Nancy Carson’s seriously powerful novel takes a Victorian girl from an ironworker's cottage in Dudley to sunny Italy in a story of self-discovery, sensuality, betrayal and the ultimate in vindictiveness.
SYNOPSISAll Daisy Drake has ever really wanted is a handsome husband who will cherish her - and when charming Lawson Maddox offers to rescue her from disaster and her family from destitution, she jumps at the chance to become his wife. But marriage to Lawson comes as a rude awakening. The honeymoon over, he begins to ignore her and instead seeks the company of gamblers, cock-fighters and other women. Daisy is hurt and humiliated, so when the sensitive, idealistic painter John Mallory Gibson offers Daisy the prospect of real happiness she cannot resist.They both believe they have left Lawson Maddox behind them. But Lawson will not let go that easily. Only too well he knows her Achilles Heel and embarks on a vindictive and unscrupulous quest for revenge . . .Set in the sharply-contrasting worlds of drawing-room and tavern, slum and the visual splendour of Italy, this intriguing and meticulously researched novel vividly recreates all aspects of the Victorian world in a truly unforgettable story, with a remarkable heroine and an astonishingly malicious antagonist.
EXTRACT . . . When they left and were in the cabriolet, Daisy asked him the question that was consuming her. ‘Are you married, Lawson?’ He guffawed and almost spooked the horse. ‘Good God, no. Whatever gave you that idea?’ She shrugged in the darkness, but felt anxiety slough off her like a constricting skin, since he was manifestly not lying. ‘Because you’ve never taken me to your home. I wondered if you were hiding a wife there. I just wonder if you are serious about me, if you really care for me.’ ‘Oh, I’m in dead earnest, my love,’ he answered directly, looking into her wide eyes. ‘But my home is like the Sack of Carthage and you would not be impressed . . . Besides, there are two more reasons why I ain’t taken you there. Firstly, whilst I can hardly wait to lure you into my bed, I want you to look upon me as a gentleman. Secondly, despite my ardent desire to bed you, I respect you and regard you as a lady, even though sometimes you don’t quite see yourself as one.’ ‘Oh, Lawson . . . I appreciate I’m not a lady born and bred, but I do try . . . I do try to be like a lady,’ she protested. ‘I try—’ ‘Would you like me to show you my home?’ ‘I’d love you to.’ ‘Right. I shall make a very determined effort to have the house cleaned up and made very presentable. Then I shall invite you to dinner there and you will dine like a lady. We shall have a very romantic evening of it and I might even ply you with strong drink . . .’ ‘Strong drink?’ She chuckled at the innuendo. ‘D’you think I’ll need strong drink?’