‘A Heart for Milton: A Tale from North and South’ by Trudy Brasure

BOOK BLURB: When Margaret Hale hastily rejected the wealthy industrialist’s fervent marriage proposal, she could not have foreseen the events that would lead her to change her mind and open her heart. But was it too late now to let the handsome, brooding mill owner know? Set amidst the clamor of Victorian England’s Industrial Revolution, this is a tale of hope, trial, and love’s fulfillment.

Based on the novel North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, this book weaves a change in the original plot to create a beautiful continuation of an enduring love story.

EXCERPT:

“What are you doing here?” he asked, finding his voice first. His pulse hammered as he took in the sight of her in her thin nightclothes. She looked like a goddess in her flowing white dressing gown, her auburn hair spilling down her back, laying in long tendrils around her shoulders.

“I…I was going to get some water, but saw a light here,” she managed to say as a way of explaining herself, feeling a little out of breath to be standing so close to him. “What are you doing here?” she asked him in turn, casting her eyes downward to stare at the fabric of his waistcoat.

“I could not sleep and thought I might read,” he explained in a soft, low voice that stupefied her. His eyes raptly traveled the length of her. Margaret stood in the dim shadow of his towering form; the candle flickering in her hand cast a warm glow on her face and illuminated the draping cloth that covered her body, revealing a tantalizing outline of her waist and hips.

“Do you often have trouble sleeping?” Margaret inquired curiously, her speech wavering as she cautiously lifted her face to meet his heated gaze.

“Lately, yes – when I cannot stop thinking of you,” Mr. Thornton intoned breathlessly, his blue eyes blazing with ardor. He felt himself perilously close to certain danger. He knew he should disengage himself from her, allow her to recover her modesty and flee from his presumptuous gaze. But he could not tear his eyes from her for fear that she would indeed escape from him.

“Oh,” Margaret uttered, transfixed by the intensity of his stare and the play of candlelight dancing across the chiseled features of his face. He was so close to her that she could smell the clean scent of sandalwood emanating from his body.

Wordlessly, Mr. Thornton reached out a trembling hand to grasp a long lock of her hair, watching in fascination as the silken tress passed languidly through his fingers. Margaret felt her knees weaken in response to this intimate gesture, and her heart pounded in her ears.

“I should go,” she breathed, weakly attempting to recover her sensibility; however, she lifted her eyes to his and was drawn to him like a moth to the flame.

“Yes…you should,” he whispered, bringing his face closer to hers, unable to resist the beguiling sight of her parted lips.”

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***   ***   ***

“Miles Apart

He studied in reverent fascination every object within that had held communion with her: the rose-colored curtains, the elegant marble-topped vanity, the glass-framed pressed flowers hanging on the wall, and the simple chest of drawers with a lace overlay. The trunks Dixon had packed lay opened on the floor, bulging with all the delicate finery of a lady’s wardrobe.

His eyes narrowed with interest as his gaze rested upon the garment that lay at the top of the pile. It was the elegant gown she had worn at the dinner party those many months ago. He stepped forward and crouched down to examine it. Touching the silk fabric gingerly, he recalled how stunningly beautiful she had appeared that evening. Amazement washed over him once more at the realization that she had accepted him. He had not thought such a lady of refinement could ever be his.

It remained a wonder to him that he had somehow won her regard. Of old, she had always spoken to him with harsh disdain, never more so than when he had first told her of his love.

Crouched there, in the middle of her room, he become aware of the faint fragrance of jasmine. He closed his eyes to better concentrate on the scent, which instantly brought to mind the tremulous moment when he had nearly brushed against her as he had secured the door behind her on that fateful morning. She had seemed so fragile and beautiful. He had yearned to feel the smooth skin of her face; to draw her to him and claim her as his own in some presumptuous way.

He brushed his fingers reverently along the folded silk for a lingering moment before slowly straightening himself to stand.”

FEATURED AUTHOR: Trudy Brasure

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