She was the light
that guided him out of his darkness…
Locked away in her family’s estate for more than two decades, Aurelia Blackmore has resigned herself to a life of exile.
Blinded in the same fire that killed her mother when she was young, marriage is not even a thought for her. Until the day her father announces her engagement to a man she has never met.
Donovan Harding, the Duke of Oakhampton, has suffered many losses, with his wife and his fortune sacrificed on the altar of an illness. With no good options left, he must marry again. But his new bride’s secret might be more than he can handle.
Tied together by the strings of his son’s violin, their marriage is a precarious one. When a fire claims her childhood home and a constable brings news of a murder, the strings begin to unravel. A familiar voice, awakening memories of her past, threatens to tear away all that she loves, just as it had the fateful night she lost her vision and her mother.
Aurelia had been confined to her father’s estate since she was blinded in the fire that took her mother’s life. Her father had since remarried and has an heir but rarely visits. To say she doesn’t get along with her stepmother is kind and her step-brother doesn’t even pretend to be related. This visit was to be about replacing the retiring housekeeper, but instead brings the unwanted news that she has been promised in marriage.
Donovan Harding, the Duke of Oakhampton has no choice, the dowry for the Duke of Greenfair’s daughter would solve all his financial worries. Encouraged by his brother Issac and his Steward and friend Ezra, he signs the papers accepting the woman’s hand in marriage.
Unfortunately Aurelia’s father had left out one very important detail. Donovan had no idea she was blind, and he has no idea how to interact with her. She has a companion and her ladies maid to tend to her and he distances himself.
Aurelia has finally decided she needs to get to know her new home and with her companion Bridget finds the source of the music she’s been hearing. Finally she is going to meet her stepson, Timothy.
The two of them get along famously right from the start, and while she’s not sure about her husband, this relationship with his son is right.
This is a favorite scene, after her first encounter with the Duke with Timmy at her side.
The afternoon faded away as he mused over what had happened over the last couple of weeks and how he was supposed to go on with the rest of his life.
“Sir? Supper is nearly prepared. Charlie has your change of clothes waiting for you,” Ezra added when he peeked his head in the door.
Donovan glanced up wearily. “What? Oh. Right. All right, then. Thank you, Ezra.” He stood up and went to his chambers to change. Leaving his study, he took a deep breath as he tried to convince himself that he didn’t have to be miserable.
Perhaps we could learn to be happy. Not quite a family, of course. I’ve already had the only woman I would ever want. But we could all become friends within time. I meant it when I told Ezra that was a possibility.
He changed and headed down the stairs toward the dining room. With his mind focused elsewhere, Donovan nearly missed the faint sound of his son’s wobbly voice.
Stopping by the drawing room, his blood ran cold at the sight of his son in tears.
The door was open just a crack. Before he could move, blonde hair appeared from the corner of his eye. Right next to Timothy sat Aurelia as she wrapped a comforting arm around the boy. Her movements were slow as she carefully scooted closer on the large chair where his son sat, feeling her way around. She had a handkerchief in hand for him as she found his chin and dabbed away at his tears.
This was such a motherly action that Donovan’s throat tightened.
“I miss her,” Timothy was saying as he sniffled loudly. “She smelled really good, too. I remember that. Like flowers. She was nice. Really nice. She could always help me to feel better if I was sad or ill. But then I couldn’t make her feel better when she was sick.”
“I’m sure you did all that you could, sweetling,” Aurelia assured him in a hushed tone. “Do not blame yourself. Your mother loved you very much and I am certain she did all that she could to have every minute with you. Remember those good things about her. It’s good to speak of those you love so that you remember them. She sounds like a wonderful mother.”
Donovan realized instantly they were talking about Lacy. He watched the two of them interact for several minutes as Timothy cried the last of his tears. Though he meant to rush in to wrap his son in his arms, something had stilled him.
He watched Aurelia interact with Timothy. She was slow but deliberate in her movements, nearly graceful. Her words were tender and kind as she cared for his son, treating him as though he were her own. Being blind has not stopped her from being a good person.
A pang of guilt hit him as he thought back to how he had treated Aurelia since they had met. He had avoided her, ignored her, and disrespected her.
For a minute, he fought with himself. He didn’t want to think he had done anything wrong. Yet he could have been better. She was treating his son much better than he had treated her. The woman had no reason to be kind to anyone after her cold welcome to his home, and yet she was right there, doing everything she could to console his son.
The Duke took a deep breath and forced himself to enter the room. He had been watching from the shadows for long enough. The pit in his stomach remained, but he couldn’t let it win every time.
“Your mother is not gone in spirit,” Aurelia was telling Timothy.
“And she never will be, so long as there are those who remember her,” Donovan added. He swallowed as he watched Aurelia flinch slightly before freezing. Though she stayed where she was beside Timothy where they both fit with plenty of space in the large seat, her eyes searched for him. But even if she could look him in the eye, Donovan wasn’t sure he would be able to return her gaze.
As for his son, the boy sniffled and quickly wiped away his tears. “I remember her. And Aurelia said that because she knows now, that’s like a story for her that she can remember. Is it true?” he asked eagerly.
He hadn’t been there to hear that part of the conversation. Donovan inhaled, curious if Aurelia was truly this kind or was merely pretending. From the little he knew, most second marriages wanted to ignore the past; but Aurelia was ensuring it wasn’t necessary.
I would have never thought to offer something so comforting to a child.
Donovan knelt by Timothy as Aurelia sat on his other side. Putting a hand on his son’s hand, he offered a nod. “It is true. I remember, you remember, and the household remembers. We can share her story and that will keep her alive. You’ll never forget your mother, Timothy. Never.”
“The pain may never fade,” Aurelia nodded slowly, “but it grows easier. I lost my own mother, remember? But she is alive in my heart. I like to remember my favorite times with her until I’m happy again.”
He hadn’t known that. There had been a Duchess of Greenfair at the wedding. She had worn a dark dress and had talked loudly the entire time to anyone who would listen to her. No one had mentioned she was the second wife.
But Donovan shook his head and focused on his son. “Any time you feel sad about her, Timmy, you can talk to anyone about her until you’re smiling again.”
“I can smile,” Timothy offered. Then he inhaled deeply and after concentrating hard, he managed a smile with dried tears on his cheeks. “See?” The boy turned to the woman beside him. “I promise I’m smiling, Aurelia.”
Nodding, she took his chin in one hand and gently patted his cheeks dry one more time before balling the handkerchief in her lap. Straightening up, she put her hands down. “I can hear it in your voice. Now, I think I smell supper in the next room. Timmy, I think it’s time that you went and ate with your father.”
The boy scrambled out of the big chair before Donovan could say anything. He stood up from kneeling and fixed his jacket. Clearing his throat, he found himself questioning all of his thoughts and beliefs directed toward Aurelia.
Although the two of them had hardly said a word to one another, he had learned more than he had expected in the last few moments about the woman. The hesitation and unease he directed toward her seemed to fade away as he opened his mouth to speak. The day was filled with surprises coming from even himself.
“Why don’t you join us?”
His son’s eyes widened as he grinned over at Aurelia. “Can she join us? You must. You’re my stepmama now.”
As for her, she remained still, her eyes shifting in the space nearby him as though she wasn’t certain if she wanted to try to look up at him or not. He could practically see her mind working quickly as she tried to understand what he was saying. Except he hardly knew for himself.
“Are you certain?” she asked finally.
“Yes.” Then he put out his hand to her. “Please.”
She didn’t move. He was just remembering she couldn’t see his hand when Timothy took her hand from her lap and put it in his. It brought Donovan back to the moment when Harold Blackstone had put her hand in his at their wedding. He had no idea what he was getting himself into then. Just like I don’t know what I’m getting myself into now.
But at least this time, he had an idea of what to expect.
Timothy clambered up beside him just as Aurelia tightened her grasp on Donovan’s hand. She pulled herself up and nodded. “That would be lovely. Would you be so kind as to lead the way?”
Patricia Haverton. Through the Eyes of a Blind Duchess: A Historical Regency Romance Novel (Kindle Locations 1351-1412). Patricia Haverton.
The meal they share as a family is the beginning of Donovan’s understanding of his new wife.
I love the way this relationship begins to grow from that first meal together. Lots of laughter, tears, a bit of suspense and a harrowing experience, in this page-turning read.
5 Contented Purrs for Patricia!
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Born the oldest of three children, Patricia Haverton grew up believing that she’d follow in her father’s footsteps and pursue a career in science. However, her worldview changed when she decided to explore her British mother’s roots. The trip to her ancestral lands solidified her conviction that she had found her true calling in the romanticism of the Era of Kings and Queens.
A hopeless romantic and a firm believer in the idea of soulmates, Patricia changed the course of her life and decided to get her degree in Creative Writing and Psychology. As she jokingly says ever so often, “she lives in the past now, where love shows the way and Dukes save the day!”
When she’s not weaving tales of love that prevails, Patricia enjoys spending time with her husband, roaming the British countryside, where they have been living in for the past decade.
Now would be the time to let yourself go and experience the true magic of the Regency Era! Let your imagination run wild, live amazing adventures through the eyes of brave heroes! Like the legendary wise wizard, Patricia will be your guide!