When Maximilian Emery descended the disembarking plank to the London Docks into the fog typical of the city, he knew he had come home.
‘Three years,’ he muttered. A man also leaving the ship jostled him as he passed.
London, it seemed, had not changed.
Ever lively, full of industry, the docks were just one facet of the soot-tarnished jewel of the English nation. A military company in red coats passed by. Two men yelled at each other beside a mule pulling a cart full of baskets of apples. All around, sailors unloaded trunks and wares from their ships.
Max turned and looked for his traveling companion, Royal Navy lieutenant, Thomas Roberts. His ruddy-haired, moustachioed friend, no longer in the service due to a medical dispensation, was just starting the descent on the plank. Trusting him to catch up, Max turned and began looking about for a hackney carriage as the porters deposited his trunk next to him.
‘I say, Emery—’ Roberts began as he neared.
Max’s palm shot up. ‘It’s Henry Milton now,’ he replied in a low voice.
‘Of course, I do apologise,’ Roberts said. ‘I shan’t make the mistake again, I guarantee.’
‘I’ll allow you one slip, old chap. But we must take care.’
Max had chosen ‘Milton’ as a pseudonym as a kind of inside joke. After all, his ‘paradise’ was, in fact, ‘lost.’ However, he was determined to find it again, and once he’d rectified the entire situation, he would lose the false name.
Roberts raised a hand and a hackney rolled toward them. ‘There, now,’ he said with satisfaction.
The driver hopped down and the gentlemen helped load their trunks aboard the carriage.
‘I am quite pleased to nearly be home, at last,’ Roberts remarked as they took their seats. He, too, was returning from exile. They had that in common.
The fog was beginning to lift, and with it, Max’s spirits. Excitement tingled through him as he gazed out at London. How striking it was to be back after all this time.
They would be living in a terraced house on the south side of Portman Square. Roberts had arranged the lease. As they neared the square, the first thing that struck Max was the way the black railings surrounding the central garden stood out against the lingering wisps of fog. Beyond it towered the multi-storeyed neoclassical brick buildings, built fairly recently in the latter years of the previous century.
The hackney came to a stop and the gentlemen descended, assisting the driver again at unloading their belongings. The staff Roberts had employed through an agency appeared and hurried to take over.
Max greeted each of them and learned their names. The gentlemen would have a very spare household, with a valet each, a maid-of-all-work, and a cook. Only four names to learn, for which Max was grateful. He had other concerns.
As the valets carried in the trunks Max straightened and looked over the square, a sight caught his eye and made him stiffen.
An exclamation left his lips: ‘What the devil is she doing here?’
Emilia Whitmore was pleased that the fog seemed to be almost gone. It was never a happy experience to have to make one’s way through London when visibility was impaired.
‘We’ve never taken a turn there,’ her companion Alice observed as she gestured out of the landau to the garden at the centre of Portman Square. ‘It looks very pretty.’
‘Indeed, we shall have to return,’ Emilia agreed, unwilling to suggest that they stop now. She had an appointment at the dressmakers to keep and she hadn’t the patience to consider pretty gardens until it was done.
‘You do seem troubled,’ Alice observed.
Emilia grimaced. ‘I apologise, dear Alice. It’s the expense.’
Alice nodded. ‘But one must have a new ball gown, or appear too impoverished to be considered a worthy bride.’
‘One must,’ Emilia agreed gloomily.
‘Be easy at least in the knowledge that the gown shall be quite lovely,’ Alice said to reassure Emilia. ‘The shade you chose, that pale pink, will flatter your dark eyes and hair.’
‘You don’t think it better for a fair lady such as yourself?’ Emilia smiled. ‘Golden curls might better suit such a delicate, light colour.’
‘I’ve no complaint regarding my evening dress,’ Alice said stoutly. ‘It has served me well and shall continue to do so until I’ve no use for it any longer.’
Emilia gazed at her companion affectionately. Alice was a sensible lady, and a boon as a friend. Alice never required more than Emilia could offer. Then Emilia’s smile faded. ‘Tis simply dreadful to have to spend so much, I must say. The sale of Mama’s favourite cabinet and what Dassel last paid me will only just cover the expense.’
Alice clicked her tongue. ‘I do wish you would cease associating with that…man.’
‘Oh, my dear Alice, how I value your counsel,’ Emilia said, sighing. ‘But you well know that my “association” to that man is the only thing keeping our household from simply drowning in debt.’
‘It isn’t proper. If word gets out…’
‘‘twas an old argument. Alice’s refusal to be pragmatic was nothing new. Emilia told herself she needn’t let it bother her.
‘Oy! See here!’ The shout came from Abraham, Emilia’s coachman.
Startled, Emilia looked out, trying to determine the source of his distress.
Easy to see sitting in her landau with its top folded down, Emilia Whitmore was an unmistakable beauty, with her large eyes so dark they looked black in her heart-shaped face, her alabaster skin contrasting with her ebony hair, which only showed with a few curls as she wore a neat bonnet. Spotting her in her carriage gave Max a turn, but he might have headed into the house and forgotten all about it, except for the dog.
The dog was likely not a purebred, for its body had the slender curve of a greyhound but its brown coat was that of a curly retriever. Max’s attention was first diverted from Emilia Whitmore to the dog by the uncouth shouting of the dog’s owner, a large, red-faced man in a tradesman’s leather breeches. That he seemed out of place in Portman’s Square was the first clue to his predicament with the dog. What he shouted was another:
‘That’s the last time I go chasing after ye through these streets, y’damned cur!’
Any sympathy Max may have felt for the man evaporated, however, when he raised some sort of stick overhead and the dog yelped and scrambled away…
…right into the path of Miss Whitmore’s open carriage.
A collision was imminent, promising disaster all around.
Unthinking, Max darted after the animal, scooped it up, and nearly toppled over the railing to the central garden in his haste.
The landau lurched to a stop.
‘Ho, there, guvnor,’ shouted the coachman. ‘Are you injured?’
Straightening, Max set down the dog, who was now intent on licking his face. ‘Right as rain,’ he said, turning to the man. But his eyes, instead, met Emilia’s.
The recognition was instant and undeniable.
The colour drained from her face, as though she had seen a ghost.
And, in fact, she had.
Because three years ago, Max had falsified his own death.
But now, he realized, the truth would surely come out.
‘Emilia, are you ill?’ Alice asked as the landau began to move again.
Emilia leaned back. Her stays felt far too tight.
‘Oh, dear,’ Alice muttered as she fanned her companion. ‘What is the matter?’
Emilia closed her eyes and forced herself to slow her breathing, grateful, at least, that the folding head of the landau was down, and she had plenty of air.
‘Abraham,’ Alice called. ‘We must return home at once. Miss Whitmore is ill!’
‘No,’ Emilia managed, ‘it is but my nervous complaint, Alice. It will pass. I must keep my appointment.’
Alice made an unhappy noise.
‘Alice, please,’ Emilia urged, quite unable to call out to Abraham herself, as the air still felt too rare.
‘Oh very well,’ Alice said. ‘Never mind, Abraham, keep going.’
Emilia’s distress eased a little, but that only allowed the thoughts racing through her mind to take more substantial form.
It cannot have been him.
It simply can’t have been.
Maximilian Emery, the Earl of Ceastre? Alive? In Portman Square?
Certainly, she must be mistaken. The brown-haired man she saw was bearded. She had simply made a mistake.
But his eyes. Those striking green eyes.
How could they belong to anyone else?
The carriage halted and Abraham helped the ladies alight. Soon she was allowing Mrs. Gregson, the dressmaker, to take her measurements. But even as she stood still, when she closed her eyes, the image of the man holding the brown dog rose uninvited before her.
It was him. I know it was.
Nonsense. The distress of father’s illness, the bills, the cost of this fitting, all of it has had a terrible effect on your nerves, nothing more.
The argument continued to rage within Emilia all the way back home to Chesham Place. Alice was visibly concerned, clucking like a hen. She insisted on taking Emilia’s arm as they entered the Whitmore townhouse.
Emilia murmured reassurances and Alice took her leave to go freshen up after their outing. In the library, Emilia’s father was dozing in his favourite armchair by the fire. After pressing her hand to the back of his—a light touch which didn’t wake him—Emilia went to the mahogany desk.
All of the furnishings of the library, as with most of the house, were in the fashion of the previous century, with mahogany dominating. She considered, not for the first time, how unfashionable it all was. She felt no displeasure at the fact; she held affection for their décor. It did, however, act as a reminder of the loss of the Whitmores’ wealth.
When her older brother Harold died—’twas almost ten years ago, she realized with a start—abroad in the war, it was just at the time when her mother was making plans to replace much of the furnishings. Heartbreak, Emilia was convinced, led to her mother’s illness and death. All talk of décor was quite forgotten.
Her father’s health failed some years later. He was forced to cease all professional activity. It was then that Emilia began giving music lessons to Miss Charlotte Emery at Ceastre, the earl’s estate.
The grief she felt over the loss of her brother ebbed as the awed memory of that first day, entering the grand foyer of the estate, came rushing back to Emilia now. One of the first times she had conversed with the young gentleman, Lord Emery—his father still lived and he was not the earl yet, then—was on the subject of their older brothers, both lost in the war.
They had stood together at the window of the drawing room, whilst Charlotte practiced a few feet away on the pianoforte.
‘Your cousin is progressing very well,’ Emilia had said when Lord Emery approached her.
He was so handsome. His hair was golden brown, curling somewhat wildly. His limpid green eyes were full of good humour, and the way he gazed at her made her feel at once admired and unsettled. She cast her own eyes down, fearful that he might read her expression too well. There was no question in her mind of her status—Maximilian Emery would be the earl someday. She had no hope of acquiring his affection.
‘Miss Emery has a great affinity for music,’ she said.
‘I am delighted to learn of it,’ he said with an appreciative glance towards the young lady, who was producing proper scales. ‘I shall inform my uncle. I am sure he will be pleased.’
‘And your father as well, I hope,’ Emilia said. It was Emery’s father, the earl, who made arrangements with her own father to procure the lessons—paid in secret. She wanted the earl to know that his investment was a good one.
‘Indeed,’ Emery said.
Emilia gazed out of the window. The gentleman lingered, and she felt a flush rising in her cheeks as she realized it. ‘I very much admired the grounds as I rode in today,’ she said, attempting a light tone.
‘Ah, I shall have to inform my mother, she has been quite dedicated to the improvement of the gardens, especially.’
‘Oh yes, you must tell her the lilacs are extraordinary. But I think what draws the eye the most are the riding paths. It quite makes one want to find the nearest horse.’
Emilia risked a glance at his face.
‘Indeed,’ Emery said, his eyes crinkling with amusement. After a moment, his expression changed, however, becoming more thoughtful. ‘Yes, ‘twas George—my brother, George’s favourite pastime, riding those paths.’
The wistful look on his face disarmed her. ‘You must miss him very much,’ she said, aware of his brother’s untimely death in the war. ‘I lost my own brother the same way,’ she added softly, without really intending to.
He frowned. ‘That’s right, I had forgotten. How unforgivable of me,’ he said.
‘Oh no, I never intended to imply—’
‘But I should have remembered,’ he said, his face earnest.
How could she ever forget how his green eyes had filled with compassion? Only one who had also lost a loved one could profess such understanding.
Now, in the present, her throat closed and Emilia blinked back tears.
This won’t do at all, Emilia.
In a vain attempt to gain mastery over her feelings, Emilia opened the top right drawer of the desk and pulled out all of her half-finished compositions. Music. It was always into music that she could pour her most troublesome emotions. And after the cost of the gown, she would have to complete something to sell to Dassel.
Gunther Dassel, a short, squat German with a fondness for wearing old-fashioned high heels, was the newest composer at the Chapel Royal, employed there since 1812. Emilia was lucky when with the assistance of Randall, their butler, and Abraham, their coachman, she had found secret employment copying music for him. At some point Dassel’s inspiration dried up, and he began to pay Emilia for her compositions. It was an arrangement that staved off total financial ruin, although the debts outpaced her income, no matter how hard she tried.
She touched the thicker of the two stacks of pages: her opera. She had taken Homer’s Iliad for inspiration, with Cassandra as the lead soprano. But as she leafed through the music, she set it aside. The culmination of the second act eluded her, and Emilia did not have the mental fortitude to confront that problem today. Something smaller would have to do for now.
Emilia knew that time was running out. She must be married soon, and to a rich man, and at the age of two and twenty, after two unsuccessful seasons, her hope was dwindling.
‘I say, Milton old boy,’ Roberts huffed, ‘such pacing will wear the carpet bare.’
Max stopped where he was, halfway across the study. It faced the square, with a large window on one end, and bookshelves on the opposite wall. The hardwood floor was covered in a large carpet, the object of the lieutenant’s concern. Roberts sat by the window, stroking the dog’s curly head.
‘I daresay you’ll give poor Bouncer a case of nerves,’ Roberts continued.
‘Bouncer?’ Max echoed.
Roberts grimaced, his moustache twisting. ‘You’re right, it won’t do.’ Gazing into the canine’s eyes, he said, ‘Wolfy? Fiddler? Jollyboy? Oh, I rather fancy that one.’
‘Jollyboy it is,’ Max said, although his mind wasn’t on the naming of the animal.
‘Jollyboy has a very fine nose, you know, Milton. He knows I’ve a pocket full of bacon, don’t you, Jollyboy?’
The man was smitten, Max observed with amusement. Roberts patted the dog’s head and then stood, raising a hand and ordering the animal to sit. This had no effect on Jollyboy, who instead jumped up and tried to lick Roberts on the nose.
But even such an entertaining scene could not draw Max from his worries.
It was dashed bad luck. How had he encountered Emilia Whitmore, of all people, right outside his door? And he knew she recognized him. His days of anonymity were numbered, and in the single digits, at that.
Without noticing, he began to pace again. He hardly looked where he was going and stumbled as the dog got tangled in his legs.
Roberts scolded him, ‘Zounds, Milton, this won’t do at all. Come along, we shall have a game of billiards to set you to rights.’
The townhouse they had leased was well-appointed, with a fashionable drawing room decorated in creamy yellows and touches of greenish-blue, which boasted a new billiards table. Max obediently followed Roberts upstairs and allowed him to set up the game, positioning the ivory balls just so.
After scrambling up the stairs Jollyboy collapsed in a panting heap as if he’d just run a marathon. His face had a canine smile that Max couldn’t help but find endearing.
‘Do you truly believe the lady recognized you?’ Roberts asked as he leaned forward to hit his white ball, targeting the red.
Max could picture her face as it drained of colour. Her dark, almost black eyes widened in shock. How distressed she had looked. It unsettled him more than he cared to admit even to himself. Max sighed. ‘I’m afraid so. All my careful scheming…’
The balls cracked against each other and Roberts straightened. ‘Nonsense, all cannot possibly be lost.’
‘How will I manage any sort of stealthy investigation if word gets out of my return from the dead?’ Max asked.
After a miss, Roberts gestured at the table, prompting him to take his turn.
As Max did so, Roberts said, ‘You’ve told me of your suspicions. Half the work is already done. We need only acquire the proof.’
Max sent his own cue ball careening across the table and missed the object ball entirely. ‘Yes,’ he said as he backed away to give Roberts space. ‘I’m almost certain it was the footman who blackmailed me. But almost certain isn’t the same as entirely certain. What if I’m mistaken?’
‘You discovered the girl behaving improperly with him, did you not?’
‘Lady Charlotte’s reputation would have been quite undone,’ Max agreed.
‘They conceived of the scheme as a result,’ Roberts said.
‘That is my conclusion.’
‘Yes,’ Max conceded. ‘It does seem the only likely explanation. And the man who approached me was indeed the right height. But I never saw his face, it was too dark.’
‘Nevertheless. What you need now is the note he gave you and a sample of the footman’s handwriting, signed in his name,’ Roberts said. ‘You had him dismissed at the time?’
‘Of course, but years ago I had a local solicitor make inquiries, and it would appear that he was eventually reinstated. He may no longer be there now, however.’
‘I might be more indignant except that it serves my purposes for the man to still be at the estate,’ Max said. ‘Otherwise, I should have little hope of acquiring a sample of his penmanship.’
‘Well, it shan’t take all that long to acquire such a thing, if he is still there,’ Roberts said.
Max was unconvinced by his friend’s optimism. ‘I hadn’t worked out how I was going to get either the original letter or the sample, yet. Now I haven’t any time to come up with a plan.’
Roberts sank the object ball, winning the game.
‘Well,’ he said, looking pleased. ‘We shall just have to put our heads together, shan’t we?’
Sitting at her pianoforte—a large Broadwood Grand she adored—Emilia played a series of notes and then jotted them down on the sheet she was using.
As she did, her traitorous mind wandered back to the encounter with the gentleman and the dog again.
He had Lord Ceastre’s green eyes.
It still felt strange to think of him as Lord Ceastre, but of course, that is who he became when his father died, just over three years ago. She hadn’t had enough time to become accustomed to the new form of address before the young earl left for Portugal, and soon word spread of his illness and death.
How she had wept when she heard the news.
Even then she had known she was being very silly. Indeed, it was a tragedy, to lose such a graceful, well-mannered man so young, but why she felt it to be such a personal loss, she was loath to say.
Nothing improper had ever transpired between them. She wasn’t even certain he was aware of the arrangement between his father and hers until he went through his father’s effects after his death. He told her he intended to continue the lessons, of course. Thus he had become aware of the secret, at the very least. But he never made her feel ashamed of it. For that, she was deeply grateful.
But gratitude could not explain the violence of her grief at the news of his demise.
In the present, Emilia uttered a little grunt of annoyance that would have quite put her mother out had she been present to hear it. Ladies did not grunt. But ladies also did not compose cantatas to sell in secret to royal composers, so Emilia decided not to mind.
She turned back to the pianoforte and with her right hand, improvised a new melodic motif. It wouldn’t fit what she already had. She frowned.
It was Lord Ceastre. I know it was.
Emilia, I am begging you, put the dreadful incident out of your mind.
How could she be mistaken, she wondered despite the thought, when she felt such a deep sense of recognition?
Things aren’t always what they seem.
Perhaps not. Perhaps she had simply encountered a man with a striking resemblance to the dead earl. A relation of his. It was possible.
Her fingers depressed the keys again but the result was dissonant.
Then, she heard a shuffling noise coming from the corridor.
It was late. Everyone had retired, even the servants after she sent them to bed. Who could be moving about?
Emilia stood from the bench and made her way silently to the drawing room’s doorway. The sound was coming from the stairs to the second floor she realized.
Alarmed, she hurried closer, and saw her father slumping against the wall at the top.
‘Papa!’ she cried out, just as he slipped.
In a rush she flew up the stairs, but his hip struck the floor and then his head, the railing.
‘Alice!’ she screamed as she reached him, gathering the old man into her embrace. ‘Oh, Alice! Mrs. Gale! Randall!’ she called for the housekeeper and butler.
As she listened for the sounds of movement in response to her cries, she examined her father’s head. The frail skin had broken where his forehead had hit the ornate iron of the rail.
‘Emilia?’ came Alice’s voice from above.
‘Oh, Alice, please get Randall, quickly! Mr. Whitmore has had a fall!’ Emilia replied.
Her father’s eyes fluttered open then.
‘Papa, my dearest Papa, can you hear me?’ she asked.
He blinked and smiled up at her. ‘Of course, dear girl. What is the matter?’
Emilia bit back a sob. After a moment, she regained her composure. ‘Nothing, Papa. Nothing at all. You’ve just taken a fall, I’m afraid. But we shall have you right as rain in no time.’
‘A fall?’ he said, his words softened by the swollen lips that were an ever-present reminder of his illness. His voice had taken on a fretful tone.
‘Yes, my dear Papa, why in heaven’s name were you out of bed?’
‘Oh,’ he said. ‘I don’t recall.’
Confused again, Emilia thought with concern.
‘Well, I’m certain you had your reasons,’ she said quickly.
He touched his wounded head and saw the blood on the tips of his fingers. ‘Oh, Emmy, I apologise, I’m afraid I’ve rather made a mess of things, haven’t I?’
‘Nonsense,’ she assured him. ‘Tis but a scratch, you’ll see. Sometimes things look worse than they are, after all. We mustn’t rush to judge.’
Yes, she thought. That’s true. Papa will be well again.
She wanted to believe it so desperately. Perhaps that was why she had become fixated on the man with the dog. ‘twas a way to avoid thinking of the very real problems she felt unequal to solving.
‘Oh dear, oh dear,’ said Randall as he approached. ‘Perdition, what has happened?’
‘Mister Randall,’ Mrs. Gale exclaimed from behind him, scandalized by his language. Alice was close on their heels.
‘I do beg your pardon, Miss,’ Randall apologised to Emilia. ‘Please, allow me.’
Emilia took care to place a hand behind her father’s head as Randall raised him to standing.
Papa’s colour was very bad. His face looked puffy and his mouth leaked saliva. The blood from his injury was running down his temple and cheek.
He will be well again, she thought with resolution. I shall do what I must to make it so.
When they were still living in Surrey, on the family estate, the apothecary said Papa needed to take the waters at Bath, which they had heeded for some years before the Whitmore finances became truly strained. But Papa had not improved, and now the family’s surgeon suggested a trip to Germany or Italy, to seek treatment for Papa in the sanatoria.
However, the Whitmores were running out of money. What her father had saved over the years had dwindled to nothing, especially after weather destroyed a dam and flooding ruined much of the farmland rented to tenants of their land in Surrey.
The disaster led too many of the tenants to leave and the houses were terribly damaged. Acting as her father’s ‘assistant,’ Emilia corresponded with solicitors and other agents, attempting desperately to remedy the situation, but she was out of her depth. There was no question of telling Papa, whose weak heart must be considered at all times.
Eventually appealing to a cousin of Papa’s, Emilia thought that matters would be better handled. The cousin managed to sell much of the land, despite the legal difficulties involved, and he then made investments on their behalf. Emilia, Alice and her father left Bushley House, the Whitmore family estate in Surrey, for a leased townhouse in Bath. This cost them dearly. Then, Emilia was devastated to learn that the investments collapsed—this was two years ago.
It was upon that occasion that Emilia realized that her only hope was a fortuitous marriage, and that time was running out to secure one. Emilia was forced to sell everything she could without drawing the notice of the ton, in order to move the household to London to attend the season. That money held for a year, but in recent months, the situation was becoming more and more desperate.
She had her business with Dassel, but it was inadequate to the needs of the London household, much less those of Bushley House, in Surrey. Bushley House was mouldering, empty. If she did not find a wealthy husband soon, she would have to sell it. Without property, the Whitmore name would be shockingly diminished. The situation could not continue forever in this way.
‘Twas plain enough what she had to do. At the next ball, she would find a husband.
As for mysterious men who rescue dogs…well, they probably aren’t who they appear to be, in any case. I shan’t trouble myself over any of it. The identity of that man is no business of mine.
Things weren’t always what they seemed.
A shock of guilt washed through her as she and Alice accompanied Randall and Mrs. Gale, each supporting her father on one side, as they helped him back to his bed.
Look at me, thinking again of some stranger, when my father has just injured himself.
Truly, the accident was a sign. She must put distractions from her mind immediately.
She had her purpose, and nothing must stand in her way.
It was after midnight as Max made his way down Carlyle Street, an ill-lit, narrow passage with questionable residents.
How dreadful is an ill-lit street, Max thought with a shiver. Some of the larger avenues in London now had gas lamps, a significant improvement Max hoped to see introduced everywhere soon.
He had just met with an old acquaintance from Cambridge, now working as his solicitor. Max hoped the fellow could be trusted to be discreet, but with time running out, he had little choice. Inquiries had to be made.
Ad astra per aspera, Max thought by way of raising his spirits. ‘Through adversity to the stars.’ He need only persevere, and all would be put to rights soon enough.
Footfalls behind him at first made little impression. Then, as he passed into an even dimmer portion of the street, he noticed the sound.
Was someone following him?
A cold feeling swept through him and he stiffened, coming to a halt. The footsteps behind him stopped as well. Max began to walk again, and undeniably, they resumed.
Hell and damnation, Max thought with bewilderment. Who could it be?
Seeing the narrow alley would soon meet Chapel Street, a wider avenue better lit with gas lamps, Max resolved to make an abrupt turn in the hopes of catching his pursuer unaware. As he reached the juncture, he slipped round the corner and pressed himself to the wall, readying to seize him.
The man was dressed in a dark, plain coat.
Max lunged to grab him, but the coat came loose in his hands and his pursuer freed himself, bolting across Chapel. Dropping the coat, Max ran after him.
‘You there! Stop!’ Max called, increasing his pace.
The man paid him no heed, heading back into the alley, which continued beyond Chapel.
As he did, he knocked over an elderly man with a cane. Max skidded to a halt and helped the victim to his feet.
‘The gall—’ the elderly man was grouching, looking at the retreating form of Max’s prey.
‘Are you injured?’ Max asked.
‘I’m quite well, thank you—’
It was all Max needed to hear. He rushed on, but soon had to accept that the stranger had outpaced him. He had escaped, and Max was none the wiser as to his identity, or whom he might work for.
Someone was far too interested in him to believe he was Henry Milton. They must know who Max really was.
He hoped he could resolve this whole sordid business before whoever it was could use the truth against him.
“To Love a Tormented Earl” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
When her father took ill, Emilia Whitmore was left in dire financial straits and with very few prospects to walk down the aisle. Time is running short, and if she doesn’t find a suitor soon, her household may not survive. Her life takes an unexpected twist, though, when she suddenly comes across her former employer who was believed to be dead. Even though she knows that a romance with him would be a false hope, she can’t stop daydreaming about his captivating gaze. When he asks for her assistance to unveil a conspiracy that ruined his life, her generous heart compels her to agree. Will Emilia manage to overcome the barriers that go against her happiness? Would destiny hold for her a happy ending?
After faking his own death three years before, Maximilian Emery, the true Earl of Ceastre, has returned to London to reclaim his estate and his name. But before he can do that, he must determine who is involved in the blackmail that prompted him to flee in the first place. When fate brings him together with a woman from his past, soon old feelings begin to resurface. But until he finds out who is hidden behind the evil plot against him, love will remain just a flight of fantasy, no matter how his anxious heart skips a beat everytime she is around. Will Max manage to solve a puzzle that has made his life a living hell? Will his only dream to live by Emilia’s side come true?
Despite their strong feelings, Max and Emilia’s union seems impossible, as they come from two spheres of society not accustomed to mingling. To make matters worse, when Emilia discovers the reason for Max’s exile, she feels that everything is crashing down. Will the star-crossed lovers find a way through the obstacles that insist to keep them apart or will they accept a future without hope of true love?
“To Love a Tormented Earl” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.