Smitten with an Ethereal Lady (Preview)

Chapter One

Cranwick Manor, Devonshire, 1812

Lady Charlotte Lumley stared out of the window of her second storey bedroom. Today was the day. The sky arched in a perfect blue above the manor, and she could see the sun already ascending, climbing higher towards the heavens. The wind whipped her long dark hair around her face, and she closed her eyes, breathing in the fragrance of the rose garden just below her.

The door suddenly burst open and Dulcie, her maid since she had been a little girl, came in, halting abruptly. “My lady! What do you think you are about, half hanging out of the window in your nightgown?” The plump maid bustled towards her. “Come in quickly, before the grooms see you.”

Charlotte laughed, closing the window. “Do not scold me, Dulcie. The day is simply perfect.”

The maid’s blue eyes flashed. “It would not be so perfect, my lady, if the servants started gossiping about you,” she said tartly, taking her by the arm and leading her further into the room. “Let’s get you dressed, and then we can talk about what fanciful notions are going through that head of yours.”

Charlotte obeyed, letting Dulcie dress her. The maid was long practised and took barely any time. The next thing she knew she was sitting at the dressing table, staring at herself in the mirror. Charlotte sighed. The joy she had felt at greeting the summer day was dissipating just a little. Her siblings were not at home, staying at a friend’s estate twenty miles away. Her father, the Earl of Montgomery, was always holed up in his study entertaining his gentlemen friends, or else out hunting in the grounds. Her mother, the countess, was usually tearing around the countryside in her carriage, visiting acquaintances. Charlotte had been left to her own devices for weeks now.

“I am so bored,” she announced dramatically, staring at Dulcie in the mirror. “I declare I have been haunting the manor like a ghost ever since Diana and George left.”

“You miss them, I daresay,” said Dulcie, her mouth full of hairpins. “You three are like peas in a pod, and always have been. But they will be back next week, my lady. Then we shall all be travelling to London for the season. Oh, I cannot wait, I must say!”

Charlotte smiled at the maid’s excitement. Dulcie always looked forward to the annual trip to Acton House, their London residence. But London was still two weeks away. A great chasm of time stretched out before her. So many hours and days to fill. She had read practically every book in the library. She had played the piano until her fingers ached. Painting also occupied some time, but she was uninspired.

“I think I shall take Prancer for a ride today,” she declared.

Dulcie put down the hairbrush, staring at her dubiously. “You know your father’s thoughts about riding alone, my lady.”

Charlotte rolled her eyes. “He shan’t even know, Dulcie. And besides, the weather is perfect. Prancer and I shall be back before the earl knows that we have gone.”

Dulcie frowned at her. “Just because you turned nineteen a month ago doesn’t mean you are too old to obey your father.” She put her hands on her hips. “Promise me you shall do no such thing, my lady. If you wish to ride, wait until your brother and sister are back to ride with you. You might even speak to the earl and see if he could accompany you.”

Charlotte picked at a stray thread on her gown. “He will not. He is always too busy, as is my lady mother. They have barely spent any time with me in the last two weeks.”

“Such a sour-puss.” Dulcie’s voice was mild. “The good Lord doesn’t smile on sulking young ladies, as well you know.”

Charlotte rolled her eyes again. Dulcie had been trotting out that line since she was little. But she was too old now for platitudes. She was a young lady of nineteen and old enough to make up her own mind about such silly things as going for a ride. The weather was good. Why shouldn’t she?

The earl and countess would never know. Neither would Dulcie. She would simply slip out and be back before they even realised. Her mind made up, Charlotte smiled. Yes, today was indeed the day.

***

The wind was cooling on her face as she approached the stables. Old Harris, the farrier, broke into a gap-toothed grin when he saw her.

“Morning, my lady,” he drawled. “And what can I do for you this fine morning?”

Charlotte smiled. She liked Harris. He had been farrier in her father’s stables since she was a little girl. He had taught her everything she needed to know about riding.

“Good morning, Harris,” she said. “Can you prepare Prancer? I think I will head out over the hill towards Salbridge.” Salbridge was a village only five miles from Cranwick Manor.

Harris rubbed his stubbled chin. “My lord has said that you can ride by yourself?”

“Of course.” She stared at him, not blinking. “My father and mother are aware of it. Do not worry, Harris. I shall be back before you know it.”

Prancer was happy to see her. He stomped his feet, neighing with delight. She rubbed him down gently, talking to him. He was her favourite horse and always seemed to understand her. Harris led him out of the stables for her, and then she mounted him, spurring him across the fields.

It was so wonderful riding in the open air, green fields spotted with wild daisies, that she lost track of time. And her bearings, too. Puzzled, she stopped on the edge of a hill. Salbridge was nowhere in sight. She must have taken a slightly different way.

“We’d better head back,” she whispered in the horse’s ear. “Come on, old boy. Mama will be angry if I am not in the drawing room for afternoon tea.”

Prancer whinnied as she turned him around, back towards home. A single drop of rain fell on her face. She stared up at the sky, puzzled. The sky was darkening ominously.

A storm was approaching. A sudden summer storm. They could whip up quickly in this part of Devonshire. Angry grey clouds swirled around, and in the distance she heard the first low rumble of thunder. Prancer whinnied nervously.

She petted him, whispering sweet words in his ear to reassure him. But she couldn’t stop the stab of misgiving that entered her heart as she watched lightning criss-cross the sky. She spurred him on. She simply must get home before the worst of the storm.

She was only half a mile away when it arrived. Torrential rain whipping around her face. It was so heavy, and fell so hard, that it was all she could do to lead Prancer onwards. She was drenched. A drowned rat, as her brother George would say. Mama would be furious that she had ruined her new white muslin gown. It was a birthday gift, after all, purchased from the very best dressmaker in Salbridge.

But all thoughts of ruined gowns fled her mind as another fork of lightning pierced the sky. It was close. So close that Prancer took fright suddenly, racing off. She could barely hold on, and she couldn’t see a thing through the rain.

“Prancer!” she cried desperately. “Slow down!”

But the spooked horse kept running, veering wildly. Suddenly, he hit a ditch. His legs buckled violently, and she was flying through the air, landing with a thud on the sodden ground.

Dazed, she tried to get up. But every time she attempted it, sharp pain assailed her. She couldn’t get to her feet. Even moving her head and arms was an agony beyond anything she had ever experienced. But worse than anything was hearing Prancer’s desperate squeals from the ditch.

She clawed the ground, trying to get to him. But then everything went dizzy, and black. She awoke abruptly to the face of Old Harris, calling to her.

“My lady,” he had entreated. “Lady Charlotte. Wake up, my lady!”

Her eyes flickered open. The rain had slowed to a drizzle. “Harris,” she whispered. “What happened?” And then she remembered. “Where is Prancer?”

A look of sorrow came over his weathered, wrinkled face and his rheumy blue eyes filled with tears. “It’s too late for old Prancer, my lady. He broke both front legs, I am sorry to say. I had to have him shot.” He took a deep breath. “It was the kindest thing.”

“No, no,” she cried. How could he be dead? It was all her fault.

***

London, 1816. Four years later

A flash of lightning illuminated the bedroom. It was so intense that it permeated through the heavy lace curtain, etching the furniture in an almost white light. In the four-poster bed, Charlotte stirred slightly, huddled beneath the blankets. She moaned, turning to her side. Even though she was deeply asleep, she knew. The thunderstorm was bringing it all back. She slid into the dream as seamlessly as putting on a glove.

It was raining. So much rain that it fell in heavy sheets around her. So much rain that she could barely see through it.

For one moment she was staring up at the sky, watching the lightning flash in forks around her. Then she turned her gaze downwards, to her arm. Static electricity crackled through the air, the hairs were raised slightly, like soldiers standing to attention. She shivered, even though it was warm.

Prancer shivered too. She leaned down in the saddle, stroking his chestnut coat, trying to reassure him. But strangely, no words came out. Surprised, her hand flew to her throat. She opened her mouth again … but nothing.

The rain was drenching her. So much rain. She had never seen so much rain before. How was it even possible that the sky contained so much? Thunder and lightning. A fork flashed, and Prancer was racing. She gripped him fiercely, but it was too late. He had bolted.

Everything blurred. Everything was too fast. She felt sick, like she was tumbling over and over. And then the world started spinning. She was flying through the air. She put out her hands to stop her fall, but the ground never arrived. She was hurtling downwards, forever …

Charlotte sat bolt upright in bed. Her heart was racing. Without hearing it, she knew that she had screamed. She also knew that no one would come to her. Her mother and father were on the other side of the mansion, and her sister and brother – who were closer – had been told not to humour her. She had eavesdropped on a conversation just the other day in the drawing room, between her mother and her sister. She hadn’t meant to be loitering in the hallway. She hadn’t even known that her mother and sister were in there.

“Charlotte is verging on hysterical,” the countess had said. Charlotte heard the clink of a teacup on a saucer. “So many nightmares. Do not encourage her, Diana. If you keep rushing into her bedroom every time she has one to comfort her, it becomes a habit. She feeds off it, you see. It is best if you just ignore her entirely.”

“But Mama,” her sister Diana’s voice was sweet and concerned. Just like her. “She is terrified. Every time I go to comfort her she is so shaken and distressed. Surely it cannot hurt to give her even a small measure of relief?”

The countess sighed heavily. “Indulgence. It is not to be tolerated. It has been more than four years, and the earl and I despair of her.” The countess paused. “No, I must be strict on this. You and George are too soft with her, Diana. You are the younger sister, after all, and yet you pet her like she is an injured lamb.”

“Mama,” said Diana cajolingly. “You of all people know what she has endured. How can you say such things?”

Charlotte’s heart had constricted. Indeed, how could her mother say it? And yet, she already knew how much of a burden she was on her parents, even as they sought to help her. Sometimes she felt their cold eyes upon her, assessing her, as if she were a strange insect they had just happened upon.

She sighed now, slowly drifting backwards towards the pillow. No, there would be no one coming to comfort her. She would just have to endure it alone, as she always did these days. She wasn’t even in her usual bedroom at their beloved estate in Devonshire. They were at their London mansion, Acton House. Charlotte stared around. She had never liked this room. It was cold, empty and devoid of sentiment. A place that she must endure before they could return home to Cranwick Manor.

She turned to her side. Another flash of lightning illuminated the room. She gazed at the window. That was what had brought it on, of course. The thunderstorm. Just like the one that had filled the sky all those years ago.

Charlotte raised her left hand. It was happening again. The nightmare must have brought it on. A slight tremor, growing worse as her heart beat faster. Fiercely, she willed it to stop, but she might as well have been wishing for the sun to stop rising in the east. When it happened, she could not control it. She had learnt that the hard way.

***

She must have dozed off again, because the next thing she knew Dulcie was pushing back the curtains. The maid turned to her, plump hands on her hips. “Well now, my lady. Time to rise and shine.”

Charlotte sat up in the bed, disoriented. “Has the storm passed, Dulcie?” she asked fearfully.

“All gone.” The maid beamed. “Sunshine now, my lady. Never fear. Let’s get you up.”

Charlotte put out a hand to allay the woman. “I am fine, Dulcie. I can get out of bed myself.” She swung her legs over the side of the bed, tentatively stepping onto her feet. A wave of relief swept through her. She was fine. The tremors had abated while she slept.

The maid briskly dressed her, pulling at her as if she were a rag doll. And then she led her over to the dressing table to do her hair and toilette.

“Ringlets?” Dulcie picked up a strand of her dark hair, staring at her in the mirror. “All the ladies are wearing ringlets at the front, I have noticed.”

Charlotte shrugged, disinterested. “Do what you will. It is not as if anyone ever notices, anyway.”

“Oh, fie, my lady.” Dulcie’s eyes widened. “You are a pale thing, to be sure. But just as pretty as any of those flibbertigibbets that parade down Bond Street. You should take some interest in how you look.”

Charlotte sighed heavily. “I cannot seem to find the interest. It is not as if I go anywhere to make such an effort. I cannot remember the last time I attended a dance, or even a morning tea.”

The maid nodded as she skilfully arranged her hair. “Well, that is in the country. They are all dull there, as well we know. You are in London now and must look the part. You are an earl’s daughter, after all, and better than most.” She rested a hand gently on her shoulder. “The nightmares aren’t real, my lady. It is all over and done with.”

The door suddenly opened. The countess, resplendent in a gold high-waisted gown with matching cap, stood there imperiously.

“Leave us.” Her voice was sharp.

Dulcie quickly curtsied, leaving the room. The countess swept into the room, staring at Charlotte. She picked up a hair ribbon from the dressing table, winding it in her hands. Charlotte watched her mother cautiously. What was she doing here, so early in the morning? What couldn’t wait until breakfast?

“We will be having a visitor this morning,” she announced. “As soon as breakfast is over, I want you to go to the drawing room.”

Charlotte stared at her. “A visitor? For me?”

The countess sighed, letting the ribbon fall to the floor. “That is correct, Charlotte. And I do not want any of your usual nonsense about it.” She frowned, as if underlining her statement. “A Dr. Gibson. He has a formidable reputation. I want him to examine you and give us his opinion.”

Charlotte sighed. “Mama, you know that it is all for naught. No physician can tell us what is wrong with me, nor have a cure for it.”

The countess gazed at her sharply. “There are always second opinions, daughter. And third ones. You must not give up so easily.” She drew herself up to her full, imposing height. “The drawing room. As soon as breakfast is over.” She left the room.

Charlotte sighed again. What did any of it matter, anyway? Her life as she had known it was over. All because she had chosen to ride through a summer storm, so many years ago.

Chapter Two

Charlotte stared at the physician, Dr. Gibson, with distaste. He was so large he seemed to fill the room with his presence. She could see that her mother was astounded too at the enormous man balancing on the edge of her chaise longue like a teacup teetering on the edge of a table. He looked out of place in this genteel drawing room, to say the least.

He had dull grey, tightly curling hair, tied back with a black ribbon. a face the colour of port wine, with a large bulbous nose one shade darker than his skin. But that was not the worst of him. Whenever he smiled, or laughed, a strange smell emanated from his mouth. Charlotte frowned. Had he been eating pickles, or herring? It was all she could do not to reel back in disgust when he had been examining her.

He had prodded and poked, picked up her wrist, muttering under his breath the whole while. And now he was drinking his cup of tea, staring at her over the rim as if she were a puzzle he couldn’t quite make out.

“A pretty girl,” he pronounced now, as if she wasn’t there, his black eyes narrowed. “A delicate, petite stature. But too pale, to be sure. Perhaps she needs more sunlight, Lady Montgomery?”

“Indeed.” The countess’s voice was tight. “I do not think that wise, Dr. Gibson. A lady must protect her complexion.”

“Quite so, quite so.” The physician frowned. “A puzzling array of symptoms. And they all started after the unfortunate accident, you say?”

The countess nodded. “My daughter was the epitome of good health prior to it, Doctor. In fact, she was blooming. My Lord and I were lining up some very good matrimonial prospects.” She took a sip of her tea.

Charlotte stared down at her hands in her lap, unable to stop herself rolling her eyes. Why did her mother always talk that way about her? As if she had disappointed her parents by having the worst calamity of her life. It wasn’t as if she intended the fall, after all. It had not been in her mind to destroy her matrimonial prospects that day.

Dr. Gibson leaned forward, almost falling off the chaise longue. “I wonder if you have ever heard of Augustus d’Este, my lady?”

The countess blinked. “Are you referring to the king’s grandson? The invalid?”

Dr. Gibson nodded. “The very one. He had similar symptoms to your daughter: impacted vision, tremors, numbness.” He took a deep breath. “He declined in health over the course of his life, and is now bedridden, unable to get up.”

“Was there a diagnosis?” The countess’s voice was low.

The physician shook his head. “There is not a name for what afflicts him. But I am drawing parallels between his case and your daughter’s.” He stared at Charlotte. “It is only a theory, and I might of course be mistaken. But I believe that your daughter will decline slowly over the years, as he did, and will end up bedridden. She will be unable to walk or serve herself. Or decline entirely.”

The countess gasped. “My daughter will become an invalid? Or even …” Her voice trailed away and she stared at Charlotte.

The physician coughed. “It is only a theory, my lady. But the symptoms are very similar. I think that you and Lord Montgomery must prepare yourselves for it. I doubt greatly that she will get better, or ever be cured.”

Charlotte heard his voice fading in and out, as if from a great distance. He was saying something about declining further and becoming an invalid. He even hinted at death. Shocked, she watched his mouth move, but the words seemed to drift away into the air.

She stood up abruptly. “If you will excuse me. I must take some air.”

Without waiting for permission, she stumbled out of the drawing room. Her mother would never let her hear the end of it, of course. She would be scolded soundly for daring to leave without asking, and being so rude to a guest, even if it was only a physician. But in that moment even the thought of her mother’s certain censure was not enough to stop her. She needed to be by herself and process the shocking words that had come out of his mouth.

Picking up the hem of her gown, she turned towards the stairs, intending to flee to her room. But her foot arrested on the first step. She could hear the tinkling notes of the pianoforte drifting towards her, from the music room. She smiled faintly, turning her head towards it. It was Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven, one of her favourites. Once upon a time she had lost herself in playing it, along with many other sonatas and concertos. She had even enjoyed playing country jigs. But since the accident she had stopped. She couldn’t trust that the tremors in her hands would not appear and spoil the music.

Charlotte drifted towards the room, almost unwillingly. At the entrance she stopped and stared. She already knew who would be playing so beautifully, but the sight of her dear sister Diana never failed to fill her heart with gladness.

Her eyes took in her sister’s dark hair, styled in tight ringlets at the front, with a centre parting and a loose bun at the back. Fashionable, but not ostentatious – a little like Diana herself. Today she was wearing a pale primrose morning dress, very high-waisted, with a subtle trail of embroidered fleur-de-lis along the edge. Diana’s blue eyes were closed as her long fingers swept over the pianoforte. Lost in the music, as always. Charlotte smiled, resting her head against the door frame, closing her eyes as well. She could listen to Diana play all day.

“Sister!” The music suddenly stopped.

Charlotte opened her eyes. Diana was staring at her, a worried frown puckering her brow.

Diana got up swiftly, approaching her. “Dearest. What is wrong? Did the visit with the physician not go well?”

Charlotte felt tears pricking behind her eyes. Diana made a soft sound, leading her into the room. They sat on chairs near the long window, with the view over Piccadilly. In the distance Charlotte could see a carriage driving by and heard the woebegone voice of a flower-seller calling out her wares in front of the grand building opposite. She blinked. She still wasn’t used to seeing London when she gazed out of a window, rather than the rolling green hills surrounding Cranwick Manor.

“Charlotte,” Diana’s voice was gentle. “Please, dearest. Tell me what is wrong.”

Charlotte sighed, fighting back the tears. She wouldn’t cry, she told herself fiercely.

“Bad news, I fear,” she said softly. “The physician has informed Mama and I that my symptoms will not dissipate. In fact, they shall worsen, until I am so incapacitated that I shall be bedridden.” She bit her lip, staring out the window again. “That is if I do not die before such a fate claims me.”

Diana gasped. She reached out, taking Charlotte’s hand. “Oh, Charlotte! Surely not? How can the man pronounce such a verdict on such scant examination? It is absurd.”

Charlotte sighed. “He believes I have the same symptoms as one Augustus d’Este. King George’s grandson. He is bedridden, now.”

Diana frowned. “I have heard of him. They say that he was in a wheelchair and suffered such tremors and numbness that he could barely hold a fork.” She paused. “But how can this … physician claim unequivocally that you will suffer the same fate as he?”

“He does not claim it.” Charlotte’s voice was soft. “He merely states that it is a theory, and as good as any that I have heard. Think, dearest. My problems with my vision, my tremors and numbness … all are getting worse over time, not better. It does indeed suggest that I am declining in the same manner.”

Diana shook her head vigorously, causing her ringlets to shake. “I do not believe it. I refuse to believe it!” Her grip on Charlotte’s hand tightened. “And you must not believe it either, my dearest sister. This quack is just like all the others. They have their half-baked theories, but no one knows for sure. You mustn’t let this stop you living your life the way that you should.”

Charlotte blinked back tears again. Diana was the sweetest sister anyone could hope for, but she was lying. She could see it in the scared look in her eyes, the way they flickered from side to side. She knew that Diana was fearful too, but wouldn’t to show it. She would want to make Charlotte believe that everything was going to turn out well.

Her eyes drifted out the window. The flower-seller was packing up, placing her bunches of roses and forget-me-nots on the back of her cart and hauling it out onto the road. Evidently, business was not good on this road. The old woman looked tired and defeated. Her shoulders were hunched as she slowly pulled the cart, disappearing from view.

Life is fleeting and hard, thought Charlotte. For everyone. She was in a better position than most. She was the daughter of an earl, with every comfort and luxury imaginable. But still all the riches and position in the world could not cure what ailed her. She was just like the old flower-seller – a victim of the hand that life had played her. She could accept that hand, or she could fight it. What was she going to do?

She took a deep breath. “I am fearful, Diana, but your kind words have calmed me, as they always do. I will not deny that I was shocked by what he said. To hear that there is a strong possibility that you will end up bedridden or dying soon tends to rattle you, just a little.” She laughed softly. “But do not be so worrisome for me, sister. I will carry on, as I always do.”

Tears swam in Diana’s eyes. “You are so brave, Lottie.”

Charlotte smiled, warmed to hear her sister call her by her childhood nickname. “I am no such thing. I am a hysterical woman, beset by bad dreams and retiring to her bed with the vapours when overwhelmed.”

Diana frowned. “Do not listen to Mama and Papa. I know that they can appear … callous when they talk to you about your malady. But I am sure that deep down they know how brave you are – how gallantly you battle what besets you …”

Charlotte raised an eyebrow. “Perhaps we are speaking of different people, dearest. Your parents are solicitous and doting. So are George’s.” She bit her lip. “Mine, however, do not want to claim me anymore. I am burdensome to them. Tell me, does any one of our good parents’ London acquaintances even know of my existence?”

Diana reddened slightly. “It is because you have not been in London and attended the seasons here since the accident, Charlotte.”

Charlotte snorted, rubbing her white poplin gown between her fingers. “That is poppycock. They are embarrassed by me and that is the truth of it. They would prefer that their fine friends not even know about me. They want to hide me away, as if I were loathsome or fearsome.” She stared at her sister. “No one even knows about the accident, or what has happened to me since. Nor will they. Not now I can no longer make the advantageous marriage that they hunger for.”

A determined look came over Diana’s face. “You shall marry. And you shall have a fine tribe of children, each one more rambunctious and naughtier than the last.”

Charlotte laughed, but her heart constricted, just a little. She knew that she would never marry or have children. What man would want such a delicate flower, beset by tremors and nightmares? And as for having children … well, it would probably be physically impossible. If she had to take to her bed now, how taxed would she be with the physical demands of childbearing and rearing? If she survived it at all.

“No, Diana.” She shook her head. “You know that I have made my peace with the knowledge that I shall never be a wife or a mother. And there has hardly been a plethora of eligible young men beating down our door to ask for my hand.”

Diana sighed heavily. “You are your own worst enemy sometimes, sister. You have been a hermit, holing yourself up at Cranwick Manor and avoiding the seasons in London. If you attended the assemblies and dances here, you might catch the eye of some eligible gentlemen.”

Charlotte smiled. “It does not matter.” She raised her chin. “I shall not pursue that course. But I have decided to have a newfound philosophy on my days, nonetheless. If my days are numbered … then I must live every one of them as if it were my last.”

Diana’s eyes lightened. “Sister …”

Charlotte stood up. “It starts now, Diana. I have already interrupted your playing. But would you mind terribly if I took over? My fingers are simply itching to play that sonata.”

Diana nodded. Charlotte took a deep breath and sat down carefully, spreading her dress around her. The music sheets were already on the stand. She just had to read them and start playing.

Her heart was hammering as she spread her fingers over the keys. Was that a slight tremor? Determinedly she ignored it. She started playing. The notes were a little discordant – she was out of practise. But soon she was as swept up in the music as she had been when she had listened to Diana playing.

She closed her eyes. How could she have ever stopped doing this? It was a part of her. She loved music passionately. And nothing was going to stop her doing what she loved. She might end up bedridden, or slowly die, but until then … she had to live.

***

The countess glared at Charlotte over the grand dining table, stabbing at her food with a fork. “It is simply intolerable, Charlotte. To scurry out of the room like that, without requesting permission. Dr. Gibson was flabbergasted, to say the least.”

Charlotte raised her chin. “I am sure that you handled it with your usual aplomb, Mama.”

George stifled a laugh. “You seem brighter, sister. I saw you painting this afternoon. It warmed my heart. It has been so long since you have done it, and you have such talent.”

Charlotte smiled at him. “I don’t know if I am particularly talented, George, but I do enjoy it.” She took a deep breath, staring around at her family. “I am going to do everything that I have always loved from now on. I am simply determined.”

Her mother gaped at her. Her father choked a little on his wine. Diana let out a small squeal of joy, sounding much like a mouse.

“Bravo!” said George, his eyes gleaming at her. “I am planning an excursion to Bond Street tomorrow, sister. A spot of shopping. I think that with your newfound attitude, you should definitely come. I think that London deserves to see the new and improved Lady Charlotte Lumley.”


“Smitten with an Ethereal Lady” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Lady Charlotte Lumley knows that she can never aspire to have a normal life, like any other lady in her position would. Many years ago, an accident on a rainy day, had put an end to any chance of her becoming a bride. Charlotte has resigned herself to an inevitable fate – she became a social recluse, who even her parents never speak of, because of the affliction that torments her; a ghost daughter, who must stay hidden away. But when she meets the kind and handsome Marquess, her heart flutters for the first time! Can she let go of her secret and believe that love is on the cards for her too?

Sebastian, the Marquess of Wharton, has no desire to marry. The vapid society ladies that his mother insists on throwing on his path do not interest him at all. All that changes when he suddenly meets a beautiful lady on a crowded street, and he is forced to reconsider his perspective. Despite all his mother’s efforts, Sebastian is smitten with the mysterious Charlotte and cannot stop thinking about her. Will he be able to discover her well-kept secret and convince her that she is the one who owns his heart?

Even though they were instantly attracted to each other, each one repelled those thoughts for their own reasons. Nonetheless, avoiding that powerful chemistry cannot last long. Can Charlotte ever hope to let go of her painful past, and learn to embrace life, and a chance of true love? Will Sebastian be able to break free of society’s norms and follow his heart?

“Smitten with an Ethereal Lady” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

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37 thoughts on “Smitten with an Ethereal Lady (Preview)”

    1. I am so looking forward to seeing how Charlotte’s new perspective on her life transforms her. Loved the preview.

    2. From this excerpt, I found myself wanting to learn more about Charlotte and her new determination to “live it day to the fullest” by doing what she wants to do. Charlotte sounds like a character that will not let her health concerns rule her life. I hope that as the story continues, she is able to stand up to her parents and find someone who will be attracted to her courageous spirit.

    3. I ENJOYED READING THIS INTRODUCTION AND AM PULLED INTO THE STORY AND REALLY CAN’T WAIT TO READ THE BOOK!

    4. A captivating intro drawing me into the book immediately. The happy, carefree and adventurous spirit subdued by a horrible accident but not extinguished, rather waiting to spark to life. MORE please…

    5. I can’t wait for this book to come out. There are so many ways that things can go that I
      can’t wait to see which way the story goes. AWESOME

  1. Oh, my! I am hooked on this story and can not wait to read it all!! The characters already seem to be very real to me and opening about Lottie’s ride and fall set the story very well. Thank- you for sharing this preview – again, I cannot wait!

  2. I think Charlotte hit upon just what the doctor SHOULD have ordered! Now, let’s see what card life next deals her!

  3. I’m anxiously awaiting the res t if the story! Is it out yet? How about now?!!!!!

  4. Breath taking!

    I totally got swept in and forgot it was just a preview. Can’t WAIT to read more

  5. Can’t wait for the book to come out. Charlotte with the bravery she has to fight this sickness to go on and live her life as before.

  6. Your novel sounds like it contains an unusual storyline, which is greatly appreciated! I love reading Regencies that have their own special trope. I look forward to your release date.

    Best wishes,
    Mary K.

  7. I enjoyed reading the preview of your new book, the story line looks like it’s going to be interesting and different. Really looking forward to it’s release

  8. I loved this preview and now really am ready to read the whole story. I love how you make the characters so real. I almost expect to walk out into the street and interact with them. Can’t wait for the release now. Thanks for being such a great writer.

  9. Uuu now just reading the blurb got me hooked, after reading the preview, I have to read it and find out the future of this delicate flower!!
    This story, from the start, captures the heartstrings.
    Can’t wait to read it further.
    Thank you.

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