While living in Africa, Sophie turned to her lifelong passion: writing. When she's not busy dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading. She currently lives on the East Coast.
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Seated between her younger stepsisters, Alice and Juliet, Sarah made a stoic attempt to ignore the dis- approving look that sat upon her stepmother’s face. Her father was more tolerable, since he’d been reading his newspaper the entire journey and had paid little attention to the rest of the family.
“Is there something you wish to say, Mama?” Sarah eventually asked, unable to stop herself from uttering the question for one moment longer.
Lady Andover’s gaze narrowed, but just as Sarah had suspected, she merely responded with, “Not at the moment.”
Speaking of Sarah’s sins in front of her young, impressionable sisters was taboo. Later, however, once the girls were out of earshot, Sarah had no doubt that her stepmother’s tongue would give her a sound thrashing. After all, it was what Sarah had come to expect after proving herself a disappointment to the Argisle name.
“Would you look at that?” Alice suddenly gasped, supplying Sarah with a much-needed distraction. Leaning forward while Juliet tried to press past her in an attempt to look out the window as well, Sarah just managed to catch a glimpse of the largest building she’d ever seen when her stepmother said, “Do sit back, Sarah. Your sister can’t see when you’re in the way.”
Sarah did as she was told, fully aware that her stepmother had just used Alice and Juliet to her own advantage, for there was a smug smile upon her face as if to say, I know you do not wish to cause a scandal in their presence.
Biting back a scathing remark, Sarah remained silent and unmoving while her sisters’ excitement filled the carriage. Instead, she reached inside her reticule and stroked the little fur ball within, taking comfort in its heat while she wondered what her step- mother would say if she were to discover that Sarah had brought her pet hamster along with her. Lady Andover would probably find a way to punish Sarah for it, which was all the more reason for Sarah to keep her pet well hidden.
“We’re finally here,” Alice exclaimed as the carriage tumbled into a paved courtyard and came to a swaying halt. “Just look at that doorway! It must be twice as wide as the one we have at home.”
“And beautifully carved too,” Juliet said as she strained to look past her sister. “Oh, I can’t wait to get inside.”
Sarah couldn’t help but agree as she stared out at the looming façade, the weather-worn stones suggesting that this great building had borne witness to many things through the ages. It had history.
“Calm yourselves, dears,” Lady Andover said. “You may be on holiday, but you are still expected to conduct yourselves properly.” She looked directly at Sarah, a warning in her sharp eyes. “There will be no running about. Is that clear?”
“Yes, Mama,” Alice and Juliet spoke in unison, their voices filled with disappointment. A footman opened the carriage door and gracefully offered his hand to Lady Andover. She alit, followed by Alice and Juliet. Sarah made to follow them, but she was stopped by her father’s staying hand upon her arm. “You will not disrespect your stepmother,” he told her softly but sternly. “After all that you have done— the disgrace you have put us through—you have no right. No right at all. Do I make myself clear?”
“Perfectly, my lord.”
With a curt nod, he released her, allowing her to flee the stifling interior of the carriage even if she could never escape her shame. A tight knot twisted inside her chest as she watched her sisters climb the steps of Thorncliff. Please don’t make the same mistake I did, she prayed as she started after them, unbearably aware of her father’s stubborn presence at her side. “There’s a purpose to this visit,” he muttered. “I trust you will remember that.”
Looking up into his stalwart gaze, Sarah nodded. How could she possibly forget?
Page Count: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (April 28, 2015)
Welcome to Thorncliff Manor, where London's elite mix, mingle, and may even find their heart's desire...
There are thousands of things Christopher, Viscount Spencer, would rather do than hunt for a bride, especially since experience has taught him that women are not to be trusted. Then he finds the intriguing Lady Sarah scrambling around in Thorncliff's conservatory and he is instantly charmed by her passionate nature. But why is she so intent on avoiding him?
Lady Sarah would make the perfect bride for a peer—if not for a tarnished past that she's hiding from the ton. A stay at Thorncliff Manor was meant to help her plan for her future, not fall in love. Yet Christopher's kisses are irresistible, his gallantry enticing. When her secret stands to be revealed, will the truth ruin their dreams of happiness?
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