A Beauty for the Scarred Duke – Extended Epilogue

Chapter One

“I hardly know what to say, Isabella. I mean, I know that you did not care for your father, and with good reason, but I daresay you are not entirely inert to the news.” Esme Tavistock was as soothing as always.

Esme’s marriage to Rupert Tavistock more than five years earlier had changed nothing in the relationship of the two women. Esme was as much Isabella’s friend as she had been all her life, and her visits to Coldwell Hall had never diminished, even though she now had her own child.

“As always, I can rely on you to immediately perceive my mixed feelings, Esme.” She smiled before turning to look at her husband, the Duke of Coldwell. “As did you, my dear Elliot. How fortunate I am to have two such dear people in my life.”

“And we are fortunate to have you, my dear.” Elliot smiled back, his handsome face and green eyes seeming never to age, despite the difference in years between husband and wife.

It had been a very long time since Isabella had even noticed the scars on her husband’s face, gained so many years ago from a most hideous and destructive fire.

But whenever she did think of his scars, Isabella remembered well how Crawford Maguire had told her that she would one day look upon him and not even see the ruined flesh, the angry red patches, and the raised, silvery marks. And how right he had been.

In the six years since her forced marriage to the man she had previously thought a monster, Isabella had been happier than she could ever have imagined.

They had lived a life of learning, growing together as they played the music he composed, never letting go of their old tradition of spending evenings together by candlelight in the music room. And they had two beautiful children, Catherine and Oscar.

It was the birth of Catherine which had finally tempted the Duke back out into society after so many years in self-imposed imprisonment at Coldwell Hall. The unconditional love of his baby daughter had made him realize that the stares and whispered comments of the uncaring few meant nothing to a man who had so much love in his life.

But Esme had also been a big part of things, arranging social events and leading the county by her own example. Esme had never flinched, never been anything other than entirely natural in Elliot’s company, both in private and in public.

“What will you do about the funeral? It has been so many years since you and your father last spoke that I can hardly think you would be expected to attend.” Esme said gently before she set about pouring the tea which had been brewing for some minutes.

“I think I must attend.” Isabella said and felt the weight of silence fall upon the drawing room of Coldwell Hall.

Her father had been a most cruel man and when she had heard that her mother had fallen to her death almost six years before, she had immediately assumed her father to be responsible. When he had told her at her mother’s funeral that it had been her brother Anthony, who had then been but fourteen years old at the time, who had actually killed her, Isabella had believed him.

The old Earl had been gray and withdrawn, his eyes as frightened then as Isabella’s had always been as a young woman in her father’s house. And he had never returned to his full health, at least all reports to her over the years suggested as much.

“You need not do anything you do not wish to do, Isabella.” Elliot rose from his seat on the couch and moved to stand behind his wife’s chair, placing a comforting and warm hand on her shoulder. “I do not care about society at large. You come first, my dear, and I shall not see you do something you are uncomfortable with simply because you think you ought to.”

“Quite right, Your Grace.” Esme said, reinforcing the Duke’s kind words.“Isabella, your husband makes sense. And really, I cannot think it will be anything other than painful to drag up so many old memories. Perhaps it is simply best to let them go.”

“How kind you both are, but I am afraid you misunderstand me.” Isabella said with a smile.

“I daresay it is not the first time.” Elliot said and Esme laughed in some relief at the lightening of the moment.

“Tell us your thoughts, my dear.” Esme handed Isabella a cup and saucer.

“Thank you,” Isabella said as she accepted the tea. “When I said I think I must, I did not mean to satisfy the expectations of anybody.” She paused to take a sip of the tea for her mouth had gone a little dry at the thought of the funeral she truly did not want to attend. “I think I must so that I can put it all to rest in my own mind. Not that my mother’s death fills my every waking thought, but I should like to set it down finally regardless.”

“I think I understand.” Esme said and Elliot nodded in agreement as he retook his seat opposite his wife.

“And I should like to lay eyes on Anthony again.” Isabella spoke quietly, knowing that her utterance would undoubtedly be a little controversial.

“But why?” Elliot said, and his beautiful green eyes widened in concern. “You know what he did and I can only think it will upset you greatly to see him again after all these years.”

“It will, I am sure of it. But I need to look at him. I think I need to see if there is any remorse there for what he has done. After all, he was still a child when he killed my mother. As heinous a crime as that is, he was raised in arrogance by a dreadful man. I need to know if he has begun to follow his own path instead. I need to know if my Father’s change in behavior these last years has made an impact upon my brother at all.”

“I see,” Elliot said as enthusiastically as he could manage. Still, she knew he was not convinced and could not blame him. “Well, you shall not go alone. I shall be there at your side, Isabella.”

“As you were at my mother’s funeral.”She turned loving eyes upon her husband. “As you always are.”

Chapter Two

The funeral was better attended than Isabella had imagined it would be. The old Earl of Upperton had never been a popular man, given that he was brusque and elitist, but still, the county had turned out. No doubt they were just doing what they thought they ought to do, to maintain a certain image in the eyes of the rest.

What a world they lived in!

“I see your brother has grown into a very fine looking young man.” Elliot whispered into her ear as the service was just getting underway.

“Indeed.” She whispered back and nodded. “And there is a young woman at his side. His wife, perhaps?”

“No, I cannot think so. If your brother had married, Crawford would have heard something of it. He misses nothing.”

Crawford Maguire was still a great feature in their lives, and Isabella could not have been more pleased. The bond between the two men was stronger than between brothers, and Isabella would never forget how much of his own life Crawford had dedicated to Elliot in the years when he was so very alone.

“Ah, she must be his fiancée. Or at least they are courting.” Isabella mused. “For look at her father. How self-satisfied he is!”

“Quite.” Elliot laughed gently.

As far as Isabella could see, the father looked very much happier than the daughter. Anthony’s fiancée, if indeed she was his fiancée, looked down at her hymn book as the organist began to play for the first hymn of the service.

But the young woman did not sing at all, she simply looked desolately down at the page. Isabella was so struck by her that she made a study of the young woman for a few minutes.

Standing at the opposite pew, the woman’s eyes continually flicked sideways towards Anthony, almost as if she expected something to happen.

And it was a look that Isabella recognized; the look her own mother had worn for as long as Isabella could remember. It was a nervousness, a kind of quiet flinching. Isabella knew that the young woman was scared of Anthony as surely as if the frail young thing had crossed the church and told her that very thing.

She was so thin and pale with such light hair, and yet her frailty made her delicate; beautiful. No doubt her father, whoever he was, was very pleased with the match, especially on that day of all days. The old earl was buried and his frail daughter was about to become a Countess the moment she was married. There would be no waiting.

Oh, how she despised that father. How she thought he must surely know his daughter’s feelings and, like her father had done before, utterly disregarded them.

With the service finished, the mourners made their way out to the graveside to witness the lowering of the old Earl’s coffin into the ground.

Isabella had walked ahead a little, feeling sure her brother could not resist speaking to her if he thought her alone.

“I had not expected to see you here, Isabella.” He said after hurrying to catch up with her in the gray cool of the early autumn morning.

“He was my father.” She replied sullenly and turned to look at him. “Even if he did not behave like one.”

“Oh dear, still you mourn your lot in life. When will you learn you have no standing in this family?” Anthony, so tall as to be a little overbearing, smirked at her.

“I would never wish for a place in this family. I have a family of my own now and a place in life I like much better.”

“With your monster?” He scoffed.

“Do not speak of my husband in those terms.” She said and then changed the subject, wanting to know more about the frail young woman. “I see that you are now married.” She ventured.

“Not yet, but soon.”

“She is very pretty, Anthony. You must care for her a great deal.”

“She is a woman. A wife and that is all. Nothing more than a carriage in which to carry my heir. That is what you would have been to your husband had the fearful, deformed monster not been so pathetically grateful for a woman who would look at him.” Anthony sneered cruelly.

“You are the only monster.” She retorted angrily. “You are a true monster. Oh yes, I know.”

“You know what?” He said and looked a little upended.

“I know what you did. I know you killed our mother.”

“You have an overactive imagination.”

“No, father told me. He told me what he saw that day. He told me you pushed her.”

“There was no proof at the time and there is no proof now. So, what good does your little bit of knowledge get you?” Anthony had regained his composure and smirked down at her once again.

“Isabella?” Elliot was fast approaching with a look of concern on his face.

“Oh dear, here comes your husband.” Anthony was clearly amused. “The last time I saw him he at least wore a leather hood to hide that dreadful face.”

“He has no need of it anymore. After all, the truly dreadful is the blackness that ravages a dead heart like your own, Anthony.” She said and turned away from him to rejoin her husband.

As she stood at the graveside holding Elliot’s hand tightly, Isabella felt sure that there was no remorse inside her brother at all. Unless, of course, he was doing his best to hide it.

When the Duke and Duchess of Coldwell finally made their way to their carriage at the end of the funeral, Isabella had begun to wish she had never attended. Anthony had been right; what good did her little bit of knowledge really do her?

“Your Grace?” Isabella and Elliot turned to see a well-dressed man holding out a sealed letter.

“Yes?” Elliot said.

“I was the old Earl’s attorney and I have a letter for the Duchess of Coldwell.” He turned to look directly at Isabella. “Your Grace, your father charged me with handing this to you in the event you attended his funeral.” He handed her the letter and bowed briefly before absenting himself.

Chapter Three

“The attorney did not await any instruction from you then?” Crawford Maguire said as he sat in the Duke’s study with Isabella.

“Not at all, Crawford. In fact, I think he was keen to be away before I could gather myself and ask any questions.”

“Do you think he knows the content of the letter?” Crawford, inordinately tall and vaguely stooped as if to avoid low doorways, raised his eyebrows.

Isabella had always been very fond of Crawford. He had treated her as an equal from the very first, never once referring to her husband in matters of her own business.

“I cannot think he does. Perhaps that was why he was so keen to escape. Perhaps he knew he could not answer any questions if we did have them.”

“And what do you intend to do?” Crawford looked her squarely in the eye. “For this decision is very clearly yours alone to take.”

“It most certainly is,” Elliot said, walking quietly into the room. “Whatever you decide, my dear, I shall back you all the way.”

“As shall I, Isabella.” Crawford nodded his agreement.

It had been three days since the funeral and since she had sat in the carriage outside the old church and read the letter. In that time, Isabella had hardly slept, tossing and turning night after night as she fought with her own conscience.

The letter had been written by her father just weeks before he finally passed away. When she opened it in the carriage, Isabella had leaned in towards Elliot so that he might read it with her; she had no secrets from her husband.

“Isabella,

I daresay you had hoped never to hear from me again after your mother’s funeral six years ago. I do not blame you and know that if you have not attended my own funeral, then you will not be reading this. My attorney has instructions to hand it to you on the day if you attend and to burn it if you do not.

He is a trustworthy man and so I have no doubt he has carried out my wishes to the full. Not that my attorney’s suitability is anything to you, I am sure.

Perhaps it is time to stop procrastinating and simply tell you why I have chosen to write to you, to make this very last communication when I know my own days are now limited.

The last time we spoke, I told you what I had seen on the day that your brother, Anthony, killed your mother. I have never regretted telling you, even though I wondered if you might choose to do something about it all. But then, what could you have done? There was no evidence but the evidence of my own eyes.

That being the case, it should have been I who chose to do something about it all, but instead, I have left that choice to you.

You see, I could not make that decision in the end. I have realized it too late, but I now know that whatever Anthony did, or goes on to do in this life, is all my own doing. I raised him to intimidate, to be a brute. I did not raise him to be a murderer intentionally, but I am to blame for it nonetheless.

I shall not waste your time nor insult your intelligence by telling you how much of my treatment of you I regret. You deserve better than to listen to the self-pity of an old man who had made grave mistakes and seeks absolution.

In the end, there is only one who can grant me that, and I am yet to meet him, although it cannot be long now.

I shall now come to the point. Isabella, I have enclosed with this letter a signed statement of all that I saw that day. It is the only proof that Anthony committed murder, and the signature was witnessed by my attorney.

It is yours to do with as you wish. I shall leave the vengeance for your mother, the fate of your brother, and the fortunes of the Upperton Estate firmly in your hands. I daresay you could never have imagined that it would be to you that I would finally hand such power.

And yet I know it is a terrible power and one I am certain you will not thank me for.

If you decide to pursue a prosecution for your mother’s death, then the estate will undoubtedly fall to my cousin and his offspring for years to come. If your brother is convicted, that is. Otherwise, if you do not wish for such a responsibility, then you must burn this letter and my statement and leave Anthony to live out his life as he sees fit.

I would beg you, however, to have no further contact with him. I know I treated you badly, but Anthony has a far greater capacity for cruelty than even I had.

Well, I shall end here. I know it is brief, but I cannot even now ask for your forgiveness for all that has passed between us. All I can do is hand you this terrible weight and leave you to decide how you choose to carry it.

Your Father,

Alistair Tate, The Earl of Upperton.”

Isabella sighed, truly feeling that her father had passed her a great weight after all.

“Isabella, the responsibility for avenging your mother is not yours.” Elliot began and Crawford hurriedly agreed. “Neither is the punishment of your brother nor the fate and fortunes of the Upperton Estate. Your father should never have written those words.”

“I feel as you do, Elliot. I do not accept such a responsibility, but I do have another; one my father did not bother to mention.”

“And what is that?”

“The young woman who will one day be Anthony’s wife. She is powerless and she might be in great danger.”

“Yes, I had not thought,” Elliot said quietly. “The poor woman.”

“But are you sure he is still a danger? Perhaps she will be safe.” Crawford said cautiously.

“There is only one way to find out. I must speak to Anthony again.” Isabella sighed.

Chapter Four

Isabella shuddered as she walked in through the great doorway of Upperton Hall, a place she had not seen since she had driven away in her father’s carriage on the day of her marriage to Elliot Covington all those years before.

Elliot had insisted on accompanying her, saying he would not let her go without him. He had never attempted to disallow her anything before, and Isabella knew that he only did so now out of the purest love.

“But I must be allowed to speak with him alone. You must allow me that much.” She had been adamant.

“I shall wait right outside the door and listen. You need only call out and I will be with you.”

And he had done just that. They had arrived unannounced and Elliot had kept himself back, only moving from the entrance hall to stand outside the drawing-room door when the coast was clear.

The drawing room had barely changed in the six years since Isabella had last seen it. It was almost as if she had never been away at all, and the idea made her shudder.

“What ails you now, sister? Why are you here with your pasty face and look of concern?” Anthony said, seeming more amused by her presence than disquieted.

“I wanted to ask you a question.” She said and felt her insides almost shrink.

She knew that Elliot would save her in a heartbeat, but that was not what she feared. What Isabella truly feared was the answer to her question.

“And that is?”

“Do you miss our mother?”

“What?” Anthony’s eyes were wide.

“Do you miss her?”

“It has been six years!” He said and tipped his head back as he boomed with laughter.

“She was your mother, Anthony. Did you not love her at all? Had you never loved her?” Isabella, despite everything she knew about Anthony, felt tears of anguish fill her eyes.

She had wanted to see remorse. She had wanted to believe that Anthony was as much a victim of her father’s cruelty as she had been.

“For God’s sake, why are you crying? It was not you I shoved, after all, was it?” He went on gleefully.

“You seem to be enjoying this. It is as if you relish admitting it all, safe that I cannot prove a thing. But have you no regrets at all? Surely you can see how our father’s behavior has influenced you.”

“He was weak!” Anthony shouted and seemed annoyed at any attempt to suggest he was a product of his father’s upbringing.

“You have not answered my question.” She said as she dashed a tear from her eye. “Did you love our mother?”

“No.” He said firmly, all hint of amusement now gone. “Why should I have? She was nothing to me. She had no place in this house just as you had no place. She had served her purpose. She had provided an heir to the estate and that was it.”

“And you killed her for that?”

“You cannot prove that I did.”

“Yes, but is that why you killed her? Surely you must have had a better reason.”

“Why are you searching for meaning? And why are you searching for remorse?”

“Are you ashamed of your reason? Is that why you will not give it?” Isabella was determined to hear it all.

“I killed her to discover how it felt.” He said and his eyes shone with excitement.

“What?” Isabella said in a low, incredulous whisper.

“You heard me, I killed our mother to see how it felt to take a life. There was nothing more complicated to it than that, my dear.”

“And how did it feel?” Her hands were shaking and her throat was dry and raw.

“It was exquisite.” He said and she saw that the excitement in his eyes had not faded.

Isabella could see how they glazed and she knew he was reliving the whole thing, and it excited him.

“Exquisite?” She said in a strangled sob.

“To have absolute power over life and death is the very greatest power of them all. To stand at the top of a staircase and look at you own hand, knowing that you need only reach out to change everything. That moment…. Oh, that moment.”

“Anthony, that is vile. It is the vilest thing I have ever heard in my life.”

“Oh do stop whining.” He cleared his throat and seemed to return to normal. “You can never know that power and I pity you. It is a feeling like no other. Nothing else in the world will ever come close to that.”

“I cannot stay here. You cannot be helped.” She turned to leave.

“I do not wish to be helped. I do not need to be helped.” He laughed scornfully. “And do not think to return here Isabella, or I shall drag you to the ground by your hair, just as I did before.”

Isabella fled from the room and ran straight into her husband, who looked intent upon charging into the drawing room and beating Anthony for his threats.

Isabella held fast to Elliot’s arm, silently beseeching him to leave there and then, to come away with her and never return.

Chapter Five

By the time they had reached Coldwell Hall, Isabella was pale and utterly exhausted. She stared up the stairs and wondered if she had an ounce of energy left with which to propel herself forward.

Elliot, without a word, scooped her up into his arms and carried her easily up to their chamber as if she were no bigger than a child.

In that moment she was more grateful for her husband’s strength than she had ever been before and she knew she could not have managed her journey home without his loving arms around her.

“I do not think I will be able to sleep.” She said when he laid her gently onto their bed.

“Just try. I will be here with you, I shall not go anywhere.”

“No, you must not stay.”

“But why?”

“I need you to do something for me. Every moment we waste is a moment in which we risk the life of an innocent young woman.” She raised up onto her elbows. “Elliot, you did not see the look in his eyes. He enjoyed it. He killed our mother in cold blood and it excited him.”

“I could hear it in his voice. You do not know what it took for me to stand outside that room and do nothing.”

“I do. I know your heart and your courage, my love.”

“And I think as you do. He will kill again. Retelling your mother’s murder has given him a taste for it again and I think that his young wife is a walking target.”

“Yes. It might be tomorrow, or next week, or next year, but he will do it. He will find some way to feel that terrible power again and he will get away with it if we do not stop him. You must go to Crawford with the statement now. He will know how to proceed.”

“But you are my wife and I do not like to leave you.” He reached out to stroke her cheek.

“I know, but Kitty is here if I need her. And I am just drained, that is all. I am not in danger as that poor young woman is. I could not live with myself if we wasted this moment to her detriment.”

“I love you, Isabella. You are the bravest woman I have ever known.” He kissed her softly before turning to hurry from their chamber.

***
“And so, it is done.” Crawford Maguire said when the three of them took tea in the drawing room at Coldwell Hall just a week later. “The statement your father made has been taken in seriousness and his attorney confirmed that he not only witnessed his signature but the full content.”

“So, he did know.” Isabella said quietly.

“Yes, and no doubt that knowledge would have been the greatest burden had you never attended your father’s funeral, for he would have been bound to burn it, knowing that the new Earl had committed such an atrocity.” Crawford shook his head in wonder.

“But it is done now,” Elliot said reassuringly. “And Anthony is finally going to receive the justice he has so richly deserved.”

“Yes, and his fiancée is spared. At least until her father can find some other man she does not want to marry.” Isabella sighed.

“You saved her life, Isabella. Unfortunately, you cannot oversee that life now that it is saved.” Crawford smiled warmly at her.

“I hardly know what to do next. This whole business has dredged up so many dark feelings and memories.”

“But this time they can be put in their rightful place. There are no unresolved issues, no strings which need to be cut. It has been a long time coming, but the truth is known and justice will be served.”

“Yes, Elliot, you are right.”

“Of course I am.” He smiled at her. “Nobody knows better than I do how destructive it can be to live with memories and not work them out and lay them to rest. Do not let it be eighteen years before you make your peace with it as I did.”

“I am lucky to have you.”

“As I was to find you. In a way, had it not been for the selfish actions of your father, I would never have met you. I would still be here alone, hiding in my hawthorn tangled mansion with no hope of a life of happiness. I would have no daughter and no son. And I would not have the very finest friend that I have found in my own, beautiful wife.”

“They do say that things happen for a reason,” Crawford said with a mood-lightening laugh.

“I suppose we cannot always see the reasons, but we must just live with that.” Isabella sighed loudly.

“Yes, we must live with it.” Elliot said, and she knew he was thinking of his sister and mother, both lost to the senseless fire which ripped through the tower; the tower Elliot had torn down when Catherine had been born.

“I daresay we all have much to be grateful for; things to look forward to.” Crawford went on. “You have your own family, as I now have my dear wife. And you have your wonderful friends, especially dear Esme, and a place in the world.”

“I agree. It is time to sweep away the past and leave it in its rightful place. In the end, all we can do is live in love, be grateful, and raise our own children in kindness and caring. If my father could teach us anything, it is the importance of our own actions and opinions in the hearing and sight of our own children.”

“I do not think you need to worry, Isabella. Catherine and Oscar are fine children, raised in love and kindness by a wonderful mother.” Elliot stared into her eyes, his own green ones so beautiful to her.

“And by a wonderful father.” She said and blinked hard at the tears of emotion which threatened to fall.

THE END


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238 thoughts on “A Beauty for the Scarred Duke – Extended Epilogue”

  1. Love it I really like clean story’s like this. Looking forward to reading more of your books

  2. A very poignant and meaningful story, moving far beyond Romance to the potential greatness of Love.

  3. I enjoyed reading this very much. It was clean in all things with tender love and a great message.

  4. Couldn’t stop reading… what a beautiful story of the deeper things of life. Hope you will keep writing !!!

  5. I love having all the issues Solved and justice served. I also love that in the
    end “love conquers all” !

  6. Glad you wrote the extended version, it needed the last loose ends tied up, good triumphs and the evil brother was brought to justice.

  7. Enjoyed the book very much, couldn’t put it down. Thank you for showing there are more things a man and woman can do besides have sex, I love a well written clean romance.

  8. Bridget Barton does it again. A well written book with a great story line. A true love story with many facets to keep your interest and enjoyment at a peak.

  9. I love this story very much, could not stop reading.I felt as if I was with Isabella through out her journey. Also enjoyed the extended ending. Thank you

  10. Well written. Fear, worry,angst, confusion and attraction evenly paced, neither rushed nor overdone. Had to finish in one sitting! Loved the epilogue too.

  11. I usually skip through a story but I must say, I did not do it with this book. It was very well written and kept me engaged until the absolute end. And then BINGO, I get an extended ending! Well Done!

    1. I enjoyed this story so much. It was so beautifully told that it brought tears to my eyes.A very good author. I will enjoy more of your books.

  12. So well,written! I loved the love story itself but really appreciated the underlying messages of love and acceptance, focusing on things that really matter in life. Thanks for a nice clean story that I didn’t want to end!

  13. So very well written. Enjoyed the story very much. A read it till the end. And then extend to finish! I will read more of her stories!!!😇😇😇💖

  14. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Enjoyed the book and looking forward to reading more of your books.

  15. Couldn’t put it down. Had me from start to end. Loved the extended epilogue.

  16. Love the story when I started the book I couldn’t put it down.Thank you for the beautiful story.

  17. Really enjoyed this book. Painful at times. And joyful at times. I liked the characters. Will look at more stories from this author.

  18. Loved this book and so glad you did the extended epilogue! Couldn’t put this book down!! Love clean romances!

  19. Most men probably don’t read these kinds of books. I do prefer mysteries, but I grabbed this book just to see what it was like. I can tell you that I completely enjoyed it. And will, in all probability read another by this author. I especially liked the second ending.

  20. Like everything that I read from the other comments the story was very good. I enjoyed the characters and how the author had the extended ending. I will be reading node of her books. It was a great read. Very hard to put down.

  21. Like most women I want to know what happens after the story ends. The extended epilogue should be done more often. Was mesmerized by this story.Keep it coming. Jan

  22. What a beautiful story! From beginning to the Extended epilogue i was held captive. The story held all the complexities of our thoughts in relationships. The lessons on child rearing were insightful! I can’t wait to start a new book by this author.

  23. What a beautiful story! From beginning to the Extended epilogue i was held captive. The story held all the complexities of our thoughts in relationships. The lessons on child rearing were perfect! I can’t wait to start a new book by this author.

  24. I truly enjoyed this book. The story line was great. The heroine had just enough slunk for the time period and the hero showed strength and softnese at the same time. A good clean read. I will.br reading more of the author’s books.

  25. I so enjoyed this book. Very well written Shows love and respect from the heart no matter what situation you may encounter. I have read several of your books and enjoyed all them to the point I can’t put the book down till I’ve finished. Thank you

  26. I love it and especially the extended epilogue. I felt Elliot and Isabella pain and how heartfelt it was for both of them to say I love you. Your books have so much depth compare to other author’s romance. It says nobody has to be perfect to fall in love.

  27. Loved the extended epilogue. What a brilliant idea! Very well written story.

  28. Yes well we hope that they put Anthony away or hung him but….
    I thought a peer of the realm such as an Earl
    Couldn’t be prosecuted?but I am glad her father admitted his mistakes.

  29. A beautiful and touching novel. It goes to show that beauty is only in the eyes of the beholder and that if we look hard enough we will find beauu.

  30. A beautiful, and touching story that was very well written. I also enjoyed the extended epilogue that the author included. I have read all the authors books, and have enjoyed all of them! 5 Stars!!

  31. A beautiful story of love, cruelty, suffering, grieving, understanding, forgiveness and ‘happily ever after’ ending. I loved the extended epilogue. I love this talented author.

  32. I loved this story of love and that it was a clean read. Kept my interest throughout. It was hard to put down. I also enjoyed the epilogue.. Thank you for a well written book.

  33. So glad I discovered the epilogue, it helped with the story but I was wondering why the housekeeper etc were so mean to governesses and did they stay on. If so, why? Leaving that out left me a little disappointed in completing the story.

  34. I liked having a clean story for a change. It was very good. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Keep up the great stories.

  35. Oh I do love this story, so sweet and romantic but with substance and filled with real life. The author created a world full of loss and love that had me on the edge of my seat. Beautifully written.

  36. This was a fun story with an engaging set of characters. It was interesting to see how the author worked out the restoration of the Duke’s social exposure. I look forward to reading more books by Bridget Barton.

  37. Great read this is the best yet but then I say that after every novel Bridget writes would recommend this book to every one who likes regency romance . Norah

    1. I take one day to read this book. I couldn’t put it down. Well written and beautiful story. It makes you look at life again and accept what is thrown at you. And be grateful and kind. And always good to have a really good friend.

  38. I finished your last book in the middle of the night and just now finished this one – in one sitting. I really do like your books. The characters seem so real.

  39. Well written story. Kept me in suspense. Glad the extended episode brought a rightful judgement to Anthony. Looking forward to your next book.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the book, my dear Peggy. Thank you for the thought-provocative comments. I will keep them in mind for my future stories 🙂

  40. I enjoyed this book very much! Loved the story line, could not put it down once I started reading.

  41. Great story but cannot believe Isabella was such an idiot as to not recognize his goodness sooner.

  42. What an amazing story! I couldn’t put it down nor stop the tears and emotions from cascading out. The growth of the character’s were so real and one could really feel each feeling and perspective!

  43. Lovely story! Beautifully written! Kept my interest till the end. I thought sure Esme and Crawford would find each other but oh well. Loved the story anyway! Can’t wait to read more Bridget Barton books! Thanks for a wonderful clean romance!

  44. Loved it, loved it, loved it😁👍 Beautiful heartfelt story of friendship courage and love.

  45. 💞💞 This is my second time reading this book,,still touched my heart, beautiful story❤️

  46. Lived the story and the extended epilogue is a real bonus .. Keep up with the really well written page turning books

  47. What a wonderful story. I picked this as box set wanting to read something different. I love the plot and story line. Characters are well developed. I could not put it down. Simply marvelous. I was very happy with the way it ended, but always wondered why the earl was extremely sad at his wife’s funeral and why Anthony didn’t even want any attention from his nurse. Then came the extended epilogue and boy was it fantastic. It was longer than most, but extremely worth it. I loved it. Thank you for being such a wonderful writer and for sharing your talent. I have found a new author.

    1. I’m humbled, my dear!

      I’m really grateful for your support and kind feedback!

      I’m glad to hear that you enjoy my stories!

      Happy New Year 🙂

  48. Just read this story and I truly enjoyed it and glad to have had the extended epilogue. It was a great story of trust and learning to love and moving forward. Thank you for a lovely story.

  49. I really enjoyed this story! It was written so well and showed great depth of relationships, love and action. I enjoyed the epilogue to finish the unfinished pieces! Thank you for the good feelings I felt reading this.

  50. I loved this story! I’ve never really talked to anyone about a romance novel I was reading. This book stayed with me, and just like others, I didn’t want to put it down. I was eating lunch and just started sharing pieces of the story with my sister and told her I needed to go so I could finish! I just feel now finished the extended epilogue.

    Excellent story! Thank you for writing it.

    1. I just reread this book and epilogue and really enjoyed it. This first reading I did not have an opportunity to read the extended epilogue, this time I d id. I really liked the story line and characters. Love that grows between two good people is refreshi ng. Very well written. Thank you for completing the circle.

      1. Fantastic! Thank you so much for leaving a comment, my dear Susan!

        I deeply appreciate it. I’m so glad you enjoyed the story.

        Have a lovely day!

  51. I definitely liked the story and am glad that Eliza was able to reconcile with her family and let the past go. I admit to some curiosity about her brother and his wife. I am glad that Eliza was able to let David know she wanted him.

    In the book A Beauty for the Scarred Duke, I liked how Isabella went into Elliott’s bedroom and won his final commitment. (You go! Girl!)

    I wonder how a book about two young people being told to marry and suddenly confronted with each other would play out. Such a book could get the female and male viewpoints on how to deal with their pesky parents and the demands of society.

  52. I loved this epilogue and I love the book it was amazing I had so many twists and turns. What got me most was the love that developed between Isabella and Elliot and I’m so glad that what happened happened with them even though some parts but not as pleasant as others. And in the end everyone got just what they deserved. A must read book and it’s going on my list of books to be read again.

  53. Couldn’t put it down! As your story dwelt with so many different emotions that everyone faces in life, it proves that life can survive and be better. Thanks for the epilogue, I was shouting for joy.

  54. Wonderful, story of two unhappy people who come to discover a wonderful love despite a difficult beginning. I enjoyed reading the ups and downs of Isabella and Elliot and of the wonderful friends they each had to support them in their times of need.Thanks for the epilogue to show how love and justice prevail in the end . A must read book!!!

  55. I have loved every one of your books. This one was sad and happy throughout. After we were introduced to Elliott, I was certain that Esme and Crawford would eventually become a married couple. But you surprised me. Please keep writing because I have now read 14 of your novels and do not want to reach the end of the list before I get too old to see!!! Thank you.

  56. As Isabella’s character showed the way women could be treated when unscrupulous fathers made choices for them for hundreds of years when women were their property, it makes us thankful for our freedoms today, but also shows us that good things can come from bad situations. It highlighted the blessing of true friendships and the majestic power of love. Love came softly with lots of patience and fortitude, kindness and humility, and courage! Glad Anthony’s evil was stopped. Keep writing. You are very gifted!

  57. I absolutely loved both the book as well as both epilogues. It takes a good woman to bring a proud but good man back from the brink. Well written and will probably read it again.

  58. Once again, a moving, intriguing, story with many twists and turns. I’m always amazed at how little control women had over their lives especially in respect to marriage. It was lovely to see Isabella and Elliot feelings develop that they ended up having a beautiful family and friends and the happiness that deserved. The extended epilogue was outstanding because it showed her father had regrets and did them right thing. So happy to see Anthony would get what he deserved because he was so sure that he could never be punished for what he did. I look forward to reading more of your books!

  59. I absolutely LOVED this book. It touched a soft spot in me that goes back to a friend in high school. Elliot and Isabella both deserved happiness and got it.Thank you so very much Bridget for allowing me to read this extended epilogue. It was absolutely perfect. I intend to purchase this book in print with the extended epilogue as it is now one of my favorites.

    1. Aww you’re so sweet, my dear Christy! Thank you very very much for your amazing words! They are so touching! For now, my books are available only in digital format but in case that changes I will let you know. 🙂

  60. I really enjoyed the story. The insights you shared about character were priceless.

  61. I really enjoyed this book. Isabella and Elliot made an interesting couple. Her fainting at the altar was priceless! The slow pace of the development of their relationship was realistic. Loved the story and the epilogue. Couldn’t put this book down.

  62. What a truly beautiful love story with a great lesson on looking at the heart of a person rather than the outward appearance. Uplifting & timeless. Thank you.

  63. The story of Isabelle and Elliot was very different start to the story because her Father sold her to the Duke for money than when she married Elliot she fainted from his scared face but it had plenty of twists and turns setbacks but her friend would not give up her help in greating her husband into society all the other characters I loved but not her brother felt sorry for her Father in the end but her brother got what he deserved you should be very with this book if I could give 5 stars I would thanks.

  64. A great story with strong characters. Esme was a great support to Isabella throughout the troubles with her father, and with her encouragement for Isabella to open her heart up to Elliott.

  65. Thank you for sending the epilogue. The story was even more enriched by seeing justice finally served. This book was amazing… One of the finest clean Recency books I have read. The developing relationship in their lives was a beautiful thing to behold. And your writing was so skilled I saw it all.

  66. A trully amazing book. Various emotions, learning to love a person because of how they are, not how they look. But so much more is going on. This is not a book a reader can easily put down to finish later.

  67. Wonderful story. Loved the characters. You wrote such real people. So much love. Thank you for writing it.

  68. I have enjoyed two of your stories but extended epilogues will not download to my Kindle which is disheartening.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that, my dear Joan. Unfortunately, you can’t read this on your Kindle because it is my gift to my readers, so it can only be found on my webste. However, you can read it on any portable device of your choosing, through the website and on your desktop. I hope this helps.:)

  69. A wonderful story, with great characters, as others have commented it was not all about sex. I read constantly and this is story I would recommend to others.

  70. What a wonderful book and the extended epilogue….really closed the story out.
    You are an outstanding writer and I want to thank you for sharing your talent with us….🐼

  71. I started my love of books with historical romances and over the years I have hits and misses but I can truly say this book is a hit in league with my favorite historical Arthur Kathleen Woodiwiss , I own every book she has published after reading your book I can’t wait to read and own all of yours. thank you for a fantastic read from start to finish.

  72. Enjoyed the story but why did Elliot go to being Elliott in the extended version? Is it possible to correct that in a digital version?
    Kind regards
    Lesley

  73. Enjoyed the story, as I have done with the other six or so books I and my sister have read which have been written by you. Only one problem. Following the epilogue you always have a few chapters of another book and when I get to the end of it I have to go on-line to buy it.

    Good marketing strategy.

  74. Through tragedy on both sides a love story was born. It was beautifully written and very thorough to keep the reader engrossed in the plot. Thank you ever so much for a great love story!

  75. What a great story Bridget. I enjoyed reading this book and many of your books, l must say. I loved how Isabella endured with the help of Kitty. She was able to fall in love with her husband Elliott regardless of his scars
    Esme was wonderful and a trustworthy friend who stood by her friend through thick and thin.

  76. Isabella was a kind hearted person who was raised by a tyrant. Her friend Esme was her support system throughout her struggles both st home and in her marriage to her scarred husband Elliott. Kitty was such a mother and counselor to Isabella, something she grew up without from her mother.
    It was a great love story and l liked her decision in the extended Epilogue.
    I enjoy reading your books Bridget.

  77. Oh my, this is a story I will never forget. Such wonderful characters. Thank you Bridget for your awesome story telling.

  78. I loved the theme of this story but I felt it was cold because there was no hint of sexual desire between these two. I will not be reading any more of your books. I looked forward to them making love for the first time. No heated looks etc. Didnt have to be graphic but the story lacked passion which i love.

    1. Hello, my dear Maryann. Thank you so much for your honest feedback. I only write clean romance books, so that’s why they don’t include any steamy scenes.

  79. Very well written with believable characters . I loved the extended epilogue that provided closure on the murder of Isabel’s mother. Engrossing to the very end!

  80. The troubles that are being put on two people will have a difficult time being resolved till love can over come all. Thanks for the extra epilogue to resolve the story.

  81. You are such a skilled and wonderful writer Bridget. What a sad and yet still wondrous story this novel is. It touched my heart deeply and I am so pleased to have read it. As a child I personally saw how cruel people can be to someone who is different and both my sister and I felt the lash of nastiness. This story should be read by all, with the hope that your highly intelligent way of writing can show others how awful bullies are, indeed, even those who are cruel! Loved it, loved it and again, loved it and thankyou so much. 🌺

  82. A beautiful book, I read it in one sitting . I am going to read another of your books ASAP! Thanks for writing wholesome, clean love stories, with such well developed characters.

  83. Spent two of the most pleasant days enjoying your story. With our covid seclusion I only wished it went on forever. Thank you for being such a gifted writer. 💗

  84. For an author to write a story like this with such insight to the characters feelings, she must have these marvelous qualities herself. I have so enjoyed living this story and I am wishing I could have the ability to express my thoughts in such a clear and thoughtful way. Thank you for your expertise in allowing your readers to feel part of this story.

  85. Enjoyed this book very much. Love is in the heart, not in eyes which only see the surface.

  86. A really beautiful story enjoyed every page and the Extended Epilogue was the perfect finish to the story. I shall be looking forward to reading more of your books. An excellent author, thank you most enjoyable xxx

  87. Would make a wonderful play or musical on Broadway! Perhaps you will write sequels to this story about Catherine and Oscar, Esme and her husband, Crawford and his wife (and children?), or even more interesting (although it is not the foder of romances) the arrest, trial, and conviction of Anthony and the knife edged escape of death of his fiance.

    I am going on to read your other books now and looking forward to more heartwrenching yet joyful stories.

    Best Wishes
    p.s. I too am an author and my novels and poetry is available in paperback and kendel on Amazon.

  88. I don’t know the words to express the emotions I went through after and during Isabella and Elliot’s love story.
    I enjoyed your story immensely and it has stayed with me for days. I too, like Isabella fell in love with Elliot and must admit had a real tender feeling for his caring best friend who stuck with him in his desolation.
    You are a genius and a great writer – thank you

  89. What a wonderful book! so beautifully written! i was so engrossed, couldn’t put down the book. I felt like i was right there. I went through all the emotions along with the characters! Such a clean romance. Not going to ever forget this book or the author. Going to read another one of your books ASAP! Thank you Bridget!!

  90. Thoroughly enjoyed this book. The emotional ups & downs between Isabella & Elliot were so heartfelt & heart breaking. Had me in tears several times. Glad Isabella had such a good friend in Esme who could help her through her crises. Elliot was fortunate to have Crawford & Kitty. These three characters also helped make the story. Wish there had been just a little more romance at the end prior to the epilogue. Greatly appreciate the epilogue & extended epilogue. Wish more authors did this. Will definitely recommend this book to friends.

  91. I have just read this story again, the first time I did not have access to the extended epilogues and I loved the story yet again, I felt tears in my eyes when reading parts of the story, please carrying on writing

  92. This was such a good story I could not put it down! I was really drawn into the story by the characters and and plot and I highly recommend it. I even highlighted a few wise words in the book- something that I don’t usually find in a romance novel. Thank you so much for sharing this story with us.

  93. WOW!!! One scared on the outside. One scared on the inside. Both with extremely good, honest friends. This book is inspiring, insightful, intriguing. It is sad that grief and suffering can last so long. It is gracious to find that true love can be a powerful healer. Like another reader, I would have liked a bit more romance at the end before the epilogue. It seemed to end too abruptly. Just my preference. This story is a gem!
    Reading has been a great distraction from COVID.

  94. I loved the descriptive emotions throughout the book along with the intriguing bits of mystery. It kept me reading. I agree with Vivian about the ending, though. Thank you so much for a clean, well-written book. I look forward to reading more!

  95. I loved this story and especially knowing her brother got his comeuppence. I am glad I am able to get the extended epilog with your stories. I am just beginning to read your stories and look forward to more of them.

  96. I
    I read this on November 22 2020 during the pandemic It made me feel so much love and happiness in these terriBle times.
    thank you so much for writing this book
    . I’m going to read all your books. Happy New Year to you and your family. Grace

  97. It’s 4am and I loved every word,I felt as if I was in the story and I had to stay awake just to read the next line. WOW, what a great book!! I truly enjoyed every word!

  98. An excellent story that I could not stop reading. Great, warm, intriguing characters. Loved it.

  99. I really loved this book! It is my favorite one of all the B. Barton I have read. I will say when I read the extended epilogue where the son was named Oscar, my first thought was “Oh, no! They named him after a hotdog!” Sorry, that was Bill Murray’s line in Ghost Busters. I thought that was the funniest line Bill Murray ever said and I can’t help thinking of it when I see the name Oscar. I regress here. The characters in this book were so real to me. Elliott was not the only person with scars to contend with. I found this book hard to put down. So I didn’t get angry done around my house until I finished the book. Once again thanks to the author for a beautiful clean story. Sally 😊

  100. This story is also my favorite! I just read it for the second time and enjoyed it just as much.

  101. I reaCame across it again and couldn’t resist. I enjoyed it the first time and if anything enjoyed it more this time. Bridget Barton is one of mu favorite authors. She writes stories with interesting plots that have a twist as well as characters you can admire. Kudos Ms Narton

  102. Oh my goodness! I’m so stunned at how well planned, thought out, and written this is. All your stories I’ve read so far are absolutely amazing and I find it so hard to put my phone down to do laundry and dishes. Lol. I’m too excited to read each section. I usually end up reading for a couple hours each night, till I start falling asleep.

    You are definitely my favorite author. And I’m definitely handing these stories down to my 14 year old. She’ll love these as much as I do.
    Thank you so much for the immense efforts and thoughts and planning you put into each storyline, plot, characters, etc. It is so very worth it.

  103. This aS one of the most intriguing books I hAve read. One I began reading I could not put the book down. This aS BeAutiful story of love and acceptance of others. This is a message our world needs today because folks want to look on the surface and quickly judge others rather than getting to know and understand them. Thanks for such a wonderful story.

  104. I have read this book 2 times and it was just as good as the first time.well written and the character s were great. So good the ending, wrong doesn’t win ever .Thank you for all the pleasure you give us in these hard times .

  105. Thoroughly enjoyed this enthralling poignant Romance You have given your readers another captivating Novella Happy to have found this one.

  106. You hit it out of the ballpark on this one!! Such of moving story! You really got into the heads of the characters! I found myself falling in love with Elliot! It’s hard to imagine there are people as thoroughly evil as Anthony but there’s plenty of them in our time!! Loved the book!!

  107. Dearest Bridget,I believe this is my favorite of all your books I have read so far! I was unable to put it down! Seriously an emotionally charged story! You wove all the details in such a realistic and believable way, of course knowing historically for it being realistic regarding how women were treated as lower class citizens. I was on tenterhooks waiting for the final outcome in the extended epilogue! Well done! Fabulous writing! Thanks!

    1. Dear Jana, I’m thrilled you enjoyed the book! Your kind words mean a lot. Crafting realistic stories is my passion, and I’m delighted you were hooked until the end. Thank you for your wonderful support!

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