This month I have a new release that I’d love to tell you about.
DILEMMA IN YELLOW SILK is an Emperors of London book. Set in the 1750’s, it concerns the continuing Jacobite struggle, when it went underground in the 1750’s, and a new threat
emerged to challenge the status quo.
I’ve loved writing this series, with its mixture of history and romance, and this book was no exception. Viola and Marcus were a lovely couple to get to know!
Dilemma in Yellow Silk
The Emperors of London, Book 5
Ever ready to do the right thing, The Emperors of London act bravely—and when it comes to matters of the heart, impetuously…
Despite her cover as the daughter of the land steward for Lord Malton, Marcus Aurelius, spirited Viola Gates is tied by birth to the treacherous Jacobite legacy. Not that this keeps her
from falling for the dashing Lord from afar. Despite his staid demeanor, Marcus is devastatingly handsome—and hopelessly beyond her reach. Then Viola’s father is mortally wounded and her secret identity revealed,
sending her straight into danger’s path—and Marcus’s arms…
For years, he’d only known her as a wild child, the tempting—and forbidden—daughter of his trusted steward. But when
Viola’s life is threatened, Marcus must act as duty—and his barely contained passion—dictates. Ferrying the bold beauty on an eventful journey to safer quarters, he offers her the protection of his name.
Their tempestuous union might succeed in vanquishing their enemies, but will the chivalrous lord and his unsuitable wife surrender to the power of love?
“Lynne Connolly writes Georgian romances with a deft touch. Her characters amuse, entertain and reach into your heart.” —Desiree Holt
“Plots, deviousness and passion galore…a truly enjoyable read.” –Fresh Fiction on Temptation Has Green Eyes
Concentrating on her music, Viola nearly jumped out of her skin when a large body plumped down on the stool next to her. She shrieked, spun around, and closed her eyes. “You!”
“Why, weren’t you expecting me?”
His expression of innocence did not fool her for a minute.
“Not here, not like this. Did you run from the last staging post?” she demanded. She should not talk to the Earl of Malton like this. Right now he was less the earl and
more Marcus, the boy she’d known so long ago. “Oh, my lord, sir, I’m sorry!”
She should recall her place, but she was finding the task difficult when he was wearing the same mischievous grin he’d used at nine years old.
“I couldn’t resist. Do you know what you were playing?”
The heat rushed to her face. “Yes.” No sense dissimulating. Of course she knew.
“And if you don’t stop ‘my lord’ and ‘sir’ing me, I’ll have you sent home forthwith. When we’re alone, it’s still Marcus.”
What had happened to him? Marcus had slowly moved away from her, gone from a childhood friend to a dignified, proper aristocrat. She understood the move, because he would have responsibilities
to take care of, but sometimes she missed him. He’d remained a distant figure ever since, growing more pompous every time she saw him. Now he seemed to have cast all that off.
“I thought—that’s not right.”
Sighing, he shook his head. “And I’ve stopped you playing. A pity—I was enjoying that. Carry on.”
“Is that an order—sir?”
He growled deep in his throat, such a small sound she’d have missed it if he were not sitting so close to her. “Stop it. I’ll be Malton in about an hour.” He
pinched the bridge of his nose. “I’ve spent the last three days in a closed carriage with my father, and I want to forget the stateliness. He would, given the chance. But with outriders and men riding ahead to
warn innkeepers we were on our way, we had little chance.”
“So they commit the great crime of ensuring the best bedrooms are free. The cook is bursting from his waistcoat, trying to cook the best meal he’s capable of making. If
only my journeys were so tedious!”
His laugh rang around the room. “Exactly. But we’re welcomed with ‘Good evening, my lord,’ and ‘How can I serve you, my lord?’”
“You poor thing.” She should guard her tongue, but she delighted in reacquainting herself with the man she used to know.
He rewarded her with another laugh. “I know. It’s such a hardship.” Lifting his feet, he spun around on the bench so he faced the keyboard, as she did. “You
got a phrase wrong. The tune is based on the traditional one, but it’s varied in the last line of each verse. Slightly different each time. Like this.”
When he demonstrated, Viola understood exactly what he meant. But with the amusement, her heart ached. She had missed him so much. At the delicate age of nine, two years after his breeching,
Marcus had begun his training, and since then, he’d become engrossed in his life’s work. Before then, the laughing boy had had no cares, and they’d played together.
Until someone remembered their different stations in life, and she did not think it was Marcus.
After giving him a doubtful glance, she copied the phrase. He sang the verse along with her, his baritone blending with her untrained mezzo. At the end of the verse they continued with
the next one. Then he added one she hadn’t known about.
By the end of the song, she was quite in charity with him. The years slipped away. Or rather, they did not, because never at any time did she forget that a man sat next to her, not
Viola hadn’t been this close to Marcus for years. In this lovely room, with sunshine streaming in through the windows, they could be in another world—one of their own, a
place out of time.
Playing scurrilous songs on a valuable string instrument seemed part of their world. Eventually she joined with him as his infectious laughter rang around the room.
“Do you remember this?” She played a few notes. A two-handed exercise taught to children to help them accustom themselves to the keyboard.
“Ha, yes I do.”
He joined in, taking the upper part of the tune. It was simple but capable of infinite variations. At the end of the piece she changed the pitch and they continued. Four times they
went around, until she stopped with an emphatic chord.
She rested her palms on the edge of the harpsichord. “This was tuned last week. I was only supposed to check it, not play it until it’s out of tune again.”
“Do harpsichords lose their tuning so easily?”
He really didn’t know? “It’s a harpsichord. The strings are delicate. Even damp can send them completely wrong. Each quill has to be checked and replaced if necessary.
Don’t you know anything?”
He shrugged. “I know how to address a duchess and how to dance a minuet. I can shoot straight and use a sword.”
“So can I. The last part.”
He widened his eyes. Such a perfect shade of blue they were. She hadn’t seen them this close for years. Far too long. “You can fence and shoot?” he said, his voice
“I shoot better than I fence, but I know one end of a sword from the other. I know how to stop someone taking it off me.” Considering her position, her father had considered
the training useful. The daughter of a land steward, especially an only child, needed to know how to take care of herself.
“I will certainly test you on that.” He patted his hip. “But I don’t generally travel with a sword at my side. We have them in the carriage, though. Shall I
send for them?”
She bestowed a jaded smile on him. “No. Or fetch them yourself, come to that.”
His cheek indented slightly, as if he were biting it inside. Stopping laughter? Then she was a source of ridicule? No, he wouldn’t do that, not the Marcus she’d known.
But she had not known him for years. Only seen him at a distance and occasionally exchanged polite nothings.
He shook his head as his smile faded. “Why did we not tell my tutors to go to the devil, Viola? What harm did our friendship do?”
“They were teaching you to be an earl, and eventually a marquess.”
“Ah yes. That. But you continued to play with my brothers and sisters.”
She lifted one shoulder. “I hardly missed you at all.”
That was a lie. She had missed him very much. His way of talking, the way he would say what he was thinking without hesitation—but he would hardly do that any longer. People hung
on his every word, at least some people did. The people wanting the ear of his father, or for Marcus to do them a favor.
“I missed you,” he said softly. “I would like us to be friends again, as we used to be.” He covered her hand with his own.
Startled, she stared at it, but she didn’t move. His warmth seeped through her, heating more than her fingers. He’d been her childhood sweetheart, but they had both known
they were only playing.
He did not mean it in that way. Occasionally she’d allowed herself to dream of him, but never allowed her fantasies to creep through to real life.
Marcus had grown up tall and handsome, and unlike most men she knew, he wore his own hair tied back in a simple queue. He rarely powdered, his one concession to his wishes rather than
the dictates of fashion, but he would consent to wear a wig on ceremonial occasions.
The first time she’d seen him dressed for a grand occasion had served to distance him completely from her. Without those glossy dark brown locks, and dressed in the finest London
could provide, Marcus appeared a different person, one Viola didn’t know at all. So when he said he missed her, he probably meant the carefree days of his childhood.
Viola could not pass this opportunity by. She turned her hand and curled her fingers between his. He clasped her hand warmly.
She stared at that symbol of friendship, as if it weren’t her hand. “I missed you, too.”
“You’ve grown up a beauty, Viola,” he said softly.