A sheltered life in the countryside has left Diana Lindsay restless to see the wider world, for both herself and the son she is raising alone. She cannot marry, but perhaps as a courtesan she will find love and protection despite her painful past. Gathering her courage, she moves to London—and finds herself the city’s most desired woman, as admired for her charm as for her beauty. But it is one man who captivates her—handsome, haunted, and harboring a secret as deep as her own . . .
Bound by the sins of his youth, Gervase Brandelin, the Viscount St. Aubyn, has spent his adulthood seeking redemption through service to England. Now a spymaster, he can allow nothing to distract him from his duty. But when he meets Diana, his burdens seem to lift. Though she can never truly be his alone, their genuine love fills him with hope, until a treacherous deceit—and a deadly enemy—threatens to tear them
apart forever . . .
Praise for Mary Jo Putney’s Rogues Redeemed series
“A compelling story that neatly balances dangerous adventures and passionate romance.” —Booklist
“A thrilling, romantic tale.” —Bookpage, Top Pick of the Month
“Putney’s multifaceted and well-developed characters add depth to this romance, which is complete with the trials of war and the promise of future series installments.” —Publishers Weekly
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||5 MB|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Yorkshire, January 1806
The wind blows without ceasing on the high Yorkshire moors, in the spring bright with promise, in the summer soft as a lover's caress, in the autumn haunted with regret. Now, in the depths of winter, the wind was ice-edged and bleak, teasing the shutters, threatening the doors, taunting the impermanence of all man-made structures. But High Tor Cottage had held firm against the wind for hundreds of seasons, and its thick stone walls were a warm haven for those sheltered within.
As her son's lashes fluttered over his dazed lapis-blue eyes, Diana Lindsay gently touched his dark hair, feeling the spun-silk texture before settling in the bedside chair to wait until he was soundly asleep. Most days, as she dealt with the demands and occasional irritations of an active five-year-old, her love for Geoffrey was not on the surface of her mind, but at times like this, when he had suffered a bad seizure, she was so filled with tenderness that she ached with knowing how precious life was, and how fragile. For all the worry and occasional despair it occasioned, her son's disorder gave Diana a greater appreciation of the wonder that was a child.
When Geoffrey's breathing was steady, Diana rose to leave the room. She could have spent all night quietly watching him, yet to do so would be mere indulgence on her part. Even now, years before he would leave her to make his own way in the world, Diana knew how hard it would be to release him when the time came. Walking out this night was just one more of a thousand small disciplines she performed in preparation for the day when Geoffrey would belong to himself more than to her.
As she walked from her son's small bedchamber into the hall, she heard the wind beginning to gust, the windows rattling to protest the oncoming storm. Though it was only four in the afternoon, the light was almost gone and she could not see the small farm shed across the yard when she looked out.
Usually Diana enjoyed the winter storms, loving the solitude and peace of the high moors when the weather was too harsh for trips to the village. It made her feel safe, for if the inhabitants of the cottage could not get out, surely no dangers could get in. Security was a fair compensation for the lonely simplicity of life in this remote corner of Yorkshire.
Diana brewed herself a cup of tea and sat down to savor the solitude. The third member of the household, Edith Brown, was suffering from a heavy winter cold and Diana had packed her off to bed for a rest before supper.
Edith was officially housekeeper, but she was equally friend and teacher. The women shared all the tasks of the household, from cooking and milking to child-rearing.
There was no need for Diana to rush to the milking. Apart from that and a little mending, there were no other chores and she would be free to spend the evening reading or quietly playing the piano.
The prospect should have pleased her, but tonight she felt restless without understanding why. The solid gray stone walls had stood firm against the wind for over two hundred years, and there was food and fuel enough for weeks if need be.
Yet still she found herself crossing to the window to gaze out, seeing only whirling snowflakes. Absently brushing strands of dark chestnut hair from her face, she tried to analyze her deep sense of unease. Over the years she had learned that such feelings could be ignored only at her peril. The last time she had felt a warning this strong, Geoffrey had been two years old. Diana had thought he was napping, and then blind panic had driven her frantically from the house barely in time to pull her son from the stream where he had crept out to play, and where he had slipped into a drowning pool.
Just remembering the incident made her heart beat more quickly, and she made herself sit down again in her Windsor chair by the fire. Closing her eyes and relaxing, she tried to analyze what she felt, patiently sorting out the threads of concern for Edith and Geoffrey and the other minor worries of daily life. What was left was a hazy, unfamiliar perception that she was hard-pressed to name. It wasn't danger that approached; she was sure nothing threatened her small household.
But she felt in her bones that something, or someone, was coming with the storm. Diana's fingers tightened around each other, and she forced herself once more to relax. In a flash of intuition she realized that what approached was something she both feared and welcomed: change.
* * *
Madeline Gainford had been born and bred here on the rooftop of England, but she'd forgotten how bitterly the wind blew. She had been only seventeen when she left, and her blood had pulsed with the fires of youth.
Now she was past forty, and when the carter had set her down on the small village common of Cleveden, her home village looked strange to her. Yet Cleveden itself had changed very little. The differences were all in her.
The cart had been nearly full and the driver allowed her to bring only the small soft bag now slung over her shoulder. She had left her trunk at an inn in Leyburn, not wanting to wait for different transport because the coming storm might have trapped her for days among strangers. And more than anything else on earth, Madeline had wanted to die among friends.
She pulled her fur-lined cloak tightly around her as if she could blot out the aching unpleasantness of the interview she had just had with her widowed sister. They had been friends once, until Madeline had left home in disgrace. The occasional letters the two women exchanged had been terse and to the point, but Madeline thought she had sent back enough money over the years to buy a welcome back into her family home. Isabel had been widowed early, and had it not been for the funds Madeline sent, it would have been hard times for her and her four children.
When Isabel opened the door, her body had stiffened at the sight of her younger sister, her expression of surprise quickly followed by anger and disgust. In a few vicious sentences, Isabel Wolfe had made it clear that while she had graciously accepted her sister's conscience money, she would not let her children be corrupted by having a whore under her own roof.
Her last bitter words still rang in Madeline's ears: You made your own bed, and a whole legion of men have lain in it.
Madeline would not have thought words could hurt so much, but then, she had never been called a whore by her own sister. Only now that the hope was gone did she realize how much she had counted on finding refuge here. Her despair and pain were so great that she might have crumpled to the ground where she stood if the impulse to escape had not been stronger.
Shelter could be bought in one of the other cottages, but there was no point to it, no point at all. Why buy a few more months of increasingly painful life surrounded by disapproving strangers?
Slinging the strap of her bag across her shoulder, Madeline continued walking uphill along the rough track that followed the stream to the top of the dale. As a child she had followed this path when she could escape her chores, finding empty dells where she could dream of a world beyond Cleveden. It was only fitting that she escape along this track for the last time.
The wind sharpened outside the shelter of the cottages, and icy snowflakes bit her face before whirling down to whiten the ground. Though it was almost dark, the meager available light diffused through the snow to lend a soft glow to her progress. In spite of the years that had passed, Madeline recognized the moist heaviness of air that heralded a major blizzard, the kind that could cut off the high country for days or weeks.
Madeline had heard that freezing was a painless way to die, though she wondered who had come back from the grave to recommend it. The thought produced a faint smile and she was glad that a ghost of humor was left to her. It had been foolish to hope Isabel would be different than she was, and Madeline had no strength left for recriminations.
It was surprising how far she was able to walk before fatigue finally stopped her in the protection of one of the few stubby trees, her tired body slowly sinking to the ground. She could have chosen a tree nearer the village, but she had always preferred action to waiting, and even now that was true.
The snow was beginning to drift, and its silence was as pure as she remembered from childhood. The warm, heavy folds of her cloak cushioned the hard earth. She had missed the snow. There was little in London, and it never stayed clean for long. And of course London was never quiet.
Resting her back against the tree trunk, Madeline closed her eyes against the night and wondered how long it would be until she fell into the final sleep. One was supposed to see scenes from one's life when dying, but mostly she thought of Nicholas. In her mind she could see the hurt and the anger that would have been etched on his thin face when he discovered that she was gone.
He would attempt to find her, but apart from her lawyer, no one knew where she had gone, or even where she had come from in the beginning. A courtesan never burdened her protector with the mundane details of childhood.
For the first time she felt tears on her face, icy in the bitter wind. There had been more than business between her and Nicholas or she would not have gone away. But if she had stayed in London, he would never let her dismiss him, and she had her pride. The thought of him watching her waste away, losing what remnants of beauty she had, was unbearable.
Nicholas might have abandoned her, which would have hurt dreadfully. Much more likely, he would have remained with her to the end. The agony on his face would have multiplied her own hurt. Far worse would be knowing the intolerably high price he would be paying to watch his mistress die. Loving him, she could not ask that he pay it.
Her breath escaped in a sob and Madeline pressed a hand to her breast, uncertain whether the pain there was physical or emotional. The lump was hard under her fingers and she dropped her hand, unwilling to feel the alien growth that was eating her life away. Soon it would no longer matter whether the pain was in her body or in her spirit.
Only the soughing wind broke the silence, and there was all the peace one could wish for. Her dark blue cloak was now frosted with white and she wondered absently if anyone would find the pouch of jewels and gold slung under her dress, or whether animals would scatter her bones first.
Better that a needy person find her treasure trove and use it than have it go to Isabel. After all, Madeline thought with dry amusement, she didn't want to corrupt her sister any more than she already had.
There was a certain poetry in the image of the ravaged beauty dying peacefully alone in the snow. It was one of life's anticlimaxes, that as the long minutes passed and strength returned, Madeline found she wasn't ready to die just yet. Had she been the sort to give up easily, she would have died in a workhouse before she was twenty. Waiting for death turned out to be a bloody boring business, and she had never welcomed boredom.
There was a little breath available for laughing at herself as Madeline grasped the lowest tree branch to pull her chilled body upright. Her feet were entirely numb and she had doubtless left her change of heart too late. She would never make it back to the village and there were few houses out this way. Still, she would try.
Vaguely she remembered a cottage that had been inhabited by an old lady when she herself was a child. After the old woman died, High Tor Cottage had been left vacant. Perhaps it was still empty, although surely even it was too far.
But there was no other possible shelter. Madeline continued along the track, now nearly invisible under the snow. She doubted that she would find shelter, did not even really care. But at least the Reaper would have to work to cut her down; she'd be damned if she would do the job for him.
Of course, Isabel would say she was damned already.
* * *
It was full dark when Diana stepped outside to go to the shed and the vicious wind shoved her back against the door, snatching the warm breath from her mouth. She clung to the doorknob as she peered into the swirling snow, where visibility was no more than an arm's length. Thank heaven Edith insisted that during the winter they tie a guide rope between house and shed. The rope was essential tonight and Diana followed it slowly, sliding her left hand along as she carried a lantern in her right. The snow was more than ankle-deep and had drifted against the shed door, making it difficult to pull open.
In the shed, the animals' bodies produced an agreeable warmth and there were soft clucks from the chickens as Diana entered. She hung the lantern on a ceiling hook and stripped off her gloves to begin milking. As she rubbed warmth into her hands, she scanned the rough stone walls, checking that everything was in its proper place.
Edith had educated Diana as if she were a child, introducing her to the cows with the assurance that the beasts meant no harm, for all they were so large. Diana had come to enjoy the pungent smell of healthy livestock that blended with the fragrant sweetness of summer hay.
The wind worsened while she was milking, and it grabbed her as she stepped outside, nearly spilling the pail of milk. Diana edged her way carefully along the rope with the pail in one hand and the lantern in the other. She had reached the back door when she heard the voice above the wind. She almost dismissed it as just another sound of the wild night, but it came again as she opened the door.
Diana gazed into the darkness, seeing nothing but swirling flurries of snow. Surely it was only the wind, crying around the buildings.
As she stepped into the house, the cry came again, this time hauntingly human. She halted. Though she risked being lost in moments if she ventured into the snow, she could not leave any creature to die in the storm.
After a moment's thought, Diana put the milk pail inside the back door, then returned to the shed. She kept a good supply of rope, and she was able to knot together a line perhaps a hundred yards in length.
She went outside again, the rope in her left hand, the lantern held high. Pitching her voice against the wind, she called, "Is anyone there?"
Once more the cry came twisting along the wind, so Diana felt her way down the track toward the voice. The lantern was useless to illuminate the formless drifts beneath her feet, so she held it high above her head, hoping it might be visible to anyone approaching. Even on her own land, it was nearly impossible to find her way through the blinding whiteness. Once she stumbled to her knees, barely saving the lantern from smashing to the ground.
At the end of the rope, she waved the lantern and called until her voice hoarsened. Just when she was ready to give up, a dark shape reeled out of the night, a woman swathed in a hooded cloak. Diana put an arm around the frail exhausted body and pitched her voice to carry over the piercing wind. "Can you keep walking? It's not far."
The woman nodded and straightened herself with obvious effort, then took hold of her rescuer's arm. The journey seemed endless in the bitter cold and Diana was numb to the bone by the time they reached the shed. God only knew how the other woman kept moving. How far could she have come on such a night?
The last hundred feet was accomplished at a snail's pace, and Diana was near collapse as she dragged the two of them into the kitchen. Alerted by the unusual sounds, Edith was entering the kitchen, hastily tying her robe. "Diana, what on earth ...?"
"I heard her calling when I finished milking. She must have seen the lantern," Diana gasped, lowering the woman onto a chair by the fire. Even frosted with snow, the richness of the velvet cloak was obvious. What was a lady doing out on such a night?
Diana pushed her hood back and leaned against the wall by the wide stone fireplace, working to catch her breath. She had never been so grateful for the welcoming warmth of her spacious kitchen, gleaming with copper pans and scented with braids of onions and bunched herbs that hung from the ceiling.
Faced with an emergency, Edith was swift and sure as she set water to heat, peeled off the snow-encrusted cloak, and gently began chafing the visitor's white hands. When the water reached the boil, she brewed tea, adding sugar and a generous dollop of brandy.
The housekeeper was near fifty, her grayed hair falling in a braid over the shoulder of her dark green dressing gown, her austere features marred by a livid scar across the left cheek. She was a woman of few words, but those held wisdom, and there was kindness behind her fierce visage.
Diana wrapped cold fingers around the hot mug Edith gave her, grateful for the internal and external warmth it provided. Then the housekeeper spooned some of the mixture down the woman from the storm. The stranger choked at first, but soon was sipping from the mug Edith held to her lips.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Dearly Beloved"
Copyright © 2019 Mary Jo Putney.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love Mary Jo Putney, she's a great author, however I didn't like this book so much compared to her others. It took a while to get to the good part, the conflict between the two characters. The characters and the villain were great though, just thought the book was a little long. Easy to put down.
Diana Lindsay has been sheltered all her life.She wants to see the world as she grows more unhappy with her life at present. She wants to see it with her young son that she is raising by herself. Due to a certain circumstance, she cannot marry. Maybe as a courtesan, she will find protection and happiness. Due to a bad experience in her past, a life as a courtesan may be the answer to her problems. She decides to move to London to find her fortune. Her beauty and charm make her sought after by the richest men of the ton. There is a secret that she carries that make her unmarriagable. Gervase Brandelin, the Viscount St. Aubyn, has spent his life trying to overcome a past from when he was young. He is a spymaster, who has his attention on only one thing. He cannot afford for anything to distract him. When he meets Diana, he knows she can never be his completely. Diana and Gervase have secrets that will tear them apart. There is a scene that may be disturbing to some readers. I loved the book and how the characters came together. I received this book from Net galley and Kensington Books for a honest review.
Diana Lindsay finds herself and her son moving to London where she finds herself the cities most desired woman. She knows she can’t marry and only one man Gervase Brandelin, the Viscount St. Aubyn has captured her attention. Gervase has spent his life in service to England, but his past still haunts him that is until he meets Diana. This is a story of two wounded souls both yearning for love and hope for a life filled with happiness. A love that heals the heart and soul, if only they didn’t have secrets and a deadly enemy waiting to tear them apart. A captivating story into the lives of people both with scarred and wounded souls, each looking for redemption and love, finding a love of a lifetime isn’t only a dream if they have the courage to believe in it and live HEA!!! I voluntarily read and reviewed this book.
This was one of those books that you have a hate/love relationship with. Parts drive you crazy because they make no sense and other parts are an enjoyable read. Overall it was well written, you just can't think about it too much. It is not the best book I have read by this author., Hence the 3 star rating. I received an ARC from NetGalley for my honest opinion.
An overall pleasant experience reading this historical romance filled with twists and turns I wasn't expecting and it was definitely worth the read. The characters were well executed and the storyline had me interested from the get-go. The only downside to reading "Dearly Beloved" was how long the read was and how it could have easily ended sooner than it original had but that didn't taken away from the read.
Mary Jo Putney is a master writer. This is a classic story that she has put back in print and one of her earlier works. It shows off her witty sense of humor and her strong sense for female empowerment. Diana embodies all those. She meets her match in Gervase. They begin a dazzling courting dance fraught with steamy scenes and lots of excitement. A wonderful story.t
Dearly Beloved is a historical romance that tackles some hard topics including rape. Diana Lindsey wants to find love. Left alone to raise her son with just one nurse in the remote hills, Diana rescues a courtesan outside her home in a blizzard. Becoming fast friends, Diana learns the wiles of being a courtesan and hatches out a plan to go to London to find a lover. The first meeting with the Viscount St. Aubyn puts Diana on path to happiness she has never felt before. With an unbelievably forgiving heart, Diana fights to get the love she wants. The topics covered in this story are pretty intense. Diana's reaction is not completely understandable or believable and yet I still enjoyed the story for its second chances and redemption qualities. Both characters have somewhat of a tortured soul and the HEA is really hard fought. The story left me somewhat torn on my feelings but I still found the pages flipping quickly for a fast-paced and smoothly written tale. My voluntary, unbiased review is base upon a review copy from Netgalley.
The title is a joke. I have never hated a character as much as Gervase! A rapist, only when he is drunk and angry, is not someone you can turn into a loving person by the end of the book. That his wife/mistress Diana forgives his arrogant, controlling, cruel behavior is unbelievable. I do not recommend this book. I was given an ARC for my honest review.
This was a complimentary copy from netgalley - thank you I love Mary Jo Putney's work and was thrilled to have the chance to read this This is a great holiday read Couldn't put this down - the epilepsy thread was an interesting addition - making this not the usual historical romance A great read
I received an ARC of this book to read through NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. Dearly Beloved by Mary Jo Putney is a re-issue of her 1990 stand-alone novel and has been given a gorgeous new cover. The story is definitely old school and parts of it will not transfer well to todays audience so you need to keep that in mind while reading it. Gervaise Brandelin first meets Diana Lindsay when he drunkenly stumbles in to her bedroom in an inn on the island of Mull and thinking she is the barmaid he had made arrangements with … gets amorous … her screams awaken the inn and her mad vicar father insists they marry on the spot. This being Scotland it happens and angry and resentful Gervaise rapes the drugged and bewildered Diana who is then abandoned by both her new husband and her father. Almost a decade later they meet at a gathering of cyprians, where Gervaise is completely bewitched by the beautiful young courtesan whom he does not recognize as his abandoned wife. A potent stew of passion, deceit, betrayal and a decidedly evil villain create a story that will keep you turning pages well past your bedtime. Medium Steam. Publishing Date June 25. 2019 #NetGalley #DearlyBeloved #MaryJoPutney #KensingtonPress #OldSchoolRomance
.A sheltered life in the countryside has left Diana Lindsay restless to see the wider world, for both herself and the son she is raising alone. She cannot marry, but perhaps as a courtesan she will find love and protection despite her painful past. Gathering her courage, she moves to London—and finds herself the city’s most desired woman, as admired for her charm as for her beauty. But it is one man who captivates her—handsome, haunted, and harboring a secret as deep as her own . . . Bound by the sins of his youth, Gervase Brandelin, the Viscount St. Aubyn, has spent his adulthood seeking redemption through service to England. Now a spymaster, he can allow nothing to distract him from his duty. But when he meets Diana, his burdens seem to lift. Though she can never truly be his alone, or can she, their genuine love fills him with hope, until a treacherous deceit—and a deadly enemy—threatens to tear them apart forever. This re-release in digital format of a Mary Jo Putney classic was refreshing. I loved her earlier works and had been disappointed in her newer recent books. Full of intrigue, spies and sexual tension this is one of the better books I have read recently by this author. Ms. Putney's books have always included a lot of historical detail so that did not bother me. Rape no matter the circumstances is never a desirable aspect to any story though. I am glad it received only the brief mention that it did. That being said it was a major aspect to the full story. I was a little confused by the change of names for the heroine though and wondered if this story was going off on a different tangent. I would give this book 4 of 5 stars for storyline and character development. It is a good re-write and re-release. I received a complimentary digital ARC to read. This in no way affected my opinion of this book which I read and reviewed voluntarily.
Wow, I feel like I've just been put through a wringer washer! This was such an intense yet fascinating story, with one shock after another, especially at the end. From the very first chapter, you are brought into a situation that leaves you reeling. All Diana Lindsay wants is to find a man who will love her and make her dreams come true and if she needs to become a courtesan to do so, then so be it. She also has a young son that needs a father! When she comes face to face with Gervase Brandelin, the Viscount St. Aubyn, it's immediate attraction and she soon becomes his mistress. Both have dark secrets that can destroy what they have and once they come out in the open, it almost seems impossible that they will be able to overcome it all....but love and passion are very strong emotions and forgiveness is another one. This is not a lighthearted story but one of deep, dark emotions and filled with angst. One must also realize that these things happen quite often and we can't keep our heads buried in the sand and pretend that it doesn't happen. I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley and am voluntarily leaving an honest review.
This emotionally intense story tells of a hero consumed by regret and guilt over two separate heinous acts committed early in his life. Gervase Brandelin has dealt with his feelings of guilt and worthlessness by burying his emotions deeply. These two life-altering events also involved betrayal. He is cold, suspicious and trusts no one except his cousin and heir, Francis.Diana Lindsay, in contrast, lives life through her emotions and instinct. She too has been through extreme trama in her youth, but instead of becoming a victim has decided to take charge of her life, and to give and receive love. The focus of her love is her epileptic young son conceived by force directly after a shot-gun marriage.The events that bring these ying and yang protagonists together are powerful, emotionally charged, and have an internal logic. The reader is given cues throughout the story so that we are more than one step of the protagonists in the events of this tightly-woven story, but there are still numerous surprise twists and turns. This is quite a dark tale, but life transforming love does ultimately triumph.
Usually when reading a romance, I find myself loving the hero and envying the heroine....usually. Diana Lindsay is one of the most memorable characters I've ever encountered in over 40 years of avid reading. She has a strength of will and a generosity of spirit, but is by no means perfect. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a story full of laughter, tears, action, and love. You will be so glad you did!
After I read all the books in the Fallen Angels series by Ms. Putney, I found this title in a used book store. It's her first historical romance, and while the story was interesting and the characters were well-drawn (as they usually are in Ms. Putney's novels), I just didn't warm up to the hero and heroine as much as I did with the main characters in say, the Fallen Angels series. In particular, I found Gervase (the hero) to be almost abusive to Diana (the heroine) in many of their encounters. It's not until very near the end of the book that the reader discovers the reasons for Gervase's behavior, and by then, it's very nearly too late to muster up much sympathy for him. Still, compared to other authors' early efforts, this is not a bad way to spend one's reading time.
PUTNEY BOOKS ARE NEW TO ME JUST BECAUSE I DIDN'T THINK HER WRITING WAS TO MY TASTE. I WAS INCORRECT AND NOW HAVE DOZENS OF HER WRITINGS TO OCCUPY MY TIME. IN DEARLY BELOVED THE WRITER TAKES ON NOT ONLY EPILEPSY BUT HOMOSEXUALITY--A RARE FIND IN A ROMANCE BOOK. THE TWO ARE PROFOUNDLY APROPOS TO THE STORYLINE. ON A SENSUAL SCALE OF 1-10 IT IS MAYBE A 3--BUT I WILL NOT EXPECT ANY MORE FROM PUTNEY AND THAT IS AN OKAY WITH ME.THE STORY CARRIES THE READER FROM THE VERY FIRST PARAGRAPH-AS A GOOD BOOK SHOULD.
This book was great everything I expected. The story line was great