Monday from Amberleigh: A Peek into my between the wars aristocratic love story

Meet the characters

The men:

Clive, Earl of Thurso. A renaissance man who lives for opera, his enormous Scottish estate Amberleigh, his orchids and a contemplative life. His world is forever altered for the good one cold January day in 1919. Talk, dark, handsome with mesmerizing blue eyes of a changeable hue, Clive attracts the notice of women everywhere, but after a train ride, has eyes only for one woman.

William, Viscount Walsham. A true aristocrat who lives to  hunt and shoot. Several years a widower, William is loathe to part with his younger daughter, Julia, his able hostess. But the influenza epidemic is about to rock his world in a way he never anticipated.

An excerpt from Book One:

“On the station platform, a rather grave looking man is waiting in an Astrakan-collared overcoat and top hat, with a malachite walking stick in hand as though Victoria was still on the throne. ‘Get a hold of yourself—a few hours on a train with a child is hardly a death sentence,’ he tells himself. He is tall, slender and distinguished-looking with his full, dark hair neatly combed back showing not even a touch of silver at the temples. His mustache is neatly clipped. But it is his eyes that immediately draw Julia to him. Amazing eyes of deep azure unlike any she has seen. “He certainly doesn’t look as old as Papa,” Julia tells herself with relief. “In fact, he’s quite handsome.” Then she realizes who he is—it’s the coat. She remembers the coat from long, long ago, and giggles, saying to herself ‘A train trip with God! That should be amusing.’

Clive, trying to keep his jaw from dropping in amazement, has just realized the gorgeous young woman with the coppery hair is the “child” he’ll be escorting: “There you are then, William.” He begins hesitantly, struggling to slow his pulse back to normal. “And, this delightful creature must be your daughter.” He removes his hat and extends a gloved hand to her.

“Julia,” He turns to his daughter. “My dear, surely you remember Lord Thurso?”

Julia smiles, trying not to meet Lord Thurso’s eyes. “It’s nice to meet you again, Lord Thurso, and so kind of you to escort me.”

She looks at him and is immediately struck by the deep blue eyes—kindly, yet sparkling in a way she’s never experienced. Unfortunately though her only memories of him are as ‘God’ when she was small and bringing Marjorie a gift that time. Her father, obviously, does not realize how little his friend has been around in recent years.

“Not at all, my dear. Shall we board?” He takes in her lithe figure, the very feminine way she moves and the amazing head of coppery hair, peeking from beneath a terribly stylish hat. Her green eyes dazzle him. Their eyes accidentally meet, but he forces himself to turn quickly away.

“Good-bye, Papa,” Julia says as she dutifully kisses his cheek.

Clive suddenly finds himself very envious of his old friend.

Clive accepts her ticket from William before taking Julia’s elbow and steering her gently toward the train. They find their compartment and arrange themselves as the train departs. Clive stows his top hat and stick in the rack and assists Julia with her things.

Julia settles in and politely takes out a book to indicate she won’t be ‘chattering’ the entire trip.

Clive smiles and begins to make pleasant conversation. “Good girl! Like to see a woman who is content with a quiet journey. I must say I’m a bit surprised—to hear your father talk you were still in the nursery.”

Julia giving him a sweet “you know how it is” look: “Fathers,” she says with an unconsciously flirtatious look and tone.

Clive chuckles and pulls out a newspaper. ‘My God she’s beautiful!’ He flicks the paper open and tries to distract himself from the vivid green eyes and amazing copper hair. ‘Get ahold of yourself old man—you ARE an old man. She’s-18? 19? Not even been presented.” Clive manfully tries to read the day’s news.

Across from him, Julia does her best to focus on the rather vapid novel she has brought along out of duty. ‘He can’t be Papa’s age! He’s….stunning? Gorgeous? Handsome anyway! Those eyes!!” She sighs unconsciously in a romantic way. Clive notices and checks from behind his paper, but puts her sigh down to the novel she is reading.

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