"Virtuous Dove" captures a sedate traditional look on life as it was in Victoria England. Felicity Phelps, a sweet, demure, and virtuous daughter of the South, will risk everything to preserve all that is wrong.
Felicity Phelps, an Abolitionist from a small community off the Chesapeake, survives, after witnessing her mother and father tragically killed while aiding and abetting a family of runners. Felicity, finds herself homeless and shunned by the people, she once thought of as friends. Even her older brother Erasmus, embittered and ashamed of his parents' actions, casts her aside as he tries to rebuild a life for himself. Barren and penniless, Felicity reluctantly contacts a distant uncle, Edwin Robbins, from London, England, her beloved grandmother’s homeland, rather than face being sent to the poor farm.
Although Mr. Robbins appears to be generous with traveling arrangements to England, Felicity must accept that the life she once lived as the heiress of a prosperous tobacco and shipping business is over. Reduced to accept a teaching position at a local school near Devon England, Felicity must live with complete strangers, the local Vicar, Benjamin Myles and his newly wed wife Lavinia, old friends of the family.
Within weeks of arriving in England, Felicity with the aide of her new friend, Reverend Myles, uncovered the shocking past of her grandparents, that resulted in them fleeing England and a life of wealth and privilege, decades earlier. Reunited with an aunt she knew nothing of, Felicity soon finds herself no longer dependent on the kindness of others, when she learns she is the heiress of two of the most revered families in England. Her aunt, eager to introduce her into society, recognizing Felicity is one of the most desirable young women in their set, plans gala ball. Only to have this fairytale evening tarnished, and threatens to destroy Felicity's reputation as well.
Felicity learns the hard way that not all appears as it is on the surface of the elite of society. Will she also, like her ancestors before her, give up stature, wealth and her families honor for love? Discover if Felicity's virtues can be altered when greed, power, lust and the suppression of the truth test her own belief system and those of others around her?
Virtuous Dove by Linda Daly
Early fall, 1860
“I beg of you. Let me go!" Felicity Phelps desperately struggled to free herself from the men who held her from the burning building, not thirty feet in front of her.
"Oh, please, Mama and Papa are trapped inside!"
Again, the young woman fought to free herself from the steely grip of the two men holding her captive, yelling fiercely, "You're killing them!"
Seeing no response, Felicity tried to scream louder over the cheering crowd.
"Don't you hear me? They are dying!"
Looking at one of her captors, Mr. Kincade, a long-time friend of the family, she begged, "Oh, Please Mr. Kincade…Why are you doing this?" All the while thrashing about to be freed.
A wave of new enthusiasm erupted from the crowd as the thick black smoke and red flames intensified, rising high above the wooden structure. The heat from the raging fire was so intense that even from this distance, Felicity could feel it on her face. As she watched in horror, the fire ravaged the wooden structure that had once been a safe haven for runaway slaves.
Agonized screams for help had long ceased from within. All that remained were the snapping and popping sounds of dry wood as the flames rolled across the rotted boards in a thick fog that now completely engulfed the wooden structure. Dark gray and white smoke bellowed out from where a door and small window on the second story once stood.
Dumbfounded and dazed, Felicity looked up at the men who held her captive. Nothing seemed natural. Was it possible that a trusted friend of the family was now responsible for the murder of her father and mother?
Unable to fathom such a horrible thought, she pleaded again, looking directly into James Kincade's eyes. “Please, Mr. Kincade, I beg of you, let me go to them. Mama and Papa are trapped inside.”
The man tightened his grip around her forearms, eyes narrowing as he peered down at her. “I’m warning ya girl, hush up, or I’ll let them have you, too.”
Felicity quivered, seeing the hatred for her in his eyes, which had once been filled with love. Shaking her head in denial, she mumbled, "Mr. Kincade, it's me, Felicity… Your best friends' daughter."
In her confused state, Felicity’s mind found it difficult to accept that a man, who had been a loyal and trusted family friend for decades, was now taking part in committing such an unimaginable act of honor. Felicity’s eyes traveled back to the engulfed building and she whimpered, “Mama, Papa…”
Within seconds, a thunderous roar echoed through the back woods of the Phelps property, as the roof of the engulfed dwelling gave way, shooting red-hot amber’s into the night air, some landing only inches from her feet. Felicity stared at the charred fragments, mystified. She watched the scattered remains of the building turn from bright red to charcoal black. Looking up and over to the demolished building, where her parents had been trapped, Felicity wondered if the same were true for those buried under the burned pile of rubble. Had the life drained from them, too?
What a lovely story-
Easy to read, characters come to life and you actually imagine yourself in the same room watching the casts.
This historical novel takes you on a ride through history, the life, the loves, the heartbreak of women of the past. I would suggest this book for any history buff, and any who just love a great read.
Although the beginning was a bit slow (tedious) for my tastes - or perhaps for this reason- I was quite surprised and really quite charmed with the story as I got a bit further into the story. I really got hooked and became very interested in what was happening with not only the main characters but also the many secondary characters.