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This #MFRWHooks excerpt from Lady Elinor’s Escape takes place right after her Aunt Sarah has accused her of spying, which I shared in my post on May 23rd of this year. I had skipped ahead to show Lady E. meeting her hero, Stephen Chaplin, but some commenters thought her behavior was rather fast, so I decided to share precisely why she decided to throw caution to the winds and escape to London.
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
Lady Elinor Ashworth always longed for adventure, but when she runs away from her abusive aunt, she finds more than she bargained for. Elinor fears her aunt who is irrational and dangerous, threatening Elinor and anyone she associates with. When she encounters an inquisitive gentleman, she accepts his help, but fearing for his safety, hides her identity by pretending to be a seamstress. She resists his every attempt to draw her out, all the while fighting her attraction to him.
There are too many women in barrister Stephen Chaplin’s life, but he has never been able to turn his back on a damsel in distress. The younger son of a baronet is a ‘rescuer’ of troubled females, an unusual vocation fueled guilt over his failure to save the woman he loved from her brutal husband. He cannot help falling in love with his secretive seamstress, but to his dismay, the truth of her background reveals Stephen as the ineligible party.
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