They met and his love roared louder
than the beasts haunting her…
For half-blind maid Lenora Foster, life in the service of the Duke of Brackhill is everything she’s ever known. Having experienced the mocking glances of the ton due to her disability, she keeps herself isolated in the darkest corners of the manor.
Pressured by his family to produce an heir, Adrian Sullivan, Marquess of Galdhor, finds himself attending a lackluster ball at Brackhill Manor. That is until he bumps into a peculiar maid with an eyepatch spying on the attendees.
With his heartbeat whispering Lenora’s name, Adrian fails to realize that someone knows. And someone who knows always tells.
Life in the service of the Duke of Brackhill is everything Lenora Foster has ever known. And within a few days, she is pronounced dead…
Adrian the Marquess of Galdhor knows he needs to marry, he’s getting older and he really should think about an heir. His mother has begun pushing him to that end and he attends a ball for Lady Katherine, the Duke of Brackhill’s daughter. While she is attractive, Adrian doesn’t find anything about her that would make her a match for him. However someone else at the ball does catch his eye.
Lenora is a chambermaid on the Brackhill estate, and in spite of how much the Duchess and Lady seem to despise her, she loves her job and always gives her best effort in everything. Born blind in one eye, she covers the milky white eye with a patch, she does however love her other eye which is a lovely green.
On the night of the ball she sees a very attractive man dancing with Lady Katherine. She knows immediately that no other man in the room has a chance with her lady. She has made her choice. Lenora hoping for another glimpse of the man is peering into the dining room when her lady spots her. Drawing back quickly she bumps into Adrian as he returned from the gardens where he was escaping the crowd. He was quite late for dinner but running into this striking little maid was a pleasant surprise. Even though she won’t give her name and flees from him.
Adrian wasn’t surprised to get the invitation to visit Brackhill with the intent of getting to know Lady Katherine better as a possible match. Conflicted he decides to go but not before he sets his friend and bar keep Samuel on an investigation. An investigation into the maid with the eye-patch, he desires to know more about her and couldn’t possibly ask the Duke.
Adrian keeps his eye out for the mysterious maid from the moment he arrives at Brackhill. He finally gets his chance while reading in the library. Lenora comes in to dust and is startled by his presence and persistence to know her name. Now that he knows it he finds it even more difficult to endure the simpering Lady Katherine and seeks out Lenora when he can.
One of the more extensive conversations takes place in the parlor, where they learn about each others lives.
“I live here,” she said. “I live in Brackhill Manor, one of the most beautiful homes in the city. Every day I walk through these beautiful rooms, even if I am only here to clean them. Every day I eat food prepared by one of the finest cooks money can buy, even if all I get is soup and bread.”
“That’s a good outlook,” he said.
“It’s just the truth,” she said. “What are the good things in your life? Fine clothing and servants to tend to your needs?”
He laughed. “Do you think so little of me?”
“I don’t think anything of you,” she protested. “I don’t even know you.”
“The good things in my life,” he said. “I suppose the best thing is the free time that having money affords me. I don’t have to work, and that gives me time to study. To read. Time to spend with my mother.”
“Are you close with your mother?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said. “It’s for her sake, really, that I’m here. She’s the one who is concerned with marriage, and with ensuring that I have an heir.”
“So you don’t want to marry?”
“I’m not anxious to marry,” he said. “I suppose I’d like to someday, if the right lady came along. But I’m not sure I’ve met her just yet.”
Lenora said nothing.
He shook his head. “I’ve done it again, haven’t I? I’ve put you in an awkward position by speaking ill of Lady Katherine.”
“It’s all right,” she said, surprising herself. “I wouldn’t say you actually said anything unkind about her this time.”
He nodded. “I don’t mean to disparage her. She’s a fine young lady. I feel sure she’ll make some man a wonderful wife. And if I was in a hurry to marry, if I felt as my mother does about it, I might well choose her. She’s lovely, and she has good social graces.”
“Then what’s the problem?” Lenora asked.
“You know I can’t answer that without breaking one of your rules.”
She hesitated. “I’ll allow it this time.” She shouldn’t be encouraging him to criticize Lady Katherine, she knew, but she had to admit, she was curious about what he had to say.
“All right,” Lord Galdhor agreed. “The problem with Lady Katherine is that she’s just too different from me. It’s not a flaw in her character, really. But she doesn’t seem interested in learning, or thinking, or understanding the world around her. Her interests lie in parties and pretty dresses.”
“I see.” Lenora had to admit that Lord Galdhor had taken the measure of Lady Katherine well.
“And parties and pretty dresses are certainly fine interests to have,” he hastened to add. “I don’t mean to criticize, truly. But the two of us would have nothing to talk about. Already it’s become a struggle, and I’ve only been here for a few days.”
“Not everyone has a wife he can talk to,” Lenora pointed out. “Many men marry for other reasons.”
“I know,” Lord Galdhor said. “And if I were looking for a lady I could bring to social events, one who would catch the eye and charm the ton, Lady Katherine would be a perfect fit. But I want someone I can enjoy conversation with as well.”
“You aim high, My Lord.”
“And yourself?” he asked. “What do you hope for when you marry?”
“Me!” Lenora laughed. “I’m unlikely to marry, My Lord.”
“Why do you say so?”
“Look at me.”
“I am. You’re lovely.”
“You’re kind. But—” her fingers wandered up to her eyepatch. “Not many men will overlook such a flaw as this.”
“I see no flaw.”
She was at a loss for words. Of course, he must see the eyepatch that dominated her face. What could he mean by that?
“Besides,” he went on, “even if you were not as lovely as you are, homely people marry all the time.”
“But I’m a maid,” she said. “In order to take a husband, I would require the blessing of those I serve. And Lady Katherine will never give me her blessing to wed.”
“You could leave your position,” he suggested.
Lenora laughed. How little he knew about the struggles of her life. How little he understood.
She couldn’t just leave her position. Nothing in the world would justify such a reckless decision.
“Do you truly believe that you’ll never marry?” he asked.
“Marriage isn’t for me,” she said. “Marriage is for nobility. It’s for ladies who have the time to make themselves lovely and dance attention on their husbands. It’s not meant for a working girl.”
He shook his head in wonder. “And yet you still describe your life as full of good and bad just like any other.”
“And so it is,” she insisted. “Just look at you. You’re here because you’ve been pressured to marry, to take a lady you don’t want as your wife. I can assure you, no one will ever put me in that position. There is freedom in my life, Lord Galdhor, freedom I wouldn’t enjoy if I was noble.”
“I suppose you’re right,” he said.
She nodded. “And now I should go. I must prepare Lady Katherine’s room before she retires for the evening.”
“Very well,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed talking to you, Lenora. It’s interesting to learn more about someone so different from myself.”
“Yes, My Lord.” She retreated from the room before he could see that she was blushing.
She took the stairs up to Lady Katherine’s room at a run, half afraid that he would call after her. If he did, she knew, she would not be able to restrain herself from turning back.
Haverton, Patricia; Fairy, Cobalt. A Game of Chess with the Marquess: A Historical Regency Romance Novel (Kindle Locations. 1657-1721). Patricia Haverton. Kindle Edition.
Lenora knows she shouldn’t fantasize about the Marquess, but she really couldn’t help herself. She enjoys their conversations as much as he appears to. However she can’t allow things to get out of hand. He was meant for Lady Katherine, not her.
In a startling turn of events we see another side of the housekeeper and Lady Katherine. One that completely changes things, not only for the Marquess but also the Duke.
A fun read with an unusual courtship and a touch of suspense and intrigue.
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!