As a girl she had been bubbling over with mischief.
As a woman she seemed half lost in shadow. But Richard Blakehurst couldn't miss the flash of connection between them when his hand touched hers. It was as if he had awakened something deep inside her.
Seeing Richard again brought back the taunting memory of their dance at her come-out ball. She must tame her wayward thoughts, because Thea doubted even her considerable fortune could buy Richard's good opinion of her if ever he learnt the truth....
Showing 1-2 of the 2 most recent reviews
1 . Good story
Posted August 01, 2009 by Reader , USAGood story and leading lady with a tragic secret for her era.
2 . Great story!
Posted July 30, 2009 by Lena , Honolulu, HawaiiI loved this story, it was surprisingly tender and touching. I read it in one sitting.
August 31, 2007
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Excerpt from A Compromised Lady by Elizabeth Rolls
"David--he can't be serious! Why does he suddenly wish me to return after all this time? Nothing has changed! Nothing!"Thea dragged in a breath. 'I am still--" At the sight of her brother's taut mouth, the sudden tension in his clenched fists, she changed what she had been about to say. 'I am still of the same mind--I have no desire to return. What has changed Papa's stance?"
David's mouth opened and then closed, as though he too had thought the better of something. Then, 'I don't know, Thea. Not definitely. I have a suspicion, but since he didn't tell me anything beyond that I was to bring you back to town with me, I'd prefer not to say."
Exasperated, Miss Dorothea Winslow stared at her brother across the confined gloom of their aunt Maria's parlour. If David's unannounced arrival in North Yorkshire from London had been unexpected, the news he bore was doubly so. She clutched the warm shawl closer, shivering despite the warmth of the fire crackling in the grate. Twenty minutes ago she had been knitting socks, a pot of tea beside her, quietly content and perfectly warm. Now the chill of the bitter rain gusting against the windows had seeped into her bones and the old panic stirred restlessly.
"Papa was more than happy for me to stay out of the way for the past eight years." She added, 'He wouldn't even let me journey south to attend Mama's funeral. Why now, David? Don't tell me he wants me to be a comfort to him in his old age!"
David snorted. 'Hardly." He stared into the fire for a moment. 'He is talking of a match for you, Thea."
Her blood congealed, along with her forgotten cup of tea. 'What?" Her breath came raggedly. 'But--"
David said, 'At Mama's funeral eighteen months ago, several people asked where you were. Remarked upon your long seclusion. Thea--burying your heart in the grave with your betrothed does not constitute a sufficient reason for not marrying. If people ask enough questions--" He broke off.
She steadied her breathing. 'I see." If people asked enough questions, someone might hit on the truth...
He stood up abruptly and said, 'Our father fears the gossip. Which is at least part of the reason that he is essentially compelling you to come to London for the Season."
David nodded. 'He has instructed me to inform you that if you do not, you will receive no allowance at all." His expression was grim.
Thea bit her lip. And then she gritted her teeth. 'I can still remain here with Aunt Maria."
"He has already written to her--telling her that you are to come to London. Do you imagine she will defy him? She depends on his support."
"But why? If I remain here--"
His grey eyes were flinty. 'As far as our father is concerned you have had ample time to recover from your...' He hesitated and then said, with an edge of violence, 'Your disappointment."
Thea made a sharp movement and the now gelid cup of tea beside her crashed to ruin on the floor.
She ignored it. 'I see. Of course, eight years is ample time to recover from a disappointment.'She laid her hands carefully in her lap to prevent them clenching into fists. 'Especially a disappointment that never happened, according to one's point of view."
He returned no answer to that. 'David, can't you--?" 'Damn it, Thea! Do you think I didn't try to talk him out of it?" David surged to his feet and prowled about the parlour, his movements jerky. 'I know this is not what you want, and if what I suspect is true, then in part it is my fault, but nothing would sway him."
"And you aren't going to tell me?"
He shook his head. 'Better not."
She shivered. There would be compensations. To hear good music again, visit Hatchards...and apparently she had no choice. But living in her father's house again...
"I suppose a chaperon has been arranged?" she said with forced calm.
David's mouth twisted. 'It is arranged that you should stay with Lady Arnsworth for the Season, and that she will chaperon you."
Thea let out a sigh of relief, but said nothing; she merely knelt down and began carefully picking up the shattered porcelain. Aunt Maria was going to be most annoyed at the desecration of her best tea service.
Aunt Maria sat in a chair by the rarely lit fire as Thea packed later that evening. 'Certainly not, Dorothea!" she snapped, diligently folding handkerchiefs. 'Aberfield,"she continued, 'is obviously lost to all sense of decency and propriety!" She shot a hard glance at her great-niece. 'However, it is not for me to gainsay him; so, no, Dorothea, I will not attempt to change his mind."
Along with her back, her lips were ramrod straight. 'Let us hope that your sense of duty to your family has increased in the past eight years. I say no more than that I have done my best to ensure that it should be so." Her tone suggested that she doubted her best had been anywhere near good enough.