Authors: Lindsay Kiernan
|A Taste of Honey|
|Mrs Brentley's Girls |
|Octopress Books (2012)|
The temptation of a forbidden love...
Katherine Wellings has been ordered to return home with a titled husband or risk being disowned by her family. After an impetuous kiss with her sponsor's son reveals temptation and passion she attempts to forget the incident and continue her search.
Garrett Brentley is not willing to let Katherine slip through his arms so easily. He is unrelenting in his pursuit and not above using tricks to get what he wants. Catching her alone Garret begins a seduction that leaves her defenseless.
Katherine is slowly and unwillingly falling in love. Now she must decide whose heart she will break, her mother's or her own.
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Reluctantly In Love
The Mrs. Brentley’s Girls series:
A Taste Of Honey
A Scent Of Scandal
And Coming Christmas 2012…
A Touch Of Mistletoe
Finding a husband was difficult for any woman. For the Wellings twins it was going to be nearly impossible. They were too poor for trips into London and living in a sleepy village in the country did not allow many chances to meet eligible young men.
Their prospects were also made difficult by Robin's notorious tantrums and the family's inability to function without Katherine's steady attentions and level-headed devotion. With her father stuck in his books and her mother's insistence that every cough was the first sign of her impending death, Katherine's family had become nearly useless without her.
Even simple tasks, like a quick trip into town for medicines, was made difficult for Katherine by her family. With the inclusion of her sister Robin, Katherine was starting into town later than she had hoped. The forgetfulness of her father to give them the correct amount of money had already delayed their departure. Before she could leave, a full tally of her mother's ointments and tonics had to be taken so that she did not forget any item that Mrs. Wellings would fret over later in the evening.
She grew impatient with her sister as she waited at the bottom of the stairs so that they could venture into town together. With their mother already low on the syrups for her coughing, her headaches and her nerves, Katherine knew that the household would not be able to breathe easily until they had come back from the apothecary.
Their father believed that most of his wife's illness lay solely in her head, but no one dared to argue with her on days that she claimed to feel ill. Doctors were often ordered to her room to examine some new pain that Mrs. Wellings was sure would cause her death. Once again their visit came with a new recommended medicine that ought to cure her, but never did.
Hooking the laces of her bonnet over the banister Katherine opened the bag of money that her father had given her. She counted the coins twice, to make sure that they were taking enough to purchase everything needed. There were too many other things to do today and there wouldn't be enough time to return to town if anything was forgotten.
“When you hang your bonnet by its laces, you risk having it misshapen,” Robin scolded when she at last began descending the stairs to meet with Katherine. “If you aren't going to take care of your things you should give them to me,” she suggested with a slight smile.
To anyone who did not look close enough, the Wellings twins appeared to be identical. They were the same height, a meager 5'4”. Both possessed the same striking light blue eyes and soft brown hair. After many years of confusion, Robin had resorted to placing a single wildflower in her hair to help people tell them apart. In winter, when flowers were not available, a colorful ribbon was added, often intertwined with the intricate knots of her hair that she spent hours creating.
Despite being twins Katherine and Robin had never been as close as they would have liked. They cared for each other deeply, as most sisters do, but there was never a particular bond between them, nothing that they had in common to strengthen their initial relationship.
Robin was prone to little tantrums where she screamed and cried and carried on before sulking alone by herself. She valued her possessions more than was entirely appropriate, considering that they had so little money to buy her the new trinkets that she desired.
Once, when they were very little, their father had refused Robin a new pair of gloves. In the middle of the shop she had let her displeasure be known to anyone who would listen. “Some girls have dozens of beautiful lacy gloves,” she had cried. “It's not fair that I never get what I want.” Although they could not afford such luxuries, after a few days of sulking Robin had been given a cheaper version of the pair she had wanted so badly.
“Sometimes it's better to give in to your sister, instead of letting her upset the entire household,” her father had replied when asked about his reason for buying her the gloves. Robin was used to getting her way or showing great displeasure when she did not.
For this reason, Katherine had been forced to play the balance to her sister; she was the one that others expected the most from. She rarely asked for new dresses or gloves, unless the ones she had were too tattered and frayed to be repaired. The only items she received from her father were usually books that he had bought for the two of them to read, as they shared a love of knowledge. Katherine prided herself that she never sank into a tantrum like her sister. She was too busy taking care of everyone else in the household and didn't have time for such a display.
Robin sighed loudly as they walked across the bridge that entered into the busy streets of town. “There are no eligible bachelors in this area.” She sighed again as she glanced into each of the store fronts as if some shop owner might have imported a selection of desirable men to set on the shelves. “The men in town are either too poor or far too old for either of us to consider. If only we could visit London.”
In Robin's eyes London had become a mythical place where every girl was able to find what she wanted, whether it was a set of French lace garters or a handsome Duke to sweep her away from their dreary country life.
Katherine laughed at her sister's grumpy tone. “It is highly unlikely that we will ever make it to London for a full season. Father could never afford such an expensive trip.” She worried that with Robin's repeated complaints her father might try to plan such a thing even though the expense would diminish their funds even further.
They hadn't always been so poor, which is perhaps why it upset Robin more than it should have. Their father had inherited the family estate shortly after the twin's birth, only to discover that it was nearly bankrupt and in desperate need of repairs. It had caused much tension in their family as their mother had believed that she was marrying a rich man when she had accepted his proposal. One who could dote on her and fulfill her every wish.
When Mrs. Wellings had discovered that her husband was not the rich landowner that she had expected it had sent her health plummeting. The doctors later concluded that her poor health caused by this distress had hindered her from having many children. It had prevented her from producing a male heir that could have kept the estate in the family, which made their circumstances in life even more precarious. Without an heir to the family's estates, the women could be shoved out by the next man in line the moment their father was deceased. It had become a fear within the family any time their father became ill with anything stronger than a head cold.
“I don't need to stay in London for very long. It would only take a few days for me to find a properly rich husband,” Robin said. She had a great amount of confidence that she could achieve whatever she wanted, simply by asking for it. Robin believed that were they to arrive in London, she would not have to pursue a husband. She would only have to pick from the hordes of men that would flock to her. There was a delicate grace and beauty to both of the girls that would always be in style and was praised highly by those from London, though it did them little good out in the country. Robin took great pride in her features, knowing that it could be her key to getting a rich husband and escaping the calm life of their little county.
Turning down the street, Katherine came upon the apothecary shop and opened the door for Robin before walking in behind her. The bell that jingled as they entered was hardly needed as Mr. Jenkins stood waiting for them at the large counter with many shelves and bottles all around him. Each shelf seemed to overflow with jars and tins of varying sizes. Crafted from some of the finest mahogany available, the counter that he stood behind was as old as the little shop and had been built back when Mr. Jenkins' grandfather had first opened the store. It gave the small room a rich woodsy scent above the many other smells that swirled around them.
Taking the list out of her small reticule, Katherine carefully checked each of the tonics before nodding her head and pulling out all of the coins to pay for her mother's medicines. Mr. Jenkins set about filling the order as he paused occasionally to ask after her mother and father.
In the corner of the room, Robin stopped to stare at one of the jars that lined the walls of the store. “These licorice sticks are fresh, aren't they?” she asked, as she stood in front of the glass, her fingers itching to grasp the gooey treats.
“Mrs. Jenkins finished that batch just last night,” he told her proudly. Unlike some of the other shop keepers’ wives, Mrs. Jenkins was friendly and helpful with her husband's business; it was something that he took great pride in. Mr. Jenkins sifted through the coins as he counted them slowly, watching Robin's tortured features as she stared at the forbidden treats. With a great smile, he swept the coins off of the counter and into his hand. Motioning to Robin he clucked his tongue. “Your father over paid me this time,” he told them. “You'd best take one of those so that we're even.”
Robin needed no further prodding as she opened the lid of the jar and extracted the largest piece she could find, eating the licorice quickly as if she were a starving child and licking her lips loudly afterward. To Katherine's horror she seemed to want another one.
“But I checked that myself,” Katherine frowned, before seeing the twinkle in his eye.
He quickly threw the coins into the box beneath the counter so that she could not re-count them to find out if her father had in fact over paid, or if Mr. Jenkins was just being kind. While she appreciated his kindness, her pride prickled at the idea of having to take charity.
“There was enough for you to take one too Katherine,” he told her. When she did not go for the candy right away, Mr. Jenkins came around the counter, opening the jar and placing one of the pieces into her hand. “You worry too much for such a pretty young woman,” he said before closing up the lid and setting it back on the shelves.
There had been no extra money, she knew it and it was no use arguing when he was only trying to help.
“Thank you Mr. Jenkins,” she said before taking a small bite of the treat and watching the smile that spread on his face. Perhaps one day she could repay the kindness that men like Mr. Jenkins had always shown her family despite their poor state.