"Lady Emily's Exotic Journey is a fun tale of desire, adventure, enticing characters. A sexy and wildly entertaining romance."Addicted to Romance
For a man whose only mistress is travel, can Lucien Chambertin change his loveless ways for the enchanting Emily Tremaine?
Safe in the embrace of her loving family, Lady Emily Tremaine longs to feel more intensely alive. Surely the magic and mystery of Assyria and the fabled ruins of Nineveh will bring about the transformation she seeks.
Scarred by his past and estranged from his noble grandfather, French adventurer Lucien Chambertin desires neither a home nor the chains of emotional attachment. He seeks only to explore the far reaches of the world. But he did not know the world contained the likes of Lady Emilywhose curiosity and sense of wonder match his own.
Victorian Adventures Series:
Lady Elinor's Wicked Adventures (Book 1)
Lady Emily's Exotic Journey (Book 2)
A Scandalous Adventure (Book 3)
Praise for Lady Elinor's Wicked Adventures:
"Lively Victorian adventure...wonderfully different and colorful...sure to charm readers." RT Book Reviews
"A simply delightful tale of love, passion, and family." Fresh Fiction
About the Author
Lillian Marek was born and raised in New York City. At one time or another she has had most of the interesting but underpaid jobs available to English majors. After a few too many years in journalism, she decided she prefers fiction, where the good guys win and the bad guys get what they deserve.
Read an Excerpt
Lady Emily's Exotic Journey
By Lillian Marek
Sourcebooks, Inc.Copyright © 2015 Lillian Marek
All rights reserved.
Constantinople, March 1861
Constantinople had looked so promising to Lady Emily when they arrived this morning, with the city rising up out of the morning mists, white and shining with turrets and domes and balconies everywhere. The long, narrow boats in the harbor all sported bright sails. It had been so new and strange and exotic.
Now here she was, walking with Lady Julia behind her parents on Wilton carpets. Wilton carpets imported from Salisbury! When even she knew that this part of the world was famous for its carpets.
She heaved a sigh. They had traveled thousands of miles to finally reach Constantinople — the Gateway to Asia, the ancient Byzantium, the capital of the fabulous Ottoman Empire, a city of magic and mystery — and for what?
To be tucked up in the British Embassy, a Palladian building that would have looked perfectly at home around the corner from Penworth House in London. She understood that it was British and represented the Queen and the Empire and all that, but did it have to be so very English?
The doors at the end of the hall were flung open and a butler, dressed precisely as he would have been in London, announced, "The Most Honorable the Marquess of Penworth. The Most Honorable the Marchioness of Penworth. The Lady Emily Tremaine. The Lady Julia de Vaux."
They might just as well have never left home.
Emily smiled the insipid smile she reserved for her parents' political friends — the smile intended to assure everyone that she was sweet and docile — and prepared to be bored. She was very good at pretending to be whatever she was expected to be. Next to her, she could feel Julia straighten her already perfect posture. She reached over to squeeze her friend's hand.
"Lord Penworth, Lady Penworth, allow me to welcome you to Constantinople." A ruddy-faced gentleman with thinning gray hair on his head and a thinning gray beard on his chin inclined his head. "And this must be your daughter, Lady Emily?" He looked somewhere between the two young women, as if uncertain which one to address.
Emily took pity on him and curtsied politely.
He looked relieved and turned to Julia. "And Lady Julia?" She performed a similar curtsy.
"My husband and I are delighted to welcome such distinguished visitors to Constantinople," said the small, gray woman who was standing stiffly beside the ambassador, ignoring the fact that he had been ignoring her.
Emily blinked. She knew marital disharmony when she heard it. She also knew how unpleasant it could make an evening.
"We are delighted to be here, Lady Bulwer," said Lord Penworth courteously. "This part of the world is new to us, and we have all been looking forward to our visit." He turned to the ambassador. "I understand that you, Sir Henry, are quite familiar with it."
"Tolerably well, tolerably well. I'm told you're here to study the possibility of a railroad along the Tigris River valley. Can't quite see it myself." Before the ambassador realized it, Lord Penworth had cut him out of the herd of women and was shepherding him off to the side.
In the sudden quiet, Lady Penworth smiled at her hostess and gestured at the room about them. "I am most impressed by the way you have managed to turn this embassy into a bit of England," she said. "If I did not know, I would think myself still in London."
Lady Bulwer looked both pleased and smug. She obviously failed to note any hint of irony in Lady Penworth's words. Emily recognized the signs. Her parents would out-diplomat the diplomats, smoothing over any bumps of disharmony in the Bulwer household, and conversation would flow placidly through conventional channels. Boring, but unexceptionable. And only too familiar.
Then Julia touched her arm.
Still looking straight ahead, and still with a faint, polite smile on her face, Julia indicated that Emily should look at the left-hand corner of the room. Emily had never understood how it was that Julia could send these messages without making a sound or even moving her head, but send them she did.
In this case, it was a message Emily received with interest. Off in the corner were two young men pretending to examine a huge globe while they took sideways glances at the newcomers. This was much more promising than the possibility of trouble between the ambassador and his wife. Refusing to pretend a lack of curiosity — she was growing tired, very tired, of pretending — she looked straight at them.
One was an extraordinarily handsome man, clean-shaven to display a beautifully sculpted mouth and a square jaw. His perfectly tailored black tailcoat outlined a tall, broad- shouldered physique. The blinding whiteness of his shirt and bow tie contrasted with the slight olive cast of his skin. His hair was almost black, and his dark eyes betrayed no awareness of her scrutiny. He stood with all the bored elegance of the quintessential English gentleman. Bored and probably boring.
The other man looked far more interesting. He was not so tall — slim and wiry, rather than powerful looking — and not nearly so handsome. His nose was quite long — assertive might be a polite way to describe it — and his tanned face was long and narrow. Like his companion, he was clean shaven, though his hair, a dark brown, was in need of cutting. While his evening clothes were perfectly proper, they were worn carelessly, and he waved his hands about as he spoke in a way that seemed definitely un-English. He noticed immediately when she held her gaze on him and turned to return her scrutiny. She refused to look away, even when he unashamedly examined her from head to toe. His eyes glinted with amusement, and he gave her an appreciative grin and salute.
The cheek of him! She laughed out loud, making Julia hiss and drawing the attention of her mother and Lady Bulwer. Sir Henry must have noticed something as well, for he waved the young men over to be introduced to Papa.
They both stopped a proper distance away, and the handsome one waited with an almost military stiffness. Sir Henry introduced him first. "This is David Oliphant, Lord Penworth. He's with the Foreign Office and will be your aide and guide on the journey. He knows the territory and can speak the lingo. All the lingoes, in fact — Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic, whatever you run into along the way."
Oliphant bowed. "Honored, my lord."
Lord Penworth smiled. "My pleasure."
"And this young man is Lucien Chambertin. He's on his way back to Mosul where he's been working with Carnac, digging up stone beasts or some such."
"The remains of Nineveh, Sir Henry." Chambertin then turned to Lord Penworth with a brief, graceful bow and a smile. "I am most pleased to make your acquaintance, my lord, for I am hoping you will allow me to impose on you and join your caravan for the journey to Mosul."
He spoke excellent English, with just a hint of a French accent. Just the perfect hint, Emily decided. Sir Henry was not including the ladies in his introductions, to her annoyance, so she had been obliged to position herself close enough to hear what they were saying. This was one of the rare occasions when she was grateful for her crinolines. They made it impossible for the ladies to stand too close to one another, so she placed herself to the rear of her mother. From that position, she could listen to the gentlemen's conversation while appearing to attend to the ladies'. What's more, from her angle she could watch them from the corner of her eye without being obvious.
"I cannot imagine why you should not join us," Lord Penworth told the Frenchman. "I understand that, in Mesopotamia, it is always best to travel in a large group. You are one of these new scholars — what do they call them, archaeologists?"
Chambertin gave one of those Gallic shrugs. "Ah no, nothing so grand. I am just a passing traveler, but I cannot resist the opportunity to see the ruins of Nineveh when the opportunity offers itself. And then when Monsieur Carnac says he has need of assistance, I agree to stay for a while."
"Well, my wife will certainly find the ruins interesting. She has developed quite a fascination with the ancient world."
Oliphant looked startled. "Your wife? But surely Lady Penworth does not intend to accompany us."
"Of course." Lord Penworth in turn looked startled at the question. "I could hardly deny her the opportunity to see the ancient cradle of civilization. Not when I am looking forward to it myself."
"I'm sorry. I was told you were traveling to view the possible site of a railway."
"I am." Penworth smiled. "That is my excuse for this trip. General Chesney has been urging our government to build a railway from Basra to Constantinople. His argument is that it would provide much quicker and safer communication with India. Palmerston wanted me to take a look and see if there would be any other use for it."
The ambassador snorted. "Not much. There's nothing of any use or interest in that part of the world except for those huge carvings that fellows like Carnac haul out of the ground."
The handsome Mr. Oliphant looked worried. Before he could say anything, dinner was announced, the remaining introductions were finally made, and Emily found herself walking in to dinner on the arm of M. Chambertin. He had behaved quite correctly when they were introduced and held out his arm in perfectly proper fashion. He said nothing that would have been out of place in the most rigidly proper setting imaginable. Nonetheless, she suspected that he had been well aware of her eavesdropping. There was a decidedly improper light dancing in his eyes.
She liked it.
About dinner she was less certain. The oxtail soup had been followed by lobster rissoles, and now a footman placed a slice from the roast sirloin of beef on her plate, where it joined the spoonful of mashed turnips and the boiled onion. The onion had been so thoroughly boiled that it was finding it difficult to hold its shape and had begun to tilt dispiritedly to one side.
"This is really quite a remarkable meal," Lady Penworth said to their hostess. "Do you find it difficult to obtain English food here?"
"You've no idea." Lady Bulwer sighed sadly. "It has taken me ages to convince the cook that plain boiled vegetables are what we want. You can't imagine the outlandish spices he wants to use. And the olive oil! It's a constant struggle."
"And in that battle, the food lost," muttered Emily, poking the onion into total collapse.
A snort from M. Chambertin at her side indicated that her words had not gone unheard. After using his napkin, he turned to her. "You do not care for rosbif?" he asked with a grin. "I thought all the English eat nothing else."
"We are in Constantinople, thousands of miles from home, and we might as well be in Tunbridge Wells."
He made a sympathetic grimace. "Perhaps while your papa goes to look at the railway route, Sir Henry can find you a guide who will show you and your friend a bit of Constantinople. You should really see the Topkapi — the old palace — and the bazaar."
"Oh, but we aren't going to be staying here. Julia and I are going with my parents."
Mr. Oliphant, who had been speaking quietly with Julia, heard that and looked around in shock. "Lady Emily, you and Lady Julia and Lady Penworth are all planning to go to Mosul? Surely not. I cannot believe your father will allow this."
Emily sighed. She was accustomed to such reactions. Lady Emily, you cannot possibly mean ... Lady Emily, surely you do not intend ... All too often, she had restrained herself and done what was expected. She intended this trip to be different. Still, she was curious as well as annoyed. Was Mr. Oliphant about to urge propriety, or was there some other reason for his distress? "Why should we not?" she asked.
Mr. Oliphant took a sip of wine, as if to calm himself. Or fortify himself. It was impossible to be certain. He cleared his throat. "I fear Lord Penworth may not be fully aware of the difficulties — dangers, even — of travel in this part of the world. The caravan route through Aleppo and Damascus and then across the desert is hazardous under the best of circumstances, and these days ..." He shook his head.
"My friend does not exaggerate," added M. Chambertin, looking serious. "Although the recent massacres in the Lebanon seem to be at an end, brigands have become more bold, and even the largest caravans — they are not safe."
"But we are not planning to take that route." Emily looked at Julia for confirmation and received it. "We are to sail to Samsun on the Black Sea, travel by caravan over the mountains to Diyarbakir, and then down the river to Mosul. And eventually on to Baghdad and Basra. Papa discussed it all with people back in London when he and Lord Palmerston were planning the route. So you need not worry." She smiled to reassure the gentlemen.
M. Chambertin and Mr. Oliphant exchanged glances, trying to decide which should speak. It fell to Mr. Oliphant. "I do not question your father's plan, Lady Emily. These days that is by far the safer route, though no place is entirely safe from attacks by brigands. However, he may have underestimated the physical difficulties of the trip. The mountains — these are not gentle little hills like the ones you find in England. They are barren and rocky, and we will cross them on roads that are little more than footpaths. It is impossible to take a carriage. If they do not go on foot, travelers must go on horseback or on mules. And this early in the year, it will still be bitterly cold, especially at night."
"You needn't worry," Emily assured him. "We are all excellent riders, and I am told that the cold is preferable to the heat of the summer."
M. Chambertin smiled at her and shook his head. "I do not doubt that you are a horsewoman par excellence, and your mother and Lady Julia as well. However, the journey over the mountains will take weeks. We will encounter few villages, and those we find will be most poor. There will be times when we must sleep in tents or take shelter in stables. Nowhere will there be comfortable inns where ladies can refresh themselves."
Emily and Julia looked at each other, sharing their irritation. Male condescension was obviously to be found everywhere.
"I believe you misunderstand the situation, gentlemen." Julia spoke in her iciest, most superior tones. "We are not fragile pieces of porcelain. We are grown women, and English women at that. I do not think you will find us swooning at the sight of a spider. Or, for that matter, at the sight of a lion. Since Lord Penworth has determined that we are capable of undertaking the journey, I see no need for you to question his judgment."
Mr. Oliphant flushed uncomfortably. "I assure you that no insult was intended either to you or to Lord Penworth. It is simply that ladies do not normally undertake such a journey."
Julia's tone grew even icier. "Ladies do not? Are you suggesting that there is something improper about our taking part in this trip?"
His flush deepened. "Not at all. I would not ... I assure you ... my only concern is your safety."
"You need not worry about that either," said Emily, waving a hand casually in the air. "Harry — that's Lady Julia's brother, Lord Doncaster. He's married to my sister Elinor. He has provided each of us with a revolver."
There was an odd, choking sound from M. Chambertin.
Emily turned to him. "Are you quite well, monsieur?"
"Quite well." His face, when it reappeared from his napkin, was slightly red. "And the Lord Doncaster, he has no doubt taught you how to shoot these revolvers?"
"Of course." Emily smiled rather smugly. "In fact, I am becoming quite a good shot. Would you care for a demonstration? Not here in the dining room," she assured Mr. Oliphant, who was looking more and more distressed.
M. Chambertin, on the other hand, was grinning broadly. "No demonstration will be needed, I assure you. I begin to think that this will be a most interesting voyage. Bien intéressant."
Excerpted from Lady Emily's Exotic Journey by Lillian Marek. Copyright © 2015 Lillian Marek. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is book 2 in the Victorian Adventures series. Lady Emily Tremaine is traveling to the fabled ruins of Ninevah with her family. Wanting to feel more alive than she does in the ballrooms of London, she embarks on the journey full of hope. She didn't count on finding love in the dangerous desert they traveled. Adventurer, Lucian Chambertin, has attached himself to the Tremaine party and will help to escort them to their destination. He soon realizes that Emily is not like other society misses and they quickly become friends. But Lucian soon finds himself having some very un-friend like thoughts about Emily. He is not ready to settle down and tries to keep his feeling at bay. Lucian has been traveling the world to runaway from issues at home, but they soon find him nonetheless. What will happen as this couple travels through the distant and foreign lands? Can Lucian solve his issues with his family to find the HEA he didn't know that he wanted? I enjoyed this story a lot. I loved that the story took place somewhere other than the ballrooms in London. We get to see how others, not usually included in historical romances, lived during this period of time. It was definitely a nice change of pace. I also liked that Emily and Lucian became friends first. They had many weeks of travel that allowed them to converse and learn more about each other before they noticed the red hot attraction that eventually burned between them. I can't wait to see what destination Marek has planned for use next!! Thanks go out to Sourcebooks Casablanca via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
I am a romance junkie, but nothing excites me more than strong characters and vivid settings. Ms. Marek delivers on both - and then some. As I read Lady Emily's Exotic Journey, I felt like I was there, traveling from London to Constantinople and beyond with Emily, Julia, Lucien and David. This story had everything I could ask for. Vivid settings, intriguing historical facts that made me want to learn more, simmering romances (yes, plural!), that deliciously hinted at more (behind closed doors), and, of course, exciting adventures. Lady Emily's Exotic Adventures is an absolutely satisfying read.
Let’s get out of the drawing rooms and the overly stressful season and dash off to Mesopotamia on an assignment to discover if a railroad is a viable option for travelers along the Tigris River. The Penworths (Lord & Lady and their daughters Emily and Julia) are a close-knit bunch, the girls are well-educated and everyone enjoys an adventure. So the idea of them all traveling with Lord Penworth for his assignment isn’t too strange, and sets us up for a story layered with interactions and relationships, full of detail, imagery and interest. While heading out on their journey, first stop Constantinople. Funnily enough, despite the change in location, Emily is non-plussed: the city feels much like London, not the adventure she had hoped for. Not your average missish giggling girl, Emily wants adventure and intrigue, and isn’t afraid to prove she is up to the task. Constantinople does bring one interesting development however, in the form of Lucien Chambertin, a French adventurer who asks to join their party for the dangerous horseback crossing of the mountains as the party heads to Assyria. He finds Emily and Julia delightful: curious and intelligent, different from others of their ilk that he has met. He shares nuggets of information with the girls throughout the story, some scandalous others not, to great effect. Of course, he and Emily grow closer throughout the story: dangerous threats from within and outside their traveling party, a flirtation for Julia with Oliphant that is heavy on stolen glances and sweet interactions and plenty of description that bring the scenery to light, this story provided depth in unexpected places, a welcome addition. The relationship between Lucien and Emily develops well, pacing is appropriate to the time despite the rather unconventional aspects. Emily is, above all, a pragmatic and sensible girl, and she is willing to brave danger, bad weather, and inhospitable conditions and don native garb to not stand out, so Lucien’s secrets aren’t that horrible, nor a deal breaker. A clever story with a touch of mystery, plenty of history and a nice bit of romance: I’m going to grab the first in the series to read when I have a chance. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
This very unique and charming story has two romances in it, that of Emily and Lucien as well as David and Julia (so you get a two for one!). Emily and Julia are traveling with her parents in the middle east. Her father is here for the opening of a railroad but also has an interest in the archaeological digs going on in the area and unlike a more traditional English parent, he is quite happy to have his wife and daughter with him for the trip. Along for the adventure are Lucien, a french traveler with an interest in anything archaeological and David, a foreign officer aide who is also half Arab. Emily and Lucien become friends, though it isn't long before the interest between them sparks thoughts of a different kind of relationship (and ditto for David and Julia). But there is danger afoot that could cause trouble on their road to a happy every after. This story is full of action and adventure right from the start. The setting is unique and well described, giving you the full flavour of each of the countries that they travel through, from the dry desert to the rocky moutainsides, and the cultures of each of the areas were really interesting to read about. The story is told from multiple points of view, from both of the couples involved, as well as some of the secondary characters so while it is at heart a romance, you get the viewpoints from many to enrich the story. Both of the romances are sweet and not overly sensual. David and Julia have complicated family histories that make them question whether or not someone could truly be interested in them (and worry about the fallout of getting involved with someone). In this way, they are a matched pair and discover that they can be each other's happiness. Emily is looking for more adventure in her life and she believes she will find it with Lucien based on what she knows about him. At the same time she knows that while her parents are quite permissive in allowing her to come on this journey, they will be expecting her to marry well into society once they return home to England and being with Lucien won't be allowed. So with their plot you've got the star crossed lovers ideal, as well as Lucien having to decide whether he wants to be a wanderer or if Emily is the woman to settle down with. Once the couples are established and all the dangers and suspense plot have been set aright, the story could have ended happily there and I thought it dragged on a bit at the end. But my overall feeling was of an interesting and exciting tale, and I really enjoyed the uniqueness of it all. 4 stars.