At first, Landen Elmsworth believes the fetching Miss York might be right for a meaningless dalliance, but he grossly underestimates her capacity for cunning and soon finds himself bound until death to a woman he may never be able to trust. Yet in the dark of their bedroom they discover an undeniable passion--and a capacity to forge their own destiny . . .
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The Lady Who Saw Too Much
A Sole Survivor Novel
By Thomasine Rappold
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Thomasine Rappold
All rights reserved.
Troy, New York 1884
She was about to be tossed to the street. Gianna York folded her trembling hands on her lap, lifted her chin, and did her utmost to maintain her dignity.
Prolonging the torture, Mrs. Amery tidied one of the tall stacks of papers covering the surface of the large desk between them. "I'm sorry, Gia, but my decision is final." The woman's usually stern voice softened beneath her crushing words. "You've done a fine job these past months, but in light of your recent disclosure, I simply cannot keep you on any longer."
Gia slumped in her seat. She'd expected the worst when she'd been summoned to Mrs. Amery's office so early this morning, and that's precisely what she'd been handed. She stared down at her lap as she fought to contain her dismay.
"Our students are impressionable young women, as you well understand. The precarious situation in which you've placed yourself by fleeing your home as you did, leaves me with no other choice. And I'm afraid it leaves you with limited respectable options."
Bristling at the unnecessary reminder, Gia rued the moment of weakness during which she'd divulged this part of her past. Lesson learned. From here on out, she would lie. The thought made her angrier. Not at Mrs. Amery, who'd always treated her fairly, but at herself. It wasn't weakness but pride that had prompted Gia's confession. Her stubborn attempt to challenge society's perception of what she'd done had failed miserably. If a woman as forward-thinking as Mrs. Amery couldn't be swayed ... "I understand," Gia uttered.
Mrs. Amery sighed. "It's a bitter pill to swallow, I know, but all is not lost. I may have a solution."
Gia glanced up, surprised.
"I've learned recently of a position that might interest you. Of course it's not as a teaching assistant, nor here at the school, but —"
"Where?" Gia leaned forward.
"A small town in the country a mere half-day's ride from here. The position is for a companion to a young woman from an upstanding family who summers there. The poor girl suffers with a crippling shyness, and her family feels a companion might help alleviate her condition. Their trust in the Troy Female Seminary has brought them to me for a recommendation." Mrs. Amery tilted her head. "I've told them only of your quality work here, nothing more," she said sternly.
"I appreciate that."
"I know it's not ideal, but if you still refuse to consider returning to your family, I truly believe it's your only recourse."
Gia stiffened at the mention of her family. Returning to Boston meant abiding by their conditions, and Gia knew all too well the terms of those conditions. Blind obedience. Total conformity. Mind-numbing medications to "restore her health" and "quiet the spells" from which she'd been afflicted since the accident but rendered her senseless in the process.
No. She refused to go back to that life.
Gia had survived the icy water for a reason. And while she'd never understand why she'd lived while her brothers hadn't, she'd conceded, after much painful resistance, that all that ensued was a part of that reason. Gia had to accept this. Even if her parents couldn't.
Gia straightened in her chair. She could be a companion. She could be whatever was required of a companion, so long as it paid sufficiently.
"And it pays quite well," Mrs. Amery added as if reading Gia's thoughts. "The position must be filled immediately, so if you decide to accept, you must depart at once."
"I'll do it," Gia said.
"Very well, then." Mrs. Amery reached into the desk drawer. "The Elmsworths are expecting you tomorrow." She handed Gia an envelope. "All the information is there. Along with travel expenses."
Gia stood, feeling better. A quiet summer in the country would not be so bad. While she'd miss the girls here at the school, she was fortunate she'd have a roof over her head. Beggars couldn't be choosers. "I'd better start packing."
Mrs. Amery nodded. "I'm due at an appointment upstairs." She plucked up a file as she rounded the desk. With a sympathetic smile, she patted Gia's arm. "Good luck to you, my dear." She hurried from the room, deserting Gia to the fate contained inside the envelope in her hand.
Blowing out a long breath, Gia opened the envelope. Fingering through the contents, she bypassed several crisp bills before slipping out a gold-embossed card. The fine parchment bespoke wealth and status as did the bold print. With her thumb, Gia traced the raised letters of the ornate script. Landen J. Elmsworth.
A chill of foreboding crept up her spine. The print shifted, fading slowly from focus before her blurry eyes. Her heart pounded. With a fortifying breath, she braced herself against the inevitable — and all that came with it. Fear and dread gave way to total helplessness as the vision emerged like a slow wave of nausea.
Closing her eyes, she sank to the chair. She clutched the parchment in her palm, the buzz in her ears growing louder, drawing her in. Brisk air filled her lungs. Gooseflesh formed on her skin. The smell of pine loomed amid tall trees and shadows. Entranced by the sound of babbling water, she waited as a picture took shape in the darkness.
A man lay at the bottom of a rocky creek, face down in the shallow water. His long black coat clung to his lifeless body. The crimson scarf around his neck drifted like a thick stream of blood on the mild current.
And then as insidiously as it had appeared, the vision was gone. Gia opened her eyes. Panting, she unfurled her trembling fist, then stared down at the crumpled card. She hadn't experienced a vision so vivid in months. Nor one so ominous. Especially of someone she'd yet to meet.
She leaned back in the chair, still reeling. Visions of strangers came rarely but were no less disturbing. She shoved the card into the envelope and tried to stay calm. The thundering pulse at her temples refused to recede as each detail of the vision pelted her brain.
She remained seated for several long moments before attempting to stand. Rising on shaky legs, she composed herself. Exhaustion in the wake of the vision struck hard. She clutched the chair for support. She'd almost forgotten how draining it could be — it had been so long. Why this was happening now, after all this time, she didn't know. But of one thing she was certain.
Landen J. Elmsworth, whoever he was, was going to die.
* * *
Gia stared at the gable-roofed house, urging her feet to move. She dreaded meeting the man she'd seen dead in her vision, dreaded meeting his family. A part of her longed to ignore the vision, run miles in the opposite direction and try to forget it. While she was unsure if she could prevent her visions from becoming reality, she was determined to try. She had to.
The memory of Prudence Alber's death pierced her chest like a dagger. Gia had stood idle, and a young girl had died. The heavy weight of her guilt kept her rooted in the gravel drive in front of the large house, too ensnared in the past to move. She took a deep breath, then stepped to the porch. She had to do something to make up for what she hadn't done for Pru.
Somehow — some way — she would save Mr. Elmsworth.
Gia rang the bell. After announcing herself, she was led by a tall housemaid through the foyer and into a finely decorated parlor. "My name is Florence, Miss York. Please make yourself comfortable while I get Miss Elmsworth."
Gia took a seat on the small settee, glancing around. The spacious room was styled to perfection with elegant furnishings and bright hues and only a hint of the musty smells so common in summer retreats. Outside the large windows, the lake sparkled amid mountains and trees, a scenic painting come to life.
There were several such lakes in the area. Were there as many creeks as well? Gia pushed from her mind the thought of her vision and the challenge ahead. She had to stay positive. A few moments later, Florence returned. A young woman followed demurely behind her.
"Miss York, this is Miss Alice Elmsworth." Florence urged the girl forward.
"I'm pleased to make your acquaintance, Alice," Gia said. "May I call you Alice?"
Alice nodded, staring down at her shoes.
"I will bring tea," Florence said.
Alice watched Florence exit the room. From her forlorn expression, Gia half expected the girl would follow. "She won't be but a few minutes," she uttered instead. She said nothing more as she took a seat across from Gia.
Beneath Alice's clenched hands, her knees bounced with nervous tension. The timid creature appeared as though she wanted to be anywhere but in the presence of this stranger who'd been hired to be her companion. Gia sighed, feeling increasingly uncomfortable for causing the girl's palpable distress.
Gia fidgeted in her seat, wondering how best to approach the situation. They waited for tea in excruciating silence until Gia could bear her own discomfort no longer. "May I ask how old you are, Alice?"
"I turned twenty in March," she replied without looking up.
"I turned twenty in March, as well."
Alice glanced up, and Gia smiled. "Six years ago."
Alice smiled too. A brief little smile that came and went so quickly Gia almost missed it. Alice shifted in her seat, relaxing a bit, but the strain in her voice remained. "You attended the Troy Female Seminary?"
"That's right. But I'm originally from Boston." Gia worked in her mind the tale she'd concocted to explain her relocating to Troy. "After the death of my parents, I took up residence at the seminary," Gia said, feeling guilty for the lie.
"My parents are deceased as well," Alice said. She lowered her gaze to her lap, but not before Gia glimpsed the pain in her eyes.
If possible, Gia felt guiltier. She was also perplexed. So, Landen Elmsworth was not Alice's father as Gia had presumed. Her uncle perhaps? Florence entered the room with a tea tray, and Gia was grateful for the distraction.
Alice and Gia drank their tea amid bits of conversation that consisted of little more than Gia's questions and Alice's yes or no answers. Although it was obvious the girl lacked the usual self-esteem that came naturally to most young women of her class, Gia sensed that a treasure trove of fine qualities lay buried beneath Alice's severe anxiety. When she wasn't avoiding eye contact by fidgeting with her hands or the folds of her skirts, her large blue eyes sparkled with wit and intelligence.
Unfortunately, the effort involved in exhuming these qualities would exhaust anyone attempting to draw them to the surface. Gia imagined the girl in a crowded ballroom. Alice would disappear into the wallpaper. Gia understood, now, why her family had resorted to hiring a companion. The security of having someone at her side might help build Alice's confidence.
A male voice boomed through the foyer.
Alice straightened in her seat. "We're in the parlor!"
Heavy footsteps sounded outside the room, and then he was there, posed in the doorway. Gia stared. The black coat, the dark hair. The wide shoulders. Was this him? The man in her vision?
He stepped into the room, addressing Alice as if Gia weren't there. Anger blazed in his blue eyes. "I just saw Mrs. Folsome in town," he said.
Alice set down her tea.
"She told me you declined the invitation to her dinner party next week."
Alice shot to her feet, hands on hips. Her entire demeanor changed as she challenged the man, face to face. The timid mouse was a tiger at heart. "I told you, Denny, I do not wish to attend."
Denny. Gia exhaled in relief. For some reason, she felt inexplicably grateful that this particular man was not the man in her vision. Not that she'd wish such a fate on anyone, but the thought of this young, virile, and stunningly handsome man's end seemed a terrible waste.
"And I told you, you must make an effort," he said to Alice. "You are twenty years old now. Much too old to spend your days holed up in the house."
Alice motioned with her eyes toward Gia. "We will discuss this later," she said through clenched teeth.
Ignoring the cue they had company, he said, "There is nothing to discuss. You will attend Mrs. Folsome's dinner and that is the end of it." He turned toward Gia, finally acknowledging her presence in the room. "You're the companion?"
His blunt question sounded more like an accusation. Gia nodded.
"Then please explain to this stubborn miss the importance of socializing."
Reluctant to engage in their familial dispute, Gia opened her mouth, but nothing came out.
"Denny!" Alice gaped. "You have yet to introduce yourself to Miss York, and you're already barking orders at her."
He frowned, lips pursed tight. For a moment, Gia thought he might protest. But with a sigh of resignation, he affirmed that Alice was right. "My apologies, Miss York," he said as he yanked off his hat. He tossed the hat to a chair and a stern look at Alice. "But my sister has a habit of distracting me from my manners."
He turned toward Gia, and she swallowed hard beneath his bold scrutiny. He moved closer. The tense slant of his brow slackened, as did the taut line of his mouth. His perfect lips parted, luring all lucid thought from her head. "How do you do?"
Even the smooth sound of his voice had turned pleasing. She licked her suddenly dry lips and managed a nod.
His gaze held hers as he extended his hand. Clasping her fingers, he gave her hand a slight squeeze, all the while appraising her with those placid blue eyes. The heat of his touch pulsed through her veins. He released her, but she remained gripped by a strange giddy sensation. The reaction was girlish and silly, and as overpowering as her visions.
She stared into his face, lost in a moment of mesmerizing desire. Like a cuff to the head, his next words jarred her back to her senses.
"I am Landen Elmsworth."CHAPTER 2
Gia stared at the man, absorbing the confirmation that he was, indeed, the subject of her vision. Oh, please, let me be wrong. But her visions never were wrong. Gia had learned that the hard way. The curse of her prophetic ability had never felt so heavy. She glanced from Mr. Elmsworth to Alice and felt suffocated by the crushing weight of it.
Thoughts of his tragic fate raced through her mind with imagined scenarios. Whatever might lead to his landing at the bottom of a creek bed, his present confidence unnerved her. She longed to warn him, to stress his need for caution, but she couldn't. Not yet. She had to act carefully if she hoped to influence the outcome of his future. The details of her vision were vivid. There were tinges of color in the leaves on the trees and a brisk chill in the air. She had until late summer at least to figure out something — some way to save him. This prospect gave her the fortitude necessary to pull herself together.
"Alice, would you mind if I spoke with Miss York in private?" he asked, snapping Gia back to attention.
"Not at all." In her haste to escape, Alice set down her cup, sending tea sloshing over the rim. "I'll be out in the garden," she said as she dabbed at the mess.
"My sister spends much of her time in the garden," Elmsworth muttered.
Gia turned from Alice's affronted frown to the tall window and the garden beyond. Clusters of budding flowers and neatly pruned shrubs enclosed a stone patio, complete with a fountain. "I can understand why. It's lovely."
"Do you enjoy gardening?" Alice asked. The avid gleam in her eye made Gia smile.
"Unfortunately, I lack the green thumb required to nurture a garden. Perhaps you can teach me your secret."
"Alice wastes enough time in the company of plants," Elmsworth said. "Your job is to see to it she focuses her attention on people."
"In other words, Miss York, you've been hired to be my friend." Alice shot to her feet. "Wasted effort on my brother's part, since I neither want nor need your services."
Gia fidgeted in her seat. Alice's opposition would have Gia out of a job before she finished her tea.
As if sensing Gia's distress, Alice reclaimed her manners. "No offense to you, Miss York, but I prefer to keep to myself."
"That's precisely the problem," he said.
"My problem, Denny, not yours." Alice lifted her chin. "This entire idea is humiliating. How do you intend to introduce us? As your pathetic sister and the companion you hired to tolerate her company?" Her blue eyes welled with tears.
Elmsworth sighed but said nothing.
Trying not to sound as desperate as she felt, Gia said, "If that's your worry, Alice, I'm sure we can come up with a more discreet solution. I can be introduced as an old friend of the family who has come to spend the summer with you."
Alice considered this before glancing to Elmsworth.
"Problem solved," he said.
Gia breathed a sigh of relief. While she sympathized with Alice's dilemma, Gia needed this job to save the girl's brother.
"I suppose I have no choice," Alice said.
He shrugged. "You can always attend the season's affairs with Aunt Clara."
Alice cringed at this alternative before turning to Gia. "Welcome to Misty Lake, Miss York." With one final frown at her brother, she swished from the room.
Excerpted from The Lady Who Saw Too Much by Thomasine Rappold. Copyright © 2016 Thomasine Rappold. 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 enjoyed this.
The Lady Who Saw Too Much (Soul Survivor, #2) by Thomasine Rappold is an intriguing Historical Romance with a curse of prophetic visions and intrigue. This can be read as a stand alone. I have not Book 1, but plan to go back and read. This is Gianna York and Landen Elmsworth's story. And a what a tale! Gia is hired as a companion to Landen's sister. Gia is cunning as well as unpredictable, but she swears to never lose another life. She will trust her visions. Steady paced with engaging and charming characters and a unique, intriguing storyline. With visions of a body floating in Misty Lake, passion, mistrust, mystery, suspense and romance, "The Lady Who Saw Too Much", makes for an exhilarating tale. Gia and Landen are bound together forever, but will they find their destiny, or lose everything, including their lives? Well written with a captivating storyline and energetic characters. I enjoyed watching Landen and Gia's relationship blossom as they learn to trust each other and move forward in their relationship. An enjoyable and satisfying read! Received for an honest review from Net Galley. However, all opinions and thoughts are my own. Rating: 4 Heat rating: Mild Reviewed by: AprilR
The Lady Who Saw Too Much by Thomasine Rappold was the second book in the Soul Survivor series. Gianna “Gia” York has to leave her position at the Troy Female Academy (she should not have told the headmistress the truth). Thankfully, Gia is offered the position as companion to Miss Alice Elmsworth. Alice is twenty years old and painfully shy. Alice hates going out in public to parties, dances, and dinners. When Gia is handed Landen J. Elmsworth card, she immediately gets a vision of his death. Gia is determined to never let another person die if she can help it (because her parents refused to let her pursue a vision or warn the family and Prudence Alber died). Gia and Landen are immediately attracted to each other. Landen tries to steer clear of Gia, because he does not wish to commit (because of an incident with a woman). One night Gia is trying to find something personal of Landen’s to get a vision and is in his bedroom. Landen returns early and the two end up kissing (she is in her nightclothes and he a blanket). They are caught in this comprising position by Landen’s Aunt Clara. Aunt Clara is going to send Gia away until Gia mentions that she should stay around at least a month—just in case (Gia is determined to save Landen’s life). Aunt Clara insists that the two of them marry. Landen feels that Gia had this goal in mind all along and is furious. Can Gia save Landen’s life? Would he believe her if she told him about her visions? Is there any hope for their marriage with such a difficult beginning? Join us in Misty Lake for the summer to see if Gia succeeds in saving Landen and getting Alice out of her shell. The Lady Who Saw Too Much was acceptable, but it could have been so much more. I found too much of the book is devoted to the attraction between Gia and Landen. I wanted more of the paranormal elements. I ended up skimming through the many pages that describe how handsome he is, her lovely lips, the curve of her neck, the kissing, intimate bedroom scenes, and more. It just went on and on (I ended up skimming through these pages). The last half of the book was significantly better. The story starts to progress (finally) into the mystery (who was going to kill Landen) and how Gia can save him. I give The Lady Who Saw Too Much 3 out of 5 (which means it was okay/satisfactory). I just felt that the writer could have made this a great novel (it had so much potential). Instead we get an expected historical, romance novel. While this is the second book in the series, it can be read alone. If you have not read the first book, it will not hinder your reading The Lady Who Saw Too Much (the first book or the characters are not mentioned in this novel). I received a complimentary copy of The Lady Who Saw Too Much from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the book.
I received an eARC, from NetGalley and the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. 'The Lady Who Saw Too Much' by Thomasine Rappold is book two in the "Soul Survivor". It is the story of Gianna York and Landen Elmsworth. This is a standalone book I felt. I have not read the previous book and didn't have a problem...but I enjoyed this book so much I do want to read the other one! Gianna had a really upsetting life change that had caused the death of her brothers. It has now left her where she is able to have premonitions. Her Mother and Father have never really cared for her and now they have made it so hard that she ran away. Gianna started working at a school but the story opens with her having to leave as the truth has come out that she ran away from home and not an 'orphan' Gianna is sent to Landen to be his sister's companion. Gianna has had a premonitions of Landen where before she even gets there she 'sees' his death. So Gianna knows she has to go there to try to save him. Landen is attracted to Gianna from the start but he knows that she is here to help get his sister out of her shyness. But when he catches Gianna in his room he can't fight his feelings and kisses her which at the same time his Aunt catches them. Now he is set up for marriage which he is very upset with and thinks Gianna set him up for this. Can Gianna save him? Will Landen every forgive her? Will he every accept her..... when he finds out about her premonitions?