Late in England’s Victorian age, the world is changing–new freedoms, new ideas, and perhaps a chance for an old love to be new again…
A love too strong to let go …
Aspiring singer Sophie Tresilian had the world at her feet–fame, fortune, and true love–until the man of her dreams broke her heart. Now she’s the toast of Europe, desired by countless men but unwilling to commit to any of them. Then Robin Pendarvis walks back into her life …
Four years ago, Rob had hoped to make Sophie his bride, but secrets from his past forced him to let her go. Seeing her again revives all the old pain–and all the old passion. It might be against every rule, but somehow, some way, he will bring them together again…
(As this is being posted during Thanksgiving week, I thought it only appropriate that this excerpt should feature the newly acquainted hero and heroine partaking of a holiday feast!)
As Lady Tresilian had promised, supper was lavish, as befitted the season: roast joints of beef and mutton, ham, goose, lobster, and salmon. Savory and sweet pies of all description—Robin had heard the joke that the devil himself avoided Cornwall for fear of being baked in a pie—along with hothouse fruits, puddings, jellies, and pitchers filled to the brim with rich Cornish cream. Cider, champagne, and wine were also available in abundance; Sir Harry prided himself on his cellar, Sophie informed him.
Once they were seated, Robin served them both from the various laden platters. Sophie ate lightly, but with the eager appetite of seventeen, whetted no doubt by her performances in the music room and on the dance floor. He liked that she did not peck or nibble at her food, as too many fashionable young ladies did.
“Would you like anything more?” he asked, as she polished off the last delectable bite, then eyed her empty plate a touch wistfully.
She shook her head. “I mustn’t gorge myself, not when there’s more dancing to follow. But I will take a little more champagne, if you please.”
He reached for the bottle and poured out half a glass of the pale sparkling wine for her.
Sophie sipped it delicately. “Wonderful,” she said on a sigh. “They don’t usually let me drink anything stronger than tea, or occasionally cider, unless it’s a very special occasion.”
Robin glanced involuntarily toward the end of the table, where Sir Harry was sitting; fortunately, his host was not looking in their direction. “Oh, dear. Will your brother be displeased by my plying you with strong drink?”
She gave a gurgle of laughter, as irresistibly bubbly as the champagne. “Only if we’re foolish enough to tell him! But you needn’t worry, Mr. Pendarvis. I’m enjoying this evening far too much to spoil it by getting tiddly.”
Her frank admission made him smile as well. Nothing of the coquette about Sophie, he thought, nothing calculating or artful. Her face, her manners, and her conversation were open, candid, and unaffected, and all the more endearing for that.
Did she have any idea of her own appeal? She’d a host of admirers, but he’d seen no evidence that she’d been flirting with any of them. Or with him for that matter.
Which was all to the good, Robin reminded himself. In London, at some of the parties he’d attended, he’d had to discourage a few young ladies inclined to set their caps at him, once they heard of his expectations as Great-Uncle Simon’s heir. Nothing so stark as the truth, but enough to let them know he was not a likely candidate for matrimony at this time.
Not until tonight had he found himself wishing he were. But he had no business hoping for--if not the impossible, then the deeply improbable, and no right to cry for the moon. Life was in the moment, and at this moment, seated beside this lovely, enchanting girl-woman, he felt he had all he could want. Let that be enough, for now.
“It has been a very pleasant evening,” he said aloud.
“Hasn’t it?” Sophie smiled at him over the rim of her glass, her eyes glowing like jade. “I am so glad you’ve enjoyed yourself, Mr. Pendarvis. And even gladder that you accepted my brother’s invitation.”
“As am I, Miss Tresilian.” Robin picked up his own wineglass to touch it lightly to hers. “To the New Year.”
“To the New Year,” she echoed, and they drank the toast together.
I will be giving away a signed copy of A Song at Twilight to a commenter who answers the following question: What is your favorite holiday dish?
You can find Pamela Sherwood at her website at http://pamelasherwood.com/