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My Dearest Friend
Hazel Statham
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Devastated and wracked with guilt by the death of his younger brother, Stefan, in the Peninsular War, Robert Blake, Duke of Lear, readily agrees to aid Jane Chandler to bring her seriously wounded brother back from Portugal.

Much against Jane’s wishes, he decides to accompany her and together they embark on the hazardous mission to retrieve the young soldier. However, the journey holds many revelations, not least of all the abiding friendship and growing love between the two travelers.

That special love is put severely to the test by the treachery that awaits them upon their return to England, when a tenant of Jane’s former home invades their lives, maliciously creating jealousy and misunderstandings for his own nefarious reasons.

Can their friendship and love conquer the emotions that threaten to tear them asunder?

Their arrival at the inn that night went quite unnoticed, the sound of the horses’ hooves clattering over the cobbled yard exciting no more interest than had done their predecessors during the day. Once they were halted, the duke hurried Hannah and the sleeping Sophie from the vehicle and into the private parlor. He had hoped to find Jane within, but the room was deserted and he knew a moment’s disappointment. Just as he was about to go in search of her, Eaves pushed open the door and stopped in some surprise.

“Your grace,” he beamed coming into the room. “We had given up hope of you arriving today.”

“Where is Miss Chandler?” the duke demanded, making toward the door.

Eave’s countenance sobered. “She’s with the major, sir. I am afraid he took a turn this morning and she has not left his side since. The doctor has been called and says that despite it being but a momentary setback we must delay our return journey for a few days. Shall I fetch her for you, sir?”

“No need, I will go to her directly,” the duke said. “However, I would be grateful if you would arrange suitable accommodation for my ward and her nurse and make sure they are well nourished before they retire. It has been a very long and tiring day.”

With that, he strode from the room and took the stairs two at a time to the second landing. Eagerly pacing its length, he came to a sudden halt just as Jane stepped out of Harry’s room and quietly closed the door behind her. In the dimness of the corridor, she did not immediately perceive him standing but a short distance away, awaiting her notice, and was startled when he softly called her name from the shadows.

“Robert,” she cried, involuntarily pressing her hand to her throat, unable to move, as a new shyness overcame her.

For an instant, they stood thus until the duke moved forward into the pool of moonlight that filtered through a small window and slowly opened his arms to her. She did not hesitate but ran to him and buried her face in his neck. Words were not necessary for the moment as they both rejoiced in their reunion. Indeed, if she had tried to speak she would have found her words crushed into oblivion as, bending his head, he fiercely kissed her, demanding a response. Finding in herself no resistance to his embrace, she welcomed it as if to be loved by him was the most natural occurrence in the world.

Eventually pulling apart and capturing her hands in his the duke gave a low chuckle, “I see you have missed me as much as I have you, my love.”

“That is unkind of you, sir,” she replied dropping her eyes before his fiery scrutiny, thankful that the shadows hid the warm glow his embrace brought to her cheeks. “But oh, how I have longed for you, my dear friend.”

He smiled mischievously, once more drawing her to him, the better to study her features. “So, you will still insist on calling me your dear friend, sweetheart. I had hoped for something more.”

“You will always be my dearest friend,” she replied meeting his gaze openly. “Whatever else you may become, you will still be my friend.”

“Tell me then, my little friend, do friends marry?”

“Of course they do,” she replied without hesitation. “Who else would tend me when I am nauseous and become a burden?”

He laughed, his green eyes dancing with delight, his face transformed. “If that is to be my role in life, then I must bear it with what fortitude I can muster, imp. Then sobering slightly, “Does it matter to you that we have known each other so short a time, for to me it seems an eternity?”

“Not a whit,” she replied cradling his hand against her cheek. “For me the seed was set when you so obstinately refused to desert me to my fates on The Mistral. It showed an unparalleled fortitude and a kindness I will never forget.”

Hazel lives in Staffordshire, England. She started writing at fifteen and has written on and off ever since. She has always been fascinated by history and writes mainly in the Regency and Georgian eras, although she has been known to occasionally stray into Medieval times.

When she was a child, she often told herself stories and this just progressed to committing them to paper to entertain family and friends. However, there have been gaps in her writing years where marriage and employment intervened, but now that she no long works, she is able to return to her first love and devote her time to writing. She had her first two novels published in 2005.

She has been married to her husband Terry since 1969 and they have a grown daughter and beautiful grandson. Apart from reading and writing historical novels, her other ruling passion is animals and until recently, she was treasurer for an organisation that raised money for animal charities.

She currently shares her home with a lovely yellow Labrador named Lucy, who is her constant companion. Lucy is a real sweetie, but it’s not always easy working at the computer with a large Labrador trying to get on your knee!

Hazel hopes you enjoy reading her novels as much as she enjoys writing them and is always delighted to hear from her readers.

Dominic: This is a sweet story. There is humor as the two characters interact and a friendship grows. The interactions between the two characters is well written, and you will find yourself caught up in the emotions of the story. You can feel what it was like as a woman during this time in history when you could not make any decisions for yourself. How scared Jack must have felt not to be able to survive out on her own. How sweet first love is as Jack falls for the charming Dominic. History will be played out in front of you as you read. The clothes, the balls, the carriages will bring it all alive through the author's description. This story has a very interesting plot and when trouble once again comes into Jack's life, you will be very surprised at how everything is resolved. I recommend Dominic as a sweet historical romance. Colorful characters, beautifully descriptive settings, and an interesting plotline makes this one of the best historical romances I have read. -- The Romance Studio, Overall rating Sensuality Rating: Sweet

Dominic: This sweet romance is quite addictive. Hazel Statham uses language which is appropriate to the period. As a reader, I initially found it difficult to breeze through, but the tone of the book is quickly established by the use of these old-fashioned terms. The characters are pleasing and unique. Naïve Sophie is the perfect partner for an arrogant young man who seems to have everything. She brings forward his very human, vulnerable aspects. Through misunderstandings the romance becomes complex, leading into a dramatic conclusion. If you have been searching for a warm-hearted regency romance with an authentic accent, you should read Hazel Statham’s Dominic. -- Fallen Angel Reviews, Five Angels

Dominic is a wonderful story of the scandalous rake who becomes a tutor to a beautiful innocent young woman, Jack, who teaches him about the unconditional love of his lifetime. Hazel Statham gives her readers a story of compassion that will tear at your heart strings as you anxiously read each page. -- Romance Junkies, Blue Ribbon Rating 4.5

Dominic: This is an old fashioned novel in the style of Georgette Heyer. It is billed as Regency and is that style, but is really set in the Georgian era. The characters are likable and real, and the author breathes new life into an old genre. --Coffee Time Romance, 4 Cups.

Dominic, the Earl of Vale is surprised to arrive at his apartments to find a young boy. The fact that the boy has been beaten leads Dominic to believe that he has already been looking for trouble. However, once inside Dominic discovers that that young boy, Jack, is not a boy at all. Realizing that he is dealing with a young lady, Dominic decides to offer his protection, but when morning comes the girl is gone. Leaving no trace as to where she has gone or who she actually is, as she never told him her true name. Dominic is a well-written fascinatingly fun love story that readers will find a pure delight. Ms. Statham is a magnificent author who always gives a true love story that is truly a joy to read from beginning till end. -- MySelf.com

My Dearest Friend is an intricately woven tapestry of life and death and shows us the inner workings of the nobility. The story starts off well and continues to build momentum to the last page. -- Robyn Once Upon a Romance 4.25 rating

Hazel Statham’s His Shadowed Heart is a delicious Regency Romance. I am reminded of the style of Georgette Heyer. As in most Regency Romance, the handsome eligible bachelor marries for convenience. His wife is quiet and demure. They grow to love each other overcoming obstacles to form a lasting relationship. While the formula is the same, the plot is not diminished. The obvious attraction and emotional tension between Richard and Caroline is delightful. Fans of Regency Romance will enjoy His Shadowed Heart. -- 5 Star, In the style of Georgette Heyer…Reviewed by Debra Gaynor for ReviewYourBook.com 06/08

Fiction Books :: Historical Books

ISBN: 1597057959
ISBN(13-digit): 9781597057950
Copyright: 2008
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
Binding: Perfect
No. of Pages: 268
Paper Weight (lb): 11.2

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