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Golden Deeds and Lovers

Can a man just recovering from a serious wound, a man left with only one arm, reclaim his place in London society? More importantly, can he court and win Charlotte Carwell, the most beautiful young woman of the Season? Arthur Lyndered, newly created Lord Sanvrain, eagerly accepts an invitation from Charlotte's widowed mother to spend the weeks before the Season at her country home. His chance to court Charlotte without competition from London's dandies! But Arthur finds old affections stirring, leading to a romance that flies in the face of all society's expectations.

A Hard Shell Word Factory Release


Marty Voght

Marty Voght began her writing career at the age of 8, authoring a romantic one-act play stocked with stereotypical princes and princesses. At 9 she shifted to journalism, reporting a confrontation between a fur trapper and a grizzly bear, when she had seen neither in the flesh. Her propensity for romance and the West carried her through six historical novels for Harlequin (under the name Rae Muir), one of which, All But the Queen of Hearts, was a finalist for the Rita award.

Marty presently lives at the foot of the Sierra Nevada, and spends her time writing, hiking, making quilts, and wandering Great Basin ghost towns with her geologist husband.

Reviews

"Overall, the book is a smooth and tender read, which will not only appeal to the Regency fan but also to any historical reader. I can easily see this book being made into a sequel or movie."

Suzie Housley -- My Shelf Reviews


"This is a delightful story of Regency England. It is an engrossing tale filled with a full cast of characters: a war hero, a beautiful widow, an eccentric duchess, pompous clergymen, frivolous debutantes, blustering retired generals, Town dandies, faithful tenants. There is a bit of history of the Peninsular War and lots of romance, some in unexpected places...."

Barbara Buhrer -- My Shelf Reviews


"Golden Deeds and Lovers is an emotional, captivating story of the healing power of love. Ms. Voght brings her characters vividly to life, giving them a full complement of fears and foibles, hopes and dreams. For a romance that is out of the common way, with original characters you'll remember long after the last page is turned, I recommend Golden Deeds and Lovers."

Romance Reviews Today
Excerpt

Prologue

"Do you hear the axemen?" Susan asked. The girl was tall for her eight years and she augmented that advantage by standing on an empty plinth on the terrace of Dalefields. "Father has ordered the central hedge cut down, and our pirate's lair goes with it," she declaimed to the multitude, composed of her two elder brothers, four cousins, and Arthur, the son of their closest neighbor, Mr. Alfred Lyndered. But the last named hardly counted in Susan's mind, for Arthur was but four-years-old, and barely out of skirts.

"Will you sit idly by," she demanded, making accusatory gestures at her audience, "and let these ruffians seize our kingdom? I say NO. Again, NO." She stabbed her finger toward the sky.

"Susan's quite right, you know," said one of the boy cousins. "We should have said something to Uncle before the workers started. Could you speak to him, Robert?" He turned to Susan's eldest brother, the eldest of the crowd.

Robert Brightmore looked about the terrace suspiciously, held his tongue until he ascertained that the tutors, governesses, and nannies had vanished into a grove of towering cypress beyond the lawn.

"I should not like to be the one to go to Father," Robert said with a superior air that declared his status as the son of a bishop. "Father says that now I've turned thirteen, I'm too old to be playing at pirate. He says my life, particularly since he's gone to the expense of hiring a classical tutor, must henceforth focus on my career."

"Freddie?" the cousin asked, turning to Robert's ten-year-old brother. The boy ducked his head.

"Father does not brook disobedience," he stammered. "I shall miss our play at pirates, of course, but if Papa thinks it necessary to have the hedge removed--"

"Cowards!" sneered Susan. "I'll speak to Father."

"Not now," Robert begged. "Father and Mother are entertaining. What will they think if you march into the withdrawing room?"

"The axemen must be stopped," Susan said. "We cannot delay." She narrowed her eyes, cutting off the brilliance of their green light, and frowned deeply. "I can see no other way," she finally announced. "We'll march on the hedge, force the axemen to lay aside their tools until we have an opportunity to speak to Father. And I--" she lay a clenched fist on her chest " -- shall be the general of this expedition, since you--" she shot contemptuous glances at her brothers " -- are unwilling to take any action in this matter."

"I shan't follow a girl," Robert said.

"You can be my colonel, my aide-de-camp," she offered.

"I must be a colonel, too," said the eldest boy cousin, "I'm but a year younger than Robert. Frederick and my brother can be majors, and the girls," he gestured toward his blond sisters, "they may be captains."

"I shall be a captain," Arthur said with surprising firmness, stepping forward with better military form than his elders.

"No," Susan said. "If everyone else is an officer, you must be a private soldier. Not everyone can be an officer." The little boy glared at her and gritted his tiny teeth. "You shall be the only soldier in our troop," she pointed out. She lifted her voice once more into oratorical mode. "Our full fighting force."

"Then, I'll be a private soldier," Arthur said proudly. "The only one."

The army set out, marched down the lawn, onto the rough pasture cropped by the sheep. Beyond was a field of stubble, which disrupted the close order because the children had to watch where they put their feet. Susan led, flanked by her colonels, heading directly for the flashing axes. Even as she watched a beech tree leaned, then crashed to the ground.

From the corner of his eye the lone private soldier glimpsed a furry head behind a clod. He stopped, thought to investigate the animal, then saw his comrades were leaving him behind. In his anxiety to rejoin his friends he ran, his boot caught in the high stubble and he sprawled on the ground.

Arthur was not a child to cry unnecessarily, but he was a curious boy, and he lifted his hand to a suddenly tender spot on his forehead. It came away sticky, stained red.

"Waaaaah!" he screamed in terror.

Only General Susan turned at the sound; her heart leaped into her throat at the sight.

"Arthur! The baby's hurt!" she shrieked at the other officers, who continued their determined march. At her very unmilitary cries they reversed direction and clustered about Arthur. Susan held him in her arms, paying no attention to the damage his blood caused her dress.

"He must be carried to the house," she commanded her colonels. "Go tell the axemen to come immediately." She reached under her skirt, ripped away a part of a petticoat, and stanched the flow of blood from the boy's forehead.

It was a dismal, disorganized troop that staggered back to the house, aided by two sturdy men, one carrying the injured child, the other herding the laggards. A pale group of fluttering nannies, governesses, and tutors met them, some buttoning strategic garments with trembling fingers.

Lady Hermione shrieked when she saw her son. She was helped to a seat on the terrace with tender understanding, for Arthur was an only child and his loss would be a great blow. Mr. Lyndered shouted at the child's nanny, who burst into tears.

"It was Susan's notion to go stop the axemen," Robert and Frederick said in unison the moment Bishop Brightmore appeared on the scene.

"She was the general," said the eldest boy cousin.

"The cut isn't deep," Susan said. "But cuts on the pate do bleed so." Her mother agreed and summoned maids with basins of water and clean linen.

* * *

SUSAN SAT morosely at the window in the nursery, where her father had banished her. She had received a firm lecture on the proprieties suitable to a young lady who was the daughter of a bishop. She had watched without objecting when her red-eyed governess packed away the array of toy soldiers. Susan had spent hours arranging them on the nursery floor in the formations they had occupied at Yorktown. Somehow, Susan was sure, they might have been better ordered, so Lord Cornwallis would not have been forced to surrender and the North American colonies would have been saved for England.

Below, in the drive, she could see the Lyndered's carriage standing ready to take the family home to Lynder Hoo. Mr. Lyndered himself carried his wounded son. Tears coursed down Susan's cheeks. They will not forgive me, she thought. Perhaps it is just as well that women do not become generals, for I could not bear it if a soldier should die. She sobbed, both for her wounded companion and her own poor destiny as a female.

* * *

ARTHUR LAY on his cot in the nursery of Lynder Hoo, quietly satisfied. Occasionally he tried to touch the white bandage encircling his head.

"No, no!" his mother cried each time his hand went up. She knelt beside his bed, she clasped his hands and held them very tightly. That distant, adored personage, his mother, actually stayed beside him long after their regular evening visit should have ended.

For the first time in his life he was the center of attention. His father, an even more distant eminence than his mother, paced in the hall, muttering imprecations down on careless servants and the Bishop's ill-reared children. The nanny dashed about with tear-roughened cheeks, ordering maids to bring hot drinks and cool compresses, while she bobbed numerous curtsies of apology in the direction of the wronged father.

Only Arthur, of all those in the great house of Lynder Hoo, smiled. He understood the road to fame and adulation, how he might equal of the heros in his storybooks. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Alfred the Great... His busy mind filled with the shouts of men, the snorts of impatient cavalry horses, the clash of steel, and he was borne off to triumphant sleep on the wings of victory.

It was August, 1789, and a few tens of miles across the Channel, the French Revolution had only begun.