New Release Friday presents Beppie Harrison and her novel The Broken Heart.
On an Irish hilltop, gazing out from the centuries-old stone mansion in which she’d been born, Lady Caroline Hawthorne looks past the brilliantly green lawns surrounding Kendall House. Beyond them all she can see are flower-bedecked and candle-lit ballrooms of London where she will glide among the dancers, as beautifully dressed as any. She will attend the glittering London theaters, to see and be seen; she will step out of a launch at the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens and drink champagne, eat strawberries and dance, laugh, and fall in love.
It is 1811, the wondrous year when Caroline will at last leave provincial Ireland and make her way to the elegance and excitement of London—the center of her dreams for years past. Indeed, Caroline sails across the Irish Sea to make her debut in all the splendor of the Season, and it seems all of her dreams are coming true. She falls in love with the Earl of Linnell, the heir to his father, the Duke of Apthorp, and he is enchanted by her. They marry that summer, and happily ever after begins.
But happily ever after is transformed into aching heartbreak, and Caroline stumbles from the heights of romance to the emptiness of despair. Forced into starting again by the unexpected cruelty of events spinning out of her control, Caroline must find the path back to an endurable pattern of life, trying not to hope, learning to deal with life as it is. And, should love come again, will she dare open her heart again to meet it?
Suffolk, England – 1811
She had never been this happy.
Lady Caroline Robinson, Countess of Ross, pressed her heels lightly against her horse’s side. Admittedly Caroline was no fearless rider, but the obliging mare her husband had insisted she ride today would have been more suitable for a child or a delicate old lady. The horse lacked a single competitive bone in her body. This was the third time Caroline had made an attempt to catch up to Henry, riding swiftly ahead. Her husband—how she liked the sound of those words.
How long had they been married? Not yet six months. His blond hair flew loose, just as it looked when she ran her fingers through it in their great bed. That would be at night, of course. This was the morning of a sunny autumn day, the only clouds white puffy ones that floated far away toward the horizon. The tall grasses and dry leaves added some fragrance to the air as the three of them rode across the field, Henry in front as always. Behind him came his brother, Lord Eustace, and a great deal to the rear, Caroline.
Henry was laughing back at her. “Caroline! My love!” he shouted over his shoulder. “You’re such a slow coach!”
“It’s this horse—stupid old Bluebell,” she called to him. “She’s the slowest in the stables, and you know it.”
He was still laughing. “Better safe than sorry. She must have a bit more speed than that, dear heart.” She shook her head at him, blushing a little. Her heart tightened with pleasure. It was so like Henry to share his endearments for her with anyone who happened to be around. He loved her as completely as she loved him and far more openly.
Still well ahead, Henry turned his horse to wait for her. The great bay, Sylvester, was as eager to keep speeding forward as his master was, and clearly unhappy at being held back. Henry laughed, both at the horse and at Caroline. She gradually approached at the much slower pace that Bluebell maintained.
“Come on, Caroline,” he called to her, shaking his head, his broad smile still on his face. “A sheep crosses the road faster than you do. Sylvester is losing whatever patience he had.”
“So go on!” Caroline waved her hand. “I’ll catch up.”
He hesitated, but only for a moment and then, Eustace now close behind him, raced off toward the distant end of the meadow, marked by a stone wall. Caroline settled back in her saddle, no longer trying to match his pace. Bluebell was clearly bumping along as fast as she intended to move.
They trundled along, Caroline enjoying the lovely morning and the delightful picture the two men ahead of her made, almost like a portrait of horsemen at play. They were side by side until abruptly Henry veered off to the right, toward the closer wall running down the edge of the field.
“I’ll bet I can take this one!” Henry’s voice floated back to her.
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