I have a confession to make. The first time I fell head over heels in love it wasn’t with a man, it was with a book. Story came along and swept me off my feet into a world of adventure, romance, and intrigue. And to this day, I love everything about story from the plotting books to the writing books to the reading books and to the sharing of books with others. Story is my passion and in one special place in my heart is reserved for the Gothic.
I grew up reading and loving the broodingly mysterious atmospheres, dark heroes, and undaunted heroines written so well by many of the Mistresses of Gothic greats. Like Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, and Phyllis Whitney. I thrived on the mix of romance and suspense, where nothing and no one in the heroine’s world was what or who they were supposed to be. Where danger lurked in the shadows and love waited just around the corner.
So when I grabbed onto my dream of writing and delved deep into my heart, I rediscovered my first love. Within the pages of The Mistress of Trevelyan, I was able to immerse myself back into the gothic world, only this time I could make things just a little bit different. I could write a story that satisfied my yearning for a deeper, more sensual romance between the hero and the heroine and I could spend time developing stronger bonds between the heroine and the people surrounding her. In the sequel, His Dark Desires, I could add an even bigger twist. Instead of the heroine entering the hero’s world and unearthing the mystery surrounding him, I brought the hero into the heroine’s world and really shook things up by making him a player in intrigue trying to destroy her and her family.
But I didn’t stop there. In my Killdaren Series, a gothic trilogy set in Cornwall, the three heroines each have an unusual paranormal gift that enables them toextraordinary lengths to bring a serial killer to justice.
Someday soon, I will return to my first love and passion and write more gothics. For me, it is an honor and a privilege to be able to put words upon the page and to tell stories. And I thank readers everywhere for sharing with me the stories they love to read. You can get all of my gothics on Amazon in ebook form and before the end of October both The Mistress of Trevelyan and His Dark Desires will be in print again! I am so excited.
Now that I have confessed, it’s your turn. What was your first love? A man or a book? LOL. There is room for both in a woman’s heart, just saying.
I will be giving away an ebook of The Mistress of Trevelyan and an ebook of His Dark Desires. Good Luck and Happy Reading!
Jennifer St. Giles, aka Jennifer Saints, aka JL Saint.
ps writer’s don’t develop split personalities, they develop pseudonyms.
I hurried downstairs, thoroughly convincing myself that my interest in my appearance rested solely upon the fact that I now held a new position in life. It had nothing to do with the look in Benedict Trevelyan’s eyes this morning. That was only the wild imaginings of a spinster. In the entryway, I turned a blind eye to the stained glass windows, lest they should tempt me to linger, and I followed the sounds of voices until I discerned the words being spoken. Then I froze, too mortified even to breathe.
“Really, Benedict, this penchant you have of catering to the unfortunate has gone too far this time,” a woman said, her voice nasal and cold. “A homely washerwoman is in charge of educating my grandsons? A woman no better than a beggar off the streets? Surely Maria must be mistaken.”
“Am I to take it that you’d find a beautiful washerwoman acceptable then, Mother?”
“Botheration. Do not start twisting my words around. What is the truth of the situation?”
“You heard correctly, though I would hardly consider Maria an intelligent source of information,” he said, and my stomach cramped and roiled. I knew my station in life, but to hear it put so bluntly was disturbing. No better than a beggar off the streets.
I almost missed the rest of what Benedict said, but his deep voice reached through my embarrassment. “The supposed washerwoman is not only cognizant that Newton made scientific studies of the characteristics of light as well as the gravity of an apple, she also seems to be gifted at capturing and holding my sons’ attention. And I daresay the woman has a great deal more practical sense than to chase Robert around the kitchen with a broom. So all in all, until I see otherwise, my sons are better off under the tutelage of an intelligent and well-versed washerwoman than under the care of a blundering nurse. Miss Lovell is nowhere near a beggar off the streets. I consider the subject closed.”
“He’s such a tyrant, don’t you agree?” a male voice whispered right next to my ear. I jumped with fright, nearly knocking the man over as my shoulder clipped his jaw.
I’d been caught eavesdropping again. Mortified, I swung around to see a pair of bloodshot blue eyes blinking at me as Stephen Trevelyan rubbed his chin and worked his jaw. He didn’t seem to be the least put off about the accident. In fact, he was grinning and looking at me, quite frankly, with interest
Shocked, I patted my chest. “My word, you gave me a fright, Mr. Trevelyan.”
“So sorry. You must be the new governess, Miss Lovell. I am Stephen Trevelyan. With Ben at the head of the family, there’s only room for one Mr. Trevelyan. So please call me Stephen. May I call you Ann?” He held out his hand, and after hesitating a moment, I shook it, trying to stifle my smile. The man was outrageously familiar, especially in light of his status and mine, yet I liked him.
“I suppose,” I replied, a bit disconcerted. He did not release my hand, and what I noticed most about his touch is that it did not carry the penetrating impact Benedict Trevelyan’s did.
“From the blistering old Ben gave me earlier, it seems that I owe you an apology. And now that I have met you, I feel sorely vexed at myself for falling into your arms and not remembering a jot of it.”
“I see you two have met,” Benedict Trevelyan said. He stared at us from the doorway.
Heat flushed my cheeks, and I pulled my hand from Stephen Trevelyan’s. “Yes, just now. Here in the corridor.” Though Benedict Trevelyan didn’t say anything, the disapproval in the grim set of his lips practically shouted at me. I took another step away from his brother. My feet moved even before my mind registered the implications of such a movement I had nothing to feel guilty about, but my actions indicated otherwise.
“Are Katherine and Constance down yet?” Stephen Trevelyan asked, his voice several degrees colder than when he’d spoken to me.
“No, but Mother is. She’s eager to see you.”
“Duty calls, Miss Ann. And please remember to call me Stephen. After all, I hear we became quite close this morning.” Winking at me, Stephen Trevelyan moved past and entered the room.
I lifted my hand to my brow, brushing away the perspiration that suddenly beaded my skin. I felt strange, possibly even ill. Stephen Trevelyan’s familiarity was a bit disconcerting, but Benedict Trevelyan’s scrutiny was completely unnerving. “Perhaps I will go and—”
“Perhaps you would like to accompany me to the garden for a few moments and tell me your impressions of my sons. I know Mother and Stephen will want to spend a few minutes alone. Constance is habitually a quarter of an hour late, and Katherine…” He shrugged. “Well, no one can predict what she will do. She is shy and may decide to delay meeting you for a time yet.”
Very little news of Benedict Trevelyan’s sister, Katherine, had ever filtered down to my ears, but I’d heard several things. One was that she had a debilitating illness; the other was that she was mad, but I had no intention of asking him about his family. I was practical enough to realize the boundaries of my station and would adhere to them, no matter how curious I was.
The fresh air of the garden appealed to me as just what my nerves needed, even though I suspected that Trevelyan’s presence would immediately nullify any calming effect the evening breeze and fading light might provide.
I should go back to my bedchamber, I thought. Not to hide as much as to settle myself back into what I considered my proper role as a governess. Truly, going from laundress to walking in the garden and eating dinner with the master of Trevelyan Hill was more than I felt ready to swallow. Though it was somewhat comforting that Benedict didn’t consider me to be a beggar off the streets, there was no way to hide the fact that I did not belong.
Yet complying with his demand that I give him my impressions of his sons was part of my job, and I could not deny his request. “The garden is fine,” I said.
He motioned for me to precede him across the entryway and out the rear door to the garden. “This way, then.”
As I passed him, the awareness of his presence behind me penetrated every nuance of my being—his size, his heat, the surety of his step. Even the power of his gaze upon me affected me. He was a large man, and never in my life had I felt more of a woman than I did in his company.
Unfortunately, the garden by day with his sons was not the same garden by evening with the man himself. The shadows beyond the angel fountain were darker, the breeze from the bay more invigorating, and the scent of the flowers sweeter.
I slowed my step, not wanting to trespass into the more intimate shadows near the edges of the garden. He adjusted his step to mine; the gentlemanly consideration only made me more aware of him beside me, and I had to force myself to focus on my purpose in being in the garden with him. “What about your sons do you wish to know?”
“As I said. Your impression of them, but first I must mention that Dobbs said—”
My back stiffened. “I apologized to him for that. I will not let it happen again.”
He caught my elbow, forcing me to stop and face him. His eyes were too black, as if they held too many secrets to ever lighten with a smile. The sharp angles of his features that I’d taken so close a note of the day before imprinted themselves again into my mind, only deeper and subtly different this time. The Roman nose and conquering chin were the same, but in the dimmer light his lips appeared softer, as did his manner.
A ruffling breeze from the bay played with his raven hair and lent him an air of rakish vulnerability that I didn’t want to see, for it made him even more attractive. His fingers upon my arm were warm, so very warm through the fabric of my dress that I knew they’d burn were he to touch my skin directly. A wonderfully pleasurable burn, I thought, remembering the feel of his hands upon my person from this morning. I shut my eyes.
“I’m curious, Miss Lovell. What exactly are you apologizing for?” He released my arm, but the heat of his touch lingered. The urge to touch him, to see if I affected him the way he affected me, washed over me.
My eyes popped open, and I clenched the skirt of my dress with my hands. What had I been apologizing for? The children. I had to clear my throat to find my voice. “Yes, well, for the children running up to the school room for their lessons. Mr. Dobbs has already called me to the carpet for their boisterous manner.”
Benedict Trevelyan’s lips twitched, but just as before, the hint of humor never reached his eyes. “As I was about to say, Dobbs informed me that both Justin and Robert were calmer today than they have been in quite some time”
Blinking, I registered that Dobbs had actually uttered something decent about my care of the children. “I am sure the calmness was due to the fact that they had new things to learn and think about today. Both Master Justin and Master Robert are bright children who very much want approval, but I sense they have unresolved hurts that cause them to lash out with their emotions. They need direction, encouragement, understanding, and the sense that they are loved. Once those needs are met, I believe some of their unruliness will subside.”
“Only some?” He lifted his brow, emphasizing he’d hoped for more.
I couldn’t tell if he spoke in jest or not “As well as being practical, Mr. Trevelyan, I am also realistic. Master Justin and Master Robert are lively boys. They are children, and a certain amount of enthusiasm and rambunctiousness are inevitable.” His gaze focused on my mouth as I spoke, and my throat became dry.
“Inevitable has never been a favored word of mine,” he said softly, almost as if he spoke only to himself. Then he lifted his gaze to mine, and I tensed as a strange feeling of expectation filled me. “I thought I had more control over circumstances and life for inevitable to ever be a part of them. But perhaps I am… mistaken.”
From the deepness of his voice and the intensity in his eyes, I thought he spoke of something other than the children, and my breath caught on the notion that the inevitable had something to do with me. I found myself subtly leaning toward him, as if a strong magnet drew me. The thought of being kissed by this man sent my mind and blood racing. He looked at my lips again. Did he want to kiss me?
Given Mr. Trevelyan’s habit of being where I least expected, I shouldn’t have been surprised to see his unmistakable form standing at the window. Oddly, he had a drinking glass held up to the moonlight and appeared to be staring at it. After a long moment, he slowly took a sip, swore harshly, then dumped the rest of the glass’s contents in a nearby potted plant
I winced that he’d found our spirits so unpalatable, even as the thought of pickled geraniums irked me. “I daresay Mama Louisa has already watered the flowers today.”
He swung around and I smiled, pleased that I’d caught him off guard.
“Did I wake you?” His voice grated harshly, as if he wrestled with things greater than the night.
“I’m looking for a paper I’ve lost.”
I moved to the nearest lamp and lit it, casting the shadows from the room, but not the intimacy of being alone at night with him. He turned from the light, moving to the mantel where he set his glass.
“A telegram, perhaps?” he asked, with his back to me.
“You found it?”
He faced me then, his expression shadowed. “After dinner, on the floor of my room.”
I swallowed the hard lump in my throat, my relief short lived. “I must have dropped it when showing you to your room.”
“And I must have missed seeing it before dinner,” he said softly as he crossed the room. The look in his eyes told me he didn’t believe a word of what we’d just said. He stopped only inches away from me, so close that I could feel the warmth of his body as well as the heat of his raking gaze. The thin cotton of my nightdress and the silk of my robe were little protection from the force of his interest. I tugged the lacy edges of my robe closer together, and he smiled slowly, lifting his gaze back to mine. A dark desire smoldered in his eyes.
“The telegram, monsieur?” I held out my hand.
He reached into his coat pocket, pulling out the telegram. Instead of putting it into my open hand, he brushed my cheek with the edge of the paper and trailed it down to the neck of my gown. My pulse pounded so loudly in my ears that I knew he had to have heard it, too. Bolts of heat shot through me, curling in my center, awakening sensations I’d never known before.
My lips parted in surprise, and his gaze dipped lower for a long moment.
“I suggest you be more careful,” he murmured. When he slid the paper a fraction below the neckline of my gown, I caught my breath and grabbed the telegram from him.
“You have a way of making me forget things that I shouldn’t,” he said softly, then turned to leave. “Good night, Mrs. Boucheron.”
He had a way of making us both forget things that we shouldn’t.
Somehow, I gathered my thoughts enough to douse the parlor light and dash to my room, firmly shutting the door. I crawled into bed, unable to face what I knew had to be lingering in my own eyes—a yearning response to the desire in his eyes. I didn’t know him, he was a stranger, but he attracted me as no one had before—and that frightened me more than the warning telegram or the murder in town.