If you have not read The Illicit Love of a Courtesan you may NOT want to read this post! I am sharing some of the story of the prequel which was told in The Illicit Love of a Courtesan, it will spoil the twists in the first book if you read this!
After writing The Lost Love of a Soldier, I will warn you, I had to go back and read The Illicit Love of a Courtesan, because, of course, Ellen’s story does not end at the end of The Lost Love of Soldier, but it will take you through some of the periods of her life, which she explains to Edward in The Illicit Love of a Courtesan, and give you an understanding of why she made her poor choices, or rather was forced into making poor choices when she was very young…
“I told you I wrote to my family when Paul died, that was true,” she began again, while Edward’s thoughts reeled on. “We’d eloped, Paul and I. What I did not tell you was that Paul was the sixth son of the Earl of Craster. He’d made an offer which my father rejected out of hand. Nothing but a first son and title would do for his exacting standards. I couldn’t give Paul up. We loved each other. My father wanted me to marry a man twice my age. I refused, and he locked me up, allowing me nothing to eat until I would agree to his choice. My maid took a message to Paul and through her we planned to elope. Three nights later we were on the road to Gretna.
“When Paul died, I had no idea what to do. I wrote to his parents and mine. I never heard from them. When I gave birth I wrote again, begging for their help. My father came. When he found me I had already become the mistress of the Lieutenant Colonel. He took John away from me. John was only a baby.” Her last statement was spoken with a note of deep despair, a reflection of the memory visible in her pale blue eyes. But swallowing it back, as she was want to do, and hiding it beneath her thickened skin, she continued, “He forced me to sign away any right to John, and refused to acknowledge me ever again. He said I had disgraced myself, and he would not let me disgrace my family, he said I was dead to them. But he still took John. On his return he put a notice in the paper saying he had an heir, born to his daughter who had died of lung fever, following her husband’s heroic death at Waterloo. They brought John up to think I was dead. Since then I have found ways to follow what they do. It isn’t hard, the Duke of Pembroke’s business is widely published.
“When I was mistress to the Lieutenant Colonel and the General, I found ways to watch John in the park when they brought him to London, then I sent word to my old maid who helped me meet him. He doesn’t even remember the day he found out he did have a mother, he was too young. By the time my father found out, John was old enough to remember me. My father dismissed the maid. Since then I have always been in contact with John, in secret. Occasionally I managed to see him but mostly I have written. I wrote to him at the school often. For me his voice was such a blessing. When the King heard him sing once, he insisted my father enrol John at Eton and let him sing at the chapel.”
“And now?” Edward found himself prompting, absorbed in her hideous tale. “John knew Pembroke would come, didn’t he?” Her gaze met his, the wall down, her soul visible.
“Yes. He asked me two days after we reached here. I made a promise that he would not. A promise I knew I could not keep. But I wanted him to be happy for as long as we had. I didn’t want him to spend these days living in fear of what was to come.” Her eyes again dared Edward to challenge her for lying.
“But if you had told me.” Edward sat forward, his voice no longer accusing but chiding.
“I thought you may send him back. My father is a powerful man. I did not want to take the risk.”
“I know.” She had stood too, wishing to placate him, he could tell from her voice. “But can you blame me for my hesitation? I hardly knew you really. You are the first man since Paul—” Her voice broke for a moment before she continued. He refused to look at her, knowing if he did he would let her get away with insulting him again… “—who has offered me true kindness. You have no power to fight against him, Edward. My father has an army of lawyers. There is nothing you could have done. He was right, he has the legal standing over John. I foolishly gave it to him. He would have found us sooner or later, even if we had moved on. What was the point of telling you? It seemed better to make the most of the time we had.”
“While you’re left to suffer at the hands of vile brutes. Do you really think so poorly of yourself? I thought we’d begun to cure your self-loathing. It is like you are intent on doing some ridiculous penance. As though you think you deserve to be treated ill while your family live on in luxury without a care. Do you think this is all your fault?”
“I chose to run away with Paul,” she answered quietly, holding his gaze uncertainly.
“Ellen.” He set aside his glass and stepped forward, bracing her arms. She looked away. He shifted his grip to her face, cupping her jaw in his hands and turned her back. “This is not your fault. It is obvious to me now any blame lies firmly at your father’s door…”
Click on the cover in the side bar to buy The Lost Love of a Soldier
Go to the index
- the story of the real courtesan who inspired The Illicit Love of a Courtesan,
- another free short story, about characters from book #2, A Lord’s Scandalous Love,
- the prequel excerpts for book #3 The Scandalous Love of a Duke
Jane Lark is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult Romance stories, and the author of a No.1 bestselling Historical Romance novel in America, ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’.
Click here to find out more about Jane’s books, and see Jane’s website www.janelark.co.uk to learn more about Jane. Or click ‘like’ on Jane’s Facebook page to see photo’s and learn historical facts from the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras, which Jane publishes there. You can also follow Jane on twitter at @janelark
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