Reckless in Innocence ~ A #Free Historical Romance story ~ Part Twenty-one

Reckless in Innocence

for my Historical Romance readers

© Jane Lark

Publishing rights belong to Jane Lark, this should not be recreated in any form without prior consent from Jane Lark

Reckless in Innocence

Reckless in Innocence


Read the earlier parts 

one , two, three, four,five,six,seven,eight,nineten,eleven,twelvethirteen, fourteen,fifteen,sixteenseventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty



Turning in her bed for the hundredth time, Elizabeth plumped and then dented the pillow, trying to find the comfort that would help her sleep. But when she lay down again her thoughts still spiralled with images of Marcus; her body imagining his.

She did not understand him, and now she did not understand herself.

Months ago she had known what she had hoped for, but that dream had been shattered. Yet what did he want? Her to give him another single encounter. He had offered her the same brief liaison she had once offered him. She could not bring herself to say yes. Yet as she lay here temptation whispered. But she did not want another heartbreaking moment in which he would touch her and then walk away. She did not want him unless her dream would become real, unless he loved her. He did not.

Elizabeth sat up. She could not lay here all night with these tumultuous thoughts. She threw back the sheets and climbed from the bed, then picked up the candle. She would go downstairs to the library and find a book to read.

The footfalls of her bare feet on the floorboards were a quiet whisper as she hurried through the silent house in her nightgown, the candle held before her cutting a path through the dark. Her fingers slid down the wooden stair rail as she descended, lifting the candle a little higher so some of its light fell into the hall below. There were four doors. One led to the library but she was not sure which.

She gripped her nightgown lifting the hem as she stepped from the bottom stair. The hall’s stone tiles were cold on the soles of her feet. She let her nightgown slip from her fingers and curved her hand about the candle’s flame as it flickered when she walked across the hall having chosen a door.

When she touched the brass door handle the grandfather clock in the hall behind her struck two after midnight, and there was a heavy thud on the door beside the one she stood in front of and the sound of glass shattering.

Elizabeth froze.

There was no other sound for a moment and then she heard the click of a cue against a ball, followed by the frustrated growl of a man’s voice, and the clatter of the cue being hurled across the room.

Her hand fell from the door-handle and she took a few steps back.

Marcus had said he would be in the billiard room, but she had expected him to be in bed at this hour. She had not thought for a single moment he would still be about the house.

She backed away a few more paces.

The door handle of the billiard room twisted.

Elizabeth turned and ran towards the stairs. The candle flickered, then guttered out, and the hall sank into blackness.



Marcus shoved open the door of the billiard room. Damn it. He would fetch the brandy from the study, he could find no more port. Why was it that when he wanted to get completely addled, wine would never do the job? He had drunk the whole decanter and drunk himself sober. It had been a bloody foolish idea to come to Larchfield, and even more foolish to bring Elizabeth Derwent. The day after tomorrow would not come fast enough and if he had to drink himself into a stupor to reach it then he would, but the port had not done the job.

Candlelight from the five candlelabrum  which burned in the room spread out into the hall, making the shadows of the dark corners deeper, but the centre of it lighter, and for a moment he just stood there, not believing his eyes. In the heart of the light spreading from the open door, stood Elizabeth. She was like a vision, an angel dressed in white. Her blonde hair hung across her shoulder in a single plait, fine wisps escaping the braid to caress her face. It was as if his heart stopped; his breathing certainly did. Time itself would stop to admire Elizabeth’s beauty.

“Elizabeth?” She looked like a rabbit in the sights of a hound, she had clearly stopped her flight and now stood still, as if by standing still he might not notice her. Perhaps she expected him chase and then ravish her if she ran.

“I came for a book. I could not sleep. I was just going back to my room.”

“But you have not got a book.” He looked at her empty hands then back at her face, his gaze a little hazy from the port. Had she been coming to him? She must have been standing behind the door as the decanter struck the wood. “Shall I help you choose one?”

“No. No, I think that I could not absorb myself in the text anyway. If you will excuse me, I will retire.” She stepped back, towards the stairs.

Marcus walked towards her.

“I think I ought to return to my room.” She stepped back again, the candle holder she’d carried sliding from her fingers, then clattering on the floor as Marcus closed the distance further. She turned, clutching up her nightgown to aid her flight and her fingers reached for the newel post so she might flee.

Marcus caught her arm and spun her back, all too aware of her nakedness beneath the thin nightgown which she wore. “I had a need for two things this night. The first was your company, the second was a drink and seeing as you deprived me of the first, I chose the second. But now that you are here, I fancy being a glutton and having both.”

“Let me go, Marcus.”

“I think not. You came down to see what I would do and now you’re in hot water you’re withdrawing.”

“Please. I came to fetch a book. I did not even know that the billiard room was here.”

His gaze held hers, her turquoise eyes were unrecognisable in the shadows which shrouded the hall. “Whatever brought you here, it is to my good fortune. Share a drink with me, Elizabeth, that is all. Come.” He did not even give her the option of refusing but bent and caught up her legs, swinging her into his arms.

Her arms clasped about his shoulders as he carried her across the hall and into the billiard room where his shoes crunched on the broken glass. He did not set her down on the floor, but deposited her on the edge of the billiard table to protect her feet. “Stay there. I am going to fetch a decanter.”

To be continued…


If you cannot wait until next week for more of Jane Lark’s writing there’s plenty to read right now 😀 And if you have read them all already, then there’s another treat out now, you can begin devouring, The Dangerous Love of a Rogue

Dangerous Love of a rogue from Zoe

To read the Marlow Intrigues series, you can start anywhere, but the actual order is listed below ~ and click like to follow my Facebook Page not to miss anything…

 The Marlow Intrigues



The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel #1 ~ A Christmas Elopement began it all ~ The paperback would be a  lovely stocking filler 😉 

The Illicit Love of a Courtesan #2 

Capturing The Love of an Earl ~ A Free Novella #2.5 

The Passionate Love of a Rake #3 

The Desperate Love of a Lord ~ A second Free Novella #3.5 

The Scandalous Love of a Lord #4

The Dangerous Love of a Rogue #5

The Secret Love of a Gentleman #6

Jane’s books can be ordered from most booksellers in paperback and, yes, there are more to come  🙂 


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 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


Lady Caroline Lamb’s whole disgraceful truth… Part Nineteen ~ The pressures that open the cracks in the Lambs ill-fated marriage

CarolinelambCaroline gave birth to her child, Augustus, in my last piece on Caroline Lamb but unfortunately for Caroline fate liked to play cruel games with her life…

Read the history to this series of posts if you are new to my blog, but if you’ve read it before as always skip to the end of the italics where I have marked the font bold.

I was drawn to Lady Caroline Lamb, who lived in the Regency era, because Harriette Wilson the courtesan who wrote her memoirs in 1825, mentions the Ponsonby and the Lamb family frequently. Also the story of Caroline’s affair with Lord Byron captured my imagination. Caroline was also a writer, she wrote poems, and novels in her later life. I have read Glenarvon.

Her life story and her letters sucked me further into the reality of the Regency world which is rarely found in modern-day books. Jane Austen wrote fictional, ‘country’ life as she called it, and I want to write fictional ‘Regency’ life rather than simply romance. But what I love when I discover gems in my research like Caroline’s story is sharing the real story behind my fiction here too.

Lady Caroline Lamb was born Caroline Ponsonby, on the 13th November 1785. She was the daughter of Frederick Ponsonby, Viscount Duncannon, and Henrietta (known as Harriet), the sister of the infamous Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.

Caroline became an official lady when her grandfather died, and her father became Earl of Bessborough earning her the honorific title ‘Lady’ and she grew up in a world of luxury, even Marie Antoinette was a family friend. Caroline was always renowned as being lively, and now it is suspected she had a condition called bipolar. As a child she earned herself a title as a ‘brat’, by such things as telling her aunt Georgiana that Edward Gibbon’s (the author of The Decline and fall of the Roman Empire) face was ‘so ugly it had frightened her puppy’.

And when she grew up Byron once described Caroline as “the cleverest most agreeable, absurd, amiable, perplexing, dangerous fascinating little being that lives now or ought to have lived 2000 years ago.” 

Caroline loved her new son Augustus, and from her letters she took an active part in his life. She often mentions things that imply she did not simply leave Augustus in the hands of servants. She wrote a letter to William on one occasion stating ‘After Dear boy was gone to bed‘ and to her mother she wrote, ‘My little boy has had the Cow pocks very effectively I hope for it has pitted him sadly and made him look thin & pale. He really is a beautiful Baby but feverish as he has been these four days past. William is growing very fond of him- but of course is less so than I in outward demonstrations.

But when Augustus was nine months old something happened to distress her, Augustus had a convulsive fit. Yet fits are common in small children and there was no reason to assume it might be anything more than a response to a high temperature. Doctors at the time also said it might be due to Caro’s regular fainting spells when she was pregnant.

Caroline fell pregnant again and she continued to write to her family both of Augustus and of her own condition. ‘my little boy is really grown as blooming stout and lively as your little Georgiana which is saying everything he has more colour in his lips than he did when quite a baby…’ ‘Augutus continues well while I am roundelete…’ ‘I have a little pain in my chest, they think from taking too much exercise & carrying the dear heavy boy, who improves a vue d oeil…

But Caroline had given birth at the same time as others in her family and in William’s family and comparisons were constantly made. I found that mothers at the school gate could be very gloating about a child who had achieved something yours had not, and I used to fight like hell not to care because I didn’t want to put any pressure on my child, and I can hear in Caro’s words above a mother who is trying to ensure her cousin that her child is just as good, but then she goes on to say, ‘though a year and a month old tomorrow he can neither walk alone nor speak a word – but laughs like a Lamb and grows very like me...’ 13 months would be young to walk and talk so she could not have been worried too much, and yet some children can walk at nine months, and perhaps she was comparing her son to her cousin’s child, or perhaps simply trying to brag that Augustus laughed.

Yet by the time Augustus was seventeen months old he was still neither walking nor saying and words, and Caro then lost another child, she gave birth to a premature little girl on the 29th January 1809, the child lived for a day, then died on her grandmother’s lap, and after this, Caroline’s and Williams marriage endured still more trials when Augustus began to have regular fits. It could not then be swept a way as something unusual and minor, it was clear that all was not well with Caro’s and William’s child, and in that era, in a family in high society, that was an embarrassment.

While William’s parents called Caro ‘the beast‘ behind her back, Caroline’s and William’s marriage began to develop cracks. He had the power to leave the house and travel, while she was left at home to mourn the loss of another child whom she had carried for months seen into the world and then lost, and to try to understand and support the only child she did have with an illness which in those days would have parents choosing to lock a child away out of sight and out of mind, and yet Caro loved him.

Caro wrote to William on the 14th September 1809, ‘I have been playing all day with that pretty little Augustus of yours, he is the dearest child I ever saw & shows where you are gone by pointing to the sea… God Bless you love, your own faithful Wiffins.’

But I think beneath her bright words and her hopefulness, she was beginning to feel distance because at this time, she started writing numerous letters to her cousin Hart, the heir to the Duke of Devonshire, though he did not often write back, and considering he had thought of himself as Caro’s future husband for most of his life, her letters were very flirtatious. ‘Caroline George is the delight of Brocket Hall give her 3 kisses for me & mind I never will give you another while you live – you are a bad good for nothing boy..’

Caro’s and William’s marriage splits into infidelity in my next post – follow my blog to make sure you don’t miss it and if you would like to read my historical romance story that’s inspired by Caroline’s life it’s available now The Dangerous Love of a Rogue.  

Dangerous Love of a rogue from Zoe

Or grab any one of my books, with free novellas and full novels in the UK from 99p and in the USA from $1.99 


Go to the index


  • the story of the real courtesan who inspired   The Illicit Love of a Courtesan,

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 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 amazon by clicking on the covers in the sidebar,  and are available from most booksellers.