One woman’s journey to find herself and help secure the vote. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.
1911 Bath. Banished from her ancestral home, passionate suffrage campaigner Esther Stanbury works as a window dresser in Pennington’s Department Store. She has hopes and dreams for women’s progression and will do anything to help secure the vote.
Owner of the prestigious Phoenix Hotel, Lawrence Culford has what most would view as a successful life. But Lawrence is harbouring shame, resentment and an anger that threatens his future happiness. When Esther and Lawrence meet, their mutual understanding of life’s challenges unites them and they are drawn to the possibility of a life of love that neither thought existed.
With the Coronation of King-Emperor George V looming, the atmosphere in Bath is building to fever pitch, as is the suffragists’ determination to secure the vote.
Will Esther’s rebellious nature lead her to ruin or can they overcome their pasts and look to build a future together?
EXTRACT FROM THE BOOK!!
Esther held his frustratingly calm gaze and fought to muster her wavering confidence. His impertinent question regarding her maternal status had thrown her from the subject, but he was right to question her. What did she really know of children? Of parenting?
Heat crept into her cheeks, but she stood firm as she turned her attention to his daughter rather than her imperviously forthright father. ‘Do I find myself standing in front of a keen cricketer?’ Esther beamed at the little girl who grinned back. ‘Could you be the first young lady to join the men at the Oval?’
The little girl giggled as she sidled closer to her father, her head bobbing up and down.
Esther laughed before addressing the little boy. ‘And I agree, the sky is most definitely blue and grey.’
The boy flashed an impish grin and Esther straightened, glancing at their father. Her smile vanished at the intense way the gentleman studied her.
She cleared her throat. ‘Your children are delightful, sir. I would just like certain people to see that it’s important every human being, no matter how young, is allowed the liberty of choice.’
His gaze lingered on hers until he blinked and looked along the street as though bored by her conversation. ‘I see.’
Esther glared at his profile before remembering his children watched her. She forced a tight smile. ‘I can’t imagine your wife would approve of you encouraging such a division in your children.’
He stilled, before facing her, his blue eyes wholly darker than they’d been before. ‘My wife?’
‘Yes, sir.Your wife. Is it not enough that women are forced to fight for a position in the world without—’
‘We’re discussing a doll and cricket set. Hardly an argument for or against women’s suffrage.’ Two spots of angry colour now darkened his cheeks. ‘That’s what you’re referring to, correct?’
Esther swallowed and glanced at his children before tilting her chin at their father. ‘Not in this instance.’
He raised his eyebrows. ‘No?’
‘That’s just as well.’ He glanced along the street. ‘As an active suffragist supporter myself, I really wouldn’t appreciate you casting aspersions without knowing me.’
Surprised, she lowered her tense shoulders. ‘You support the Cause?’
He faced her. ‘I do and have for many months.’
Her heart quickened, and she turned away from his penetrating gaze. So, he was one of the men supporting the women in their fight, that did not mean he could hoodwink his daughter into convention.
‘Well, as pleased as I am to hear that, sir, we clearly have a long way to go with regards to gender equality. The Cause is just one aspect of women’s rights that needs to change. Wouldn’t you agree?’
‘Indeed, I would. I imagine the fight to close the avenue between the sexes will be an ongoing one for many years to come.’
‘Exactly.’ She looked at the young girl and smiled. ‘Do you think we’ve persuaded your father you should have the cricket set?’
His daughter shook her head, but her eyes shone with mischief. ‘Daddy is stubborn.’
Trying not to laugh, Esther nodded. ‘Yes, I believe he is.’
The gentleman coughed.
Esther faced him, disconcerted by the unexpected softness that had replaced the defiance in his eyes. ‘Well, it seems you have found a friend in Rose, if nothing else.’
‘Yes, I think you could be right.’ She smiled at his daughter, delighting in her happy gaze, before she turned to the little boy. ‘And I have in you, too, I hope?’
He nodded, his smile impossibly enchanting.
Their father cleared his throat. ‘But, new friends or not, that doesn’t mean I’ll weaken in my decision about what to buy them.’
Of all the obstinate… She pointed to the window. ‘This display was purposely designed to amalgamate children’s interests and tastes. Do you see nothing is segregated? Nothing clearly marked as boys’ toys versus girls?’
His gaze momentarily dropped to her mouth in such intense study further heat flared in her cheeks. The man had an unnerving way of examining a person. As though he could look at her and see something beyond what she presented to him. It was annoying. Supremely annoying.
He slowly turned to the window. ‘That is the dresser’s intention?’
‘And you can be quite certain of that because…’
‘Because, sir, I am her. My motivation behind this design was to show it’s neither here nor there which gender chooses to play with which toy. Why not allow children to be children regardless of whether they are male or female?’ Esther’s pride swelled. ‘And with that thought, I will bid you good day.’ She smiled at his children in turn. ‘It was lovely to meet you all. Goodbye.’
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rachel Brimble lives in Wiltshire with her husband of twenty years, two teenage daughters and her beloved chocolate Labrador, Tyler. Multi-published in the US, she is thrilled to have a new beginning writing for Aria in the UK. When Rachel isn’t writing, she enjoys reading across the genres, knitting and walking the English countryside with her family…often stopping off at a country pub for lunch and a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc.