Click on image to enlarge.
eBook by Janet Elaine Smith
eBook Category: Historical Fiction/Romance
eBook Description: "Marylebone," the sequel to best-selling "Dunnottar," flits back and forth between London and the Scottish highlands during the regency era. Handsome young James Keith, wanting to remain anonymous, visits "the clubs" in London, where he encounters Caroline Kent, who has just returned from Vienna after studying the piano. Caroline is immediately enraptured by the mysterious Scotsman, but he seems to disappear every time she gets close to finding him. She calls on their mutual friend, the Duke of Hamilton, to help her locate him. Keith, who is using the alias Robert Paterson, swears Hamilton to secrecy, as he is on a personal quest to locate the Scottish regalia, which was hidden byt the Keith clan at Dunnottar Castle more than one hundred years earlier. Complete with two mysteries (who is the mysterious Scot and where is the regalia), throw in a famous person (Walter Scott), a secret which Caroline's father, the Earl of Kent, has kept buried almost as long, a surprise about the "mad King George," and you have the makings of a read that will delight you for a long time to come.
eBook Publisher: Blue Leaf Publications/Indigo Blue
Fictionwise Release Date: November 2009
* * * *
"I greatly enjoyed the re-telling and historical novel approach of the first book--Dunnottar. It was splended how Smith incorporated a vast bank of history into this story. The second...had some insight of the times and was a worthy read."--S. R. Trellan
"'Marylebone' is going to make you smile, and it's also pretty likely to bring tears to your eyes in some places. It's a very different book than its prequel, 'Dunnottar,' but it is every bit as well worth reading!"--N. Osier, Author
The table had been laid and the Earl of Kent and his lovely wife, Lady Josephine Berkeley, sat at their usual places. The only difference of note was that there was today a third setting, which was as yet vacant.
"It is so delightful to once again have Caroline here with us," the earl said. "I do know how important her music is to her, but I have so missed her."
"It is a truth," Lady Kent said, "that the house has appeared to have a silence which would not rid itself until the moment she returned to walk through the doorway."
Caroline entered the room, her beauty radiant and her dress more befitting a formal evening than the normal activities of the day ahead.
"You do, I presume, have plans for the day?" her father inquired. "It is not that the person appears thus every day."
"I do indeed!" Caroline responded enthusiastically, a lovely smile crossing her countenance. "In the post when I returned from Vienna I found a voucher from Almack's. Oh, Father, I have arrived! I am one of them! Tonight I shall join the friends I have so longed to be a part of. It will be splendid!"
"But to ready yourself so early in the day," her mother asked, "is that a wise decision?"
"Oh, but Mother," Caroline protested, "I am nowhere near ready. I must have my hair done. And I will not wear this to the club! I have donned this just in the event that some of my friends may come calling here at Berkeley Manor, having heard of my return. I would not want to be caught unawares, after having been to the continent. They would think me such a ninny."
"You know, of course," Lady Kent said, "that your friends are always welcome at our home. We would never want you to sense that there was any other way we would have it."
Caroline had always appreciated the fairness with which her parents had treated her. It had been difficult for them to release her from their care, especially her being their only child, when she had so wanted to go to Vienna to pursue her piano studies, yet they had made the sacrifice and allowed her to do as she wished. She had no idea how valuable this statement would become to her, nor how much it would be challenged in the near future.
Once the meal was completed, Mrs. Scarborough came to Caroline and inquired, "Might I be of service to you today? I would assess that you have a large number of duties for me on your first day back at the Manor."
Caroline had missed Mrs. Scarborough, her personal attendant for the bigger share of her life, almost as much as she had missed her parents during her stay abroad. It was such a satisfaction to know that she was there to tend her every whim and fancy again.
"Indeed I shall require your services," she replied. Then, defying all customary procedures, she jumped to her feet and ran to Mrs. Scarborough, throwing her arms around her to greet her warmly. "I have missed you so much!" she exclaimed. "Everyone should have a Mrs. Scarborough of their very own." That the two women, although so very opposite in every way, were extremely fond of one another was obvious to any beholder.
"I will take my leave," Mrs. Scarborough said, "and I shall await you in your chambers, my lady."
Mrs. Scarborough entered Caroline's private chamber, gazing in awe at the trunks which seemed to fill every spare inch of floor space. She hesitated only momentarily before going to the one which stood open and began to take one of the dresses from it. She lifted the gown, a beautiful pink creation with rows and rows of rich European lace encircling the skirt, and held it up in front of her. The fact that Caroline was a goodly six inches taller than she was did not enter the woman's mind for a fleeting moment. She walked to the mirror, and for an instant she was a beautiful young woman at a grand ball with every lord in the room having his eyes fixed on her. She was still enraptured in her dreams when Caroline entered the room.
"Would you care to accompany me to Almack's this evening?" Caroline asked, smiling as she watched Mrs. Scarborough drop the gown to the floor, hoping for a way of escape.
"Oh, Miss Caroline!" she said, her face filled with color. She said nothing more, as she found no words to explain her disturbing her charge's private belongings. She had no right to have dabbled in the trunk, and of that she was fully aware. Finally she added, "I am so sorry; I just could not help myself."
"You behavior is permissible," Caroline said kindly. "Everyone has a perfect right to fill their heads with visions and dreams--no matter who they are or of what age."
"It is so wonderful to have you here again," Mrs. Scarborough said. "It was so quiet with your presence missing. The Manor suddenly seems as if it has been revived."
The day passed all too slowly for the lovely Caroline; the festivities which awaited her at Almack's seemed an eternity away. There was, as she had expected, a steady flow of her friends who came calling, anxious to renew old acquaintances and to hear the latest news from the continent and to see the fashions she was certain to have brought with her, knowing that she had returned by way of Paris.
"The Duke of Lennox to see Miss Kent," Forrester announced.
Caroline had been busily engaged with the alterations of her gown for the evening, a beautiful royal blue which she and Mrs. Scarborough had chosen from her new garments. She was pleased that she was presently indisposed, so as to cause the duke to await her arrival in the drawing room. He was not one of her favorite people, yet he was a close personal friend of the family. Politeness to him came as a duty, rather than a pleasure.
"Tell him he must wait. I must finish the fitting of my dress first," she instructed Forrester.
Forrester promptly delivered the message to the duke, offering him a glass of brandy, which he was always known to accept a little too willingly.
After the dress was fitted and the proper adjustments arranged, Caroline decided she had made her caller wait sufficiently.
As she made her entrance, the Duke of Lennox dropped his glass, spilling the few sips which remained, at the sight of her. She had been gone scarce a year, yet she had blossomed into the most beautiful young woman he had ever laid eyes on. He was determined that he would pursue her until he had made her his conquest. Little did he know how much Caroline despised him.
Caroline could not help herself. Before she could stop herself, she said snidely, "Is the glass as slippery as my lord himself?"
One of the things the Duke of Lennox had always admired about Caroline was that she spoke exactly as she thought, not just framing her words as she thought her listeners mist wish her to speak. It made a conversation with her always so much more of a challenge. He was pleased to learn that she had not lost this art while she was abroad.
The duke was at a loss for words, which was as uncommon for him as it was for Caroline. He was not known for his silence, although often the thoughtlessness of his speech was quite widely proclaimed. After a considerable period of silence, he finally spoke.
"It has been told that a voucher from Almack's has been issued you. Knowing that this is the first day of your return, I thought perchance you might desire an escort for the occasion. If you would do me the honor, I would be most delighted to have you at my side."
Acknowledging that it would indeed be better to go with even the Duke of Lennox than alone, she agreed, but felt that she was compromising greatly by accepting his offer.
"I shall arrive for you at seven," he said, taking his leave. Caroline cringed. He made it seem as if she was a personal possession of the duke, which she surely would never become. She found comfort in the fact that he would undoubtedly be quite soused soon after they arrived, leaving her free to enjoy the rest of the evening.