“Too fast!” Sophia called, as Emmeline ran down the bank towards the lawn, chasing her sister. The two of them ran into each other, collapsed and rolled down the grassy lawn, giggling and laughing.
Sophia smiled as she watched the two girls – her children. They reminded her of herself at their age, except that where she had brown hair and green eyes, they were both pale-haired. Emmeline had the hazel eyes of her grandfather, and Arabella had greenish-blue.
The two children lay on their backs on the grass, looking up at the sky. Sophia knew that she should probably call them to come over to the blanket – after all their governess, Mrs. Estle, would want them to not spoil their lovely white dresses with grass-stains. Sophia herself didn’t mind.
The rules and regulations of her own home had almost driven her mad.
She watched as the children got up and, still grinning, came to join her on the blanket.
“Where’s Papa?” Emmeline asked. She was already reaching for something to eat. At ten, she was growing fast, and Sophia was glad they’d brought a lot of sandwiches. Taking tea out of doors was one of their favourite things.
“He’s here!” a male voice yelled, and Emmeline ran to him, embracing his knees. Her sister followed, and soon all three of them were giggling, play-wrestling in a heap on the lawns. Sophia felt herself grin.
She heard the happy laugh and felt tears in her eyes. She had never thought she would see two girls, raised in freedom and in knowledge of their own worth. She had spent such a different childhood. She looked at the laughing face of her husband and felt the warmth of love fill her heart.
He stood and came over to join her, the girls both clinging onto him.
“Again!” Arabella shouted. “Let’s play again!”
“Once more,” he laughed, and lifted Arabella up into the air, screaming and play-fighting. Emmeline lifted her arms up, insisting on another turn too.
She looked over at them warmly as, eventually, they came to join her on the blanket. She watched as they all helped themselves to sandwiches, and she took another for herself, delicately biting into the mix of ham and lettuce. She had packed the picnic herself, though Cook had insisted on making the sandwiches herself.
“You look tired,” he said, reaching to take her hand. The children had sprinted off across the lawns, giggling and laughing.
“Not tired,” she said, though she raised a hand to her lips, concealing a yawn. “Just thinking.”
“May I ask what?” he asked, lying down beside her on the blanket. She smiled.
“I was just recalling myself at their age,” she said.
“That must be strange,” he said with a smile.
“It is,” Sophia murmured. She took his hand in hers and folded it against her chest. She felt so happy in this moment. The sunshine was warm, and the birds sang in the trees of the estate and she could feel the warmth and closeness of the one she loved. She remembered the year she met him, and how strange the journey had been that had brought them together. She felt his body shift beside her, and his cheek rested against her own. She moved closer, wrapping her arms around him, and knew that she had never been so happy.
She would never have imagined that she could find such joy, especially considering how her life had been just ten years before.
Sophia ran down the path, feeling the wind in her long brown hair. She gasped, enjoying the wonderful sense of freedom as she ran, the wind cool around her. Her booted feet slid on the dew-wet ground. Her long white skirts – suited to a young girl just a few years after her debut – were light and wide enough not to get in the way of her running as she raced along the path towards the gap by the house.
She stopped instantly, hearing the anger in that voice. Her mother was on the terrace. Sophia slowed down to a walk, schooling her face to stillness. She felt the joy she had experienced only moments before wither inside her.
I am no fine lady.
She was surprised to feel the desire to cry. She had become so used to her mother’s censure that she wondered that it affected her at all. She sniffed and walked on down the path. She had no real want to go and visit the pond anymore; she just wanted to be somewhere secluded. Somewhere that nobody could see her if she cried and tell her it was not befitting for the daughter of an earl.
She sat down by the pool, staring in. The fountain splashed in the centre, the surface of the green water dancing as the water tinkled into the big stone surround. She watched her reflection.
“I suppose I’m beautiful enough,” she murmured.
She looked at the heart-shaped face, the green eyes. She had a small mouth, pale skin and her brown hair framed everything. She let the water ripple and break the reflection. She looked away sadly.
Why was everything so hard? In all her twenty years, Sophia had never felt – or hardly recalled feeling – as though she was good enough. Her mother was always telling her she was too swift, too loud, too exuberant. She wasn’t a restrained, polite lady. She was a scallywag.
She sniffed. She wished she could be more like society expected her to be. She was the daughter of an earl, and she knew that she had certain duties. If only she could fulfil those duties!
She must be accomplished, quiet and calm.
She wished she could be those things, and longed to be able to somehow train herself to be so. But her own nature was so completely unlike that! Her own nature was bubbly and fun.
She felt more tears run down her cheeks and wished she could hide in the cool peace of the garden. Her father understood her but, since his return, he had been quiet and stayed upstairs. He’d been back for almost a week, and she’d hardly seen him.
“Mayhap he will talk to me later,” she thought. She sniffed, reaching into the pocket at her waist for a handkerchief. She dabbed her eyes and wiped her nose. Then she tucked the handkerchief away. It made her recall she had sewing to do and she stood, longing to stay a little longer.
“I must do my duty.”
Sewing, reading and drawing. She had to do a little every day. Art she did once a week under the guidance of Mrs. Oldham, who came once a week to teach her oil-paints. And of course, she had to dance and master a musical instrument of some kind.
All because she would be required to seem accomplished.
It seemed so unfair! What sort of a life was it, to have no ambitions of your own? Sophia shook her head at herself. If she could have done anything, she thought, she would have liked to adventure, like her father. He went to the east so often! Sophia had lost count of the times he’d seen India, and he’d been as far as Singapore! She could barely imagine it.
“Sophia!” her mother said as she went into the hallway, stopping to re-style her hair.
“Yes?” Sophia replied, hastily finishing with the bun and sliding a hairpin into place. “What is it, Mother?” She felt her heart thump. Had she spotted her sitting on the wall by the pond, in her white dress? She would be angry about that, too – a young lady certainly shouldn’t get stains on her clothing!
“Your father sent for you.”
“Oh?” Sophia felt her heart lift. “Father! Where is he?”
She felt instantly delighted. She’d missed him! The closeness between the two of them had always been present, and Sophia had wondered why he hadn’t yet spoken to her. She hurried upstairs.
“Yes, he’s in the study,” her mother called after her. “And don’t run!”
This time, Sophia wasn’t too upset by the reprimand. Father was here! And he’d asked to see her.
She hurried to the study, which was located near the library room. Her legs ached and she raced up to the door, pausing for a moment outside. She heard a voice call her.
“Daughter? Are you there?”
“Father! Yes! I am!” She hurried in, heart full of joy, standing before the desk. He was seated behind it, the window over him casting golden afternoon light on the desk and leaving him in shadow. She blinked, letting her eyes adjust, and felt her heart lift.
“Come, sit down!” her father chuckled, indicating the chair. She drew it out from behind the desk, the one where she always sat, high-backed and with a velvet cushion that made it comfortable for sitting on.
“Father,” Sophia smiled. “What have you been up to?”
He grinned, “Not much, Sophia dear. Just writing. And of course, the horrible accounts.” He was laughing, indicating the books on the desk with a wave of his hand. Sophia smiled.
“That is horrid,” she agreed. “Can’t Mr. Exley do them for you?”
Her father shook his head. “I have to check them,” he said, wincing as he leaned forward to move the books. “Can’t have old Exley having to check everything.”
Sophia looked at him fondly. “Father, you’re too nice. And, what did you call me here to discuss?” she added, watching as he reached for a teacup. There was always a teacup on the desk, though mostly they contained cold tea, or had no tea at all, only the stain where tea had stood, chilling, while he worked.
“Oh, my trip!” he said, and stood to ring the bell, summoning more tea.
“Good!” Sophia said with a grin. “I want to hear all about it!”
“Oh, it was hot.” Her father chuckled, gesturing at the windows, “Not like here…yes, it’s late summer heat, but there it’s…well, like standing by the oven!”
Sophia giggled. She could barely imagine it. She reached for a little tile on the desk which was cunningly cut into a design. It was from China, her father said. She fitted the pieces into each other, listening as he talked.
“And the trees! So densely grown! You can barely sneeze without hitting one! I tell you, the nature there is so rich and varied…nothing like here.”
“What sort of animals?” Sophia asked. She heard the wheels of the tea-trolley, and knew that the butler was coming up the hallway. She leaned back in her chair, eagerly listening to her father’s stories.
“Oh!” He shut his eyes, thinking himself to the vast tracts of pristine forest. “Some like here – deer, little birds, mice. Others like you cannot imagine! Tigers, monkeys, and fabulous lizards…snakes and spiders and so many songbirds!”
“Oh, Father,” Sophia sighed, “it sounds incredible! Though you know I am afraid of spiders.”
He chuckled, “Well, so am I! Anyone of sense would be…those things are enormous!” He laughed, his round face flushed and lively.
“Tea, Lady Sophia?” the butler asked. She smiled gratefully and thanked him as he put the pot down. She poured for both her father and herself, and as the butler placed the rest of the set down – milk, but no sugar – she listened to her father talking. He sipped his tea as it was – a habit picked up in the east.
Sophia stirred in milk and breathed in the delicious scent. It was rich and strong, left to draw for a long time. She listened to his stories – of men and women, fabulously dressed, going down to the river, and the sound of stringed instruments and singing in the dark night. She shut her eyes, imagining the sparks whirling as people sang, the firelight flickering on faces, the silk shimmering in the light of warm stars.
“Oh, Father,” she sighed, “it sounds so wonderful.”
“Wonderful, and harsh, and…well, unimaginable,” he said. He reached across to take her hand. “I would that one day you could experience something like that.”
“Oh, Father,” She sighed. “You know I never will.”
“Why is that?”
Sophia looked at the table, the dark wood only showing here and there between all the teacups and booklets. She felt almost ashamed, too uncertain of how her father would feel about her need to do her duties.
“Well…you know. Mama says I must stay here, and, well…be more ladylike,” she sniffed.
Her father said nothing for a moment, just wrapped his hand around hers and held it. When she looked up he was leaning back, a frown on his face.
“My dearest,” he said gently, “you know how I feel. Your mama…well…let me just say she sees things differently,” he sniffed. Sophia looked away.
Her father had always encouraged her, but she knew that he would never say anything against Mama. They were different, but her father supported her mama, and she would not have wanted anything different.
“I know,” Sophia replied sadly. She longed to be able to be free of her duties, but she was the only child and she knew that there was a great deal of expectation on her. The estate would pass to Cousin Radford on her father’s death, and she knew her mother expected that she would be ready not to make a burden on the allowance, which would be much smaller after that event.
“Well,” her father sighed, “I suppose I should let you go down to the drawing-room. I should get some things together here,” he said, reaching for a book. He seemed distracted and he coughed as he reached for his pen, running a finger down the page, to smooth it flat.
Sophia swallowed hard, feeling a little sad. She looked up at her father’s face and took his hand in her own, wishing she could stay a little while. She saw him so seldom, and they hadn’t had much chance to talk since his return. She was focused on his face and noticed for the first time that he looked a little flushed.
“Father?” she murmured. “You are well, are you not?”
He chuckled. “Not too bad, no,” he said quietly. “I mean…I have been better. Been worse.” He spoke as if there was nothing to concern her. She could see, much better, that his face was flushed, and his cheeks quite red. His forehead was damp. She hadn’t noticed it at first since he sat with his back to the window, the sunlight making it difficult to focus. She swallowed.
“Father…you will see a physician, won’t you?” she asked. She hesitated, since she knew how he felt. He had survived many things, he always said, and he had no interest in some stuck-up fellow from a college thinking he knew best what to do with someone else’s body.
As she had expected, he laughed. “No, daughter,” he said. “I’ll be just fine. Now, you hurry downstairs. Your mother will probably be expecting you for tea.” He smiled and looked up at her, reaching to dip his pen into the bottle of ink.
“Will you come?”
Her father shrugged, “No, dearest. I had better stay here. I’ll be sorting through my things. And the accountant’s coming tomorrow. I should have everything checked soon.”
Sophia sighed and went down the stairs. She wished she could shake the feeling of sadness that seemed to have settled inside her. Father was unwell. She could see that. She would call the physician, but she knew he would be angry. She went downstairs to the drawing-room.
“Ah! There you are,” Sophia’s mother said as she went in. “I was hoping you’d come down. I was just about to look through the Gazette. You will be needing new dresses, and we must look at the pictures to see what is being worn in London.”
Sophia nodded. She hated the London Season but she knew it was going to begin soon, and she would be attending. She settled down on the chaise-lounge and looked through the booklet, which showed sketches of different dress-styles and clothing. She was distracted, listening to things in the garden. She thought she heard hoofbeats on the drive but reckoned it must have just been her ears.
She bent over the book and tried to concentrate.
Luke paused in the drive, looking up at the house. He frowned.
“This is Westford House?”
He was speaking to himself, but his horse snorted and he patted its neck wearily, thinking that he may as well take that as an answer.
He had been here once or twice, but he’d barely remembered the way. It had been quite by chance, actually, that Luke had ridden here. He was staying with a friend – Lord Caldon – in the Kent country, and he was not too sure if Westford House was nearby, though he vaguely remembered that it must be. Now that he looked at it, he was sure it was right.
He slid off his horse and, leading him, walked up the gravel path to investigate. The grounds were wide and the hedges trimmed, the scenery neat and maintained. He thought it looked exactly like he recalled – just a little too conventional for the utterly unusual man who lived there.
“Good afternoon,” he greeted the man at the stables. He was raking the gravel of the drive, and he looked surprised to see visitors. “I am here to call on Lord Westford. It is Westford House, yes?”
The man looked at him consideringly. “It is,” he agreed. He was staring at Luke, and he found himself feeling a little uncomfortable. Luke now was six foot, dressed in a blue riding-suit, and had brown hair and blue eyes. He was handsome enough, at least he’d been told so, and his suit was the best one he owned. He reckoned he looked just about the same as any other visitor they might be likely to have, and the fellow’s attitude discomforted him.
“Well, then,” he said, feeling a little awkward, “if you could take my horse, please, and make sure he’s watered and fed and take off his saddle and bridle? I’ll go up.”
“Yes, My Lord,” the man said.
Luke felt even more awkward. He was not a lord, since he was the youngest son of the Earl of Averley. He had no title, just “the honourable” on the front of “Luke Beaumont”. He didn’t correct him, since it would have been too awkward, and headed to the door.
“Good afternoon?” he called, knocking. The door was tall, with an imposing knocker. He waited, listening to the sounds around. Somewhere, a person poured water onto stones. A bird sang, and his horse snorted as he was led along the drive. Luke felt strangely tense.
He had not called on Charles for a while. Somehow, he had a sense that he might not be here at his estate.
“Good afternoon,” a butler greeted him, opening the door.
“I am Luke Beaumont,” he said, not bothering with anything else. He so seldom used any prefix to his name these days. Why should he, when he ran a bookstore in London? He stepped back. “I am here to visit his lordship, the Earl of Westford. If you could take my card?” He pulled it out of his pocket.
“I shall,” the butler said. He took it, bowed, and went inside. A moment or two later, he came back up.
“His lordship will see you now.”
As Luke went in, wiping his boots, he heard laughter. He looked up in time to see a lovely young lady racing across the lawns. She was dressed in a cream gown, with her hair loose and pale-brown. She was giggling, the gown streaming back as she ran, and his heart lifted. She was so beautiful!
She was not looking at the door, but heading away from it. He caught a slight glimpse of pale skin, red lips and grinning. He felt his heart lift. He wished he could go and follow her.
She ran down the path and into the trees, out of sight.
“Sir?” the butler said, clearly expecting him to follow within. Luke’s head snapped round from where he’d observed the lady running down the pathway. “If you could go upstairs? His lordship is in the library. I’ll announce you.”
“Of course.” Luke paused . He followed the butler up the steps. He was embarrassed, wondering if the butler had caught him staring. He found his mind racing. He had to know the identity of the lovely young girl! She must be Charles’s child. She was, he reckoned, about eight years younger than himself, or thereabouts. She looked no older than twenty. She seemed so happy!
Her happiness had touched on the sorrow within him, melting it a little – he hadn’t realized how much sadness he still carried, and it was strange and wonderful to feel it so instantly relieved.
He focused on the matter at hand, following the butler inside.
“My Lord,” the butler greeted Charles restrainedly. “Your visitor, Mr. Luke Beaumont. Sir, the Earl of Westford.” The butler stepped aside so Luke could go indoors.
“Charles!” he greeted. The man sitting at the table stood, holding out his hand. His round face was flushed, and he was laughing.
“Luke! How delightful!” he exclaimed. He was dressed in a long brown coat, a white shirt and brown breeches, and Luke thought he seemed a little overdressed for the hot day. The library was stifling, and Luke already wanted to remove his coat.
“Lord Westford,” he greeted more formally. “I am so pleased to see you. I thought you might still be abroad.”
“Almost,” Charles laughed. “I have only been here a day and a week. Please, sit down. Or, mayhap we can go upstairs?” he added. “My study is nicer.”
“Of course,” Luke said quickly. He hoped it would not be quite so stifling…the library was panelled and the books seemed to add an extra layer, making the place swelter.
“Ah, here we are,” Charles said, gesturing Luke to a seat. “Much nicer.”
“Yes,” Luke added. He sat down. It was not significantly cooler, he noted. He was surreptitiously unbuttoning his coat when Charles smiled.
“I say,” he said. “It’s been ages. When was I last in London?”
“About a year?” Luke asked. He recalled Charles visiting. He had come to the bookshop, and they’d spent a long while discussing matters. They had then gone to the coffee-house, and Luke had been quite surprised by the earl’s comfort in the place. It was frequented by writers, students and the politically-minded. He had never seen an earl in there – or not if he discounted Gilbert. And he was surprised by how comfortably Charles had acted.
“It was, yes,” Charles nodded. “Ah, it seems just a day.”
Luke was surprised. It did seem recent. He looked about the earl’s study. It seemed similar. The books on the shelves hadn’t moved much – although he was sure they’d been taken down and put back now and again – the windowsill was dusty and the teacup collection lined the desk. The earl’s servant seemed to never move anything in this place. Luke leaned back.
“Tea, Luke?” the earl asked. “It’s quite late.”
“I could have a cup,” Luke said. “Sorry I didn’t warn you of my visiting…I was riding and I suddenly recalled that you lived in the area.”
“Not at all.” The earl looked at him warmly. “I am delighted. Here, let’s have tea,” he said, standing and pulling the bell-rope. Luke watched him, feeling that uneasy sense of worry he had been feeling since he arrived. The earl was short of breath when he sat down and seemed flushed, and Luke felt alarmed. His friend had been in good health when they last chatted. How was it that he had deteriorated so much in that year?
“Charles, you are well?”
“Yes!” Charles chuckled. “Yes, Luke…quite well. I am just recovering from my travels. Getting used to the cold.” He gestured out of the window. It was a warm and sunshine-filled afternoon, the wind still. Luke wondered how the earl could possibly feel cold. Then he realized.
“I suppose it was hot in India.”
“Hot!” The earl chuckled, “Like standing in a roaring fireplace, young fellow. Oh! Such a place. I wish I had words.”
Luke chuckled, “I can imagine. Actually, I can’t. Where were you?”
“Several places. Bengal, for the most part. I cannot tell you! The nature, Luke…so beautiful. I have no way of describing it for anyone.”
Luke let out a breath of admiration. “I can imagine.”
They both smiled. Luke watched the earl, wondering why he looked so flushed. He was still thinking about it when he heard the tea-trolley. He looked up in time to see the butler come in.
“Tea, My Lord.”
“Ah, yes, thank you. And some for Luke. You take milk?”
“Sometimes,” Luke admitted. His friend took neither milk nor sugar, he knew, preferring it the way they made it in India. He leaned back, waiting for the butler to finish setting out the tea-things.
“I saw a fine book, just recently,” the earl said, leaning back in his chair. “A poetry collection. Maybe you have it?” he asked. “By a fellow called…who was it, now? My memory fails me. Ah! A Mr. Burford.”
“I don’t know,” Luke frowned. He knew the earl was interested in books, especially in translations of Eastern work. He had very few in the shop – it was one of the reasons they had talked when the earl first visited the bookstore. Without that, Luke thought, their meeting was unlikely. Like all Luke’s high-society friends – of whom there were only three left – the earl helped him to find new literature for the bookshop.
“Oh, well…I must see if we have a copy. There’s one in the house somewhere. Not in the library…someone is reading it.”
Luke put his head on one side, thoughtfully. He thought he heard laughter outside, and his mind went instantly back to the young lady.
“Luke,” Charles said, reaching for the plate, where the butler had arranged some slices of cheese, “I wonder if you could bring me something from the bookshop, or take it to the house?”
“Of course,” Luke replied instantly. He guessed he meant Westford Heights in town.
“I was looking for a copy of a particular work. I understand there is a translation, but I have never found one. Of course, I can’t read Arabic, more’s the pity.” The earl shook his head. He seemed to regret that. Luke wondered again if the earl was feeling unwell – he was much quieter than his usual lively self.
“I see,” Luke murmured. He made a mental note to check his section of translations of Eastern literature. There was very little but the regent himself was interested in such things, at least as far as art and architecture were involved. He felt sure there was growing demand in London, or there would be when the Brighton Pavilion and the regent’s taste were prevailing.
“Now, about the countryside,” Charles said, sipping his tea. “What brings you here?”
“Um…nothing,” Luke said awkwardly. In truth, he had come to stay with his friend because the city was stifling him. He hated the summers there – the heat, the crowded markets – and he had sought refuge.
“London’s horrid in summertime,” his lordship said with amusement.
Luke laughed, “You could have said exactly what I thought.”
They both chuckled. His lordship, Luke knew, hardly ever came to London. Though, he reckoned, he must have come up more often in recent years. He had seen him every year for the last four years at least. He suspected that they both were uncomfortable in the town.
“You will like the place.” Charles gave him a warm glance. He gestured out of the window, to the hills and fields beyond. “You are staying nearby?”
“With Lord Caldon,” Luke replied. “I stayed there the last time I visited. It’s a good place.”
“Ah! I know Caldon Estate. Very clean.”
Luke smiled, “It’s nice. Caldon and I knew each other a little. We were at Cambridge together.” He ran a hand though his dark hair. It had been almost ten years since then, and he had seen less of the people he’d studied with in that time. They had remained in their circles, while Luke had left high society. Charles and his other friend – Gilbert – were the only titled people in his circles, besides Lord Caldon.
“You studied Classics?”
“I see,” he answered. “I read History. I wonder why, now.” He gave him an amused grin. “Actually, I enjoyed it. Cambridge was good fun. Glad to be here, mind you. I like the countryside, I do.”
“Me too,” Luke agreed. “Not hunting, mind…I’m not the sort to come up to the country for hunting.”
“No!” Charles sounded upset. “I don’t like hunting either. Senseless killing of anything is barbarity.”
Luke had to agree, though he knew that almost nobody else did. The entire Ton supported hunting, and Luke considered that just another reason why he didn’t enjoy their company.
“You’re staying long?” Charles asked. He put his tea down, and Luke thought he looked tired.
“Not long, no,” he replied.
“Pity. Though I suppose just as well…you can’t leave London for the Season.”
“No,” Luke said warmly. “Though I wish to.”
They both laughed. Luke finished his tea and wished he could stay a little longer. He knew, though, that he had to get back. It was four o’ clock, already, and if he was going to be back in time for dinner, he would have to ride. He pushed back his chair. He had only heard a few of the tales of India and enjoyed listening to Charles’ soothing voice. He wanted to hear more.
“Charles,” he said, “I wish I could stay. I want to hear more. But I have to return, if I am to be back before it’s too late for dinner.”
Charles nodded. “Of course, Luke,” he said. “I suppose I should be getting back to my accounts. I’m expecting a call from the accountant tomorrow.”
“You poor fellow,” Luke said, and gave him a warm look.
Luke was still laughing as he shook his hand. “You take care, old friend,” he said.
“You too, Luke.”
They were both still laughing as Luke went outside into the hallway. He was walking past the window when he heard that sweet laughter again. He paused and looked out into the garden, but he could not see the lovely young girl.
When he rode home, he could not stop thinking about her. That long hair, her sweet giggle, the freedom of her run. He blinked, surprised by the strength of his reaction.
“I suppose it’s been a long while since I saw anyone that playful.”
That playful and that happy. He let out a long exhalation. He realized, as he rode, that it had been a long while since he himself had felt that happy. She reminded him of it. He thought back to himself, four years ago – how carefree he had been. He recalled Claudia – the woman he had loved, and whose parents had taken her to Ireland to recuperate – and wondered if he would ever feel like that about anyone again.
He shrugged. He had spent too long not thinking about those things.
He pushed the thoughts aside and rode on down the path and into the warm landscape.
“A Lady’s Quest for Love” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
Lady Sophia, the sweet and bubbly daughter of the Earl of Westford, has been raised with the principle of putting aside her own dreams for the sake of duty. Even though she secretly longs for adventure and a dreamy romance, in no case would she ever do anything to disappoint her beloved parents. When her dear father passes away, he leaves behind a mysterious and fateful quest for Sophia- a quest that she will have to carry through no matter what. Little did she know that the quest’s clues would very soon lead her to the person who would warm her broken heart and haunt her dreams. Could Sophia’s love with the charming gentleman flourish despite knowing her mother would never approve of such a match? Or will she end up following the lonely path of duty once again, letting her hopeful heart down?
Luke Beaumont has managed to write his own life story, despite being the son of the Earl of Astley. Convinced that the high society is a place where he cannot fit in, he decides to abstain from it, opening his own bookshop and getting lost in the magical world of the books. When the lovely daughter of his dear friend crosses the doorstep of his little shop, he is instantly drawn to her bright spirit and remarkable beauty. This is why he immediately accepts when the dazzling woman asks for help with her father’s treasure hunt, despite knowing how hard it will be not to fall for her. Will Luke manage to successfully help Sophia fulfil her father’s last wish and discover the true meaning of life along the way? In the course of time, will Luke find the courage to confess his deep feelings and claim Sophia’s heart?
Sophia and Luke will quickly turn out to be each other’s perfect match and their story resembles a fairytale love, just like the ones written in Luke’s book collection. However, Sophia’s mother has other plans for her, demanding that she should marry a cold Marquess who could never make her happy. In an endless vacillation between duty and love, will Sophia and Luke manage to break down the walls that keep them apart? Will the two of them find the way to turn their two separate worlds into the most wonderful romance ever imagined?
“A Lady’s Quest for Love” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.