Once Upon a Dreamy Match (Preview)


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Chapter One

Miss Daphne Blanton arose that morning at seven o’clock sharp to begin her day with a stroll around the garden. She found this time to be the most peaceful of the day, especially on one such as this. The air was fresh from the previous night’s rain and tasted sweet on her tongue. The whole property sparkled in a fine mist, adorned with crystallised droplets of dew that gleamed like tiny gemstones atop every leaf and petal. No creature, man or woman stirred about the house this early morning; save for the chickens in their coop and the house cat out for a morning stroll of her own, the world was entirely Daphne’s.

The girl of twenty rounded the rose bushes and trailed the fence line, taking advantage of the quiet to ruminate on the health of her father. The entire week past, Mr. Walter Blanton had been bedridden, though his daughter harboured suspicions that this was of his own volition. A mere common cold plagued him, and all were aware of it. Yet he chose to spend each day confined to his chambers and bemoan his ailing health. Though she had not voiced her thoughts aloud, she knew the manners of her father; she knew he was eager to regain the affections of his wife – her stepmother – Mrs. Roberta Blanton.

Daphne would not usually expend  valuable time upon her father’s new wife. She had long since tried to foster their connection, hoping that it would grow in mutual appreciation, however Mrs. Blanton’s temperament was questionable at best; at worst, she was quite vile. Daphne could not, of course, express this to her beloved father, who was utterly besotted with the witch. An understanding of why her father, a lonely widower, found her so appealing was simple enough to grasp – Roberta was indeed a handsome woman of impressive stature and standing alike, and a decade her father’s junior. This, in turn, made Daphne her stepmother’s junior by the same stretch of time. Whilst they were only somewhat distant in age, were they so far apart that they could not share a conversation? Were they of such polar ends that finding common ground was so gruelling a task? It often seemed the case. What little did transpire between the Blanton women was terse; cordial only by polite necessity. It was against Daphne’s character to speak ill of anyone, even if her more uncouth thoughts were those that aligned with her true feelings.

The pebbled pathway crunched underfoot, the sound pleasant and familiar in her ears. The warming sun was beginning to expel the mist from the ground, and Daphne watched it go with a melancholy sigh. The new season was upon them, and it would be her third. The seasons past had brought their share of expectation and anticipation but since her debut, and her excitement pertaining to London’s potential had waned. Two trips to the city had resulted in no relationship of great consequence. Perhaps her standing was just not that of someone who attracted the right kind of attention, but she was determined not to believe she was destined for a spinster’s life. There would be no greater shame.

The season was about to begin, and yet Daphne had made no travel arrangements. How could she, when her father was so unwell? It would not be right for her to abandon him in such a state, and she herself knew that she would spend the season too fraught with worry over his welfare to secure any kind of relationship. Her third season seemed destined to be spent here, in her father’s home, unless, of course, she could coax him from his delusions of illness. It did not help that her two brothers, Jasper and Lionel, twins at almost thirteen, delighted themselves by providing their elder sister with constant reminders of the passing of time. She would be a crone before she was able to find a suitable match!

Like most young women her age, Daphne’s expectations for herself were aligned with those of society. She would meet a respectable gentleman, they would court for some time before her father approved of the marriage, after which time they would wed. He would inherit property, and she title. The marriage would be content and of mutual benefit. Of the utmost importance would be that Daphne would be happy – happy and secure. These were, naturally, her expectations; as for what she wished for herself, that was something she kept more closely guarded. In truth, the Daphne lacked the necessary dowry and title that would otherwise garner her preferred attention. She was smart enough to comprehend that marrying for love was a fool’s errand.

With the exception of Mr. Blanton’s first wife: her mother. Theirs was a true love story, cut short by the woes of consumption some four years past. That had been the darkest time of the family’s life. The boys had lost their mother so young, and Daphne feared they had suffered for it. She, too, wallowed in the loss for quite a time. The two of them had been firm allies and friends, united in the face of being outnumbered by the Blanton men. Now, there was only Daphne (for she did not count her stepmother among her allies). To think on her mother too long was to invite misery, so Daphne expelled those musings.

Finally, at the end of her turn about the garden, the rest of the property began to stir to life. Beyond the fence she could make out the arrival of the groundskeepers and gardeners who would begin their day-long attendance of the estate. For Daphne, this was the cue for her to begin her next task: rousing her father.

The merchant house where she, her brothers, Mr. Blanton and Mrs. Blanton resided was a handsome enough abode of red brick and dark timber. It was one of the largest houses on the property, standing at two storeys tall – three if you counted the small attic space, which Mr. Blanton certainly did. The hedges at the front were dissected by the narrow pathway and gate, which led directly out onto the road that connected this house to Hedingham Manor, home of the Gildons. The back garden, which Daphne walked most frequently, was modest in size and rooted with an abundance of greenery and colour. One Benedict Gildon, Lord of Hedingham Manor and Daphne’s most treasured friend, saw to it that she had every flower she desired planted amongst it. As a result, the garden was full of roses, bellflowers, delphiniums, geraniums, peonies, lavender and lady’s mantle. Such was the kindness of her adored companion that he did her this favour many years ago.

The distant Manor loomed over the crest of the hill a few miles up the road. Daphne caught sight of its turrets and wondered on what Lord Gildon’s plans for the day may be. Certainly, his life was more interesting than hers with all the wonders and adventures of enjoying the life of a high society citizen. Benedict would always tease her envious nature, but in truth Daphne did not honestly believe that she would fit into his world. Her life as a merchant’s daughter, though bland more days than not, was not without its comforts. After all, her greatest goal as it stood was only to secure a suitable husband, and this was providing her enough worries as it was. With what little excitement such a prospect could bring, she was more than content with her current lifestyle. If nothing else, at least the stories her father always brought home after his journeys beyond were of quality entertainment, though there hadn’t been such a tale for some time now.

Daphne crossed the garden and climbed the steps to the back door. She removed her coat and left it at the hook by the threshold, walking along the back of the kitchen, past the larder and through the sitting room where the housekeeper would normally have coaxed a fire in the hearth by now.

Their housekeeper, Mrs. Orville, was a portly and red-cheeked woman about her father’s age. She was of good nature and kind disposition, if not a little on the strict side. A woman of few words, what she did offer always promised comfort to the young Miss Blanton. Not two weeks ago, the docile Mrs. Orville had been driven to madness and walked out of the home. Daphne had never in her life seen the woman worked up in such a state. She had swept out of the house like a storm, announcing that she had simply had enough of Mr. Blanton’s antics. Daphne had never managed to conclude what exactly had transpired between the two, but she did not want to blame the poor woman, who had always tried her best to do right by the family even when Mr. Blanton made the task an exceptionally tiresome one. It did not help that Jasper and Lionel made it their civic duty to taunt and provoke the once-sweet woman.

Mrs. Orville had borne no children to her husband before he passed, a fact that had worn on her since his passing some years ago. Her affections for Daphne were maternal in many aspects, but the young Miss Blanton would never have considered her a replacement for her mother. The first Mrs. Blanton was a picture of grace and compassion, respectable in manner, easy in temperament, fair in her discipline. Daphne missed her dearly, and often thought of her when she caught sight of her own reflection. They shared many of the same features: dark and curling hair, eyes like spring moss, the small nose and milky complexion, though in Daphne’s mind her mother had worn these features better than her; there was just a little too much of Mr. Blanton in her cheeks and jaw to be considered a true beauty.

The house had fallen into disarray upon Mrs. Orville departure. Daphne endeavoured to keep it as best she could – after all she did plan to be a wife some day. They were lucky to have their loyal maid remain with the family but in truth, Mrs. Orville had far more knowledge and control over keeping house than Daphne ever could. Even now the house was filled with dust, the floors were unswept, the hearth barren. For a household of this size, there were simply not enough staff to manage it. If only she could bring her father back into society – maybe Mrs. Orville would forgive him and return to them. She could hardly bear the thought of hosting company, which was another of her perpetual worries. What if Benedict were to happen by for a neighbourly visit? She would simply die of embarrassment on the spot.

With a sigh, Daphne began to climb the stairs, thinking on how she would approach her father this morning. She had strived to be empathetic to his condition, but his personality had grown cumbersome. Perhaps she would try for a harder approach, present him with some kind of ultimatum. She could set her brothers upon him, though it seemed the boys had little interest in their father these days. Without his adventurous stories to fill their young minds with wonder they apparently saw little value in him. When they would not be busied with whatever duties the Lord of Hedingham bestowed upon them, they spent their time playing in the street and generally causing a typical ruckus.

Though the tougher approach to today’s awakening had some appeal, she knew that it was a farce in her own mind; she could never be unkind to her father, even if the situation demanded it. It would have the opposite effect, she decided, and send him spiralling down another miserable path. Feelings of being abandonment would come to picnic with those of relating to his alleged ailments.

The hallway was lit by a single window which Daphne used as a mirror to adjust some fly-away curls. The least she could do is present an illusion of composure for her father. His chambers were located in the western wing of the house. Jasper and Lionel’s shared room rested adjacent to their father’s. Daphne’s own room was halfway down the hall, closest to the stairs and to the eastern wing. Daphne wasn’t much fond of the eastern wing of the house. The fact that Mrs. Blanton predominantly chose to reside there had a lot to do with that. It seemed the woman had deliberately positioned herself as far from her husband as possible, even before his whining and wailing began to penetrate the walls of the house.

Daphne knocked at her father’s door once, twice, thrice, and received no response. An ungracious thought crossed her mind and for a moment she worried for his well-being, but upon opening the door she found him on the bed, sunk down and snoring. A wash basin sat on the drawers beside the bed. The water within was grey as the light that was trying to stream through the drawn curtains. To pull said curtains back, Daphne had to navigate the minefield of her father’s work: stacked books, strewn papers, a litter of pens, spilled ink, innumerable maps and geographical routes, documents of trade, artefact prototypes, her father’s yet incomplete model of the HMAS Caledonia whose masts sat abandoned under a film of dust.

Reaching the window at last, Daphne threw back the drapes to let in the morning sunshine. Mr. Blanton stirred but did not wake, and so she picked her way back through the dishevelled landscape of the bedroom to sit at his side.

“Father? Father, please, it is time to wake.” Her voice was low and soft; she wished to draw him gently from sleep rather than rouse him suddenly. Though his sickness was certainly exaggerated, his heart was less than sturdy. He was not a merchant who appreciated surprises. No merchant revelled in unpredictability.

Daphne placed the back of her hand against his forehead and found it clammy, but not worryingly so, for the lack of circulation in the room was contributing to the dampness on his skin. How long had it been since the windows had been opened? It must have been during the time Mrs. Orville was still in their employment. Daphne was momentarily overwhelmed by a sweeping feeling of guilt. Had she been so focused on the upcoming season that she had, inadvertently, fouled the room? Perhaps her father truly was as ill as he was making it seem.

Again, he was close to waking but seemed to be enjoying that dreamy period between consciousness and unconscious. Deciding to allow him a few additional moments of rest, Daphne retrieved the dirty water from beside him and made her way back through the hall and downstairs. She washed and refilled the basin and set about making a small breakfast for her father: toast, a sliced apple and a pot of tea. She would try and get something more substantial for them later–perhaps she would have her brothers fetch fresh eggs from the coop. She was feeling optimistic despite the state of her affairs. It was a new day, which brought new opportunity. Today could well be the day her father came back to her and re-joined the rest of the world.

Armed with her tray of fresh water and light breakfast, she paused on the landing at the strange sounds coming from the eastern wing of the house. Muttering, some bumping about, a barked command. It seemed Mrs. Blanton had risen without nearly as much trouble as her husband. Maybe she finally planned on bidding him good morning, or maybe that was just the optimism speaking again.

En route to her father’s chamber, she balanced the tray a moment to knock on the boys’ chamber door. Whether it would be enough to rouse them remained to be seen. She would very much appreciate their assistance, since it had been so lacking of late. Making her way back into her father’s room, she once again navigated through the messy maze before setting the tray of breakfast atop the chest at the foot of the bed. She placed the bowl of water down beside her father and wet a rag to graze across his forehead, all the while cooing to him gently. Finally, Walter Blanton woke. After a moment of confusion, he smiled into his daughter’s hand.

“Good morning, Daffodil.”

She set the cloth away having soothed his brow – or rather, wiped it free of dust. “How are you feeling this morning?”

“No better, my love. Oh, what a fitful night’s rest I had. I would have been up until sunrise were it not for the exhaustion. I fear I am tired right down to my soul.” He sighed heavily and asked her to mop his brow again. She complied, studying the pallor of his skin. He was pale from the lack of sunlight, no doubt, and for no other reason. It had been near a fortnight since he had deemed himself worthy of being bed-bound.

She pressed him. “I thought you might fancy a stroll through the grounds with me this morning? Surely the fresh air would lift your spirits – it always does mine. The garden is in bloom at the moment.”

“If only! But my legs are too weak to lift beyond this bed,” was the woeful reply. “Oh Daffodil, I think this sickness will be my end.”

“Hardly likely, dear father.” She leaned back at last, setting the bowl away. Like a child, he pouted, but she ignored him. “Here, please eat the breakfast I made. It will give you strength.” She retrieved the tray from the end of the bed and placed it over his knees. “You’ll have to sit up or you’ll be sleeping amongst crumbs.”

Mr. Blanton released an awful moan and leaned further into his pillows. “I cannot eat! My stomach is wasted. I have no appetite for such things any longer.”

Daphne pushed the tray further up, but Mr. Blanton continued to deny her. Finally, Daphne gave in. She would leave the breakfast to grow cold and stale.

“Father, please. You must help yourself if you will not accept my aid.”

He moaned again. “I mean not to insult you, my daughter. Believe me! But my heart, it breaks, infects the rest of me.”

“Your heart?”

“Yes, the wretched thing. Abandonment plagues me. My heart has made a poison of my body.”’

Daphne was quite clueless as to what exactly the old man was going on about. She sat beside him once more, taking his unwilling hands into hers.

“Father, the new season is upon us, and I have chosen to remain by your side. Please, don’t let this be for nothing. I couldn’t stand it if you were not well enough to see what the future holds for me.” She weaved her words carefully, hoping that they would ensnare him, that they would allow him a glimpse into life beyond this chamber. To see his daughter happy and wed? What man would not be motivated by such a thought? Surely he was not so selfish as to have her live out this entire season tending to his bedside?

But Mr. Blanton snatched his hands away and howled again, taking his palms to his cheek in a shattering moan. “I take ill so easily! Your words bring me no comfort, Daffodil, for I do worry about you. But it is no use to me and I can hardly bear to think on it. Please, fetch my wife. I want to see Roberta.”

He then launched himself into a coughing fit, working himself into such a state that Daphne found herself having to hit him on the back a fair number of times. Once he had calmed down and his breathing had returned to a normal rate, he asked for Roberta again.

“Please, my daughter. Tell her to come to me. I must see her.”

Daphne wanted to ask, what comfort it would bring? Knowing what she did of her stepmother’s temperament, at the very least Roberta would find crossing the hallway a chore. That was if Daphne could convince Mrs. Blanton to leave her room at all. How Daphne despised that her father would ask this of her. Here she was, ever the attentive daughter, and sacrificing her visit to London no less, all to ensure that he was maintained! Yet there the man sat, unable and unwilling to rise from his bed, asking after his absent second wife. The nerve of him rattled her so much so that she wanted to, for the first time ever, outright refuse him.

As she looked down upon him, he simple wailed, “I am so unloved!” He sent himself into another dizzying spiral, following by a second exaggerated coughing fit.

So she did not refuse him; Daphne kept her thoughts private, pulled her lips tight, and rose from her father’s bedside to retrieve the woman across the hall. Leaving her father’s chamber, she noticed that the door to her brothers’ room was ajar. At least they had risen to greet the daylight. She kept going.

The earlier sounds from behind the door had quietened and for a moment she was convinced that the room was empty. Pressing her ear to the door, she strained to hear what was happening beyond it. A thump had her reeling back, momentarily frightened. Composing herself, she knocked at the door, firm and steady. The silence fell again, and then there was an obvious bickering. The door to Mrs. Blanton’s chambers was pulled open by the maid.

“Good morning, Prudence,” Daphne chirped, pleasant as possible. She tried to peer over the girl’s shoulder and through the half-opened door. “May I enter?”

Prudence was a nervous thing, as easy to order as she was to upset. She looked as if she had endured a ragged morning: her fair hair was dishevelled and she was pink in the face. She had relied on Mrs. Orville for the most comfort and support. Daphne couldn’t help but wonder, looking into the girl’s eyes now, how much longer the maid would last without the housekeeper here. She did not know how the house would continue to stand if all their help was to depart them.

Still, Prudence hadn’t spoken. She seemed out of breath and was clutching the door in her thin, pale fingers.

Daphne tried again to peer around her. “I need a word with my stepmother. If you could please open the door…” She was beginning to suspect that the girl was in shock for all the response her words garnered. Daphne looked the maid in the face and asked her to move once more.

Finally, Prudence seemed to accept defeat and skirted to the side to open the door.

Roberta Blanton’s chambers were simultaneously the same and the opposite of her husband’s; the room was a catastrophe of trunks and clothing with all manner things sprawled all about, but where hers differed was in the nature of the room.

She was packing things away.

Daphne took a moment to consider the scene, feet stuck at the threshold. Roberta was fussing about by the vanity and running a brush through her hair. She was entirely aware of her stepdaughter’s intrusion and cared not for whatever words the younger woman was about to speak. She just kept right on sitting, asking Prudence to pull things from the wardrobe and lay them to fold. The maid retreated from the door to Roberta’s side to set about arranging the clothing into the suitcases.

Daphne finally managed to clear her throat. “What is the meaning of all this?”

Both the maid and Mrs. Blanton failed to provide an answer. Daphne could only assume that her stepmother was ignoring her and Prudence appeared to be too distraught to speak at all.

Daphne made her way into the room to count in the number of suitcases and consider the chaos of the space around her. How long had this been going on? This must be nearly complete.

“I asked you a question, stepmother. I would appreciate if it were answered.”

Her father’s wife finally turned to look at her. “It is not obvious, dear Daphne? I am taking my leave.”

“Your leave?”

“That is what I said, is it not?”

Daphne was caught between confusion and panic. Did her father know about this? Was she planning to travel alone? Why had she come to this decision?

Prudence bustled past her, suitcase in tow, leaving the first of the flock in the hallway. This could only mean that a carriage was shortly due to arrive. So many questions left unanswered!

“Where are you going?”

Roberta sniffed and turned back to the vanity. She examined the curls that were pinned to her head. “To London, of course.”

“On what business?”

“That is of no concern to you.”

Daphne bristled. “Would it be of concern to your husband?”

Roberta turned to her, eyes narrowed. “I would hardly think so.”

The words cut across Daphne harsher than a slap. It sounded like a warning. Her father truly had no idea that his wife is departing for London?

“Well, when will you be returning? I am sure he would appreciate knowing.”

“That is, as yet, undetermined,” Roberta said, voice laced with spite. Entirely uncaring, she motioned to the next suitcase that Prudence was to move into the hallway. The maid obliged, fervently avoiding Daphne’s gaze. “When I reach my destination, I will send word.” She pushed past Daphne and into the hallway, snapping at Prudence to hurry and bring her things down the stairs. All Daphne could do was follow along after her, still questioning.

“What am I to tell my father, since I do not suppose you will be bidding him goodbye?”

Outside, Roberta turned on her stepdaughter. “It is of little consequence to me. You seem the creative sort – I am sure you will come up with something.”

Just as the words left her lips, a carriage pulled up at the front of the house. The driver jumped to the ground, nodding at the two ladies and taking the suitcases from the clearly exhausted Prudence. At Roberta’s direction, he stowed them away and set himself atop the carriage again. The entire ordeal was over in just a few minutes.

Roberta took Daphne’s hands in hers, dry and cold. While holding the younger woman’s gaze, she said, “I am so sorry that you won’t be coming to London for the season this year. It truly is a shame.”

With that remark their parting words, Roberta boarded the carriage and sent the driver away. Daphne was left in the dust.

Scene II: Hedingham Manor in Essex

Hedingham Manor was one of the largest properties in Essex and had been the home of the Gildon family for generations. Containing over 50 rooms and lavishly decorated in all the finest interior fashions, the gargantuan stone building was finely made and elegantly situated, sweeping into the surrounding land as if it were ordained by the Heavens that it would sit in this very place. The grand facade stood atop a tall foundation with dual curving staircases on either side, completing the symmetrical aesthetic. These staircases gave way to the cobbled driveway beneath, which was wide enough for four carriages to stand abreast. The drive was circular and headed by a large, bubbling fountain with a rearing horse cresting the spout.

The ground of the estate covered some 90 acres and was comprised of a whole manner of gardens, open fields, forest and paddock. Wooded hills provided a natural boundary for the estate behind the Manor whereas the front was exposed to some miles of flat and lush ground. At the centre of the estate grounds was a large, natural lake, in which the residents would take to fishing in as a past time, just as they would like to hunt through the woodlands at the property’s rear. The surrounding forest was teeming with a whole manner of fantastic hunting game from pheasants to deer.

The Manor itself sat at the hill’s crest, a position which commanded unrivalled views of the countryside below, and likewise provided some level of natural fortification. It was a place with a grand history, strategically positioned in the Essex hills to command the area and town beneath. Hedingham was a popular place for visitors of the area as well, charming them with its expansive grounds and beautiful, ornate exterior. Some rooms were open to the public when accompanied by one of the estate staff. It was the opinion of the late Lord Gildon that the family endeavour to connect with the townsfolk in an effort to keep relationships strong.

Hedingham Manor was, in the opinion of the Essex townsfolk, the most beautiful home in the county, an opinion shared by its proprietor: one Lord Benedict Gildon.

The young Lord stood by a window in the dining hall. His favourite vantage point, it overlooked the entire front of the estate from the Manor’s driveway, down the rolling hill and to the lake at its base.  From here, he could guarantee that no visitors would be unannounced as he could see them coming for two miles up the road. As Lord of Hedingham, it was within his charge to ensure that the proceedings within these walls went smoothly. As such, Benedict enjoyed the organisation and, to an extent, the unique pressures that came with such responsibility. It occupied almost all hours of his day and ensured that his sleep during the night was restful; it must be, for he had to repeat the same system of operations each day.

Benedict had only been Lord of Hedingham for a short time. Lord Arthur Gildon had passed suddenly just two years earlier after a hunting incident had him thrown from his horse. He had succumbed to his extensive injuries within a week. It was the darkest period of his life that Benedict could recall. He was torn between mourning his father and the responsibilities that were immediately bestowed upon him as heir to Hedingham. He became Lord the same day as his beloved father’s passing. During that time, he had taken on the responsibilities with fervour, throwing himself into them as if to make his father proud. It was his only true focus in life at the time. He was not fully schooled in the running of a Manor and all the exact intricacies that were involved in such a task, but it was seen to that he received the best instructors on the matter. It seemed that, by and large, Benedict was doing a marvellous job as Lord of Hedingham.

Across the room, the table was being set for the day’s lunch. Benedict would be dining with his mother, the Lady Vivian. She sat at the chair adjacent to the head of the table and was watching her son as the platters were laid out before her. Benedict would normally enjoy this time of the day, using it as a period of rest and recuperation before his daily ride about the estate grounds. However, with the recent season beginning in London, it seemed that his Lady mother would have them discuss nothing else but the prospects that a new season would bring to the Gildon home.

“I just think you ought to go,” Lady Vivian was insisting. “It is about time you start taking this more seriously.”

Thoughtful quiet pervaded the room whilst the maids finishing laying the setting. This room was one of the most ornate in the Manor, designed especially to welcome and impress the many guests who would find themselves walking through Hedingham’s great doors. The long table was crafted from oak and stained to a black-brown. It seated twenty people, which would fill out a modest dinner party. Each chair was crafted from the same wood, which complemented the rest of Manor’s architecture. The walls were a pale contrast to the dark accents of the furniture and all around were splashes of colour in the finery and accessories.

Once the maids finished, Lady Vivian thanked them before she turned to her son, who was still staring out the window. “You are already in your twenty-second year. It is time that you began to more earnestly consider the prospect of marriage.”

It wasn’t that such a conversation bored Benedict – it was just that courtship and matrimony were not high on his list of priorities. After all, he was Lord of the Manor and had enough responsibilities as it were. He considered his mother’s words but was more interested in her intent. Benedict was constantly worrying for his mother, since she was now a widow. He often thought she was lonely for company and wished him to marry so that she had someone else about the property to talk to. His mother was choosy with her company and he did not doubt that she would have quite the opinion on his stepping into the London scene.

She continued on the topic. “I beg of you Benedict, head to London. A marriage promises a future.”

He sighed forlornly, hearing her words but not turning towards her yet. He kept his eyes on the world beyond the window, trailing his gaze from the fountain directly beneath him, down the long drive, to the lake a half mile away. The sky was beautiful today, a perfect blue flecked with clouds. The thought of going outside filled him with want of peace. He treasured his moments alone where he could reflect on what the future held for him in solitude.

But his mother still spoke from behind him. Not wanting to upset her, he turned and joined her at the table. Taking a seat at the head, he examined the abundant spread before him. He was entirely aware, of course, that his mind was wondering to a whole manner of subjects apart from what was currently being discussed.

With effort, he met his mother’s eyes at last. “I have no interest in such things, mother. My day to day life is complex enough without adding an unnecessary romance.”

She tutted at this. “My darling, the romance is not the necessary part. Your father – may his soul rest easy – would want to see his lineage continue. I would like to see his lineage continued. Your responsibilities to this family and to Hedingham do not start and end with this Manor.”

He knew that she spoke the truth, and that having a family was of the utmost importance. It was the role of any citizen in any society, was it not? To create and rear children, to maintain the family and further the line? Especially when the Gildon’s position was of such importance to society. But the thought of all that goes into raising children, the time he would have to spend away in order to engage in all those things leading to an adequate marriage – it all seemed so exhausting, and a distraction when there are so many others things he would rather be attending to.

“A sensible marriage is one that brings security; security, good title, sociability and a healthy lineage. It is just the way of life, my dear.” His mother paused as food was served. She took a sip of wine before going on. “I know you are young, but I hope you can understand the importance of your position.”

Benedict nodded at her. “I can; I do.”

He does, of course he does. He had learned of his title and what the position meant when he was young. He had been groomed for his father’s succession since the day he was born. Title and appearance were everything in this world of aristocracy. The Gildon’s had a certain perception to maintain, and it was Benedict’s sole responsibility to maintain this alongside Hedingham itself. As the only child of Lord and Lady Gildon, there was no other person the family could turn to; there was no other way around it. Whether he enjoyed the idea of marriage or not, and whether he was ready for such a life commitment, was irrelevant, and certainly not the concern of Lady Vivian. Duty was paramount {…}.

“Once Upon a Dreamy Match” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

When her father is suddenly left heartbroken by her conniving stepmother, Daphne Blanton is determined to move heaven and earth to make him smile again. On the bright side, she is more than lucky to have her childhood friend by her side in this endeavour, as he is willing to help her find a worthy woman for her beloved father. To make matters more complicated, her life will soon take an unexpected turn, when she finds herself inexplicably in love with her best friend. However, as Daphne is a mere merchant’s daughter, without any dowry, her union with the charming gentleman looks like an elusive dream. Will Daphne accept her miserable fate, or will she find the courage to reveal what lies deeper in her heart?

Lord Benedict Gildon has always been a responsible man, looking after his large estate in Essex and caring about each and every person around him. When his best friend seeks for his guidance, he agrees to help her without a second thought. In the meantime, the new Season is upon them and Benedict travels to London with her, in hope of finding respectable partners. Little did he know though that he would soon realise that the woman he had always been looking for, has been standing right next to him all this time. What sacrifices will Benedict need to make to claim Daphne, the only woman who can bring sunshine into his life? Will he be ready to come in clash even with his own bumptious mother for the sake of true love?

As destiny makes Daphne and Benedict grow closer with each passing day, unexpected scandals and major obstacles will threaten to tear them apart forever. However, their love is undeniably powerful, and in the face of a loveless future, they must risk it all and listen to the truth of their hearts. In the end, will Daphne and Benedict manage to see through the threatening fog and reach the clarity of their love? Or will their fairytale ending burst into flames due to their poor decisions?

“Once Upon a Dreamy Match” is a historical romance novel of approximately 60,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

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15 thoughts on “Once Upon a Dreamy Match (Preview)”

  1. Your new upcoming book has a great begining. So far I love the story that is forming, and I can not wait to read the whole book. I am looking forward to read Once Upon A Dreamy Match !

  2. I’m sorry to say that I feel the opening does not encourage the reader to continue. It is dull, dull, dull. Even the Scene II, introducing the hero, is boring and full of cliches: the mother haranguing the son to marry, to carry on the line; the new lord having too many responsibilities to think about marriage. Perhaps a better beginning (or a prologue?) would be the scene with the stepmother packing up and leaving; expand that to set the stage for the rest of the story. As it is, there is no angst on the heroine’s part as her stepmother leaves with no warning. In short, I don’t think I would buy this book as it is.

  3. I enjoyed reading this preview.It was interesting how the daughter was worried about her father and the wife didn’t care.But the father didn’t seem to be worried for his daughter finding a suitable husband.The lady was wondering about her son going to London to find a wife to carry on the family name.But the wife of the same station as his. The daughter not having a dowry and stationing than a merchant’s daughter .She had two seasons and no luck.It’s sad that girls were to old to find the love of their life after a certain age.But the father should be thinking of his daughter.Can’t wait to see how it turns out😊😊

  4. What a wonderful sad start to a story. I feel so sorry for both of the main characters . Her stepmother is a bitch and her father is a self-centere d man who wants everyone to cater to him. But I am looking forward to reading this book as I love to see the underdog get their due. Hope that is what happens!!

  5. I want to continue to read this story of the story since the daughter is special in regard to caring for her father and deserves some happiness in life. The introduction of the son whose mother is anxious for him to find his special wife sets the stage for a future meeting. The wicked stepmother is truly uncaring about the father who is so ill. Hoping for a happy “rest of the story.”

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