Valor of Love (Scandalous Scions Book 2), page 1
Table of Contents
About Valor of Love
Praise for the Scandalous Scions series
The Great Families
1860 Great Family Gathering
Did you enjoy this book? How to make a big difference!
The next book in the Scandalous Scions series.
About the Author
Other books by Tracy Cooper-Posey
About Valor of Love
He is less than a commoner and should be beneath her notice.
Lady Lillian Innesford, oldest daughter of the Williams family, withdrew from society seven years ago. A governess now, she carries a secret that has drained all life from her.
Jasper Thomsett, new butler to the Williams family, is the first and only person to realize the nature of Lilly’s troubles. Retired with the highest honours after the Crimea War, he seeks a quiet life, but Lilly’s secret will rip their world apart.
Valor of Love is the second book in the spin-off series following the historical romances of Scandalous Sirens. Scandalous Scions brings together the members of three great families, to love and play under the gaze of the Victorian era’s moralistic, straight-laced society.
Reader Advisory: This story contains frank sex scenes and sexual language.
This story is part of the Scandalous Scions series:
0.5 Rose of Ebony
1.0 Soul of Sin
2.0 Valor of Love
…and more to come!
A Sexy Historical Romance
Praise for the Scandalous Scions series
If you are familiar with the previous series, I am sure you fell in love with the huge family like I did.
She is a go to author for me when I need a fix of historical romance.
Tracy Cooper-Posey takes us into the staid yet surprisingly bawdy Victorian Era where appearance is everything and secrets are held inside the family.
Thanks once again, Tracy Cooper-Posey, for giving us another great story and for giving me back my love of historical romances.
I love historical romances and this one filled all my likes, from a dashing, wonderful hero, a beautiful strong heroine, a love story to sigh over, side characters that are interesting, and funny, and move the story along.
I can't wait for the next in this wonderful new series.
I don't often give books five stars, but I really enjoyed the mystery that puzzled all of the characters in this story.
I found the entire extended family intriguing because they, the women in particular, are very aware and careful of what society will think, yet they often have made choices that are deemed semi- scandalous.
A wonderful story set in the Victorian era of such strict social conventions and yet the main characters are shimmering with latent sexual tension. What a fabulous juxtaposition!
Another great series is starting and it looks like it will be great just like all the other series by this author.
Wow, as soon as I started Tracy Cooper Posey’s first book in her new spin off I was hooked.
The Great Families
Elisa and Vaughn Wardell
Marquess of Fairleigh, Viscount Rothmere
1825 Raymond, Viscount Marblethorpe (stepson)
1839 William Vaughn Wardell
1839 John (Jack) Gladwin Lochlann Mayes (fostered in 1846)
1842 Sarah Louise Wardell (D)
1843 Peter Lovell Wardell
1844 Gwendolyn (Jenny) Violet Moore Wardell (adopted in 1848)
1844 Patricia Sharla Victoria Mayes (fostered in 1846)
1849 Blanche Brigitte Colombe Bonnay (adopted in 1851)
1853 Emma Jane Wardell (adopted at birth)
Natasha and Seth Williams
Earl of Innesford, Baron Harrow (Ire.)
1839 Lillian Mary Harrow
1840 Richard Cian Seth Williams
1841 Neil Vaughn Williams
1843 Daniel Rhys Williams
1846 Bridget Bronte Williams & Mairin May Williams
1849 Annalies Grace Williams
Annalies and Rhys Davies
Princess Annalies Benedickta of Saxe-Weiden, of the royal house Saxe-Coburg-Weiden, Formerly of the Principality of Saxe-Weiden.
1835 Benjamin Hedley Davies (adopted in 1845)
1842 Iefan William Davies
1843 Morgan Harrow Davies
1843 Sadie Hedley Davies (adopted in 1845)
1846 Bronwen Natasha Davies
1848 Alice Thomasina Davies (adopted at birth)
1849 Catrin Elise Davies
Thomsett heard the carriages on Park Lane drawing up beside the big house, through the open door between the family rooms and the back of the house. He looked up from the paper. “They’re here,” he told his staff and got to his feet. He hid the spurt of pleasure he felt at the family’s return. Showing excitement wouldn’t be seemly for a butler. Yet it had been a placid winter.
Peace and quiet was exactly what he had been seeking when he accepted the position, so why was he so eager now to embrace the headaches and challenges that came with an aristocratic family of ten?
He pulled on his jacket, the staff straightened their uniforms and hurried through to the front of the house to greet the returning family.
Thomsett threaded his way through them and moved quickly to the front door to open it before anyone in the carriages could reach the door, including the children, who would be energetic and fast on their feet after the long journey up from Cornwall. As he opened the door, the staff shuffled into line behind him.
Annalies was the first of the family through the door. She skidded on the tiles, regained her balance and looked up at him. “We saw a pirate ship, Thomsett!”
“Did you indeed, Lady Annalies? Were there any pirates aboard?”
“We were too far away. We were on the train. The ship had black sails, though. That makes it a pirate ship, doesn’t it?”
“I believe you may be right, my lady,” Thomsett assured her.
She spun on her heels, looking toward the drawing room. “Can we have afternoon tea now?” she asked. “I’m starving!”
Thomsett thought that Annalies may have grown at least two inches over the winter. She was eleven years old now, a lovely peaches and cream girl with golden locks and blue eyes that staff who had been in service to the family for many years said were exactly the same as her father’s eyes. She would break hearts one day.
The dark-haired twins followed Annalies inside, both talking under their breath in the almost silent way they used together. Mairin and Bridget smiled at Thomsett. “There’s afternoon tea?” Mairin asked hopefully.
Thomsett glanced at Cook, who slid out of the line and hurried back to the kitchen. She would arrange tea quickly, even though the formal hour for afternoon tea was at least an hour away.
“I believe that afternoon tea will be served quite soon, Lady Mairin, Lady Bridget,” he told the twins.
“That’s marvelous,” Bridget declared. “Mother! There’s tea, already!” she called over her s
Lord Raymond Marblethorpe stepped into the entryway and turned to shepherd the rest of his family in. “Your mother said only that tea was usually served later in the day,” he called after the twins. He glanced at Thomsett. “You are a genius, Thomsett,” he said. “We ran out of Corcoran’s sandwiches and cake before we reached Taunton. You’d have thought their throats had been cut.”
“Welcome back to London, Lord Marblethorpe,” Thomsett told him.
“The carriage ride from Victoria Station was perhaps the worst, although they were hungry,” Lady Natasha Marblethorpe said as she hurried in, bringing with her a scent of roses and the flutter of twenty yards of sensible travelling tweed. Her maid, Mulloy, followed, carrying Lady Natasha’s jewelry in the big leather case. The new nurse, Collins, carried little Lord Wakely, who was four years old now and looked fretful.
“I think we’d best put Seth down for a sleep,” Natasha told Collins, holding her hand against the child’s pink cheek. “He’s too warm for my liking. Rest will help.”
Collins hurried upstairs with the child, while Natasha removed her bonnet and gloves and smoothed her hair back into place. Raymond waited patiently. His gaze met Thomsett’s and his brow lifted.
Thomsett knew what Raymond was not asking. He nodded, then inclined his head toward the drawing room. At that exact moment, Annalies let out a little scream. “Cian! Neil!”
Natasha caught her breath and looked at Raymond, hope flaring in her eyes. Her hands lowered.
“It was supposed to be a surprise,” Raymond told her.
“All those wires you sent two days ago…you arranged for them to come down from Cambridge early, didn’t you?” Natasha said, her eyes shining. “Oh, it is a surprise. Such a lovely surprise!” She rested her hands on his chest and reached up and kissed him, right on the lips.
Thomsett turned his head away, keeping his expression neutral. It was these little moments of intimacy the family displayed behind closed doors, along with their keen sense of loyalty to each other that made serving the Marblethorpe family such a privilege…and every day interesting.
“Lord Innesford and Master Neil only arrived a few hours ago,” Thomsett told them. “I believe they will find an early afternoon tea as welcome as you.”
“Thank you, Thomsett.” Natasha picked up her husband’s hand. “If Daniel were here, that would be everyone but Lilly.”
Raymond squeezed her hand. “Daniel will be here for the ball,” he assured her. “Come and eat, my love, and see your sons.” He led her into the drawing room, where the conversation was growing louder.
Thomsett shut the door behind them and turned to the first footman. “Monroe, slide over to Grosvenor Square, please. Let Paulson know the family have arrived and ask him to let Lady Elisa know.”
“Wouldn’t Lady Lillian like to know, first?” Monroe asked, puzzled.
He was young and still learning how great households ran, so Thomsett spelled it out for him. “We cannot direct Paulson’s household for him. We can only ask him to ask the lady of the house. Paulson is an intelligent fellow. He’ll inform Lady Lillian. Hurry along and make sure you’re back to serve supper.” He opened the door and let Monroe out.
As he closed the door, Thomsett dismissed the staff and sent them back to their duties. The long slow winter was over. The Season had begun in earnest. Thomsett wasn’t sure if he liked the idea, or not. Yet the sounds of family merriment issuing from the drawing room were pleasant.
He moved through to the drawing room to see if anyone needed anything. He built a list in his mind, anticipating their requests. Raymond would want brandy. Natasha would ask for madeira, but would expect brandy, too. Cian would most likely join his father at the decanter. That was for after. First they would enjoy afternoon tea, which would be rowdy and rambunctious, as Natasha refused to have her children corralled in their own wing of the house.
The challenges would only escalate from there….
* * * * *
Lilly noticed Elisa slip into the room as they were finishing up with the review of military insignia. The girls were testing each other with the cards they had spent the afternoon drawing. Now, each of them would hold up a card in turn, while the other three attempted to identify the insignia, plus give the regiment and the location and current assignment, if they could, for an extra mark.
Lilly wrote down their scores as they tested each other. Sharla and Jenny, of course, were far ahead on their scores for they had many years of drilling each other on the meaning of military insignia they saw on officers’ uniforms. The two were firm friends, for they were the same age.
Blanche was trying to keep up. Even at eleven years of age she knew a thorough understanding of England’s military structure would come in useful when there were so many officers attending public functions.
Emma, at seven, was just beginning to discern the differences a simple symbol could make, although she was trying hard.
“The Tenth North Lincolnshire Regiment of Foot,” Sharla said, frowning at the card that Emma held up.
“The Eleventh North Devonshire, actually,” Elisa said, settling into the chair next to Lilly’s table. “That is one you don’t want to confuse. The Tenth regiment are not fond of the Eleventh regiment at all. Their officers won’t take kindly to being mistaken for Devonshire officers.”
Sharla frowned. “Bother,” she said softly and twirled a red curl about her fingers thoughtfully.
Lilly put her pen down. “I think it might be a good moment to take a short recess,” she told the four girls.
“Before you leave,” Elisa said, as the four of them got to their feet. They sat down again.
Elisa looked at Lilly. “Paulson was about to huff and puff his way up here to tell you. I thought I would save him the climb. Word came from Park Lane, my dear. Your family have arrived from Cornwall.”
Lilly drew in a quick breath of pleasure. “That is good news,” she said, unable to hide her smile.
“I thought you might like to visit, this afternoon,” Elisa said. “In which case, I would be happy to take over the girls’ lessons for the rest of the afternoon.”
“I’m not a girl!” Jenny protested.
“Nor I,” Sharla echoed. She was still staring at the card she had got wrong, her lips in a pout and her fingers entwined in her hair.
“You certainly both look like girls,” Elisa replied. “With your back hair down and wearing frowns. No one looking at you now would believe you are about to be presented to the Queen and hold your own coming out ball.” Her tone was teasing.
Jenny rolled her eyes, while Sharla smoothed down her hair and clasped her hands in her lap to take away any temptation to play with it.
“To be fair, they are both extremely knowledgeable about the military,” Lilly said, shifting her sheet of paper around so that Elisa could see the scores.
“All the better to snare a husband with,” Elisa murmured, studying it. “Especially one in uniform.”
Sharla and Jenny exchanged glances. Their impending coming out had distracted them both for weeks.
“What lessons did you have planned for the rest of the afternoon, Lilly?” Elisa asked.
“Oh, can’t we have the afternoon off, if Lilly is leaving?” Blanche asked, pulling her rich brown curls up off the back of her neck and trying to pin them in place with an inadequate number of clips. Sometimes, she was more grown up than either Jenny or Sharla.
“I’m not leaving,” Lilly said quickly. “Sharla and Jenny have few days left to focus upon their studies. We should finish their lessons, of which both you and Emma will benefit.”
Sharla and Jenny both groaned.
“I don’t understand,” Elisa said. “You don’t want to see your family, Lilly? You haven’t seen them all winter.”
Elisa looked as though she was trying to be shocked, yet the corner of her mouth was lifting.
Lilly shook her head. “I would much rather go tomorrow, when everyone is well rested and in a pleasant mood.”
“I understand that Cian and Neil are home early from Cambridge,” Elisa added.
Lilly hesitated. Time with her two oldest brothers was rare these days. They were off in the world, building their lives, while she took care of her own small life. Then she shook her head again, this time more firmly. “I must insist we finish the lessons,” she told Elisa. “Tomorrow is soon enough.” She picked up her pen.
Emma sighed. It was a loud, vexed expression that made Elisa frown and study her until Emma dropped her gaze, chastened.
Elisa got to her feet. “Far be it for me to interfere with my daughters’ educations. Please carry on, Lillian.”
Lilly realized that Elisa was hurt because her special treat had been rejected. She didn’t want to upset Elisa, especially not after such a thoughtful gesture. “I do appreciate you bringing me the news, Elisa.”
Elisa’s smile was a degree warmer. “The world is not made entirely of work, Lilly,” she said, softly enough so the girls would not overhear. “You should take some time to enjoy life.”
Lilly bit back her initial reaction. Instead, she said, “Thank you, Elisa. I will bear that in mind. However, I would feel I have let you down, after all you have done for me, if I failed to prepare Jenny and Sharla for their coming out by even a single inch.”