The Wild Passion of an Eccentric Lady (Preview)

Chapter One

Simon James stood in the meticulous, sun-drenched artist’s studio, gazing out the window. He leaned one elbow upon the pane and marvelled at the endless expanse of green pastures below. Not far from London, the studio in Harlow Greens provided the famous artist, Sir Gregory Kingsley, the chance to enjoy the beautiful countryside and clothe himself in silence whilst he worked, while still enjoying the close proximity to town. Simon thought that it had been a fine decision on Kingsley’s part, but he was beginning to wonder if, as apprentice to the artist, all of that silence might lead him to insanity.

Not that there was any reason for Simon to reach such a state. He was still young in years; six and twenty, and he had the dashing good looks of a Norseman, with his blond hair and sparkling blue eyes, tall, broad frame, large hands, and remarkable bearing. Simon had enjoyed a good education, although he was the only son of a lowly, widowed Baron. He could have chosen a more reliable trade, such as becoming a doctor or barrister, but instead, painting was his passion and called to him, morning, noon, and night. It was not uncommon for Simon to skip his tea altogether in order to seclude himself in his room, nearby to the famous studio, and paint throughout the night. Kingsley would scold Simon on these occasions, saying that the young man needed his strength to paint successfully. Simon would try to heed the older man’s advice, but often to no avail.

And Simon could see clearly that his skill was improving. There was a huge benefit to watching Kingsley paint his famous landscapes throughout the day, but portraiture was Simon’s ultimate goal. He found much more fascination in faces than in pastures and shrubs. Simon would never tell this to Sir Gregory for fear of offending him, if the older artist could even be offended. He was the most famous scenic painter in all of Britain. That was nothing to shake a stick at. But Simon did recall Kingsley telling him on occasion that he, too, had once wanted to only paint portraits. There was a good market for these paintings amongst the bon ton of London, but it was always the scenic paintings that sold best. So, Kingsley devoted all his time and attention towards that.

Simon could understand why Kingsley sacrificed his true desire. Merely beholding Montgomery House, where the studio resided, gave one the sense that it was quite all right that Kingsley had “sold out.” It was an estate without parallel, and none of it could have been paid for without Kingsley being the master scenic painter that he was. Simon, however, would not go down the same route. He didn’t wish to have a large, fancy estate. All he wanted was a modest studio and days upon days of doing exactly what his heart desired. Well, he did think all of this, anyhow, before Lady Susana came around.

Lady Susana was the girl that had captured Simon’s heart and soul. As he still leaned upon the window pane, he thought of her striking red hair, her green eyes, and pretty little lips that he constantly desired to kiss. Sadly, Lady Susana was the daughter to a duke, making her union with Simon utterly impossible. No, Lady Susana would never resign herself to becoming a baroness, and certainly not a baroness married to an artist. Simon sighed deeply and considered how different the feelings in his breast were from the happy, shining countryside just outside that window. He turned back to look around the artist’s studio and continued with the mundane duties that he attended to each day.

The brushes needed to be cleaned, and not only was this task mind-numbingly dull, it also smelt of acid. The cleaning solution was incredibly potent and burned Simon’s hands and nostrils, but the task was still vitally important and must be undertaken. He anticipated the day when, in his modest studio, he would also have an apprentice, if only so that there would be someone else to clean the brushes.

The studio was rather a large room, shaped more like a rectangle than a square, and off in the opposite side Simon could see where Kingsley sat in silence, painting his latest masterpiece. The famous artist had been silent for some time whilst he worked, and this gave Simon the time and space to consider how Lady Susana had broken his heart. Whether or not that time of contemplation was beneficial was anyone’s guess.

“Remarkable,” Kingsley said to himself, and a little smile came to Simon’s lips. It was not uncommon for Kingsley to admire his own paintings, and not without cause. Simon could see from across the room that the latest landscape was, indeed, remarkable. “Come and look, Simon.”

“Yes, sir,” Simon replied, walking over to where the old man sat. And although Kingsley wasn’t terribly old in years, he appeared much older than the age suggested. Simon assumed that this was from decades of hard, solid concentration that turned Kingsley’s hair to a lighter silver than it should be.

“Isn’t it marvellous?” Kingsley asked with a smile.

“Your best one yet,” Simon replied, truly marvelling at the pastoral scene, complete with a hazy, setting sun and dark, expansive fields.

“That would be a matter of opinion,” Kingsley said, lifting his brow and returning paintbrush to canvas.

“It will sell quickly.”

“They all do.”

“You should celebrate,” Simon said, doing his best to be cheerful.

“We’ll have a fine supper tonight. No more of this business with country stew. I’ll demand a pheasant be prepared.”

“Lovely.”

“And we’ll go for a nice walk into town. Just as soon as you’re done with the brushes.” Simon sighed yet again. It wasn’t just the dread of the brushes but also the memory of Lady Susana. “What is the matter?” Kingsley asked, sensing that something was amiss. Although Simon didn’t wish to go into detail, he still knew that there was very little that he could hide from his master.

“I got a dreadful piece of news today,” Simon said, thinking that he wasn’t going to utter this bit of information to another soul.

“Speak.”

“I told you of Lady Susana, in passing,” Simon said.

“You told me of your affections, yes,” Kingsley replied.

“Well, I fear that I read in the paper today that she is to be engaged. To a Spanish prince.”

“That can’t be,” Kingsley said, finally turning to Simon.

“It’s the truth.”

“But did you not tell me that she is the second daughter to a duke?”

“I did.”

“Then how the devil can the second daughter to a duke marry a prince?”

“In my opinion,” Simon said, walking back over to the brushes, “her beauty is so exquisite, that I wouldn’t be surprised if a foreign king wished for her hand.”

“There is no such beauty.”

“There is,” Simon assured him. “I tried to paint her once, and my hand shook as I picked up the brush. That’s how intimidating her divine beauty is.”

“Obviously, it’s not intimidating enough to frighten a prince,” Kingsley said humorously. Simon had no words to respond to this. All he could feel was pain. “I do not mean to make light of your situation, young man. If appearances were the catalyst for matchmaking, then surely the girl would be yours by now. You, yourself, appear as though you’re something out of a painting.”

“Hardly,” Simon replied, not thinking much of his looks, but sensing that ladies admired him. He could see their glances as he walked through town, but Simon thought nothing of it. He was not concerned with appearances, or even material things. Simon believed that the soul was the most important element of all, and Lady Susana had captivated his soul for some time.

“The memory of the girl will pass,” Kingsley assured him, turning back towards his painting.

“Yes,” Simon replied simply, thinking that perhaps that was not the truth. No, they had spent too many precious moments together for her memory to pass. Lady Susana lived in a nearby town, also outside of London, and the two of them would share stolen moments with one another. It was highly scandalous for a girl of Lady Susana’s standing to be out in public with a young gentleman whilst unescorted, so Simon and Lady Susana were very crafty in how they would meet one another. Only once had they shared a kiss, and Simon was convinced that it was the greatest memory of his life, for he would never forget the way in which her lips felt upon his.

Of course, if society learned about what transpired between Simon and Lady Susana, her reputation would be utterly ruined. Simon often thought of the irony of that; how nothing whatsoever would happen to his own reputation, merely because he was a man and had no standing in society. Still, he had never once pressured Lady Susana to meet with him. On the contrary, she was the one that suggested it, and Simon would often feel terror in her presence. Naturally, there was tremendous longing, as well. But the terror stemmed from the rich, rare beauty that Lady Susana exhibited, and her carefree ownership of herself. Simon always sensed that Lady Susana would disappear into thin air some day. So, it came as no surprise when she would arrange meetings between the two of them and fail to appear. Was she baiting him? Toying with his heartstrings? If so, Lady Susana had been remarkably successful in that enterprise.

“There are plenty of fish in the sea,” Kingsley finally said, and although Simon thought it incredibly trite, he merely nodded his head in acknowledgement.

“Have you ever been in love?” Simon asked, wishing to distract his mind.

“Only once.”

“And what happened?”

“She didn’t wish to marry a painter,” Kingsley explained.

“If only she could see you now!”

“Oh yes, she did become penitent as soon as I made a bloody fortune. And isn’t that just how things always work? But at that point, I had fallen out of love with the woman. And what’s more, if it was just money that she was after, was it ever really love in the first place?”

Simon considered for a moment just how strange love really was. It’s all a matter of perspective, in the end. Love could blind a man into thinking that his love was necessary, vital, and in need of requiting. Time and distance allowed one the chance to see a former love for what it truly was. Sadly, Simon had not yet had that time and distance, and so his love for Lady Susana still felt very real.

“Do you know the secret to becoming a successful painter?” Kingsley asked.

“Clearly, I do not,” Simon said with an ironic laugh.

“Peace and quiet,” Kingsley went on to explain, getting up from his trusty stool and walking away from his easel. “I have made a success of myself because there is nothing to distract me. Had I married that woman, and she bore my children, just think of all the chaos and distraction that I’d have to deal with every day. Instead, I have this vast, beautiful home,” Kingsley said, lifting up his arms in pride. “I have servants to take care of all my needs, a cook to prepare my meals, and a heartsick apprentice to clean my brushes,” he added humorously.

“So you do not regret forgoing a family.”

“I do not. I couldn’t be happier with my life. Painting is my love. It is my family. Painting keeps me company. It’s all that I’ve ever wanted for my life,” Kingsley said, taking off his artist’s cloak.

Simon thought of how noble Sir Gregory Kingsley really was. He was a man that was perfectly at ease in his own skin and within his own life. It was the gift that years and maturity could give, and that’s what Simon craved. The only difference was that Simon craved a wife. He craved a family. Simon wished to enjoy all of that with Lady Susana, but now it was entirely unattainable.

“Your perspective is refreshing,” Simon said.

“Well, just think of all the spare time you have now, boy! More time to focus on your craft. More focus to learn the things that I have to teach you. I brought you to Montgomery House because I saw a remarkable potential in you; unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Under my wing, you’re sure to achieve your greatest dreams in life. But it requires patience and dedication, and women can get in the way of all this, no?”

“I do suppose.”

“Don’t just suppose. Know it in your heart and soul. Let the woman marry her Spanish prince and spend the rest of her life in a drawing room greeting dignitaries. I promise you that you shall be the happier of the two.”

For the first time, a genuine smile came to Simon’s lips. Perhaps Kingsley was right. Perhaps he was going to benefit from the heartbreak immensely. A wave of hope came over him, and his appetite was finally restored. Simon began to look forward to that evening’s pheasant.

“Come,” Kingsley said, opening the door to the studio which led down a rather steep winding staircase. “It’s time for our stroll.”

Simon followed behind Kingsley as they descended the twisting staircase. It was the kind of architecture that one might find leading up to the tower of a castle. It offered the studio a kind of seclusion that Simon enjoyed. It was as though when he and Kingsley went up to that studio, there was no one in the world but them, and there was nothing in the world but painting. There was something solemn and remarkable about the studio, almost as though it were a religious chapel. Everything was in perfect order, thanks to Simon’s precision, and at night, the little temple would fall dark and silent, awaiting its worshippers the following morning.

Out in the countryside, the sun was setting, and the fields appeared purple. As they walked, Kingsley discussed the colours that surrounded them and what various paints he would mix to attain the reds, oranges, and golds that were in the sky above them. Simon noted all of these suggestions and thought of how he might practice what was being told to him that very night. For a good stretch of time, memories of Lady Susana escaped him, and Simon thought of nothing but oil paints in a rainbow of hues. Once their walk was done, Simon could feel that the cool night air had brought a warm flush to his cheeks. He was pleasantly surprised to walk into the dining room, modest in size, where the steaming pheasant was awaiting cutlery.

“Now, that is a meal!” Kingsley said with great enthusiasm, and the two men seated themselves and tucked right in. The bird was accompanied by freshly buttered peas, new potatoes, and a salad of rocket lettuce. Once the meal was concluded, cheese and fruit were served. To Simon’s great delight, not only did the thought of Lady Susana vanish, but his belly was quite full and contented.

“I will retire,” Simon said, bringing his napkin to his lips and then onto the table.

“No brandy?” Kingsley asked.

“No brandy,” Simon replied with a smile. In truth, although Simon liked the taste of brandy, it made his head spin, and he needed all of his focus that night to practice.

The following day, the sun rose with majestic beauty, and Simon entered the studio to find Kingsley already seated on his stool. It seemed as though the master was eager to complete the final touches of his latest triumph.

“Good morning,” Simon said, taking off his overcoat and walking towards the table where the brushes sat.

“A fine day,” Kingsley said, his brow knit in concentration. “How is your heart this morning, old boy?”

Simon sunk into himself a bit. He was delighted that the lady had been banished from his mind for so long, but at the mere mention of his heart, her memory returned.

“In disrepair,” Simon said humorously, trying to make himself more aloof than he could ever truly be.

“All of history’s greatest painters have been bereft,” Kingsley assured him. “There is always the blood of heartbreak in every good painting.”

Although Simon liked the sentiment, he considered that Kingsley was only saying that for his own benefit. Just then, there was a knock on the door, and Kingsley’s trusted head footman, Rutledge, opened it.

“M’Lord,” Rutledge said with a bow of the head.

“What is it?” Kingsley asked dismissively. He never did like to be disturbed when in his studio.

“There is a young lady downstairs that begs your audience. And I truly use the word ‘beg’ with gravity.”

Simon watched as Kingsley turned to Rutledge in confusion.

“Whatever for?” Kingsley asked. Momentarily, Simon’s heart sank as he imagined that it might be Lady Susana, coming to beg his forgiveness.

“She did not say,” Rutledge replied in confusion. “But it does seem that she has travelled a great distance, and her arms are filled with canvases.”

Kingsley knit his brow yet again, and Simon was curious as to how the master was going to respond to this unexpected intrusion.

“Perhaps selling fresh canvases,” Kingsley mused to himself. “And her timing is impeccable because the quality of these has gone down,” he added, inspecting the wooden frame. “Send her up.”

Simon could see surprise written upon Rutledge’s face, and the footman merely shrugged his shoulders and closed the door. Simon waited in anticipation for several minutes until finally the door was opened again and there stood a young lady, Rutledge no longer by her side. She was indeed carrying a number of thin canvasses and sketches, and was entirely out of breath. There was coal smudged upon her cheeks. Simon waited for her to offer her name.

Chapter Two

As Emilia Spencer stood in the doorway to the studio of her idol, all she could feel was the pounding in her chest. She was completely out of breath, having climbed the fabled winding staircase that led to the studio of the great Sir Gregory Kingsley with all of her sketches and a few thin canvases in her arms. Emilia could feel her hands shaking. She had hoped to present herself to Kingsley with a winning smile upon her face and a gentle pink in her cheeks, but instead, she had to settle for a rose-red flush and the inability to even move her lips into the formation of a smile. In fact, Emilia was frowning.

But this was not from sadness, for Emilia was overjoyed to have finally arrived at Montgomery House. She merely wished that she had felt more composed. Emilia never expected a fit of nerves to play upon her so completely. In the haze of emotion that she felt, Emilia could make out a young man walking towards her, rather tall in height and light in colouring. He could have been a cousin for how similar their colouring was. Emilia, herself, also had blonde hair and blue eyes, although one of those eyes appeared greener than anything else. Everyone was always admiring the uniqueness of those orbs, and from the way that the young man was looking at her, she could tell that he felt the same.

“Can I help you?” the man said.

“This is the studio?” Emilia asked in haste, knowing full-well that it was the studio.

“Of Sir Gregory Kingsley? Indeed, it is,” the man replied.

“My name is Emilia Spencer,” she said, “and I’d very much like to meet him.” Emilia gazed around the room and saw that the artist was at the far end of it. The old man’s eyes were wide with wonder.

“Are you selling canvases?” Kingsley asked, and Emilia felt her heart lurch up in her chest once more. He was speaking to her. The greatest artist in all of Britain was speaking to her. Nearly all of her dreams had come true.

“I fear that these have already been used,” Emilia said, wondering why it was that Kingsley thought her a merchant of canvases. She looked back towards the young man and something about his appearance struck her. Emilia proceeded to drop the canvases upon the ground. “Heavens!” she called out, thinking she must look the biggest fool on earth.

“Here,” the man said, leaning down to pick Emilia’s paintings up. She was frozen, unable to lean down herself and assist him.

“I thank you,” Emilia said breathlessly, watching as he picked up all the canvases in one fell swoop and stood up to full height again. The man had to have been a solid foot taller than herself. He handed her the canvases, and Emilia took them into her arms once more.

“What is all of this about?” she heard Kingsley ask, and Emilia turned to the artist with her mouth gaping open.

“I wish to show you these,” Emilia said, stepping towards to a barren table with the intention of placing the canvases down.

The young man put out a hand to prevent her, then turned towards the artist. “Is it all right?” he asked Kingsley.

“Very well,” Kingsley said with a sigh, no doubt finally gleaning why it was that Emilia was in his studio. The man lowered his arm, allowing Emilia passage, and she quickly rushed to the table, arranging her sketches and bringing a hand up to wipe her cheek. To her dismay, there were still coal smudges there.

“These are quite good,” the man said, leaning over the table and inspecting them. “My name is James. Simon James,” he said.

“Very pleasant to meet you, Simon James.”

“Please, call me Simon,” he said with a smile. Yes, his appearance was remarkably striking, and Emilia felt the need to look away.

“Give me one moment,” Kingsley said, turning back to the landscape painting that sat before him. From what Emilia could tell, he was putting final touches upon it. It was exactly the kind of behaviour that she expected from such a renowned artist. He couldn’t be bothered with conversation until he felt pleased with his own work.

“Did you come far?” Simon asked, and Emilia turned back towards him, fearing that her flushed cheek was turning even redder under his gaze.

“From London,” Emilia replied, tongue-tied.

“Please, don’t tell me that you walked.”

“No, no,” Emilia replied. “I hired a hackney coach.”

“Quite an expense.”

“But well worth it,” Emilia assured him. And it was worth it. She had been saving the money for some time, had learned where Montgomery House resided in Harlow Greens, and had even been told about the stairs leading up to the studio. Everything was falling into place. Now, the famous artist just needed to take Emilia on as his pupil. It would be the only way that she could escape what she was told was her fate.

“Let’s see what we have here,” Kingsley said, finally approaching the table. From the way that he walked, Emilia could tell that movement wasn’t the artist’s forte.

“I have been working night and day,” Emilia assured him. “Whenever there is a showing of your paintings, I always travel to see them, no matter where they are.”

“Even Russia?” Kingsley asked.

“Your paintings have been shown in Russia?” Emilia asked in wonder.

“No, dear girl,” Kingsley said with a shake of his head. “I was merely teasing you.”

“Oh,” Emilia replied softly, thinking herself to be far too gullible for her own good.

“Now then,” Kingsley said, craning his neck over the table. Emilia watched as he knit his brow in concentration. She looked over at Simon, hoping that there would be some support in his eyes, which there very much was. In fact, she was struck by the warmth of his gaze.

“They’re merely sketches. Ideas. When an idea comes to me, I have to put it down on paper, canvas, a napkin, anything!”

“Not unlike myself,” Kingsley said, not giving away with the tone of his voice whether or not he was impressed by her work.

“I do think that with the right mentor, I could become great,” Emilia said, not shying away from the reason for her visit. Kingsley finally looked back up at her, his expression dubious.

“You are quite talented,” he said, and Emilia felt her heart soar. “But I cannot be your mentor.” Just then, her heart sank down from its immense height.

“Why?” Emilia asked, assuming that if he did truly admire her work, then he’d want to take her on. Was it because she was a woman? For Emilia, it was the only explanation.

“I already have one apprentice, as you can see,” Kingsley said, motioning towards Simon. So, that’s who the handsome man was; the artist’s apprentice. Emilia felt jealousy course through her. “I cannot afford to lodge another,” Kingsley went on. “Especially a woman.”

“And what has my gender to do with the matter?” Emilia asked, becoming defensive.

“Absolutely nothing in terms of talent,” Kingsley explained. “In fact, it’s not uncommon for women to be more talented than men,” he went on, walking over to seat himself at his stool once more. “The problem lies in the fact that, having a single woman living under the same roof as two men would be a scandal not only for yourself, but also for me. I could lose my career once the gossip mills began to turn, and believe me, they would.”

Emilia remained silent for a moment and saw that Kingsley’s back was now turned to her and he had picked up his paintbrush once more. Tears threatened to reach the surface, and Emilia wished that she was not so sensitive. If she was going to prove herself to the famous artist, she needed to keep her composure. Emilia turned to Simon yet again, already finding that his presence made her feel safe, even though she didn’t know the fellow in the slightest.

“It will be all right,” Simon said softly.

“But . . .” Emilia said, looking down at her sketches. No, she would not let those tears well up. She took a deep breath and looked around the room at all the paintings that were on display. There was no need to give up hope. She had come this far, and there was no turning back. She’d disguise herself as a man if she had to. Anything to escape the fate that awaited her back in London.

“Can I get you some tea?” Simon asked, and Emilia felt her heart beat in her chest once more. That’s when she realized that this affable Simon fellow could see right through her. It was vexing. The very thing that she wanted at that moment was not to be transparent.

“That is kind of you,” Emilia said, thinking that it was a way to stall. Were she to get back in the coach and return to London, she’d have her tail between her legs. If she could linger at Montgomery House for a bit longer, maybe Kingsley would change his mind.

“Come this way,” Simon said, leading Emilia down the stairs and into what she assumed to be the room that was used for afternoon tea. That was when Emilia realized that she was quite alone with Simon James. He did not present himself with a title, so Emilia assumed that he was not of esteemed birth, just like her. The fellow that had greeted her at the door came into the room, and Simon spoke to him as though he were a casual friend. “We’ll take some tea, Rutledge,” Simon said.

“Very well,” Rutledge replied, leaving the room without even bowing his head. Yes, it seemed as though things were very informal at Montgomery House, but perhaps that was because the master spent most of his time tucked away in his studio. And Kingsley didn’t seem the sort of man to stand upon ceremony.

“You’re so lucky to be here,” Emilia said, realizing that her voice gave away her disappointment.

“I know it.”

“Do you watch him all day as he paints?”

“Some of the time,” Simon explained, looking out the window. “But most of the time I clean his brushes, mix his paints, and arrange his canvases,” he added with a smile.

“It must be magical,” Emilia said with a dreamy expression.

“It isn’t,” Simon replied flatly.

“And he allows you to absent yourself at will?” Emilia asked. “To come down for a cup of tea?”

“Kingsley allows me to come and go as I please. Although he can be quite serious, he realizes that he does not own me in any way. He boards me for my assistance, and for that I am grateful.”

“And do you enjoy living here?”

“I do,” Simon said, looking deep into her eyes. Although his eyes were cool and blue, they were also warm and inviting. Emilia got the sense again that Simon was deeply curious about her. The feeling was unnerving but also pleasurable.

“And do you think that I can further convince him to take me on, as well?”

“That I cannot say,” Simon said, then turned and watched as the tea was brought into the room. The tea set was remarkably luxurious and reminded Emilia of the fact that Sir Gregory Kingsley had a great deal of money. No, it wasn’t the boarding that was preventing him from taking Emilia on. It was her gender. “May I ask you a question?”

“Yes.”

“What is the cause of your distress?”

Emilia felt the flush return to her cheeks. It was further confirmation that she was not hiding her distress very well. In fact, Simon seemed to feel her sorrow keenly.

“I merely want to paint,” Emilia said, belying her true need.

“But you have such talent,” Simon went on. “Truly, you don’t need to be an apprentice to learn how to be a great painter.”

“I . . . I—” Emilia’s resolve was wearing down. Although she thought that telling Simon the truth would be disastrous, she seemed to feel comforted by him and even trusted him. None of this Emilia could explain. “I am trying to escape.”

“What are you trying to escape from?” Simon asked, deep concern written on his face.

“I shall be engaged to a wealthy man,” Emilia said, in disbelief that she had even uttered it. Simon all at once appeared disappointed.

“May I offer congratulations?” he said with trepidation.

“Unfortunately, no,” Emilia said, now intent upon telling the whole story. “In London, I help to take care of my father. His health is not good, and he’s never been a titled man. All that being said, I’m being courted by a man named Lord Huntley Pendergast. I wish I could speak well of Lord Pendergast’s character, but to do so would be impossible. I’ve been told that he’s also steeped in corruption. My father, being blind to such things in his ailing health, will not tolerate my refusal. I thought that if I was granted an apprenticeship, it might console my father and delay the courtship for a while. Within that time, I’m hoping that Lord Pendergast will see that I’m not a traditional girl in any sense of the word and his affections will go elsewhere,” Emilia said, looking down at the table as she explained. She was afraid to look up and see how Simon was reacting to all of this. Once she did so, Emilia was surprised to find great compassion in his eyes. And also, something akin to anger.

“I see,” Simon said, knitting his brow.

“Becoming Sir Gregory Kingsley’s apprentice was my only hope. My last resort. Once, I even considered joining a nunnery, if only to escape. But to do so would require my father’s approval.”

“Senseless that you’re not allowed to make your own decisions for your future,” Simon replied, his tone measured. Emilia could see that his jaw was knit, and he was in deep contemplation.

“This is the way of the world,” Emilia went on. “And try as I might to get around it, there is no way to escape.” Emilia suddenly felt ashamed of herself. Ashamed that she had revealed so much to an utter stranger, and ashamed that she didn’t have the wherewithal to truly escape the prison that she found herself in. Images of Lord Pendergast came to mind; the way that he scowled and smiled in that lopsided way. And although Simon James was not a gentleman in the traditional sense, he was behaving far more like a gentleman that Lord Pendergast ever did.

Every time that she encountered Lord Pendergast, he seemed to look her up and down, appraising her form. He would leer at her. It was not that way, at first. Where Simon was large and tall, Lord Pendergast was much the same, but his figure was imposing and not appealing. Lord Pendergast would boast of his successful trade business abroad, but his reputation was riddled with scandal. It was not her father’s fault that he turned a blind eye. In her father’s estimation, the match would be a success. Emilia knew the truth to be otherwise.

In all truth, Emilia had to admit to herself that for various reasons, Lord Pendergast appeared to her as a god in the initial stages. He was a man of remarkable standing, but she could no longer see any of that. After what he had done to her, she only saw ugliness in his countenance.

With Sir Gregory Kingsley turning her down, Emilia was now sure that marrying Lord Pendergast was her fate. She had tried one last time and used all of her savings to bring herself to Montgomery House. Looking down at her tea, shame welled up within her once more, and Emilia felt the need to flee.

“You have been too kind,” Emilia said, wishing to get out of that house before Simon could see her tears. It made her unbearably sad to go. Even from their brief conference, Emilia could tell that she and Simon would have got on handsomely. In fact, they could have even been the best of friends. All the while she had been talking endlessly about herself, and Simon didn’t say anything about where he came from.

“You are leaving?” Simon asked, as though the notion shocked him in some way.

“Yes, I must,” Emilia replied. She briefly considered that she could get into that hackney coach and have the driver take her far away. But to do so would be to give up her father, her friends, and her social standing for the rest of her days.

“I shall grab your sketches,” Simon said, walking towards the door and opening it for her.

“It’s quite all right,” Emilia replied. “I won’t need them now.” In fact, she never wished to see them ever again. To do so would remind her of what her heart truly longed for, and how she wouldn’t be able to have it in this lifetime. “I wish you all the best of luck,” Emilia said, walking towards the front door and opening it for herself. She didn’t turn back to look at Simon’s face once more. She stepped out into the courtyard and got into the coach, the tears finally beginning to fall.

It was one of the worst days in Emilia’s recent memory. Thank the heavens that Simon James had been there, an angel that she would never see again.


“The Wild Passion of an Eccentric Lady” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Emilia Spencer is an artist with an intrepid mind, and she doesn’t want to compromise with a loveless marriage. She has reason to believe that, despite his high class, Lord Pendergast is not the man that can capture her heart. When she meets Simon, a handsome artist, her life takes an unexpected turn and a burning passion grows between them. Will she manage to escape an undesired betrothal, and lose herself in a forbidden passion?

Simon James, a heartbroken young man, now finds himself apprentice to Britain’s most prominent artist. One fateful day when Emilia comes to their studio in a state of desperation, Simon meets the woman that will change the course of his life. Begging for an apprenticeship, Emilia is turned down, but Simon comes up with an ingenious plan that ties the two of them together in a false engagement. Will his plan be a success? Will he resist the enticing, blue-eyed lady or he will fully dive into their love?

A tale filled with passion, confusion, and denial. When everything seems to be going according to the plan, circumstances take a turn for the worse. Emilia cannot escape so easily from Lord Pendergast, but Simon doesn’t give up on her. Will fate be favorable to them? Will they deny their growing love, or will they succumb to a rising fervent desire?

“The Wild Passion of an Eccentric Lady” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

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3 thoughts on “The Wild Passion of an Eccentric Lady (Preview)”

  1. I enjoyed reading this preview. A difference in the plot, a lady artist. Creates a different slant on the plot. Look forward to the book.

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