& Moira Bianchi: A Victorian Romance - All those Dukes - chapter 1

sexta-feira, 11 de outubro de 2019

A Victorian Romance - All those Dukes - chapter 1

My new book, ALL THOSE DUKES, a Victorian Romance about trust & secrets is already available!

I'm very excited about it because the story is so very interesting, full of lovely moments, a few steamy scenes and lots of plot twists. Also, it gives me the jitters because it's been a while since I last (self) published in English.

I am planning a series of novellas, one for a type of gentleman of the Victorian era. First is the Duke - several in this novel, actually. Quite a lovely nobility title, almost a Prince, very popular nowadays.

Well, mine is not inspired on the Duke of Sussex nor the Duke of Cambridge, but also very charming. Shall we get to know Duck?

here it is:

a Victorian men novella
chapter 1
One night…
The Nobledon family had a long line of nobility and honor. 

With a lineage of great men that lasted for centuries, the Nobledons had been war heroes always fighting for what cause was believed to be crucial for Great Britain. Crucial also for the family’s fortune as titles piled until one of those brave men who defended the great Queen Anne was made Duke of Somerchester in the early 1700s. From the time when nobility risked their necks at the war field to modern 1855 when they battled in politics, the bloodline came to Duck Nobledon, current Marquess of Somerchester, son of Reginald Francis Nobledon, the Duke.  

Duck was not his Christian name, certainly. Francis Edgard, the Nobledon heir, had been such a way nicknamed by an old nanny for his tone of voice, very particular indeed, not in the least inherited from any of his ancestors – especially his father. In appearance, from tender age the Marquess was also very different from the short dark Duke, no matter how much he tried to copy his father’s elegance or wiseness. To no one in the family but him it seemed odd that he was a tall and fair lad. 

‘One day you’ll grow dark.’ His mother said. ‘You have a Duke’s blood in you.’

‘One day your beard will darken your cheeks, your lordship.’ His first valet advised.

That day never came. Instead, as his years advanced, he became fairer, taller and stronger. His voice went lower and huskier, very different from the clear sing-song gentlemanly tone of his elegant father. At first, ‘duck’ was an endearment the Marquess disliked and then, as it caught, he embraced the sweet joke because the lightheartedness made it easier to hide the suspicion tainting his heart.

As an open wound poked time and time again, very upsetting was the reaction of strangers when facing father and son together. There was a sequence of frown - lips’ pursing - eye averting and finally, due to the consequence of the Dukedom, the inevitable ‘Congratulations, your grace, on the outstanding lineage. Quite a gorgeous heir!’ 

Duck always heard the compliment as a criticism on his father’s physical attributes.  That was one of the reasons why he had accepted the far post as Her Majesty’s extraordinary and plenipotentiary envoy to Spain.

After a prolonged stay in the continent, in the evening of his arrival back home, the scrutiny of strangers was the situation he encountered at The Golden Plate, the finest restaurant in Mayfair. He’d rather dine at the gentlemen’s club where everyone knew them, but his father, proud of his worldly countenance, suggested something more extravagant. Unfortunately, the meal was shortened to 4 dishes as the Duke’s health didn’t allow more. 

‘I am sorry, my boy. Your mamma would never forgive me for preventing you from having the veal you so like.’

Duck chuckled. ‘She left this Earth five years ago, no complaint will come from her; and it is of no importance, father. I am sure you commissioned the veal and the other remaining courses. Surely a feast will be waiting for us at home.’

The Duke raised his shoulders as they waited for their coach at the highly lit lobby; his most perfect son had predicted his actions. A bout of coughing would ruin his attitude, so he did his best to swallow the throat discomfort. 

‘Your grace?’

They both turned when someone called.

‘Shsh, uncle! Don’t embarrass us!’ A hushed reprimand.

‘Brother, don’t bother his grace…’ An older female voice.

‘Please, your grace.’ The white haired, round bellied, smiley man insisted. ‘Hannibal Johnson, DS Tea & Silk Imports Company.’

‘Of course, of course. How do you do, sir?’ The Duke forced a smile as the man bowed and the women lowered in a curtsey.

‘What a formidable surprise to find your grace here, I say! Most rarely seen outside these days.’ Johnson seemed very pleased in having the distinguished connection. ‘I am very well indeed, your grace. May I ask of your tiredness?’

‘Oh, you know…’ The Duke chanced a fast glance at Duck and found him frowning. ‘Better. Now I have my son with me, his company sure gives me great fortitude.’

‘Such excellent company, indeed!’ Johnson turned to the tall young man. ‘My lord Marquess.’ Another bow.

‘Good evening, Mr. Johnson’, Duck answered hoping his footman would arrive as if magic to announce their coach was ready and he could avoid the frown -  lips’ pursing - eye averting – exaggerated compliment, but, alas… The man and his two companions, an old funny looking woman of the same years as him and the young pretty girl, the three of them were obviously engaged on the aggravating comparing ritual.

‘Your grace was never short of words describing the many accomplishments of milord Marquess, only failed to mention his handsomeness.’

‘Brother!’ The older woman hissed.

The Duke chuckled. ‘Do not fret, madam, I am indeed used to Johnson’s enthusiasm.’ A cough and a sigh. ‘My son has just returned from the continent; we were celebrating our reunion.’ An elegant hand gesture indicated the big stairs that conducted patrons to the salon.

‘We have come for the same reason, a formidable coincidence! My niece arrived from Paris this very afternoon; it has been years since she was last in London with us.’ The white haired man smiled fondly at the young girl. ‘Isn’t she a beauty, your grace? My late sister’s eyes, the brains of a genius!’

‘A scientist, your grace!’ The older woman gushed. ‘So young and handsome, dedicated to science!’

‘Do make formal introductions, Johnson. England is in dear need of geniuses these days.’ The Duke blinked tired eyes.

‘Milord, I believe you remember my sister from the import offices, she helps with the shipments, Frederica James, widow of J. James solicitor.’ Johnson said with pomp. ‘And here is my sweet niece, Jessica Ellen Dearstring, fruit of the union of our much missed sister with my good friend and partner in business.’

‘Pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Dearstring.’ The Duke bowed his head ever so slightly. 

So did Duck. ‘Miss.’

‘Mrs., milords.’ Ellen smiled shyly returning from a curtsey. ‘As my aunt, I am a widow.’ As she said it, a deep blush took over her cheeks because all eyes were directed to her instantly. Not only the Duke’s and Marquess’ who had been half-heartedly interested in her but also her aunt’s and her uncle’s.

Ellen had indeed caught the noble man’s attention. ‘I do remember Dearstring, Johnson, don’t I? Wasn’t he who sent me excellent tea choices from India?’

‘The same, your grace.’ Johnson shook his head. ‘The best partner and friend one could have. A brilliant mind for business. Strong man he was, brought to his knees by a tiny animal no one gives importance.’ He frowned with anger. ‘One day the surgeons will notice the malice of mosquitoes, I tell you.’

‘And the daughter uses her maiden name after widowing? Or have you married a cousin?’

‘A series of misfortunes, your grace.’ Ellen hurried to answer before her verbose uncle. ‘So many losses, I chose to leave that much grief in Mumbai when I moved to Paris.’

‘I understand, Mrs. Dearstring. I am a widower myself.’

‘My condolences, your grace.’ She curtseyed again.

‘And mine to you.’ He again moved his head, but everyone could see his countenance was each minute more subdued, as if the Duke were a candle about to blow out. ‘You inherited the knack for science from your husband, I suppose.’

‘She has her own mind, your grace, one day milord has to find time to allow her to measure you! What an ingenious little study it is, bones and structures of a person!’

‘No one cares for that in England, only our Jessica Ellen! She is breaking ground.’ Her aunt nodded smiling.

‘Well, anthropometry is not such a revolutionary study.’ She smiled sideways, eyes showing mirth and love for her aunt and uncle’s praises. ‘Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man dates from late 15th century.’

‘Isn’t it the technic used to identify criminals?’ Duck had all his attentions on the pretty woman, the widow of young years and delicate manners, scientist of law enforcement.

‘Yes, yes, milord!’ She smiled. ‘Monsieur Bertillon has been having excellent results in forensics!’

‘Do you work with him?’ Duck forced himself not to respond the smile, the subject was extremely odd and he was worried for his father’s health. ‘I am an envoy to Spain; whatever helps us keep justice is useful. Dry borders are not easy to protect.’

‘Oh, no, milord.’ Ellen shook her head, lips locked together. ‘I study genealogy, purely academic sense to the matter.’

‘Ah, I see.’ He nodded.

Eager for the opportunity to impress the men of consequence, Johnson took Ellen’s hand to tuck in the crook of his arm. ‘She used to be a regular at the Sorbonne.’

‘She even has a diploma!’ Frederica announced.

‘Now she needs a husband, I say.’ The uncle patted the young woman’s hand on his arm. ‘Am I right, your grace? A handsome girl, a formidable mind, she must be in need of a man to find purpose. If she only dedicated to the art of choosing a suitor with the same ardor as she cares for science...’

‘Any gentleman would be lucky to spouse Mrs. Dearstring, I am sure.’ The Duke said in a voice that could be called faint if the man wasn’t so polite.

‘Finding oneself a marriage cannot be done in haste, uncle.’ Ellen answered blushing, under her hoop skirts she bounced on her legs out of sheer embarrassment. 

‘Eventually it shall be done.’ The uncle insisted.

A new breath of vitality seemed to reach the Duke as he turned to his son. ‘Have you two met before?’

‘No.’ Duck shook his head.

‘Are you positive?’


‘Have milord cruised with my Jessica Ellen in the continent, your grace, is this what you say?’ Johnson blinked, Ellen frowned.

The Duke had an amused expression on his aged face. ‘Mrs. Dearstring’s words are almost verbatim what I have been hearing since my son reached adulthood.’ A chuckle. ‘I wonder if they arranged this meeting here at The Golden Plate.’

‘Please, father.’ Duck shook his head. ‘Forgive his sense of humor, Mrs. Dearstring.’ It was his time to blush. ‘He makes fun of me for refusing schemes of vile matchmakers interested in our titles.’
Ellen shook her head, but didn’t answer.

‘My son always said to me that he would find a companion when time provided opportunity to weigh all qualities and defects in a perfect lady; being that task arduous, I needed not to expect an announcement soon.’ The Duke tilted his head.

‘My niece is a bit more direct in her words, I guess.’

‘Same message.’


Under the scrutiny of both the Duke and the uncle, Duck and Ellen blushed even more. She wanted to escape, thought about catching her aunt’s eyes to ask for help, but it’d be incredibly rude to abandon a Duke and a Marquess. Luckily they were saved by a footman arriving.

‘Our coach is here, my funny father.’ Duck waved at the door.
‘I bid you good night, Johnson.’

A bow. ‘Farewell, your grace. I shall see to the safe delivery of your shipment later this week.’

‘I thank you.’ With elegance, the Duke moved his head almost imperceptibly. ‘Mrs. James, Mrs. Dearstring.’

‘Your grace.’ Both women curtseyed.

‘Good evening.’ Duck bowed.

Johnson bowed back, the women curtseyed again.

‘Frankly, father, was it necessary?’ Duck shook his head as his father chuckled. ‘You practically pushed me towards the widow.’

‘Pretty one, she is. Smart, intelligent, didn’t fall for your handsome features or bass voice… Not one compliment! Kudos to Mrs. Dearstring!’ A cough and a sigh. ‘Ah… To be young enough for widows and debutants…’

selling antiques
‘Old man has had too much wine.’ Duck muttered as their coach rocked on the streets of London from Mayfair to Kensington were their small palace was seated. ‘Pretty eyes, smelled good too. I do admire a perfumed lady.’ Especially if she had a well-proportioned face, quite symmetrical. Pretty nose, bright round eyes, heart shaped mouth. Very pleasing figure too, narrow waist and nice bust. Good height for him. If he were bound to notice.

Another chuckle from the father.

‘But a woman of science? Really?... How odd. Didn’t you think it odd the manner she spoke of marriages?’

‘Yes!’ A cough. ‘Exactly as you do!’ The cough mixed with chuckles did not stop this time.

‘Uncle, you are a menace! Worse than the mosquitoes you hate.’ Ellen hissed as they sat around the table at the fancy restaurant. ‘If my dad was here, he would kill you! Exposing me in front of a single man! Were you selling me off? Am I on auction?’

‘If those mosquitoes had left your father alone, you wouldn’t be doing half of your antics, girl.’ Johnson smiled back. ‘Have you met the Marquess before and didn’t tell me?’


‘The Duke is a good client. Tell me the truth.’

‘I am!’

‘How come you two think the same on marriage-’

‘Can you two please behave?’ Frederica held both her niece’s and brother’s hand over the table. ‘I always wanted to visit this fancy restaurant and have oysters, I am going to eat oysters in peace with my two favorite people in the world. Understood?’

‘Yes, aunt.’

‘Yes, Freddy.’

‘Good. Now, tell me of ladies’ hats in Paris, Jessica Ellen.’

more details & links about this book here

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