THE BARON’S WIFE

A Gothic Historical Mystery

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Cover by Erin Dameron-Hill

 

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A dark cloud hovers over Wolfram, the ancient abbey Laura calls her new home. Can she trust the mysterious man she married?

After a whirlwind courtship, Laura Parr marries Baron, Lord Nathaniel Lanyon, and he takes her to live in his ancient home in Southern England. Laura comes to Cornwall excited to begin life with the passionate man she has married. But secrets lurk in the shadows. The death of Nathaniel’s first wife has never been solved, and some of the villagers believe him responsible. Struggling to understand her new husband, Laura tries to uncover the truth. With each stone unturned, she comes closer to danger.

Lord Nathaniel Lanyon had decided never to marry again. But when he meets Miss Laura Parr, the daughter of Sir Edmund Parr, one rainy afternoon, he realizes almost immediately that he must have her in his life. And the only way he could was to marry her.

Nathaniel believes that his troubled past is behind him and he can offer Laura a good life at Wolfram, even though he can never offer her his heart. But as soon as they come to live in the ancient abbey, the past returns to haunt him, revealing secrets that he thought had been buried forever. As he tries to fight the forces threatening to overwhelm him, he realizes that feisty Laura will demand more from him than he can give.

“In the style of Mary Stewart and Daphne du Maurier, Ms. Andersen’s Gothic novel will grip you from start to finish. You’ll feel the mists on the cliffs and young Laura’s terror and confusion. An excellent read.” Amazon Reviewer.

“From the beginning of this spine-chilling Gothic Novel, with beautiful word pictures of Cornwall, the author skilfully creates fear and suspicion. The twist at the end is a fiendishly clever one which I did not anticipate. The Baron’s Wife deserves the five stars I have awarded it. Amazon Reviewer.

“A Gothic romance in the classic style, the author is a master at creating ominous atmosphere and multilayered characters.” Coffee Time Romance and More.
“The plot was interesting and the added mystery kept me riveted. The novel kept me wondering until the end.” The Romance Studios.
“It was hard to put the story down as the mystery kept just out of reach, drawing the reader in further to the storyline. [It] kept me up way too late into the night following the puzzle of Wolfram Abbey. I look forward to seeing more from Maggi Andersen.” Siren Book Reviews.

I loved the way the author included Laura’s fashions. The detailed description of her clothes and also her surroundings helped put me in their world. I liked all the characters especially her Aunt Dora. She was like a modern gypsy woman, giving parties to her artsy friends and reading tarot cards. The plot was interesting and the added mystery kept me riveted. The novel kept me wondering until the end. 5 Stars!  The Romance Studio.

Amazon review. “Really loved the story with its Victoria Holt like overtones. The mystery and its nuances were engaging and kept me glued to the book.  I loved both the hero and heroine and I felt like Nathaniel was a little like Max DeWinter who is one of my favorite heroes. The h was marvelous too. I liked her determination to make the H love her like she did him. Just A good book for a rainy night.”

Excerpt:

After Nathaniel’s masterful lovemaking, Laura stretched like a cat. She lay tangled in the crisp linen sheets, her head resting against Nathaniel’s chest. Endeavoring to please him, she’d become bolder, pleased when she saw how she’d moved him. Her body was sated, but her heart and soul still yearned for something more. Confused, she pushed the thoughts away. He had been a consummate lover. No woman would complain. She was too impatient.

Nathaniel rolled away from her to sit up. He reached for the champagne bottle and topped up their glasses. She plumped up the pillows and sat, feasting her eyes on the gorgeous man in her bed. It was so gloriously decadent sipping champagne beneath a festoon of gold cloth, the bed curtains caught up with golden tassels.

“We’ll ride after breakfast,” Nathaniel said. “In the afternoon, I’ll take you to meet Miss Cilla Gain. I believe she will be good company for you.”

“Does she live in the village?”

“No, in a cottage out on the point. She is an artist.”

“An artist! How wonderful.”

“With your interest in art you may find common ground.”

“How does Miss Gain come to live at Wolfram?”

“We knew each other years ago. She arrived one day and asked me if she could turn one of the empty cottages into a studio. She isn’t well off, so I allow her to live there.”

“How generous, Nathaniel,” Laura said with a warm rush of feeling. “Is she from these parts?”

He patted her cheek. “All these questions. I’ll allow her to tell you her story herself.”

“I can’t wait to meet her.”

Laura gazed at her husband. She was getting to know this man slowly, which didn’t suit her impatient nature, but she loved all that she’d learned about him.

Some hours later, Laura woke to find Nathaniel’s side of the bed empty. Her head swam a little when she raised it from the pillow. He’d refilled her glass more than once before she’d fallen asleep. Brilliant moonlight shone through a gap in the curtains. Laura donned her nightgown. She had no need for a candle when she rose to use the chamber pot. A privy was one convenience she sorely missed and was determined to rectify. Pouring water from the jug, she washed in the basin. As she dried her hands, she thought she heard a soft footfall in the corridor outside. She paused, hoping Nathaniel would return. When he didn’t, she went to open her door. The corridor was dark where the moonlight couldn’t reach and chilly.

She cleared her throat. “Is someone there?”

No answer. Her skin prickled as she searched the shadows. When her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she found it empty, the only movement a huge tapestry on the wall stirring in the draft.

With a shiver, Laura returned to her room. She ran her fingers along the panels in the wall hoping to open the secret door. Failing to find the catch, she grabbed a shawl and slipped into the corridor again. She hesitated outside Nathaniel’s room wondering whether to knock. How ridiculous. She was his wife! She needed warmth and reassurance. Surely that wasn’t unreasonable. Opening the door, she found the room in darkness, the curtains closed.

Laura paused, not wishing to wake him, but there was no soft snore, no sign of movement. She groped her way over to the bed and reached down to touch his pillow. The sheets were cold, the bed empty.

“Nathaniel?” Even as she said it, she knew Nathaniel wasn’t there. He must have gone downstairs.

Stumbling to the window, she scraped her knee painfully against what must have been the corner of the bureau. She pulled back the curtains. Moonlight swept into the room, confirming that the bed was indeed empty. The pillow was smooth, the bedclothes unrumpled. It had never been slept in. Where was he then?

She paused to catch her breath, and then hurried from the room. Farther down the corridor, candlelight flowed from beneath a door. Laura crept toward it.

Hadn’t Nathaniel told her that the staff was on the floor above? As she reached for the doorknob, a shadow crossed the light. Laura hesitated. She could hardly enter someone’s bedroom in the middle of the night. Knocking would be embarrassing to say the least. Have you seen my lost husband? She grinned despite her discomfort. It would be such a bad beginning. But why hadn’t he mentioned someone was just down the corridor? Had she mistaken him when he’d said only guest chambers were in this wing?

She trailed her hand along the wall to hasten her walk back to her room. Odd to feel a trespasser in her own home. Her bedroom seemed a haven of warmth as she hurried inside.

Shivering, more from unease than cold, Laura climbed back into bed and pulled the coverlet up to her chin. She sank down and closed her eyes, with the hope that sleep would ease her concerns, at least until daylight. An hour passed. She thrashed about unable to quiet her mind, alert for any sound. Could it have been Nathaniel in that room? If not, then who was it? And if not Nathaniel, where had he gone?