Book Title: The Shadow Earl
Author: Stella Riley
Publication Date:15thJuly, 2023
Page Length: 433
@stellariley.books @cathie.dunn1 @thecoffeepotbookclub
At the end of his Grand Tour, somewhere between Athens and Constantinople, Christian Selwyn, the young Earl of Hazelmere, vanished - seemingly without a trace.
Time passes. In London, his uncle and cousin move into his home … while his unofficial fiancée, Sophia, is left desolate and in limbo. Finally, his friends – loyal and close as brothers – set out to search in person.
Christian’s startling re-appearance at a grand ball takes society by storm and fuels endless speculation. Where has he been during these three missing years? What happened to him?
And more importantly, how did it happen?
Only one thing is clear. The earl who left England five years ago, has returned a changed man. A man with secrets.
Basil starts an unpleasant rumour
On Friday morning, Christian departed for Oxfordshire. On Friday evening at Sinclairs, Basil Selwyn heard that he had and briefly considered letting sleeping dogs lie. Then, finding himself beside inveterate gossip, Sir Denys Morton, he said idly, ‘If my cousin still intends to marry Miss Kelsall he’s taking his time about it.’
‘The betting is five to two against at White’s,’ volunteered Sir Denys. ‘If he was going to do it, they’d have announced it by now.’
‘My thoughts exactly.’
‘Of course, she nearly married you, didn’t she?’
‘She did.’ Basil gritted his teeth and, managing to sound unconcerned, added, ‘But then my cousin returned and … well, he’s an earl, isn’t he?’
‘True. So she wouldn’t have turned him down, would she?’
‘After waiting all this time? Hardly. No. If I had to guess, I’d say his tastes may have changed while he’s been away. Not that one likes to speculate, of course … but we all know what they say about the Turks.’
‘I don’t,’ said Sir Denys, helpfully. ‘What do they say?’
Basil turned a surprised gaze on him and murmured, ‘Oh dear.’ Then, leaning a little closer, he dropped a single word in the other man’s ear.
‘Good God! Really?’
‘So I’ve heard.’
Like most people, Sir Denys did not stop to wonder where he’d heard it or from whom. ‘I thought it was all harems and exotic dancers.’
‘Oh, there’s that, too,’ agreed Basil. ‘But not solely that.’
‘I say!’ For several seconds, Sir Denys appeared incapable of speech. Then he said, ‘And you think that Hazelmere has taken to – to – you know.’
‘I wouldn’t like to imply that he has. But after spending three years in a country where it’s said to be quite common … and returning to his beautiful not-quite-fiancée but still not doing the honourable thing … well. One has to wonder, don’t you think?’
‘Yes. One does. One does indeed.’
Basil smiled, made an excuse about promising to join Lord Henley for a hand or two of basset and strolled away, well pleased with his progress.
~ * ~
Winner of four gold medals for historical romance (Readers' Favourite in 2019, Book Excellence Awards in 2020, Global Book Awards in 2022 and Book Excellence Award in 2023) and fifteen B.R.A.G. Medallions, Stella Riley lives in the beautiful medieval town of Sandwich in Kent.
She is fascinated by the English Civil Wars and has written six books set in that period. These, like the 7 book Rockliffe series (recommended in The Times newspaper!) and the Brandon Brothers trilogy, are all available in audio, narrated by Alex Wyndham.
Stella enjoys travel, reading, theatre, Baroque music and playing the harpsichord. She also has a fondness for men with long hair - hence her 17th and 18th century heroes.
Social Media Links:
Amazon Author Page:https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stella-Riley/e/B0034PB7UU