Brita Addams is on my Blog today with her book “Her Timeless Obsession”
Her Timeless Obsession
Here is an excerpt from my newest historical romance.
During a lifetime spent at Danby Terrace, Honoria Danby, Honey to those who knew her best, had excitedly explored the secret passageways and hiding places that made living in the red-bricked townhouse worthwhile. As mistress of the old pile, she intended to restore some of the old charm the place must have once held.
With an autumnal storm blowing sheets of rain against the windows, Honey answered the call of her curiosity, as she had often done on such days during her childhood. She’d spent hours alone amid the relics of years
gone by. The high-ceilinged attic beckoned her to poke around amongst paintings by the dozens, statues, and fine china. She had, over the years, restored furniture used by Danby ancestors and filled the rooms downstairs with them.
“Come on, Maizie,” she said to her less than thrilled maid. “Let’s explore that corner with all the trunks.”
“Yes’m. I’ll get the kerosene lamp.”
Honey changed into a work dress and met Maizie at the foot of the stairs.
“I’ve been dying to explore those trunks. What about you?”
“I don’t like the dust. Now, you know that.”
“I know, but think of the treasures we might find.”
Maizie grumbled as she lit the lamp, and the dark attic took on light.
With the dim recesses lit, Honey strode past covered furniture, rusted rifles, a patinaed garden bench, and an entire dining room set.
“Look here. How have I missed these in all our explorations?” Honey pulled back the sheets that covered paintings of animals, expressionless people, and admirably executed still lifes, “We’ll take some of these down to hang in the dining room.”
While Maizie stacked the paintings by the stairs, Honey delved deeper into the corner. Against the rough-hewn beams rested an age-stained oilcloth-wrapped mystery that had somehow escaped her frequent explorations.
On creaking floorboards, she advanced on the corner, distracted for several moments by copies of old magazines and a marble bust of a bald, bearded man that looked like her grandfather.
She hung the lamp on a nail in the beam. “Maizie, come help me uncover this.”
As they lifted the heavy cloth, dust motes clouded the airless attic as she and a sneezing Maizie unveiled a life-size portrait, well-preserved in a dull gilt frame.
Honoria slid her finger over the textured deep scarlet of the subject’s uniform, over the braided cords at his shoulders, and then higher. She shone the light on his handsome angular face—square jaw with a hint of a shadow. Unsmiling, he stared straight ahead, as though through the
painter. “Oh, my, who do we have here?”
She lowered the lamp to the dusty brass plaque at the lower edge of the frame. With a moistened thumb, she cleaned the filthy piece of metal.
Captain Jeremy Saintaubin, Marquess of Galmore, 1803.
Honey stared at the ribbons on the captain’s scarlet coat and imagined his pride as he received them. The hem of his eternally creased black trousers disappeared into his highly polished Wellington boots. His stylish curly black hair, perfectly coifed, did nothing to soften his stiff,
Honey’s heart skipped a beat when she studied his face. A man’s eyes had always enthralled her, especially those that held a hint of mystery. “He’s handsome, isn’t he, Maizie?”
Her maid held her apron to her face. “Yes’m.” She sneezed again.
Though the captain’s eyes bored through to her soul, Honey tore her gaze from the visage of the handsome Lord Galmore to root amongst the old trunks that lined a darkened wall and peek beneath dust-laden cloths at the discarded remnants of another century.
A swath of blue drew her attention to a blue-and-cream striped Hepplewhite sofa and matching chairs. “Even at a hundred years old, these are in good repair.”
Maizie batted away the dust and mumbled a reply.
“We’ll take these downstairs. We can clean them up, can’t we?”
Maizie coughed. “I suppose we can.”
“You should keep your face covered so the dust doesn’t affect you like that.”
With Maizie’s help, Honey tugged the furniture out of the way and settled before the first of many trunks that lined the darkest wall. After leveraging one rusted clasp open, she giggled with glee. “Oh look, Maizie. Old clothes.”
Honey sat on the plain wood floor and pulled dresses and bonnets from the trunk—silks, satins, cambric, and muslins in styles that had long since lost favor. “They are remarkably unspoiled.”
Maizie sneezed several times, but she managed a weak, “That’s nice.”
“We need to get you out of this attic. Will you go get Frederick and Paul, and they can take these trunks and that huge portrait downstairs? I want to see it in a better light”
While Honey dug even deeper in one of the trunks, Frederick and Paul appeared. “I’d like to have these trunks, this beautiful portrait, and the blue Hepplewhite furniture taken downstairs. You can put them in the corridor until I decide what else to do with them.”
Honey supervised the removals, prodding as much as she dared, eager to see everything in the stark light of day and electrical lighting.
“What do we do with the portrait, ma’am?” Frederick asked.
Honey ran her fingers through a thick coating of dust. “After Maizie dusts it, bring it and this trunk into my bedchamber. The furniture goes to my drawing room.”
Honey paced her chamber floor, her impatience on a short tether. She’d grown used to her aloneness, save for the presence of the servants, preferring it to the silly chatter of women her age. She loved her books, music, and her historical research. She often spent hours in the library, reading accounts of battles and the lives of everyday people in different eras.
When, four years before, her parents had succumbed to influenza within weeks of each other, she inherited a considerable sum, including the Danby family home on Upper Brook Street in Mayfair. She adored the old pile, and with her desire to restore it to another time, she suspected she’d landed in the wrong century.
The old carved friezes and mammoth staircases set her imagination to reeling. Her mother had filled the built-in curio cabinets with more treasures than Honey could catalog. During another attic expedition, she found, and had restored to their former glory, a collection of porcelain statuettes. She displayed them in the parlor, on tables.
In an old trunk, she found a well-preserved white and luster gold porcelain tea set, which held an honored place in a built-in cabinet in the parlor. Often, in her quieter moments, she conjured parties given in the rambling drawing room, dinners in the dining room she’d forsaken years
before, and her ancestors serving tea to London’s finest in the parlor.
At last, the two footmen brought the overlarge portrait to her. Two more servants groaned beneath the weight of the old fusty trunk. “Put the portrait against this wall.” She pointed to a space beside the fireplace.
Again alone, she studied the likeness. The gallant soldier’s gaze followed her every step as she paced before the painting that showed signs of drying, with hair-thin cracks throughout. Several areas had blackened, as well. She rubbed a finger through layers of dirt she dared not clean away, lest she damage the portrait further.
Saintaubin stood at considerable height, judging from his proximity to the desk beside him. Honey leaned in closer to view the bicorne hat with a jaunty green plume that lay just out of Saintaubin’s reach. Expressionless, he stared straight ahead, his left hand tucked into his uniform pocket.
She knelt before the trunk and lifted the lid on stiff un-oiled hinges. The strong odor of mildew slapped her in the face when she settled the lid fully open. An array of straw bonnets sat on top, each with plumes and ribbons, all in need of replacement or chucking. She put the unprotected headwear on the floor beside her and dug deeper amongst a number of parcels wrapped in brown paper and bound with string.
Beneath layers of paper and heavy fabric of the largest package lay a yellowed but magnificent ocean-blue silk gown, exquisitely embroidered with vining green leaves and small cornflowers just above the scalloped hem. She fingered the surprisingly pristine ivory Belgian lace at the square low-cut neckline.
She imagined its owner wearing it to a fashionable ball, swishing about the dance floor in the arms of a handsome soldier, perhaps. No doubt they’d turned heads.
A trove of treasures made up the other bundles—gloves, matching slippers, and a silk and ivory fan decorated with hundreds of seed pearls. She fell in love with a gorgeous bandeau, much wider than the current fashion. The two attached ivory ostrich feathers fell over her crown and
jauntily bobbed just over her brow.
With alacrity, she shed her high-neck pink silk dress with leg-o’-mutton sleeves and bust bodice. “How different the styles.” She tossed her dress on her bed.
Over her corset, she dropped the blue gown and modeled before the cheval mirror. The garment fit as though made for her. In a matter of minutes, she’d transformed herself from one century to another. Anxious to complete the look, she donned the gloves and finally the blue kid slippers
To her amazement, beneath the rest, she discovered a perfectly preserved pearl-beaded reticule. Tucked inside was a neatly folded monogrammed lace handkerchief with the initials J.S. embroidered in one corner.
“This belonged to him.” She brought it to her cheek. Perhaps Jeremy Saintaubin carried it in his pocket and gave it to his ladylove, perhaps her grandmother or great grandmother.
She put her record of the Bridal Veil Waltz on her gramophone and turned the large horn toward the middle of the room. With a glance toward the portrait, she placed her hand on the invisible shoulder of Jeremy Saintaubin and her other in the warmth of his gloved hand.
Together, they twirled across her floor, her room transformed into the finest ballroom in all of London, with brightly lit crystal chandeliers, large mirrors along the walls, an orchestra of violins seated discreetly out of the way.
The music waned, but Honey held fast to her partner, until the needle scratched and broke the spell. She bowed before the portrait. “Thank you, sir, for the wonderful dance. You are so very light on your feet.”
Beneath the wrapped parcels of clothing, she found a bundle of letters written in a neat cursive hand and addressed to Jeremy Saintaubin. Her hands shook with excitement as she settled herself on a chaise longue, still wearing the beautiful blue gown. She untied the faded blue ribbon and
opened the first letter, dated May 5, 1810.
Marquess of Galmore
Galmore Hall, Kent
My dearest love,
Though it has been but a few days, I cannot begin to express
how I miss you. At every turn, I expect you to walk into the room,
and when you don’t, I’m sadder than ever before, though your
absence is a tangle of my own making.
I do pray for your swift return. I look forward to our
conversations, and as always, I savor thoughts of your lips on my
own. As promised, when you return, I will have more to share with
you. I quiver with want of your arms around me.
Forgive me, my love, for my melancholy. I miss you so and
long to hear the rumble of carriage wheels in front of our home, the
wheels that carry you back to me.
All my love.
You can find Her Timeless Obsession at:
Musa Publishing (Kindle Friendly) – http://musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=35_59&products_id=859
All Romance Ebooks – https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-hertimelessobsession-1732113-160.html
About Brita Addams:
Born in a small town in upstate New York, Brita Addams has made her home in the sultry south for many years. In the Frog Capital of the World, Brita shares her home with her real-life hero—her husband, and a fat cat named Stormee. All their children are grown.
Given her love of history, Brita writes both het and gay historical romance. Many of her historicals have appeared on category bestseller lists at various online retailers.
Musa Publishing publishes Brita’s heterosexual historical romances, including the rewritten and expanded, best-selling Sapphire Club series, each with new titles. Again, each of the titles have again hit the best-selling lists at various online vendors.
Tarnished Gold, the first in her gay romance Tarnished series for Dreamspinner Press, was a winner in the 2013 Rainbow Awards, Historical Romance category. The book also received nominations for Best Historical and Best Book of 2013 from the readers of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group.
A bit of trivia—Brita pronounces her name, Bree-ta, and not Brit-a, like the famous water filter. Brita Addams is a mash-up of her real middle name and her husband’s middle name, with an additional d and s.
Readers can find more information about Brita Addams at any of the following places:
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