When an earl who’s given up on love and has settled on an engagement to a darling of society falls for a Crimean War nurse, he must either forsake his love or embroil them all in scandal.
The vicar cleared his throat. “Your point is well taken, my lord. But it sounds as if Miss Thorne was insulated in her prior situations, surrounded by a small number of accepting, perhaps even misguided, people who regarded her as an exception.” He directed his gaze to Miss Thorne. “As happy as I am to hear of the captain’s improvement, I feel I’d be remiss in my duty if I didn’t warn you to guard your conduct, ma’am.”
“She doesn’t need to guard her conduct,” Robb said. “If there’s gossip, you need to do your best to quell it. You wield a great deal of influence.”
“It’s difficult to dispute the fact she’s an unmarried woman and may have been performing acts of an intimate nature with an unmarried man.”
Miss Thorne set down her teacup and folded her hands. By turns looked each of them in the eye. “Every life I touch, I feel immensely privileged.” Her voice seemed at once measured, calm, and grave. “I’ve held the hands and looked in the eyes of the sick as they died, heard their last words, and been the last face they’ve seen. Vicar, I’m sure you know how sacred such moments feel. Sometimes I think that the gravely sick I care for, and I, somehow exchange little pieces of our souls.” She looked down for a moment, then lifted her head and a soft smile curved her lips. “Wherever they are, they each carry a little piece of me.”
The silence that followed filled Robb’s heart with something very sweet and good.
She’d brought tears to his mother’s eyes. Mother pressed a handkerchief to her eyes before asking the Newcome’s to go to the chapel and pray with her before they left. Newcome’s jaw looked capable of cracking walnuts. The conversation moved on a bit stiffly, turning to community news, but Robb barely heard their voices. He couldn’t take his eyes off Victoria Thorne. A woman who opened herself to the people in her care, who didn’t concern herself with the opinions others formed of her. The very opposite of himself.
“You’re in need of sunshine and fresh air, Miss Thorne,” he said. “Come riding with me this afternoon.”
“Oh.” Her cheeks flushed. “I should stay with your brother.”
“He’s been resting, hasn’t he? We won’t be gone that long. You do ride?”
Her grin nearly knocked him off his chair.
About the Author:
Sheri Humphreys used to be an Emergency Room nurse, but today applies bandages, splints, and slings to the characters of her Victorian romance novels. She loves to ignore yardwork and housework and read—usually a book every one to three days. Having conjured stories in her mind her entire life, she wondered if she were normal. Then she began putting stories to paper and became a two-time Golden Heart® finalist. She lives with a Jack Russell mix rescue, Lucy, in a small town on the central California coast.
A Hero to Hold received a prized Kirkus Star and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2016.
Sheri will be awarding a copy of A Hero to Hold and $15 in Boroughs Bucks to 2 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.