After almost two and a half years of writing, Virtuous Intentions is finally a reality. Writing this story has been a journey. My love for historical fiction never fails to take me to unexpected places, and this story certainly did. I wanted a love story, but I also wanted a life journey for each character. As we fall prey to our own mistakes, we should learn from them. That process is often painful, as it is in the story of Virtuous Intentions. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did writing it. Click the cover to purchase on Amazon.
I'm working on the sequel, Raison D'etre, which I hope to finish by the winter of 2021/2022. Lots of research yet to do, but the writing is coming along.
Lured by the promise of a substantial inheritance, ne’er-do-well English aristocrat, Avery Southworth, sets sail for America. Avery’s purpose is to revive his uncle’s war-ravaged plantation, and make it, once again, a profitable enterprise. A task made easier when one possesses land management skills, but that man isn’t Avery Southworth. He brings with him his valet, Elijah Goran, the man Avery has depended upon for years to make him look good, in all things.
Avery’s death at sea compels Elijah to make a well-intentioned decision. With the simple words, “Are you Mr. Southworth?” he buries Elijah Goran and becomes a better version of his employer.
As Elijah’s recovery plan goes into full effect, he and the uncle’s ward, Cecily Petitpain, grow closer, a circumstance Elijah hadn’t foreseen, and one that threatens his tenuous grasp of the situation. Cecily has seen her share of disappointment and heartache, and considers honesty the single most important quality in a man.
Time and again, opportunities to clear his conscience go the way of the wind. When circumstances unexpectedly force his hand, can he find a way to his virtuous truth, without destroying the delicate trust that is paramount to the woman he loves?
Excerpt from Virtuous Intentions
New Orleans, Louisiana
Elijah Goran tucked away the last of his belongings and donned the fine clothes of a gentleman. With a final flourish of the tie, he paced as he waited for the bells of disembarkation. The next few hours would cast him firmly in the eyes of others, and be their impression good or bad, an impression they’d surely form, completely dependant upon how much he chose to tell them. His deceased mother’s voice in his head repeated her lifelong belief that one lived a simpler life without secrets.
The bells tolled, and with a deep breath, he joined the swirl of eager passengers as they stormed the over-burdened gangway. Young children raced ahead of frustrated parents, seemingly happy to realize a semblance of freedom after days of confinement aboard the ship from Boston. He well-understood, as he’d traveled for weeks, first from England to Boston, and then on to New Orleans.
The ship had arrived as scheduled, which, according to his pocket watch, left him but a few minutes to wait for his transport. He tapped his foot as the minutes ticked off.
How strange his first moments in New Orleans. He’d expected something he’d yet to define, but the docks moved as they did in London on any frenzied day.
He pulled out the letter that had prompted their journey across the sea. A missive filled with unknowing assumptions based on the lies. Your father’s letters have often spoken glowingly of your esteemed education and your desire to endeavor in estate management. As misfortune would have it, I am in desperate need of such expertise. For your trouble, I will arrange to name you my heir, making Fair Oaks yours upon my demise. Those words kept him awake at night, and had, in their simplicity, stayed his impulse to return on the next ship to Southampton. Avery possessed no esteemed education or desire to endeavor at anything but gambling and woman, hence Elijah’s presence on the journey. He and he alone had the knowledge and experience to do exactly as Robert asked and to secure the inheritance Avery so desperately needed to maintain his profligate lifestyle.
He sighed and shoved the well-read letter back into his coat pocket. As a scruffy man with silver-shot dark hair approached, Elijah questioned himself one last time.
“You Mr. Southworth from England?”
His knees weak under the weight of impending perfidy, Elijah hesitated in the last moment before committal. Seeing no other option, he stepped forward and nodded. “Ah, are you from Fair Oaks?”
In that moment, he became Avery Southworth, sans the smug condescension. He’d do what needed doing, as though Avery lived, and, at the right time, he’d renounce the promised inheritance, and hie off back to England, a good deed to his credit.