A Rose for the Charming Lady (Preview)


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Chapter One


The sun shone through the window of Stirling Manor as I snuck my way down the hall to the music room knowing I was going to get myself into a lot of mischief. Especially if I got caught. I’d never fancied myself a normal child. I never really knew any normal children either.  I never wanted to be normal; I loved being different than my sister and other people that my family knew. I was always getting into things that I shouldn’t, and my mother was frustrated with me all the time. I had been like that for years, and she had asked me quite often when I was going to grow up.

I never knew how to answer her because I also wasn’t sure when I would grow up. I was not the normal girl that only wanted to learn reading, arithmetic, sewing, and embroidery. I wanted to learn things that boys learned even though I wasn’t supposed to. I wanted to learn other things, and I was fascinated with science. I’d read Jane Marcet’s Conversations on Chemistry many times and enjoyed performing many experiments from things I’d read inside the book.

From a young age, I had always felt that I wasn’t liked all that much by my mother. I’d made my love for science known at the beginning of school, and it had grown within each year. I was always trying to invent things and make things that were supposed to be impossible. I annoyed my family, and I knew it, but I had no way to squash my personality. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to. I didn’t want to dim my light just to make others happy. Even if that meant not being liked by my own mother.

I had my father on my side, though, and she knew it too.

I had never had many friends in school or otherwise because of my different approach to things. All my classmates thought I was very strange for not wanting to learn etiquette that a lady needed to know in order to snatch up the perfect husband. I tried mingling with the boys at recess and helping them catch frogs from the pond by the schoolhouse. I thought that would help attract a husband to me, but it turned out boys are afraid of a girl that acts more like a boy than they do. I took advantage of the outside time as much as possible, considering the weather in Kent always seemed to be overcast with little sun. My childhood seemed very lonely, even with my little sister to play with. For the longest time, she was my only friend. She was more like the normal girls and hated participating in my experiments. The only other friend I had when I was young was Will, the butler’s son.

Sometimes, when we were younger, there would be times that Will and I played together. I was fond of those times, but I wondered if he was only playing with me because he felt obligated. I thought this way because of how different I was both then and now, but I supposed since he still associated with me that it didn’t and still doesn’t bother him all that much that I would prefer to wear breeches and play outside than take tea with the ladies.

I had just finished reading the book again, even though I knew it from front to back already, when I decided to try a new experiment.  It was a yearly ritual for me to read at least one book three times a year and try to remember as much of it as I could. I knew it was probably the wrong day to do so, considering my mother was throwing some sort of get-together. I grabbed what tubes and beakers I would need for the experiment that I wanted to try and made my way to the music room. My younger sister Anabel saw me sneaking into the music room and came in behind me to try to talk me out of it. Even though she was younger than me, she was more level-headed and always tried to keep me from getting into trouble, even though most of the time, it didn’t work. I tried to tell her that it was supposed to be the other way around, but she never wanted to do anything that might possibly get her into trouble.

“Laura, what on earth do you think you are doing? Mother will have your hide if you do anything to dirty this room before her guests arrive,” she scolded me as if I were the younger one.

I knew she was trying her best to keep me from getting into trouble, but I was perfectly capable of handling myself when it came to our mother. I knew that mother would be having guests over, but I couldn’t wait to try the experiment I’d read about many times before. I felt inspired about reading the book, but now I felt deflated. I hated that my younger sister was trying to babysit me and keep me from any kind of trouble. That was my job as big sister.

I rolled my eyes and pretended I didn’t hear anything she said while trying to hide a mischievous grin the entire time. I was on a mission, and I was determined to perform the experiment the way I’d read about it in the book. I was never going to learn a lesson when it came to chemistry experiments considering I had done so many already, and they all failed. My mother and I had been through all this before, the dos and don’ts of being a lady and what was expected of me, but I didn’t care any longer. I wondered when it would be my turn to be who I wanted to be. My love for science outweighed any risk that I would take doing my experiments. I continued setting things up in the music room, much to my sister’s disappointment. She continued trying to talk me out of it while standing in the corner, watching as I finished setting up every tube, beaker, and chemical I would need.

“Who is the older sister here, Anabel. Quit being such a stick in the mud and help me set this up,” I demanded as I shoved some supplies into her hand.

“Laura, you need to listen to me so you don’t get into trouble. You know how mother is about things like this; your experiments make her angry. Especially when you make a mess,” she said as she pleaded with me to stop what I was doing. “And it looks like you’re going to make a huge mess with this one. When are you going to learn your lesson? Aren’t you tired of Mother yelling at you all the time?”

I knew she was right, but there was no way I could stop. Science is in my nature, and I was addicted to doing experiments, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to make myself stop. I didn’t care how mad my mother got; I wasn’t going to stop doing what I loved. I knew that might cost me some things later on, but I wasn’t worried about it at that point. I just wanted to put the equipment together and see if the experiment would work.

“Anabel, science is in my nature; it’s something that I love. I don’t ask you to give up things that you love to make mother happy; why would you ask the same of me?” I asked as I looked at her with a serious expression. “If you have to give up something that you loved more than anything, you’d be a totally different person than you were before the relationship. That wouldn’t be healthy at all.”

“I’m not asking you to give it up completely; just find a different place to conduct your experiments, especially on nights that our parents are going to be entertaining guests,” Anabel said with a grin. “You know Mother yells the loudest on evenings that she has her friends over, and you make a mess. And it looks like you’re going to make a huge mess on her favourite rug.”

I shook my head, and despite her pleading, I began pouring the chemicals together just like the book had instructed. As soon as the chemicals came into contact with each other, I watched them bubble together. The bubbles created many different colours as the sun made rainbows inside the bubbles, and I could tell it was about to get bad. The mixture began to bubble, and then it picked up its pace, it felt like it happened so fast, but as I stood there and gazed at it, I could have sworn it happened as fast as the blink of an eye. I cringed as the liquid began to make its way up the tubes, and I realized it was going to spew from the top of the beaker. I tried to stop it from spewing out the top of the beaker, but it was too late. The liquid started to seep from the top of the beaker as smoke built up from the inside.

Smoke began to rise from the liquid, and as it burst forth from the beaker, a puff of black smoke filled the music room. It had started out white, and I didn’t know what happened to it to make it turn black. Whatever had happened, I found it fascinating. I thought perhaps it was the most unique thing I had ever seen as it changed from black to white. I could hear Anabel audibly gasp from the corner of the room, and I looked at her as she covered her nose with her hand. I knew immediately that something was wrong, though I wondered why she was covering her nose in the first place. And then it hit me: the smell of sulfur. My heart dropped to my stomach as the smell filled my nose. It smelled like a mixture of rotten eggs and skunk spray. I knew I was going to be in trouble, and I wasn’t sure how I would get the smell out of everything, but I knew I needed to since I was the one that caused the mess. I knew my mother wasn’t going to be incredibly pleased with what had just happened, but I also knew that as long as it was just the smell, I could easily get rid of it. I then remembered the fact that the liquid spewed from the top of the beaker, and I began looking for its path.

I began to get hopeful that I hadn’t made too big a mess when I looked around and couldn’t find any spots or stains, but I was also avoiding Mother’s prized rug that sat in the middle of the room. I wanted to save it for last and hope that nothing got on the rug. I knew I was hoping for too much by wishing it was clean when I feasted my eyes upon it, but I wasn’t going to hold my breath. I had to hold on to some sort of hope.

Besides a few vases scattered around the house, the rug in the music room was Mother’s beloved possession. If my experiment had left a stain, I was going to be in a lot of trouble. I looked around where I had the beakers set up, but I didn’t see any stains underneath where they were sitting. I still had to check other areas of the room since the liquid spewed everywhere. I couldn’t believe how high in the air it had risen, and I started to smile to myself but suddenly stopped. I heard Anabel gasp once again, and I looked to see what she was looking at. My gaze followed hers, and to my horror, it landed on the rug in the middle of the room. My worst fear had come true as there was a giant stain in the middle of Mother’s favourite rug. I needed to get something and try to get it out before she saw it, but I wasn’t sure if we had anything that would take out what I’d spilled. I knew if she saw it, I was not going to live to see the morning. I had to get the stain out before she noticed it, and I was desperate for help, and no one came. I thought about trying to scrub it with water, but I knew that would most likely make things worse, and that wasn’t something that I wanted at all.

Just as I was about to ask Anabel if she knew what would take the stain out, Mother appeared in the doorway of the music room. I knew I was in big trouble when she stomped her way through the room and stood right in front of me. I was unsure what she would do, but I knew I had to do something and fast. I was starting to feel a bit afraid of her, and I knew I shouldn’t feel that way. I wanted so badly to tell her how I felt about her, but I was afraid to. I had never really been afraid of her before, but she hadn’t really been dead set on marrying me off to the first person that came along either.

When I was younger, my mother and I had a decent relationship. For the most part, the only thing she didn’t like about me was that I was not girly enough. She would always tell me that she could teach that part away. I didn’t mind playing tea party back then with my mother; I found it enjoyable even, but if I could go running with Nate after. I couldn’t honestly remember when the fear of my mother set in.

Was it the first time that I had mixed the apple seeds together in a jug of vinegar and let it ferment in my room? When Tilly found it, she fainted due to the arsenic poisoning that I had created … lucky for me, it was a small waft that knocked her out, or she might not have lived through the thing. Mother was distraught and made me distribute the stuff in the woods that afternoon wearing one of my father’s war regalia masks to save myself from the suffrage that was sure to come.

Or I wondered if the fear came the day that I had tied my sister Anabel to the tree and covered her in flowers to see if the bees would know she was a girl or if they would only smell the pollen. Mother was furious, and so was I; the bees did nothing but sting her all over. I killed more bees than I created that day.

Then she nearly beat the tar out of me for burying Will in the garden and labelling him a bad seed for making me mad. I told Mother that I was going to unbury him when he said he was sorry, but she was mad, nonetheless. It might have been that I had dug her turnips up in the meantime to make room for Will.

I knew I had a reason to be afraid of her, there was always a reason to be, but perhaps I had afforded myself her lashings and verbal woes. But truth be told, I didn’t want to be afraid of her; I just was … and rightfully so. She was supposed to be the one who loved me more than anything, and I tested that love many times over. I wished so badly that I had that as other people did, but my mother had wanted to send me away to boarding school for several years in a row, and the only thing that kept me from having to go was my father. Mother hated the fact that Father babied me sometimes, but he didn’t care.

“Laura Denton, what have you done and only hours before our guests are to arrive?” Mother shrieked and waved her arms in front of my face.

“This place is a disaster, and now our guests won’t be able to sit anywhere in the house to relax without smelling that god-awful smell,” Mother grumbled.

Once she finished grumbling, I made sure she knew that I was trying to take care of the smell before her friends arrived. I’d already done so many things wrong in my life; I didn’t want one thing to tip the scale and make this the experiment that would never be forgotten.

I stood in my place quietly, waiting for her to stop flapping her arms like a bird’s wings, not wanting to say anything to her. She started to scream at me from the top of her lungs, my mother, Georgia Denton, who was to some the definition of a lady. Not many people saw who she really was at home, and I wished they’d got to. She rarely ever yelled, and when she did, it was always at me. I was always tearing something up and doing some sort of experiment, and she was always working. I seemed to be the child that always got into trouble. I never did anything like my parents wanted me to. I had started to believe that there was something wrong with me, and I had no idea how to fix it. Some things just take time to heal, and I knew the wounds left by my childhood were healing slowly. There were some new scars on my heart and some old ones; they will always be there, and I will remember the thing that scarred me, but I can always forgive the person that hurt me.  It would be extremely hard to forgive someone who had done me wrong, especially Mother, but I knew it was something that I needed to do for myself. I wanted to be the adult my parents wanted me to be, just not at the expense of the boundaries I was trying to set. I knew it wasn’t something I should think of myself, but the thought invaded my brain anyway.  I didn’t know if it could be fixed. I just knew that I was different than my classmates and my sister.

I tried to tune out the sound of my mother’s voice so my heart wouldn’t pound every time she yelled at me. There were times it worked, but there were other times it didn’t.

“Laura, how could you do this when we have guests arriving in just a few hours? How are we supposed to entertain guests with the house smelling like rotten eggs? How do you plan on getting this obnoxious stain out of my rug? It is high time these experiments stop, and you learn the ways of being a lady. You’re twenty years old now, and a wife shouldn’t think of such foolishness,” she snapped at me. “How will you ever attract a husband if you’re doing all this sorcery?”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I’d told her many times that I didn’t want to marry or even meet anyone until I was ready to. Anger coursed through me as I realized my needs had been disregarded. I tried to do my best but always fell short.

I could tell she was terribly angry with me, but I didn’t understand why she mentioned the word ‘wife’. I wasn’t sure that I was built to be a wife or if I wanted to try to be one. I had so many other things I wanted to do before I settled down with someone, but I was sure I wouldn’t get to do half the things I wanted to do.  I didn’t understand why that was so hard for her to grasp. I didn’t want a man or to be married. I wanted to study science, and I had no idea how I would get that through her head. Attract a husband? Why would I want to do that? I was nowhere near ready to be married, nor did I want to be. I wanted to be free to study science as much as I wanted instead of cooking and cleaning for a man who wanted to sit in his chair every day. I wasn’t sure how I would make my mother understand my point of view, but I knew I had to try.

I could tell that my mother was preparing to go overboard with finding a suitor for me. I knew she wasn’t going to stop until she had her way, and I was married off and allowed this ceremony with a big poufy dress. That wasn’t something that I wanted, and I would have to fight hard to keep it from happening.

“Wife? I’m not a wife. I don’t care if I attract a husband or not. I don’t want to be a wife. I’m not interested in being one. I am enjoying my single life and getting to study all the science that I want to. Why would I want to get married?” I asked her, sincerely curious as to why she thought I would even want to entertain that thought.

“Laura, you are a lady of Stirling House, and it’s time you stop this childish nonsense and fulfill your womanly duties,” Mother demanded. “Your father and I have decided that it’s time to start looking for a suitor for you.”

My heart had been beating loudly, but at the mention of finding someone for me to marry, it completely stopped for a moment. There was no way I wanted anyone but myself picking and choosing what kind of man I married. I knew if I let her choose who I was to marry, he would be just as crazy and neurotic as my mother was. Even though I knew some of her ideas were crazy, I always tried to respect my mother, especially when it came to her mental health. She’d been incredibly lucky to be as mentally healthy as she was for so long. The birth of my sister had taken a toll on her mind afterwards, and I had been the one to help take care of Anabel while my mother slept and my father worked. I had hoped she hadn’t forgotten the fact that I was the one that took care of her and my new baby sister until she regained enough strength of mind to be our mother again. It seemed like she had forgotten everything that I had done for her and Anabel.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through to her that marriage wasn’t something I saw as a womanly duty, but I knew I had to try. I didn’t want to come off as disrespectful to her, but I needed to say everything I felt up to that point. If I said exactly what I had on my heart, I feared that I would be thought mad, somewhat likened more to my mother than I ever wanted to be. Either that or they’d think I was ungrateful for the things they’d done for me. I could see my sister glowing with excitement at the thought of balls and parties with eligible bachelors to mingle with. She had always talked about when we were old enough to attend those and how much she wanted to dance with a prince. She was six at the time, but her dream was a good one.

I had no idea why she got so excited over the prospect of social events, parties, and balls, considering she was still a bit too young to attend them.  I wasn’t as social as my sister was, and I didn’t much care for parties. I never had. I always wondered if it was because Mother threw them a lot, and we were always around strange people.  I knew my mother thought she was doing the right thing but forcing me to get married was not something I thought was right. Times were changing, and women were learning more than they were able to before. I wanted to be part of the generation of women who could learn more of the same things that men could research, science being one of them. I wanted to study things that made me happy, and science made me happy whether she understood that or not.

I knew I would have to fight my mother every step of the way to keep from getting married, and my young heart was probably giving out in the process from all the fighting, but I wasn’t going to give up.

I already knew all the arithmetic, reading, and embroidery that a lady needed to know to function as a mother and housewife. That was not the life I wanted for myself, and I was not sure how I would get it through my parents’ heads. I’d tried talking to them so many times, and the same things keep happening with them.

“We are not going to argue about this any further. And just so you know, your father agrees with me that it’s time you need to be married, so you’re not going to get anywhere with him on this matter, young lady,” Mother said as she turned to leave the room. “Hopefully, the smell of rotten eggs will be gone by this evening, how embarrassing it will be if it isn’t.”

I hated disappointing her, and I knew I had messed up in a big way with the experiment. But I was only trying to be true to myself until I could do what I had wanted to do. I sighed heavily as I took in what my mother had said. Agnes, our maid, came into the room with a rag and bowl of soapy water. I approached her and took the rag from the bowl, wringing the excess water from the rag.

“Lady Laura, you do not have to do that. Cleaning up the mess is my job,” Agnes whispered as I got down on my knees in front of the large stain.

I knew that I didn’t have to clean up the mess, but I was the one that had made it, and she shouldn’t have to get down on the floor and clean up someone else’s mess when I was perfectly capable of cleaning up my own.

“Yes, Agnes, I know. I’m the one that made this mess because I didn’t listen to what Anabel told me, so I feel like I should be the one to clean it up,” I told her as I began to scrub the stain from the rug.

Agnes nodded in understanding as she let me have the rag to try and scrub the stain free from the rug. I could feel her eyes on me as I dipped the rag in the bowl of water and then squeezed the excess water out. I got down on the floor and began to scrub the old rug and hoped it didn’t fall apart. I didn’t need that to happen at all.

I scrubbed in silence, hoping and praying that the stain would come free from the rug. I knew if it didn’t, I would be in big trouble because there were no more rugs to replace it with. It would be gone for good. There had only been a few made, and Mother’s rug was the last one, which was why it was her prized possession.

I could tell that Agnes didn’t know what to say to what I had said and stood there silently watching me scrub at the stain. I was somewhat thankful that the stain on the rug was partly coming up. I was hopeful that it would be clean for when my mother’s guests arrived. I, however, was somewhat worried about the smell of rotten eggs that permeated the entire house. That simply couldn’t be helped. It was so strong that I wondered if my brother could smell it from his study where he was entertaining one of his friends. I knew if the smell reached that room, I was going to be in even bigger trouble.

“Oh, Laura, don’t look so glum. Getting married isn’t the worst thing that could happen to you,” Anabel spoke up from her spot in the corner where she had been while mother had yelled at me. “The worst thing that could happen to you is you could end up like Mother.”

“That’s easy for you to say, isn’t it? You actually want to get married; I don’t. I have too many other things I want to do with my life than slave away bearing children for some duke or earl,” I snapped as I continued to scrub the stain from the rug. “I will never be like Mother; I can assure you that.”

My tone had been harsher than I had intended it to be, but what my sister had said struck a nerve with me. She knew how I felt about marriage and children and running to do the things I wanted to do before any of that happened. I was only 20 and had my entire life ahead of me for marriage and babies. I wanted to learn; I wanted to study new things, and I wanted to do more new experiments and gain experience most women would never get. I wasn’t sure I’d get the opportunity to do that, though, considering what I had just done to my mother’s favourite rug. I was going to have to find somewhere to continue my experiments, but I wasn’t sure where to do it. The fact that my parents were trying to force early marriage on me made me angry, and I didn’t know how to handle it. I wanted to rebel and scream from rooftops that they would never make me marry someone I didn’t want to or I didn’t love. I knew it would do no good to tell them that, so I stayed silent even though my heart was screaming out the words from deep inside my chest.

I’d been wrong about them not making me marry someone that I didn’t love. They were trying to force me into it, and I knew if I weren’t careful, I wouldn’t have any choice. It seemed like they didn’t care how I felt about things; they just wanted what they wanted, and that was the end of the story.

I wasn’t sure if my parents started out loving or hating each other with a passion, but I knew that when I married someone, I wanted to love them from the beginning. I wanted to choose the man I married, and I wanted to know things about him. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do that if they chose a man for me. I knew I had to do whatever I could to get out of being married off, but I had no idea what I was going to do. The only thing I knew I could do was play along and then refuse every suitor that asked for my hand. If that’s what I would have to do to keep my freedom, then so be it.

I was willing to play dirty if that’s what I had to do to keep myself from marrying someone that I didn’t know or love. I knew that if I had to go through with it and marry someone, I would never forgive my parents for making me do something that I did not want to.

“A Rose for the Charming Lady” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Lady Laura’s life has never been dominated by social norms. Rather than being the proper lady her mother had hoped for, she is a snarky tomboy; she would rather go hunting with friends, blow things up, and run wild. Fortunately, her best friend, the butler’s son, is supportive of her rebellious and independent nature. It is only after her mother pushes her into marriage though that she realises someone has actually always had control over her heart…

Will Laura finally stop hiding her feelings and confess her love to the one she wants to devote her life to?

As far back as Will can remember, he’s always been referred to as the son of Sterling Manor’s butler and Laura’s closest friend. His life falls into pieces though, after he experiences the heartbreaking loss of his father. As if this wasn’t enough change for him, he is now obliged to shoulder the heavy responsibilities of a head butler. In spite of how completely frozen his heart feels due to this misfortune, seeing Laura still makes it skip a beat and brightens his days.

If he could just find a way to admit his undying love to her without fearing rejection…

While Laura and Will are dealing with the chaos plaguing their lives, Laura’s forced marriage looming over their heads will make things even more complicated. Not only that, but the moment they finally find a way to express the love buried deep within them for years, another challenge awaits them… Will their romance ever triumph or will what’s socially acceptable become the only standard that matters?

“A Rose for the Charming Lady” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!


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

7 thoughts on “A Rose for the Charming Lady (Preview)”

  1. A very different approach to the average Regency books. Will the story all be a reflection of the past, or will it be written in the present tense? It sounds very interesting. I love the cover! Beautiful!

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