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Beverley's Books



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Branded a bastard in her village, Kitty Hazlett runs away to find a more appreciative audience in London as Kitty La Bijou, celebrated actress, desired by princes and aristocrats.

She’s soon embroiled in a passionate but highly unsuitable love affair, despite the fact her greatest dream is for true love and respectability.

But when Kitty stumbles across Araminta, her nobly born half-sister, on the verge of giving birth barely seven months after marrying dangerous Viscount Debenham, Kitty realises respectability is no guarantee of character or happiness. 

However, helping Araminta has unwittingly embroiled Kitty in a scandalous deception involving a ruthless brothel madam, a priceless ruby necklace and the future heir to a dazzling fortune. 

And when Kitty finally receives an offer of marriage from unexpected quarters, that will seemingly solve all her problems, she must choose.

Respectability or love?

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“And he vil be as reech and handsome as a preence vis ink-black hair! His eyes vil smolder vis passion like…varm treacle, his mouth vil be soft as butter yet firm as zee mouth of zee greatest lover in zee vorld!”
Kitty stretched out the palm of her hand even wider. Passionate, yet kind? At last, Kitty was being told what she’d wanted to know for as long as she could remember—how her future would unfold.
“But how will I know him?” she whispered, her eyes watering from the smoke of the cheap tallow candle and strange, cloying perfume of the gypsy fortune-teller hunched over the table in the cramped, oddly-smelling caravan.
“How vil you know him?” The noisy revelry of St Bartholomew’s fair drifted through a chink in the dirty curtains as the gypsy brushed back a hank of oily black hair and made a moue of her brightly-painted mouth. “You have much fire and energy, girl.” She puffed out her bosom. “You vil know him by the surge of fire and energy in your breast.”
Kitty nodded slowly. The gypsy woman seemed to understand what she was talking about. She’d identified Kitty and Lissa, not just as sisters, but had differentiated their personalities, despite Lissa declining the palm reading because she’d promised their mother she’d return home before dusk.
Lissa, according to the gypsy, was an obedient creature, while Kitty was drawn to a life full of wonder and adventure. Kitty couldn’t get over just how on the money that had been.
“But what if I feel that…that special feeling in a crowd of people and I don’t recognize who, exactly, is causing it?”
Kitty stared at the droplets on the scratched table surface resulting from the gypsy’s explosive sound of derision. She wasn’t quite sure how to respond.
“How old you are, girl?
“Almost sixteen.”
“A leetle girl, to be sure,” the gypsy sneered as she stabbed a grubby finger in Kitty’s face. “When you become woman, you feel zees thing here.” She poked Kitty in the chest. “Ees no doubt in your heart what you feel when you grown woman. Understand?” She stood up to the sound of jangling metal beads and coins as she shook out her skirts and tossed her scarf about her head.
“Will he marry me?” Kitty rose and hurried after the gypsy. It was the question she’d been angling to ask throughout the entire interview. In fact, it was the main reason she’d paid to have her palm read for she needed to be reassured that she would not suffer her mother’s fate—jilted at the altar then suffering the shame and ignominy of living in sin for the next twenty years. That’s what Kitty’s father had done to her poor mother though by the time he’d said ‘I do’ to the suitably chosen earl’s daughter, he’d already regretted it.
“Yes, yes, he will marry you.”
“Are you sure?”
The gypsy sent Kitty an impatient look over her shoulder as she reached for the heavy curtain. The sound of restless foot shuffling—her next customer—could be heard on the caravan steps.
“I’m sure.”
“What sort of man will he be?”
“Reech, reech nobleman.”
“So I have only this to go by?” Kitty tapped her heart and tried not to let her disappointment show. The gypsy seemed a trifle oversensitive. “There’s no other way I can properly identify him? Only by what I feel when I meet a rich nobleman with dark hair and eyes?”
The gypsy turned and made a slicing motion through the air with her hand. “And zee scar beneath his right eye from a brave and daring piece of swordplay,” she muttered. Hesitating as she gripped the curtain, she added in a more considered tone, “My girl, I should charge you more but I tell you zis for free. You vil be great actress. Like famous and beautiful actress what became Lady Emma Hamilton you vil marry nobleman. Now, next! Come in, come in! You very handsome boy. You have great life, already, I can tell. Come and let me tell your fortune.”
Kitty left with mixed feelings. She was thrilled to learn her destiny included becoming a famous actress, though her family had made it clear such an occupation was out of the question. She was also thrilled that true love would lead to marriage. That was what she wanted, more than anything.
She just wished she had a little more information to help guide her.

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