Miss Chartley's Guided Tour
To all appearances, Miss Omega Chartley is a schoolteacher on holiday. In fact she is a gentlewoman fallen on hard times, left at the altar eight years earlier and forced to make her own way in the world after the loss of her family fortune. Omega's modest tour of England is cut short when she comes to the aid of a runaway. Jamie Clevenden has fled the clutches of a brutal uncle, and Omega is determined to help him escape the law, as represented by Bow Street Runner, Mr. Timothy Platter. Aided by a kindly war veteran and his adopted daughter, the two fugitives arrive at the home of Jamie's other uncle, the Viscount of Byford--none other than Miss Chartley's disgraced fiancé, Matthew Bering. There Miss Chartley will finally learn the secret that Lord Byford has hidden from her all these years, the story of a dark chapter in his past that stands in the way of not only their happiness but that of his nephew. Now they must face the truth together, no matter how dire the consequences. Originally published in 1989.
A milestone of originality. Carla Kelly moves on to yet another triumph in this immensely appealing tale. Superlative. -- Romantic Times
Eight years ago, Miss Omega Chartley was left at the altar, and then her father died leaving Omega and her brother, Alpha, bankrupt. Omega, who has been teaching in Plymouth, now has a new position in a girls' school in Durham. She intends to explore England on her way north. These plans are abruptly changed when Omega helps a runaway boy, Jamie Clevenden, who is being pursued by a Bow Street Runner. Suddenly, Omega is on the run with the boy, who is trying to find his uncle, the Viscount of Byford. They are assisted by a soldier recovering from wounds received in the Battle of Waterloo and accompanied by a remarkable young Spanish orphan girl. Finally, this bedraggled foursome arrives at Jamie's uncle's estate, but that is a far way from the end of the story. Neither Jamie nor Omega receives the welcome they hope for. The Viscount is Matthew Behring, Omega's absent bridegroom.
This is a reprint of Kelly's 1989 Regency novel. It is well-written, well-plotted and retains its original charm. Omega is independent and strong for a Regency heroine. Once Matthew sheds his demons, he becomes a hero worthy of her. -- Historical Novel Society
Read an Excerpt
She tried to think what to do. The only other recourse was to apply to Matthew Bering, Viscount Byford, for a loan. "Oh, God, I cannot," she said.
"Cannot what, my dear?"
Omega jerked her hands away from her face and opened her eyes. Matthew was standing quietly in the doorway. He was dressed carefully in the elegance of a country gentleman again, stock neatly tied, coat smoothed across his shoulders without a wrinkle. He walked slowly to the other end of the table and sat down. "Cannot what?" he asked again when she did not seem disposed to reply.
There are moments when only the truth will do. "I cannot ask you for a loan to quit this place, Matthew," she answered. "And I dare not tell Alpha my whereabouts, for he would surely challenge you to a duel. I hardly need scruple to describe the outcome of that to you, sir."
Matthew considered her predicament. "If you cannot apply to me to bring you up to scratch, and you don't want to risk Alpha's health, whatever will you do?"
He was teasing her. There was a twinkle in his eye as he leaned back in the chair and regarded her. He was playing with her emotions like a musician with an instrument. How dare he? She rose to her feet slowly, horrified by the intensity of her rage. Had there been a pistol within easy reach, she would have shot him.
He saw the anger in her face. The twinkle left his eye and he sat up straight again. "That was unthinkable of me," he said. "I have no business being unkind to you." He waited a moment. "Oh, say something, Omega!"
She could think of nothing that would do justice to her feelings. There weren't enough words in the language. She could only shake her head and hurry to the door, desperate to get belowstairs again.
There was another look in Matthew Bering's eye that she couldn't identify. A chill settled around her heart. She got to the door first and stepped into the hall in time to narrowly avoid Twinings, who was hurrying to the front door.
Hugh had returned. Thank God. That would be sufficient diversion to allow an escape. Besides, there was much to do belowstairs. Omega Chartley chose discretion over valor, and fled to the safety of the servants' hall.