Does love really heal all wounds?
After being widowed by a steeplechase accident in Ireland, Lady Kate Whelan abandons the turf. But once her mourning is complete, her late husband’s debts drive her to seek help in Newmarket amidst the whirl of a race meet. There she encounters antiquities expert Evan Rhys, her late husband’s roguish friend—whom she hasn’t seen since the day of his lordship’s mysterious death.
Now that fate has reunited them, Evan seizes the chance to win over the woman he’s always loved. But once back within the old stone walls of Whelan House, long-held secrets come to light that shake up everything Kate thought she knew about her marriage. Now she wonders who she can trust with her heart—and Evan must decide between love and a truth that will separate him from all his heart desires.
Two of Theresa’s favorite summer activities:
If I were creating the sort of profile I admire, I’d tell you that my favorite summer activities include splashing in the ocean, or camping in the backyard after having a barbecue. But the truth is that I’m hundreds of miles from the nearest beach, and my favorite thing to do there was always to make a giant dolphin out of sand. And I can’t bear to be outside in 100+ heat, especially when the mosquitos are biting.
However, there are so many lovely little things about summer that I do enjoy. Specifically…
- Road trips! I am notorious for not liking to travel, but it’s really just air travel and I that don’t get along. Several times a year, I take a giant road trip—usually to visit relatives in Louisiana or Wisconsin. Last summer, though, my husband and daughter and I road-tripped from the Midwest all the way to California. It was Little Miss R’s first time to see the American Southwest! If only we’d known *before* the trip that she needed glasses…
- The state fair, which comes at the very end of summer. It’s just so earnest: have a ride on a camel, come look at some really big pumpkins, try foods that you would never have thought could be fried (I’m looking at you, fried Nutella). It makes me feel like a kid again, in the best way, to see what the people in my state have been up to and are proud of. (Note to self: do NOT go on the skyride over the fairgrounds again. You do not like heights. That does not change just because you have a little cotton candy in your system.)
In SCANDALOUS EVER AFTER, there are no frozen treats or backyard campfires—but there *is* a sea, and Lady Kate Whelan and Evan Rhys find themselves on a road trip of a lifetime. Between ferries and floods, treats and horses and races, sickness and health and more than one scandalous interlude, these two old friends will find a love they never expected—and unearth secrets they never dreamed of. I hope you’ll enjoy this romantic summer read!
“Thank you for showing me what you found,” she said. “Before I attended your lecture, I never knew the hunt through the past was more to you than a hobby.”
It was warming, to be understood in this way. Yet he demurred. “Until I take up my post in Greece, I won’t receive pay. Maybe it is only a hobby.”
“No. At the very least, it’s a passion. A calling, even. You could always make the past come to life for me. Even with whisky in hand, I loved to listen to you speak of what you’d found.”
He could hear her talk of this all evening. All night. Forever. To be listened to and known, in any small way, was a gift. “What did you like most about it?”
She leaned back against the wall of the stall, stretching forth her legs. She still wore her dinner gown and fragile slippers, not suited for the stable.
He knew the shape of the feet within those slippers, the legs beneath that gown, and he almost groaned for wanting to touch her again.
Heedless of how she set him to burning, she considered. “I ought to say, maybe, that they were people much like us. Which is true, and the artifacts you find like combs and chamber pots make it plain.”
Mustering his thoughts into sensible order, he agreed. “The Elgin marbles might make such ordinary objects look dull, but they’re equally important to history. Maybe more so, because they show who was here, on the land we now walk.”
“But they weren’t really like us at all, were they?” Kate leaned closer now, her gaze earnest. “They were explorers and soldiers from Rome, and if they were here they were far from their homeland. They were always at war, always pushing. So maybe what you find—it shows what we could become if we are not careful.”
This was an unusual insight. Unsettling, too. “Are you afraid for us?”
“For England? She does not care what I believe or fear.”
“For us.” He stepped back from that admission. “For yourself.”
“I am, a little. It’s easier to stay home than step out into the world. But I do wonder…what could I become, if I were willing to conquer?”
He reached for her, brushing her fingertips with his. “I fear you would be invincible.”
“Oh.” Her fingers clutched at his. “Evan. You are not perfect, but you are just right.” She didn’t meet his eye as she said that—except for a quick sidelong glance. Almost shy.
“Wise words,” he said. “I think I’ve heard those before.”
She squeezed his hand, hard, then withdrew hers into her lap. Laced her fingers together. “I’m sorry for the way I’ve treated you,” she blurted.
Ah. They were to talk of it at last.
Manners would instruct him to deflect the apology with pretended misunderstanding. Evan declined to use good manners.
“What, chatting with me as a friend and brushing me with your skirts like a lover? Pulling me toward you, then pushing me back again, so I never know what to expect?” Somehow he managed to keep his tone even, his feet planted steadily on the stable floor. “Come, now. What is there to apologize for in all of that?”
Her brows lifted. “Anything else?”
“That’s all. For now.”
The line of her mouth softened, curved. “I am sorry, truly. I’ve felt awkward. I wasn’t sure what to do after…we…ah. Then I missed you, and I was afraid.”
I was afraid too. I missed you. I have always been sure of you. He waited, words bated at the tip of his tongue.
Kate twisted her gloves in her grasp. “I’ve never trusted anyone in the way I trusted—that I trust—you. I think I trust you more than I trust myself. You would not hurt me, and I…I cannot say the same for the choices I’ve made.”
It was being wounded and healing at once. Her trust was a balm, but it was searing too. She had placed him in the role of infallible friend, as surely as she had made of herself wife, daughter, mother. And if she felt trapped— how was he to feel? The role of friend was the only one she had told him that gave her room to laugh.
He did not feel like laughing now. He could not fathom how he had laughed this evening at all.
“You have apologized,” he said. “Does that mean you won’t do it again? The inconsistent sort of toying with my heart?”
There. Heart. He had said it.
She did not miss the word, clearly more intimate than what she had expected, and her mouth fell open. Startled. Considering.
Then she rallied and moved on as though he’d used a word far smaller. One that fit into the role of friend, exactly as we were. “I will not do it again. I am grateful for the sort of easy friendship we have discovered, where I make a fool of myself, you show me improper artifacts, and we get to pet a horse.”
“So easy.” He could not keep the scoff from his tone. “So…friendship…y.”
He ought to say more, but what was the point of words? Being in Wales was a tricky balance. It was a rich vein for exploration, and it was a hammer to pound him into the proper shape.
“Now you’re making up words,” she said. “Does that mean you forgive me?”
Ah, Kate, lantern-lit and sweet. As sincere in her apology as she had been in her passion and her hesitation. This sincerity was a clutch at his heart, though it felt like a shackle too.
“Yes,” he said. “It means that I forgive you. But it does not mean that I agree.”
Historical romance author THERESA ROMAIN pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in Wichita, Kansas.