Today, it is my pleasure to welcome Catherine Meyrick to my blog to share an excerpt from her novel, “Forsaking All Other”. I would like to thank Catherine Meyrick and The Coffee Pot Book Club for allowing me to take part in this blog tour.
Wyard studied Lucy Torrington. Was this the manner of woman his mother thought would suit him best? She was well-dowered and, no doubt, malleable. But she was not to his taste, insipid was probably the best way to describe her. It had been a mistake to allow Eloise to talk him into coming here, he should have gone straight to Bucklings Hall.
He glanced at Bess Stoughton. Of all the women present she was the most appealing. Despite his initial misgivings, she seemed honest and sensible. She was not predatory or flirtatious, nothing like that bold piece who had tried to get him to dance last night. Perhaps Bess Stoughton’s relationship with that serving man was some sort of protection—life could be difficult for a widow. And she looked at him with neither pity nor revulsion.
‘You know Mistress Torrington well?’
‘As well as any. Lucy is a good and gentle girl who deserves to be treated with kindness and respect.’
‘Who does not?’
Her eyelashes fluttered as if surprised at his comment. ‘Lucy would bloom best married to someone who loved her.’
‘Few have that blessing. Kindness and respect are the best that most of us can hope for.’
She bit her lip, frowning. ‘Are you considering marrying Lucy?’
Wyard shrugged, ‘She is one of a number of young women my mother thinks would make a suitable bride.’ He gave a wry smile. ‘It may be more accurate to say would make a suitable good-daughter.’
‘Do you have a list of requirements—number of hands high, girth, teeth, temperament? A list such as you would take to a horse market.’
It sounded ridiculous the way she described it. He gave a sudden bark of laughter. ‘In truth, I have no list.’
‘Do you always do as your mother wishes?’
‘Rarely, but it is probably time I married and she fears that, left to my own devices, I will either never marry or choose someone highly unsuitable.’
‘Who would be unsuitable?’
‘From my mother’s position, someone without money or connections.’
‘And from your own?’
‘I have not thought so far.’ If you could not marry the best, the most loving woman you had ever met, it really did not matter.
‘Well you should. Can you imagine what it is like for a woman married to a man who is forcing himself to his duty, who does not like her company or her person, who married her simply because his mother or his father told him to?’
He had never thought of it from a woman’s point of view. ‘Was your own marriage like that?’
‘You lack courtesy, Master Wyard.’
‘But you sound as if you speak from experience.’
‘That is none of your business,’ she snapped, colour flooding her cheeks. ‘If I were a man, if I had your freedom, I would do exactly as I pleased. I would never accept a bride who had been bundled up for me by my mother.’ She glared at him, ‘Now, if you will excuse me.’ She swept away towards the group of singers, her back straight and her head held high.
Wyard wanted to stop her, to explain it was never so easy. He watched her go, wondering why he had never imagined he could truly do as he wished.
Bess Stoughton, waiting woman to the well-connected Lady Allingbourne, has discovered that her father is arranging for her to marry an elderly neighbour. Normally obedient Bess rebels and wrests from her father a year’s grace to find a husband more to her liking.
Edmund Wyard, a taciturn and scarred veteran of England’s campaign in Ireland, is attempting to ignore the pressure from his family to find a suitable wife as he prepares to join the Earl of Leicester’s army in the Netherlands.
Although Bess and Edmund are drawn to each other, they are aware that they can have nothing more than friendship. Bess knows that Edmund’s wealth and family connections place him beyond her reach. And Edmund, with his well-honed sense of duty, has never considered that he could follow his own wishes.
With England on the brink of war and fear of Catholic plots extending even into Lady Allingbourne’s household, time is running out for both of them.
Love is no game for women. The price is far too high.
Catherine Meyrick is a writer of historical fiction with a particular love of Elizabethan England. Her stories weave fictional characters into the gaps within the historical record – tales of ordinary people who are very much men and women of their time, yet in so many ways are like us today. These are people with the same hopes and longings as we have to find both love and their own place in a troubled world.
Catherine grew up in regional Victoria, but has lived all her adult life in Melbourne, Australia. Until recently she worked as a customer service librarian at her local library. She has a Master of Arts in history and is also an obsessive genealogist. When not writing, reading and researching, Catherine enjoys gardening, the cinema and music of all sorts from early music and classical to folk and country and western and, not least of all, taking photos of the family cat to post on Instagram.
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