“Oh!” Jillian grinned. “Jeremy. Come in! I was just looking for Mama.”

“Greetings, Jillian. I’m delighted to see you,” Jeremy said. He bowed low and Jillian couldn’t help noticing he was a fine-looking young man. He was tall with dark hair and brown eyes, and his face had a square jaw, his nose a slight, jaunty snub that made him look amused, which he often was. He had eyes that smiled often, and he was always in a gentle manner. He looked up at her and she thought he looked pleased to see her, too, brown eyes sparkling.

“Me too,” she said truthfully. “I’ll ask Mr Aldwell to bring us some tea. Mama is probably upstairs. Shall I fetch her?”

“I would be happy to see your parents,” Jeremy agreed. He smiled fondly at her. “But mayhap we can go up together. I so rarely get a moment to talk with you.”

Jillian blushed. She didn’t know why she was blushing—after all, it was Jeremy! They had been friends since she was ten years old. But she felt, in that moment, oddly touched. He was blushing too, she noticed, which seemed even stranger. They had known each other since she was ten, and he fourtee. She thought of him as a brother.

“Well, of course you can come with me upstairs,” she said. “I’ll just knock at Mama’s door and see if she’s busy. Papa is certainly out for the morning.”

“I see,” Jeremy said. He was looking at her again in that way that made her feel shy, almost the way he would look at a new copy of a rare book—admiring and a little overawed. It made her feel a tingle inside her. She gestured them out into the stairwell.

“Let’s go and find Mama,” she said.

They were at the top of the stairs, going towards her parents’ room, when her mother’s maid came out.

“Your mama is resting. I’m sure she’ll be awake again in half an hour. Mayhap you can take Mr Stelbridge to see the grounds while she rests?”

“Of course,” Jillian agreed. She grinned up at Jeremy, who flushed and bowed. He was acting as if her looks had some power to disconcert him.

She led him down the stairs to the garden, thinking that, if he were to stay longer, they could go to the bookroom and look at the new novels together. It would be such fun to go through them with him—he loved reading as much as she did, and it had always been one of their favourite pastimes when they were at the house when they were younger.

“It’s so good, now you’re finished with your studies,” she said as they went down the stairs together.

He chuckled. “I think the whole of Cambridge is probably pleased now that I’m finished,” he said with a smile. “Maybe not the dons. But everybody else—I think I didn’t match too well with the other young nobles.”

Jillian shook her head, smiling. Jeremy was the son of Baron Eastham and she thought he was a very presentable fellow. She could not imagine that anybody else would be more sophisticated than himself—and besides, she was sure he was an extremely talented student. He loved reading as she did.

“I’m sure that can’t be so,” she said gently.

Jeremy chuckled again. “It probably is true,” he said with a smile. “But as it happens, I don’t need to bother myself about them now. Three years of having to be in Cambridge almost all year, and now I can visit more often.”

She felt a grin spread across her face. She was delighted. She had missed Jeremy’s visits—his father, who was his only living parent, was a close friend of Jillian’s, and so Jeremy had come to spend whole summers on the neighboring estate. Jeremy’s sister Alexandra was four years older than him and spent her summers in Town at their aunt and uncle’s home. Jillian had only met her twice. She couldn’t really say she liked her—she didn’t dislike her either, she just couldn’t find much to say to her.

“Well, I’m so pleased,” she said.

They had reached the arbour, which was, in her opinion, the nicest spot in the garden. The lawn was thickly green, and the roses grew dense, just starting to show green leaves. The bushes themselves were big, old rosebushes, the branches gnarled as if at odds with their new leaves. There were beds of other flowers, too, though they were also only just starting to show through the earth. The place smelled of damp soil and fresh air. They settled on a bench. She noticed that Jeremy swallowed hard as he sat down beside her, seeming a little breathless. She hoped he was not suffering from a fever. He seemed to be straining to breathe sometimes.

“This is nice,” Jeremy murmured after a moment. He seemed to be well, and so she assumed he was just tired. Perhaps he’d sat too long in the coach during the journey up from the Kentish countryside. She leaned back, breathing in the floral scents of the garden.

“It’s lovely,” she agreed.

They sat quietly for a while. Jillian thought that wasn’t that strange—were they to have both been reading a French novel, it would be just like when they were younger and spent summers together.

“Have you read anything interesting?” Jeremy asked her.

Jillian nodded, grinning. She thought his voice still sounded a little odd, but she decided to take no noticed of it. If he was sick, he would tell her, she was sure.

“No,” she said. “Well, yes…I suppose I have read several books, but none that I would say were particularly interesting. Though I had a go at Voltaire’s novel, and I thought that it was very good.”

“I read it too,” Jeremy said, a big smile on his lips.

“You did? How delightful,” Jillian said.

They chatted for a bit about the book, and as the topic was shifting to French authors in general, and how the country’s history might have shaped the perspective of the novelists, the butler arrived.

“My lady?” he said. “Excuse me a moment…but your mother was asking for you. She wished to speak with you a moment.”

Jillian glanced at Jeremy, who had stood already. She stood up, wishing that she could spend more time with Jeremy. She hardly ever got to see him. She glanced up at him.

“Why do you not come too?” she asked. “That way, you can speak with Mama too. I’m sure she’ll be so glad to know you’re here.”

“That seems like a good notion,” Jeremy said. He walked down the garden with her and up the stairs. She hurried ahead on the stairway, going towards the drawing room.

“Is Mama here?” she asked the butler. He shook his head.

“No, my lady. She was waiting for you in her bedchamber.”

“Oh.” Jillian frowned. “I’ll just be a moment. I think perhaps I should speak with her alone, and then we can both come and talk with you in the drawing room,” she said quickly. She had no idea what her mama might wish to say to her, but if she was in her bedroom, then it must be private. And even if it was just something frivolous, she thought that it might feel strange: it would be odd to discuss plans for a ballgown with Jeremy being there.

She hurried up the hallway and knocked lightly on the door.

“Mama,” she said as her mother answered the door herself. “I am sure you won’t guess who is here! Jeremy Stelbridge! He’s visiting us.”

“That’s lovely,” her mother, the countess, said with a smile. “I’m very pleased. I’ll be down directly. I just wanted to tell you that I spoke with your papa last night, and he is in agreement. We shall spend a month in Brighton this year. He believes it will be good for the health of all of us.”

“Brighton?” Jillian felt a touch of tension. It was a big town by the sea. She could not imagine being in a big town, even for a month! She really didn’t like towns, though she had hardly any experience of them besides one afternoon they spent in London when her father had a meeting to attend. They had left the city the next day to spend time in the nearby countryside. The earl also disliked cities.

“Well, not the city itself, but we will take a manor house near to it. Of course, I suspect it won’t be as big or fine as this one, but we have arranged to rent one for a month. That way, we will not need to stay in town, and we will have all the advantage of the sea air.”

“What a grand idea,” Jillian said. She felt her heart thump with excitement. She had never really been anywhere except for this manor. That was, if one did not count the few days spent near London when she was just a child.

“Well, then,” her mother said with a smile, “I am so pleased the thought pleases you. Now, of course, I’ll come down and speak with Jeremy.”

Jillian nodded and followed her mother into the drawing room.

Chapter One

Jillian looked out of the window, heart thudding. She could not wait to see the sea! She had read about it in so many books, but never actually seen it before. She could only imagine something like the Thames, but wider and bluer and with waves that danced on the surface…

“That’s it!” she yelled, startling her father, who was reading the Gazette. “It’s the sea!”

She stared out of the window, looking across at the blue depths. The coach was moving fast, but the ocean was so huge, so unbounded, that it seemed as if they were progressing only very slowly, as if they would never run out of ocean to roll past, the coach seeming to stop in the face of that magnificence.

They looked out at the sea from the road, which wound its way along a clifftop. The extent of it seemed endless from up here, stretching out to the sky which was dotted with grey and white puffs of cloud. There were gulls there, tiny specks against the vast blueness, suspended above the heaving grey-blue of the sea.

“It’s huge,” she murmured.

“You did startle me, daughter.” The earl chuckled. He smiled across at her, and Jillian grinned in return.

“Sorry, Papa,” she said.

“No matter. It is exciting, isn’t it? Myself, I could never tire of it.” He stared out of the window, watching the sea draw past as excitedly as she was.

“You’ve seen it once before, Gerald,” her mother said with a grin.

“I know. But look at it, Jewel, my darling. It’s so incredible!”

Jillian smiled to herself. Her father only ever called her mother—whose name was Julianne—by that endearment to show he was being very loving. They were both clearly enjoying the trip. It had taken two days, and Jillian had to admit that she was exhausted. But the sight of the sea made the exhaustion dissipate. She looked out of the window, watching the heaving sapphire surface that stretched to the horizon and felt her heart seem to grow to meet it, her spirit as free as the waves.

“I hope we’ll not be too long before we reach the house,” her mother said, interrupting her thoughts. She was looking out of the window too, and Jillian thought that she was admiring the sea too, though it was typical that her mind would return to the practicalities before her father’s did. Her father was a dreamer, and he didn’t tend to remember the everyday things unless her mama reminded him.

“No, I think it’s quite close,” her father replied, craning to see out of the window of the coach. “It should be on the left-hand side of the coach as we approach it…”

Jillian nodded. She stared out of the leftmost window, barely able to believe they would be living so close to the heaving, moving blueness that was the sea. She stared out and felt her heart thump as they drew closer.

“Here,” her father said, the coach slowing. “If you look out the window now, it’s just under those trees.”

Jillian stared out of the window, heart racing. She saw a fence and dense vegetation, and wooded hillsides, and then, as the coach turned again to go up a drive, she caught sight of a house.

It was a sandstone house, imposing, with high gables and a grey, slate-tiled roof and two floors. At first it seemed to be grand and imposing, but at the same time, though, the stonework was softened with dots of lichens and the place had a slightly neglected feel. It was set in thick growth of trees and bushes, the leaves in a slightly later state of growth than they had been at the manor at home. There was a well-laid out garden, the lawns ample and showing the green of early springtime. She felt her heart race. It was beautiful.

She stared.

“Here we are,” her father said. He looked at Lady Nollport, who nodded.

“Yes, we have arrived,” she agreed. She took his hand as he jumped from the coach and gallantly held out a hand to her. Jillian waited while her mother stepped back and then she herself jumped down, taking her father’s hands in her own.

“That was a big jump.” Her father chuckled fondly.

“I know,” Jillian said, falling into step beside him. “I want to see the house.”

They both chuckled at her impetuousness, and then they were walking up to be greeted by the butler. He was an older man with white hair and a slim face, wearing a black jacket and matching trousers. He bowed low, clearly pleased to be welcoming them to stay.

“My lord. My lady. Lady Jillian,” he greeted. “It’s an honour to have you here at Westville. We are so pleased to be hosting you at the manor.”

“Thank you,” Lady Nollport said. “Now, if you could send up the luggage? I think we would all like to rest for an hour before luncheon is served.”

“Of course, my lady,” the butler said swiftly.

Jillian smiled at him in a friendly way, and he smiled back. He seemed almost surprised by the fact that she would be so warm to him, and she thought it was going to be strange to get used to a whole new staff. The household staff at Nollport were used to the manner of the family, which was possibly more friendly than that of other nobility.

“Can we go for a walk before luncheon?” she asked her father excitedly. “I want to explore.”

Her mother looked like she might object. “Jillian, my dear,” she said. “It’s not necessarily safe. You would do better to wait. Christina will be coming with the next coach, and she can escort you safely should you wish to leave the household garden.”

Jillian looked at her father, feeling upset. She wanted to see the garden straight away, though she knew going with her maid would be safer.  She took a breath, thinking that even he could not be quite so worried about safety in such a remote place. “If I promise to stay in the garden, and not venture out beyond in sight of the window, can I go?” she asked.

“Of course,” her father said with a smile. “I know you won’t go far. And, as your mama says, as soon as your maid is here, she can escort you, should you wish to go further outside.”

“Thank you, Papa!” She felt her spirits lift with excitement. Her exhaustion from the coach ride had dissipated, replaced with delight. She could not wait to explore! Perhaps, there was a point in the garden from which one could see the ocean.

Running lightly up the steps, she went to her bedroom to see if she could find some outdoor boots suitable for walking.

She tiptoed into the room, looking around. There was a big bed of dark wood—a little less fashionable than her own bed, which was of a later design—and all the linen was white, like the white curtains. She sat down on the satiny bedcover and looked out of the window. It faced a tree, but through the leaves she thought it was just possible to catch a glimpse of the distant cliffside. That meant that, somewhere out there, not so far from the windows, was the seaside.

She felt her heart race. She could not wait for Christina to arrive, so they could go and explore.

She went downstairs, looking briefly about the house as she did so. The furnishings seemed all a good ten years older than those in their house at home, if not more. They were dark wood, the design heavier and more forbidding than those at home, the fabrics more austere in colour than the brighter, lighter fabrics in more recent use. But she already liked it, and besides, she had never really been one to notice furnishings beside whether or not they were comfortable. Her two favorite things were books and the outdoors. She could not wait to explore the garden.

She went into the garden, looking around. Bushes and shrubs grew in profusion, still in early leaf, and purple stands of irises showed here and there, already in flower. A  scented creeper with white flowers clung to a wall that seemed to flow naturally from the house and cross the garden partway. She thought the construction might have been there for a reason a century ago, but now it seemed fairly out-of-place. She walked down the paths, looking about the garden as she did. She could smell roses, and the scent of loam. She breathed in deeply.

“Now, all I need to discover is that there are horses here, and I will be completely happy,” she told herself.

She thought she spotted a stable, but she recalled that her father had asked her not to venture too far from the house, so she went back towards the building.

She went inside and was in her bedchamber, trying to decide how the unpacking of her case should progress, when she heard a knock at the door.

“My lady?” a familiar voice said outside it.

“Christina!” Jillian threw open the door and almost embraced the older woman who was standing on the other side. Christina, her senior by five years and with pale brown hair drawn back from her face, grinned.

“My lady,” she said. “I’m so pleased to see you.”

“Come in!” Jillian said emphatically. “I was just unpacking my dresses. I have no idea where they should all go or how to do this, but I thought I would make a start.”

“That’s very good of you, my lady,” Christina said.

They unpacked the big wooden chest in which Jillian’s clothes had been packed, and then as Jillian sat down, exhausted from the morning and the excitement, she heard her mother calling.

“It’s luncheon,” Jillian realized quickly.

She raced downstairs, feeling excited. The sooner she could finish eating, the sooner she could go out into the woods with Christina. Her father had promised, after all.

“After lunch, I think I’ll rest,” her mother said as they sat down in the downstairs room. It had a long, dark dining table and chairs, and the silverware was a trifle more elaborate than that they used at home, the room smelling a little stuffy.

“Of course, Jewel,” her father said gently. “I think I might take a walk about the grounds. I must say I am curious to see the sea up close. Mayhap we could do that tomorrow morning?”

“Yes, please, Mama!” Jillian said instantly. “I do so want to see the sea!”

Her mother smiled. “Of course. By tomorrow, I will be quite energized again. I would just like today to rest and recover. We did travel for two days.”

“Yes, we did. And of course, you must rest, my dearest,” her father said it gently.

Jillian sat and ate her luncheon, barely noticing what it tasted like besides that it was surprisingly good. It was a soup of fresh greens, followed by grilled fish and a dessert of little lemony cakes. It was all delicious, but her mind wasn’t engaged with anything besides exploring around the manor. She just couldn’t wait to be outside.

After lunch, when her parents went upstairs to rest, Jillian instantly dashed upstairs to fetch Christina.

“Papa said we could go into the woods if you accompany me.” Jillian looked at Christina, her expression hopeful.

Christina looked a little dubious but nodded.

“If your father says it will be safe, I suppose it will be. But I think we should try to return before dark, my lady.”

“It’s springtime, Christina—it won’t be sunset until seven of the clock. Please, can we go for just a short walk in the woods?”

Christina sighed. “Of course, my lady,” she said. “Let’s just make sure to take bonnets—we don’t want to get ourselves cold.”

“Yes. I’ll fetch my warm things when we’re downstairs,” Jillian agreed. “I left them hanging by the door when we came indoors.”

They got what they needed—bonnets, cloaks, drawstring bags in which one might carry handkerchief and gloves—and went to the door.

“I’m so glad we can go outside,” Jillian said as they walked through the gardens. She couldn’t wait to be outside the gardens.

They reached a gate that led into a forested valley. Jillian felt her heart thump as they went through it. The forest was green and leafy, the earth below the trees dry and covered in leaves. She walked quietly, looking around. She fancied the air smelled cleaner.

“We will go to the seaside tomorrow. I can’t wait!”

“I am sure it will be very different, my lady,” Christina commented hesitantly.

They walked on. The forest was quiet, and somewhere overhead Jillian heard birdsong. She looked around, loving the chance to explore a different woodland to the one to which she was accustomed. She was used to the broadleaf-filled, sunshine-drenched woodlands near their home. Here, the trees were pines mixed in with oaks, and they grew close, which made the forest seem quieter.

Jillian looked around, breathing in the smells, and feeling the strange peace of the place. It seemed so deeply peaceful, and she thought that the forests were somewhere that people didn’t tend to go much. She reckoned that, while the ones near her home were busy with villagers and farmers, the woods here tended not to be entered much.

“Should we go back?” Christina asked.

Jillian frowned. She wasn’t sure. She was wondering if her parents would be worried if she spent more time out of doors or not, and the thought made her hesitate and it was then that she heard the sound of hoof-beats through the trees.

“My lady!” Christina shouted.

Jillian, who was in the path of the horseman, had frozen to the spot. She heard Christina call her and the fear in her shout cut through and her head spun around, and just in the last second, she stepped out of the path.

She looked up, terrified, as the horseman halted. He was nearly half a metre from them, but the closeness to which he had come was frightening.

“My lady,” he said. He inclined his head, dark eyes watchful.

“My lord,” Jillian said. She was sure he must be a nobleman—he was wearing a black coat and black trousers, a white shirt and a cravat that was briefly tied, not like the frothy exuberant cravats of London gentlemen. He had a thin face, high cheekbones, and a sensitive air. He looked down at her and then slipped out of the saddle easily, bowing to her.

“My lady,” he said. “I must apologize. I was on my way home, and these woods are so quiet that I was not expecting to see travelers here. I rode too fast.”

Jillian saw Christina nod, her expression angry. She thought it was a bold thing to do, since she herself was too shy to make mention of the fact that he had almost killed her. To shy, or too frightened.

“Yes,” she said. She didn’t know what else to say. He smiled, and then his hand reached out towards her, expression one of care. He stopped short of taking her hand, perhaps because of the look Christina gave him. Jillian felt her heart beat fast.

“My lady,” he said swiftly. “You are certain that you are unhurt? I did ride up here at a ridiculous speed. I trust I did not cause you any harm?”

“I’m fine,” Christina whispered. She felt odd for somebody who claimed health—her head felt like she hadn’t slept, as if her thoughts marched very slowly.

“My lady, you’re shocked,” Christina said gently. “We should go home. You need to rest.”

“Allow me to escort you,” the gentleman said quickly. “These woods are not safe. Outlaws do hide in them. Admittedly, not often, but still—I would not like to think of you two ladies being alone in them.” He bowed again, gallantly.

“Thank you,” Jillian murmured. She didn’t know why, but she would feel safer with him to accompany them.

“Of course, my lady. It would be my honor,” he said quietly. He walked beside her, one arm bent, and she hesitantly rested her hand in his elbow. It felt impossibly good. She had never walked so close to anyone before, and touching him like that, feeling his strong arm under her fingers, felt better than she could put into words.

They walked along silently.

She glanced across at Christina. Her maid was walking on the man’s other side, and Jillian knew how worried Christina was—both for her, and for the fact that the man was walking with them. But she couldn’t help the fact that part of her—while appreciating the fact that her parents would be worried—also felt excited.

She glanced up at the man as they reached the gate. He held the gate for her, and she felt her heart race. He was a gallant, handsome stranger. She looked up at him and, when he looked at her, she could see a particular look in his eyes—it was a look that was assessing, but that also seemed to find approval in what it saw. It was a look that she could not help but find interesting.

They reached the house and Jillian looked up at the man. She felt her heart thump tremulously.

“Would you like to come indoors?” she asked politely. “I know my mama and papa would be pleased to meet you.”

“Thank you. I will.”

Jillian smiled. She thought that the fellow was interesting. And she couldn’t help the fact that her heart thumped when he was close. She had taken her arm from resting in the crook of his, and stood across from him, facing him where he stood with his back to the garden-gate. Christina stood beside him, worriedly.

“I’ll go and tell the butler and ask him to give you an introduction to my parents. They shan’t be cross since they did permit me to go walking in the woods.”

“That is good, my lady.”

She walked quickly up the steps, conscious of his closeness. The butler answered the door almost as soon as she had knocked, and Jillian felt her heart race as she looked up at him.

“I was just out walking, and we walked into this gentleman here. If you could give him an introduction to my parents? He was so kind as to escort us back to my home.”

“Very good, my lady,” the butler said. He bowed to her and then looked at the man. Jillian realized that he hadn’t said his name to any of them.

“I am Radley Talford, Baron Alderham,” he introduced himself.

“I will introduce you immediately, my lord,” the butler agreed. “My lady, the earl and countess are in the drawing room.”

“Thank you,” Jillian said politely.

They followed the butler up the stairs. Jillian couldn’t help thinking about the man’s name. Radley. It was an unusual name. It suited him, she thought, for he was an unusual man. She blushed red, just thinking it. He was looking at her and the expression in his eyes made her flush from her feet to the top of her head.

The butler announced the baron at the door. “Earl and Countess, may I present Radley Talford, Baron Alderham?”

“Oh.” The earl stood up, smiling. He looked at Jillian and grinned, as if it was entirely appropriate that she went walking in the woods and returned with Baron Alderham with her. “Well, young fellow. It’s grand to meet you, I’m sure. Will you stay?” he gestured to the tea-pot on the table, inviting him for tea. Jillian could hear the hesitance in his voice, and she knew her father was not much of a one for visitors. She smiled reassuringly at him.

“I’m not sure the baron wishes to stay?” she said, looking at Baron Alderham carefully. “I mean, you seemed in a hurry to get somewhere, my lord, and as such I would not like to hold you back.” She was trying to hint to him that her parents might be more comfortable if he called some other time. He nodded.

“My lady, I must apologize once again. My lord, my lady,” he added, addressing her parents politely. “I must compliment you on your beautiful daughter, and also on her fine manners. She was kind enough to forgive me for almost riding over her.”

“You did what?” the earl’s face darkened. Jillian’s mother looked like she might fall unconscious.

“Papa, I was really not in danger,” she said swiftly. She felt almost annoyed with the baron for having told them that fact.

“I was riding swiftly along the path along which your daughter and her chaperone were walking,” the baron explained swiftly. “I managed to stop in time, but since I had given them both such a shock, I thought it my duty to return home with them, to ensure that no harm came to either of them on the way back.”

“I see,” her father said. He seemed calmer. “Well, in that case, you are forgiven. Now, will you stay for tea? I think I must lie down—all this excitement has been a little too much for me, I believe.”

Jillian saw her mother look at her father with exasperation, and she knew she was thinking that she didn’t want to be left with the guest while he wriggled out of it. She looked at Alderham, hoping that he would decide not to take tea.

“My lord, my ladies, I must be on my way,” he said. “I thank you for the invitation. I, too, must rest,” he said. “My lady,” he said, turning to Jillian. “I trust that you will have a good stay. This is a fine house, and I am glad you have rented it.”

Jillian smiled, the warmth of his expression washing through her. She tried to find her voice, but it was difficult—so many emotions were inside her. “Thank you, my lord,” she murmured.

She and Christina escorted the baron downstairs, and he bowed to her, briefly taking her hand in his.

“My lady, I trust I shall see you during your stay. I wish you a fine stay.”

“Thank you, my lord,” she said softly.

She could not stop thinking about the way his hand felt on hers; the tingle of her skin under his touch. She was still thinking about it when she was back up in her bedchamber again, and she could not help but wonder if she would see him soon.

“He’s a strange fellow,” she said to Christina, who had come to tidy her bedchamber.

“He is, my lady,” Christina agreed.

Jillian could not help recalling the way her hand had felt when his fingers touched it—it tingled there still, faintly, as if she had held her hand briefly in a candle-flame. She thought that he was thrilling and interesting and she smiled to herself and wondered if there was some way of meeting with him in the woods.

“A Lady’s Seaside Dream” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Lady Jillian Murmont, the gentle daughter of an Earl, has always felt unsuited for the outside world. In spite of her only friendships being books and the son of a baron who shares this passion, she is delighted when her family plans a vacation to Brighton, as she can finally meet new people. While out enjoying the summer sun, Jillian will bump into Radley Talford, a dashing Baron, who will cause her heart to race for the very first time.

Will she realise though that the handsome stranger is only a temporary emotional storm, and that the sun might already be shining in her life?

Ever since his teenage years, Jeremy Stelbridge considered Jillian to be his soulmate. However, when he joins her trip to Brighton, he is struck by how much she has changed. Despite his fear of rejection, when another man enters her life, Jeremy realises he must find an opportunity to confess his feelings to her. He will soon discover though that he has to tread a careful path between his eternal love for the charming lady and his family’s disapproval.

With time running out, will Jeremy find the courage to tell Jillian how he feels before he loses her once and for all?

While Jeremy is trying to express his deep feelings, Jillian is torn between her admiration for the intriguing Baron and her affection for Jeremy, who might hold the key to her happiness. Will the two soulmates be able to listen to what their hearts truly desire and finally take a chance to be together? Or will they be thrown into a sea of loveless despair by fate?

“A Lady’s Seaside Dream” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

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Grab my new series, "Regency Hearts Entwined", and get 2 FREE novels as a gift! Have a look here!

5 thoughts on “A Lady’s Seaside Dream (Preview)”

  1. Hello Amanda ..
    I have been thoroughly intrigued by your novel about the Sea as I also live by the sea as well so share the same views.
    I hope the couple’s meeting will be a start of a good relationship between them although I fear there is someone who is waiting in the wings , although friends …maybe he wishes more …be interested to read how this story develops…. Val Bartlett….

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and support, dear Johnie. I truly appreciate it!

      So glad you enjoyed the story! Make sure to stay tuned because I have more coming!

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