When a Poet Loves a Lady (Preview)


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Chapter One

Arundel Castle was a beautiful stone fortress that had been in the Howard family for many generations. It overlooked the river Arun which is how it got its name. The castle was full of such fascinating and tragic history.

The Dukes of Norfolk took great pride in their history and desired their daughters to marry well. The oldest, of course, had the responsibility to marry one that could carry the title of Duke of Norfolk once the current Duke passed. This responsibility currently fell on Emma Howard, eldest daughter of Samuel Howard, the present duke of Norfolk.  

Samuel was the son of the “Drunk Duke” and was determined to clean up the reputation his father had soiled. He was also determined not to get executed or be disgraced in any manner that he could otherwise prevent the clean-up. This meant keeping his daughters from becoming disgraces, though his youngest often made that difficult with her wild free spirit. She was beginning to aggravate him because she wouldn’t even consider the idea of looking for a husband. She had refused to attend the ball for her coming out, so he had failed to launch her into society as he had his eldest two.

Curled up on the window seat in the library where the morning sun bathed her in light, twenty-four-year-old Lady Helena is lost to the world in a book. Her legs are tucked under her yards of blue muslin trimmed in lace. Her long brown hair was pulled up and back in ringlets that flowed over her shoulders like a rich brown cascading waterfall. She lazily twisted one curl between her thumb and index finger as she read from the book she held in her lap. Her baby blue eyes were glued to the words on the page. She had been there all afternoon and had no intentions of budging till she was called to dinner. She had no interest in the happenings of the house or the constant parade of her mother and father’s friends who came calling, some to see them and some just to see the opulence and grandeur of Arundel. Everything was pageantry about the place.

It’s an elaborate library with velvet drapes at the sides of the picturesque windows tied back with gold chords. Before her, along the library walls are ceiling to floor bookcases filled to the top with books. Books from all over the world. Books on every subject matter. If Helena wanted to learn something, she would go to her father’s library, and chances are he would have a book there on the subject she was curious about. It all fascinated her. Sometimes she would find fiction books, stories written to entertain. Helena loved fairy tales and other magical books. There was nothing she loved more than this little room of heaven on her father’s massive estate. When she wasn’t reading, which was rare, she could be found playing with the various dogs and cats or riding her horse across the vast property her father owned. 

When not reading, there was a farm on the property that she enjoyed spending time at. The kind farmer had taken the time to show her how to do things over the years. She liked the work, but she especially loved all the farm animals she got to spend time with and feed. The pigs were funny to her, with their big snouts and squeals. She thought piglets were just the darling-est little things. She loved the sheep, the chickens, the cows, the goats. She loved it all. 

Helena was never afraid to get her dresses dirty. Though she always got a scolding for it from Nanny. She was introduced to books in the first place to keep her clean and out of the mud. However, she never grew out of her love of the animals or making things grow. She tended a small patch of the garden, and it was beautiful. She planted primroses, heather, daffodils, lilies of the valley, lady’s slippers, roses, tulips, baby’s breath, myrtle, and all kinds of other flowers that prospered in her little garden. There were so many beautiful flowers growing in her small area that soon it expanded to a larger patch, till at last, she had a garden of her own. A garden she could be most proud of. When her sisters were inside learning the finery of stitch work and needlepoint, she was outside learning how to garden and farm. Her father didn’t seem to mind it because it kept her out of the way and out of trouble. Her mother thought that her children should do what made them happy. Knowing that when they became adults, it would be all about what their husband wanted and tending to their children, she believed their childhood should be a time to discover what makes them happy. Helen’s mother liked to tend to a garden from time to time, saying it was relaxing work. Women needed something to calm them, they had a hectic lifestyle, especially women of society, but Helena didn’t see that. She had seen the way the lower-class women worked hard from sun up to sundown. Helen didn’t understand how her mother could claim she worked so hard when the servants worked twice as hard, harder even. They worked themselves to the bone without complaint. Societal women like her mother always seemed to dismiss that fact as if it wasn’t true, but Helena didn’t. Instead, she learned from those other women. She adored her time in the kitchen almost as much as she enjoyed her time at the farm or in the library. She could easily be prepared should her father disown her for not wanting to marry. She was well aware that he might just have to do that to protect his reputation. 

The Duke had never been a cruel or an uncaring or unloving father. Although he had been strict and stuck in his traditional ways, he had never been harsh, and she couldn’t imagine he would ever start. Though she knew his patience with her was wearing thinner with each passing year, especially now that Emma was close to marriage, and Mary wouldn’t be that far behind her sister. The latter had already found her soldier boy too. Which meant it was naturally Helena’s turn to find hers, but she hadn’t even begun looking. She hadn’t come out properly to society, and her parents regretted letting her make that decision for herself. Surely, she would have found someone if they had insisted on it. After all, that was precisely how the other two had found there’s. It was the proper way to meet a man. Now she would have to do it elsewhere, perhaps at a younger girl’s ball or the wedding of one of her sisters. Or maybe they would have to take matters into their own hands and introduce her to the sons of friends. Or they would have to turn to family and find a second cousin she could marry. However, they didn’t want to have to go that route. Still, sometimes desperate times called for desperate measures, and that was undoubtedly a desperate measure.

Helena had no interest in any of it. All she cared about were the animals and her father’s library. If you asked her, she’d be completely comfortable being of the lower class as long as she had animals and books to keep her company.   

She was a kind, sensitive and thoughtful soul with little interest in romance or marriage if it wasn’t written within the pages of a book. She believed that she deserved the right to choose who and when she was married, and she just didn’t feel ready yet. She wished her parents would understand and respect those wishes. Her mother was more understanding than her father. He was too concerned with image and reputation and about cleaning up the Duke of Norfolk’s image than being concerned with the wishes and desires of his daughters

In another room, her parents were discussing the futures of their daughters.

“She’s afraid that she’ll marry someone who will force her to give up the things she loves. That he will disapprove of her education and knowledge.” Her mother said as she pulled a needle and thread through a fabric ring. An intricate design slowly appearing with each thread through.

“I would never match her with someone who would treat her unkindly. Surely she knows that.” Her father said as he stood at the window looking out.

“Perhaps you need to tell her,” Her mother said, not looking up from the needlepoint.  “And perhaps we need to start looking for a man who would fit her criteria, as well as yours.” she paused, “surely there is someone out there for her. As I’ve told her before, there are enlightened men in society these days.” She went back to her design. “Someone progressive in their views would do well.” Her mother suggested. Lady Celeste Howard was a beautiful woman with a crown of golden-brown hair that elegantly framed her face.

“She’s my youngest. I don’t expect much from her. Even a man who raised himself in society would do for her. In fact, that’s probably the kind of man we should find for her. Perhaps a military man.”

“No, I don’t think a military man would do at all. They aren’t forward thinkers. She wants a scholar or a poet.”

“A poet?”

“Wasn’t there a poet in the Howard family?”

“Yes, but he got executed.”

“Not for writing poetry, surely.”

“No, I suppose not.”

“Perhaps James could help us in finding a suitable husband for Helena. He’s such a wonderful young man. Perhaps he has a brother. What time are we expecting him?” 

“Sometime this evening before dinner. He’s already spoken to me, and I have already given my blessing.”

“Oh, I’m so glad. I like James very much.” The duchess smiled.

“As do I. I think they are a good match, and I believe I can safely leave my legacy in his capable hands.” The duke said. “Where is Helena at the moment?”

“Where do you think she is?” Her mother didn’t look up as she pulled the thread through again. “It’s raining outside, so there is only one place for her to be.”

Until both of his oldest were wed, he could just leave his silly daughter alone in the library, but he knew there would have to come a time to lay down the law with her.  He knew it wouldn’t go over well, and he didn’t particularly look forward to it, but it would have to be done for the sake of the family and the sake of his reputation. He just prayed it would force her to see sense in the matter. He would hate to lose his daughter over her foolishness. He didn’t understand her hatred or fear of marriage, but his sympathetic wife did.

“Oh, he’s early.”


“James’ carriage just arrived.” The duke of Norfolk stood at the window watching the carriage approach. A man in a black cloak and top hat stepped from the carriage. He dashed up the steps and vanished inside. The duke watched the carriage circle around and then head for the carriage house. A smile spread across his face as he thought of the future.


Chapter Two

As they discussed her future prospects, Helena was currently trekking through the jungles of Africa on a safari hunting lions. She was oblivious to the world around her, not knowing or caring that in the room down the hall, her sister, Emma, was getting proposed to at that very moment. Emma burst into the library, “oh, there you are! James proposed! isn’t it wonderful?”

“Not as wonderful as the adventure I’m on. Can you go bother someone else?” Helena asked, not even bothering to look up. “I promise to give you and your fiance my full attention at dinner tonight, but right now, I’m reading, and I don’t want to be bothered.”

“You didn’t even look at the ring.”

“What’s there to look at? It’s a silly piece of gold with a rock on it.”

“A rock? It’s called a diamond.”

“Yes, and diamonds are just rocks,” Helena said, proud of her knowledge. “They’re just shiny rocks, but they are still rocks.”

“They are not just rocks.”

Helena sighed, closed her book, and looked at her sister. Then in her best governess tone, she said, “A rock is a naturally occurring solid mass of minerals. What do you think a diamond is made out of? Minerals. Someone a long time ago just decided these are pretty shiny rocks. Then someone else stuck one on a ring and put it on a woman’s finger, calling it an engagement ring, and it became the newest tradition. But it’s still a rock and a sliver of gold, which is just more minerals. I could go on.”

“Sometimes, you’re too smart for your own good. How are you ever going to find a husband? No one is going to want or tolerate a woman smarter than them, especially a silly girl who spends all her time reading or playing in the dirt.” Emma rolled her eyes at Helena. “Someday sister, you’ll grow up, and you’ll realize there is more to life than silly old books.” With that, she slammed the library door.

“I’m never growing up, and I’m never getting married.” She shouted at the closed door.

“Never?” Her father asked, poking his head in. “Well, that’s disappointing.”

“Well, maybe I just haven’t found the right guy yet.” She shrugged and returned to her book.

“Your sister is right, you know? There is more to life than books, Helena. The rain has stopped. It’s a beautiful day now; how about a walk in the park?”

“But father, the man in this book was just attacked by a lion. I have to find out if he gets eaten; he’s my guide. I’ll be alone and lost in the jungle without him.”

Her father frowned. “Helena, I want to go for a walk, the book will be there when you get back, and he does get eaten. It’s a horrible book, and I don’t know why you would want to read it.”

“He gets eaten?” She asked, horrified.  

“Oh yes, and just like you said, the hero is left all alone in the jungle without a guide, and he gets lost, very lost, but then–“

“No! No! Father, don’t tell me!” She cried out.

“Put the book down, Helena, and come take a walk with me. A bit of sunshine would do us both some good. I’ll see if your mother wishes to join us.”

Reluctantly Helena joined her parents for a walk in the park.

“Darling, I heard Helena say she was never getting married.”

“Don’t say never, dear,” Her mother scolded.

“I also said I’m never growing up, but I guess you didn’t hear that part.” Helena rolled her eyes.

“Don’t roll your eyes, dear,” her mother scolded again.

“I don’t see the problem. I have two sisters who will gladly go along with what you want for them. Emma is getting married to a well-respected man, and she’s your oldest. So she should be the only one who matters.”

“All our daughter’s matter, Helena. If we ever made you think otherwise, we do apologize,” her father said. “Helena, you have always been a sensitive child. From the moment you learned how to read, you’ve been spending your days in my library or running around with the animals. Your mother and I worry about you being lost with no prospects for marriage. I know, I know you have no desire to marry, but that doesn’t sit well with your mother and me. We need you to marry. We want our girls to find titled, well-off husbands with good reputations. Status and money are everything, and as you are all girls, you’ll end up without it if you don’t find it by way of a husband. When I pass, you’ll be forced to leave your home, where will you go? You’ll have to become a nun or a governess.”

“I wouldn’t mind being a governess.”

“No daughter of mine will end up a governess, not as long as I am alive. You will marry, and you will do it soon.”

“And if I don’t?” Helena challenged.

“If you don’t find a husband, then you will be disowned from this family.” Her father said, surprising them both. “I will not allow you to be a disgrace to this family, Helena. The older you get, the more likely you are to become one. Once Mary is married, if you do not have a prospect at the very least, you will become a disgrace.”

Helena sucked in her breath. They can’t be serious, could they? They weren’t cruel like that. They had always been kind to her, taught her to be herself and all that; they were just saying it to encourage her to find a husband. Surely, they didn’t mean it.

She was lost in her thoughts and hadn’t noticed her parents had moved on till she found herself alone in the park. Frantic, she looked all around, and at last, spotted her mother’s hat bobbing about in the crowd, she ran towards it. People she passed gave her strange looks, but she was used to them, she was born of high society, but she had never fit in.

She slowed down when she caught up to her parents, careful not to embarrass her father in his presence.

They finished their walk without another word spoken. When the trio returned, Helena ran off to hide in the library. Her father didn’t stop her. She found her favorite spot, snatched up her book, and read the horrific scene where the lion ate the guide. It was indeed a heinous scene, almost as if the author had been there himself. Well, of course, he had. After all, it was an autobiography about a hunter, a wealthy man who loved to hunt game animals. It was his heroic journey of surviving the wild jungles.

Helena was still in the library reading when her sisters came in.

“Emma just told me that you have no desire to marry. Is this true?”

“Not that it’s any of your business, but yes.”

“Why? What are you so afraid of?”

“She’s afraid she’ll never find someone like the men in the stories she reads.”

“No, that’s not why.” Helena protested. “I’m afraid of him forcing me to give up what makes me happy, to stop reading and dreaming, and that he will not be pleased with how educated I am.”

“Mother always said, you have to find time for yourself and your fancies. Husbands like to take off for days at a time. They hunt, they do manly stuff, as long as you do your duty as the wife, and bare him an heir, he’s likely to leave you alone.” Mary said. “We’re the daughters of a Duke. We have a responsibility, it may not be fun or what we want, but for father’s sake, we must do it. That’s it, and you have no choice.”

“Yes, I do, at least for a little while.”

“We just need to find her a match,” Emma said. “James has a friend.”

“No!” Helena protested.

“I actually think he would be fascinated by your knowledge, he’s a writer, a poet, and he’s very educated. So I think he would make a great match.”

“No! No, thank you.” Helena turned back to her book, so Mary snatched it from her, eyed it with distaste, and tossed it aside.

“Careful! That’s father’s book.” Helena jumped up to retrieve it, but Mary snatched it up and kept it from her.

“Oh, stop being so stubborn. You’ll have to grow up eventually.”  

“Unfortunately, he’s otherwise engaged, though James said he’s looking for any excuse to get out of the engagement. I truly think he’d be perfect for you.”

“If he’s already engaged, father won’t approve,” Mary said. “He hates scandal and will avoid it at all cost, and for her to date a man who is otherwise engaged.”

“James said it’s not a serious engagement. It was arranged when they were children. He said it’s not likely to turn into anything at all. His friend despises the woman.” Emma said, “Please don’t let father disown you. That would be a terrible ordeal for everyone, but especially for you, for a disowned child will have no money, no family connection, is that really what you want?”

“Hang me already!” Helena wined. “Better yet, behead me. If I’m dead, at least I won’t be a disgrace to father,” Her sister slapped her.

“What a horrible thing to say, you take it back. You take it back right now!” Mary demanded, slapping her.

“Why should I? It’s what women in our family are known for.”

Her sister went to slap her, but Helena grabbed her wrist.

“Not letting you strike twice. Hit me again, and you’ll be the one with the bloody nose.” Helena warned.

“Watch your mouth, and I will have no reason to smack you.”

“Enough both of you!” Emma scolded. “Come along, Mary. We’ve said our piece, father made his very clear, now all we can do is hope that it sinks into that little brain of hers.” Emma said. “I’ll talk to James about his friend. I think he’s the best prospect, probably her only prospect.”

Helena turned back to her book. A man who writes, yes, she could accept that, he wouldn’t make her stop reading and if he loved animals all the better. But he was otherwise engaged, which would undoubtedly put her father off about him. So why did Emma have to dangle him in front of her like that and then say, oh, but father would never approve because of the scandal of it all? But was it really a scandal if it wasn’t a real proposal? They were just intended, the parents intended for him to marry her, but that didn’t mean he was engaged to be married. Would that change father’s mind? Surely a man like that would change her mind. She would love to marry a poet, a man who could appreciate the written word—a man who would join her in the library for hours.

That evening James and his mother joined the family for dinner, and there was nothing but talk about the wedding and where they would live. To this, the duke offered them a house on the estate. The wedding would be the following week. By the time dessert was served, it was all decided on. Emma was all giggles and glee. It made Helena roll her eyes.    

“When a Poet Loves a Lady” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Lady Helena Howard of Arundel Castle is not your average lady of society. The youngest of the Duke of Norfolk’s daughters, she much prefers being lost in literature and playing with animals, than searching for love and marriage like every other lady. However, after meeting Thomas Wadsworth, who leads the kind of life Lady Helena longs for, everything is about to change…

It all started with an innocent debate that turned into the deepest truth of her heart…

Sir Thomas Wadsworth is a charming and intelligent poet, who lives for adventure. When he is introduced to Helena, he is intrigued and feels as though the most exciting kind of adventure awaits him. However, before he can confess his love to her, his childhood sweetheart intervenes and causes a great scandal. Can Thomas get out of this loveless arrangement and find his way back into Helena’s heart?

Little did he know, past choices would return to haunt him, threatening their connection with irreversible extinction…

While the two of them attend one orchestrated event after the other, they soon realise they are made for each other. If only there weren’t so many external forces plotting against them… Will Helena turn her back to love once again or is Thomas the one to make her believe in more than her books’ fairytales? Will their love endure the obstacles that are mounting against them or will they abandon one another forever?

“When a Poet Loves a 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!

3 thoughts on “When a Poet Loves a Lady (Preview)”

  1. I did not know a Dukes daughter could may someone to carry
    on her fathers title.You live and learn.
    Plot is great.
    Beautiful cover!
    Let have the whole book soon!

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

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

      Thank you again and have a lovely day!

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