Blurb: Elizabeth Turner once loved Oliver Randall, but was blind to his desire to travel without the encumbrance of a wife weighing him down. When she learned the truth, Beth settled for the security of a loveless marriage. Now a widow with a son to support, desperation has driven her into service at Romsey Abbey and directly into the path of the man she’d loved and lost.
Oliver has no intention of letting his dream of travel slip away again, even for a pretty face from his past. Since his return to the abbey, he’s planned a grand tour to the continent even while examining the astonishing emotional changes a decade apart from his brothers has wrought. The last thing Oliver wanted was stronger ties to the people living at Romsey. But then fate offers him both an affair and an unexpected friendship. Is it curiosity alone that stirs him, or the beginning of an unexpected adventure?
Heather’s Bio: Heather Boyd is the author of sizzling romance with an historical bent. A fan of regency England settings, she writes m/f and m/m stories that push the boundaries of propriety and even break the laws of that time. Brimming with new ideas, she frequently wishes she could type as fast as she can conjure up new storylines. Heather lives with her testosterone-fueled family north of Sydney, Australia.
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Excerpt: WHEN OLIVER RANDALL had been very young, he’d believed heaven could only be found in the thirty-feet-square library of Romsey Abbey. At seventeen and wrenched from his studies, he’d been assured he’d never see that library again and the long, lonely years after proved that heaven would be denied him. At eight and twenty, and thanks to his younger brother Tobias’s daring rescue two weeks prior, he’d thought he would be granted his reward.
Yet once he’d stood within Romsey library’s hushed confines, filled with books of every sort and description, he’d acknowledged that this place was merely a stepping stone on the path to adventure.
“Have you taken leave of your senses?”
Oliver set the polished wood stepladder against the uppermost shelf edge and scaled the heights of literature, prose, and radical thought in search of entertainment. “They are all still there as far as I can tell, Leopold.”
“Damn it, Oliver. Come down at once before you break your neck,” his elder brother demanded.
Oliver ran his fingers over the spines of the books closest. So many bright minds had been granted the freedom to live and experience the world as they saw fit while he had been condemned to the never-ending repetition of days and years with only the wonders of nature’s transitions outside his window to provide any sort of adventure. “Given the circumstances I’ve endured at the duke’s hands these past years, I do not find your reference to my sanity particularly amusing. I’ll come down when I’m ready and not a moment before.”
Oliver had only recently returned to the family fold, to the Romsey Estate and the sweet freedom of personal liberty. Leopold did not understand that Oliver looked for adventure at every opportunity now, even if it was merely helping himself to a second corner of toast and strawberry jam at breakfast or exploring a new point of view. He was plotting his biggest escapade yet—a grand tour of the known world. A world far away from this library.
He plucked three volumes from the shelves at random—Greek, Italian, and French—and descended to the main floor. Just enough light reading to last him until morning. Unlike others in his family, he enjoyed reading at all hours of the day and night. He devoured books as quickly as his younger brother demolished a well-roasted leg of lamb at dinner. The years without such precious volumes were a gaping pit of boredom he needed to fill.
“Everyone is waiting on you to go into dinner. Whatever you are doing can wait at least two hours.”
Oliver set two of the books beside the maps of the continent he’d appropriated for his preparations and settled in his favorite chair. “I’ll eat later. A tray in my room, perhaps.”
As he was about to open his first selection, Leopold snatched the book from his hands. “You will not return to the patterns of your youth. I will not indulge your obsessions as Mama did. We dine together each night and if I have to drag you there and strap you into a chair to accomplish that feat, I certainly will.”
Oliver assessed his brother’s mood. Not much had changed in Leopold’s demeanor since they were young lads on the cusp of manhood. Bossy. Opinionated. Stubborn. Leopold would make a fuss and bluster until Oliver capitulated. He’d never enjoy one fresh new word these books offered in peace at this rate. He resigned himself to the inevitable. He would have to adjust his daily schedule to include this unnecessary interruption of his study until he departed England. Hopefully, word would come soon concerning a ship bound for his destination and save him from excessive sentimentality. “Very well. No need for threats of violence.”
Leopold shook his head. “I never really understood how much trouble you must have been for Mama to manage when Father was away. Families eat together.”
“If you insist.” Oliver stood and drew on his tailcoat. “But I should point out that our definitions of family differ considerably. You’re not even married to the duchess. Nor is Tobias married to Lady Venables. Hardly a family affair.”
A quick grin crossed Leopold’s usually serious face. “All in good time. The wedding date is set. Hurry up now.”
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