At the turn of the century, the Victorian upper classes live in a vibrant but strictly-ordered world that encourages gentle, intellectual pursuits. Theirs is a life of ease and elegance, but it can be snatched away from them in an instant if the rules of polite society are not followed. Gothic novelist Geoffrey Hawes has never been willing to let such restrictions hold him back, and he refuses to honor conventions for which there is no discernible value. When he spends a social season in a community created to celebrate the Arts, music, and philosophy, he is unexpectedly befriended by the daughter of the Governor, Miranda Claridge.
Bitter and disenchanted with the privileged and wealthy, Geoffrey finds his beliefs repeatedly challenged by the intelligent and vivacious Miranda. In the midst of their heated debates on the mores of the upper class, this unlikely friendship blossoms into a passionate love. He encourages her to pursue her interest in painting and gives her a new understanding of what relationships between men and women should be. Meanwhile, Miranda begins to open his eyes to all that is wonderful and beautiful and good in the world.
Geoffrey at last accepts that he has fallen in love with Miranda, but misunderstandings and lies come between them. Knowing that Miranda believes it is her duty to marry, he prepares himself to hear news of her wedding. Geoffrey attempts to escape the pain of her perceived rejection by traveling and throwing himself into his work. However, he cannot run forever. One day, he encounters Miranda again and soon discovers that she is not the same woman he left behind. Can the couple realize that they each must relinquish some of their prejudices and preconceived notions before it is too late? Can love really conquer all?
“I have not been humoring you, Miss Claridge. On the contrary, I am intrigued that such a refined and doubtless well-protected woman as you should carry such sorrow. Will you not confide in me?”
Her answering smile was wry. “Am I to provide material for your next book? I assure you, there is nothing I could hope to offer that would interest you or your readership.” The words were bitter, but her tone was not.
“I would tell you that you will not appear in my work, but that is beyond my power. Pieces of every person I encounter have a way of appearing in my books, whether I will it or no.” Moved by some inexplicable impulse, he reached out and took her hand in both of his. “Let me assure you, however, that I am most anxious to know what troubles you so.”
“You are very kind,” she said.
“That surprises you?”
“A bit. You do not strike me as a man who interests himself in the problems of a mere girl, least of all a naïve and inexperienced one such as I.”
“This is perhaps true,” he allowed. “Yet I sense, Miss Claridge, that there is more in your heart and mind than I would expect to discover in a woman of your upbringing.”
“I very much doubt that, sir. In truth, from infancy I have been schooled to have as little on my mind as possible.”
Her eyes returned to their perusal of the lake, but he continued his examination of her face.
After a moment, he responded. “Be that as it may, I think there is quite a good deal in your mind, and in your heart, too. I very much hope that I am nearby if ever you should decide to divulge it.”
contemporary and period romances. Each book incorporates its own unique blend
of humor and reverence, the peculiar and the mundane. In addition to her
novels, Elizabeth serves as a freelance editor. A lifelong writer and former
paralegal, Elizabeth divides her free time between her husband and two sons,
her three cats, her collection of cozy murder mysteries, and her mildly severe
caffeine addiction. A native of Lawrence, Kansas, Elizabeth now works from her
home in Cleveland, Ohio.