Lord Blackwood's Valentine Ball
An Authentic Regency Romance Novella (Prequel to The Lady's Revenge)
historical fiction · Valentine's Day · clean romance · Regency England · novella
"This was a whirlwind, fairytale-like story that had me smiling from the start and I’m still smiling days later. If you're looking for a beautiful break, this is a great choice. I’m looking forward to reading more by this author." —Pauline Michael, Night Owl Reviews
In this charming traditional Regency romance novella, Patience Cherwell is resigned to a life of spinsterhood. Therefore, when her young friend, the lovely Lorna Hartley, comes to stay for a London season, she decides the eligible, handsome Lord Blackwood is the perfect match for Lorna. Granted, Lord Blackwood, at forty, is much older than the vivacious 20-year-old Lorna, but Patience is determined to help her young friend make a good match. So why isn’t she happy when his lordship and Lorna seem to like each other’s company? The problem is that Patience is already madly in love with his lordship! An unexpected invitation arrives for Lorna and Patience to attend Lord Blackwood’s Valentine Ball. This is the perfect moment for him to propose to Lorna. Mysteriously, a corsage arrives from an anonymous admirer. Who is it for? And what will be the outcome for the wearer at Lord Blackwood’s Valentine Ball? This novella is the prequel to The Lady’s Revenge.
— scroll down to read book sample —
"Written with similar charm and panache of Jane Austen's, Pride and Prejudice, this enchanting story captivates the reader and draws them into the vibrant life of Patience Cherwell. Patience's loving and noble spirit is evident from the onset of the story; instantly capturing the reader. Despite the results that could lead to a lifetime of loveless solitude, Patience's sacrifice of self for the love of a friend is gut-wrenching, yet profoundly noteworthy. This is a beautiful story of eternal love and redemption, and I highly recommend it to hopeless romantics." —★★★★★ Reader Review
"I give this book five stars and highly recommend her if you like sweet romances and like the Regency area." —★★★★★ Reader Review
"I loved this novel, the author has an easy style and her characters are nicely rounded." —★★★★★ Reader Review
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Arabella Sheraton grew up on a diet of Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and many other writers of that period. From Jane Austen to Georgette Heyer, Arabella has found both enjoyment and inspiration in sparkling, witty Regency novels. She also loves history and generally finds the past more fascinating than the future. Arabella wrote her first Regency romance to entertain her aged mom who loved the genre. Arabella is honoured to share the adventures of her heroes and heroines with readers.
SAMPLE FROM LORD BLACKWOOD'S VALENTINE BALL
Lord Blackwood is giving a Valentine Ball? And you are invited?” Mrs. Henrietta Paisley widened her bulbous blue eyes at Patience. “How marvellous! What a romantic and thrilling idea. Let me see that.”
She snatched the gilt-edged invitation from Patience and squinted at it. “Oh, I can’t read this. Wait, where are my spectacles? Although I never confess to needing them, so you’re not to tell anyone.” She rummaged in her capacious reticule for her spectacles and then peered at the invitation card. An excited expression spread across her plump, florid face as she studied the embossed crest, the bold handwriting, and the elaborate signature.
“Well, I’m sure his secretary wrote this out, but this is his lordship’s own signature. Lord Blackwood.” She gave a sigh of pleasure. “Look at these flourishes and loops. So…so regal! Just what one would expect from a member of the nobility.”
Patience gave an inward sigh. Henrietta meant well. She had been Mama’s oldest and dearest friend. They had attended Miss Pringle’s Seminary for Young Ladies during their youth and had maintained a close friendship until Mama’s death a year ago. The childless, widowed, and socially well-connected Henrietta Paisley considered herself in charge of Patience’s life upon her friend’s death, in loco parentis as it were. Sometimes her efforts were interfering, despite her good intentions. Henrietta Paisley was also a self-proclaimed matchmaker, having successfully united no less than fifteen couples in the last two years. Pairing up young ladies with eligible men had become an entertaining diversion for her and she was good at it. Her success lay in her shrewd assessment of the suitability of potential suitors. Several anxious mamas had already engaged Henrietta in intense discussion on the possibility of Viscount So-and-So or Sir Such-and-Such or even Lord What’s-His-Name proposing to their hopeful debutante daughters.
Henrietta laid down the invitation. Her expression indicated how resolutely she was bent on a romantic mission. Like it or not, Patience was Henrietta’s next target for Cupid’s arrows. Her face glowed with an emotion larger than excitement. Elation was perhaps the best description. Or maybe triumph was even better.
“Patience Susan Cherwell, this is your golden opportunity, and if you don’t succeed, I swear I’ll—” She cast about for an aptly dramatic promise “—I’ll eat my best bonnet right here in this parlour!”
Patience shook her head. “I fail to grasp your meaning, Henrietta. My golden opportunity for what?”
Henrietta gave an explosive squawk of frustration and disbelief. “Why, you silly girl! To secure Lord Blackwood for yourself! What else do you think I mean?”
“But I thought—”
“With ruthless disregard for Patience’s opinion, Henrietta interrupted her by launching into an unexpected panegyric. “He is the perfect man for you!” In a gesture familiar to Patience, Henrietta clasped her lace-mittened hands together somewhere in the region of where she imagined the heart pounded in the human breast and sighed.
“In fact, he would be the perfect man for any woman with a grain of romance in her soul. Oh, he is a man who can stir a woman’s emotions and cause such flutterings in the female bosom.” She frowned at Patience. “I say this without intending the slightest slur on the memory of my beloved Cedric, God rest his soul, who was the most wonderful husband any woman could ever wish for.”
Patience had no doubt this was true. Mr. Cedric Paisley, a thin, quietly spoken man, had been obedient to his wife’s every wish and whim. Patience had never heard him express an opinion that ran contrary to his wife’s decided views on life. Henrietta got her way in all things, including shopping. She was addicted to elaborate hats and bonnets, and she thought nothing of indulging in this reckless passion, uncaring of the expense. Mr. Paisley had paid the milliner’s bills without a murmur. Perhaps it was with relief that one day he just fell asleep in his study after a hearty Sunday lunch and never woke up. Although Henrietta always spoke of him in complimentary terms, she did not appear to miss him and in widowhood applied herself to the task of matching couples with even more zeal than she applied to shopping.
Henrietta’s eyes sparkled as she continued. “Those dark, brooding looks, soulful eyes, and a certain air of…” She waved one hand impatiently in the air, searching for the word. “I have it—tristesse. As if he cherishes some deep-rooted sorrow from years back.” She leaned forward and whispered in a confiding tone, “They say he loved and lost the most beautiful woman not so long ago. They were almost engaged, but he never got the chance to propose. I forget her name now.
She frowned, and then screwed up her face while thinking. “Now, what was her name? It’s on the tip of my tongue! I remember one odd thing though—there was no body, and the family had a private memorial service. It was all quite secretive. Her name was…Letitia…let me think… Oh, I have it!” She snapped her fingers in triumph. “Miss Letitia DeVere! The family resides in Cornwall, in one of those crumbling old mausoleums. They had money once upon a time but fell on hard times, people said. However, I might be muddling them up with another family down that way. Anyway, no matter.”
“What happened? Why was there no body? Was she lost at sea?” asked Patience, swept up by Henrietta’s lyrical description despite her qualms at listening to gossip. Since Henrietta was always brim-full of the latest, most fascinating on-dits, any resistance often proved futile.
Already bored with the topic of Lord Blackwood’s former love, Henrietta made a dismissive gesture. “Oh, I don’t know. She died while visiting Europe. I seem to remember someone mentioning Italy. An accident, I think, while exploring places of cultural interest. The exact details escape me.” Henrietta adopted a hectoring tone. “That’s what happens in foreign locations if you’re not careful.”
She pointed at Patience. “Lucky for you, my girl. Now you have to get in there before anyone else does. I’ve heard how the ladies trip over their hems to catch his eye at these fine balls and banquets the nobility frequent. They set their caps at him without shame or scruple.” She eyed Patience sternly. “Now’s your chance at this Valentine Ball. It’ll be the most romantic opportunity to get his attention.”
Patience raised her voice to break into Henrietta’s stream of chatter, which was no easy feat. Garrulous to a fault, even Henrietta referred to herself as a “regular rattle” and used thirty words where an ordinary person would use ten. “I thought of trying to throw Lorna and Lord Blackwood together.”
“Lorna?” Henrietta screeched as she spoke the name. “Not Lorna Hartley, that red-headed romp of a gal who’s staying with you? The one from York?”
Henrietta looked almost affronted at the possibility of Lorna and Lord Blackwood as a couple, even though Lorna came from a prominent and wealthy family. The eldest of Sir Walter Hartley’s three pretty daughters, Lorna’s charm and personality won over just about every person she met. Everyone agreed she was a most enchanting and eligible young woman. But for some reason, Henrietta did not share this favourable opinion of her.
Henrietta scowled as she waited for Patience to reply.
“Yes,” Patience said with a touch of defiance. “Why not? Lorna is invited as you can see on the invitation. This is the perfect opportunity. She’s very beautiful and he’s a fine catch. They will suit each other very well.”
Henrietta exhaled in a loud, exasperated puff. “Patience Cherwell, how many times have I said to you that, now your dear mama and papa have passed on, it’s time for you to look around for a husband?” She wagged one finger at Patience. “Before it’s too late!"