VALOR OF LOVE by Tracy Cooper-Posey

Scandalous Scions Book 2.0

Victorian Era Historical Romance Novel

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He is less than a commoner and should be beneath her notice.

Lady Lillian Innesford, oldest daughter of the Williams family, withdrew from society seven years ago.  A governess now, she carries a secret that has drained all life from her.

Jasper Thomsett, new butler to the Williams family, is the first and only person to realize the nature of Lilly’s troubles.  Retired with the highest honours after the Crimea War, he seeks a quiet life, but Lilly’s secret will rip their world apart.

Valor of Love is the second book in the spin-off series following the historical romances of Scandalous Sirens.  Scandalous Scions brings together the members of three great families, to love and play under the gaze of the Victorian era’s moralistic, straight-laced society.

This story is part of the Scandalous Scions series:
0.5 Rose of Ebony
1.0 Soul of Sin
2.0 Valor of Love
3.0 Marriage of Lies

3.5 Scandalous Scions Boxed Set One
4.0 Mask of Nobility
5.0 Law of Attraction
6.0 Veil of Honor

6.5 Scandalous Scions Boxed Set Two
7.0 Season of Denial
8.0 Rules of Engagement
9.0 Degree of Solitude

9.5 Scandalous Scions Boxed Set Three
10.0 Ashes of Pride
11.0 Risk of Ruin

12.0 Year of Folly
13.0 Queen of Hearts

13.5 Scandalous Scions Boxed Set Four
A Sexy Historical Romance Series

This series is also available as a Special Bundle

{Also see: Romance, Historical Romance, Novels}

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Thomsett was closer than Raymond.  He shoved the fallen chair out of the way with his foot and got his arms under Lillian as she crumpled.

What on earth could she have seen in the front pages of the newspaper that would call for such a reaction?

He lifted her easily for she seemed to weigh next to nothing.

Both Natasha and Raymond gathered around them, while the rest of the family stood about the table, in various states of shock and dismay.  Lisa Grace was chewing her lip, her eyes wide and a little frightened.  As Thomsett glanced at her, her eyes filled with tears.

“None of the rooms are made up,” Natasha said quickly.  “But we must put her down somewhere.”

“The sofa in the library,” Raymond said.  “What brought this on?” he asked Natasha.

“I don’t know,” Natasha breathed, loosening Lilly’s collar.

“If I may, I should point out that Lady Annalies is upset and may need your comfort, my lady,” Thomsett told her, for Annalies was now openly sobbing.  “I will take Lady Lillian to the library.”

“I will see what was in the damn paper that Lilly saw,” Raymond said, his tone grim.

“I’ll be there in a moment,” Natasha told Thomsett.

He nodded and carried Lilly through to the library. She was already making soft noises—little sighs.  She was coming around again.

He kicked the library door shut with his heel and moved over to the leather-tucked sofa and laid her on it.  He grabbed one of the soft cushions from the armchair next to the desk, where Natasha liked to repose, and slid the cushion beneath Lilly’s head.

Her hair was unexpectedly soft to the touch. She clearly did not tease or curl it into place as some women did.  The curl, then was natural.

Her eyes fluttered open for a moment.  Then she groaned and closed them again, her hand over them.

“There is no one here,” Thomsett said quickly.  “You are quite private, my lady.”

“You are here, are you not?  You saw my…you saw me.”   Her throat worked.

“You are not the first lady to faint where I have seen them,” he said gently.

“Is that what I did?” she whispered.   She held still for a long moment, then let out a very deep breath.  “Oh, God…!” she breathed.

He wondered, as had Raymond, what could cause a young woman to react in such a way to a simple newspaper headline.  Unlike Raymond, he might never learn the answer.  He was not in the privileged position where family confidences were shared.   He wondered if the drama was perhaps a feminine invention, to inflate a social slight she had suffered…except that Lady Lillian did not socialize.  Nor was she inclined to any behavior that was not within the realms of good sense.

“I will fetch your mother,” Thomsett told her.

“No, not yet,” she said quickly.  “Not for a moment, please.  I just need to…”  Her chest hitched.  “If I could only draw a breath…”  Her voice had no strength at all.

Thomsett hesitated.  Loosening corsets and unbuttoning tight garments were well outside the bounds of his duties. Yet he could see hysteria taking hold of her and squeezing her chest.

He had seen such hysteria grip men on the battlefield, usually in the moments just before a charge.  Young men facing their first battle and the prospect of their own death could fall apart in ways that were usually ascribed to women.

Thomsett crouched down next to her and spoke quietly.  “You need to breathe very softly and shallowly.  A sip, then pause, then another.  You must use your will to override the need to gulp-in air.  Control your lungs.  A breath, then another and you will be able to breathe deeply soon after that.”

She heard him.  He could see her struggle to follow his instructions.  It was difficult to overcome the body’s need for air and sometimes even the strongest men could not do it.  In those cases, Thomsett or another officer usually dealt with the men in short order.  However, he doubted that Natasha or Raymond would appreciate him knocking Lady Lillian unconscious.

Slowly, her breathing calmed and deepened and finally she sighed.  “It worked.”  She said it as if she was speaking to herself.  Then she pushed herself up with one hand on the edge of the cushion and sat up.  Her face was very white.

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