This excerpt from Lady Elinor’s Escape takes place right after her Aunt Sarah has accused her of spying, which I shared in yesterday’s post. Today’s excerpt makes it very clear why Elinor decides to make her escape from her aunt’s keeping.
Fighting to keep her voice level, Elinor said, “That is merely a letter to mother’s former maid. She prefers I write in French as it is easier for her. Shall I read it aloud to you?” she asked, thankful Aunt Sarah had never learned the language.
Her aunt barked a humorless laugh. “As if you would read it true. No, you’d make up some innocuous nonsense about fashion.”
Elinor said nothing, for it was true. She could hardly read what she’d written about her aunt to her face. “As you suggested, nonsense about fashion is all. I do rely on Mimi to keep me up to date, in the event I am ever allowed a London season.”
“Oh, so that’s what this is about,” Lady Sarah said, her face red and blotchy with anger. “Hoping to get to London where you can meet with your Frenchy contacts? Well, not if I have something to say about it, missy.” She pulled a tiny pistol from her pocket and waved it under Elinor’s nose. “And if any of your friends show up here, I’ll take care of them myself, see if I don’t.”
When she put the pistol back in her pocket, Elinor let out the breath she’d been holding. “Please, Aunt Sarah. It is clear that we do not rub along well together. Let me go to my papa in Portugal.”
Her aunt’s eyes gleamed with malice. “So eager to ingratiate yourself into diplomatic circles, are you, girl? What better spot for a French agent?” She started pacing the room, gesticulating wildly. “No, you’ll get no help from me. I know your papa has been sending you secret information. Hard to believe my own brother a traitor.”
Elinor jumped up, her heart pounding. “Oh, no, Aunt. Papa is as loyal as any good Englishman. And, as I have not heard from him in months, how could you know what he tells me in his letters? Unless you have intercepted them, that is.”
When her aunt avoided her gaze, Elinor knew it was true. “You have kept his letters from me. How dare you?”
Without warning, Aunt Sarah raised her arm and swung, her fist connecting with Elinor’s left eye.
With a cry, Elinor stumbled backwards, her face throbbing. She tasted blood and knew she’d bitten her tongue.
“That will teach you to talk back to me,” her aunt said, satisfaction writ on her face. With the letter still clutched in her hand, she left the room.
Elinor rushed to the door and, with shaking hands, turned the key in the lock. Dear lord, her aunt was surely mad. Her stomach churned with fear. She could not wait for Mimi’s permission. She had to leave for London right away.
LADY ELINOR’S ESCAPE
by Linda McLaughlin
Sweet Regency Romance
A mysterious lady. An inquisitive gentleman. And a secret that could tear them apart.
Lady Elinor should be in London enjoying the season, not fearful and trapped in a country cottage with an unbalanced relative. When her aunt becomes violent, she flees straight into the path of a compassionate barrister. Desperate, she accepts his help, but will she be able to hide the truth from this inquisitive, intelligent man?
There are too many women in barrister Stephen Chaplin’s life, but he has never been able to turn his back on a woman in need. The reticent seamstress resists his every attempt to draw her out and remains a mystery he cannot solve.
Then a Bow Street Runner hired by her aunt comes asking questions. Elinor again turns to Stephen for help. But when circumstances reveal the truth about her background, will Stephen and Elinor lose their chance at happiness?
Lady Elinor’s Escape is a Cinderella-inspired traditional Regency romance. If you like noble gentlemen, independent ladies and sweet romance, this book is for you! Read now for free with Kindle Unlimited or grab a copy for 99 cents during the Kindle Countdown Deal, US and UK only.