When Love Leads to Scandal
The Townsbridges Series
by Sophie Barnes
Publication Date: February 19, 2019
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance
Recently engaged to the Earl of Langdon, Lady Bethany is content with the knowledge that she’s made a wonderful match for herself. Until a chance encounter with a handsome stranger makes her wish she was still unattached – a sentiment that grows even stronger when circumstance causes her to spend more time in this gentleman’s company.
And the duty that threatens to come between them…
Charles Townsbridge is not prepared to learn that the mystery woman he met in the park, the very same woman he cannot get out of his head, is in fact his best friend’s fiancée. Determined to do the right thing, he tasks himself with quashing the attraction, only to discover that the heart cannot be so easily controlled.
About Sophie Barnes:
She has studied design in Paris and New York and has a bachelor’s degree from Parson’s School of design, but most impressive of all – she’s been married to the same man three times, in three different countries and in three different dresses.
While living in Africa, Sophie turned to her lifelong passion – writing.
When she’s not busy, dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family. She currently lives on the East Coast.
Read an Excerpt:
When Charles entered the ballroom that evening, he greeted the nearest guests politely then sought out his family. Since his sisters, Athena and Sarah, were still too young to attend such events, they had remained upstairs in their bedchambers for the evening. Instead he found his parents and younger brothers, James and William, scattered about. As hosts, his parents were busy conversing with guests, so he decided to approach James instead.
“Do you know if Robert has arrived yet?” he asked after saying, “Good evening,” to Baron Garret with whom James was speaking.
“I haven’t seen him,” James said, “but he usually tends to arrive late at social events, does he not?”
Charles nodded. His friend was never in a hurry to spend time at balls, for he loathed having to dance, but Charles had hoped he’d make an exception this evening. After all, it was three months since they’d last seen each other. Robert had been away in New York and had only just returned yesterday morning. Charles was eager to hear about his travels.
Excusing himself to James and Garret, Charles went to collect a glass of champagne from the refreshment table. The room was already unbearably hot and clamorous from the mixture of conversation and music that seemed to jab at his ears. Charles glanced at the terrace doors. He’d only just arrived and already longed to escape.
Perhaps just for a moment?
His mother would kill him if she found him hiding away on the terrace when he was supposed to be writing his name on dance cards. He considered the row of wallflowers waiting with hopeful eyes directed at each passing gentleman and decided he’d dance with them all this evening. But not until he’d had a chance to cool down a little.
Following the periphery of the room, he reached the French doors leading onto the terrace and stepped out into the fresh night air. A sigh of relief escaped him as a welcome breeze glided over his hair. He took an invigorating sip of his drink and moved further away from the ballroom to where the air wasn’t hampered by the wide façade of his parents’ home.
A lone woman, silhouetted against the dark garden beyond, was standing near the railing. Charles slowed his progress and prepared to retreat to the opposite corner of the terrace so as not to intrude or risk ruining her reputation by being alone with her.
But then she turned as if sensing him there, and Charles’s heart stumbled. It was she, the young lady from the lake, with the eyes he’d never forget and the smile that did curious things to his insides.
She stared at him as if he’d arrived from a dream she’d been having, as if she would happily risk losing other belongings if it would provide an excuse for them to see each other again. Which Charles acknowledged was the oddest contemplation he’d ever had when he didn’t know one thing about her. Besides the fact that she was curious, forward, and prepared to abandon decorum, at least to sprint after her bonnet.
“I should arrange for a proper introduction,” he said, because that was the only thing that seemed to matter right now – discovering who she was and being allowed to ask her to dance.
She parted her lips as if to respond, but then she appeared to register something and the momentary hint of delight he’d glimpsed was instantly brought to an end. Puzzled, Charles failed to notice the approaching footsteps, but then he felt a hand slap his back and he turned to meet Robert’s sparkling eyes.
A rough bit of laughter escaped him. “God, it’s good to see you again after all this time. I missed our weekly game of billiards.”
Robert grinned. “I’ve much to tell you, my friend, most importantly perhaps, the fact that I’ve gotten engaged.”
Charles stared at the man whom he knew so well and then laughed. “Truly? You must introduce me at once to the marvelous woman who’s managed to tempt you with marriage.”
Robert beamed. “It would seem you’ve already met her.” He gestured to the side and Charles followed the movement with the sense that the flame burning bright in his chest was about to be snuffed out forever. The lady from the lake filled his vision, and as he stared into her gorgeous blue eyes, Robert said, “Allow me to present my fiancée, Lady Bethany Andrews.”
Charles Townsbridge is taking his usual morning walk, when he’s called upon to rescue a runaway hat for a lovely young lady. Though he’d love to find out more about her, he takes his leave because they haven’t been properly introduced. Unfortunately, fate isn’t smiling at Charles, because when he is finally officially introduced, it’s only to find that she is the brand new fiancée of his best friend, Robert.
Bethany Andrews met Robert, the Earl of Langdon, on the ship they were on while returning to England from America. They were constantly thrown into each other’s company, and Robert proposed at the end of their journey. Bethany is very young, just about to make her social debut, and is flattered to receive the advantageous proposal, which she accepts.
Bethany begins to believe she may have been too hasty in her acceptance. Once back in England, Robert has no time to spend with her, constantly off pursuing business ventures. His friend, Charles, sparked an immediate response in her, something she’s never felt with Robert. To make matters worse, Robert imposes on Charles time and time again to escort Bethany when he is not available. Charles tries to avoid Bethany, and his developing feelings for her, but is sometimes put in an impossible situation where he can’t refuse. He’s not immune to her charms, and with every meeting, he finds himself falling in love with the woman who is soon to be his best friend’s wife.
Neither Bethany nor Charles will take steps to break the engagement, since they both feel honor bound to let the marriage go forward. The day of the wedding arrives, and it seems as if all hope is gone.
I was torn between admiring Bethany and Charles for their honor and commitment, and wanting to shake them and beg them to just tell Robert the truth. Robert is kind of a mysterious figure in this story, as his treatment of his fiancée is less than stellar. Yet, he alludes many times to a heartbreak in his past that drives him to opt for a marriage of convenience with a suitable woman, rather than to wait for love. Though I didn’t like his treatment of Bethany, I couldn’t help but be intrigued, hoping that his story may be forthcoming. Charles is certainly a more likeable character, and one who is very deserving of a happy ending.
WHEN LOVE LEADS TO SCANDAL is a short, warm, and sweet story, which allows an exceptionally honorable pair of young lovers to find a future together in a very unexpected manner. ~Rose