Overview

"A rather dull girl…with no looks to speak of."

Doctor Charles Trescombe's opinion of his niece's governess was far from complimentary. Cordelia knew she was plain. She also knew what good manners were, and the high-and-mighty doctor didn't have any!

But there was magic in Vienna that could transform even the most unlikely people. Much to her dismay, Cordelia fell in love with him anyway. And Charles soon discovered that quiet and unassuming ...

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Magic in Vienna

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Overview

"A rather dull girl…with no looks to speak of."

Doctor Charles Trescombe's opinion of his niece's governess was far from complimentary. Cordelia knew she was plain. She also knew what good manners were, and the high-and-mighty doctor didn't have any!

But there was magic in Vienna that could transform even the most unlikely people. Much to her dismay, Cordelia fell in love with him anyway. And Charles soon discovered that quiet and unassuming ways had a knack for stealing a man's heart—without him even realizing it.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781459239654
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 4/16/2012
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Sales rank: 153,641
  • File size: 933 KB

Meet the Author

Romance readers around the world were sad to note the passing of Betty Neels in June 2001.Her career spanned thirty years, and she continued to write into her ninetieth year.To her millions of fans, Betty epitomized the romance writer.Betty’s first book, Sister Peters in Amsterdam,was published in 1969, and she eventually completed 134 books.Her novels offer a reassuring warmth that was very much a part of her own personality.Her spirit and genuine talent live on in all her stories.

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Read an Excerpt




The room was large, shabbily furnished and inadequately heated by old fashioned radiators, its discomforts heightened by virtue of the dull April morning. Its occupants sat round the heavy old fashioned table in the middle of the room eating their breakfast, presided over by a young woman whose large, long lashed hazel eyes redeemed an otherwise ordinary face from plainness. She was very neat, with pale brown hair coiled on the top of her head. As much of her person as was visible above the table, was clad in a knitted sweater which looked faded by most standards but was carefully pressed. She poured tea from the large pot before her while she listened to a girl of fifteen or so, sitting at the other end of the table. The girl was pretty, fair haired and blue eyed, her prettiness marred by a sulky mouth.

'I think Mother's mean to make me have my meals with you and the children,' she declared. 'Just because she swans around with her boyfriends and doesn't want any competition I have to stay here in the schoolroom. Well, I won't and no one can stop me.'

She glared defiantly at the girl she was addressing who said bracingly, 'Don't talk like that in front of the children, Chloë. Why don't you go down presently and have a talk with your mother? But you are only fifteen you know.'

The boy sitting between them spoke with a full mouth.

'Much good that'll do you.' He thrust his cup down the table. 'Give me some more tea, Cordelia.'

'Please…'

He turned pale blue eyes on her. 'Why should I say please? Mother treats you like a servant so I shall too.'

The hazel eyes took fire but her voice was steady and quiet. 'We shared the same father, Matthew.'

'And he's dead. You'll be stuck here with the twins for years because you've nowhere to go.'

The girl didn't bother to answer but turned her attention to the two small children sitting at the other side of the table. Six year old twins, a boy and a girl, eating bread and butter and jam and taking no notice of anyone. She had done her best to love them but they weren't lovable children; her father had died soon after they were born and since her stepmother, who had never wanted them in the first place, ignored them as much as possible, she had tried to be a mother to them, more for her father's sake, she supposed, for she had loved him. But now after six years, she had to admit that she had very little affection for them, largely because they had shown her none. She remembered very clearly her shock and apprehension when her father had told her that he was to marry again, and produced, almost immediately, a stepmother with two children of her own from a former marriage. Chloë and Matthew had been quite small then but they had looked at her with hostile eyes and although she had done her best to get on good terms with them, she had been defeated, largely because her stepmother had encouraged them, almost from the first day, to treat her as a kind of superior servant. It had been done very subtly, so that her father never had an inkling of what was going on and her stepmother had always been careful to behave charmingly towards her when her father was with them. Cordelia, a girl of spirit but sensible as well, could see no good coming of bringing the true state of affairs to his notice, and now all these years later, she was glad that she hadn't.

But now the children didn't need her; true, they expected her to look after them, much as a governess would, but even the twins at school each day, were quite able to look after themselves. Matthew had just remarked gloatingly that there was nowhere for her to go, but she had every intention of leaving. For several weeks now she had scanned the jobs columns in the newspapers and although there had been nothing which she felt she could tackle, she went on looking. Sooner or later, someone would want a young woman willing and able to cope with a child or children. True, it might mean going from the frying pan into the fire, but at least she would be paid. At present, she had no money of her own; from time to time her stepmother would give her cash for shoes or clothes, but she was expected to make it last and whatever she bought was expected to last, too.

Chloë pushed back her chair and got up from the table. 'I'm going to see Mother now,' she declared.

'Your mother doesn't like to be disturbed while she's having her breakfast,' Cordelia pointed out. 'I should wait if I were you.'

'Well, I'm not you,' said Chloë rudely, 'and I'll do what I like.'

Matthew got up too. 'I'm going fishing,' he threw over his shoulder. It was nearly the end of the Easter holiday, and Cordelia sighed with relief because in another couple of days he'd be back at school. She finished the tea in her cup and remembered that the twins had been invited to a friend's house for the morning. She didn't like the boy they were to visit; he was almost, but not quite a vandal although he was barely eight years old, but her stepmother was a friend of his mother's and would hear no word against him. They would be unmanageable when they got back from there for lunch, but at least it would leave the morning free for her to get on with sorting out Matthew's school uniform. She stood over them while they washed their hands and tidied themselves, saw them safely down the short drive and across the village green and then walked briskly back to the house, a red brick Edwardian residence, over embellished with fancy brick work and balconies. Cordelia had never liked it; they had moved there just before her father had died because her stepmother had complained that the little Regency house in a nearby village was far too small. Her father had been ill then, too ill to stand firm against his wife's insistence, and he'd given in without argument. If I manage to get a job, thought Cordelia, I shan't miss home at all, for it isn't a home.

The papers were in the hall as she went in. The cook and daily maid were in the kitchen, her stepmother wouldn't come downstairs for another hour. Cordelia snatched up the Telegraph and the Times and sat herself down to read the jobs columns. There weren't many in the household sections, the only ones she felt fitted for. She scanned first one paper and then the second one. Almost at the end of the column her eye lighted on what could only be an answer to her prayers. A patient, good tempered young woman, well-educated and with experience in the management of children was required to accompany a lady and her young granddaughter to Vienna where she would hand over her charge to her uncle. The post was temporary and references were required.

Cordelia flew upstairs to the second floor where she had a room. It was as shabby as the schoolroom and whereas the other rooms in the house were all handsomely furnished, it hadn't been considered necessary to offer her one of them. All the same, it was hers, and had her few small treasures and a little desk of her mother's there. She sat down at it and wrote a reply, stating that she was twenty-six, had six years of experience with children, had been educated at a well known girl's school and offered the family doctor's name together with that of her father's solicitor as reference. She would have to post the letter at once as well as telephone these two gentlemen but first of all she would have to return the papers to the table in the hall. She had barely arranged them neatly and was turning away to go upstairs again when her stepmother came down.

She nodded at Cordelia's polite good morning, picked up the papers and crossed the hall to the sitting room.

'I'll be out this morning, you will all have lunch in the schoolroom and I wish you'd press that skirt of mine—that maid's no good. And you can go down to the village and get the groceries for cook, she says she must have them here this morning.' She turned and looked at Cordelia with a cold eye: 'And you can stop putting silly ideas into Chloë's head—I won't have her downstairs when I have guests. Her manners are appalling, surely to goodness you can at least teach the children how to behave? You've little else to do.'

Cordelia said quietly, 'The twins to look after, Matthew to try to discipline, their clothes to see to, the shopping, the ironing quite often, the…'

Her stepmother lifted a hand. 'You ungrateful girl, whining at me in such a fashion. You have a home and food and…' she paused.

'And what?' asked Cordelia gently. Mrs Gibson glared, went into the sitting room and shut the door with a snap.

There was no sign of Chloë and Cordelia didn't want to see her for a bit. She nipped smartly upstairs, found her purse, woefully slim, put the letter in her skirt pocket and hurried out of the house. There was a telephone kiosk near the general stores and post office, she 'phoned the doctor first, extracted a promise that he would write a glowing reference for her if it was asked for, and then got on to the solicitor, an old man now, who had been a great friend of her father's and was easily persuaded to do as she asked and not say a word to anyone. Both gentlemen were aware that her life hadn't been an easy one since her father's death and she was, after all, not a young silly girl. She bought her groceries and went back with her loaded basket to spend the rest of the morning listening to Chloë's furious invective, mostly and quite unfairly directed against herself.

She had taken the precaution of asking the advertiser not to telephone and it was two days before the letter came. The postman came early but Cordelia was already up, helping Cook with the breakfast and laying the table. Cook, who had been with the family for a matter of twenty years, had strong feelings about the way in which Cordelia was put upon. 'The master would turn in his grave if he did but know,' she observed indignantly to her croney, the rectory housekeeper, 'but Miss Cordelia, bless her, just goes sailing on, won't be browbeaten, mind you, but never complains nor says a word to anyone. It fair breaks your heart. It's to be hoped that something will happen.'

The letter happened. Cordelia was invited to call at Brown's Hotel in London on the following Saturday at two o'clock for an interview. She read the letter twice and then put it in her pocket and Cook, who had been standing on the other side of the kitchen stove, watching her read it, asked, 'Good news, Miss Cordelia?'

Cordelia explained. 'And don't please say a word to anyone,' she begged, 'but how on earth am I to get there?'

Cook couldn't help her; Cordelia spent the morning plotting ways and means and didn't come up with a single feasible idea, but someone was on her side; call it Fate, her Fairy Godmother, or just plain Luck, that afternoon her stepmother told her that she would be away for the weekend. 'Friends in Berkshire,' she said languidly, 'I'll drive myself and I'll have to take Chloë with me, I suppose, they want to see her—Godparents, you know. The twins are to spend the day with the Kings; you'd better take them over directly after breakfast and fetch them back by seven o'clock. Matthew's back at school, isn't he?'

'He goes tomorrow.'

'So you'll have nothing to do on Saturday—you'd better turn out the schoolroom. And see that Chloë's things are ready by Friday afternoon; I want to leave after lunch.'

There were three days to go; Cordelia wrote a polite note confirming her interview, counted her money and worked out bus times to fit in with trains from St Albans. The buses didn't fit in; she would never be able to catch the morning bus from the village although she thought she would be able to catch the early evening bus back from St Albans; there was one at five o'clock too, she might manage to catch that one. A taxi was the answer but she hadn't enough money. She went through her usual chores worrying away at her problems and by Friday morning she still hadn't solved it. She had gone to the kitchen to fetch the tray for breakfast when Cook stopped her. 'Something's on your mind, Miss Cordelia?'

'Well, I don't think I'll be able to get to London—there's no bus to get me to St Albans. I'll have to 'phone and cancel the whole thing.'

Cook turned the bacon she was frying. 'No need, dearie, my nephew Sam he's going to London tomorrow—he'll take you the whole way and be glad to do it.'

Cordelia put down her tray. 'Cook, you angel. Will he really? I'll pay my share of the petrol…'

'Indeed you won't, Miss Cordelia, for it's not costing him anything extra and he'll have company. He won't be able to bring you back though…'

'That's okay—there are several trains in the late afternoon and the last bus for the village doesn't leave St Albans until six-fifteen, though I'll try and catch the one before that if I can.' Distant shouts signalled the twins clattering along to the schoolroom, and she picked up her tray once more. 'What time?' she asked. 'I'm to be there by two o'clock.'

'Sam wants to be at his aunt's by one o'clock. If I do you some sandwiches will you be able to eat them somewhere?'

'Bless you Cook, of course, I will.'

'Well, good luck, Miss Cordelia, you deserve a taste of the world. I'll miss you.'

'I shall miss you too, if I get the job.'

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