Lord Deverill's Secret
A Regency romance
A simple trip to Brighton turns into a summer of adventure for Cassandra Paxton when she encounters the enigmatic Justin, Lord Deverill. Lord Deverill is hiding a secret, and, when Cassandra discovers its significance, the accidents that have befallen her appear in a new and deadly light. With danger looming on every side Cassandra reluctantly realises she must join forces with Lord Deverill if she is to survive. After searching her heart, can she admit that she loves him? And can Lord Deverill save her life?
"Ms. Grange has a feel for the era and she writes about Regency Brighton knowledgeably, from the bathing machines to the Prince's Pavilion and the lavish entertainments he hosted." - Valarie Pelissero, Rakehell
"In LORD DEVERILLíS SECRET, author Amanda Grange does an excellent job of pulling readers in with a tantalizing mystery and steadily building the suspense with each turn of the page. By the time the secret surrounding Cassandraís brother is finally revealed, about half way through the tale, readers are already thoroughly involved in the plight of the two protagonists, Cassandra and Justin. Their lives are in danger, and the intrigue surrounding them is thick. Yet, a budding romance between the two is equally engrossing, probably because they are such amiable characters. He is an interesting gentleman leading a double life, and she is a typical English miss proving she has no small amount of pluck when she is suddenly thrust into extraordinary circumstances.Finishing off the delightful tale is a surprise ending, making LORD DEVERILLíS SECRET that much more enjoyable. Donít miss it."-Sandra Brill, Romance Reviews Today
Available from Amazon US UK
Miss Cassandra Paxton put on her spencer and settled her bonnet on her golden head, then turned to her maid.
'Lord Deverill lives on the Steyne. It's time for us to pay him a visit.'
'I don't like it,' grumbled Moll. 'You was brought up proper, Miss Cassie. You shouldn't be going visiting gennulmen on your own.'
'I'm not on my own,' teased Cassandra as she picked up her parasol. 'I'm with you.'
She opened the door and the two of them stepped out into the summer morning. Standing on the top step, she breathed in deeply, inhaling the tang of salt that was carried to her on the breeze, and lifted her face skyward as the cry of gulls filled the air.
'I'd forgotten how much I loved being in Brighton,' she said. 'I shouldn't have stayed away for so long.'
'That's a fact. The house is in a muddle, being as how it was left shut up for a year,' said Moll, adding dourly, 'It's a wonder we haven't got rats.'
'Well, we haven't,' said Cassandra, who was used to Moll's grumblings and ignored her gloomy manner. 'But you're right about the muddle. We will have to clean the house and tidy it from top to bottom when we return.'
'A rare treat,' said Moll, in an aggrieved tone of voice.
Cassandra led Moll down the narrow street then turned a corner. In front of them lay the sea. It was spread out like a piece of watered silk, undulating gently towards the horizon in a blaze of brilliant blue that reflected the clear blue sky. Fishing boats were dotted here and there on its surface, and their colourful sails blew in the breeze. Nearer to hand, more boats were drawn up on the shore, and next to them fishermen were mending their nets. A nursemaid was walking past them, keeping a watchful eye on a little boy who was playing with the waves.
'When we reach Lord Deverill's house, I want you to be quiet and let me speak,' said Cassandra, as she and Moll began to walk along the sea front.
'Yes, miss, I'll keep my mouth shut,' Moll grumbled, 'but don't say as I didn't warn you if Lord Deverill tries to take advantage of you.'
'As if you'd let him,' returned Cassandra.
Moll had been her nurse for many years and had stayed on with the family, becoming first of all a housekeeper and then a maid of all work. She had comforted Cassandra when her parents had died and again when her brother had died, and Cassandra knew that Moll was utterly devoted.
'I think I'll go bathing tomorrow,' said Cassandra, as they walked past a row of bathing huts pulled up on the beach.
'Nasty habit,' said Moll with a shudder. 'Climbing up them steps. Riding in a hut. Bumping over that beach on those big wheels and all to get into the water. If you wants a bath you can have one at home like a respectable body, instead of frolicking about in your chemise.'
Cassandra twirled her parasol. 'But it's not so easy to swim in the bath,' she teased.
'If you drowns yourself, don't come complaining to me,' said Moll, determined to have the last word.
It was not long before they reached the Steyne, a large grassy area set at right angles to the beach. It was empty apart from a footman who was hurrying across it, and who stopped to exchange a word with a lusty milkmaid before hurrying on. Its emptiness reminded Cassandra of how early it was and she felt a moment of doubt. It might be impossible for her to see Lord Deverill because he might not yet have risen. Living in the country, she had forgotten that the fashionable people in Brighton kept different hours, but she had gone too far to turn back. Summoning her courage she went up to the door of Lord Deverill's house. She lifted the lion's head knocker. It seemed to grin as she dropped it with a loud clang. She fiddled with her reticule as she waited patiently for the door to open, but nothing happened.
'Just as well,' said Moll with dour relish. 'Now we can go home again.'
But just as she turned away from the door, it opened, and a superior butler stood there. He lifted one eyebrow when he saw Cassandra, then his gaze passed on to Moll.
'Yes?' he enquired.
'I am here to see Lord Deverill,' said Cassandra.
He lifted his eyebrow even further.
'Lord Deverill is not at home,' he said in a stately fashion.
'Then I will wait until he returns,' said Cassandra firmly.
The butler looked as though he was about to say that Lord Deverill was not in need of another barque of frailty when he caught Moll's eye and changed his mind. He stood aside.
'If you will wait here,' he said, as he allowed Cassandra into the hall. 'I will see if his lordship has returned.'
Cassandra looked around her as the butler disappeared. Like all town houses, it was comparatively small, but there was no denying that it was elegant. A number of prints lined the walls, and a vase of flowers was arranged attractively on a console table. Three x frame stools were pushed back against the wall, and beyond them a modest staircase led upwards. The baluster was made of mahogany and the treads had been polished until they shone. She had time to notice nothing more before the butler returned and said, 'Lord Deverill will give you five minutes of his time.'
Cassandra followed him up the stairs and into the drawing-room. It was an elegant apartment, decorated in shades of gold and green, and was surprisingly spacious. There was an impressive marble fireplace, over which was hung a painting of the sea. The windows were large and damask curtains arranged themselves in sumptuous folds as they fell to the floor. To the side of the fireplace was a wing chair and there, sitting in his shirt and breeches, with a large hound at his feet, was Lord Deverill.
Her eyebrows lifted in surprise and she halted, momentarily taken aback. He was not at all what she had expected. She had thought he would be much younger, about twenty-two or three years of age, with dissolute features and a wild air, instead of which he was about thirty years of age. His hair was dark and his eyes were a clear sage green. His features were craggy, with a broad forehead and a strong nose and chin, but something about his mouth suggested that he could be good humoured if he pleased. He looked up as he saw her, and for a fleeting moment she thought she saw a glint of recognition in his eye. But that was absurd. He had never met her.
About the writing of Lord Deverill's Secret
I had great fun writing Lord Deverill's Secret. I have always been interested in Regency Brighton, with its many pastimes including sea bathing and attending the races, and when I read a startling account of some of the things that went on at the Prince of Wales's dinner parties at the Pavilion, I knew I had to write a book set in this glamorous resort.
Like the resort itself, the book is glamorous on the surface but it has darker undercurrents. Who is trying to kill Cassandra? And why?
For those people interested in history, the event that takes place in Chapter 12 of Lord Deverill's Secret really happened. I won't say more for fear of spoiling the book, but you'll know what I mean as soon as you read it. The incident was recorded by Lady Creevey in The Creevey Papers. I actually toned it down for the book. In real life, the incident was even more dramatic!