The Lost Love of a Soldier
The prequel to The Marlow Intrigues series
I am going to share some excerpts from The Lost Love of a Soldier, leading up to the release date July 17th
dressing Ellen’s first husband in his Scarlet Military coat (The Illicit Love of a Courtesan)
and adding flesh, blood and bones to John’s father (The Scandalous Love of a Duke)
The Lost Love of a Soldier
The room had become bitterly cold. Her father had forbidden anyone to tend the fire. It had burned out hours ago. Ellen’s knees ached from kneeling, yet still she’d not risen, even though no one watched her. Her father’s will had been forced upon her for so many years it was her instinct to obey. Yet she’d break that tether at midnight.
She read through the Ten Commandments for the thousandth time. “Thou shalt honour thy father and mother.”
Was she about to sin then, because she was going to run away and betray them? Her mother would be heartbroken – she knew how to love. She was even loyal to Ellen’s father, respecting their marriage vows despite his coldness towards them all.
Ellen could not do the same. She could not stay here. She wanted a life with Paul – even if it was sinful and selfish.
It had been dark for hours, and every time the clock in the hall struck she’d counted the chimes. It was past ten.
Pippa had brought her some bread and cheese at eight, wrapped in a cloth, but Ellen had sent her away with a need to obey her father, at least in that. It was a penance for the moment she would break free and shatter any feelings he had.
Excitement and anxiety warred with guilt and sorrow; sadness weighing down her soul. She did not want to leave her sisters and her mother.
But the sadness was out balanced by the gladness and expectation which hovered in her other half. She was going to Paul. Running towards love. Yet what else? All she knew was his love bore more weight than her mother’s or her sisters’. It owned her heart and made it pulse – not simply made it feel tender.
The clock began to strike again, the sound echoing. One, two…
Ellen knew how many times it would chime.
Leaving the bible open, she rose, even now unable to fully disobey and close it.
Her feet were numb and her knees stiff, the payment for what she was about to do.
Everyone in the house retired early to avoid wasting candles. They rose with the sun and retired with it. They would all be in bed.
The chilly air made her shiver, or perhaps it was the overwhelming mix of excitement and fear. She still could not believe she was doing this. She took a leather sewing bag from a cupboard and began empting it of embroidery threads and ribbons. The clock outside chimed nine… ten… eleven…
Ellen’s eyes adjusted to the shadows cast by the moonlight pouring through the open curtains, she looked about the room.
She picked out undergarments and three of her muslin dresses. Then she fetched her hairbrush and the mirror her mother had bought her when she’d reached six and ten. That had been over a year ago, but she could remember the day as if it were yesterday. She’d been here in her room, and Pippa had been brushing her hair out before bed with her usual one hundred strokes. Her mother had come in to say goodnight and she’d carried a beautiful wooden box containing the set.
When she’d given it to Ellen, she’d said it was to mark Ellen becoming a woman. She’d kissed Ellen’s cheek and wished her happiness.
That is what she was running to – happiness. But she couldn’t fit the beautiful box in her bag, so she left that behind and just packed the brush and mirror.
She sifted through her gloves and picked four pairs, and she picked a dozen ribbons to change the look of her dresses, and some lace.
She had no ball gowns, she’d never been to a ball, although she’d watched one through a crack in the door when her father had held one here. She did pack two of her evening gowns though. But there were many things she had to leave behind, bonnets, shoes, dresses, her lovely room with its pretty paper painted with birds – her sisters – her mother.
Pain caught in her bosom, sharp and tight, like the press of a little knife slipping into her flesh. How would she live without them, and yet how would she live without Paul? And if she chose to stay, what if Papa would not bend and he forced her to take the Duke of Argyle? No, she was doing the right thing.
She stopped and looked about the room. She could take nothing else. But she wished she’d thought to cut a lock of her mother’s and Penny’s hair at some point in her life to keep as a reminder.
She wiped a tear away before closing the bag and securing the buckle. Then she took her riding habit from where it lay in a drawer and began changing. The thick velvet made it too hard to fit in the bag and it would keep her warm as they travelled.
It was a fabric her mother had urged her to buy, a burgundy red, as deep a colour as port. She was lucky that it fastened at the front so she could dress in it without Pippa’s help.
When it was on, she looked in her long mirror which stood against the wall in the corner of her room, and saw a woman. Not a child anymore. A woman about to desert her family. Sighing rather than face the guilt which crept in, overlaying her excitement, she turned away to collect her bonnet, cloak and a pair of kid leather gloves. She would have taken her muff, but she feared carrying too much. Lastly she put on her half boots, and laced them neatly.
Then she looked into the mirror again, at the Duke’s daughter. She would not be that now. She would be an officer’s wife. She would no longer live in luxury but in simplicity. It was what she chose. It was what she wanted.
Her gaze spun about the room, looking at everything one last time. “Goodbye, Mama,” she whispered into the darkness. “Goodbye Penny…” Her voice caught as tears burned her eyes. “Goodbye Sylvia and Rebecca. I will pray for you, I will pray for your happiness and good fortune.” She paused for a moment as though she half expected them, or the house, to reply. But no sound came. She picked up her bag and went to the servants’ door, then out into the narrow hall. It was little more than a person wide and pitch black. She hurried down the spiralling steps which would take her to the service area and the stables; the fingertips of her free hand skimming across the cold plaster on the wall to guide her way, while her heart pounded out a rhythm that made her light-headed.
You can buy The Lost Love of a Soldier by clicking on the cover in the sidebar on the right hand side.
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
Jane’s books can be ordered from most booksellers in paperback