Spicy Fantasies of a Lady (Preview)

Chapter One

Cecily Bastable enjoyed nothing more than a good walk through town, particularly since she remained something of a hermit the rest of her days. This was not of her own choosing, but the proclivities of her mother, who hoped to marry Cecily off with haste and bypass any impediments along the way.

London was stunning in the autumn, and although Cecily was delisted by the red, orange, and yellow leaves, something about the change of the season gave her pause for the first time in her young life. Autumn signified the end of the London season, and Cecily knew that her mother would find her a husband before season’s end. She’d expressed as much.

“Such fresh air,” Lady Hermoine Bastable, Viscountess of Sussex exclaimed, her light blonde hair done up just so.

Cecily shared the same light coloring as her mother, as well as the same blue eyes and trim figure. All of this was perfectly accentuated by the light blue silk gown that she donned that afternoon.

Lost in a bit of revery, Cecily finally replied, “Indeed. It gives one quite the appetite, when the air is so fresh.”

Her mother protested, “Oh, but just think how terrible the air can be during the summer months. That’s when I most look forward to returning to Wales.”

“Indeed,” Cecily replied, herself becoming dreamy in regards to their large estate that they fled to once the season was done.

All that Cecily had ever known was this back and forth from town to Wales, and then back again. None of this was menacing in the slightest, until it became apparent that she was no longer coming to town for balls and fetes, she was brought to town in order to be wed.

Oh, but how she’d so much rather ensconce herself in their townhome and read books all day, or chat with her lady, Kitty Hayward, in the parlor. But best of all was when they returned to Wales and Cecily was able to take long jaunts in the countryside. How everything was going to change once she took a husband.

Although the air was cool and crisp, that did not dissuade Cecily’s mother in the slightest. The viscountess always insisted upon their afternoon walks on Saturdays. There was of course a great deal of shopping to do, and what’s more, the viscountess would be in a poor mood if she didn’t enjoy high tea at the Table Moderne.

“We simply must acquire a new gown for you, Cecily. The ball is in one week’s time. I don’t know how we’ve neglected the notion for so long.”

“Mama, I have plenty of gowns,” Cecily protested.

The viscountess scoffed. “My girl, you can never have enough. Just think of the fortune that your trousseau might cost upon your marriage.”

Cecily felt a hot flush come to her cheeks. It was quite literally all that her mother could speak of. No, she didn’t care for all the fancy gown—although Cecily did enjoy the feel of Brussels silk upon her skin and the lavishness of French lace. Still, there was no sense in owning countless gowns, changing her apparel four times a day, and enduring so much more for the rest of her existence.

“Oh, let’s go to that shop where you secured your Christmas gown last year,” the viscountess said in excitement.

“Oh, mama. You know that father was so cross when he saw the bill.”

Her mother took Cecily’s hand. “Isn’t that half the fun?”

It was true that the Viscount of Sussex was terribly upset, but what could he do? Cecily’s mother was always determined to have her way, and in the end, he provided her with everything that she wanted. Lady Sussex always told Cecily that that was the kind of husband that she required—one that would fulfill her every desire when it came to luxury. Cecily found the notion of it terribly bland.

Although she could admit to desiring male companionship, Cecily just hoped that he wouldn’t be an impossibly dull husband, the one that was selected for her. Still, if that were her future, then she’d keep her nose in a book for the rest of her life, and considering that Kitty would go with her, wherever her new home might be, there was always that entertainment which Cecily could rely upon.

“The shop is just around this corner. Will secure a silver silk gown—now quite in fashion—then we’ll proceed to high tea,” the viscountess said with remarkable enthusiasm.

“Very well,” Cecily replied, with very little enthusiasm. In truth, she hated standing in front of those mirrors whilst the seamstresses inspected her every inch a curve, measuring everything and taking notes. The reason why they insisted upon doing this over and over again was because they wanted to ensure that the girl’s shape hadn’t changed in some way—which of course, if a girl grew larger, could be cause for the lifting of brows.

Turning the corner, Cecily spotted something across the street which made her smile. She’d always desired to enter Bayberry Tea and Spice, a shop that was frequented by many of the London elite. Alas, the viscountess never approved.

“Mama, might we enter Bayberry, just once?” Cecily asked, hoping to delay the inevitable dress fitting.

The viscountess pursed her lips. “Come now, Cecily.”

“Whatever is the matter with it. Oh, I can smell those delicious spices from here, and the foreign black tea.”

“We have servants to purchase such things.”

“But Bayberry is different, I assure you. All the bon ton know of it.”

The viscountess seemed to stop and consider her daughter’s words. Cecily said a little prayer, having always been so curious about the exotic exterior of the shop and the aromas that emanated from it.

“Just this one time,” the viscountess relented, jutting her chin.

“Really, mama?” Cecily asked, clapping her hands together.

“Cecily, how many times have I warned you to not show such enthusiasm in the streets.” She gazed from side to side. “Who knows what others might think?”

“I’m not interested in what others think.”

“That’s quite the problem, Cecily. And that’s why a husband must be secured at once. As my only daughter, I will not rest until a match is secured.”

Cecily ever so slightly frowned. There was so much pressure which sprang from being the only daughter of the Viscount of Sussex. In fact, she was the only heir. Soon after her birth, her mother was unable to conceive more, something that always seemed to vex the viscountess. For all these reasons and so many more, Cecily needed to make a good match, and whomever she married would receive quite the handsome dowry.

“Oh, this establishment looks positively criminal,” the viscountess exclaimed, remarking the gas lamp outside illuminating the sign.

“The light is ever so novel,” Cecily marveled. “There are only a few in London.”

“So garish. Believe me when I say that within no time, those contraptions will line every street. Just you wait!”

As Cecily and her mother drew closer, the marvelous smell was even more fragrant. Passersby stood in the shop window, trying to get a view within, whilst inside the spice shop, several patrons were present, some perusing and others at the counter making a purchase.

Cecily opened the door for her mother, who stepped inside with a look of exasperation upon her face. She crinkled her nose, which Cecily couldn’t understand in the slightest for she thought the smell intoxicating.

“My word,” Cecily uttered, looking all around as though she were in a museum. And indeed, the shop was arranged like a museum, with the walls covered and lined with various canisters, pots, and jars from what looked like foreign locations.

Cecily looked towards the counter, where an older woman held a tin in her hand and handed over some coins. All at once, Cecily was struck dumb with wonder as she beheld the man behind the counter. He couldn’t have been much more than five years older than herself, with brown hair and eyes. There was something roguishly handsome about the fellow, and his considerable height was also cause for admiration.

Once his sale was completed, Cecily watched as he came around the counter and proceeded to walk right towards her! Oh, her cheeks flushed crimson again and Cecily had to wonder if she’d done something wrong. Why did he approach them directly in that manner?

“May I help you ladies?” the man asked, placing his hands on his hips in an open, warm fashion.
“Good man, who is the proprietor of this establishment?” the viscountess asked.

He bashfully smiled. “I fear that I am, and have been for some time.”

The viscountess inspected him. “Certainly, you’re far too young for such business.”

“I wish that I could agree. This shop is the only employment I’ve ever known.”

Cecily, although shy, couldn’t help but speak. “How incredibly resourceful of you.”

It was the first time that Cecily and the man’s eyes locked, and Cecily felt her expression fall, as though the man could see right through her.

“May I ask whom I have the pleasure of speaking with?” he asked.

“I am the Viscountess of Sussex, and this is my daughter, Lady Cecily.”

“And whom do we have the pleasure of speaking with?” Cecily asked, surprised by her boldness.

“My name is Oliver Dunn. I’ve been the proprietor of this establishment since its onset.”

The viscount huffed, “It’s very… unique.”

“There’s nothing to fear,” Oliver assured them with an affable smile. “Indian spices, and those from other exotic locales, seem intimidating to the palate at first. But many of these items are medicinal, as are the teas.”

“I suppose… ” the viscountess mused, “we could use a bit of Darjeeling.”

“We have that right here,” Oliver assured her, walking to a far wall and using the rolling ladder to secure a burnished copper tin. Stepping back down, Oliver returned, and Cecily found herself yet again lost in his warm, shining brown eyes.

She felt her breath catch in her chest and the viscountess asked, “Cecily, are you quite all right? I’m sure that this strong smell might make a lady swoon.”

Oliver replied, “It has happened in the past.” Concern suffused his face. “Lady Cecily, might I secure you a chair?”

“I… ”

With that, everything went black, and when Cecily awoke, she laid upon a chaise, unsure of her whereabouts. As she opened her eyes, Oliver was the first person that she beheld, and then behind him, her mother, looking in hysterics.

“Oh, Cecily,” the viscountess said in dismay, bringing her gloved hands to her cheeks.

“I’m all right,” Cecily assured them.

Oliver seated himself beside her on the chaise—the most intimate male proximity she’d ever experienced—and lifted a vile to her nose.

“Inhale,” Oliver instructed her, and Cecily did so.

All at once, she was entirely revived.

“I think… I think I’m able to stand,” Cecily said, propping herself up.

The viscountess protested, “Steady yourself!”

Oliver, taking a strong arm under Cecily’s shoulder, effortlessly hoisted her up so that she was in a seated position. Oh, heavens. With this intimate closeness, Cecily could sense is clean smell, as though he’d just had a bath. How improbable, considering that he was surrounded by spices all day!

“Your color is improved,” Oliver assured her.

“Yes, I think all shall be well now.”

Oliver remarked humorously, “Sometimes I consider putting up a sign out front, informing ladies of the possible danger.”

Even the viscountess was able to give a gentle laugh at his remark.

Gazing into Oliver’s eyes once more, Cecily said, “I thank you.”

He shook his head. “There’s no reason to thank me. Although, there’s a good chance that once I return to the shop half of my wares might have disappeared.”

The viscountess said with haste, “Oh, Mr. Dunn. Please, allow me to tend to my daughter so that you might look after the shop.”

“That is most kind,” he said, standing, then looking down upon Cecily once more. “I am glad that you’re revived. Please trust that when you return to the front of the shop, the Darjeeling with be gratis.”

“Thank you,” Cecily said breathlessly.

Both Cecily and the viscountess watched as Oliver fled. Both of them were at a loss for words.

Chapter Two

Returning to the counter, Oliver noted that a line had formed, and the patrons looked none too pleased. Frequently, he’d be pulled away and people would have to wait. Those that frequented his establishment most knew of this. Of course, Oliver could hire more help, but he took enjoyment from running everything alone, returning to his London flat at night, and celebrating his sense of accomplishment.

“Turmeric, cloves, and curry,” a man said, placing his selections upon the counter.

“That will be fie guineas,” Oliver informed him, checking his ledger.

“So very affordable,” the man said in shock as he took out his coins.

Oliver smiled affably. “I have very affordable suppliers.”

The man leaned in and spoke with a hushed tone. “And you don’t try to up-sell? For the extra pocket change?”

Oliver shook his head. “I do not. My enjoyment comes from supplying these wonderful goods to the people of London. I earn enough as it is.”

The man seemed impressed and took his items to depart.

Before handling the next customer in line, Oliver turned back towards the room where Cecily and the viscountess still remained. He felt a warmth in his chest and the sensation was inexplicable. There was something intriguing about the young lady. Oliver wouldn’t even bother to consider her beauty. Woman of such breeding and exquisiteness were not free for him to consider.
Turning back to the next patron, a woman with greying hair and a stark black gown, Oliver asked, “How may I be of assistance.”

“Young man, would you be so kind as to procure the oriental green tea?”

“Indeed.” Oliver knew that it was located up high, and so, he pushed the ladder—just above the door to the back of the shop—then scaled it, procuring the tin. Just as he was about to come down, Cecily appeared in the door and Oliver looked down, catching a rare and marvelous glimpse of her décolletage that caused him to quickly look away.

Once he was down from the ladder, he could see that Cecily’s cheeks were flushed, leading him to believe that she saw the accidental viewing of her chest. Oliver cleared his throat. “I trust that you have your strength again.”

The viscountess quickly appeared and answered for her daughter. “She is fully revived. And for your kindness, I’d like to make a purchase from this establishment.”

“There is no need for that,” Oliver assured her.

“Please,” she said, departing to peruse the shop, leaving Cecily and Oliver standing there.
For a number of moments, neither knew what to say before the woman on the other side of the counter exclaimed, “Mr. Dunn, my time is precious.”

“Of course, my lady,” he replied, hastening back to the counter.

As he finished the sale, his eyes wandered terribly to where Cecily had joined her mother. He tried to remain focused, but she was a vision in blue and what’s more, her blue eyes had already transfixed him.

Customers continued to call his attention back and once the line had been taken care of, Oliver ventured over to where Cecily and her mother stood. “I’m not sure if you’re aware,” Oliver explained, “but not everything here is foreign. I have my own herb and spice garden behind the shop.”

“Is that so?” the viscountess asked.

“Indeed. I find that it’s the variety that patrons care for. It’s amusing to taste how Indian pepper is different from British pepper.”

“You’re such a novel young man,” the viscountess went on.

“I’m fascinated with it all,” Oliver remarked, looking all around before his eyes landed back onto Cecily’s. “Do you take an interest in such things, Lady Cecily?”

She paused before answering. “I read a great deal about traveling and foreign locales. It seems to me that one doesn’t really get a sense of a place until they’ve tasted it.”

Now Oliver was the one to blush. He knew that Cecily didn’t mean to have her statement be insinuated in such a way, but Oliver found it rather charming, and provoking.

“I’ve traveled to many of these locales,” he went on. “You wouldn’t believe how much cuisine is intrinsic with culture. What the denizens of various countries consume is very much indicative of their character.”

“Oh, all this talk is making me think of high tea,” the viscountess exclaimed.
“Must we go now?” Cecily asked.

“They close the doors promptly at five.”

“Mama, it’s hardly four.”

“One can never be too careful,” the viscountess remarked, lifting her brows.

It was then that he saw several small satchels in the viscountess’ hands, and he escorted the ladies to the counter where the tin of Darjeeling sat waiting for them.

Since Lady Sussex insisted upon paying for their selections, Oliver allowed it, even though he wished to give it for free. The total sum came to fifteen guineas and the viscountess handed over the coins. How devilish of Oliver to think that he wished Cecily had handed over the coins, so that for a moment his fingers could touch her gloved hand. How silly. Oliver never had notions such as these.

“We thank you for your kindness, Mr. Dunn. We shall return.”

“I’m glad to hear of it,” Oliver said affably. He handed over the satchels and tea, which he’d placed in a bag, and to his great wonder, it was Cecily who put out her hand to fetch it.

Their gazes locked once again and Oliver felt himself almost moan. Instead, he cleared his throat.
“Good day, Mr. Dunn,” Cecily said.

“Please… call me Oliver.”

With that, the ladies departed.

***

Seated in the great Rococo hall of the Table Modern, Cecily to herself as she took her first sip of tea. Off in the corner of the vast room, a violin played.

“Oh, your father will be positively incensed with me,” the viscountess bemoaned, clearing the sides of her lips with a napkin. “How could I have forgotten the dress fitting?”

“Mama, he shan’t be cross. He’ll be ecstatic.”

“Still.” Lady Sussex buttered an orange blossom scone. “You can’t be seen at that ball in a dress already worn.”

“There are plenty of dresses that none of them have seen. No one will know.”

“I will know. That makes all the difference.” The viscountess took a bite of her flaky scone and sighed.

Although Cecily was accustomed to taking tea at the Table Modern, she couldn’t help but look around and feel a fresh sense of awe. The stately room, upholstered in dark fabrics and mahogany wood with golden embellishments, left one with a sense of being important. And indeed, noting the various heiresses that sat about with plumes in their hair, Cecily was important in some way.

She always marveled at ladies’ tea gowns when in town. So much finery, that one was under the impression that women preferred their tea gowns to their evening gowns, if only so that the other ladies present might admire them.

The spread before them was also customary, but perhaps some of the finest sandwiches, cakes, and confections that Cecily had ever enjoyed. And considering she wouldn’t have to withstand measurement for a new gown, Cecily decided to eat everything that appealed to her.
“When an amusing fellow that Mr. Dunn is.”

Cecily felt her heart beat in her chest. “He is rather unique, isn’t he?”

“I’ll say! To think, such a businessman at a young age. He couldn’t be more than five and twenty. And handsome at that… ”

Cecily was in shock that her mother remarked upon such a thing. It was not within the viscountess’ character to do so. But Oliver did display a handsomeness that was like nothing Cecily had ever seen before. Where society men cared more for their bearing and apparel than their features… Oliver had impossibly perfect features.

Perhaps it was the strong nose, the warm eyes, the strong chin, the high cheekbones and wayward, shiny hair that had the effect. Whatever it was, Cecily couldn’t take her mind off of him. Would it be a whole week’s time before she’d be able to see him again?

Just then, a white wigged gentleman approached, carrying a silver tray. “For the palate,” he said, bowing his head and then places the little dishes of sorbet upon the table.

“Remarkable,” Lady Sussex cooed, no doubt marveling at the pale yellow, green, pink, and orange colors of each little dish.

“I’ve never seen his before,” Cecily remarked.

“Compliments of the chef, my ladies,” the man said before departing.

As they tucked into their sorbet, Cecily enjoyed the cool, refreshing feel upon her tongue. How odd of a day it had been so far. How was it that she managed to swoon in the spice shop? Cecily was never one to swoon. In truth, she thought Oliver’s handsomeness to be the cause.

“Well, I’m unsure how we’re going to explain this to your father,” the viscountess said, placing the little bag of spices and tea upon the table.

“Perhaps he’ll find it interesting.”

“Or disheartening. You know that your father has certain tastes.”

“Lamb and potatoes—those are his two tastes.”

“Now,” the viscountess said, pointing a gloved finger into the air. “Let’s not make light of your father’s frugality.”

“I would never undertake such a thing,” Cecily assured her.

Once the afternoon’s delight was placed upon the Viscount of Sussex’ tab, the ladies departed the Table Modern and found themselves back in the streets of London.

As a footman summoned a post-chaise for the ladies, Cecily found herself looking in the direction of Bayberry Tea and Spice. She wished to behold Oliver one more time before departing, but sadly, it would not be.

“Let us return home and see how many cards we received this afternoon,” Lady Sussex said with relish.

Cecily’s mother always enjoyed departing the townhome on Saturdays, if only to return and see who requested an audience but was denied. The viscountess would then reply to these cards upon Monday, when she was quite ready to stun them with whatever she had purchased over the week-end.

Entering the four-storied townhome of the Viscount of Sussex, Cecily felt instantly at ease, and anticipated retiring to her room to tell Kitty all about the afternoon’s events.

“Oh, Cecily. Do try to find one of your best gowns to wear to dinner this evening, and then, inform your father that you’ve decided that particular gown is far more becoming than anything new that we might have found in town.”

“I will, mama,” Cecily replied, walking up the stone steps to her room on the third floor. Once inside, Kitty quickly approached. “Oh, Kitty!” Cecily exclaimed.

“My lady, you look positively flushed,” Kitty remarked, removing Cecily’s cap at once.
“Such a fine afternoon. You wouldn’t believe where I ventured.”

“Not the dress shop?”

“Indeed, no. Mother allowed us for once to enter Bayberry Tea and Spice.”

Kitty’s eyes went wide. “Is that so?”

“Indeed,” Cecily went on, removing her pearl earrings. “There was the most interesting fellow there who is the proprietor of the shop. Very young.”

“How peculiar.”

“Not in the slightest. He was so knowledgeable and of such a fascinating character, that I cannot wait to return.”

“And what of the new gown?” Kitty asked, helping Cecily to remove her gloves.

“Mother has instructed me to select the finest gown that I own, and disregard her previous request.”

Kitty smiled excitedly. “I have just the thing!”

The maid raced to Cecily’s closets and immediately returned with a violet gown that Cecily scarce recalled wearing. It was lined with lace and upon the bodice, little translucent crystals.

“When have I worn that?” Cecily inquired.

“Do you know? I haven’t a clue!”

The two girls laughed at the humor of it all.



“Spicy Fantasies of a Lady” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

The enthralling heiress, Cecily Bastable, has only one flaming wish: to be liberated from her impending marriage to the vicious Earl of Sussex. Even though she has long lost hope for love, when she visits a famous shop in her district, she meets a man who ignites her lustful desires. The owner of the shop, well-traveled and versed in culinary exoticism, enchants Lady Cecily so much, that she can’t withstand the temptation. Soon, she is irresistibly attracted to this man who hides his smouldering passion behind a proper exterior. As she finds herself secretly falling for this captivating stranger, only one question remains: Will she resist entrusting her heart to the most tantalising man she has ever known?

Oliver Dunn is an intellectual and a successful businessman, who has a passion for all things exotic, carrying flavour and aroma that awaken the senses. Although he has never laid eyes on any high society client, his world turns upside down when the alluring Lady Cecil Bastable enters his shop. What begins with innocent admiration grows into a bewitching torment. Once Oliver succumbs to her enticing beauty, he finds himself unsure of how long will be able to restrain himself from seducing her… Will he manage to fulfil his wicked fantasies and surrender to the most scandalous affair?

Although the odds are entirely against them, Lady Cecily and Oliver seek to escape the forces that keep them apart. While they embrace a journey of sinful impulses, they discover they are made for each other. Little did they know that fate had other plans for their burning romance… Is their secret lust for one another powerful enough to fight against the cruel Viscountess’ will? Or will their passionate affair be suppressed once and for all?

“Spicy Fantasies of a Lady” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!

11 thoughts on “Spicy Fantasies of a Lady (Preview)”

      1. Thank you so much for your kind words and support, my dear Peggy. I truly appreciate it!

        So glad you enjoyed the story! Make sure to stay tuned because I have more coming!

        Thank you again and have a lovely day!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and support, my dear Anita. I truly appreciate it!

      So glad you enjoyed the story! Make sure to stay tuned because I have more coming!

      Thank you again and have a lovely day!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and support, my dear Gwen. I truly appreciate it!

      So glad you enjoyed the story! Make sure to stay tuned because I have more coming!

      Thank you again and have a lovely day!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and support, my dear Charmaine. I truly appreciate it!

      So glad you enjoyed the story! Make sure to stay tuned because I have more coming!

      Thank you again and have a lovely day!

  1. Nice beginning!
    I think there is an incorrect word in this sentence – “London was stunning in the autumn, and although Cecily was delisted by the red, orange, and yellow leaves.” I think it should be ‘delighted’.

    And from what I’ve learned about dressmaking in the Regency era, I thought it took several weeks to make a ball gown?
    In this sentence, what does ‘wandered terribly’ mean – “As he finished the sale, his eyes wandered terribly to where Cecily had joined her mother.”
    Also, what does this sentence mean? “And indeed, noting the various heiresses that sat about with plumes in their hair, Cecily was important in some way.” Was Cecily wearing feathers too? Why was she important?

    1. Thank you so much for your detailed feedback and thorough analysis, my dear Tracy.

      You are raising some valid points and have a solid justification for them. I will keep them in mind and will work closer with my editor to get them handled in the future.

      Thank you again for taking the time to share your thoughts with me, they are very helpful. I hope you enjoy the rest of my stories. Have a great day!

Leave a Reply

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