Today on the site we’re revealing the cover of A Lady to Treasure by Marianne Ratcliffe, an f/f Regency Romance releasing from Bellows Press on October 15, 2023! Here’s the story:
Louisa Silverton is the daughter of a wealthy American businessman, brought up to believe a healthy profit is the only route to happiness. With the family company over-leveraged and in need of a capital injection, she travels to England to find a rich husband.
The Honourable Miss Sarah Davenport has no time for romance. The family estate of Kenilborough is mired in debt and only she can save it. Unconventional and outspoken, Sarah is dismayed that somebody as intelligent and attractive as Louisa is willing to sacrifice herself for financial gain.
As Louisa pursues her campaign, Sarah realises her objections to the project run deeper than mere principles. At the same time, Louisa finds herself captivated by Sarah’s independent spirit. Yet to indulge their unexpected passion would surely mean the ruin of both their families. Bound by duty, will they ever be free to follow their hearts?
And here’s the lovely cover, by Matt Maguire at Candescent Press!
But wait, there’s more! Here’s an excerpt from Her Lady to Treasure!
The maid took Louisa out through the kitchen gardens and into a walled orchard, gesturing vaguely towards the back wall before returning to the house. There was no path, although a line of beaten-down grass between two rows of apple trees indicated where others had passed. Louisa followed it, ducking beneath boughs that drooped under the weight of ripe fruit. The dewy grass plucked at the hem of her cotton dress which was quite sodden by the time she reached a handcart full of ripe apples. This was manned by a young boy and girl, both barefoot and wearing smocks with frayed seams. A half-filled reed basket lay by their feet and apples rained down from the tree above. The children found this a great game, giggling as they caught the apples and placed them in the basket.
Louisa peered up into the branches. A pair of legs encased in close-fitting buckskin pantaloons, tucked into riding boots with a brown roll top, balanced on one of the branches. The soles of the boots had been patched in several places and the leather above was cracked and grey. They were a woman’s legs, she realised in surprise. Although slender and firm, they were too shapely to be those of a man. Distracted by such a shocking sight, Louisa did not notice a stray red orb flying towards her. It struck her on her forehead, just beneath the hairline.
‘Ow!’ she yelped in shock, clasping her hand to her brow. The torrent of apples ceased abruptly, and the owner of the boots swung herself down in one easy motion, landing on the ground with a heavy thud. Above the pantaloons, the woman wore a linen shirt with sleeves rolled up above the elbows, her front covered by a rumpled apron. She had brown hair, a few shades lighter than Louisa’s, pulled into a simple knot from which several strands had sprung free. Her face, although not delicate enough to be called pretty, was striking, with a firm, square jaw and arrestingly blue eyes.
‘Good heavens, I didn’t see you there. Are you hurt?’
‘The Honourable Sarah Davenport, I presume?’ said Louisa, still holding her hand to her forehead.
‘That title is not generally spoken, but I shall not hold it against you. Miss Davenport will do fine, or Sarah if you prefer.’
‘But Lady Kenilborough―’
‘My stepmother constantly reminds anyone within hearing of my rank, in the vain hope that one day I shall start to behave like a lady.’
Marianne Ratcliffe grew up in Lincolnshire. A biochemist by training, she has always found creating new worlds and interesting characters every bit as rewarding as discoveries at a laboratory bench. She has had short stories published in literary magazines and was runner-up in the Guildford Book Festival short story competition in 2010. In 2017, redundancy spurred her to focus on creative writing, and she published her debut novel, The Secret of Matterdale Hall, with Bellows Press in 2022. Marianne lives in Cheshire with her wife and two dogs.