The Making of Mrs. Hale

The Making of Mrs. Hale

by Carolyn Miller

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Overview

Marry in haste, repent in leisure—Mrs. Hale is about to find out how painful that repentance can truly be.

Julia Hale ran off to be married in Gretna Green, following romance instead of common sense. But her tale isn't turning into a happily ever after. Her new husband is gone and she doesn't know where—or if he's ever coming back. Julia has no option but to head home to the family she betrayed by eloping and to hope they'll forgive her. Especially now that she might be carrying a baby from her brief marriage.

Carolyn Miller's clean and wholesome Regency romances continue with The Making of Mrs. Hale, following familiar characters as they learn how restoration can occur by finding hope and healing through a deep relationship with God. Full of rich historical details and witty banter, this series continues to draw in fans of Jane Austen, Sarah Ladd, and Julie Klassen.

"Carolyn Miller gets better and better with each book!"
Becky

"This entire series is going straight to my all-time favorites shelf!"
Beth Erin

"My girls and I have fallen in love with the Regency Brides series."
Ann Hibbard

Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace
The Elusive Miss Ellison
The Captivating Lady Charlotte
The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey

Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope
Winning Miss Winthrop
Miss Serena's Secret
The Making of Mrs. Hale

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780825445354
Publisher: Kregel Publication
Publication date: 11/27/2018
Series: Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope Series , #3
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 1,091,194
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.76(d)

About the Author

Award-winning author Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia. She is married, with four gorgeous children, who all love to read (and write!).

A longtime lover of Regency romance, Carolyn's novels have won a number of Romance Writers of American (RWA) and American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) contests as well as the Australian Omega Christian Writers Award. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Australasian Christian Writers. Her favourite authors are classics like Jane Austen (of course!), Georgette Heyer, and Agatha Christie, but she also enjoys contemporary authors like Susan May Warren and Becky Wade.

Her stories are fun and witty, yet also deal with real issues, such as dealing with forgiveness, the nature of really loving versus 'true love', and other challenges we all face at different times.

Her books include:
Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace
The Elusive Miss Ellison
The Captivating Lady Charlotte
The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey

Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope
Winning Miss Winthrop

Miss Serena's Secret
The Making of Mrs. Hale

Regency Bride: Daughers of Aynsley
A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh
Underestimating Miss Cecilia
Misleading Miss Verity

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Cavendish Square, London

October 1818

Julia Hale lifted a weary hand and rapped on the yellow painted door. Please let him be in. Please! Whom she murmured to she did not know. The last person to pay her any heed had only wanted payment, and when she could not offer what he wanted, he'd sought payment of a vastly different kind. Which was why she now stood here. Hoping, begging, desperate for a miracle.

To no avail.

As the door remained closed, the now familiar ball of hopelessness swelled within, pushing against her chest, pushing against her thin veneer of self-control. She should have known it was too much to ask for help from a God she scarcely believed in, who would turn His back on her now even if her faith were as deep as Jon's. Stifling fears, she tugged at the blankets and peered at her tiny bundle. She had to do something. Perhaps God would respond to the innocent, even if He turned His back on the guilty. And this was her last hope; every other avenue had closed. All that remained were the paupers' homes, and she'd heard what those places were like. Nothing on this earth would induce her to leave a child in such a place.

Arms aching, feeling heavier than lead, she rapped again. Please answer. Please! She had seen the lights last night. Someone was home, even if it were just the servants kept to mind the house while the Earl of Bevington attended his estates in Derbyshire. Why wouldn't they answer?

Another fit of coughing wracked her body, sending fire through her lungs and up her throat. She placed a hand on the iron balustrade as lightheadedness swept through her again. But she'd had no opportunity to rest, and no money for medicine even if she could. When the spots cleared from her vision she peeked at the face asleep in the blankets. Thank God the babe had not caught her illness. Not yet.

She bent down to place the bundle back in the willow basket, tucked the blankets around to protect from the damp morning air. "I'm sorry," she whispered, her voice scratchy and raw. "I cannot help you anymore."

Blissful ignorance was the only response, one she was growing more accustomed to as the days dragged on. How long had it been since she'd been deemed worthy of anything more than a scrap of attention? Three months? Six months? More?

She bent to press a kiss on the downy head before rapping a final time on the wooden doors. Still no answer.

With a final desperate glance at the basket, she stumbled down the marble steps, grasping the balustrade for balance. God forgive her, but she had no choice.

Guilt pressed heavily on her heart. She tugged the dark hood closer, hiding the dirty, stringy locks of fair hair of which she had once been so vain. Not that anyone would recognize her now. That girl had existed in another world, one that now often seemed more fairy story than real.

She stumbled over a broken cobblestone, refusing to look behind. That way lay regret. But she had tried, had hoped to somehow see this wasted life redeemed, at least in part, through her actions today. Though what lay ahead of her now she could scarcely imagine. Was she now considered a fallen woman? Or had she been regarded as such since her flight from Bath all those months ago? A blur of tears filled her vision. Foolish, foolish girl ...

A street sweeper glanced at her, his lip curled in derision. She did not blame him. She looked exactly what she was: pitiful.

Somehow, she stumbled on. God help her — what would she do now? Where could she go? Who could save —

"Miss? Can I help you?"

A well-bred voice, a youthful voice. Julia peered over her shoulder, blinked. Shook her head as if she could clear the blurriness. The lady — if lady she was, dressed in a most odd ensemble — seemed to own a poise Julia had never known, yet appeared younger even than Julia.

"You came to Lord Carmichael's house?"

The lady knew Lord Carmichael? Was she a maid? Julia swallowed. "Yes."

"I am the viscountess."

Julia blinked again. No.

"Please, is there some way we can help you?"

She moistened her lips before managing to rasp, "He's married?"

"Yes." The lady smiled, glowing with internal satisfaction, tinged with something almost like surprise, as if she couldn't believe her good fortune.

Envy tugged within. Oh, how well Julia remembered those days.

"We've been away," Lady Carmichael continued, "and only returned two days ago."

Julia nodded, surprise filling her as the viscountess drew closer and offered a hand, helping her to her feet. What an unusual bride Henry had chosen.

Conscious she was being watched carefully, she stuttered, "I-I s-saw the lights last night and knew someone must be in. Nobody is in Berkeley Square, or Portman. I don't know ... Mama ... Jon."

Where were they? Mama almost never left town, and Jon's business interests made his staying in London something of a necessity. Surely he hadn't been serious about retiring to that dreary corner of Gloucestershire?

Her arm was gently clasped, and she was led back to Bevington House, away from the prying eyes of the street sweeper. Now she noticed her benefactress had bare feet, undressed hair. What an odd woman! Was she serious about being Henry's bride? Oh, if only she could remember —

"You left your basket — oh, it's empty."

Julia gasped. "No! Oh, no!" What could she do? She had failed! Who could have taken —? Guilt misted her senses, and she stepped back, desperately searching for the culprit. But she had passed no one! Oh, where could he be?

"There you are!"

She swiveled back to the now opened door, stifled another gasp. Lord Henry Carmichael, dressed in a quilted dressing gown, held a white bundle and a bemused expression. His white teeth flashed as he smiled at the lady dressed equally dishabille. "Serena, can you tell me why we have a baby on our front step?"

"A baby?"

Serena? A memory flashed. A black-clad, cool-eyed schoolgirl. Henry — her Henry — had married her? The lady drew closer, her expression now even more alive with interest, alert with piercing intent.

She swallowed, heart thudding, as the viscountess's breath caught, her expression clearing into comprehension.

"Julia?"

* * *

Spain

Major Thomas Hale shifted, the perpetual ache from the hatch of welts on his back easing a mite as the pressure released. He drew in a breath and opened his eyes. The nightmare remained.

A dark, dank cell with barred window. A sloshing sound. A screech of laughter. Babble in a foreign tongue. He glanced at the other occupants. Grimy and unkempt as he, no doubt wishing they had never agreed to be ensnared by fortune's fickle fancy, and thus be caught in this dire situation for — how many months now? He peered at the wall, counted the strokes denoting the days as if he didn't already know, as if — by some miracle — he might have miscalculated, and this episode not be near as severe as he knew it to be. Five months. Five months!

Pain rippled through his chest. He'd been absent for almost half a year. A mission that should have taken a quarter of that time had been thwarted by lies and loose lips. A rumble of indignation churned within. How could the Crown abandon them, leaving them to rot? He peered across at young Desmond, whose right foot held all the signs of gangrene, the black decay creeping a little farther each day up his leg. How much longer did the lad have? Weeks? Days?

A creeping sound, like the slither of rats, slid through the room. He swallowed the bile. Muttered a curse. Wished for a boot to throw at the perpetrator. Settled for a barked utterance, not dissimilar to that which he used to bark at men a lifetime ago when his majority meant something.

The creature scuttled away. The room lapsed into silence. Desmond's half-crazed moanings had ceased. Benson wouldn't speak. Smith and Harrow, the two men with whom he'd communicated the most, had retreated into despondency. Fairley had been taken away two days ago. Thomas shivered. He dared not think on his fate.

How could a simple desire for gold have led them to utter misery? It was not as though they had engaged in anything illegal. The Crown itself had endorsed such activity. And it wasn't as if he'd been motivated by greed. He swallowed regrets, focused on the truth that he'd had to do something; his prize money was near all spent trying to establish themselves respectably enough so she did not feel a whit of deprivation. His fingers clenched. If only he'd planned things better, if he had not listened, had not succumbed —

"Señor."

Thomas blinked, refocusing, his gaze cutting through the dimness to the creature at the door.

She smiled. "I weesh you would not reject me." She tipped forward, her soiled garments doing little to constrain her buxom figure. "Just a leetle talk, eh?"

He swallowed. Magdalena might be just another ploy used by the guard to get them to admit to their supposed crimes, but she was certainly the least unattractive one.

"You were not so cold last time, señor," she continued provocatively, in that lilting, wheedling voice.

Guilt speared him. He closed his eyes. Forgive me, he cried within, turning away from temptation. God forgive him, but he'd stupidly thought he could learn something, possibly even learn a means of escape.

He'd learned something, all right. Learned that even the comeliest wench in Spain could be responsible for guilt every bit as lethal as that inflicted by thoughts of his wife.

His wife. Oh God, his wife. As the instrument of torture sauntered away with a lewd comment and a ribald laugh, his thoughts clattered. What was she doing now? How could she have borne so much time apart? Had she given up on him? Probably. Wretchedness echoed within. Still, she at least had options. She could always return to her family, even if he would stake his life that they'd take care never to receive him, should he ever return to the land of the living. He hoped, regardless of what happened, that his Jewel would not forsake him completely.

"H-Hale?"

A whimpering sound drew his attention to the prone figure nearby. "Desmond?"

The boy gasped, before emitting a series of piercing shrieks. "Get it off! Get it off! It's eating me!"

Thomas stumbled from the pallet, hurrying to the boy's side. A large rodent was indeed nibbling at the boy's foot. He grasped the furry pelt and slammed it at the wall where it spattered with a sickening, satisfying thud.

The boy's eyes turned to him, his teeth chattering. "I c-cannot do this anymore. Please, please make this stop."

His heart wrenched at the hopelessness he saw in the boy's eyes, hopelessness reflected in his heart. "I wish I could. But we have told them all we know."

A tremor ran up the boy's frame. "They will never believe us." He groaned, the low sound soon changing to an ear-splitting shriek.

"Desmond, calm yourself." If the lad weren't injured he'd slap him.

"I want to die! I want to die! I want to —"

"You there!" A heavily accented voice growled from the door. "Shut up!"

"I want to die! I want to die! I want to die!"

Thomas shook him fiercely. "Desmond, you must be quiet, else they will —"

A heavy boot knocked his feet from under him, and he crashed to the floor, his jaw cracking on the refuse-smeared stones. He tried to push to his feet, but a musket butt smashed against his temple, felling him once more.

Panic reared within as the guards dragged Desmond to the door. "Leave him! He's just a boy! He knows nothing —"

The business end of the musket poked at his face. "Cállate!"

He pushed to his knees, begging them in English, in Spanish, in French, but Desmond — his high-pitched cries continuing — was dragged from view.

Head throbbing, Thomas staggered to his feet, the taste of blood trickling into his mouth. He stood at the bars and shouted for mercy, but he could barely hear his own voice over Desmond's shrieks.

There was a shot.

Desmond's cries ceased.

And the now familiar soul-numbing despair crashed over him as he sank to his knees.

CHAPTER 2

Julia shifted restlessly in the darkness, her movements jerky, her breath tight in her chest. The man leered at her, his lips drawing back in a grin that arrowed fear deep within. Why had she thought this a good idea? She lowered her gaze and moved past him, hurrying to the stairs where the woman had said her room was. Step after creaking step. The corridor was dim, the flickering light from the candle she held revealing a ceiling draped with cobwebs, like something she imagined from The Castle of Otranto. Her heart hammered, and she clutched her precious bundle closer to her chest. A whimper rose from within, and she forced herself to shush aloud, the sound an explosion in the unnatural quiet. She counted the doors: one, two, three, until she reached hers. Carefully shifting her bundle between her chin and shoulder, she moved the candle to her left hand, then grasped the door handle and moved inside the room.

"Wotcha want 'ere?" A voice growled. A figure sat up in the bed.

She had the wrong room!

Muttering an apology, she hastened outside, turning swiftly into the real fourth room on the right, and quietly closed the door. How she hoped the man didn't think her a woman of easy virtue and follow her here! How she wished she could lock the door for protection.

She carefully laid her burden on the sagging bed before shifting a spindly chair, the only other piece of furniture in the room, to the door. Her small trunk containing her meager possessions had been placed just within the door; she moved this atop the seat. At least she would hear any intruder, even if the flimsy chair would not hold them at bay for very long.

Weariness escaped in a silent sigh as she eased down next to the tiny child, her shoulders slumped in defeat. How her body craved rest. She could sleep for a week. But responsibility still nagged. She quickly undressed him. Sure enough he had soiled himself, and would doubtless soon awaken if he were not cleaned and dressed appropriately. And she could not permit the rash on his little body to worsen. She pushed to her feet and examined the pitcher of water dubiously. It might not be fresh but it would have to do. Another trudge to the trunk and she pulled out the last of the linens, eyes filling as she wished for the hundredth time to have brought more. The exchange of soiled linen for clean woke the babe, startling him into weak cries. Poor baby. She nestled him to her chest, the hungry mewling tugging at her.

"I'm sorry I cannot help you," she whispered. Giving him what he craved was impossible.

When her arms felt like they must surely snap, the babe's cries faded to exhausted whimpers, then silence, and she carefully wrapped him once more and placed him in the bed.

How she wished to sleep, too, but that rash would never heal if she did not wash the linen. She eyed the worn rag beside the enamel bowl, evidently left there for cleaning purposes, and quickly washed her face, feeling momentarily fresher as the past two days' grime lifted from her skin. No wonder the people downstairs had looked at her askance.

After cleaning the soiled linen as best she could, she draped it in front of the fire, stirring the coals into something that might actually dry the cloth and take away the room's chill, a chill that puffed her breath into tiny white clouds. From downstairs came a shout followed by raucous laughter. An eerie whistle blew around the window frames, like the sound of moaning spirits. Would she be safe? Shaking her head at her ridiculous thoughts, she pulled back the covers carefully, laid the child down, and slid between the too-thin sheets. She pulled the covers up to her chin, careful not to cover the baby, then blew out the candle and closed her eyes.

Darkness drew heavy around her, within her, pressing against her, tugging her to sleep —

A sound came, like the scurry of tiny feet. She shuddered. Please God, let there be no mice tonight. There was a trip, the tread of heavy feet in the corridor. Her heart thundered. She could hear a drunken murmuring, something she had heard many times before, something she knew would lead to bad things, things no gently bred young lady should ever have to know about. She closed her eyes again and prayed the drunk would stay away. God, protect me ...

A faint noise intruded. A swish of curtains being dragged apart. Light seeping in. Someone scuttling about —

"Who's there?" Julia sat up in a hurry, blinking as the light startled her to alertness. "Oh!"

A maid dressed in dark blue with a white apron and mobcap curtsied. "Begging your pardon, miss. Lady Carmichael sent me to see how you be."

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "The Making of Mrs. Hale"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Carolyn Miller.
Excerpted by permission of Kregel Publications.
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.

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