Scandalous Lovers

By: Robin Schone
Acknowledgments


Special thanks goes to Jean Wenger, Foreign and International Law Librarian at the Cook County Law Library. No question I asked was too trivial. She provided invaluable resources to Victorian law in England. Special thanks also goes to Melvyn Harrison of the Crystal Palace Foundation Organization. His love and knowledge of the Crystal Palace—the greatest theme park to have ever been built—is astounding.

I would also like to thank posthumously Mrs. Georgina Weldon, dubbed the "lunacy lawyer in petticoats," who in 1884 challenged the law and won. And of course, the members of the Men and Women's Club (1885-1889), who inspired my own club.

I take full responsibility for any inaccuracies in my portrayal of late Victorian law and lifestyles. I assure you, I worked very hard to paint as true a portrait of the times as I possibly could.

Love and appreciation goes to my husband, Don, whose unflagging encouragement and support kept me going when the going got rough, and to my mother, who gave me the supreme compliment of asking to read the loose-leaf manuscript because, she said, she was desperate to read a good book. Wow. That is high praise, indeed.

I have no words to express my gratitude to all my fans who have patiently—and sometimes, not so patiently!—waited for this book. You have not forgotten me, and that is the greatest gift of all. As for my playmates at Robin's Retreat, my net home… hugs and kisses all around! You kept me sane at a very insane time in my life.

Last but not least… Nancy, David… thank you.



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Author's Notes


The Men and Women's Club did indeed exist. It was a London club formed in 1885 and survived four years, finally disbanding in 1889 because, sadly, of sexist hierarchy. The members—consisting of both men and women—met in order to discuss the social, moral, and philosophical issues between the two sexes, as well as lofty topics such as sexual relations in Periclean Athens and the role of Buddhist nuns. The founder of the club married the secretary, which inspired me to create my own "romantic" version of the Men and Women's Club. All of the members in my club—while reflecting some of the attitudes of actual, historical members—are strictly fictional.

Long before Disney World came the Crystal Palace in Sydenham, England, located seven miles outside of London. This "illustrated encyclopedia" theme park covered two hundred acres and represented historical as well as contemporary cultures from all over the world through statuary, gardens, artificial lakes, etc. Opened in 1854, the actual Palace unfortunately burned down in 1936. But some of the dinosaurs remain. For more information, please visit the Crystal Palace Foundation at www.crystalpalacefoundation.org.uk.

I took a small liberty which I hope you will forgive. Cherries Jubilee was indeed created for Queen Victoria for her Jubilee Anniversary (the Queen loved cherries). However, Frances partakes of this delicious dessert a month prior to the actual Jubilee Anniversary. Hmmm… Who knows? Maybe the chef engaged in a little culinary espionage?

I hope you enjoy Frances and James. Out of all the characters I've created, they resonate within me the most. Sometimes, when writing their story, I was completely stunned by their honesty with one another. I think, had they been members of the real Men and Women's Club, that they would have had an impact on each and every member, just as they do in Scandalous Lovers.



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"Only the united beat of sex and heart together

can create ecstasy."

—Anaïs Nin



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Chapter 1





He saw through the eyes of a woman.

The five-globe gas chandelier. The twenty-foot-long mahogany table.

The twelve members of the Men and Women's Club.

Doctor. Banker. Publicist. Teacher. Student. Professor. Suffragette. Architect. Philanthropist. Journalist. Accountant…

Unerringly he focused on the barrister who sat at the head of the conference table.

Silver frosted the crisp chestnut hair at his temples; uncompromising lines radiated outward from cold hazel eyes.

The truth forcibly struck him.

During twenty-four years of marriage, his wife had been the perfect hostess and mother. And then she had died.

Alone.

Pinned underneath the wheels of a carriage.

He had not known the woman who bore his name, and who had borne his two children. He had not known her fears, her dreams, her needs.

Staring at the man with the silver-frosted hair and the cold hazel eyes, he realized that this was the man she had seen over breakfast each morning: she had seen a stranger. James Whitcox. Husband. Father. Barrister, Queens Counsel.

Recognition erupted into an explosion of sound. The mahogany door slamming into a burgundy-papered wall snapped James back into his own masculine perspective.

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