Kind Ella and the Charming Duke – Extended Epilogue

Chapter One

“My dear, what a beautiful child she is growing up to be. What is she now? Two, three?” Lady Brightwell said as she and the Duchess of Hillington awaited their tea tray in the drawing room.

“Phoebe will soon be three, and I can hardly believe it. Really, it seems like just minutes since I first came here to Hillington.” Ella laughed as she watched her daughter scampering around the room. “And fear not, as soon as the tea tray arrives, the maid is going to take Phoebe back to her nurse.”

“Oh no, what a shame,” Lady Brightwell said genuinely.

“You think that now, my dear Constance, but Phoebe starts off very well. She is all shy smiles for the first ten minutes, and then, when she is accustomed to her new company, she climbs all over them like a monkey and becomes quite unruly. I am afraid she is a very spirited little girl.”

“And if she is spirited, my dear, then I can only state that she has followed in her mother’s footsteps.” Both women laughed as the maid entered the room with the tea tray.

The moment that the maid was gone and Ella was pouring tea for the both of them, Lady Brightwell smoothed down her gown and began to speak.

“My dear, how is Violet?”

“Almost ready to have that child now, I do believe.” Ella laughed. “And what a fine mother she will be.”

“I have no doubt; I have always thought her the cleverest woman, very resourceful,” Lady Brightwell said, her approval obvious.

“I could not have done without her when Phoebe was first born.”

“And I have no doubt that Violet will not be able to do without you when her first child finally comes.” Lady Brightwell smiled warmly. “But that is what friends are for, are they not? And tell me, how is that fine husband of hers doing?”

“Rufus tells me that he is the most efficient overseer that the Duchy of Hillington has ever known. And he said he could see it from the very first. Rufus knew as soon as he had given William the position that he would take to it as a duck takes to water. And he works very well with Henry.”

“I am sure that he is a great help to Henry, the old dear.” Lady Brightwell smiled. “But when is that dear gent going to retire? He looks almost as old as Hillington Hall itself.”

“Rufus has tried to furnish him with a great pension more than once, but Henry seems determined to keep working. I think he still suffers a great deal of guilt, even all these years later.”

“When a good man falls, he falls very hard indeed. But I am glad that Rufus chose to forgive him for his little betrayal all those years ago. He is just like his father in that regard, most understanding and sympathetic.”

“Yes, and I count myself very lucky to have such a fine husband.”

“As he must count himself lucky to have such a fine wife,” Lady Brightwell said with a bright smile. “I never tire of hearing how he climbed out upon that ledge so high above the ground to have you climb out of the window. Really, to date, it is still the most exciting tale I have ever heard.”

“Dandridge Hall seems like such a long time ago now. It is almost as if it never existed, and yet I remember every twist and turn of its dark corridors and its dreadful atmosphere.”

“There is gossip abroad that things do not go well there this last year since Lady Patience and Lady Georgiana were married away,” Lady Brightwell spoke cautiously, tentatively.

“Well, I am sure that it is no surprise to me,” Ella said and feigned indifference.

“But are you not curious to hear the gossip?”

“I have no doubt that my mother is not at all happy in her position. But you see, my dear Constance, my mother has never been happy in any position. She is truly the most dissatisfied creature on God’s earth, and if she is low in spirits, it is because she always is. Her expectations were always so very high, you see, most unattainable in their extravagance.”

“I do not think it simply a case of her own poor humour, my dear,” Lady Brightwell said quietly. “But rather a case of the Earl of Dandridge’s inherent cruelty. It was long known how dreadfully he treated his first wife.”

“Yes, and it was well known to my mother before she married him. I cannot tell you how I begged and begged her not to do it. She was well provided for, and we would both have been quite content at Longton Manor.”

“But seen in the right light, my dear, you would not be where you are today had your mother not chosen to marry the Earl.” Lady Brightwell was still cautious. “For you would never have met Rufus, and he would never have had cause to save you and fall in love with you. Everything happens for a reason, even the terrible things sometimes.”

“Yes, there is much in what you say, Constance,” Ella said quietly, keen not to hurt her dear friend’s feelings.

And it was true that Ella’s anger at her mother had lessened in the five years since she had last seen her. She remembered well their final conversation and how she had told her mother that she would leave that place and never see her again. She remembered well how she had told Ariadne Belville that she had made a grave mistake, and she would live a miserable life and come to regret her treatment of her only daughter.

And she had no doubt that everything she had said to her mother in that final conversation had come to pass. But perhaps it had come to pass with more pain and anguish than she had ever imagined.

Chapter Two

“Violet, for heaven’s sake, I have never seen a young lady look so heavy with child,” Ella said and laughed as she untied the ribbons of her bonnet. “No, do not stand up. And I have asked Jenny to bring us some tea, so you need not worry about that either. You must rest, my dear, for I remember well how exhausting this phase of it all is.”

“Ella, I cannot believe how tired I am,” Violet said and patted the seat on the couch so that her friend and one-time mistress might sit next to her.

From the moment that Violet and William had come to work on the Hillington estate, leaving Dandridge far behind them, Violet had been much more of a friend and companion to Ella than her intended position of lady’s maid.

For the most part, Ella simply got herself ready as Violet sat on the little stool by the dressing table and chattered happily. Ever since Violet had put herself at risk in seeking to have her rescued, Ella had not been able to treat her as anything other than a friend; an equal.

And when Rufus had made William the Duchy overseer, shortly after William and Violet had married three years before, Ella had been delighted.

The newlyweds had been installed in the Lodge on the grounds of the estate, as was proper for a Duchy overseer and his wife. But Violet had made her way over to the hall every morning, keen to spend as much of every day with Ella as possible, especially when Phoebe was first born.

“But you will know when you are getting closer, my dear, for you will find a most unusual spurt of energy overtakes you.”

“Yes, I remember well how you used to tear about Hillington Hall in the fortnight before Phoebe was born. Well, at least I will know what to expect.” Violet laughed.

Jenny, the maid at William and Violet’s Lodge, made her way in with a fully laden tea tray. There was not only tea but a great plate of very pretty looking cakes.

“I say, Jenny, did you make these?” Ella said as she peered at the cakes hungrily.

“Yes, Your Grace,” Jenny replied and curtsied.

“They look wonderful,” Ella said enthusiastically. “What a clever girl you are.”

“Thank you, Your Grace,” Jenny answered and curtsied again before turning to leave the two women.

“I might take a little cake first before I pour the tea,” Ella said and quickly reached for one of them.

“I will pour the tea,” Violet objected.

“No, you will stay right where you are and rest,” Ella said in her bossiest tone. “And tell me what news you have, for you always have news.”

“I am afraid that I do have news, Ella,” Violet said in a voice that made Ella instantly concerned.

“Afraid?”

“Mrs Wesley came to visit me a few days ago, you remember? She is the housekeeper at Dandridge.”

“Good heavens, I had no idea that you and Mrs Wesley were friends. As I remember it, she was always something of a tyrant as far as you were concerned.”

“Indeed, she was, Ella. Many was the day I hid from that woman, I can tell you.”

“And yet she has come to visit you here?”

“Yes, and she does not seem at all frightening anymore.” Violet laughed. “In fact, she seemed more frightened than frightening.”

“Frightened?”

“I will not dance about the issue, Ella, I will just tell you straight. Mrs Wesley came to see me with the sole purpose of telling me how badly things go at Dandridge Hall. She says that your mother suffers a good deal, and I think she is afraid for her. I know there is something that she was not telling me, but I could see the old fear in her eyes. As with all the servants at Dandridge, she still does not know who she can and cannot trust. But I do think that something horrible must have happened there for her to come to me in such a state.”

“But she would not say what it was?”

“No, only that your mother suffers, and has suffered more and more since the Earl’s daughters were married away.”

“I must admit that Lady Brightwell has told me something similar, some other piece of gossip that she has heard, so I can only believe it is true. And it is easy to believe, is it not?”

“I hope that I have not distressed you by telling you, but I could not keep it to myself.”

“I know, Violet, and I would not have expected you to keep it to yourself,” she said and patted Violet’s hand. “Now, let me pour this tea.”

Ella had kept the conversation light from that moment onwards, not wanting to distress her pregnant friend any more than she seemed to be already.

But when she returned home later that day, she quickly sought Rufus out. She told him what Lady Brightwell had told her and then she told him of the visitor to Violet at the Lodge.

“I think it is a tale that can easily be believed,” Rufus said and rose from his seat in the drawing room to sit next to his wife on the couch and pull her into his arms. “And I think that we must surely do something about it.”

“You know how my mother treated me, Rufus.”

“I do, and I shall never forgive her for it.” He kissed the top of her head. “But I do not want you to find yourself in a position of not being able to forgive yourself for the rest of your life if you do not at least try to help.”

“I do not see how I can help,” Ella said and shrugged.

“We must get her out of there,” Rufus said as if it were the simplest thing in the world.

“The Earl is her husband, and he will not let her go. And there is nothing that you or I can do to make him, nothing at all. The law is on his side, however appalling a human being he is.”

“Then he should put her out to live at Longton Manor, surely? It is not uncommon for husbands and wives who do not get on to live in separate houses. Especially if he cannot bear to be in her company. Has Longton Manor not been empty since you and your mother left all those years ago?”

“Not only is it empty, but it is dreadfully overgrown. It is a most sorry looking place these days,” Ella said sadly. “But he will never agree to it, Rufus. Even if you begged him to let her live there, he would refuse it simply as a way of getting back at you.”

“Let me think about it, my dear.” Rufus kissed her again. “Let me put my mind to it, and perhaps I might find myself as clever as Violet and be able to come up with a real plan.”

“Thank you, my darling.”

Chapter Three

The Countess of Dandridge sat in the chair by the window in her chamber and stared mournfully out at the immaculate and immense lawns of the grounds of her husband’s great estate.

How impressed she had been with it all when she had first seen it. When the Earl of Dandridge, so keen to court her, had led her by the hand around the lawns and the rose gardens, how well she had seen herself as mistress of that estate.

What a far cry from the young and frightened governess, desperate and humiliated by her father’s fall from grace and loss of wealth, alone in a house of strangers who treated her almost as if she were one of the servants.

The feeling of her reduced circumstances had never left her, even when Winston Winfield had fallen in love with her and proposed marriage, turning her from governess to Baroness in the blink of an eye. Oh, and how he had loved her.

If only his love had been enough to overcome the fear. If only his small estate at Longton had been a little better kept, a little less wild, then she might have settled down more than she had.

As every day passed, Ariadne Winfield had feared that her husband’s casual approach to life and aristocracy would render him one day as low and as ruined as her father had been. And then what would become of her?

And on the day that he had died, that fear had not released her. She knew that she had Longton and that she and young Ella would have managed. But what if something happened? What if it was not enough?

She had beseeched Winston to find a suitable man, a man of standing, a man of title, to marry Ella. At least then Ariadne would have been safe, whatever would have happened.

If her husband had listened to her and married Ella away to an Earl or even just a Baron of better standing than Winston, Ariadne might have been able to settle. But still, the fear hung all around her.

And so it was that when Ronald Belville, the Earl of Dandridge, began to pay his addresses long before her period of mourning was up, Ariadne decided that she would not turn him away.

He was not an attractive man to her, not handsome in his manners or appearance, but he was the most wealthy and powerful man to ever have looked her way and, as far as Ariadne was concerned, that meant more to her than love and attraction ever would. Safety was everything.

And how long it had taken her to realize that she was not safe.

Ella had begged her, over and over again, to keep to Longton Manor and away from the Earl whose reputation was so very poor.

But Ariadne had not listened. To Ariadne, the Earl represented wealth, status, and position. He represented everything that she wanted, and she would have it, come what may.

In the five years since Ella had escaped from Dandridge Hall, Ronald had become increasingly aggressive towards Ariadne. At least, in the beginning, he had found her so attractive that she could use her wiles upon him. But as time had gone on, he had tired of her, just as Ella had told her he would.

Everything that Ella had said in that last dreadful conversation had come to pass. And she could never have realized at the time just how forcefully it would occur.

Ronald had blamed her for Ella’s escape, insanely suspecting her of having a hand in it. And he had blamed her that her brazen daughter, as he called her, had eloped to Scotland and married the Duke who ought really to have married one of his own daughters.

But Ella had been right, a man as calm and as cultured as the Duke of Hillington would never have married one of the Earl of Dandridge’s brats.

And their behaviour had deteriorated the moment they realized that neither one of them would be a Duchess. Not only that, but they too blamed their stepmother. After all, it was her own awful offspring who had ruined everything.

In the last five years, Ariadne had had much time to contemplate her mistakes. She had been forced to look deep within herself, to find the reasons why she had behaved so very badly.

Such introspection was painful, and yet, as every lonely day went by, and she was forced to keep to her own chamber to take her meals, she realized with awful clarity exactly how it was her only daughter must have felt. As awful as the company would have been, the forced solitude was worse.

And she had done that to her own daughter.

She had made things worse for her, had stood by when that brute of a husband had beaten her and imprisoned her, and yet still she had thought of nothing but herself. Still, she had worried how her daughter’s behaviour would affect Ariadne herself.

In fact, it was not until her husband had beaten her for the very first time that she began to realize what a truly dreadful thing she had allowed to happen to her daughter.

And years of injury and fear and solitude had forced Ariadne to face the one thing she had always been afraid to look at; her own frightened, selfish character.

Chapter Four

“I knew you would get a spurt of energy, Violet! Did I not say that you would?” Ella said and laughed as she handed Violet a plate of the sandwiches that she could not reach over her own swollen belly. “I can hardly believe that you have walked all the way here this morning from the Lodge!”

“It is but five minutes, Ella.” Violet laughed as she took the plate. “But I must say, it has made me extremely hungry.” She immediately tucked into the sandwiches.

“I thought I might find the two of you in here,” Rufus said as he strode into the drawing room at Hillington Hall. “I thought I could hear raucous feminine laughter.”

“There is nothing raucous about us, Rufus,” Ella said and laughed. “And if you want tea, you will have to send down for another cup and saucer.”

“No, I do not want tea,” he said, settling himself down in his favourite armchair. “But I will take one of these little sandwiches, if I may,” he said, helping himself.

“I must say, you look extraordinarily pleased with yourself, husband,” Ella said suspiciously. “Tell me, what is the cause?”

“You read me like a book, Ella.” He laughed and turned to Violet. “Really, I can get away with nothing. I have only to squint my eyes and my wife knows what I am thinking.”

“Rufus!” Ella said in mock exasperation. “Whatever it is, say it. I know that you have come in here and disrupted us to part with some information or other.”

“How right you are,” Rufus said and quickly finished his sandwich. “And I do have something to tell you.”

“So?” Ella went on impatiently.

“I have tracked down Snaresbrook,” Rufus said triumphantly.

“What is Snaresbrook?” Ella said quizzically.

“Not what, who.” Rufus grinned. “Do you really not remember that name?”

“No, I do not,” Ella said and shook her head.

“I do,” Violet said and did what she could to sit up straighter. “Remember, Ella? The Earl told Mr Mercer that day that he wished he had not employed Snaresbrook to waylay His Grace on his way to Mortcombe Hall. Remember? He wished he had used Proctor instead because Proctor was much more rotten.”

“Good heavens, yes, of course,” Ella said and felt a little uneasy. Surely this had something to do with her mother and her plight. “But where on earth did you find the man?”

“In a tavern, counting out his last pennies in the world for a drink.”

“Oh dear, he is a drunkard then?”

“A very determined one.” Rufus laughed. “But that seemed to work in my favour.”

“How so?”

“Because it was a very easy thing for me to persuade him to sign a little statement as to what had happened all those years ago. For the sake of another drink, old Snaresbrook was prepared to admit that the Earl of Dandridge had employed him to perform a staged robbery on the Duke of Hillington, no less.”

“But what will you do with this statement?” Ella said with grave concern. “If you take it to a magistrate, my dear Rufus, then will you not be putting poor old Henry in a dreadful position?”

“No, because Snaresbrook knows nothing of Henry Mercer at all. The Earl approached him on his own and paid him handsomely. There was never any mention of Henry Mercer.”

“But really, what if the Earl tells the magistrate about Henry’s involvement?”

“Firstly, the whole thing was Henry’s idea.” Rufus shrugged. “Since I seemed to be unable to come up with a clever plan of my own.” He laughed. “And secondly, I do not intend to take this statement to a magistrate. I intend to take it straight to the Earl of Dandridge himself and threaten that I will take it to a magistrate.”

“I see, so you mean to tell him to install my mother at Longton Manor and leave her alone or you will go to a magistrate with what you know?”

“That is precisely it, my dear.”

“But what if he dares you to go ahead?”

“If he dares me to go ahead, there will be little point in me doing so. It will be clear that he will not let your mother go, even at the price of his own reputation. But I know men like Dandridge; I know their egos and their pretense at scandal-free lives. I will take William with me, and we will put a good deal of pressure to bear on that rotten man.”

“Yes, William will be very persuasive,” Violet said and seemed entirely unconcerned that her husband would be involved. “And I am sure that he would relish the idea to put the frighteners on his old master. The Earl was rotten to all of his staff, William included.”

“Yes, William has already said as much himself.” Rufus laughed. “And I must admit to being greatly relieved that he has agreed to join me in my endeavour.”

“And you are sure that Henry does not mind? And you are sure that you will do nothing to put Henry’s reputation in jeopardy?”

“You must stop worrying about Henry, Ella. He is a dear friend, and I would never do anything to hurt him.”

“Because, as worried as I am about my mother, I know Henry Mercer to be a better person. If it comes to it, and one of them is to be saved, then let it be Henry.”

“I will,” Rufus said quietly. “And I know what it costs you to say such a thing.”

Chapter Five

As Ella approached the rusting iron gates of Longton Manor, her mouth went dry. She had insisted upon making the journey alone, even when Violet, a brand-new mother, had insisted on going with her.

And Rufus, ever her friend as well as her husband, had acceded to her wishes, keeping himself in the carriage just outside the tiny Longton estate.

Ella walked slowly along the gravel driveway, setting foot on her old family estate for the first time in years. She had seen it vaguely now and again, from a little distance, unable to stop herself peering in its direction whenever she passed. But she had never walked on that ground from the day that her mother had married the Earl of Dandridge. It no longer belonged to her and her dear father, but to that dreadful, evil man.

Ella had always liked the wildness of the grounds, the little shrubs that had sprouted here and there and the great climbing, clambering roses and rhododendrons. But everywhere was overgrown now, and she could hardly recognize the magical wilderness that had once existed. Instead, she could just see dereliction.

By the time she reached the front door, Mrs Wesley, the old housekeeper at Dandridge Hall, was standing at the top of the steps.

“Mrs Wesley, you are here?”

“I have attended the Countess these last years, Your Grace, and my master decided that he could very easily do without me at the hall.”

“Then I can only say that I am very pleased for you, my dear, for the hall at Dandridge must have been a most uncomfortable place these last years.”

“Indeed, it was, Your Grace. And forgive me, but I am waiting here for you so that I might warn you beforehand that your mother is greatly changed since you last saw her.”

“I suppose I had expected it, for five years have passed.”

“Five very hard years, your Grace,” Mrs Wesley said significantly.

When Ella walked alone into the drawing room, it was to see her mother standing looking out of one the windows, her back to her daughter.

“Mama?” Ella said gently and slowly, very slowly, the Countess of Dandridge turned to face her.

Ella almost gasped, her mother seemed to have aged twenty years since she had last seen her. There were deep lines on her face and her hair, although neat, had become very faded and grey.

“Ella, I did not think that you would come,” she said in a voice that was a shadow of its former self.

Ariadne Belville began to walk towards her daughter, limping very badly. Ella looked down and realized that her mother had a stick, a very simple walking stick, and she leaned heavily upon it.

“What did he do?” Ella said, not taking her eyes from her mother as she slowly lowered herself into the old armchair that had once been Baron Winfield’s favourite.

“You were right, my dear. The Earl of Dandridge found it very easy to throw me down the stairs, just as he had promised to do to you. I now see that he was not lying, not issuing empty threats.”

“Oh, my goodness, he threw you down the stairs? He meant to kill you?”

“Yes, and he was most distressed to find that I had not died.”

“Mama, I am so very sorry.” Ella, overcome with emotions she had not expected to feel, dashed across the drawing room and dropped to her knees in front of her mother, laying her head on her mother’s lap.

“You have nothing to be sorry for, my dear child. I have had five long years to think about everything that you said to me, every piece of advice you gave me, and every heart filled plea you made, and I have come to know myself for the monster that I was.” Ariadne gently patted her daughter’s gleaming dark hair. “And it is I who am sorry, Ella. I am sorry that we ever left this place, this wonderful home of ours. I am sorry that I never saw Longton Manor for what it was and your father for the fine man he truly always had been.”

“No, I am sorry for what I said that day. That last day at Dandridge,” Ella said as tears rolled down her face. “I should never have said that you were condemned to a miserable life and that you deserved it. Nobody deserves what you have been through, Mama. And so, I do need to seek your forgiveness.”

“You do not, but you shall have it if it makes you feel better,” Ariadne said as her voice too cracked with emotion.

“I still miss Papa,” Ella said miserably.

“You may not believe me, but I have come to miss him too. I have come to see what I failed to see for so many years. But one day, I will explain it all out to you. Not so that you will feel sorry for me or forgive me the dreadful things that I did. But just so that you will understand; you will have the explanation that you have deserved for many long years.”

“There is more than enough time for that, Mama,” Ella said and sat back on her haunches, finally drying her tears with a handkerchief. “But first we must start to get to know one another again.”

“I think we must get to know one another for the first time, Ella, do you not?” Ariadne smiled at her with serenity and warmth that Ella had never seen before.

Something had changed in her mother, something very vital and profound. It was as if she was speaking to the mother she had always wished for.

“I am certainly willing to try. I promise you that I will be no stranger to Longton Manor in the coming years. And neither will my daughter, your granddaughter. As soon as you and I have solved every difference between us, you will come to know Phoebe too.”

“I had never thought that I would be free from Dandridge Hall, and I do not know where to begin thanking you and your husband. But I will find a way to make things right, my dear girl; I hope you will believe me.”

“Of course, I believe you,” Ella said and took Ariadne’s hands in her own. “You are my mother, after all.”

THE END


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127 thoughts on “Kind Ella and the Charming Duke – Extended Epilogue”

  1. Omg i was smitten with these characters right from the beginning! I loved this book, cant wait to read more of your books. ❤❤❤📚📖📙

    1. Yes
      this was an un-put-downable book. I really loved all the characters who had their own personal stories. Yet they all kept the tale very interesting. And WOW the epilogue is wonderful.
      I am ready to get to your book!

  2. What a wonderful story. I loved the characters and their struggles to be happy within the structure of such a rigorous society. A lovely read, I do love your stories for their depth of character and believable situations which always resolve in a HEA, sigh…… Didn’t want it to end! Please keep writing Bridget!

  3. Once I started reading about Ella and the duke I couldn’t put this book down. It is now 5 am and could easily start reading it again. With all the twists and turns it kept my interest up to the very end. Can’t wait for the next book.

    1. Amazing book, love how the Duke and Ella forgave those that had wronged them…laughed and cried. I would definitely recommend it

    2. Enjoyed your Marilynn. I laughed because that is exactly what I do when reading a good book. Ms. Barton’s books are an entertaining read.

  4. Wow, I truly enjoyed this book and could not put it down. Each character came alive for me and it was difficult to a favorite in this story. I cannot wait to read your next book Bridget.

  5. Loved it but then again it’s pretty difficult not to love one of Bridget’s books. Thank you Bridget and please keep the stories coming.

  6. Reading one office Bridget’s books issue like a breath of fresh air. I could not put this book down. I fell in love with the charactors from the beginning.
    Thank you Bridget😗. You are an amazing author!

  7. I give this five-star Bridget Barton. It is by far your best book ever. This is Cinderella and Flowers in the attic retold in one story. This is most definitely a must read book.

  8. A wonderful new twist on a Cinderella story! I loved this book and couldn’t put it down. The characters were very well written and I felt drawn to them. I would recommend this book to all who love a happy ending!

  9. I fear I’m in the minority on this one. While I enjoy Bridget’s books for the most part, this one was a little too close to Cinderella for me. Having said that, I did enjoy the twists and turns included in the story.

    1. I agree w the cinderella connection…my thoughts throughout the entire story.

  10. It was one of the best romantic novels I’ve read that you have written. Thank you.

  11. A wonderful story with characters that the reader can really care for. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I hope to see more stories from Bridget Barton. Well done!!

  12. Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down and to be able to read the extended epilogue made the story more complete. Thank you Bridget for a wonderful read

  13. It was a different twist on Cinderella and mean
    Stepsisters. I thought it was a little dragged out
    Before I read the extended epilogue I was saddened to not read they were married.
    Happy ending interesting characters

  14. Beautiful. Just beautiful. I started reading and couldn’t put it down. You have become my favorite author. Please say your next book is coming soon!!!

  15. I must say that since I started reading Bridgets books I have really looked forward to reading every one that she has written. Just hope she writes many more

  16. I loved this story. I was so angry with the stepfather I wanted to punch him. LOL. Loved how the Duke rescued Ella and the extended version. I enjoy epilogues.

  17. A delightful adventure, thank you very much! Keep up the good work!
    I’m reminded of a passage from Oscar Wilde: “The good ended happily and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

  18. I have read every one of these books and enjoyed them all. Looking forward to more.

  19. I couldn’t wait to read this book after I read the teaser I was sent. I was not disappointed! I enjoy reading Bridget Barton’s books, and couldn’t put this story down from start to finish. 😃

  20. I have read each of these books, they are all excellent reads.
    I stayed up late reading, I waste spell bound.
    Thank you for great entertainment !

  21. Loved the book! But hated the name “Rufus”. Reminded me of a dog I once had! Otherwise it was entertaining.

  22. What a great read! I found it hard to put down and particularly liked the extended epilogue, bringing resolution to a fractured relationship. Well done!

  23. What a wonderful book, I have enjoyed 3 other books of yours but this was truly the best. I love the emotion and the depth of your characters. You are a very gifted author. I will read all of your books.

  24. Another good read by Bridget Barton- I have read all her books so far and have enjoyed them all. I love a romance that keeps giving twists and turns as the characters develop into “real ” people and you have to keep reading regardless of the dishes in the sink or that unmade bed. Keep the books coming and I will continue reading them. Thanks, Bridget.

  25. A wonderful twist to the story of Cinderalla. I’m amazed at how this story was so different. I stayed up very late reading and finished the book this morning laying in bed. Love all of your books. I also love a happy ending.

  26. Great genuine characters that I came to love. The story was well written and believable. Very enjoyable read.

  27. Loved this book & the extended epilogue. Was really difficult to get any work done today. Thank you for including Violet & William in the epilogue. I wonder, did Rufus & Ella ever have a son? Another great BBB!

  28. I was enthralled with this book and hated having to put it down to go back to work, especially when it got really exciting. I am so happy you wrote an extended epilogue. I had just thought that I wanted to know what happened after and there it was.

  29. I loved this book. You are a great author.
    One of my favorites. I look forward to reading others.

  30. OMG. What a great book. I read it in a few hours. Just could not put it down. I love this author.

  31. What an enjoyable read just had to finish it one go, Not just for ladies but being a man it was perfect, Thank you I await your next episode.
    Lord Beal.

  32. A great book .I enjoyed every minute of it and could not put it down until I had finished reading. The extended story brought a really nice ending. A great author. I look forward to her next book.

  33. I really enjoyed the story. The extended epilogue was very heart warming.
    Thanks, Bridget!

  34. I truly loved this story, it does remind me of Cinderella but the whole story is different, I truly enjoy reading your stories, you are such a great writer.

  35. I loved this story Ella was a great lady and I also liked the Duke thank for naming him after my great great grandfather Rufus Jones you stores always touch my heart in so many Ella was a true lady even when she miss treated thanks Bridget. I can’t wait for the next great story you are wonderful writer.

  36. Loved this book thanks so much for the extended ending I wish other authors would do that too. I really thank you for keeping the story light and clean with out the unnecessary erotica. I just started reading your books and I love them. It’s nice to read a story without having to skip past all the sex scenes.

  37. This is a wonderful story. Ella truly. deserved a happy ending. I am glad she had compassion for her mother. I am also glad her mother had a reason for her behavior toward Ella. Keep up the good work!!!!

  38. What a lovely story. I loved Ella her strenght and determination, it gives hope to anyone. A very well written story. I can’t wait for another book.

  39. Thank you for the extended epilogue that not only brought justice to Ella , but she and her mother was able to forgive each other and try to forge ahead to start a better relationship. I hope there is another story of Ella and her Duke increasing their family! Bridget ,I truly love your stories and hate to see them end.

  40. I liked this book. I liked the extended part. The happy ending was key. I didn’t like reading the mother’s name …very awkward.

    1. This comment made me laugh. I had to stop and sound out her name every time it occurred. But it was worth it for such a great story.

  41. Loved the book . Will start reading some of your novels. Good for Ella to reconcile with her mother.

  42. I loved this book a very enjoyable read. Thank you Bridget, looking forward to your next book.

  43. Excellent reading, once I started reading this book I just could not put it down. Love!love! love! this story.

  44. Dear Ms Barton, I do love your books and look forward very much to reading some more. But, what’s the point of the two epilogues? The first one in the book gave the impression of being truncated or a hastily put together affair and I was feeling puzzled and a bit let down by it when I saw the bit about the extended epilogue. Read that and thought, what a very nice and fitting end to the book and is what should have been in the book in the first place. Why oblige the reader to obtain the end of the book in this manner. I just don’t get it and, to be honest, I found it quite irritating.

    1. I agree! Its so annoying the constant use of epilogue for most novels. Give the ending with the original!

    1. Dear Bridget, I adored your book it was creative while also paying homage to Cinderella, you stayed true to yourself and your obvious values and beliefs that a book does not need erotica to be interesting and viable to readers of romance novel and for that I applaud, therefore I say in conclusion borrowing somewhat from the great Julius Ceaser : You came, you saw, you conguered!!!👸👸👸

  45. I enjoyed the book and love that you include the extended epilogue. I always want to continue reading about the characters after “The End”.

  46. You redeemed yourself with this one! After reading “Honorable Rosalind’s Heart” I wasn’t sure I wanted to read any more of your books. That one made me believe that you hated mothers and parents in general and this one started off the same way. I nearly gave up! Thank you for writing a redemptive ending!

  47. Wow! This was a great read for me. I have smiled at parts of my reading and laughed at other parts. My emotions were everywhere while reading this book! An awesome book for sure📖❤️

  48. I loved this book. I could not put it down and read it in one day. I actually cried at the injustice that was done to Ella. And wanted to beat the crap out of the “Stepfather, the mother, and the two bratty stepsistets. Wonderful read. I also loved your other books.

  49. A truly entertaining book. I could hardly put it down. Thank you for the great characters and the suspense along with the love.

  50. I loved this book from the very beginning to it very satisfying conclusion.

  51. This is the first of you books that I have read, but will not be the last. There was not one boring moment. In fact I read the entire book during the Super Bowl game. I am not a football fan so I was not upset to be ignored by my husband during the entire game. I was so involved with this story that not one commercial did I watch!! Thank you for such a great read.

  52. My first time reading from this author quite a touching little read i enjoyed the characters and how they overcame their hardships

  53. I enjoyed the Cinderella theme in this book very much. Loved the characters in the story. Very enjoyable.

  54. I loved this book! I have read so many of your books, but like this the best so far. Thank you for the wonderful stories. I will continue to read your books. Keep up the good work !

  55. Truly a wonderful story…..a great read with suspense and danger, while weaving a beautiful love story for each of the “good” characters and forgiveness for the one misguided. My only disappointment was that the evil Earl was not punished as he so richly deserved! Great Book….Thank you!

  56. I enjoy your books and loved the characters and their love story. I hope we get peeks of Ella and her family in future books.

  57. Love yr books. Very romantic and clean. I loved Ella, what a wonderful book. Thanks for giving me an escape from my life.

  58. This book was enthralling!!! I thoroughly enjoyed it! This is my first book and I intend to read all of them.

  59. Ms Barton’s books are charmingly written, and always feature such likeable heroes and heroines. Kind Ella was no exception. I especially appreciate that the conflicts in these rather sweet romances are rarely between the main characters/couples, but are the result of the two facing outside evils. The falling in love seems natural and destined, and always satisfying. I’m not sure why the extended epilogues are not attached to the books, but I cannot say I find that particularly annoying. At least we get them…I wonder if those buying the hard copies of these books get them?

  60. What a wonderful story of a second marriage and stepsiblings
    I really loved the duke and the spirit of Ella! She was tremendously brave and so compassionate!

  61. I very much enjoyed the book. However, the typos and grammatical errors really annoyed me. If you cannot find someone who has any expertise with grammar and typing please contact me as this seems to be the theme in all of your books.

    1. Typing and grammatical errors are an all too frequent part of ebooks. These are by no means anywhere near the worst I have encountered, but would have benefited from the services of a proofreader.

      As far as the story was concerned, I enjoyed it a lot. I like the extended epilogues, but don’t understand why they need to be accessed via a web browser rather than being included with the rest of the book.

      I do hope Ella and Rufus had a son or two eventually.

      As for Ariadne as a name: I don’t see the difficulty with it. I’m just glad that novels of this period don’t usually include Celtic and Gaelic names. Or Dutch ones. Now those really require a glossary at the beginning of a book with pronunciation guidelines!

  62. Loved this book could not put it down! I laughed and cried and was so pleased to read the final happy ending. Glad to read that Violet and William got their happiness too a just reward for loyalty.

  63. Excellent story! Such a lot of pathos, it made me want to read it in one sitting. Very well written and presented. Can’t wait for the next one.

  64. Yes, I did think of Cinderella and her step-family, but the twists and turns were marvelous, and I especially loved Violet and her William. I did want a little more passion when the duke and Ella finally came together with the truth of it all and wanted to know what happened to the nasty earl’s arrogance when confronted with his criminal plots. The true nobility stood out with kindness and forgiveness, which was the underlying light through it all. Please keep writing your fine novels!

  65. Thoroughly enjoyed the book. A bit more details of Violet and Henry, Earl Dandridge’s downfall, along with his daughters would have been a great way to finish of this story.

  66. I can’t believe I just discovered your book. It brought me to tears at times, made me squeal and laugh. The extended epilogue made me cry and I felt as Ella did at some of the things she went through. Thank you for writing such a beautiful and unique love story.

  67. I can’t believe I just discovered your book. It brought me to tears at times, made me squeal and laugh. The extended epilogue made me cry and I felt as Ella did at some of the things she went through. Thank you for writing such a beautiful and unique love story.

  68. Now finishing the third of your novels within three days! Warm,delightful reading.

  69. Yet again a very satisfying read. A different play on an old favorite fairy tale. I’m so happy that Ella and her mother were reunited in the extended epilogue. I appreciate how you bring values into your stories. One can never be reminded enough to be kind and forgiving. I also enjoy how you get your characters to be introspective and work through their faults and foibles. It’s good to see how “someone” can find a way to move forward instead of wallowing in their failures. Aga, thank you for a good read.

  70. This is a very good story and the characters are very wonderful as they show forgiveness and humility I am glad Rufus and Ella found happiness

  71. I very much like this book. A good heart felt story. It was like I was there with the characters. Love that all your books that I have read has a Happy Ever After.

  72. Right from the start the stepfather was a right royal mongrel and Ella’s mother was so horrible. The stepsisters? Well really, they were just nasty little people. The poor girl really did have much to live with, but she remained true to herself throughout. Well written and I loved the twists and turns in the novel. The Duke was a sweety, such a nice fellow for those times. I surely would not have liked to be a daughter in that day and age. Again, Bridget Barton has excelled as an author. 🌺

  73. I love this writer so much. None of her writing has ever disappointed me. This story is one you will want to read and you will love her writing too. Thank you for giving me so much entertainment, especially with the Covid keeping me home

  74. Your themes seem to be twists on classics. Recognizable but with twists. As a lover of classics, I recognize them. At first I’m almost insulted that I fell for them. Once you get to the 3rd or 4th chapter and your imagination takes us out of the realm of the classic tale, I was hooked. You do have a way with stories that I enjoy. I’m not crazy about having to go somewhere else to get the “extended” version since it doesn’t really resolve all the issues. I rarely read them. That being said, I find I go from book to book of yours when I’m looking for some light reading outside the classics that I enjoy so much. I look forward to the day when your writing rivals Georgette Heyer and Patricia Veryan. You’ve got great potential.

  75. I did not even think about Cinderella until I read comments from other readers. Your stories are always great to read with interesting characters. Enjoy reading extended epilogue to satisfy my need to know how they are doing after the drama is resolved.

  76. What a wonderful book – It really ‘kept me on my toes’ as some say – wondering what next. And the extended epilogue covers so much and just enough to really end this book.
    Thank you for writing this.

  77. Although I am a fan of sensuality, this story had enough mystery, intrigue, twist, and turns to carry the story. Attraction was mentioned, but not to the point of such strong references with barely a kiss to show for it. I also liked that it was not a cliché wedding and a descriptions of every dress, cravat, waist coat, breeches and such that was worn. This story carried itself.

  78. I have watched so many good Cinderella stories but this tops them all! I loved the characters and was happy for the reconciliation in the end! What a wonderful, exciting read!!

  79. A thoroughly enjoyable book. I loved Violet and William’s characters as much as Ella’s and Rufus’s. Extended epilogues are always a finishing touch to a story that I particularly enjoy. As with and earlier comment, just the right amount of intrigue and suspense, something that I look for in my reading.

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