A woman who has vowed to do her duty. A man with demons in his past. A love that neither can deny.
When Susannah Archer meets the man her father has chosen for her to marry, she is bitterly disappointed, knowing at once she will never find happiness with him. But Susannah vowed long ago to accept her beloved father’s choice of husband, and she is not about to renege on that promise.
Sir Daniel Gifford has recently returned from the war against the Spanish in the Netherlands. He is tired of living, still grieving the death of his wife ten years before. So when a chance meeting with Susannah stirs a new desire for life in him, he is taken by surprise. He had thought he would never love again.
As Daniel sets out to coax her away from her impending marriage, Susannah’s vow is sorely tested. Caught between desire and obligation, she is trapped. How can she reconcile her duty to her father with the wishes of her heart? And dare she trust Sir Daniel’s intentions towards her? As the two men press their suit for her hand, Susannah must choose between them: will she be a dutiful daughter or marry the man that she loves?
“Susannah?” he whispered. “Is that you?”
“Yes, it is me,” she whispered back, instinctively clutching at the neck of the shift that hung loosely off one shoulder, holding it close about her. She had never appeared so exposed before a man, not even her father.
“I saw a light moving under the door as I passed,” he explained. “I wanted to be sure there was nothing wrong.”
“There’s nothing wrong. I just couldn’t sleep. Too much sleep this afternoon no doubt.”
He nodded and placed the candle on a side table that stood by the fireplace. “Come by the fire,” he said to her. “The night is cool.”
She stepped forward to stand by the hearth, holding out her hands to it for a moment. She had not been cold, but the flames were bright and attractive, and it was pleasant to stand before them. She was aware of Sir Daniel’s nearness and the hunger in his eyes, but keeping her eyes on the fire, she tried not to think of the sheerness of the linen shift and her nakedness beneath it. She swallowed, and her skin burned with a heat that had not come from the heat of the fire. Every sense within her was alive, raw and sensitive, as though his hands were on her flesh already. A tension crackled through the space between them like the promise in the air before a thunderstorm.
So this is how a woman falls, she thought. In pleasure and desire.
“I must marry Edward Hafton,” she whispered, as if such words might shield her from their need for each other.
He moved forward from the darkness of the room into the firelight and her eyes never left his face, straining to read him, to understand the thoughts that lay behind his eyes. He was still watching her, but she could make no sense of what she saw, the tension in his jaw, a hardness in his gaze.
“You’re not contracted to him yet,” he said.
“Nonetheless, I must marry him,” she replied. Her conscience still strove towards her duty, even when she was shaking with her passion. Need and longing surged through her body with every breath she took. If he took her in his arms now, she would respond in kind without question – he could undo her in a moment and ruin them both.
Samantha Grosser is a very British author of historical fiction who doesn’t function without tea. Having spent many years teaching English in Asia and Australia, she has made her home on the sunny beaches of Sydney Australia, where she now lives with her husband, teenaged son, and a very small dog called Livvy. She is the author of wartime dramas Another Time and Place and The Officer’s Affair, as well as the historical fantasy series Pages of Darkness. A Daughter’s Duty is her first historical romance.
When she isn’t writing or reading, (which isn’t often) you can find her either doing yoga, going for long walks, or watching old movies.