I’m excited today to give you a peek inside Worthy of Legend by Roseanna M. White! Have you read the other books in this series yet? Roseanna’s books are always perfection!
WORTHY OF LEGEND by Roseanna M. White
SERIES: The Secrets of the Isles #3
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Romance
PUBLISHER: Bethany House
RELEASE DATE: September 13, 2022
After a summer of successful pirate-treasure hunting, Lady Emily Scofield and her friends must hide the unprecedented discoveries they’ve made, thanks to the betrayal of her own family. Horrified by her brother, who will stop at nothing to prove himself to their greedy father, Emily is forced to take a stand against her family–even if it means being cut off entirely.
Bram Sinclair, Earl of Telford, is fascinated with tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table–an interest he’s kept mostly hidden for the last decade. But when a diary is unearthed on the islands that could lead to a secret artifact, Bram is the only one able to piece the legends together.
As Bram and Emily seek out the whereabouts of the hidden artifact, they must dodge her family and a team of archaeologists. In a race against time, it is up to them to decide what makes a hero worthy of legend. Is it fighting valiantly to claim the treasure . . . or sacrificing everything in the name of selfless love?
20 August 1906
St. Mary’s, Isles of Scilly
Lady Emily Scofield had become an expert over the years at blending into shadows. Or wallpaper. Or furniture—she could hide herself quite effectively beside a nice armoire. And crowds—crowds were the best camouflage of all.
She tilted her head down a few degrees, so that her wide-brimmed hat would not only shade her face but also keep the beacon of her scarlet hair out of view of the cluster of gentlemen standing in a knot outside the telegraph and post office. And she kept moving slowly, haphazardly, just like all the other tourists ambling along the cobblestone street of Hugh Town. As if she were just one more of the carefree throng.
The note she meant to send to her mother in London weighed a stone in her pocket. Why bother, anyway? It wasn’t worth the risk. If she pushed through that crowd of trustees from the British Museum, one of them might recognize her and she’d lose her anonymity. Point her out to her father or, worse, her brother. Then they’d remember she was here, and they’d remember her betrayal, and she’d pay for it a thousand times over.
No, better to let them forget her.
They were good at that. And she at encouraging it. Being forgotten by the Scofield men was a far better alternative to being thought of by them.
Her brother’s thoughts inevitably left her with scars—emotional ones, if not physical ones.
Her father shifted in the crowd, coming more fully into sight. He was laughing, booming out his mirth at something one of the other gentlemen said. Light covering darkness, that’s what his laugh was. A mask. To look at him, hear him, one would never guess that he had no heart in his chest.
No, that was unfair. He had a heart. It was just that he’d never granted her a place in it.
Two more steps, three, and then she was past them. She wanted to let her shoulders sag, but that wouldn’t do. She had to keep walking like every other visiting lady on St. Mary’s, shoulders square and posture impeccable.
Emily was good at the mask too. And in order for it to be effective, to ensure she blended in with the crowd of her peers, she had to make certain it didn’t slip for even a moment.
She had no idea where she meant to go now that her actual errand had been circumvented, so she kept trailing the half-dozen white-clad ladies she’d made herself look a part of. They had the posh and polished accents of London educations, and she caught a few wisps of conversation here and there that made her think they’d been in Town just a few days ago. This soiree and that ball and whether Lord So-and-So would be hosting a house party over Christmas again.
She hadn’t at all minded missing most of the Season this year. In London, she had endless acquaintances but few true friends. And it was impossible to ignore, there, the truth of her part in the Scofield family—just a box to be ticked off. Lovely daughter, check. And then foisted onto the most advantageous potential husband. Father hadn’t decided yet what match would best suit him. But he would. Soon. She’d heard him grumbling not two months ago to her mother that he tired of wasting good silver on the hats and shoes and gowns necessary for her.
What he’d meant was that he was tired of wasting time and energy on her.
The gaggle of women was leading her to the quay, she realized a minute later. Emily checked the watch pinned to her sash. How long could that knot of men stay tied up in front of the telegraph office? If she turned back now, would they be gone?
Better to give it a few minutes more.
The ferry was just tying up, which meant a new passel of holiday-goers was debarking. How many, she wondered, were here just for the day, and how many had cottages let in their name or rooms at the hotel ready to receive them?
Her gaze drifted to the two yachts anchored in the deeper waters. She hadn’t been brave enough, in this last week since the British Museum’s team had shown up, to ask around to see where they were all staying. Perhaps on the yachts—heaven knew they had room enough.
“But I don’t want to go home yet, Mama!” A small lad’s whining voice snatched her attention. She looked over to see a sunny-haired boy of perhaps six tugging on the hand of a woman who didn’t look to be quite of the London-society ilk but who wore last year’s fashions well.
The woman chuckled. “I know you don’t, Charlie. But with the amount they gave us for those rooms, we can holiday for weeks more on the mainland. You wanted to explore Land’s End, didn’t you?”
Or maybe they weren’t staying on the yachts—at least not all of them. Emily sighed. She didn’t much care where Lord Wilhelm or Mr. Scott were staying. But she needed to find out where Nigel and Father were. Otherwise, how could she continue to avoid them?
She checked her watch again. If she dawdled much longer, Briggs would grow worried and come in search of her. Emily had assured her maid she needn’t interrupt her letter writing to accompany her—the post office was just a few doors down from their flat above the hat shop, after all. But she’d already been gone twenty minutes.
Lifting her gaze, she scanned the newly arrived visitors for another likely group she could tag along behind, back into town.
There—two gentlemen, but they looked like the family sort. There was a woman between them dressed in the pinnacle of fashion, ushering two older girls along. The eldest of the girls looked to be only a few years younger than Emily, and the younger had a mahogany tint to her hair. Emily could blend in well enough with them. She would simply look like the eldest of three, or perhaps a cousin or friend.
As the family strode along the planks of the ferry’s dock, Emily fell in behind them, which meant she couldn’t help but catch snippets of their conversation.
“. . . I live on the seashore, Mary. I have no need to holiday at one.”
The mother of the group let out a gusty sigh. “Really, Ambrose, it isn’t at all the same. You can’t exactly bathe in the waters in North Yorkshire, can you?”
The younger of the girls caught the man’s hand. “I’d try it! Let’s do, Uncle. Next time we visit you there.”
The man—Ambrose—chuckled. “You’d catch your death, then I’d never hear the end of it from your mother.”
The other man—the girls’ father, from the looks of him—tugged lightly on the girl’s braid. “Which is his only concern, of course. He’d feed you both to the sharks without a wince if your mother wouldn’t whine about it.”
As the girls squealed a protest, the first man let out a snort of laughter. “Watch yourself, Ram, or I’ll decide to spend Christmas with you after all, to punish you.”
Christmas. Emily let a few more feet come between them, so that the wind snatched their conversation from her before she could hear it. The holiday was still four months away—but where would she be then? She couldn’t go home. Not until either Father relented or she apologized to Nigel.
Her throat went tight, and she lifted her chin. She wouldn’t. Couldn’t. It may have taken her twenty years, but she’d finally stood her ground, and if she backed down now, he’d never learn. Never change. And he must. If her brother continued on this path, it would be his end. She knew it would. He was worse even than their father in his dealings, thinking he could walk all over whomever he pleased and just pay them off when they objected.
He had to stop. And if he wouldn’t of his own volition, then he had to be stopped.
Why would he listen to her, though? He never had before.
Father God, help me to reach him—them, she amended when the telegraph office came into view again. Surely Mother, at least, would soften. Surely. She wouldn’t remain silent forever . . . would she? Eventually one of these wires Emily sent every other day, or one of the letters she penned twice a week, would be answered. Mother still loved her. Mother would take her side. Mother would . . .
Do whatever Father told her to do. Just like she always had.
Emily leaped out of the way just in time to avoid being run over by a massive cart full of steamer trunks and hat boxes. She backed up as far as she could, which was farther than she’d anticipated, given that a narrow alley was behind her.
A narrow alley with an awning stretched between the buildings, closing it in. It wasn’t exactly dark. Certainly wasn’t threatening. But those facts, which she went so far as to mutter under her breath, didn’t keep her palms from going damp or her breath from tangling up in her chest.
The walls were bending toward each other, closing in on her, threatening to topple. She squeezed her eyes shut and rested one hand on the summer-warm stone of the nearest building. Proof to herself that it wasn’t moving. And that it was stone, a building, not that stupid wardrobe. You’re not five, Emily. You’re not locked in anywhere. Chin up. Stiff upper lip. Move on.
The pep talk didn’t calm her racing heart, but the familiar words convinced her to open her eyes again and focus her gaze on the brilliant sunshine just a step away.
The cart of trunks and boxes had lumbered its way past, so Emily dragged a breath into her stubborn lungs and moved back into the street. Much as she tried, she could never explain to anyone that when she took one step away from close, dark spaces, it made her feel as though an elephant had been moved from her shoulders.
The gents had moved on from the telegraph office, praise the Lord. She was able to slip inside, give a polite smile to the man behind the counter, and send her wire to Mother without any more close calls.
And it was probably her imagination that the chap looked at her with pity. For all he knew, she wasn’t even waiting or hoping for a reply from the many messages she sent.
She’d just stepped out into the street again and set her sights on the hat shop when familiar voices brought her feet to a halt and inspired her to look around. If Oliver Tremayne was here, then chances were good that her best friend, Beth, his little sister, was too. She hadn’t expected them today. Yesterday evening when Beth sailed her back to St. Mary’s from the Tremayne family home on the island of Tresco, they’d said Emily would join them again on Tuesday. Tomorrow.
She spotted Oliver’s dark head, and though a blond one was beside him, it wasn’t petite, energetic Beth. Emily drew in another fortifying breath. Lord Telford. A fine enough fellow, to be sure . . . if one liked being in the company of just fellows. Which Emily most decidedly did not. Because, granted, the only fellows she ever had the opportunity to be with until this summer were her brother’s friends or their father’s peers, all of whom seemed bent on reminding her that she was nothing but a marriage pawn—whose ideas were worthless, whose purpose was to be pretty, and who could otherwise be either ignored or insulted at will.
These gentlemen were a different sort, but still. A few examples of different gentlemen were not enough to overcome her deep-seated impulse to avoid being caught alone by them.
There was no help for it, though. Oliver was even now lifting a hand in greeting and calling out, “Lady Emily, hello! We’ve been sent to fetch you and the Howe sisters.”
Oh good—they weren’t only looking for her. Emily scanned the space behind them, but the fashion-forward figures of Lady Abbie and Lady Millicent were nowhere to be seen. Emily must have been their first stop. She pasted a smile onto her face. “Has something come up?”
Lord Telford’s lips twitched in that way they did—the way that said he was trying, for some reason, not to smile, even though he wanted to. “So says Mr. Gibson. He’s called a family meeting and won’t breathe a word about why until everyone has gathered—everyone involved in the search for pirate treasure included, not just actual family.”
Emily glanced at Oliver, but he offered no more insight into what his maternal grandfather had to tell them. He was scanning the space behind her. “Briggs with you?”
“She’s in the flat.”
Oliver’s gaze went toward the windows above the hat shop at that pronouncement. Telford’s did not. He was still looking over her shoulder, and it seemed something had seized his attention—and not in a good way. His face went as hard as Scillonian granite. “Close ranks,” he muttered to Oliver. Not that he waited for Beth’s brother to sort out what he meant—he grabbed him by the arm, and the two of them shifted around her.
She had no idea what they were about until she realized they were now completely blocking her from the view of passersby. And just in time. A moment later, a chill went up her spine when she heard Nigel’s laugh. Her back stiffened, and she dipped her head, just in case he peered around the gentlemen’s shoulders.
Father would simply ignore her—it was his usual way with her. But Nigel . . . she could never tell what Nigel might do. Sometimes it suited him to follow their father’s example, but other times he delighted in calling her out, forcing her along on whatever business he was about. So he’d have someone to berate, as best as she could tell. Or just so that he could leave her wherever he took her, alone and vulnerable, no doubt in the hopes that she’d never be seen again and he’d finally be rid of her.
She’d had to find her own way home from so many unfamiliar parts of London that at this point she knew the city as well as she knew the family manor. And she’d learned never to go anywhere without a reticule filled with change enough for the Tube or cab fare.
This time, though, Nigel didn’t seem to spot her. A sigh of relief eased out once he was gone around the corner, and she offered Telford a more sincere smile. “Thank you.”
Telford motioned her toward the hat shop. “Some of us know how to be good brothers.”
Her own lips played his twitching game, and she pressed them together to avoid grinning, which would only invite a scowl from him. To hear his sister Libby tell the tale, Bram Sinclair, Earl of Telford, thought being a big brother meant protecting his sister even from the experiences she craved and seeking her safety even when it would make her miserable. The prime example being that he’d tried to arrange a marriage she didn’t want with a man she didn’t like—Telford’s best friend, Lord Sheridan.
But his heart was in the right place, at least. And once he saw that Oliver Tremayne would make Libby happy and Lord Sheridan would not, he’d relented. Which was a good thing, since Sheridan had tumbled head over heels in love with Beth the moment they met, more or less. Emily would go so far as to say that Telford and Oliver were becoming quite good friends at this point, even.
Roseanna M. White, Worthy of Legend
Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2022. Used by permission.
Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award–winning author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books . . . to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary. You can learn more about her and her stories at RoseannaMWhite.com.
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