I’m hoping to finish my historical romance ‘ Past Shadows’ by the end of February so I thought I would share a little with you from chapter three,to see what you think? Here’s what it’s about:
Justin Bracken has no choice but to resign his commission and return home to the cotton mills, when his father falls ill. Unrest among the workers, fire, death and an opinionated woman all seek to make his new life every bit as dangerous as the military battles he fought in the past.
Young widow and vicar’s daughter Lucinda Osborne is born out of her time. When her husband dies, she returns to her father’s home determined to improve the lives of the mill workers she grew up with.
Mill owner, Charles Bracken refuses her offer to educate the workers’ children and threatens her. Lucinda narrowly escapes his unwelcome attentions, thanks to the rugged stranger who intervenes.
A fire at the mill and the sudden death of the mill owner has profound implications for Lucinda, who suspects her cousins’ are responsible. Determined to save them from the hangman’s noose, she risks her own reputation to do so.
Grief stricken by his father’s sudden death, Justin cannot forget his father’s last words, accusing Lucinda of starting the fire in the mill. Determined to find out the truth Justin summons the vicar’s daughter to the manor.
Intuitively he knows she is not guilty but believes she knows who is. In an attempt to get to the truth and unable to control his inconvenient passion, he makes her an indecent proposal but will she accept?
‘The summons arrived in an elegant cream envelope edged with black. She knew who sent it. Justin Bracken was in mourning. Charles Bracken passed away the previous night from a fatal seizure according to her father. She broke open the seal. Justin Bracken requested her presence at the manor house that afternoon. The reason for the meeting wasn’t clear. She could refuse. Invent another engagement. No. Many in the village knew of her cousins’ direct action against evil mill owners across the district. If word reached Justin he might suspect them, even if there was no evidence to support his accusations. Lucinda could ensure no suspicion came their way by allowing the shadow of guilt to fall on her.
“Father, Mr Justin has invited me to tea at the manor today.”
“Why would he do that? Does he ask that I accompany you? I need to speak with him about the funeral.”
“He makes no mention of you or the funeral father. He doesn’t allude to the meeting’s purpose at all. I can only assume he wishes to find out about my plans for educating the mill workers children.” Lucinda’s gaze darted away from her father’s earnest stare, a faint blush stained her pale cheeks but he didn’t notice too preoccupied with his exclusion. He relied on the mill owner for his living and couldn’t afford to offend Justin. Lucinda played on his fear to overcome any parental objections to her meeting the new young mill owner without his chaperone. After all she was a respectable widow and a chaperone wasn’t strictly necessary even if her reputation was lily white.He didn’t question her explanation or ask how Justin knew about her teaching aspirations.
“Perhaps you could ask him when it would be convenient to call on him m’dear.”
“Of course father, I’ll leave you now to get ready. He is sending his carriage for me at 3 o’clock.”
The Vicar raised his eyebrows at her disclosure but made no further comment and thankfully,didn’t delay her. “Yes, yes m’dear run along.”
“See you at dinner father,” Lucinda smiled and hoped it reached her eyes. Her father returned her smile before he returned to the ecclesiastical tome, which occupied him when he rested. Lucinda forced her feet into a measured walk she didn’t want her scattered emotions to betray her.’