Redemption and a woman’s lack of power – or how she wields the power she does have – are popular themes of mine in the historicals I write.

Henry Mayhew’s collection of interviews in 1862 in his ‘London’s Underworld’ makes fascinating reading and the first-hand accounts of ‘ruined women’ make both tragic reading and have been inspirational in many of my stories.

While my second Regency romance, The Maid of Milan, showcases both the glitter and grime of the period, my heroine is a viscountess though she doesn’t have far to fall before she lands in the gutter for her reputation is in the hands of someone very unscrupulous. Yes, she has a … ‘past’. And no woman of virtue in those days could afford to have one of those.

The Maid of Milan is about a once-dazzling debutante who believed she wielded enormous power as the men flocked to ask her to dance. But then she made a terrible error of judgment. One that continues to haunt her four years after she’s happily married the brave and honourable MP who has nursed her through her darkest hours.

Unfortunately it’s Adelaide’s mother who now wields the power. She’s the one who’s protected her daughter from the all-out scandal that would have destroyed her, but she’s done it at enormous cost. Adelaide will only find her Happy Ever After if she can navigate the treacherous currents her mother has whipped up to subdue her, and take a huge chance that the ultimate decision she makes is the right one.

I’d also love to offer an ecopy give-away of my Regency mystery romance, Lady Farquhar’s Butterfly, to someone who comments on what they like about the lovely cover of The Maid of Milan.

MOM advance copies

In the meantime, here’s the blurb and a short extract:

THE MAID OF MILAN

After five years of marriage, Adelaide has fallen in love with the handsome, honourable husband who nurtured her through her darkest hours.

Now Adelaide’s former lover, the passionate poet from whose arms she was torn by her family during their illicit liaison in Milan four years previously has returned, a celebrity due to the success of his book The Maid of Milan.

High society is as desperate to discover the identity of his ‘muse’ as Adelaide is to protect her newfound love and her husband’s political career.

EXTRACT:

The following scene takes place when Adelaide has discovered that not only is she in love with the husband she reluctantly consented to wed, but that she wants him to be in no doubt about her desire to take intimacy to a higher level. Adelaide’s mother has perpetuated a lie to hide her daughter’s sinful past, telling Tristan that Adelaide is an invalid who must be kept calm at all costs if she is not to succumb to hysteria.

‘Addy—?’

Tossing aside the bed covers, Adelaide shifted to make room

for him, snuggling against his chest when he yielded

slightly, nevertheless terrified of his reaction. She was

blatantly seducing – no, trying to seduce – her husband for

the first time in her life and she had no idea whether he’d be

horrified or delighted. She just knew she had to convey to

him her receptiveness for taking intimacy to a higher level.

So far so good. He was breathing more rapidly, she

noticed, as he carefully removed his boots. She willed him

to hurry. She was on fire. She closed her eyes in anticipation,

her mind whirling with all the possibilities of what she

might say, but the words with which she’d intended to

unburden her heart were lost in the passion of his kiss.

Scorching. It shocked her, as did the speed with which he

moved now as he caged her body with his, his hands roaming

over her as he trailed hot kisses along her jawline, down her

neck, across her décolletage. Adelaide arched with impatience,

resisting the urge to be the one to unbutton his trousers.

‘God, Addy, I love you,’ he muttered as he gripped the

hem of her shift to raise it, nuzzling her neck. ‘I’ve never

loved any woman as I love you. Are you sure you want—?’

Her reassurance that she’d never wanted anything so

much was truncated by a sharp rap on the door and her

mother’s nasal whine on the other side. ‘Addy? I’ve brought

you something to help you sleep. Can I come in?’

Horrified, she and Tristan bolted upright as the door

knob turned.

‘Wait, mother!’ Addy pulled the covers up to her chin

as Tristan leapt to the floor, straightening his cravat and

pulling on his boots with lightning speed.

‘Why, Tristan …?’ Mrs Henley’s cloying smile didn’t fool

Adelaide. ‘I didn’t know you were here. I’m so sorry to

interrupt.’

Adelaide felt like seizing the mug her mother carried with

such false solicitude and hurling it at the wall. Instead, she

hurled herself back down onto her bed with a sob as her

husband bowed before leaving the room.

Please drop by and visit me at my website or blog

Or twitter: @BeverleyOakley

And you can buy The Maid of Milan here:

Amazon US              Amazon UK

It has just come out in e-book and will be released shortly in paperback, large print and audio.

Bevie and Homer2

Beverley Eikli is the author of eight historical romances, three of which have been shortlisted Favourite Historical by Australian Romance Readers Association.

She has worked as a journalist, editor, airborne geophysical survey operator and embraced a life of adventure after meeting her  husband, a handsome Norwegian bush pilot around a camp fire in Botswana.

Twenty years later, after exploring the world in the back of Cessna 404s and CASA 212s during low-level sorties over the French Guyanese jungle and Greenland’s ice cap, Beverley is back in Australia teaching in the Department of Professional Writing & Editing at Victoria University, in Melbourne.

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