At the age of ten, Miranda Cheever showed no signs of Great Beauty. And even at ten, Miranda learned to accept the expectations society held for her—until the afternoon when Nigel Bevelstoke, the handsome and dashing Viscount Turner, solemnly kissed her hand and promised her that one day she would grow into herself, that one day she would be as beautiful as she already was smart. And even at ten, Miranda knew she would love him forever.
But the years that followed were as cruel to Turner as they were kind to Miranda. She is as intriguing as the viscount boldly predicted on that memorable day—while he is a lonely, bitter man, crushed by a devastating loss. But Miranda has never forgotten the truth she set down on paper all those years earlier—and she will not allow the love that is her destiny to slip lightly through her fingers . . .
About the Author
Look for Bridgerton, based on her popular series of novels about the Bridgerton family, on Netflix.
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The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever
By Julia Quinn
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2007 Julia Quinn
All right reserved.
Nigel Bevelstoke, better known as Turner to all who cared to court his favor, knew a great many things.
He knew how to read Latin and Greek, and he knew how to seduce a woman in French and Italian.
He knew how to shoot a moving target while atop a moving horse, and he knew exactly how much he could drink before surrendering his dignity.
He could throw a punch or fence with a master, and he could do them both while reciting Shakespeare or Donne.
In short, he knew everything a gentleman ought to know, and, by all accounts, he'd excelled in every area.
People looked at him.
People looked up to him.
But nothing—not one second of his prominent and privileged life—had prepared him for this moment. And never had he felt the weight of watchful eyes so much as now, as he stepped forward and tossed a clump of dirt on the coffin of his wife.
I'm so sorry, people kept saying. I'm so sorry. We're so sorry.
And all the while, Turner could not help but wonder if God might smite him down, because all he could think was—
Ah, Leticia. He had quite a lot to thank her for.
Let's see, where to start? There was the loss of his reputation, of course. The devil only knew how many people were aware that he'd beencuckolded.
Then there was the loss of his innocence. It was difficult to recall now, but he had once given mankind the benefit of the doubt. He had, on the whole, believed the best of people—that if he treated others with honor and respect, they would do the same unto him.
And then there was the loss of his soul.
Because as he stepped back, clasping his hands stiffly behind him as he listened to the priest commit Leticia's body to the ground, he could not escape the fact that he had wished for this. He had wanted to be rid of her.
And he would not—he did not mourn her.
"Such a pity," someone behind him whispered.
Turner's jaw twitched. This was not a pity. It was a farce. And now he would spend the next year wearing black for a woman who had come to him carrying another man's child. She had bewitched him, teased him until he could think of nothing but the possession of her. She had said she loved him, and she had smiled with sweet innocence and delight when he had avowed his devotion and pledged his soul.
She had been his dream.
And then she had been his nightmare.
She'd lost that baby, the one that had prompted their marriage. The father had been some Italian count, or at least that's what she'd said. He was married, or unsuitable, or maybe both. Turner had been prepared to forgive her; everyone made mistakes, and hadn't he, too, wanted to seduce her before their wedding night?
But Leticia had not wanted his love. He didn't know what the hell she had wanted—power, perhaps, the heady rush of satisfaction when yet another man fell under her spell.
Turner wondered if she'd felt that when he'd succumbed. Or maybe it had just been relief. She'd been three months along by the time they married. She hadn't much time to spare.
And now here she was. Or rather, there she was. Turner wasn't precisely sure which locational pronoun was more accurate for a lifeless body in the ground.
Whichever. He was only sorry that she would spend her eternity in his ground, resting among the Bevelstokes of days gone by. Her stone would bear his name, and in a hundred years, someone would gaze upon the etchings in the granite and think she must have been a fine lady, and what a tragedy that she'd been taken so young.
Turner looked up at the priest. He was a youngish fellow, new to the parish and by all accounts, still convinced that he could make the world a better place.
"Ashes to ashes," the priest said, and he looked up at the man who was meant to be the bereaved widower.
Ah yes, Turner thought acerbically, that would be me.
"Dust to dust."
Behind him, someone actually sniffled.
And the priest, his blue eyes bright with that appallingly misplaced glimmer of sympathy, kept on talking—
"In the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection—"
"—to eternal life."
The priest looked at Turner and actually flinched. Turner wondered what, exactly, he'd seen in his face. Nothing good, that much was clear.
There was a chorus of amens, and then the service was over. Everyone looked at the priest, and then everyone looked at Turner, and then everyone looked at the priest clasping Turner's hands in his own as he said, "She will be missed."
"Not," Turner bit off, "by me."
I can't believe he said that.
Miranda looked down at the words she'd just written. She was currently on page forty-two of her thirteenth journal, but this was the first time—the first time since that fateful day nine years earlier—that she had not a clue what to write. Even when her days were dull (and they frequently were), she managed to cobble together an entry.
In May of her fourteenth year—
Ate breakfast: toast, eggs, bacon.
Read Sense and Sensibility, authored by unknown lady.
Hid Sense and Sensibility from Father.
Ate dinner: chicken, bread, cheese.
Conjugated French verbs.
Composed letter to Grandmother.
Ate supper: beefsteak, soup, pudding.
Read more Sense and Sensibility, author's identity still unknown.
Dreamed of him.
This was not to be confused with her entry of 12 November of the same year—
Ate breakfast: Eggs, toast, ham.
Made great show of reading Greek tragedy.
To no avail.
Spent much of the time staring out the window.
Ate lunch: fish, bread, peas.
Conjugated Latin verbs.
Composed letter to Grandmother.
Ate supper: roast, potatoes, pudding.
Brought tragedy to the table (book, not event). Father did not notice. Retired.
Dreamed of him.
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