Catherine's Heart (Tales of London Book #2) [NOOK Book]

Overview

Book 2 of Tales of London. Eighteen-year-old Catherine Rayborn is thrilled with her first taste of independence when she begins Girton College in Cambridge in 1880. Amid all the excitement, however, comes the painful realization of the vast difference between true love and shallow infatuation. Lawana Blackwell skillfully endears a cast of loveable characters to readers in a story that will linger long after the last page is turned.
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Catherine's Heart (Tales of London Book #2)

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Overview

Book 2 of Tales of London. Eighteen-year-old Catherine Rayborn is thrilled with her first taste of independence when she begins Girton College in Cambridge in 1880. Amid all the excitement, however, comes the painful realization of the vast difference between true love and shallow infatuation. Lawana Blackwell skillfully endears a cast of loveable characters to readers in a story that will linger long after the last page is turned.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781441270962
  • Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/1/2002
  • Series: Tales of London , #2
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 53,216
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Lawana Blackwell is a full-time writer and the author of the the bestselling GRESHAM CHRONICLES series. A writing course at Louisiana State University rekindled her dream of writing, then she learned the craft of writing fiction under bestselling author Gilbert Morris. She and her husband live in Louisiana and have three sons.
Lawana Blackwell has eleven published novels to her credit. She and her husband have three married sons and live in Memphis, Tennessee.
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Read an Excerpt


One
On the fourth of October, 1880, something besides coal smoke tinged the morning air under the arched iron-and-glass train shed at King's Cross Station. It was an atmosphere of anticipation, evident in the flushed cheeks of the "freshers" going off to University for the first time.

Students heading up for a second year could be identified by their bored, almost scornful expressions, maintained so as not to be confused with the newcomers. Third-year and fourth-year students, along with those returning for advanced degrees, wore the look of someone simply waiting for a train.

Those differences were pointed out to eighteen-year-old Catherine Rayborn by her Uncle Daniel as she waited to board the Great Northern Railway Express between London and Cambridge. "It'll be the same at Paddington with the Oxford lot," her father's brother said, humor creasing the corners of his green eyes.

For the fourth time since leaving the house on Berkeley Square, Catherine felt for loose pins in the chignon beneath the brim of her claret-colored felt hat. Her fawn gloves were spotless and black boots polished to a luster. Beneath her grey wool outer coat she wore a black Eton jacket and bustled skirt of soft brown serge. Eight other outfits were folded in tissue in her trunk, along with a tennis costume, nightgowns and wrapper, underclothing, stockings, and shoes. She had helped the chambermaids pack, and slept only fitfully last night from the excitement of it all.

"Do I look like a fresher?" she asked.

Aunt Naomi's bottle-blue eyes appraised her. "I'm afraid you do, dear."

Sarah Doyle, Catherine's cousin, nodded. "One would think you just stepped off the farm."

"Now stop that, you two," Uncle Daniel ordered his wife and daughter. "You'll have her too intimidated to leave."

"Not at all, Uncle Daniel," Catherine said, returning the women's smiles. Their light banter was intended to put her at ease, and she appreciated it.

Even more, she appreciated their not insisting on accompanying her for the ninety-minute journey. The two women had already visited Girton College with her in August to help order linens and draperies, lamps and carpets for her rooms. Addressing Sarah, Catherine said, "I can never thank you and William enough for inviting me to stay with you."

William Doyle was Sarah's husband, who had wished her a pleasant journey this morning with a peck on the cheek before heading off to work.

"It has been our pleasure, Catherine," Sarah replied. She possessed a quiet strength that belied her waifish green eyes, delicate features, and hair the color of cornsilk. The fingerless left hand did not detract from her beauty. Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without, Catherine's mother, Virginia, had once said of her.

"Yoo-hoo! Catherine?"

Catherine turned. About ten feet away, a woman was weaving through the crowd with a young girl in tow.

"Why, Aunt Phyllis ... Muriel," Catherine said, closing the gap between them. "How good of you to come."

"I feared we were too late!"

Catherine was caught up in a Jardin de Coeur-scented embrace. Then her mother's younger sister seized her shoulders and stepped back. "How smart you look!"

"Thank you, Aunt Phyllis. So do you."

And it was so. Time had only slightly eroded the beauty that shone from the portrait that had hung in Catherine's late grandparents' parlor, of a slender young woman with alabaster cheeks and ethereal-looking brown eyes, under an enormous chignon of auburn hair.

"And Muriel," Catherine said to the girl, who hung back timidly, "I thought you would be in school."

"She begged to see you off, so I'll drop her by afterward," her aunt said, taking the girl's hand again. She blew out a breath. "We had a little difficulty."

"Difficulty, Mrs. Pearce?" Uncle Daniel said as he and Sarah and Aunt Naomi approached. "Are you all ri—"

"I said I WANT some lemonade!" Muriel cried, jerking her hand from her mother's.

The seven-year-old reminded Catherine of those little English girls whose images graced biscuit tins or jars of lemon curd. But a scowl ruined the effect of the violet eyes, rosebud lips, and heart-shaped face bordered by golden waves and ringlets. "All you had to do was stop for a minute!"

"Just a little misunderstanding, Mr. Rayborn." Aunt Phyllis offered a hand to Naomi. "Mrs. Rayborn, Mrs. Doyle ... how long has it—"

"Mum-mee, my throat is DRY! I NEED some—"

"EX-press to CAM-bridge," a guard singsonged over the whistle of the Jenny Lind locomotive. "PLEASE take your SEATS!"

"Oh dear! Not a minute too soon!" Aunt Phyllis turned to her daughter, and in a voice wavering between soothing and shrill said, "Catherine has to go now, dear. We'll get the drink as soon as the train has left."

"I like lemonade too," Catherine said, stepping toward the girl with outstretched arms. She was met with a violet glare and folded arms and had to settle for giving the girl a pat upon the shoulder. But by then, she was not inclined to embrace her anyway.

"She's just overtired from the rush to get here," Aunt Phyllis explained. "But she was so excited over seeing you off ..."

Again she attempted to placate the girl. "Weren't you, dear?"

"I wish you weren't my mother!"

Aunt Phyllis gaped at her. "You don't mean that!"

Feeling a touch upon her shoulder, Catherine turned. Aunt Naomi sent a pointed glance toward the steam hissing from the locomotive's smokestack. "You really should be finding a seat, dear."

Uncle Daniel nodded. "And your ticket and trunk tag are—"

"—safely in here," Catherine finished, raising her hand to show the dark olive brocade reticule hanging from her wrist. She embraced him first, then Sarah, Aunt Phyllis, and Aunt Naomi. Another shoulder pat for the scowling child, with the thought, At least her brothers didn't come along.

"Thank you all for seeing me off. I'll write very soon."

In the nearest first-class coach, a middle-aged man in a black suit sat at the opposite window, across from a woman wearing a taupe grey velvet hat with matching ribbons and ostrich plumes. Catherine exchanged shy good-mornings with the two and settled herself just inside in the front-facing seat. She smiled from the window at her relations, who had stepped back to leave room for boarders and the porters hurrying by with luggage upon handcarts. Another wave of gratitude swept through her as she returned Sarah's wave. Had the Doyles not offered her a place to stay between terms, her father would never have allowed her to enroll at Girton.

"Pardon me, Miss, but are those seats available?"

Catherine shifted her eyes from the window to the open door. A tall young man stared back, handsome in a continental sort of way with his dark hair and eyes. At his elbow waited a fair-haired young man. Their navy blue coats were embroidered with the crest of Saint John's, one of the seventeen men's colleges that made up the University of Cambridge. Girton and Newnham, the two women's colleges, were not officially connected with the University.

"They are available," the gentleman at the window replied before Catherine could answer. He picked up his folded newspaper from the middle seat.

"Thank you." The two took the two remaining rear-facing spaces, stashing gripsacks beneath and hanging their straw boater hats on overhead brass hooks. A shrill whistle rent the air.

"EX-press to Cam-BRIDGE, LAST call for BOARD-ing!"

"Room for three?" a harried woman asked, peeking inside the open doorway, but she frowned and disappeared before anyone could reply.

Then an older gentleman with a growth of coppery mustache and beard eyed the empty space next to Catherine. "Peggy! Here!" He called over his shoulder, then stood aside to assist a young woman into the coach.

"Do mind that someone feeds Pete every day, Father," she said, turning to brush a kiss against his cheek.

"I'm surprised you haven't packed that bird in your trunk," the man said, but affectionately, and handed over a violin case. With a quick pat to her cheek, the man stepped out of the coach. The young woman dropped into the empty seat next to Catherine and let out a stream of breath.

"I still feel like we're rushing through traffic!" she exclaimed to Catherine, clutching her violin case to her bosom.

"That's why my father despises London," Catherine said sympathetically.

"My father's just the opposite. He's a tailor, and so more traffic means more customers. It's just a tribulation when you have to be somewhere in a hurry."

Freckles besprinkled the girl from collar to widow's peak, and coppery curls strayed from beneath the brim of a black straw hat. Her lips were thin, yet her mouth appeared to be almost too wide for her face. Her hazel eyes gave Catherine an appraising look. "Girton or Newnham?"

"Girton." And it was fortunate that Girton College was Catherine's first choice, for Newnham was located too close to the men's colleges for Father's comfort. The fact that Girton students were not allowed to wander into Cambridge, two and a half miles away, without an adult chaperone, meant more to him than its reputation for excellent academics. "And you?"

"Girton!" the girl replied with a broad smile.

A guard stuck his head through the doorway to ask for tickets. "I'm Peggy Somerset," she said when the door closed behind him.

"Catherine Rayborn. I'm pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Somerset."

"Please call me Peggy. After all, we're going to be schoolmates."

"Thank you. And do call me Catherine."

The wheels started moving. Quickly Catherine resumed her watch at the window, this time pressing herself against the back of the seat so that Peggy could lean close to the glass. On the platform, the woman standing with Peggy's father fluttered a handkerchief. Aunt Naomi, Sarah, and Uncle Daniel waved, and Aunt Phyllis, kneeling with Muriel sobbing into her shoulder, lifted a hand from her daughter's back.

"The girl is your sister?" Peggy asked.

"Cousin," Catherine corrected, a hand raised in front of her chin to return the waves.

"How touching. You must be very close."

"She wants some lemonade."

"Oh."

When the train had left the shed, Peggy moved back to the middle and asked, "Where is your apartment?"

"Second corridor downstairs," Catherine replied. "And yours?"

"Main corridor downstairs. Pity we can't be neighbors. Where do you live in London?"

"Berkeley Square."

The hazel eyes widened. "Indeed?"

"But only since August," Catherine explained. "It's the home of my cousin Sarah and her husband. She was the woman with the brown hat and blond hair. My uncle and aunt live there too, and their two children."

"Those weren't your parents?"

Catherine shook her head. "My father is headmaster at Victoria School in Byculla."

"Byculla? Is that in Africa?"

"Bombay." The James Rayborn family never settled in one place for too long, for Catherine's parents were fond of travel. The only reason the family had moved from Malta to London in 1875 was so that Catherine and her sister, Jewel, could be close to their only remaining grandparents. But when the position at Victoria School was offered two years ago, Grandfather and Grandmother Lorimer had already passed on within six months of each other.

"We live over my father's shop on Saville Row," Peggy said. "Very cramped until my brothers married. Now their old room is mine."

They chatted with voices raised barely above the hum of the wheels, out of consideration for the other passengers and partly from shyness, at least on Catherine's part, for she had spent scant time in the company of boys her own age. She didn't even have a brother. Peggy had three, she learned, all older, and partners with her father at Somerset and Sons, Fine Tailoring.

"I should have liked to have had brothers," Catherine told her.

"And I've always thought it would be nice to have a sister. Sometimes I think I have four fa—"

She paused and gave Catherine an odd look.

"What is it?" Catherine asked, instinctively dropping her voice to a whisper.

Peggy raised a shielding hand to her cheek and leaned closer. "That fellow ... he's been staring at you ever since we left the station."

"At me?"

She nodded.

They moved apart then as if guided by the same impulse. Catherine turned her face, pretending to study the cottages and hedgerows of Enfield while the corner of her eye took in the young man with the blond hair. Sure enough he was staring, a little smile at his lips. Chills ran up her back. Her arm felt a nudge through the layers of wool and serge, and she turned again.

"Say something!" Peggy whispered.

"I can't," Catherine whispered back.

"Then I'll tell—"

Catherine clutched her sleeve. "No ... please. I don't want a scene." Not on this first day of college, and her first occasion to travel without a chaperone.

Why me? she asked herself.

True, she happened to be directly in his line of vision, but there was also a window on his right, and a friend on his left who would surely look up from his copy of Punch magazine for a chat if prompted.

Peripheral vision told her he still stared. Indignation swelled in her chest. You're a college student, she reminded herself. You can't give him the satisfaction of simpering like a helpless female. She swiveled her head to send him a severe look. He merely stared back with that maddening half smile. Averting her eyes again, she thought, You wouldn't be doing that if my father were here!

"You know ..." Peggy said abruptly, "... I wish I could trade places with the Queen for just a day."

Catherine blinked at her. "The Queen?"

"Yes. For starters, I would have all boors shot. Especially boors who stare at people."

"Hear, hear!" came acidly from Peggy's other side.

Leaning forward a bit, Catherine gave the woman in the feathered hat an appreciative nod.

"I'm afraid the Queen has no authority to command such a thing, Miss." The older gentleman turned from the window, eyes filled with amusement. "And surely a gentle young lady as yourself doesn't really advocate capital punishment for lack of manners."

"No, of course not." Peggy shot the starer a withering glance. "But I would certainly banish them all from England."

"Send them to France," said the woman.

"Too late for that!" the gentleman in the window seat chortled.

The dark-haired young man in the center raised his eyes from his magazine to give Peggy a curious look. And then he turned to his companion.

"Hugh ..."

"Yes, Neville?"

"I wish you could see this cartoon in this magazine."

The young man named Hugh leaned his head in a listening posture, but did not turn his face nor blink his eyes. "Describe it to me."

Catherine's breath caught in her throat. She turned to Peggy, who nodded back with eyes wide.

"Oh dear," said the woman by the window.

"I beg your pardon?" asked the older gentleman.

"Nothing," she murmured.

"... and the doctor," explained Neville, "watching the boy leap from desk to table in the surgery, is scratching his head and asking, ‘Have there been any major changes in his diet lately?' And the woman is saying, ‘Why, naught to speak of, Sir, other than beef off the boat.' "

After a second Hugh chuckled. "Australian beef."

"At least we're told it's beef," his friend said.

What if you had said something? Catherine asked herself as she and Peggy sat in guilty silence. The very thought caused queasiness in her stomach.

When Neville returned to his magazine, Catherine darted several circumspect peeks at his companion, until she could convince herself that she was not being rude by studying him. While not classically handsome like his dark-haired friend, he was rather nice looking. The straight, wheat-colored hair looked freshly washed and fell untidily over his forehead. Thick brown brows and lashes were set over unblinking brown eyes flecked with tiny bits of amber, and the tan in his clean-shaven cheeks suggested much time spent out in the sun. His smile was slightly crooked, asymmetrical, but in an interesting way.

Again Catherine chided herself. If she had looked more closely—not merely stolen glances like a coy schoolgirl—she would have noticed the absence of expression in the brown eyes. What a tragedy, she thought, her pity mixed with admiration that one with such an obstacle as blindness would attempt University.

How fortunate he is, having a friend to watch over him like that. She could imagine the two of them walking down Regent Street. Neville would hold Hugh by the elbow—no, it would be safer if Hugh had a hand up on Neville's shoulder and walked just a bit behind him. Neville's image faded in her mind's picture, and she stepped into his place.

"It's so kind of you to guide me back to Saint John's," Hugh was saying. "I can't imagine what happened to Neville."

"I'm happy to be of assistance," Catherine replied, and slowed her steps a bit. "A delivery cart is blocking the pavement just ahead, so we'll have to step out on the street when the traffic clears."

"Just lead the way, Miss Rayborn. I have perfect confidence in you."

"I feel just wretched, Catherine."

The scene evaporated and Catherine looked at Peggy, who was leaning close.

"Saying all that rot about shooting people," Peggy whispered.

"I'm sure he didn't realize you meant him," Catherine consoled, albeit with a surge of relief that she had not been the one to speak out.

But now that it was brought to light that he had not behaved rudely, it didn't seem decent to sit there chatting over him—even though she was certain he couldn't hear them over the wheels. So to steer the subject in another direction—and because she was curious—she said, "May I see your violin?"

"Yes, of course," Peggy replied, unfastening the case and raising the lid. She drew out an instrument of polished mellow wood inscribed with a small cross. The other sighted passengers looked on.

"It was made by Giuseppe," Peggy said, beaming like a doting mother. "They're very valuable. An earl in reduced circumstances traded it to my great grandfather for a cloak and two suits of—"

"Oh!" she exclaimed, grabbing for the case as the coach made a teeth-jarring lurch. Catherine bounced an inch off her seat. A boater hat sprang from the overhead hook and was snatched in midair by the young man across from Catherine.

All eyes went to him. Sheepishly he balanced the hat upon his knees.

Neville's chortle pierced the stunned silence. "I'll take that fiver now, Hugh!"

"It was a wager?" Peggy said with eyes narrowed.

Hugh grimaced. "We meant no disres—"

"Have you both taken leave of your senses?" demanded the woman at the opposite window.

"Or had you any to begin with?" added Peggy.

The older gentleman appeared to be struggling to suppress a smile, causing Catherine to wonder if most males were lacking in sensitivity. Anger pushed aside her shyness, and she frowned. "And have you any idea what it's like to be blind?"

"I never—"

"My Grandfather Lorimer was stricken blind weeks before he died. He didn't find it so amusing."

Both young men shrank in their seats. "It was a spur-of-the-moment thing," explained the dark-haired one. "You know ... impulse."

Hugh nodded remorsefully. "I played Gloucester in a production of King Lear at St. John's last term, and Neville here wagered I couldn't pull it off in real life. If we would have taken time to think it over ..."

"I believe the young ladies would have preferred you had chosen the death scene instead," the gentleman said.

"There is still time," Peggy said tightly, putting her violin back in its case.

Neville chuckled, but then glanced at Peggy and turned it into a cough. Hugh just sat wearing a look of misery. For the half hour that followed, Catherine and Peggy studiously ignored the young men, who took to ignoring them just as studiously by passing the magazine back and forth and commenting on various cartoons and articles.

It wasn't having been deceived that piqued Catherine the most, or even so much the bad taste of pretending to have a disability. Most mortifying was that he had sat there—probably struggling to hold in the laughter—and allowed her to study his face as if he were a portrait in a museum. Was there any approval showing in her expression? Her face burned again at the realization that there probably was.

"It was a hateful thing to do," Peggy whispered, affirming Catherine's right to a grudge. "I've a good mind to write to the head of—"

A whistle drowned out the rest as the wheels started slowing. When the guard opened the door, Catherine and Peggy hesitated only long enough to bid good-day to their seatmate before stepping onto the platform of Cambridge Station.

"We should keep our eyes out for a porter," Catherine said, then realized she was taking something for granted. They had gotten on splendidly during the journey. Was it presumptuous of her to assume that meant the beginning of a friendship?

"That is, if you would care to share a cab," she added.

"But of course." Peggy's hazel eyes shone above her wide smile. "We're going to be good friends, aren't we?"

Having brothers must make a girl bolder, Catherine thought with a little envy. She smiled back. "Yes, good friends."
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2005

    A must read for young girls...

    I have been a fan of Lawana Blackwell for over four years now, and Catherine's Heart is one of the most profound books I've read from her. It was the most difficult for me to get through, not because it was boring or poorly written (I sometimes think Blackwell could re-write my phone book and it would be a good read), but because of the story. It was unsettling to see someone you connect and identify with make poor choices, but this is one that all young girls absolutely must read. As a young woman myself who has yet to step into the realm of boys and their charms, I can say that Catherine's Heart has played a large role in my understanding of the concept 'guarding your heart.' I just love anything by Blackwell, so I don't think you'll ever go wrong with reading any of her books and this is no exception.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2003

    MY FAVORITE LAWANA BLACKWELL BOOK

    Lawana Blackwell is one of my favorite authors and this is a great book. I could hardly put it down and hated when it ended. It is set in Vicorian England, about a young college girl, who is coming of age and trying to sort the differance between love and infatuation. I would give it 5 1/2 stars if I could!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2003

    The Very best!

    Catherine's Heart was so good. I couldn't put it down. It kept my mind going and thinking of everything that happened to her. This is a great book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2012

    Enjoyed

    Its another good book by this author, but disappointed that the wrong character's name was used in places.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2005

    A Great Read

    Four years have past since we left the lovable cast of characters of The Maiden of Mayfair. For the first part of this story the author splits the focus between Sarah, the main character in the previous book, and Catherine Rayborn, Sarah¿s cousin, who is leaving for her ¿fresher¿ year at Girton. Young nineteen-year-old Catherine seems to fall in love at a drop of a hat, however, she¿s convinced she¿s finally found true love with Lord Holt. Despite warnings from her cousin Sarah, who has discovered their secret meetings, Catherine is determined to see Lord Holt no matter the price. And it is a steep one. Catherine begins a web of lies that could be her undoing. She begins scheming and lying to spend every free Sunday afternoon with the man she believes truly loves her. Meanwhile, Sarah has married William, the love of her life and they are now blessed with an addition to their family. They¿ve moved their family, and their extended family from Mayfair. The home they¿ve moved into has ties to their past as well as Catherine¿s future. Catherine gives up too much of herself for the man she loves, and she pays a dear price. When she finally discovers just what kind of man she¿s given her heart to, will it ever heal? Can she make things right with her friends and family, who she treated badly? And what about how she treated God? This story is a good one, however, I did feel a few small lulls here and there. It was almost like, too little time spent here, and not enough time spent there. All in all it¿s a great read, and I¿d recommend this book, and any other by this extremely gifted author.

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