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Rose Glace Confectioner to a Duke

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She’s set on a career in catering - he’s cooking up a rather different scheme.
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Rose Glace - Confectioner to a Duke

by Susan Leona Fisher

Genre Historical Romance

Tags Victorian England, Victorian romance, early ice cream industry, commercial refrigeration in late Victorian era, orphan made good, early refrigerated ships, marriage of convenience

Release March 24, 2015

Content Editor Nancy Canu

Cover Designer Cora Graphics

Words 91228

Pages 310

ISBN 978-1-77127-672-6

Price $5.95


Back Cover

In 1897 orphan Rose Turner revisits Exeter, the city of her birth. A chance meeting inspires her to find a way to better her life and escape the drudgery for which she’s been trained. She also learns the truth of her family’s death in a tragic fire ten years before. Back in London she enrols at a cookery school and becomes a key member of the team hired out to grand houses to cater for important guests, for she has a particular talent with ice-cream. At several of these she encounters George Kemble, self-made businessman, in line to succeed to the Duke of Fairleigh’s title, should he meet the Duke’s exacting conditions. Rose inadvertently finds herself trapped aboard a cargo ship heading for the Cape. Not only is it one of the Kemble Shipping Line fleet, but the owner himself is on board. Discovered by him, she bargains for her liberty and agrees to his terms but later, unknown to him, avoids carrying them out. After some adventures of his own George at last realises her deception and this time his demand for recompense takes an entirely unexpected form.


Excerpt

As soon as she saw him, she stood and made for the door, like an obedient child come to take her punishment.

“I have no carriage. Will you walk awhile with me?” he asked her. She simply nodded and fell into step beside him. He glanced down. Sensible flat shoes, but she’d likely been on her feet most of the day. “Where do you stay?”

“The Central Cookery Training School, near Buckingham Palace.”

“If we walk to the main road, we’ll get a cab and I’ll see you back there.”

She said nothing and just walked beside him, hands inside her cape holding it closed at her front. The night had turned chilly. George was slightly at a loss. He’d had visions of confronting this girl with what he’d witnessed, but now it came to it he couldn’t begin.

At last, it was she who spoke. “It was only salt.”

George blinked in surprise. “How was I to know that? It could have been poison. I imagined you wanted to kill him.”

“So did I. So I do, though I never would.”

“But…why?”

A heavy sigh escaped her. Then she drew in a determined breath and began to speak, her eyes firmly fixed on the pavement as they walked down the hill to the main road. She summed up the entire career of Sir Charles Phillips, architect, starting with the most recent theatre he’d designed, and going back in time. She knew an astonishing number of details about each of them, such as which were lit with electricity and had safety curtains. By the time they reached the main road, she’d got to ’88.

She fell silent while he summoned a hansom cab and they climbed in. The girl pressed back in the corner as far from him as she could, looking defeated and miserable. However, he knew there was more to her story and that it was important he hear it. “And before that, before ’88?” he prompted as the vehicle rolled forward.

“Before that, in ’87…” she began, and then burst into tears, which became tearing sobs, drawn from somewhere deep inside. He couldn’t help himself in the face of such heart-rending sorrow—he put one arm round her shoulders, and let her lean against him while this wave of what must surely be grief spent itself out.

At last the sobbing subsided and turned into the occasional hiccoughing gulp. He wondered the driver didn’t stop to see what was going on in his cab. He must surely have heard her at her peak.

At that moment he did pull up and leant round. “Buckingham Palace Road, sir.”

“What’s the time?” the girl suddenly asked, her voice still thick with tears.

George pulled out his watch. “Just after midnight.”

She heaved a watery sigh. “I’ll be locked out, now.”

Damn. Self-righteous idiot that he was, he now had a sorrowing young woman on his hands with nowhere to go for the night. “Is there anywhere else I can take you?”

“Not without causing a disturbance, sir. They’ll all be asleep.”

George leant out and gave the driver his own address. It would only take a matter of ten or fifteen minutes to get there, and he knew she’d not given him the full story.

“Are you going to tell me what happened in ’87?” To his surprise, she did. All emotion seemed to be spent, and she was calm and almost detached now as she related the details of a brand new theatre designed by Phillips, and the failure of public authorities to thoroughly check the safety of the building before they licensed it. She’d still not told him all of it, he knew, and he thought maybe she needed to.

“Who did you lose in the fire?” he asked gently.

Once she told him she started weeping again, though quieter now. “I didn’t even say goodbye properly that evening. I remember I was in a sulk.”

“You felt left out. I’m not surprised you were in a sulk. And you weren’t to know what would happen. For God’s sake, you were only a child.”

The cab drew to a halt, and George got out and handed her down.

“Wait a moment, please,” he told the driver. The commissionaire had long gone home, so he got out his keys and unlocked the outer door. Removing the key to the flat, he handed it to the girl. “Go to the very top of the stairs. This will open the door. Goodnight.” She didn’t argue. The poor girl looked exhausted.

For propriety’s sake, he had the cab driver take him a short distance away and paid him off near the river at Southwark Bridge. He needed a walk and some thinking time. Not that a man was ever alone walking London streets at this time of night. He stood by the river, the lifeblood of the capital, indeed, in many ways his own lifeblood, and watched the activity downriver. Night catches were already being unloaded at Billingsgate. The street cleaners were about, collecting their daily quota of rubbish to burn at Lett’s Wharf, upriver near Waterloo. He was trying to comprehend the unexpected feelings his encounter with the young kitchen maid had stimulated.

His initial anger had melted away and given rise to something else. It wasn’t exactly sympathy or a sense of her vulnerability, though given her hard life, deprived so young both of family and the community where she’d spent her childhood, that would be quite understandable. True, they had both been orphaned relatively young, but no, it was something else, some sense of identity with her as a kindred spirit. She was a fighter, a survivor, just like him. Despite her humble origins and her apparently submissive demeanour, she had a quiet inner strength. He wondered if he’d ever see her again after tonight. It might be quite interesting to find out what she made of her life in the end.

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