Title: Love by Secrets
Author: Debra Elizabeth
Genre: Regency Romance
Eighteen-year-old Emily Stanton is excited to attend this Season’s balls and begin her search for a husband. She is thrilled when the dashing and handsome Connor Preston begins to court her. After each ball, Emily finds a love note in her drawstring reticule, and she expects a marriage proposal from Connor any day.
When her father objects and forces Emily to accept the proposal from Lady Tisbury's shy nephew, Ethan Richardson instead, her heart is broken. How can she love her new husband when her heart belongs to the man who wrote her such beautiful love letters?
Emily picked up her skirts, rushing down the hall. The butterflies roiled around her insides and her heart pounded. She knocked on the study door. “Papa, are you in there?”
“Come in, Emily.”
Emily burst through the door as her father put down the document on his desk. “Papa, it’s so good to see you.”
Riley stood and embraced his daughter. “So good to have you home, my dear Emily. I have missed you too. This old house is very quiet without you.”
“I’ve missed you too. Oh, and Mr. Giles sends his regards.”
“Did you enjoy your visit?” Riley asked. He sat down in his chair behind the desk.
“It was a lovely visit. I hadn’t realized how much I missed Mia until I was back in her company, but she is very happy with Mr. Giles. He’s a kind and generous husband. Their home is lovely and Mia is delighted with it.”
“That’s good to hear. Giles is a good man. Emily, please sit down. I have a matter to discuss with you.”
Emily took a seat waiting for her father to tell her the good news she hoped had finally arrived. “What matter, Papa?”
“I had a visit from young Mr. Richardson the other day. He would like to speak with you in private.”
Emily’s shoulders slumped. “What? Only Mr. Richardson?”
“Yes, who else? Who were you expecting?”
Emily felt a sharp stab in her heart and was so shocked that she could not draw air into her lungs. This was not the news she’d been expecting at all. How could this be? She didn’t want to speak to Mr. Richardson in private. No, this was all wrong. She had to fix it. “Papa, I thought it was, um, Mr. Preston who had come to see you.”
“Preston? No, I have not spoken to him. Emily, do you realize what this means? Mr. Richardson will propose marriage to you and I have given his my blessing.”
Emily stood up and started pacing her father’s study. She wrung her hands together and tears threatened to spill from her eyes. “Papa, I don’t want to talk with Mr. Richardson. He’s nice enough, but he’s so dull. Please don’t make me speak with him.” She glanced at her father and his eyes narrowed at her outburst.
“Emily, what has gotten into you? Mr. Richardson will be an excellent choice as a husband, and he’s from one of the finest families around. You could not ask for a better match. You will want for nothing. I’m in favor of the union and you should be too.”
Tears coursed down her cheeks. “But, I don’t love Mr. Richardson. I love Mr. Preston. Please, Papa, I know Mr. Preston will speak with you soon, perhaps even ask for an appointment at the ball. Please wait for his visit before you make a final decision,” she pleaded. She swiped at her cheeks to wipe away the tears. “Please, Papa.”
Riley stood. “Emily, dear. You are young and not wise in these matters. I only want the best for you. Love is not the only foundation for a good marriage. Love alone cannot put food on the table, or warm you in the winter. You must be taken care of financially and Richardson will do that as well as give you an ample allowance of your own. You will want for nothing.”
“But, Papa, you love Mama.”
“I do now, of course, but I did not love her when we married. I admired your mother while I courted her, and that admiration grew into love over the years. Richardson is a kind young man who admires you a great deal. I’m sure you will grow to love him as I did with your mother.”
“Papa, please wait. Don’t make me do this. I’m begging you.”
Riley reached out for his daughter. “Emily, enough of your silliness. I want you…” He stopped in mid-sentence and grabbed his left arm, pulling it close across to his chest.
Emily was stunned to see the grimace on her father’s face. “Papa, what’s wrong?”
“Pain…” he sputtered, before crashing to his knees.
Emily’s hand flew to her mouth. She watched in horror as her father crumpled to the floor. She rushed over to his prone body and picked up his hand. She patted it furiously. “Papa, can you hear me? Papa, please open your eyes.”
With no response from her father, Emily rushed out of the study and into the hallway, calling for anyone who would answer. “Mama! Mrs. Jannell!”
Her panicked cry reverberated through the house bringing her mother rushing to the study. “Emily, what are you shouting about?”
“It’s Papa. Come quick. He’s collapsed.”
Catherine ran into her husband’s study, and knelt beside him. He was deathly pale, but his chest still rose with shallow breaths. “Emily, go find Mrs. Jannell. Tell her to send Joseph for the doctor with all due haste. Quickly, now.”
Tears streamed down Emily’s face. This was all her fault. She should have never argued with him. She stood by her father, paralyzed with guilt. What had she done?
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
This is a sweet love story and the mistakes we make when we assume something. Emily thought she was in love with someone else and only after saying hurtful things she finds out the truth. She must now try to repair the damage and regain the trust of the hero.
Giveaway – Enter to win an e-book bundle of all 46 books featured in the Book Series Starter Bookish Event: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92db775093 Open Internationally. Runs January 12 – January 21, 2021. Winner will be drawn on January 22, 2021.
Debra writes sweet romance in contemporary romance and historical romance. She enjoys telling stories and has been pouring out her passion for romance since her teenage years. When she's not writing, she enjoys working in her garden, motorcycle rides throughout New England with her husband and playtime with her granddaughter. She enjoys hearing from fans and you can contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org. She is also the author of the blog, Two Ends of the Pen. The blog features all things books--author interviews, new releases, guest posts and reviews.
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Romance Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Debra-Elizabeth/e/B005XYN2YE