In the eyes of the ton, Ellen Harding lives a charmed life – she is the beautiful, exquisitely adorned mistress of Lord Gainsborough. But on the inside, behind her glamorous façade, she is empty – a vessel – deaf to the voice of morality and blind to shame. Unable to escape the gilded cage she has been trapped within. Kind, gentle Edward Marlow could prove to be her salvation… With one look he gives her hope. With one touch he sets her senses alight. Lose yourself in the passionate intensity of this stunning debut from exciting new talent Jane Lark.
He’d been waiting ten minutes when he saw her. She was simply and elegantly dressed, her appearance nothing like that of a courtesan. The long dark navy pelisse she wore was to keep her warm in the chill, early March winds. Spring was still as yet unbroken.
The demure garment hung to her ankles, with double breasted buttons across her chest, and an upturned fox fur collar framed her beautiful neck and face. Her hands were within a matching fox fur muff at her waist. The dark navy hat, sitting high on her ebony hair, was decorated with jay’s feathers that swept up from the brim above her left ear. And a narrow, navy veil, woven in a fine net, was drawn down over her eyes and nose.
His hands curled into fists inside the pockets of his thick, many-caped greatcoat as he watched her, waiting for her to notice him.
She had thought to hide herself, he guessed, but he would know the curve of her jaw, that mouth, the column of her neck, anywhere, even within a crowd. He had committed it to memory half a dozen times in recent weeks and lain awake night after night recalling every detail.
She looked over her shoulder, glancing back up the street, as if she half expected to be followed. Then she looked to the traffic in the road, waiting until it was clear before she crossed to the park gates. She’d still not seen him.
Within her muff he imagined her hands clasped together, her thumbs circling one another. He’d seen her tendency to fiddle when she stood at Gainsborough’s back. She was forever twisting and turning her fan; never comfortable, nor secure. The other courtesans he’d seen in London were women of excessive confidence, bold, never meek and maidenly in their manner as Ellen always seemed. With Ellen he could not even lay her lack of confidence at the door of her age. She was older than him, and yet her nervous behaviour made her seem half a dozen years younger.
She was on the path some distance before him now, her short, quick strides slicing at the skirt of her pelisse. Her gaze was on the pavement ahead of her, oblivious to the men who passed her and looked back, as nearly every man did, even with her beauty covered by a veil.
She looked up.
The moment she saw him, he could tell she’d not thought he would come. It was in the sudden drop of tenseness in her shoulders and the smile opening her mouth as if she would speak and acknowledge him from afar. But such an outburst would be folly, even though he had come as asked without acquaintance or equipage, someone may know him. Her mouth closed on the exclamation as she increased her pace, weaving through people walking the other way.
This book sucked me in and wouldn’t let me out! I was intrigued by the blurb, but the beginning of the book got my attention. This book is incredibly well written and beautifully worded. I can’t imagine the research and time that went into making this book sound so authentic to the time. This book was also quite emotionally taxing. My heart hurt for the characters and the problems they were facing. This book also seemed “epic” to me…I’m not sure that will make sense and it’s hard to explain. I guess it could be that in my head it played like a movie- dramatic costumes, beautiful locations, orchestra music playing the whole time. EPIC. If you are a fan of historical romance or tired of contemporary and looking for a change, then I highly recommend this book! Plus, check out that gorgeous cover! So pretty!
About the Author
She began her first historical novel at sixteen, but a life full of adversity derailed her as she lives with the restrictions of Ankylosing Spondylitis.
When she finally completed a novel it was because she was determined not to reach forty still saying, I want to write one.
Now Jane is writing a Regency series she’s thrilled to be giving her characters life in others’ imaginations at last.
Jane is also a Chartered Member of the Institute of Personnel and Development, and uses her knowledge of psychology to bring her characters to life.
‘Basically I love history and I’m a sucker for a love story. I love the feeling of falling in love; it’s wonderful being able to do it time and time again in fiction, and my understanding of people helps me write the really intense relationships I enjoy creating.’
Want more from Jane Lark?
The only woman who had power over notorious rake Robert Marlow was now walking away from him, again. He’d heard Sutton had died, and known Jane was free, but he’d always thought his desire would only be for revenge, not her. Yet here he was, unable to deny what he felt for her… what he’d never felt for any other woman…
The International giveaway on this tour is overall a first edition signed copy of The Illicit Love of a Courtesan plus a bag.
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*I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.