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Maggi Andersen

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Member Since: Sep, 2008

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NIGHT GARDEN
by Maggi Andersen   

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Books by Maggi Andersen
· Waving At the Moon
· An Improper Lover
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Category: 

Romance

Publisher:  New Concepts Publishing ISBN-10:  1603943994 Type: 
Pages: 

123

Copyright:  Jan 2010 ISBN-13:  9781603943994
Fiction

Laura Palmer marries the mysterious baron, Lord Nathaniel Lanyon, and goes to live in his ancient home in Cornwall. A dark cloud hovers over Wolfram. The death of Nathaniel’s first wife has never been solved, and some of the villagers believe him responsible. Struggling to understand the distant man she married, Laura tries to uncover the truth. With each stone unturned, she comes closer to danger.

Amazon
NEW CONCEPTS PUBLISHING


Excerpt

NIGHT GARDEN

England

Wimbledon

Summer 1899



Raindrops struck Laura's straw hat with a splattering sound. She ran over the damp grass, trailing the skirt of her blue-checked tennis suit over a rosebush, and sending bursts of crimson petals into the air. Ahead, the white-painted gazebo offered shelter. It also offered seclusion.

"Run or you'll get soaked, slow-top," she called to the man who ran behind her. Howard Farmer her associate from Cambridge University was her tennis partner for the weekend.

He leapt a rose bush, and then with agile grace, vaulted the gazebo balustrade. He stood with one slim, white flannel leg crossed over the other in a studied pose as she ran up the steps. "Slow top, eh?"

"I caught my skirt." Laura tossed her racquet onto the wicker table.

He smiled at her. "Are you mad because I didn't let you win the last set?"

She frowned. "My skirt. Again."

A smile crinkled the corners of his hazel eyes. He came close and brushed a wet curl from her brow.

At the gentle touch of his fingers, Laura drew a deep breath and tucked her hair firmly behind one ear. Moving to the railing, she gazed out at the rain. If only she could wear the knickerbockers now in fashion. It didn't bother her that her mother would be shocked. Her father, however, would think she looked like one of the new breed of women who would rather bed a woman than a man. She had overheard him saying as much to Mother over the newspaper at breakfast. Her mother had shushed him with a glance in her direction. He already accused Laura of being far too competitive to be feminine. She could play golf and tennis as well as most men, so why should she pretend otherwise? As to her sexual proclivities, he would be quite wrong. She definitely planned to make love with a man.

"You often seem angry." Howard stood so close, his breath tickled her ear. "I don't understand why."

"Why should you?" she said folding her arms. "You're a man. You're free. I can only dream of such choices."

The shower eased off to a drizzle and a ray of sunlight broke through the clouds.

"I've enjoyed the tennis," Laura said, in an effort to regain her good nature. "But I must go and change for the party." Up at Cambridge she thought she knew who she was. She wasn't used to the complex feelings that now pulled at her.

They gathered up their rackets and balls, and strolled along the avenue of dripping beech trees, to its far end where the house stood.

Laura loved the garden after rain; it reminded her of replenishment and renewal. Of rebirth. A carpet of bluebells painted the ground beneath the trees and the grass seemed luminous. The pungent smell of wet earth drifted in the air. As they drew closer to the house, she slipped her arm through Howard's. She couldn't help smiling when she gazed at him. He looked so attractive with his keen hazel eyes and floppy, fair hair curling over his collar. Her mother had shaken her head and said he needed a haircut.

They reached the end of the avenue. Howard paused to gaze up at the warm brick walls of Grisewood Hall. "Quite a place your parents have here."

It was a pretty house, Laura had to admit, newly built in the Queen Anne style with a soaring roof, turrets and bay windows, settled into the grounds of an old garden. "Should be called the mad house," she murmured, as they entered the lofty marble-tiled hall. "Particularly today."

Black-skirted maids in white aprons, rushed past carrying silverware and crystal glasses, laying tables in the dining room. Waiters struggled with huge urns of exotic, hothouse flowers.

"Come through to the breakfast room," Laura said. "You can't go home damp, you'll catch cold."

"Do you care about my health?" Howard asked with a grin.

"I wouldn't like to be responsible for you catching your death," she said evasively. "I'll fetch you a towel."

The rain had driven the afternoon's garden party indoors. Laura's father, Lord Palmer, a prominent political figure in the Liberal party, held many such social events at their Wimbledon home.

She met her mother on the stairs. "You look like a drowned kitten, Laura." Lady Palmer's eyebrows rose. "You should be dressed to receive our guests. Your rose pink satin is laid out for you and Mary is waiting. I hope she can do something with your hair."

"My yellow crepe with the navy braid shall do." Laura put her hand to the damp, auburn coil at her nape. Her neck felt hot and not just from the recent exercise. "I can manage my own hair." Her mother frowned. "If you insist on having Mary do it, Mother, I'll have it all cut off and sell it. Then donate the money to charity."

Her mother's frown turned to one of pained resignation. "Now that you have finished the ridiculous, literature degree, which did nothing but give you airy fairy ideas, your father and I intend to cast about for a suitable husband for you. Your future is not under your control." A jerky movement with her hand indicated the breakfast room where Howard waited. "And it won't be that penniless, young man."

Laura turned on her heel and headed down the hall. She found Howard chatting with a young maid. "You'd best dry your hair." She tossed him the towel as the maid scurried away eyes lowered. "Before you get the staff sacked."

He smiled as he rubbed his hair. "You can't be jealous."

"No. I can't." She folded her arms across her chest.

He threw down the towel, took her hand and drew her behind a marble pillar. "Why did you ask me down?"

She removed his hand from her arm. "You're good company."

He gazed at her, shaking his head. "I felt there might be something between us, but I can't get close to you. What are you defending? Your honor is safe with me, if that's what you wish."

Blond chest hair peeped from his open collar, unsettling her. He could make her laugh and laughter was an aphrodisiac, or so her women friends at Cambridge told her, when they discussed their sexual exploits. She planned to have experiences of her own very soon. Why not Howard? The thought caused a ripple of excitement to pass through her. A warning bell sounded in her head and she moved away. "You're too serious."

His hazel eyes searched hers. "Too serious for what?"

She hesitated.

Hurt sparked in his eyes, making her regret her words immediately. "Oh. I see. I'm not rich enough. And my career is unsuitable. No one wants their daughter to marry a historian and bury themselves in a university town."

"If I was sure that was what I wanted, I would do it," she said.

"You are a lord's daughter." Howard walked to the window and stood with one hand on the curtain.

Laura came to stand beside him. Outside, shiny broughams and landaus lined the avenue. A pair of grey horses reared nervously as a horseless carriage appeared, belching smoke. The rain had returned, heavier still. Grooms darted around with umbrellas as ladies wearing cloaks over their party dresses emerged from their carriages. "Your father's soirée proves to be a bit damp."

Laura didn't like that he'd turned away from her. She stepped close to him, placing a hand on his chest, feeling the warmth of his skin through his thin, damp shirt. "Howard, I'd like you to be the first."

Howard raised his sandy brows and studied her. "The first?" He caressed her cheek with a finger and smiled sadly. "Your eyes are the color of emeralds, did anyone ever tell you? And emeralds are costly."

Her hand flew to her cheek as if he'd slapped her. "Well, thank you. I would have expected something more ... poetical. Inspired by Keats, perhaps."

He sighed. "I find I can't take up your very attractive offer, Laura. To be your first." He repeated the last four words slowly like an affront.

Her cheeks warming, Laura said, "One minute you are desperate to make love to me and the next ...."

"I can't play your games," he said hotly. "I don't relish the idea of a broken heart." His glance traveled over her face and body, lingering on her breasts, as his hand touched her waist. "It would take me too long to get over you."

Laura smiled. "Coward."

"Maybe, I am. But I shall have this from you, my lady." His fingers gripped her more tightly, drawing her further into a secluded nook. She waited for his kiss, lifted her chin to invite it. The noise of servants and guests a step away in the hall excited her. His mouth came down on hers as exhilaration unfurled through her body. But he merely brushed his lips against hers. He drew away quickly and, without saying another word, left the room. Laura followed, convinced the servants would note her flushed face and guilty expression and discuss it in their quarters.

The butler handed Howard his bag, tweed overcoat and hat.

The chatter in the reception rooms increased to a crescendo as the house filled with guests.

As Howard shrugged into his coat, Laura noticed a frayed cuff on his shirtsleeve. Pity seized her heart and squeezed it.

"You're a good daughter," he said politely, as if the kiss hadn't happened. "You'll marry someone of your class and live a very comfortable life."

Did he wish her to refute it? She couldn't, not because he was right, she just didn't have a clear picture of what the future would hold for her. The choice should be hers and not her mother's.

"There's no shame in such a life," he continued with a frown. He offered his arm. "Come, I must thank your parents before I leave."

Her mother and father barely hid their dislike of Howard beneath a veneer of politeness. Did their disapproval make him more attractive to her?

"The weather's turned inclement. My coachman will take you to the station," Lord Palmer said, after a perfunctory shaking of Howard's hand.

"Thank you, but I like to walk in the rain."

"Barker will fetch you an umbrella," Laura said when they reached the hall.

At the front door, Howard put up the umbrella. "Only the rich have these," he said. "The rest of us must rent them or get wet." He turned to nod at her. "Goodbye, Laura."

He strode off down the road on his two mile hike to the station. It occurred to her that she might never see him again, but she didn't call him back.

The heady perfume of vanilla and ylang ylang made her turn. Her mother stood arms akimbo in her burgundy and white striped silk gown with its imposing bustle, a pearl choker at her throat. "Upstairs now. Quickly, please."

Laura found Mary hovering nervously at the top of the stairs. She rolled her eyes. "It's all right, Mary. You may do my hair."



Professional Reviews

Siren Book Reviews
Title: NIGHT GARDEN

Author: Maggi Andersen

Rating: Four And A Half Siren Stones


Genre: Historical romance set in Victorian Cornwall, England

Sub-Genre: Mystery

Buy-Link: http://newconceptspublishing.com/maggiandersenbooks.html

ISBN: 978-1-60394-399-4

Heat Level: Sensual/spicy

Website: http://www.maggiandersenauthor.com

Reviewer: Rhonda Callum-King

Blurb/Summary:

Laura Palmer marries the mysterious baron, Lord Nathaniel Lanyon, and goes to live in his ancient home in Cornwall. A dark cloud hovers over Wolfram. The death of Nathaniel’s first wife has never been solved, and some of the villagers believe him responsible. Struggling to understand the distant man she married, Laura tries to uncover the truth. With each stone unturned, she comes closer to danger.

Review:

A late 1800’s, early 1900’s style feminist woman, Laura Palmer, is married to a baron, the Lord Nathaniel Lanyon only after a few short weeks of meeting him. She moves from the art and learning centers of England, leaving behind her dreams of female emancipation, to the countryside of Cornwall. Once there, she realizes an unsolved mystery and danger surround the abbey of Wolfram. Laura must come to know her new life and husband, while solving the previous Baronesses’ mysterious death.

In Night Garden, the imagery of the early 20th century is well developed. The reader is transported to the turn of the century. We see inside the head of an erudite early twenties young woman with dreams for something more than a house and children. Being influenced by Laura’s bohemian Aunt has created conflict within the head of the main character. However, Laura Palmer is under pressure by her parents to conform to Victorian society’s many rules.

Maggi Andersen depicts the conflicting interests of a young woman who desires to be free, but winds up caught by her own desires quite well. The portraiture of entitled Victorian nobility is fully developed. It was hard to put the story down as the mystery kept just out of reach, drawing the reader in further to the storyline.

However, the storyline began with the tentative courtship of one blonde penniless Howard Farmer and the wealthy Laura Palmer. She presents an offer to bed him, as her first. This offends him, as he appears to be in love with her. Howard’s character is fully developed, and he is last seen leaving her home somewhat hurt in the rain.

This story is more mystery, and less of a sexual romance. Aside from a few scenes, it could almost receive a PG-13 rating. While the cover of the book is enticing, I would not say that that gentleman is the huge, towering, brooding, tall dark and handsome, thirty something, Lord Lanyon. The gentleman depicted appears to better fit the description of the missing Howard Farmer.

Night Garden was quite an enjoyable read and kept me up way too late into the night following the puzzle of Wolfram Abbey. I look forward to seeing more from Maggi Andersen.



Coffee Time Romance Reviews
Laura is a beautiful, well educated, and wealthy redhead. Her father is a prominent politician and her mother a socialite. She has recently lost her twin sister. Educated well beyond most young women of her day, she wants more than just marriage and children.
Nathaniel, Lord Lanyon, is a prominent member of the House of Lords and very handsome. He is a widower and there are questions about his late wife’s death. He never intends to marry again.
Laura and Nathaniel feel an instant attraction to one another and marry before either has a chance to truly consider what they are doing. They travel to Nathaniel’s estate, Wolfram Abbey, where the mystery of the first Lady Lanyon’s death casts a pall over the newlyweds and Nathaniel’s secretive manner puts Laura in danger again and again.
A Gothic romance in the classic style, the author is a master at creating ominous atmosphere and multilayered characters. Laura in particular is a well-drawn character. She is very sympathetic, intelligent, well bred, and very good natured. Nathaniel on the other hand is much too secretive. There are some pretty exciting scenes and very sensual love scenes. The villain of the piece will come as a surprise to most readers.
Maura
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More



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Reader Reviews for "NIGHT GARDEN"

Reviewed by Anne Whitfield 10/20/2010
I really enjoyed this story of Laura and Nathaniel. Maggi Andersen evokes a gothic style with Night Garden and brings to life the foreboding setting of Nathaniel's home on a clifftop in Cornwall.
Excellent.


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