A Governess’ Secret Affair (Preview)

Chapter One

“You know I saw them kissing in the gardens at the last ball.” The young girl giggled delightedly as if she had stumbled upon crown secrets. 

“Adelaide, you know very well it is not proper for you to be discussing such things, ” Livinia said, admonishing her young charge while barely hiding her amusement at the conversation. She had been fortunate to procure a position as a governess after her father’s death three years prior and relished the life she now lived. 

The sun shone brightly as Livinia and the only two daughters of the Fletcher family sat on a blanket, enjoying the delightful banter that impromptu picnics often brought. Northfork manner was situated in the middle of the country with sprawling green estates. Lavinia Campbell could hardly believe her luck when the baroness willingly accepted her application. 

Taking a moment to observe the eldest of the family’s daughters, she allowed her curiosity to get the better of her. “Go on then, what else did you see?” she asked with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes, unable to throw off the allure of gossip. 

Adelaide Fletcher’s light brown eyes lit up with excitement. “Lord Dunham disappeared with Lady Violet shortly after I saw them kissing. Do you suppose they went to make a baby?” the girl spoke excitedly, her words falling over one another in torrents. 

Livinia suddenly remembered her place with the girls and gave the eldest of her charges a stern look. “What do you know of making babies, young lady? That is a subject entirely unfit and unbecoming. Besides, one must be married for such things to occur.” She smoothed her golden hair back into place as a light breeze picked up. She had always found it easier to manage if her hair was slicked back into a tight bun. 

“That is right, Lady Violet and Lord Dunham are not married; they are merely engaged. It is scandalous for them to be hiding around corners and kissing without a chaperone present,” Olivia Fletcher spoke up while keeping her eyes on the cushion she had set out to embroider. 

A wave of warmth washed through her body as she examined the sisters that had quickly become like little extensions of her own personality in the years she had been their governess. 

Adelaide and Olivia were only one year apart, sixteen and fifteen, respectively. Although their appearance of strawberry blonde hair and cherubic faces made them look like twins, their personalities couldn’t have been more opposed. Adelaide was fiery and outgoing, while Olivia preferred to keep to herself. The younger sister was much like her mother when it came to minding her manners and acting according to her station in life. 

Adelaide let out a sigh after realizing that the conversation had come to an end. Distractedly picking at the grass at the edge of the white linen, she tilted her head to the side. “Livinia, do you think you shall get married once Olivia and I have entered society?” she asked almost sorrowfully as if the question had been lying on her mind for a while. 

Livian felt taken aback by the sudden question; she hadn’t given her life beyond the girls much thought. Deep down, she knew that her time would eventually come to an end, but she hoped that Lady Northfork would keep her on. 

“I haven’t given it much thought; I don’t think I will,” she admitted honestly, straightening the folds of her light grey dress over her bent knees. 

Both Adelaide and Lavinia looked up with shocked expressions. 

“But Lavinia! You are far too beautiful not to be married!”  Adelaide complained in shock, insinuating that Livinia had committed a crime by not wanting a husband. 

The compliment warmed her heart but failed to reach the realms of reality within her mind. “There is more to life than finding a good husband. I wish both you and your sister wonderful matches like the connection shared by your parents but focus on your education as well.” Livinia gave her opinion gently, not wanting to dissuade the girls from the life she knew they would have to accept. 

As a governess, she could choose whether to marry or live as she was. The girls, however, would have to marry because of their stations in life. 

Olivia and Adelaide blushed at the mention of their parents’ connection. Innocence reigned in them despite Adelaide’s fascination with romance. 

“I still think it’s a great shame if you don’t marry. I overheard some of the ladies saying that you are far too beautiful to spend the rest of your life as a governess. If you set your mind to it, you could even trap a duke or someone like that.” Adelaide’s eyes sparkled with mischief as her demeanour brightened considerably. 

“It’s true, you know, I don’t often listen to gossip, but I overheard one of Mama’s friends discussing your beauty. Lady Hamstead said she would pay any price mentioned to have a waist as thin as yours. Not to mention, your pale skin rivals a peach,” Olivia added as a matter of fact. 

“Girls! I will have to keep a closer eye on you when we are in public. Your ears stray far too wide for your own good. And I can assure you that I will not be trapping anyone of the sort; honestly, what books have you both been reading?” She shook her head in disbelief and laughed at the daily banter she had to deal with. Adelaide would certainly be a handful for the man she married. 

“I just meant that you should give it some thought. There is no need for a woman as beautiful as you to remain unwed,” Adelaide said unperturbed and reached for the book she had placed on the end of the blanket before leaning back. 

Olivia let out a sigh and shook her head in disapproval. Livinia knew that she would follow in her mother’s footsteps and become the picture of elegance in her home and marriage. Adelaide, however, was a force to be reckoned with. 

Livinia felt her breathing deepen as she lay back on the blanket and looked at the fluffy clouds passing overhead. Marriage wasn’t something that she had ever imagined. She had to admit, however that the thought of romance made her pulse race and her abdomen flutter. What would it be like to have her breath catch in her throat at the mere sight of a man? Her skin tingled with curiosity as she pictured a handsome stranger sweeping her into his arms. 

What would it be to be kissed? 

Her lips felt strange as she ran her tongue over the plumpness of her lips, imagining the feeling a caress would bring. 

***

Livinia took a deep breath and straightened her clothes, ensuring that no blades of grass had been left behind in her hair. It wasn’t unusual for Lady Northfork to summon her, yet she couldn’t help feeling her stomach knotting with concern. The girls were nearing an age where her position was no longer secure. 

Passing a gaggle of maids who greeted her with smiles, she made her way down the winding passages of the busy manor. She always felt it strange to be in a large house where she wasn’t seen as a servant or as one of the family. She filled a role that allowed her to live in a world entirely of her choosing. 

“You wanted to see me, Lady Northfork?” Livinia announced her presence with a polite curtsey as she entered the parlour. 

The room was bright and sunny, with light pink furnishings in French style. Lady Northfork prided herself on keeping up with all the latest fashions and styles. The lady herself was tall and elegant, with blonde curls pinned behind her head and kind brown eyes. She was everything that Livinia thought a lady of the ton should be. 

“Please, come in, Miss Campbell.” Lady Northfork placed her cup back on the tray and welcomed her in with a warm smile. She put her delicate hands in her lap after gesturing for Livinia to take a seat. 

Doing as she was asked, Livinia crossed the room and sat at the small brown table across from her employer. 

“I trust the girls didn’t wear you out on your little picnic. They do so dote on your presence.” Her eyes wrinkled at the sides as she smiled, hinting at her forty years despite the youthfulness of her appearance. 

“It’s always a pleasure to spend time with the young ladies, My Lady,” she answered honestly, her heart beating a little faster in her chest as she wondered what Lady Northfork had to say. 

The woman took a deep breath and straightened her shoulders, allowing the ruffles of her light blue dress to shift on her slender arms. “As you know, the girls have reached an age where they will soon be presented into Society.” 

Livinia swallowed hard as her fears turned to reality. She would have to find a new position as soon as possible. There wasn’t a home she could return to or even a family she could rely on. 

“You have given us many years of wonderful service, and I am truly grateful for the time and devotion you have offered. The girls are more refined and content since you joined our home.” Lady Northfork seemed to be delaying the inevitable for as long as she could. 

“I am grateful for the treatment I have received in your home, My Lady.” She faked a smile, hoping that the anxiety she felt rushing through her body wouldn’t be apparent. 

“With that being said, His Lordship and I have decided it’s time for you to move on to your next position.” She delivered the news with a final blow. The moisture in her eyes did little to ease the shock.

Livinia knew it had been coming; she had been preparing herself for days. Yet, hearing the words was entirely different from hearing them confirmed. Time seemed to halt for a second as she inhaled sharply. 

“Now I know this will be as difficult for you as it is for the rest of us. I have done all I can to ensure a smooth transition.” Lady Northfork’s eyes lit up as she turned her attention to the tray and reached for a letter. “In fact, I have already secured another position for you if you are willing to accept it.” She held out the letter to Livinia with an uncertain smile. 

Catching her breath, Livinia snapped out of her daze and accepted the folded piece of parchment. 

Another position? 

She hadn’t been expecting such a kind gesture, but then again, the Fletcher family was as kind as they were wealthy. 

“I’m afraid it won’t be as lively as it is here, but the Earl of Sheffield requires a governess for his younger sister. From what I hear, the girl has lived a somewhat sheltered life, but that shouldn’t be a problem for you. Olivia is, after all, a very quiet girl compared to Adelaide. I’m sure the sheltered upbringing of your new charge will have made her just as reserved,” Lady Northfork chattered kindly with an encouraging nod towards the letter. 

Livinia worked up her courage and unfolded the letter that conveyed all the information that Lady Northfork had said with less enthusiasm. Whoever had written the letter was curt and to the point. A governess to look after Theodora Beaumont. 

Her mind wandered a little as she tried to picture the man whose penmanship gave little hint about the man behind the quill. 

“Being the governess for the sister of an Earl will be a step up for you in life; I’m sure that great adventure awaits you.” Lady Northfork blinked back her tears and reached for her cup of tea once more. 

“Thank you, My Lady. I will accept the position with as much enthusiasm as I can muster.” 

No matter how scary the prospect of change may seem. 

 

Chapter Two

Livinia took a deep breath and clutched the handles of her bag a little tighter in her hands. The carriage driver had unceremoniously dropped her off in front of the gates and left. 

So much for chivalry. 

She shook her head and glanced back over her shoulder at the carriage quickly disappearing around a bend in the road. Part of her wondered if she’d got the right address. 

Sheffield Manor was large and impressive, with fine masonry and tall pillars that spoke of affluence and wealth. Yet Livinia couldn’t help noticing the signs of disrepair. Vegetation and vines grew up the walls in a hauntingly beautiful sight, and the large stone fountain in front of the steps desperately needed cleaning. 

Her attention was suddenly drawn to the large front doors as they swung open with a loud crack. A tall man with jet-black hair and handsome features came hurrying down the steps. His livery spoke of service, yet his manners were brisk and stately. 

“What do you want? We aren’t expecting any deliveries from the village today,” he barked at her before even reaching the gate that barred her entrance to the house. 

“I … I am not here to deliver anything.” She cleared her throat and found her voice, holding her head high. “I am here for the governess position. Lord Sheffield sent word that I was to arrive today.” She hoped her voice came across as confident despite the hesitation she felt. 

The man seemed to size her up for a moment, taking his time to observe her grey travelling coat and hat. “Yes, His Lordship did say that you would be arriving today,” the man seemed to conclude and proceeded to open the gates. The iron creaked in protest, signalling a deep desire for oil. 

“Thank you,” she said curtly and stepped onto the cobbled path that led to the front door. Her bags were heavy and weighed on her arms, but the man didn’t seem as if he would offer any help. 

“My name is Thomas Smith; you can call me Thomas. I am footman and butler here.” He gave her a pointed look as if he were waiting for her to reciprocate. 

Footman and butler? 

She had never heard anything as peculiar as a butler doubling as a footman in all her years of service. Realizing that the man was still waiting for a response, Livinia snapped out of her daze and smiled. “I am Livinia Campbell. Pleased to make your acquaintance, Thomas.” 

Thomas ignored her cheerful demeanour and raised his eyebrows before moving along. Gesturing over his shoulder, he signalled for her to follow. 

Hesitating for a moment, Livinia wondered if she hadn’t made a mistake in taking on a position with a family she had never met. Yet there was nothing more she could do at present. Lifting her bags, she hurried behind that butler who doubled as a footman. Dry leaves crunched beneath her boots as they made their way up the stairs and through the front doors. 

A shiver instantly ran down her spine as she entered the cool entrance hall. The inside of the manor was cooler than the outside. The entrance hall comprised a high ceiling and many windows that overlooked the back gardens on the opposite wall. A tall winding staircase seemed in desperate need of dusting. 

Turning to her as if he could read her thoughts, Thomas began to explain, “The house consists of Lord Sheffield and his younger sister, Lady Theodora. You and I are the only staff that will reside in the manor itself. A lady comes in daily to cook, and a maid helps with the chores. I must warn you, Miss Campbell, Lord Sheffield is a very private man. You are not to converse too much with the outside help.” 

The instructions struck Livinia as odd. What kind of manor employed staff that did not reside on the property, and what kind of Earl valued his privacy to the point where servants had to keep to themselves lest they divulge any information by accident? 

Livinia was left with little time to ponder the matter before Thomas began moving again. He was a handsome man of roughly thirty-five, or at least that was what Livinia thought. His manners weren’t lacking per se; it was more like that man was guarded, too scared to speak unless he said too much. 

Fear and curiosity knotted in the pit of her stomach as she took a deep breath and began to climb the large staircase that undoubtedly led to her chambers. The lack of family portraits on the walls struck her as odd, but then again, nothing that had happened to her since her arrival had been what she’d expected. 

“Your chambers will be in the attic on the women’s side of the servants’ quarters. It’s a lonely life here in the mansion, but I suspect that will change for you once you’ve met Lady Theodora,” he remarked stiffly as they made their way over the gallery and onto a second set of dusty stairs. 

“Is Lady Theodora a lively young girl?” she asked breathlessly, trying her best to haul her bags up the stairs. Her life would be a lot easier if the man would just relent and offer her a hand. 

“Lady Theodora is sixteen and acts accordingly. Her troubles and triumphs aren’t unlike any other young lady of the ton,” he answered briskly without lessening his pace. 

Trials and Triumphs? 

What kind of butler describes a young woman’s trials and triumphs instead of her character? Despite his handsome features, Thomas Smith was a strange kettle of fish. 

“Here we are; I had the maid dust and put things in place for your arrival.” He stopped abruptly and opened a door at the end of a dreary passage. “Lord Sheffield and Lady Theodora will be back from an outing this evening. You are welcome to explore the house in the meantime, but I wouldn’t stray too far if I were you. Lord Sheffield does not look kindly upon tardiness,” Thomas warned just as Livinia stepped into the room and shut the door in his wake. 

The sudden slam of wood made Livinia jump, her heart racing from more than just the physical exertion. 

What kind of household is this? 

She shook off her feelings of unease and looked around the room that was to be her home for the foreseeable future. The single bed and meagre furnishings were a far cry from her lavish room in the Fletcher household. Yet there was still something homely and comfortable about the place. Sighing, she placed her bags beside the bed and looked out the window at the forest surrounding the mansion. 

Sheffield Manor was certainly secluded. Feeling drawn towards the dark trees and mysterious shadows, she crossed the room and hugged her waist. 

What is he like? 

She wondered about the mysterious and private man who would be paying her wages. 

The sound of a galloping horse made her look toward the gate. A tall, dark, and handsome man came into view as he slowed his horse, bringing the chestnut stallion to a walk. 

Is that His Lordship? 

Livinia couldn’t help staring at his rugged stature. There was an air of mystery and danger about him, the kind of demeanour that drew many a young lady into having their hearts broken. She placed the tips of her fingers against the pain of glass, touching his outline as her heart began to race with excitement. 

Dark eyes looked in her direction as the man’s head came up. She wished she were close enough to see their colour.

Ducking out of sight, Livinia placed her hand on her chest, feeling her heart pounding. Had he seen her staring at him? Her skin felt strange and tingly, as if he had looked into her soul. The man was attractive, that was for sure, but there had been something else there that had drawn her in. Was it the look in his eyes or the strong outline of his jaw? 

She shook off the feelings of heat that coursed through her body and decided to focus on her unpacking her bags. If the handsome man on horseback were Lord Sheffield, then she would find out soon enough. 

 

Chapter Three

The sun was beginning to set over the trees when Livinia heard a soft knock on her door. It was about time that Thomas summoned her to meet the family. She had chosen her finest dark brown dress for the occasion and plaited her long blonde hair down her back. The Fletcher girls had often commented on how the colours brought out the gold flecks in her hazel eyes. 

Not that I am trying to impress His Lordship. 

She checked the floor-length mirror to ensure everything was in place before answering the door. To her great surprise, Livinia was confronted with an air of excitement within seconds. 

“You must be Miss Campbell; I can’t tell you how excited I am to have another lady living here. Why did you leave your last position, and why did you choose to come here of all places?” The young girl came into the room with a flourish, excitedly looking around before turning to Livinia with a wide-eyed expression of enthusiasm. 

Livinia felt as if she had been blown away by a tornado; her thoughts barely had time to settle before the young girl continued to chatter. 

“Do you think we will focus more on finding me a husband, or are you the kind of governess that prefers books and accomplishments over attracting suitors?” The girl’s light green eyes shone with excitement, not unlike the mischievous way that Adelaide’s had done. This young lady however seemed wilder than the eldest Fletcher daughter. She was untamed and unbridled with a fiery spirit. 

Taking a deep breath, Livinia composed herself. “You must be Lady Theodora; I am Miss Campbell. My former charges called me Livinia, but you may call me Miss Campbell if that is more comfortable for you.” 

The young girl straightened her spine as if she had been admonished and held her head high. “I am the youngest and only sister of Benedict Beaumont … That is Lord Sheffield.” She quickly corrected herself as if trying to make a good impression. 

So, his name is Benedict Beaumont. 

He seemed like less of a mysterious figure to her now that she knew his name. Her heart instantly warmed to the young girl who was desperately in need of some female guidance. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Lady Theodora; as for the rest of your questions, I’m sure the two of us will have plenty of time to get to know one another.” 

Livinia had wondered on the carriage ride why a sixteen-year-old girl was not yet out in Society, but she could now see that Lady Theodora was nowhere near being ready. Her mannerisms were unchecked and overly confident for her age. 

“I am sorry if I came across as overbearing before, Miss Campbell. I have so longed for female companionship. I had to beg my brother … I mean His Lordship to find me a governess.” Theodora’s light green eyes softened a little as she simmered down. 

“There is no need to apologize, Lady Theodora. You and I will become the greatest of friends,” she did her best to reassure the bright young girl who stood in stark contrast to the manor she inhabited. 

A flicker of realization came over Theodora’s face as she headed towards the door. Her dark brown hair had been pinned to the back of her hair, and her figure was lithe, much like that of other girls her age. “That reminds me, I was supposed to be waiting for you along with Benedict in the study. He will be awfully furious when he hears that I disobeyed him.” She wasted no time in hurrying down the passage. 

Livinia shook her head with a smile; time and diligence would help the girl refine some of her manners and learn the correct forms of address. She only hoped that the earl would be just as accepting of her presence. 

***

The fire crackled in the grate, casting shadows across the darkly furnished room. Livinia swallowed hard as she stepped into the room, expecting confrontation. Her heart skipped a beat as she spotted the ruggedly handsome earl sitting in his chair beside the fire. The earl’s hair had been swept to the side in dark waves. His jaw was just as defined and strong as she had seen from her window, but it was his eyes that drew her attention the most. Intense shades of green that were at least several shades darker than his sister’s stared back at her with scrutinizing malice. 

“You are late,” he barked from his position in his chair when she continued to stare. His voice was deep and stern, caressing her ears and causing her heart to thrum. 

“I beg your pardon, My Lord.” She curtsied respectfully and averted her gaze. “I didn’t know that a time was set in stone as I was not provided with one upon my arrival.” She held her own and lifted her gaze to meet his with fierce determination. 

The man may have been an earl, but she wasn’t about to be bullied on her first day in a new position. 

The earl’s eyes flashed menacingly as the corner of his mouth crooked up into the faintest of smiles. “I see. My sister informed me that she has already made your acquaintance. I trust you will correct her wayward behaviour in time. That is, after all, what I am paying you for.” He shifted in his chair before stroking the faint line of stubble along his jaw. 

Livinia couldn’t help feeling a certain amount of attraction to the man. His presence commanded obedience and respect. She couldn’t help wondering how his younger sister had got away with disobeying him when he clearly placed a great deal of importance on his position. 

Perhaps there is a softer side to him? 

Her heart continued to thrum as her lips parted slightly, causing her chest to rise and fall in the flickering light of the fire. “I can assure you that I will carry out my duties to the best of my abilities, My Lord,” she reassured him confidently, feeling off-kilter in his presence. 

“I have one rule to be obeyed above all others, Miss Campbell. You are not to interfere with my decisions regarding the household or my sister. You are to guide and teach while obeying me.” His eyes darkened slightly again as if he were issuing a challenge. 

Why is he looking at me like that? 

Livinia felt her skin tingling as his eyes swept over her body with a hungry gaze, devouring her curves until she felt a strange sensation in her core. “I can assure you that I will not do anything to jeopardize my position, My Lord,” she said, her voice coming out breathier than what she had intended it to. 

The earl smirked as if he could sense the impact his presence was having on her. “Good, you will find I do not like repeating myself, Miss Campbell. Now tell me, how is it that you came to be a governess?” He shifted in his chair and rubbed his fingers against his thumb expectantly. 

“I am afraid that my tale of woe isn’t one of great excitement, My Lord. My mother sadly lost her life while giving birth to me. I was raised by my father, who owned a bookstore in London. He placed great importance on my education, but sadly, his business could not revert to me upon his death. I am a woman, and such things are not for us; the store and all the inheritance passed to a distant cousin who saw me as a burden rather than a relative.” She told her story swiftly with her hands clasped in front of her abdomen. 

“You are the learned daughter of a bookseller from London who now spends her days teaching young ladies how to behave and make good wives. You sell yourself short, Miss Campbell. Your life is far more interesting than most.” His eyes flashed again as the corner of his mouth hooked into a lazy smile that left her feeling flustered. 

Is he teasing or mocking me? 

The pit of her stomach fluttered strangely in his presence as he continued to look at her with a wolfish grin. “Well, Miss Campbell, whatever your background, you will come to find the life at Sheffield Manor to be vastly different than what you are used to. If you keep to yourself and remember what I ask, there won’t be any problems.” 

The way he said her name felt like a gentle caress on her ears. She wondered how it would sound if he used her given name instead of her surname. Biting her lips in an attempt to push back that heat quickly beginning to coarse through her body, Livinia curtsied politely just as Theodora came bounding into the room in an overly enthusiastic manner. 

“As you can see, you have your work cut out for you, Miss Campbell.” The earl raised an eyebrow and held her gaze before pushing himself up from his chair. His height towered over her, and she found her gaze locked on the muscular form of his chest, visible even through the white cotton shirt. 

“As I said before, My Lord, I am more than willing to take on the challenge.” 


“A Governess’ Secret Affair” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Livinia Campbell, a spirited governess, is sent far from home to tend to her duties. There, she discovers that the shadows lurking within the estate hold more than just the usual secrets. A dark family secret could turn out to be more trouble than she had bargained for. Despite the warnings and the foreboding atmosphere, Livinia feels an inexplicable pull toward the enigmatic Earl, Benedict Beaumont. With each glance, her heart races and passion sets a fire within her, so she decides to stay instead of running away.

Will this decision prove to be her demise?

Benedict Beaumont, Earl of Sheffield, burdened by the weight of his family’s legacy and the responsibilities of his position, struggles to maintain order within the walls of Sheffield Manor. When his sister insists on hiring a stranger as governess, Benedict knows he is risking his deepest fears turning into reality; things ending in tragedy the way they had in the past. However, when he meets Livinia there’s something about her he just can’t resist and when desire turns into love, he knows he is at risk.

Will Livinia’s bewitching presence unravel everything he holds dear?

Entwined by destiny and consumed by longing, Livinia and Benedict are swept into a whirlwind of forbidden desire and undeniable attraction. Yet, lurking beneath the surface of their sinful romance lies a dark abyss of deceit and danger, threatening to consume them. Will their love withstand the tempest of secrets that threaten to tear them apart, or will they be burnt by the flames of their own desire?

“A Governess’ Secret Affair” is a historical romance novel of approximately 60,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!

One thought on “A Governess’ Secret Affair (Preview)”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *