SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: Dangerous Works by Caroline Warfield

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Lady Georgiana Hayden has struggled for years to do scholarly work in the face of constant opposition and even outright derision from the scholarly community at Cambridge. Her family ignores her as long as she doesn’t draw attention to herself.

A little Greek is one thing; the art of love is another. Only one man ever tried to teach Georgiana both. She learned very young to keep her heart safe. She learned to keep loneliness at bay through work. If it takes a scandalous affair to teach her what she needs to complete her work, she will risk it. If the man in question chooses not to teach her, she will use any means at her disposal to change his mind. She is determined to give voice to the ancient women whose poetry has long been neglected.

Some scars cut deeper than others. Major Andrew Mallet returns to Cambridge a battle scarred hero. He dared to love Georgiana once and suffered swift retribution from her powerful family. The encounter cost him eleven years of his life. Determined to avoid her, he seeks work to heal his soul and make his scholar father proud. The work she offers risks his career, his peace of mind, and (worst of all) his heart.

Andrew and Georgiana battle their way through the work to a fragile partnership. Even poetry, with its musical lyrics and sensual traps, can be dangerous when you partner with the love of your life. In Regency Cambridge it can lead a lady quickly past improper to positively scandalous.

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EXCERPT

Lady Georgiana Hayden has faced unrelenting opposition and outright derision from the scholarly community in Cambridge. She sought the help of an old friend (and former lover) who stonewalled her until she backed him into a corner. What follows is his capitulation:

A “simple business matter” she called it. Andrew thought the woman should be in the Exchequer if this “simple matter” demonstrated her negotiating skills.

“First of all, Mr. Mallet, you are aware that I have been able to provide you with some assistance. There were the premises near Magdalene College, the nursing staff,”—he glared at Harley but didn’t interrupt—”some other minor details that don’t require enumeration, and, of course, the redesign of one of my better traveling carriages for your transportation.”

“Since you returned home, I have been able, as you yourself pointed out, to be of assistance to your staff.”

My staff? Harley? he thought. Doing it up a bit too fancy there.

“You can’t help but be aware that your diet has improved considerably due to my involvement.” She went on without waiting for a reply. “I am prepared to ensure that you continue to enjoy the services of a decent cook and household help. Mr. Harley will, of course, see to your personal needs.”

He could do all that for himself; he could certainly afford it. She failed to mention that, but since she well knew that he hadn’t, in fact, actually done any of those things, he conceded the point.

“Do you wish payment, my lady?”

“I most certainly do not!”

He expected her indignation. He shouldn’t goad her, but she looked magnificent when riled. He watched her pace his study and wring her hands as she often did when deep in thought or caught up in uncomfortable emotion. He wondered how she would feel if she became aware that he recognized such a revealing little trait.

“What I require in return, Mr. Mallet, is the assistance of a respected scholar.”

“If I knew any, I would refer you. As it is, I don’t.”

“Don’t be obtuse!” She resumed pacing and went on. “I have been engaged for some years, as you know, in a work of locating and translating works from the Greek that haven’t been readily accessible in English.”

“The works of women.”

She looked at him without flinching in that frank and open manner of hers. If she waited for him to say more, in protest or derision, she wouldn’t hear it. She resumed pacing. “The poets, as you pointed out, are all women. None has the respect and few have received the attention of scholars.”

She meant to say that none have the respect of male academics. Watterson, for example. Or Dunning. Obviously there was another sort of scholar. He listened while she went on.

“I have made it my life’s work to ensure that their voices are heard.”

Life’s work! How lucky she is to have one. He didn’t try to interrupt her. On the contrary, the movements of her body while she described the breadth and scope of her project fascinated him. Her enthusiasm, as powerful as a force of nature, enraptured him. She gestured with graceful hands, and an inner glow transformed her animated face while she described research that was thorough and comprehensive, far beyond what he had guessed.

Distracted by the sway of her hips, Andrew caught few of the names she mentioned. He knew most of the ones he heard but not all of them. The number far exceeded his expectations. He could hear pride rise in her deep, throaty voice and became fascinated with the pulse that beat in the curve of her neck.

Passion for her work threatened to break out in an emotional outpouring; he watched her struggle to hold it in check. He felt as if she stripped herself naked before him, and his mind filled with images of other passions, other nakedness—Georgie there before his fire, her hair down on her shoulders, her skin warm and rosy, asking him for a very different sort of help. His body responded, and he allowed a moment of full rein to the fantasy of her naked before him.

“Andrew? Did you hear me? My translations!”

Abrupt descent to reality and the direction of his mind and body shamed him. She didn’t notice the desire he thought must be obvious. Look at me, Georgie. Take a good look, he thought, but she went on without seeing him.

“The translations are serviceable. I know that my work is accurate and precise, but it is not…” Her even white teeth caught her lower lip. She sought the right word. “It isn’t subtle or stylistically sophisticated enough to give the writers their due.”

She looked at him finally. “What I need, Mr. Mallet, is a mentor or, barring that, a tutor. Your assistance would be of great value to me.”

She held her breath. The same Georgie he found behind the palms in her father’s orangery at fifteen, who struggled alone through her brother’s schoolboy Plato, stared out at him and defied him to criticize or laugh.

“Let me recapitulate,” he said. “You, for your part, are prepared to feed me, assist with the housekeeping, and relieve my man of his nursing duties—things which, you must be aware, I am perfectly capable of providing for myself. Is there anything else you can offer me?”

She looked dumbfounded. She opened her mouth as if to speak and shut it again.

“No?” He leaned back. “Then I, for my part, am to give you the benefit of my training, share the subtlety of my mind, and jeopardize my respect in the classics community of Cambridge, for your sake. Does that summarize your proposal?” All benefit to you at great cost to me.

He watched her chin rise in the characteristic Hayden gesture of superiority. In Georgiana the expression represented her armor, her shield against hurt. He had loved her for it. She didn’t speak. Neither did she back down.

“Well, then, your proposal seems fair enough,” he said with obvious sarcasm. “I am afraid, however, that I’m not up to the labor today.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Carol Roddy - Author
Caroline Warfield has at various times been an army brat, a librarian, a poet, a raiser of children, a nun, a bird watcher, an Internet and Web services manager, a conference speaker, an indexer, a tech writer, a genealogist, and, of course, a romantic. She has sailed through the English channel while it was still mined from WWII, stood on the walls of Troy, searched Scotland for the location of an entirely fictional castle (and found it), climbed the steps to the Parthenon, floated down the Thames from the Tower to Greenwich, shopped in the Ginza, lost herself in the Louvre, gone on a night safari at the Singapore zoo, walked in the Black Forest, and explored the underground cistern of Istanbul. By far the biggest adventure has been life-long marriage to a prince among men.

She sits in front of a keyboard at a desk surrounded by windows, looks out at the trees and imagines. Her greatest joy is when one of those imaginings comes to life on the page and in the imagination of her readers.

You can connect with Caroline at her website * ~ * ~ * Facebook * ~ * ~ * Twitter * ~ * ~ * Pinterest * ~ * ~ * Goodreads

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