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Authors: Shelley Gray

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Secrets of Sloane House

BOOK: Secrets of Sloane House
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ADVANCE ACCLAIM FOR
SECRETS OF SLOANE HOUSE

“Shelley Gray writes a well-paced story full of historical detail that will invite you into the romance, the glamour . . . and the mystery surrounding the Chicago World’s Fair.”

—C
OLLEEN
C
OBLE
,
USA T
ODAY
BEST-SELLING AUTHOR OF
R
OSEMARY
C
OTTAGE
AND THE
H
OPE
B
EACH SERIES


Downton Abbey
comes to Chicago in Shelley Gray’s delightful romantic suspense,
Secrets of Sloane House
. Gray’s novel is rich in description and historical detail while asking thought-provoking questions about faith and one’s place in society.”

—E
LIZABETH
M
USSER
,
NOVELIST
,
T
HE
S
WAN
H
OUSE
,
T
HE
S
WEETEST
T
HING
,
T
HE
S
ECRETS OF THE
C
ROSS
T
RILOGY

ZONDERVAN

Secrets
of
Sloane
House

Copyright © 2014 by Shelley Gray

Requests for information should be addressed to:

Zondervan,
Grand
Rapids, Michigan 49546

ePub Edition © May 2014: ISBN 978-0-310-33852-9

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Gray, Shelley Shepard.

Secrets of Sloane House / Shelly Gray.

Pages cm

ISBN 978-0-310-33852-9 (trade paper)

1. Family secrets—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3607.R3966S45 2014

813’.6—dc23

2014015970

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the
Holy Bible
.
New Living Translation
. Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Any Internet addresses (websites, blogs, etc.) and telephone numbers in this book are offered as a resource. They are not intended in any way to be or imply an endorsement by Zondervan, nor does Zondervan vouch for the content of these sites and numbers for the life of this book.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other—except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.

Publisher’s Note: This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. All characters are fictional, and any similarity to people living or dead is purely coincidental.

Cover
design:
Gearbox

Cover
photography:
Trevillion and Library of Congress

Interior
design:
Mallory Perkins

14 15 16 17 18 19 20 / RRD / 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

CONTENTS

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 17

CHAPTER 18

CHAPTER 19

CHAPTER 20

CHAPTER 21

CHAPTER 22

CHAPTER 23

CHAPTER 24

CHAPTER 25

CHAPTER 26

CHAPTER 27

CHAPTER 28

CHAPTER 29

CHAPTER 30

CHAPTER 31

CHAPTER 32

CHAPTER 33

CHAPTER 34

CHAPTER 35

CHAPTER 36

CHAPTER 37

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

AN EXCERPT FROM DECEPTION AT SABLE HILL

CHAPTER 1

AUTHOR BIO

Sometimes the journey to publication is as much a story as the novel itself! This is one of those books for me. I am indebted to two very special people who never gave up on either me or
Secrets of Sloane House.

Thank you to my agent, Mary Sue Seymour, who tirelessly talked to everyone and anyone about this novel. For years. Agents like you are what writers dream about, MSS!

Thank you, also, to Sue Brower, who made me feel like both me and this novel were worth fighting for. Bless you, Sue! It’s my dream that you will find this book well worth your efforts!

“Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”

—Isaiah 1:18 NLT

There is the muffled beating of tom-toms, the shuffling of many feet, the popcorn and lemonade, and thousands of dull, dusty, frowzy folks who stare and gape and imbibe ox-like impressions.

—Frederic Remington, as quoted in
Harper’s

CHAPTER 1

Chicago, August 1893

A
s circumspectly as she could, Rosalind Perry smoothed her dark gray skirts before meeting the wide, assessing gaze of Douglass Sloane, the twenty-four-year-old son and heir of the Sloane estate.

“And who might you be?” he asked.

“Rosalind, sir.”

“I haven’t seen you here before, have I?” His dark eyes scanned her form, her face.

“No, sir. I’m new.” A prickling ran up the length of her spine. Why was he watching her so closely? Had she done something wrong that she wasn’t aware of?

Below them, down the stairs, the steady ticking of a mahogany grandfather clock floated upward, echoing the quick beating of her heart. The surrounding walls, with the rose trellis wallpaper and great array of samplers and portraits, seemed to close around her.

As if he had nowhere else to go, Douglass leaned a shoulder
against the wall. The movement nudged the corner of a frame displaying the likeness of one of his dead relatives, showing a patch of dark wallpaper underneath. Rosalind did her best to stand still, though her hands longed to fidget. These questions were out of the ordinary. Never had the other members of his family conversed with her. Never had she expected it.

Cook had warned her that all four Sloanes were particular about the servants remembering their station in the formidable home. Hired help who spoke too much, didn’t follow directives, or proved slovenly were soon replaced. Rosalind didn’t doubt that to be true.

As she stood as still as a statue, Douglass Sloane continued to examine her as if she were one of the World Fair’s new inventions.

“So . . . Rosalind.” A dimple appeared. “Shakespeare, yes?”

She nodded. The name was from the play
As
You
Like
It.
Her mother was a great fan of all things literary. Her children’s names had been a reflection of that. And perhaps to show the world that she was more than merely a farmer’s wife.

Clarifying her mother’s reasons for naming her Rosalind, however, seemed unnecessary. Too personal.

Not asked.

His arms crossed. The white linen of his shirt shone against the dark woodwork behind him. “And where might you be from?”

“Wisconsin, sir.” A small dairy farm near Milwaukee, to be specific.

“Ah, Wisconsin. That veritable utopia to our west.” Skimming her features again, he almost smiled. “And now here you are. In Chicago. Dusting.”

“Yes.” Her shoulders began to relax. Obviously, this member of the household meant her no harm. He was just curious about the newest housemaid on staff.

Perhaps that made sense. During the three weeks she’d worked in the home, the master’s son had been on a buying trip with his father to New York City. She heard they’d returned just two days ago—and the downstairs talk was filled with gossip about his escapades.

Rumor had it that Douglass had spent every waking hour in city pubs and gaming halls. Anywhere he liked, actually. With a name like Sloane, a man could do what he liked whenever he chose.

“Really, Douglass,” Veronica Sloane called out as she entered the hall on the arm of an extremely handsome man. “Leave the girl alone. If you cause her to tarry, she won’t get all her work done.” Somewhat mockingly, she raised a finely curved eyebrow. “And then what will we do?”

“I’m doing nothing out of the ordinary.” He dared to wink, and his gaze gripped Rosalind again. “Merely getting acquainted. As I’ve done many times before,” he added, almost as an afterthought.

With those words, alarms sounded in Rosalind’s head again. Perhaps it was only her imagination, but she was certain his statement was laced with another meaning.

“There’s little to get acquainted with,” his sister said as she and her companion joined Douglass, their bodies effectively circling Rosalind. Her voice was sharp. “She’s a servant, Douglass. Not a debutante.”

Rosalind clutched her dust rag more tightly. Yes, in their world she was only a servant. But in her heart, she knew she was more than that. She was a child of God. In his eyes, she counted as much as anyone.

As much as her sister, Miranda, had . . . before she’d gone missing.

Douglass stepped forward, bringing with him the faint scent of scotch. “Tell me, Rosalind, are you liking our home?”

His voice had turned silky. Rosalind’s mouth turned dry. The question felt loaded, but she wasn’t sure what the expected answer was. Her heartbeat quickened.

Oh, why had she been dusting in this spot at this moment?

Staring at her intently, Veronica once again raised a brow. “Do you? Are you happy?” Her voice lowered. “Content?”

Content? “I . . . I—”

“Rosalind, Miss Sloane is right, you’d best get your chores done,” the handsome stranger interrupted. “Why don’t you run along now?”

His voice was so commanding, so direct, that she took a step back. Then stopped just as abruptly. She wasn’t supposed to leave until she’d been dismissed.

Douglass turned to the man and frowned. “Armstrong, are you now giving orders to the servants in my home?”

“Not at all. I’m merely repeating what Veronica said. She is right. This maid surely has a great many things to do other than stand here with us.”

Rosalind noticed a slight softening around the corners of Veronica’s lips. “Reid, you actually listened to me.”

Mr. Armstrong smiled at Veronica, and his voice became warmer. “Of course I listened. I always listen.” There was no such warmth in his eyes when he turned back to Rosalind, however. His gaze was cool and almost piercing. “Miss, you had best go about your business. Now.”

Staring at him, Rosalind stepped back. Her body was trembling so much that she feared it would be commented upon, giving them yet another opportunity to taunt her.

But when neither Douglass nor Veronica protested, only chuckled softly, she pivoted on her heel and scurried down the hall.

Brittle feminine laughter followed her steps. “Oh, Reid, I do think I’ll keep you close to me all day. You’re beyond amusing. Besides, it’s nice having someone nearby who heeds what I say.”

“Some might have a problem with your heavy-handed ways, though,” Douglass added, his voice carrying a thread of malice. “The
way you shooed away our new girl was a bit of a surprise. It almost seemed as if you were worried about her welfare.”

“Perhaps I am concerned about her. You do have quite the reputation, you know, Sloane,” their guest retorted. “If we’re not careful, you’ll charm the girl, break her heart, and next thing you know? Why, she’ll be leaving. Then who would dust your furniture?”

The laughter continued as Rosalind turned a corner. But just as she was hurrying down a half flight of stairs, she faintly heard Veronica’s reply. “Don’t be silly, Reid. Servants can be replaced. Always.”

BOOK: Secrets of Sloane House
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