Summerset Abbey: A Bloom in Winter
by T. J. Brown
After Prudence’s desperate marriage and move to London, sisters Rowena and Victoria fear they have lost their beloved friend forever. Guilt-ridden and remorseful, Rowena seeks comfort from a daring flyboy and embraces the most dangerous activity the world has ever seen, and Victoria defies her family and her illness to make her own dream occupation as a botanist come true. As England and the world step closer to conflict, the two young women flout their family, their upbringing, and their heritage to seize a modern future of their own making.
With her delicate constitution but strong, unflappable spirit, Victoria has never followed societal conventions, the rules of fashion, or the pursuit of a husband. Instead, she finds herself drawn to the controversial—and dangerous—fight for women’s suffrage. But her dream is compromised, and her heart divided, when her struggles for equal rights collide with unexpected love.
After yearning to no avail for a certain young pilot to fly back into her life, Rowena fears her chances for happiness have been jeopardized by recklessness and scandal. Burdened with guilt for bringing her sister Prudence to Summerset Abbey as a lady’s maid while she herself led a life of privilege, Rowena hopes to one day make amends. But her desire to set things right is complicated by her passion for flight and a sudden engagement…to the wrong man.
Raised like a sister to Victoria and Rowena, then banished to the servants’ quarters when their father passed away, Prudence has seen both sides of life, upstairs and down. But once the truth about her parentage was revealed, Prudence forged a new life for herself, married to a penniless veterinary student. Living in poverty in a shabby London flat, she wonders if she’s made a terrible mistake—and there’s no turning back...
Victoria sat impatiently, her fingers skittering across the shining top of her lovely round desk, once used by an ancestor who would no doubt be completely scandalized by the plan she had just proposed to Kit.
“Let me get this straight,” he frowned at her, his dark red brows furrowing like caterpillars. “You want me to help you to sneak into London for a week?”
She glared at the mocking tone of his voice. “You know, you’re usually quite handsome, but right now, you look more like an ogre from a Grimms’ fairy tale than a human, so you can stop glowering at me.”
His head came up and he looked at her, his eyebrows unfurrowing and shooting up on his forehead in such a comical way, she couldn’t help but giggle.
“You think I’m handsome?”
Victoria shrugged. “Yes. Sort of like a fox, with your ginger hair and sharp eyes. But don’t let it go to your head; Sebastian and Colin are far better looking than you. Now back to my plan.”
He rolled his eyes at that and got back to the matter at hand. “The only way it would work would be to bring Elaine into it. There is no way your aunt would approve of your traveling to London on your own, and she certainly would never let you drive off alone with me.”
Victoria shook her head, frustrated by the fuss. “These people do know I’m of age, right? Why may Cousin Colin come and go as he pleases, yet Elaine and I are required to inform everyone where we are at every moment of every day? How is that fair?”
“Do you know you’re rather lovable when you act like a suffragette?” he teased.
She threw a fountain pen at him and missed. It exploded on the mantel. “Oh blast! Now see what you made me do.”
He laughed. “Made you do? No, leave it,” he said when she stood to clean it. “No one comes back here and we’ll call it art, much as that crazy art nouveau crowd calls their stuff art.”
“Oh!” She stamped her foot. He knew she loved art nouveau.
“Now don’t get your petticoats in a bundle, kitten, and let’s figure out how to get you to London so you can meet with…whom?”
“Harold L. Herbert, the managing editor for the Botanist’s Quarterly,” she said, sitting back down.
“Ah yes, so you can meet with Hairy Herbert. And what do you hope to gain from this meeting?”
For a moment, Victoria drew a blank. “Well, he said he wanted to meet with me. He finds my writing thought-provoking. He not only paid me for an article, but is also interested in more of my work. So, more assignments, I suppose.” She tilted her nose up in the air, waiting for him to make fun of her.
To her surprise he didn’t. “So you’ve never met Hairy Herbert. Have you spoken to him on the telephone?” He took the seat across from the desk and crossed his long legs. His eyes regarded her gravely.
Victoria shifted uneasily. “No.”
“So he doesn’t know that the author of the scientific article he paid ten pounds for is, in fact, an eighteen-year-old girl?”
Victoria opened her mouth, but no sound came out.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
TJ Brown is passionate about books, writing, history, dachshunds and mojitos. If she could go back in time, she would have traveled back to England, 1910, Paris, 1927 or Haight-Ashbury, 1967. She resides in the burbs of Portlandia, where she appreciates the weirdness, the microbreweries, hoodies, Voodoo Donuts and the rain.
Until next time, take care!