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Diamond of the Ton Collection

Diamond of the Ton Collection

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💛 Synopsis

From our forbidden courtship to our hidden identities, Margins of Love by Sara Adrien is a steamy romance full of stolen kisses and a spectacular happy ending.

I'm Feivel "Fave" Pearler, the golden boy of the Ton, but as a haute-couture jeweler, I have a secret.

Rachel Newman is a debutante who dares to defy societal expectations for a chance at true love. Our spicy romance is a perilous journey of love against all odds, challenging the confines of our world. When a gossiping blackmailer puts our impossible hope for a future together in jeopardy, we both navigate the greed and scorn of the aristocracy.

Read our story and find out how we sidestep fate and gain a chance at forever in this historical romance that will capture your heart.

If you loved the spicy romance in Bridgerton's The Duke and I by Julia Quinn, you'll love Margins of Love.

This unique and moving story will take you into a little-known world of Jews hiding in plain sight among the British gentry.

With vivid descriptions and heroic perseverance, you’ll be swept away by a deliciously thrilling adventure.

Buy Margins of Love now before the price changes!

Margins of Love is the sizzling first book in the Infiltrating the Ton Regency Romance Collection of Jewish novels.

You'll adore Sara Adrien's tender tear-jerker if you like spicy romance books, unique and intelligent characters, and the twists of arranged marriage and forbidden love.

💛 Read Chapter 1

Chapter 1

April 3, 1813.

 

“Oooohhhhh, I cannot believe her impertinence!”
Fave Pearler’s mother growled and crumpled the letter into a tight little ball.

Fave sighed and stuffed the arc liner and graphite
sticks into the pouch next to his worn volume of Greek mythology.

“Let me see it.” Fave intercepted the paper before
his mother could hurl it into the fire. He straightened the letter, and his
eyes glided over the words. Once again, Countess Carol Bustle-Smith, his
mother’s alleged best friend of over two decades, had leeched off their fortune
and given thanks by way of an insult. “Why don’t you give her the cut direct?”

“You know I cannot do that. I know it. And what is
worse, she knows it, Favale.” Feivel
Pearler went by the nickname Fave in English or Favale in Yiddish because he
had been everybody’s favorite since he was a little boy with golden blond
curls.  His mother was fiddling with her
round morganite cocktail ring. She always wore it at home; it was the first
jewel Fave had ever designed for her. Although it was only morganite, the stone
looked like a pale pink diamond. He had changed the angles for the cut using a
geometric formula he devised for one of his final exams at Oxford—and invented
a method along the way to multiply the light trapped within the stone’s facets.

“She makes my skin crawl,” Eve said. It pained
Fave to see his mother upset because it was unlike her. She was usually
collected and composed, a white-haired lady with an even skin tone and straight
back. However, when the dowager Bustle-Smith’s fortune, or lack thereof, had
become the source of the standing blackmail his family endured, Eve Pearler
lost her temper. She loathed receiving these existential threats from Lady
Bustle-Smith. Eve always said it was as if the floor was being pulled away from
under her feet when another invoice arrived with the dowager’s latest
correspondence.  Knowledge, gossip,
information—or whatever people called it these days—was Lady Bustle-Smith’s
business. She mingled among the ton, Britain’s aristocracy, like a snake
slithering in the mud. Fave’s mother had never been privy to gossip about the
ton firsthand, but she didn’t need to be, thanks to Lady Bustle-Smith. The more
money the ton’s most vicious gossip Lady Bustle-Smith needed, the more often
Eve was able to buy the information or contacts she needed. Eve had entered the
friendship for commercial enterprise. Through Lady Bustle-Smith, Eve was kept
abreast of the latest gossip in the ton. And so, she knew just when one of
London's vainest was in need of new jewels. That was when she would send her
husband Gustav to the ton to offer up haute-couture pieces that delighted the
wealthy and padded the Pearler's bank accounts. It was a business model that
had worked well, until now.

 

The Jewish
ton, my dear, is non-existent. You may be culturally self-sufficient, mostly
due to your husband’s excellent business sense, but make no mistake that you
are not truly participating in the life of the upper classes. Since Jewish
traditions are old-fashioned, I expect you to relinquish all ancient life
patterns and thought as soon as I introduce Elizabeth. As a patroness at
Almack’s, I consider it my duty to ensure our circles are clear of such
perversions.

I look
forward to seeing Elizabeth’s progress as a debutante at my house party. Please
ensure that Gustav has my invoices up to date for the recent renovations. My
obligations as a hostess are ever-increasing and trying my nerves as much as my
finances.

Yours
fondly,

Lady
Bustle-Smith

 

As usual, Fave was right, and the blackmail had
gotten worse since Allison Bustle-Smith, the dowager countess’s only daughter,
had made her debut into society. And as she attended season after season, so
grew the expenses for the Pearlers. Fave’s good heart and innate sense of
justice, most likely nurtured by his late grandfather, fueled his sensitivity
to such unfairness.

“It has gone on far too long, Mother. We do not
owe her a thing. She owes us. How is
it that we are the ones being blackmailed?” Fave’s exasperation turned to rage
as he finished reading the letter.

Eve rolled her eyes. “Now, now, my dear. Let us
refrain from using such wicked labels.” Eve wagged her index finger at Fave,
for she had adopted the habit of refined hypocrisy when it came to the dowager
countess.

Fave marveled at the trouble one single woman had
caused his family. It had all started when Lady Bustle-Smith had a fever and
Eve took in her daughter Allison, who at the time was at the tender age of
four. She was three years older than Elizabeth, Fave’s little sister. Fave was
seven at the time and had entertained Allison.

“I don’t even remember why she blackmails us.”

“Of course, you do! Allison noticed how our way of
life differed from hers and told her mother. I suppose no good deed goes
unpunished. I never should have taken pity on Allison when her father died.
Carol had such trouble managing the households. Misery loves company, and I was
too close.”

Fave’s mother had told him innumerable times that
she regretted reaching out to Lady Bustle-Smith after the death of her husband,
the Earl of Swathmore. What Allison saw in their house and relayed to her
mother were the braided challah on Friday evenings, the nine-candle menorah for
Hanukkah, and various idiosyncrasies of a Jewish home. These had sparked
pointed questions from Countess Bustle-Smith, who had not let them rest until
Fave’s mother finally admitted that her family was Jewish. With that secret, Bustle-Smith
had gained the power to destroy their way of life among the ton. With one word,
Bustle-Smith could turn the Pearlers from the finest jewelers to the Jewish
jewelers, jeopardizing their acceptance among the British aristocracy, where
Jews were not welcome. Fave knew that the other Jews, their suppliers and
goldsmiths, thought his family were traitors for blending in with the gentiles
and renouncing traditions to assimilate. And with no place for them in the
Jewish community, there was no way back to their roots without compromising
their livelihoods. If their secret was revealed, they would lose their source
of income, fortune, and their entire existence in England—their home. And that
gave Fave chills because he had never traveled outside England.

“She was nice to Father for a while, and then
everything turned sour,” Fave said.

“Oh yes, yes, when he lent her money for the
charity,” his mother explained. That had happened over two decades ago, when
Fave had just been a little boy.

Lady Bustle-Smith had been invited to become a
patroness at Almack’s, one of the ton’s most coveted and influential positions
for a female constituent of the nobility. She won the position thanks to an act
of largesse—donating a large sum of money to a charity. Only Fave's family knew
that the sum was a loan from his father. It was given because Bustle-Smith had
insisted that she could not carry the burden of their secret without financial
compensation – lubricant for the blackmail for years to come. Since then,
Bustle-Smith had held the threat of exposure over their heads and profited from
it sumptuously. And the stakes had only risen higher since Fave’s mother gained
access to influential and wealthy clients for Gustav through Bustle-Smith’s
introductions. Outwardly, Eve and Lady Bustle-Smith were inseparable friends.
But Fave’s mother loathed her. And her methods.

“We have to go to her house party.” His mother had
regained her composure and pasted a placid smile back on her face.

“As you wish, Mother. But I do not have a good
feeling. Not one bit.”

“Neither do I, my dear. I have had more of her
lowly schemes than I can stomach.”

Just then, Fave’s little sister Lizzie stalked
into the green drawing-room. She was a nineteen-year-old dewy-eyed princess as
far as Fave was concerned. He adored her as only a proud older brother could.

“I think it is going to be marvelous fun.” Her
tightly wound curls cascaded around her delicate rosy cheeks. Fave thought she
was just like champagne, sweet and effervescent, but she overwhelmed one’s head
in large doses. Thankfully, their mother had trained her to make an entrance,
leave an impression, and avoid causing a bad after-taste.

“Oh, Fave, are these the sketches?” Lizzie picked
two sheets up and held them to the soft afternoon light coming in through the
west-facing window.

“No—”

“Yes, they are! Don’t be so modest, they are
magnificent!” His little sister’s enthusiasm warmed his heart.

“But they are all wrong! Look at this,” he said,
sorting through the sketches before choosing a second to hold next to the one
Lizzie had in her hand. “Do I set the stone against a row of dark sapphires to
deepen the cool green tones, or do I choose citrines for warmth?”

It was futile as long as he did not have the gem
in hand. Only twelve jewelers would qualify to design the Crown jewels for
George III, and his family had entered the first round. Winning this
competition, Fave knew, would mean expanding their business to the royal court
at St. James’s Palace. It would be a chance for the Pearlers to infiltrate the
ton from the top down. The position as Crown jewelers was a merit that even the
sharpest tongues among the ton could not deny.

“What were you shouting about? I was lighting a
votive with James, since it would have been his fiftieth wedding anniversary
today. You were so loud, he sent me to check on you.” Lizzie pointed to the
door behind which the butler was listening.

“I told him I’d go to the parish with him in the
afternoon. He should not be alone today,” Fave said. These days, he usually
found James in the marble chapel with its stained-glass windows and an altar
that had been constructed by the previous owners of the house. His parents
preserved it for their devoted staff’s use.

“I will arrange for some fresh flowers in the
chapel. His wife was such a dear, may she rest in peace,” Fave’s mother said.
The staff’s happiness was of the utmost importance to her. She liked her
household run tightly and harmoniously, and, as such, the house provided a
comfort Fave was unwilling to forego to reside in bachelor lodgings. With
thirty-one bedrooms, there was more than enough space in the family home. And
there was, after all, his grandfather’s well-stocked library that Fave had
inherited.

“Our dear hostess for the house party is asking us to pay for it so that you can mingle
and then be sacrificed at the altar in a few years,” Fave said. Even though
this was Lizzie’s first season, the plan was for her to hold off on marriage
for as long as possible.

He shuddered. Lizzie was going to have a
spectacular wedding, but she would need to remain childless to avoid muddling
their bloodline. If the plan were put into action, Lizzie would be hiding her
Jewish heritage for the duration of her marriage. It was a dreadful scheme Fave
hoped would not come to fruition. He hated the idea that he was to carry on the
Cohanim line, the hereditary Hebrew priesthood, for generations. Meanwhile,
Lizzie’s branch would be tied off to ensure a steady influx of ton clients and no
impure bloodlines. It was too unfair.

“You know it does not bother me, brother. How
could I miss what I never had?” Lizzie tried to soothe her protective older
sibling.

“That is my point exactly! You will never know
what you are missing!” Fave rubbed his head. “You have to stop being
so…so…Argh!” He growled in frustration. How could she not understand that she
was sacrificing her happiness for business? For money? It made him bitter to
even think of it.

“So what?” Lizzie shouted. Her composure had
always been mercurial in comparison to their mother’s.

“So complacent!” Fave said. The pain in his eyes
was replaced by pity for his little sister. James closed the door from the
outside, giving Fave a signal to compose himself.

“I am careful! Don’t you remember the goldsmith
who was beaten in the street?” Lizzie assumed a most quizzical expression. “It
was all detailed in the last circular.”

“Arrrgh! Those gossip columns! Don’t believe
everything you read,” Fave said.

“It is a community circular. I made an anonymous
donation to the goldsmith’s widow. He left eight children behind, Fave! Eight!
And for what? He waited in front of Lord Parker’s phaeton last spring to ask
for the money he was due.”

“Yes, but Jews are not due anything, are we? We
are creditors, bankers, suppliers—welcome as long as we don’t infringe upon the
ton’s precious comfort.” Fave’s hands combed through his already unruly blond
curls. He believed the synagogue’s newspaper and knew most stories like that
probably went unreported.

The story scratched at his innate sense of
fairness like a blade to an open wound. He found himself wracked with pity for
his little sister and loathing the ton for failing to see his family for who
they were. They let prejudice against their ancestry cloud their judgment.

“It has only been four years since the Dukes of
Cumberland, Sussex, and Cambridge visited the Great Synagogue. Everybody
gathers there except for us! They can visit, but we must not be caught among
their ranks. Pah!” He threw his arms up in the air, which earned him a cold,
condescending stare from his mother. “We are guarding our secret because of
some unwritten rule that Jews are not tolerated among the ton.”

“Have you learned nothing, son? The ton never
voluntarily associates with Jews.” Fave’s father’s entry into the room and his
severe tone indicated the end of this conversation. But Fave was not finished
yet.

“Ah, certainly not, Father. How could I forget?
Society has no room for anyone who lacks style and manners. How good of the bon ton.” Fave slumped into the chair
and rubbed the velvet upholstery, his cheeks in a mad grimace. He surveyed the
opulent drawing room and knew it was just as splendid as those of the
highest-ranking members of the ton.

Oy vavoi,
Favale
,” exclaimed Gustav with a typical Yiddish outcry of frustration, “it
does not matter how smart, kind, honest, or rich we are. They only allow us to
coexist as long as they think we are like them,” his father said, letting his
hand ricochet from a hit against his forehead for emphasis.

“As long as they can profit from us.”

At that, his father raised his hand and halted
Fave’s long-suppressed idealistic discourse against intolerance of any
minority, including the Jews.

“We can’t live with them or without them,” Lizzie
said. That summed up the feelings of love and hate Fave harbored for the ton
and the lifestyle that came with his family’s prominent status.

Fave’s sense and his goodness were as evident in
candid conversation as his passion for books and pureness of heart. However, as
a brother to a London debutante, he was defensive and impulsive. Considering
their constant supervision by the ton’s worst gossip, this inevitably led to
trouble. And yet, in his perceived male supremacy, he had to act as Lizzie’s
protector. Fave let out a frustrated growl and slammed his fist on the side
table.

“I will have my things packed for the house
party,” he said. If he did not keep an eye on Lizzie at Brockton House, she
would fall prey to gossip. Fave tasted acid and grimaced.

His mother’s index finger twitched, ready to
silence her children, for that was what they were to her despite their ages.
“You are naïve, son. It is high time you faced your role in society.”

💛 Read Chapter 2

Chapter 2

At that exact moment, at St. James Square, Rachel
Newman entered her family’s townhouse alongside her mother, Stella.

“There you are!” the corpulent cook shrieked as
she hurried toward Rachel. Stella gave Rachel a look of defeat. Their leisurely
ladies’ morning had officially ended.

“He put it in the trough, milady,” the cook said.

Rachel had just returned from yet another tedious
morning at the dressmaker. Her mother was outfitting her for her first season.
Rachel had imagined the preparations would be exciting and was disappointed
that they consisted of no more than being probed and prodded by dressmakers,
and sitting with her maid for hours to set her curls just so. One would expect
a young lady of almost twenty to have developed a taste for such ladylike
pursuits, but Rachel had always shown an affinity for male pastimes and harbored
a soft spot for her brother’s shenanigans—so much that she often regretted not
being a part of them.

“He put what in where?” Rachel asked with a glance
at her mother, who was quite obviously dreading the news of her son’s latest
prank. She peeled off her lilac shrug and handed it to her maid.

“Dah vish!” the cook answered in her heavy accent,
making a swimming motion with her hand.

Rachel hid her chuckles behind her hand and faced
her maid with a gracious adank—thank
you in Yiddish. The staff was indebted to her father, Ilan, so they’d always
had a good relationship. The servants were all Jews except for one orphaned
Christian boy, who was being trained by the butler to become his successor.
Ilan had a soft spot for Jews from the Continent, and every hired servant spoke
with a different, heavy accent, if they spoke English at all. The servants had
arrived in London with Rachel’s family, seeking anonymity and safety. Her
parents, Ilan and Stella Newman, saw their mentorship of their servants as a
matter of humanity. And yet, there was a sense of loss of their small family’s
privacy in this great household.

It had not always been like this. Until Rachel’s
fifteenth birthday, they had lived in a small house in Lausanne, Switzerland,
on the edge of Lake Geneva. Their name had been Neumann then, not Newman, and their lives had been more
straightforward. Or maybe Rachel had only thought so because she had been a
child then.

Rachel remembered the cold feeling of the jagged
wrought iron railings under her hands the first time she stepped up to their
new home in London. The building was inconspicuous from the outside, a trait
her father adored. More than anything, he had wanted to blend in as soon as
they had set foot in England. They dressed the part and spoke as true English
nobility did. They lived among gentiles, and Rachel’s father made a point not
to compete with other Jewish businesses to safeguard his family and servants’
livelihoods. He adopted the ways of the British and embraced the freedoms and
sense of equality Jews had in England, unlike on the Continent. Nonetheless,
Ilan was under no illusion that Jews were any more in favor here, and he made
every effort to keep his head down, warning his children to do the same.

A tug on her dress pulled Rachel back to the
present. Her little brother Sammy ran around and hid behind her legs. She put a
warm hand on him but frowned.

“Samuel! Samuel! Come along!” Stella called
sternly. He stayed behind Rachel as she followed her mother.

The cook led the way. They descended to the
kitchens of the elegant London townhouse, located on the corner of York Street,
and boasting a yard at the back. Although Rachel’s father claimed he needed the
space for their stables, the family knew he valued the proximity to Ormond Yard
and Charles Street. It gave them access to Pall Mall and the bustling anonymity
of the greater city of London if they were to keep walking, in case they ever
needed to flee. Never in their lives would they be cornered again. Their
elegant home was an island of Jews in St. James, providing status, as well as a
direct escape route, should the need arise. And in Rachel’s experience, such
need always arose sooner or later.

The cook opened the squeaking doors to the
servant’s quarters and Rachel smelled the Cook’s scrumptious rugelach, the
pastries that—according to her mother, were the cause of her luscious curves.
Cook was a dear woman, almost like a grandmother to Rachel and her brother,
always devoted to their family since Ilan had paid her bail. She had been
arrested for causing a public uproar when her husband, an impoverished street
trader, was beaten to death in the streets of Tiflis. It occurred around 1802,
just after Russia annexed Georgia under Alexander I, who continued his father’s
absolutist policies. Ilan had brought the cook back with him to Switzerland
until they were forced to leave and travel to England, searching for a new
home. Rachel had practically grown up with the cook’s delicious rugelach.
Sadly, the delicious pastries had become a rarity since they came to London, as
the cook’s other household duties distracted her from baking.

“What happened?” Stella asked as they entered the
kitchen.

“I bring carp from market. Carp wrapped in
newspaper.” Cook had tried to teach Rachel to roll her “r” the Russian way,
like a wagon wheel. However, Rachel usually had her mouth too full of food when
Cook was near. Rachel loved her like a grandmother. When Cook opened the thick
wooden door to the kitchen, it screeched. Rachel flinched.

“I put carp on counter, here.” She hit both hands
on the counter, which had so many scratches and chips it resembled an enormous
cutting board.

“I go fetch water. I come back, carp gone!”

Rachel stifled her giggle with both hands. Stella
shot her a glance, which set Rachel off even more. She snorted, and then
Rachel’s fit of laughter was too far gone to hide.

“I hear boy laughing, and rugelach gone! Gone, I
say. Where dah vish? Where rugelach?”

Rachel scanned the kitchen for that delicious
rugelach. She had tried to help Cook roll the buttery crescents of dough once.
Cook had scolded her and chased her out of the kitchen when she ate a spoonful
of the decadent chocolate and nut filling instead of spreading it on the
pastries. As far as Rachel was concerned, it was entirely understandable that
Sammy had stolen a few rugelach when Cook was busy with the fish.

The culprit in question was still hiding behind
Rachel’s broad day dress. She tightened her grip on him and placed her hand
back on him for comfort. They both knew he would be in trouble as soon as
Stella ascertained exactly what he’d done.

Stella looked at Sammy, demanding an explanation,
which he eagerly gave.

“When Cook left, the fish moved! It moved, Mama!
It was alive, and it needed water!” Sammy’s account transformed the act from a
prank into a fish rescue.

Stella rolled her eyes as Sammy told his version
of events. 

“I saved him!” Sammy said, his wide eyes brimming
with tears.

Rachel lost the last bit of her self-control, her
chest and head shaking with laughter as she burst with uninhibited mirth.

“And where is he now?” Stella looked around the
kitchen.

“In the trough, Mama,” Rachel said, looking
through the window into the back alley of their home. The windows were high
above the counters in the basement-level kitchen, but Rachel heard an unusual
splashing that came from the general direction of the trough. She stepped out
to investigate the sound and, sure enough, heard the butler’s young apprentice
was tearing bits of rugelach that Sammy must have dropped. He was feeding them
to a large shiny fish in the trough. It would have been the most bizarre picture
if Rachel did not know how it had come about. “It seems to me we can still have
it for Shabbes dinner, can’t we?”
Rachel’s mother was ever-concerned with the decorum of the Friday Sabbath
dinner that marked the end of a tiring week.

“Who kills dah vish?” Cook asked, with both hands
on her wide hips. “Not I!” She shook her head fervently.

The cook flapped about like the little red hen,
but nobody volunteered to kill the fish for her.

Rachel wanted no part of the fish’s demise either,
so she gave Sammy a parting kiss on his flushed cheek. “Try not to cause any
more mischief,” she said with all the sisterly love she could muster before
walking upstairs. Her mother would know how to deal with Cook.

Rachel knew she had lived as sheltered a life as a
Jewish girl could. She cherished the privileges and luxuries her parents gave
her. But this year was going to be different. Rachel had felt it just moments
ago in the bustling street outside her carriage. She could smell it in the air
and hear it in the morning songs of the birds outside her window.  She had traveled across the continent during
the seasons since they'd come to London a few years ago. Her attendance did not
matter—she was Jewish and destined to marry a Jew, while Almack's was reserved
for gentiles. But this year was different. She wanted a season, not to search
for a husband, but for the fun of it. She longed to dance at the balls like a
gentile debutante.

But she harbored reservations about her Swiss
mannerisms. And though she looked like a debutante with her slim waist,
graceful posture and long brunette hair perfect for wrapping in complicated
styles, her hips were lush and her conversation veered toward Greek mythology
rather than gossip. Her inclinations and wit were more suitable for an agent of
the Crown, her father often joked. Her mother, in turn, usually resorted to
brushing her daughter’s wavy mane, saying, “I shall tame your hair if I cannot
tame your personality.” And, of course, Rachel kept a secret, the reveal of
which could cause her family and their staff to lose their comfortable footing
in London.

💛 Read Chapter 3

Chapter 3

April 4, 1813.

 

“You know not to get your hopes up,” Rachel’s
mother admonished her while brushing a few crumbs from Sammy’s shirt. Rachel’s
father preferred to ride along next to the carriage, and thus, Rachel had the
entire bench to herself.

“Stay for a short while and learn their ways. But
make no mistake, my dear, we are not like them,” her mother said for what
seemed the thousandth time.

Rachel pressed her head against the cushioned wall
and focused on the road outside, watching the urban setting fading into
farmland. Green barley sprouts stretched their heads toward the sun. Branches
of beeches and hornbeam lined the fields like soldiers. A flock of sheep in the
distance reminded Rachel of white pompoms. The squeaking carriage wheels
prevented Rachel from relaxing—but she doubted that she could have slept even
if there had been silence. Her heart  was
pounding hard. She grew more and more restless with every mile closer to
Brockton House in Somerset. Lady Bustle-Smith’s house party would be her
rehearsal for her entrance to the ton, and it would set the tone for her
season. Her mind trailed off again to her favorite fantasy, of swaying in the
arms of a handsome gentleman like a princess in a fairy tale.

As she daydreamed, Rachel peered out of the
window, evading her mother’s stern gaze. The chestnut trees were budding, and
Rachel inhaled the crisp air. She caught her mother’s frown out of the corner
of her eye and froze when she saw her wince in pain. Rachel knew what the look
meant. Her mother had told her frequently that “memories of pain and loss
paralyze the diaphragm.” Rachel knew that crisp air always reminded her mother
of that November night when—no, she would not think of it now. She wanted to
enjoy the season, and knew this house party would be the start. But her heart
sank when she saw her mother’s eyes again. The spring’s promise of renewal and
new beginnings was meaningless to her family.

Rachel wrung her hands. She did not want to
disappoint her mother. There was so much riding on this season. It was also her
last chance to feel the sort of excitement she only thought possible in a
flirtation. Rachel shrank back at the thought of qualified freedom. Hiding a
part of her soul felt treacherous, but it was a small price to pay to feel like
a princess at a ball.

“Are you listening to me?” her mother asked. “I am
telling you, mark my words!”

Something inside Rachel snapped. “We look like
them, dress like them, eat like them, and speak like them,” Rachel enumerated,
ticking the actions off on her fingers, “but of course, Mama, I know we are unlike them.” Everyone had their own
ideas of how she should live her life: what she could and could not do; how she
should carry herself among the ton debutantes; how she ought to speak with the
staff at home, pretending not to understand their Yiddish. She lied habitually,
under the pretense of protecting her family. However, these exhausting lies
permeated her every waking moment. She could not betray the secret locked in
her mind. Only her parents held the key, and only they could tell her when she
could unlock her true self. It was a balancing act she loathed.

Just then, Sammy giggled as one of the outriders
stumbled into a ditch. Their mother stifled his laugh with a look, and he
dropped his gaze to the book on his lap.

“Keep reading,” mother said. That was what their
parents had always preached. “Just keep reading,” her parents had told her when
they did not want to share their plans to move again, from town to town. Rachel
looked at Sammy and worried how he would fare growing up with their hidden
Judaism. A gentleman’s education, first at Eaton and then at Oxford, was all
her parents could speak of when it came to Sammy’s future. For Rachel, the
plans stopped with a good Jewish husband. Her life’s purpose was to continue
their Jewish lineage. Over seven thousand years of Jewish history rested on
hers and Sammy’s shoulders. They were meant to carry on their lineage, just as
their parents, grandparents, and all the generations before them had. Anything
less would be treason of the sacrifice of her ancestors.

Their carriage reached a hill and Rachel paused
when she saw the beautiful mansion. It was only three stories high and looked
hunched down between the tall cypress trees on either side. The façade was
dusty brown but the lower level had charming arched windows. Just as Rachel’s
heart fluttered with renewed vigor at the picturesque setting of her first
event of the season, the carriage rolled down the hill and around the western
side of the estate and she saw it. Bile leaped to her throat when she noticed a
pond on the estate. It could not be. Her father stopped his horse and joined
them in the carriage when they saw the pond, it was a sight that all of the
Newmans despised. Rachel closed her eyes and fell back against her chair. Only
Sammy clung to the window.

“Oh, can I go fishing in the pond?”

“It’s a little lake, not a pond, Sammy,” Rachel
said with disgust without opening her eyes.

Her mother's eyes squinted in horror but she did
not say a word. None were needed. The Newmans did not go swimming, fishing, or
come too close to water in any way—not since Maya’s death. Sammy had been too
young to feel the trauma of their baby sister’s demise, but Rachel’s thoughts
flooded with the memory. Lake Geneva’s terror floated like sheets of ice on
collision course in Rachel’s mind.

“Look, there’s an orangerie and big stables. I
will take you riding, Shmuli,” Ilan
used Sammy’s Yiddish last name and Rachel realized that he tried to distract
the young boy with prospects of exciting outings on the otherwise quaint
estate.

She had a sinking feeling that she might not enjoy
her season as she much as had hoped. Her parents’ warnings dulled her
enthusiasm. Instead of feeling like the belle of the ball like in her dreams,
she felt a pang of remorse at her duplicity—a debutante by night, a clandestine
Jew by day.

💛 Read Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Meanwhile, in another carriage, heading in the same
direction, Fave sat facing backwards, beside his father. His mother and Lizzie
could not stomach it and preferred to travel forward. From his perch in the
luxurious carriage, Fave stared at their home with its eight Doric columns.
Beds of daffodils, hyacinths, and crocuses adorned the front. It looked splendid.
Even though it was within walking distance from Piccadilly Circus, it stood
majestically in Westminster, just across the line of St. James’s. Many
considered the area Mayfair because it was so close to Hyde Park. Its renown as
a grand house in which the reigning King George III had lived briefly during
his childhood was a legend among the ton. Eve received callers for tea every
morning and often again in the early afternoon. Her popularity was due to her
grand home and her status as one of the patronesses of Almack’s closest friend.
And yet, she had managed to set herself apart from the gossip and earned
respect, sometimes even friendship, from the high and mighty among the ton. The
thought of risking his beautiful home because of Lady Bustle-Smith’s blackmail
made Fave’s stomach convulse.

“I have things to do,” Fave said, leaning toward
his mother.

“I know, I know, dear,” his mother said
absent-mindedly, holding Lizzie’s hand.

His little sister was on her way to her first
house party, and he understood the gravity of the situation, although it did
not sit right. His integrity prevented him from standing by while Lizzie laid
the groundwork for her sacrificial marriage to a gentile.

“It’s like Persephone and Hades…” Fave mumbled.

“What are you saying about those silly Greek
tales? You are four-and-twenty, be serious!” His mother’s haughty tone never
failed to irritate Fave.

“How am I like Persephone?” Lizzie asked, the
glimmer in her eyes dwindling.

“If you go through with this, you are doomed like
Persephone when Hades made her his queen. She had to split her life between two
worlds. That will be you, Lizzie, torn between the ton and us.” Fave’s
expression was grim and pain pricked his heart at the thought of Lizzie’s
sacrifice.

“Don’t be melodramatic, Favale,” His mother called out in Yiddish. “The Earth will not
split open to swallow Lizzie up.” Fave thought about his mother’s pragmatism.
It left no room for metaphors or poetry. She didn’t understand his worldview.

“Lizzie’s barrier to happiness is due to
prejudice,” Fave growled. It was like a tug of war: Jews could not be in the
ton. Well, the Pearlers were Jews, and they were part of the ton. But nobody
could know their secret. Lizzie would always be a Jew, a Pearler. Except that
one day she would be married to some nobleman, who would certainly not be
Jewish. Fave squeezed his eyes shut at this unthinkable cruelty. It was too
painful to think about, and he wished to escape it all.

“Mother, please listen. You cannot expect me to
stay a week. I am needed in London,” Fave said, trying again to dissuade his
mother from forcing him to stay in the country. He’d much rather be back in
London with his cousin Arnold, who was the other prodigy that his father tried
to establish among the ton through their haute-couture jewelry business.

This time, his mother looked him squarely in the
eyes. “Arnold stayed behind and will join us later. You brought your sketching
tools, didn’t you? Is it truly business you must tend to or simply another
fencing match with your cousin?”

Fave knew he had been caught when his mother
pontificated every syllable of her accusation. “Pray tell, what is more
important back in London than your sister’s reputation?”

Lizzy sighed and closed her eyes. Fave could tell
she was pretending to sleep—avoiding conflict was her only fault. But it would
be a fatal one to her soul. Nonetheless, Fave bit his tongue and held back a
sly retort. Better not to aggravate his mother more than Lady Bustle-Smith’s
summons already had.

“I may become distracted, dear, and you must
chaperone Lizzie in my place,” his mother said.

It was ridiculous that Fave must abandon his
business to stroll in the country and protect his little sister’s reputation,
when Lizzie’s cherished virtue would be sold off to the highest bidder in a few
years.

“Mother, Lizzie can look out for herself. I am
surely not needed for the entirety of the week.” Fave did not want to be around
Lady Bustle-Smith and her spoiled daughter, Allison. He had spent many a house
party in his childhood trying to escape the chit. Luckily, Arnold was usually
by his side, equally eager to get away from Allison.

“I know, I know, Favaleh.” When she called him Favaleh
as his grandfather had, his heart melted. “It is not her I am concerned about.”

Lady Bustle-Smith’s influence permeated the ton
like the roots of a weed. “You cannot think she will spread rumors that could
hurt Lizzie if Father is paying for her country home,” Fave said.

His mother shook her head and leaned forward as if
to impart some profound insights to her naïve son. “In her mind, we are paying
for our place in society.” Her voice remained calm even though they were alone
in the carriage; she could not break the habit of speaking quietly of their
secrets.

“You mean she is not even repaying her debts?”
Fave asked, his voice significantly louder. In his mind, justice dictated that
the whole world needed to hear of this ludicrous arrangement.

His mother shook her head to cut his stream of
consciousness short.

“Son, stop it already,” Gustav snarled, looking up
from his ledgers.

“But it is not fair, Father! Did you read her
letter? It was not an invitation; it was a summons with a threat!”

His mother gave his father a telling look and
shook her head as if Fave were a lost cause.

“Life is not fair,” his father said, smiling
indulgently at Fave’s mother. He had always seemed more understanding of Fave’s
idealism.

“It is all that unhealthy idealism your father
taught him,” his mother growled at his father. She had relinquished many of her
motherly duties to the grandfather, but she didn’t appreciate the Greek myths
Fave’s late grandfather had taught her son. They were not all he had imparted;
he had also divulged to Fave that Eve’s level of education and fortune had been
unrivaled when she was a young girl and married Gustav. Her poise and elegance
were unique for the time, and so was her distrust in humankind.

“It is a tax, darling. Nothing more,” she said.

“A tax? Who is she to levy a tax upon Jews in
England?” Fave stretched his arms and realized how confined the carriage was
with all four of them crammed together.

“Not upon all Jews in England. Only us,” his
father said as if it were a natural cost of doing business. He rifled through
his ledgers again.

Fave felt the vein on his forehead pulsating with
anger. “So we work, and we pay their bills, but they still blackmail us?”

His father nodded.

They were more assimilated than most; that was why
Fave could not live out his Cohanim privileges at London’s Great Synagogue—a
famous epicenter for English Jews and a world apart from the ton. The worlds
did not mix, but they were drawn together by virtue of coexisting, just like
Demeter’s and Hades’ worlds. Grandfather had been right. History repeated
itself. And even if Eve thought Fave wasted his mind on mythology, he knew he
had his father’s implicit approval. Gustav had been raised by the same man, after
all. His dear grandfather had taught his son and later Fave what to do as a
Cohen in service, performing the privileges of this ancient priesthood. He had
explained elements of religious services and uncountable sacrifices, but Fave
had never practiced them. He could not be caught in a synagogue in case a
gentile were to spy on him. It was the contradiction of his life, one he had
learned to live with. Being assimilated and mixing with the ton meant
clandestine Judaism.

A spark of rebellion boiled to the surface.

“Then I am going to get our money’s worth out of
this house party,” Fave growled.

His mother’s brows rose in a warning, but Fave
ignored her.

“I suggest you do the same, Lizzie. I know you are
not sleeping,” Fave added.

“Don’t you dare!” His mother’s voice vibrated
through the carriage.

They remained silent for the rest of the journey
until they arrived at the country home of the late Earl of Swathmore. Both Fave
and Lizzie had to marry with their virtues intact, though for vastly different
reasons, but only Lizzie’s could be out in the open.

I'm the golden boy of the Ton with a secret, and Rachel Newman, a debutante defying societal norms for true love. Our forbidden romance navigates the greed and scorn of the aristocracy, challenged further by a gossiping blackmailer. If you loved the spice of Bridgerton's The Duke and I, you'll be captivated by our tale of hidden identities and heroic perseverance. Buy Margins of Love now for a thrilling adventure and a spectacular happy ending!


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ What a rich story of love, betrayal, tradition, and jealousy... Well written with wonderful characters!” - Misty Green

Continue reading Margins of Love if you like: 

  •  Bridgerton
  •  Smart Heroines
  •  Forbidden Love
  •  Crown Jewelers

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐  If you haven't read the other books, I would highly recommend you do so as the characters in this story have a greater impact if you know their stories.- Amazon Reviewer

 

BOOKS INCLUDED IN THE BUNDLE:

🟣 Margins of Love

🟣 The Pearl of All Brides

🟣 A Kiss After Tea

🟣 Instead of Harmony

🟣 In Eternal Love

🟣 In Tune with His Heart

🟣 In Just a Year

🟣 In a Precious Vow

🟣 Bonus Novelette! Loving Arnold

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