Lord Esterleigh’s DaughterArthur Darvey: The Character in His Own WordsI am not a monster. Like anyone else, I have feelings. Sometimes I act upon them. But that does not make me a monster!
Once my life was pleasant. I lived at “the hall.” Ours was a life of ease and extravagance, and I wanted for nothing. And then one day, he began to cast aspersions on dear Mama. He said he had reason to believe that I, who adored him, was not his son. He said their marriage was a sham and had been forced upon him, that he was legally wed to another—albeit in a tawdry Fleet Street wedding, without bans or a license—and that he’d been deceived into thinking the wretched woman was dead.It all came to a head when his meddling lackey, Francis Marlowe, discovered the whereabouts of this woman and her bantling girl, Anne, who, he insisted was his child by that dubious union. Papa, Lord Esterleigh, petitioned for a divorce, though Mama had connections of her own in high places. She told him she would not settle without first dragging his name and reputation through the mud.While the battle dragged on and on in the halls of Parliament, Mama took me to live at rundown, draughty old Wollascott Cottage. I hated it there. And then she—the bastard—came to live in my home…as his daughter…with all the benefits and advantages that once had been mine. It seems her mother had died and she’d nowhere else to go.Was I wrong to feel rejected, unloved? While she—ingrate that she was—appreciated none of his largesse. Oh, she languished—poor Anne—mourning her mother’s death, harboring ill will for our father….Before ever setting eyes on the bitch, I detested her. I dreamed of hurting her … and worse. But I was a child then and can hardly be held accountable for childish thoughts and dreams.I must admit I was frightful at our first meeting. I was bored. Was it my fault? The encounter was unexpected, and I was not at my best. I‘d been having a bit of sport with my arrows and a mangy cur of a stray dog. Who cares about such things, anyway? But she took offense. Who could have imagined a low-born chit such as she to have been endowed with a bleeding heart?Years passed before we were to meet again. At a masked ball at Carlisle House in February of ‘73. She was far more trusting and naive than I ever expected. I was overjoyed to find her so accommodating.I could have killed her that night. I had my hands around her throat. And what a slender neck …. I could have snapped it like a twig. But I was a cat toying with a mouse, and it invigorated me. I do believe I frightened her.The time will come, though. I swear on my mother’s name. The time will come when I take my revenge on Lord Esterleigh’s daughter … and when I do, what larks we will have.
Pub Date: June 13, 2012 Books We Love Ltd. Formats: eBook, Paperback
As a child, Anne Fairfield dreams of the father she never knew, the hero who died fighting the French and their Indian allies in a land across the sea. Her mother’s stories, and fantasies of her own devising, sustain and nurture her through a poor and lonely existence. Until one winter night, a strange man comes to call, and the life she has known comes crashing down like shattered glass.
Forced to confront sordid truths, secrets and lies, the headstrong young woman begins to learn that, like generations of women ruled by their hearts, she is destined to follow in their footsteps.
Set against the backdrop of 18th century England, Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter is the first book in “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy, which follows Anne from the rural countryside, to London society and into the center of the American Revolution.
Excerpt from Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter“’Tis a pity you must cover that costume,” Arthur said, as a burst of fireworks lit up the sky, its colors flashing across his masked face. “I admire a woman who’s not ashamed to reveal her figure as it was meant to be, not all hooped and corseted. It’s unnatural, don’t you agree?”
Anne pulled the palla tight around herself and fastened it with a brooch. Squaring her shoulders, she refused to give in to the echoes of her own anxious thoughts.
“But do let us guess,” Arthur ventured, his tone brightening. “We are Aphrodite tonight, goddess of erotic love. No, not Aphrodite! What would my innocent sister know of such things? A Vestal Virgin? Oh, do give us a hint or we shan’t be able to catch a wink of sleep tonight!”
The sky exploded again with a long succession of light and sound, as the clip-clop of horses’ hooves and the whir of wheels on pavement approached.
“Non dolet,” Anne said, as Arthur handed her into the conveyance.
“Non dolet? ‘It doesn’t hurt?’ What is that supposed to signify? Just drive on until I tell you to stop,” he said to his man, “then set us down back here.” He climbed in and settled beside her on the seat of the post chaise. “Non dolet…. Who was it said that now? If I’m not mistaken, it was Arria, wife of Claudius Paetus, a senator or something or other. He was condemned to death by Claudius…or was it Nero? For treason or something…and when the centurion presented his sword to Paetus, the senator faltered in fear. Arria snatched the sword from the centurion, and before anyone could stop her, this devoted and loving wife plunged it into her breast. She then handed the bloody sword to her husband, and said with her dying breath, ‘Paete, non dolet.’”
Anne pulled down the leather window shade and watched the lights and illuminations of Carlisle House recede into the night. Arthur leaned across her and pulled it back up, making him one with the shadows.
“We mustn’t take chances,” he explained, removing his hood and mask. “Someone might arrive at the wrong conclusion.” His face shone pale in the darkness.
“Now, tell me, dear sister,” Arthur said, assuming a cheerful note. “Do you believe all that nonsense, that it doesn’t hurt to have a sword rammed into your chest?”
“I wouldn’t know.” She forced her voice past the tension in her throat.
He laughed softly. “Of course you wouldn’t.” He continued in a glib voice. “But imagine, if you will…razor-sharp steel slicing through flesh, muscle, bone.
Slashing through everything in its path as it plunges straight and true into your heart. Oh, to think of all the blood! You’ve no doubt suffered a cut on your finger. It hurts, and it bleeds…sometimes profusely, doesn’t it? Imagine the pain and blood magnified tenfold. Imagine…. Ah, but we are not here to discuss such esoteric matters now, are we? My sister grows uneasy at the mention of pain and blood!”
She turned from the window and pushed up her mask. Even in the darkness, his mocking smile gripped her with a palpable chill. He’s testing me. She swallowed hard. “What is it you want, Arthur?”
“I? I thought it was you who wanted something of me.”
“You were staring at me in there!”
“I’ve already said, that costume of yours is…beguiling. You’ve grown quite lovely.”
“You knew who I was before you approached, didn’t you?”
“I was waiting for you. You arrived late.”
“You…knew I was coming?” The revelation filled her with uneasiness.
“I was aware that Captain Michael Ellerdine had procured three tickets on the fifth of January.” Her stunned silence elicited a burst of muffled laughter. “I know where you were and who you were with on any given day since the latter part of October. I have it all written down. Does this amaze you?”
Her eyes stung.
“I see it does.”
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About the AuthorAs a child Kathy wanted to be a writer when she grew up. She also wanted to act on the stage. After receiving an MFA in Acting from the Mason Gross School of the Arts and playing the part of starving young artist in New York, she taught theater classes at a small college in the Mid-West before returning home to the East Coast, where over the years, she and her husband raised two kids and an assortment of dogs. During stints in advertising, children’s media publishing, and education reform in the former Soviet Unions, she wrote whenever she could.
Her love of early American history has its roots in family vacations up and down the East Coast visiting old forts and battlefields and places such as Williamsburg, Mystic Sea Port, and Sturbridge Village. During this time, she daydreamed in high school history classes, imagining the everyday people behind all the dates and conflicts and how they lived.
Claiming her best ideas are born of dreams, Kathy has written a number of stories over the years. Her first published novel, Winter Fire, a 1998 Golden Heart finalist in historical romance, was reissued in 2010 by Books We Love, Ltd., which also released Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the Devil, and The Partisan’s Wife.
When not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, photography, playing “ball” with the dogs, and rooting on her favorite sports teams.
For more information visit Kathy Fischer-Brown's website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.
Virtual Book Tour ScheduleMonday, May 5
Review at Caroline Wilson Writes (Lord Esterleigh's Daughter)
Tuesday, May 13
Excerpt at The Bookworm
Friday, May 16
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective (Lord Esterleigh's Daughter)
Excerpt at Passages to the Past
Monday, May 19
Review at Just One More Chapter (Lord Esterleigh's Daughter)
Tuesday, May 20
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
Tuesday, May 27
Guest Post at Book Lovers Paradise (with Louise Turner and Juliet Waldron)
Monday, June 9
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Thursday, June 12
Review at Book Nerd (Winter Fire)
Tuesday, June 17
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Obsession (Lord Esterleigh's Daughter)
Wednesday, June 18
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time (Winter Fire)
Monday, June 23
Guest Post at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, June 25
Review at Closed the Cover (Winter Fire)
Monday, June 30
Review at Book Nerd (Courting the Devil)
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