She has everything she's ever dreamed of―except the man who broke her heart
Sophie Tresilian is the toast of Europe, a silver-voiced singer whose star is on the rise. Though desired by countless men, she lost her heart years ago to Robin Pendarvis.… but secrets from the past tore them apart. His sudden reappearance turns her world upside-down, reviving all the old pain―and all the old passion. Unable to deny the love that still burns between them, they will risk everything to be together again. But will the scandal that blighted their past destroy their future as well?
Read an Excerpt
O, call back yesterday! Bid time return.
-Shakespeare, Richard II
London, July 1896
He'd been a fool to come, but he couldn't have stayed away if his life depended on it.
All around him, Robin could hear the rustle of programmes, the faint coughs and murmurs as the audience settled in before the performance. Down in the pit, violins lilted and cellos thrummed as the orchestra tuned up its instruments. The concert had sold out quickly-he'd been fortunate to secure a prime seat in one of the lower tiers with a clear view of the stage. But even the galleries and balconies were full tonight.
He smoothed out his programme with hands that shook only slightly, then read the lines of print over and over until the words ran together in a meaningless blur. David Cherwell, the promising Welsh tenor, and Sophia Tresilian-one of the finest young sopranos in recent memory-performing together for one night only at the prestigious Albert Hall.
Sophia. The name seemed to belong to some glamorous stranger. In Cornwall, among those who knew her best, she was just Sophie. Sometimes "Snip" to her brother Harry. "Lark" to her sister Cecily. And to Robin himself... He pushed the thought away, reminding himself that he'd lost the right to call her anything at all four years ago. Lost it, renounced it, thrown it away... and for the best. What could he have offered her then but heartache and ruin?
And now here she was-celebrated, adored, at the start of a brilliant career. And here he was, watching and waiting. To see all that radiant promise fulfilled. To comfort himself with the knowledge that he'd done the right thing. And for one more reason that he could not, dared not, put into words yet.
One way or another, tonight would tell the tale.
The house lights dimmed and the orchestra launched into a brisk overture that Robin barely heeded because his attention was fixed on the stage. As the last flourish sounded, he saw the slender figure walk out to take her place before them all.
Not tall, Sophie, but she carried herself with a poise that made her appear so. Stage lights caught the coppery glints in her dark hair, shone on the smooth ivory heart of her face, the slim column of her throat, rising from the décolleté neckline of her gown-a gown the color of midnight, almost void of ornament, severe but becoming. She'd worn white the first time he saw her-a young girl's dress, artless and unsophisticated, but even then the woman had begun to emerge. And here she stood now, the blossom to the bud, so beautiful it made him ache.
And not just him. He sensed the heightened awareness around him, the way so many of the men in his vicinity seemed to come to a point. Like hounds catching the first whiff of game, or orchid hunters sighting a rare, elusive bloom.
Unseen, the piano rippled out an introduction, the somber chords echoing through the hall, now hushed and reverent as a church. Onstage, Sophie raised her head and began to sing.
"Music for a while, Shall all your cares beguile..."
Purcell-she'd always had a fondness for that composer's songs. Her voice held the same purity he remembered, but with an added richness, the patina of training and experience. Caught between pride and pain, Robin sat motionless and listened, absorbing every note.
How long had it been since he'd first heard her sing?
Five years ago, this past December. A lifetime ago...