The Lady's Revenge
An Authentic Regency Romance (Sequel to Lord Blackwood's Valentine Ball)
historical fiction · Valentine's Day · clean romance · Regency England · women's fiction
This engaging traditional Regency romance is the sequel to Lord Blackwood’s Valentine Ball. Miss Letitia DeVere decides that revenge is a dish best eaten cold when she returns to London after a two-year absence to find her former admirer Lord Charles Blackwood on the verge of proposing to Miss Patience Cherwell. Lord Blackwood’s Valentine Ball proved to be the turning point in his fledgling romance with Patience. Letitia is not the kind of woman who gives up easily, as Patience and Charles soon find out. She stoops at nothing to achieve her aims. However, Letitia has a dark past, with secrets that threaten to return and destroy her newfound social success. When Charles proves less malleable than in the past, Letitia resorts to subterfuge, seduction, blackmail, and even violence to force him to propose. Will he see through her tricks and remain true to Patience, or will Letitia’s seductive wiles lure him back?
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 THE LADY'S REVENGE
Henrietta Paisley fell backwards onto the sofa, fanning her flushed face with both hands. She panted, each breath forced as she gasped from the unfamiliar exertion of running. Patience was taken aback at this unusual sight. In general, Henrietta never ran anywhere. She proceeded through life at a sedate, orderly pace as befitted her status in life: a respectable widow of middling years with excellent social connections and superlative matchmaking skills. Right now, Henrietta resembled a woman who had run for her life from some disaster or perhaps even an escaped wild animal from a travelling circus. A torrent of words came out in between desperate gulps for air as she yanked at her bonnet ribbons and let the elaborate confection fall to the carpet next to her.
“Oh, my dear Patience. What can I say? A disaster. A tragedy, after all my dreams and expectations for you were realised only last week, or maybe it was longer, but anyway, it was a remarkably short time ago. In all my life, I’ve never heard of such a strange thing. It’s quite unbelievable.” She patted her greying curls back into place. “An act of God, one might say, although I’m not sure how much He has to do with modern life nowadays, and what with all the wickedness in the world I can’t see how people can expect divine intervention anyway.”
Patience glanced at Lorna, and raised her eyebrows in bewilderment. Henrietta was excitable by nature, but her distraught behaviour and her recumbent position presaged an event of epic proportions. Even dropping an expensive bonnet to the floor was extraordinary, given Henrietta’s weakness for extravagant millinery. Patience gestured for Doris to hold the smelling salts under Henrietta’s nose, while Lorna, ever practical, chafed her hands. Patience sat next to Henrietta with a reassuring smile.
“Please calm yourself, my dear Henrietta. Such emotional excitement can’t be good for you. Think of your blood pressure. Now, tell us everything. What has happened? Has there been an accident? Has someone died?”
Henrietta sat bolt upright, grabbed Patience by the shoulders, and said, “No. Worse, if that’s possible. A return from the dead. A veritable Lazarus, I declare.” Her eyes bulged more than usual, and she fell back against the sofa cushions, moaning.
“Help me raise her feet onto the other side,” Patience said to Lorna as she retrieved Henrietta’s discarded bonnet and placed it on a nearby table. She and Lorna arranged Henrietta more comfortably on the sofa. Henrietta gave a piteous moan.
“Doris, leave the smelling salts. Run and get some feathers instead. I’ve heard that burning feathers works better than smelling salts.”
The parlour maid scampered off to find the feathers while Henrietta uttered several loud wails and tossed her head from side to side. She squeezed her eyelids shut.
“All I wanted was for you to be happy, my dear. I promised your dear departed mama I would do my very best to see you settled and happy in life. Now that creature, that…harpy…that viper has appeared to dash your dreams and all my hopes for you.”
Since Mama’s death, Henrietta had made it her life’s work to secure a suitable husband for her oldest friend’s daughter. Lord Blackwood’s declaration of love and his intentions towards her at the Valentine Ball he had hosted only two weeks ago had seemed to be the culmination of both Henrietta’s plans and of Patience’s dreams. Patience glanced again at Lorna, who shrugged. Until Henrietta revealed the reason for her distress, Patience could only wait and hope the news was not too bad.”
“Mrs. Paisley.” Lorna patted Henrietta’s hands harder to attract her attention. “What has happened to upset you so much?”
Henrietta’s eyelids flew open and she stared at Lorna, her face now chalk white with some deep anguish. “She’s back, Miss Hartley. Who would have believed it could happen?”
“Who is back?” asked Patience.
“Letitia DeVere.” Henrietta groaned. “Lord Blackwood’s almost-fiancée whom we all thought had died in Italy when she went on that tour of the art galleries two years ago.”
Henrietta’s astounding and dreadful revelation came as a shock, as if someone had tipped a bucket of icy water over her head. Patience shivered, stunned by this news. Letitia DeVere was alive. In seconds, her world crashed around her. Dumbstruck and speechless, Patience stared at Henrietta in horror. With iron self-control, she maintained an impassive expression. It would not do to fall into hysterics, or cry, or give any indication how deeply this news had cut her. She must be prepared for the worst. Lord Blackwood had demonstrated his strong feelings for her at the Valentine Ball. He had asked outright if he could court her with a view to marriage. His ardour that night revealed the depths of his passionate nature. From all accounts of the distress he had suffered at the loss of his former love, there was no doubt he had loved Letitia DeVere with equal fervour. Perhaps he had loved her more since they were on the brink of announcing their engagement before her supposed demise. Letitia DeVere’s return might mean the end of all Patience’s expectations and desires. Her heart beat with loud, slow thumps and a strange buzzing sounded in her ears. This must be shock, because she was in perfect health.
“Oh, my goodness,” Lorna whispered. Her face was ashen. “This is incredible.”
“Alas, goodness had nothing to do with this, Miss Hartley,” Henrietta croaked. “This changes everything.”