Hugh Marshall has a very specific agenda -- it involves sticking with the Duke of Clermont long enough in order to collect on a wager they made. The prize would be big enough for Hugh to build on the dream he's had since he ran away from home when he was 14 years old.
He's on track to winning the bet -- until the Duke brings to Hugh's attention a very delicate problem.
Hugh feels no love or loyalty to the Duke -- he is merely a means to his ends, but, anything that affects the Duke's finances, affects Hugh's --
Serena Barton had her life and future destroyed by the Duke and she is determined to make him pay. She's a woman with no means or resources -- so she does the only thing she could --
Every day, she sits on the bench outside the Duke's house -- hoping he would give in to her demands or, if not, hoping that the gossips will do what they do best --
But it is not the Duke who is disturbed by Serena's presence in Mayfair -- Hugh stares out the window and wonders what terrible deed the Duke has done to Serena to incite such a display of defiance. Deep inside, Hugh knows the Duke and he knows he does not need to stretch his imagination too much to find the answer.
Serena has nothing to lose; Hugh has everything to lose -- it is a contest of wills that neither one can afford to forfeit.
Courtney Milan introduces her new series, The Brothers Sinister with this e-novella (a Book "0.5") -- what is so amazing about this piece is how rich and complete the story is -- it is short but, in 50-or-so pages, Milan provides us with a panorama of emotions and narrative.
Hugh and Serena are not wealthy or important people -- they are people at the lower rungs of society, struggling to make a life that defies social expectations.
Hugh is a coal miner's son and ex-boxer -- but he is in control of the decisions of one of the most important men in London. And he is determined to make something of himself: the richest coal miner's son in all of England - loc 674, 1659, 1672
Serena ought to be devastated and damaged from her ruination -- but she is done being a victim and is fighting for her future. The odds (and the weather) are against her, but she refuses to be cowed by anyone -- including Hugh.
I am done with things happening to me. From here on out, I am going to happen to things.
- loc 424
Milan shows us that there is dignity in their struggle and a nobleness to their aspirations. Milan tells their story beautifully with a bittersweet innocence --
I love the letters exchanged between Serena and Hugh -- in a different life, in a different situation, their letters can be viewed as flirtatious and the attraction they feel as playful -- but, in their particular situation, there is a silent edge to their exchange: a need to "one-up" the other.
I address one final thing. You are not mine, and I'll thank you not to address me in so familiar a fashion.
- loc 849
- loc 860
This is the tragedy of Serena and Hugh. Even something as simple as flirtation can not be simple -- everything, everything comes at a cost.
This is business, not romance.
- (Hugh) loc 1221
The Governess Affair is an extraordinary love story -- one that has left me breathless, enchanted and wanting more. I look forward to reading about Robert, Oliver and Sebastian. ^_^
The first book in the series, The Duchess War (Robert's story) is scheduled for release Summer 2012.
For more on the author (and her amazing work), visit her website.