Here is my latest Regency romantic adventure which this time features a man who is not a gentleman but a senior Bow Street Runner. Both Lady Emma and Sam look exactly as I imagined them – Jane Dixon-Smith has given me yet another brilliant cover.
I really enjoyed writing something a bit different this time. One review of Lord Ilchester’s Inheritance suggested there was not enough plot, so this time I’ve provided plenty of action as well as romance. I hope you enjoy reading it is much as I did writing it.
Lady Emma’s Revenge
Lady Emma Stanton is determined to discover who killed her husband even if it means enlisting the assistance of a Bow Street Runner. Sam Ross is not a gentleman, has rough manners and full time for etiquette, but he is brave and resourceful and Emma comes to rely on him – perhaps a little too much.
The crack of the pistol shot echoed through the house. Emma stumbled backwards almost losing her balance and crashing headlong down the staircase.
The sound had come from Richard’s study. Gathering up her skirts, she spun and raced down the stairs, across the vast expanse of chequered floor and along the spacious passageway that led to his sanctum.
His man of business, Stokes, barred her way as she tried to go in. ‘No, my lady, better not see. I was too late to stop him.’ He wiped his eyes on his sleeve but remained firmly in front of the closed door. ‘The master is dead. There’s nothing you can do for him.’
‘Dead? Are you telling me that he has killed himself? I don’t understand – we breakfasted together little more than an hour ago and he was perfectly well.’ Her head was spinning; she couldn’t take in this dreadful news.
The housekeeper, Smithson, appeared beside her. ‘You come along with me, my lady, let Mr Stokes take care of things. He’ll get Doctor Reynolds to deal with this.’
Emma allowed herself to be gently guided away from the study. She had believed her husband had been contented with their union despite his lack of interest in the marriage bed. How could he have taken his own life? It made no sense.
‘No, Smithson, I’ll not be removed so easily. Mr Stanton could not possibly have committed suicide. I must speak to Stokes and he must send for the magistrate and have him investigate the matter.’
Ignoring the anxious tutting and clucking from her housekeeper she hurried back to the study and turned the handle – but the door was locked. She banged on the door and demanded to be let in and she was certain she heard movement behind the door.
Stokes rushed to her side, his face pale. ‘I locked the door, my lady, the master wouldn’t want you to see him like that.’
‘There’s someone in there. Quickly, unlock the door, whoever it is will be getting away.’
His expression changed to one of concern and he fumbled in his pocket for the missing key. ‘There cannot be anyone inside, my lady, the door has been locked and the windows are closed.’
Eventually the door was open and Emma was first to enter. The room was indeed empty, but she was certain there had been somebody inside. Her attention turned to her husband who was slumped across the desk, his fair hair caked with blood, the discharged duelling pistol in his hand.
Her eyes filled and she swayed. She dug her nails into her palms, she would not faint, she must be strong. Richard had been murdered and she could think of only one person who would wish to do this. His younger half-brother, Benedict Stanton, had always coveted the estates and substantial income that went with them. The last time Richard had spoken to his brother had been more than a year ago and the meeting had ended with Benedict threatening to kill him.
‘I cannot go any closer. Stokes, could you check the desk and see if there is a note for me?’
After a cursory search amongst the papers he shook his head. ‘Nothing at all, my lady. The master would have left a note explaining, I don’t understand.’
‘I am feeling decidedly unwell, I must lie down. I shall leave you to speak to the doctor. Would you also send word to our lawyers, they must bring the will. Thank God the estates are not entailed, they will remain under my control and will not be passed on to Mr Stanton.’
‘The master had summoned me here on an urgent matter. I did not get the opportunity to speak to him, but he received two letters from London this morning and I believe it was in relation to those that he wished to speak to me.’ He bowed and stepped aside to allow her to exit.
Smithson was waiting in the passageway and Emma was glad of her support. The shock and anger at Richard’s demise had carried her through the first awful minutes, but now grief was overwhelming her. It was as if she had been shrouded in a heavy, wet cloak. Her feet were becoming more difficult to move and a welcome blackness took her away.
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