Love on a Winter’s Tide
by Rosie Chapel
Lady Helena Trevallier is, to outward appearances, a quintessential young lady of Society. She wanders the museums and art galleries, enjoys horse rides or brisk constitutionals — weather permitting — around the city’s many parks. She flits here and there, rather like an exotic butterfly and has several men trailing in her wake, in the hope she might favour them with a dance or better still allow them to escort her to one of the many social gatherings.
Unusually for a young woman of the elite, Helena is in no hurry to marry, unwilling to allow a man to dictate her life, for she has a secret. A secret which, had her social set known anything about might see them throwing up their hands in horror and one which any prospective suitor would surely demand she curtail. Every day, Helena disappears into a world few acknowledge, to help the poor, the downtrodden and the abused.
Hugh Drummond, a wealthy shipping magnate, moves in quite different circles. He rarely mixes with Society and is happy spending his days working on his beloved ships. He takes great pains to avoid the extravagant events to which he occasionally receives invitations, for mamas looking to marry off their daughters usually stalk them and, a state of wedded bliss is something in which Hugh has no interest. He is too busy managing the shipping line and has no need of a wife whose only joy is dancing and frivolity. If — and it was a huge if — he ever marries, it would be to a woman as capable as he, not some giddy society Miss.
Then, quite unexpectedly, Hugh meets Helena and despite his resolve not to fall under her spell and her determination to maintain her independence — fate, it seems, has other ideas. Attraction quickly becomes something far deeper, but dark clouds appear on the horizon, heralding a storm that may yet tear them apart.
Skullduggery abounds, testing their wits and forcing them to an agonising decision, as someone with nefarious intent threatens to destroy all they hold dear.
Stunned when they uncover the identity of the perpetrator, Hugh and Helena have no idea the lengths their adversary is prepared to go, to claim what he believes is his, and as they close in, it becomes race against time. Will they succeed in preventing a tragedy or will their love be swept away, lost forever on a winter’s tide?
A Word from the Author
Love on a Winter’s Tide is the third in the sequence of what will be five novels. My heroine, Lady Helena Trevallier is the youngest sister of Giles from Once Upon An Earl — in which she appeared, albeit briefly but then nagged me to give her a HEA ever since. Interestingly, this novel came together more quickly than any of my other books, why that should have been the case, I have no idea especially as I spent many hours researching the background and scenarios for both characters.
Helena has absolutely no desire to get married; she is far happier working at Sanctuary House – a refuge established for underprivileged women seeking respite from abusive husbands or situations. Hugh Drummond, a member of the merchant class, has worked hard to make his burgeoning shipping company profitable. Now a wealthy shipping magnate, with a growing fleet of trading vessels, Hugh – although not a member of Society – occasionally moves within their circle. He is, however, as determined as Helena not to be tricked into wedded bliss.
Then one night, at a ball, Helena meets Hugh and romance begins to bloom where least expected.
Their relationship follows an unusual path, for although it is clear their feelings run deep, neither is prepared to relinquish hard won independence. Helena has no mind to give up her work at the refuge, as she believes she is making a difference to the plight of those requiring its protection. Hugh, aware of how easily life can be snatched away in his line of business, cannot countenance marriage under such circumstances. Fate, of course, has other ideas!
Until starting this novel, I knew little about ships of the Regency (or any other) era. The different designs and models; how they were constructed, which ships were used for what purpose, strengths, weaknesses and so on. I quickly became captivated by the majesty of the shipping trade and the speed with which it was developing. This and the fiercely competition nature of the industry inspired the skulduggery abounding in Hugh’s shipyard.
On a more poignant note, my research into the underbelly of London during this era uncovered a harsh and often ignored reality. The daily struggle of those living in cramped and squalid conditions, but whose efforts allowed others to live in the lap of luxury, appeared to be something most of Society rarely contemplated. I imagine it was a volatile atmosphere, which probably exploded more frequently than is recorded. Of course, I barely scratched the surface of the adversity faced by so many, but this is where Sanctuary House fits in. That these women were given the chance to learn a variety of basic skills which could lead to opportunities previously considered impossible, seemed to be something the more socially aware members of the ton might get involved with.
(Rosie Chapel, September 2017)