Excerpt from The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Girl in His Shadow

by Audrey Blake

The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake X
The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake
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    May 2021, 384 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Cook
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The housekeeper sighed. "I'm accustomed to surprises after almost twenty years with the doctor." Her mouth snapped shut like a cigar box on tight hinges. The young lady, walking beside him, said nothing.

Well, they didn't have to like him all at once. If it took time to earn his way into their good graces, so be it. At least the housekeeper acknowledged his apology. Whatever people said, in large dwellings, the housekeeper was the woman of the house. Once he won her firmly to his side, he'd make an attempt to get in the good graces of Mrs. Croft, but if that failed, there was always the cook. Daniel had a weakness for toffee trifle.

Names would be nice, though. They had his, and he felt uncomfortable not knowing what to call them.

The housekeeper stopped at the end of the corridor. "The clinic is this way."

The young lady at his side stiffened. "We don't know—"

Daniel spoke up, his thoughts of friendly overtures forgotten. It was time to insist—firmly, but gentlemanly. "I'm here at the invitation of Dr. Croft, madam. I am not a liar."

She stared mulishly at him, practically daring him to pass.

The housekeeper interceded. "I'll show him the clinic." She spoke to the girl, looking past him. "If you'll decide on a room for Dr. Gibson?"

She nodded once, sharply. "Yes, Mrs. Phipps." She left without another word. Daniel decided he would definitely get along better with the housekeeper.

"This way," the older lady beckoned.

Daniel kept pace beside her. "I hope Mrs. Croft will overlook our awkward start."

"Who?" she asked sharply, her insistent steps losing their steady beat.

"The lady, Mrs. Croft." She was probably not a day over twenty, which put her thirty years behind her husband. She had a lovely complexion, completely unmarred by smallpox. Certainly, she'd be one of the inoculated ones. Dr. Croft was an outspoken advocate for the procedure.

"There's no Mrs. Croft." A reluctant smile cut through the frown lines of the housekeeper's cheeks. "Unless he went and grabbed a wife this morning, as well as you. One never knows."

Daniel frowned and paused to quiz out this new puzzle. "But the lady at the door? Forgive me. I thought her the doctor's wife. He told me specifically he had no children."

"Nor has he." The housekeeper's patience was waning. She sniffed as if to say that a stranger appearing from the London streets and announcing he was to live at her house could nearly be tolerated, but a nosy man was insufferable. "You met his ward, Miss Eleanor Beady. She runs the home and helps manage the clinic. The doctor may not have mentioned her, but I suggest you show her the utmost respect." The stern press of her lips gave notice that it was far more than a suggestion. He wondered if the pretty ward was a bastard child or a relative's orphan.

"Of course. My apologies." Daniel counted how many times he'd apologized in the last five minutes and didn't care for the tally. Especially when his only crime was to arrive at his appointed time, well presented and punctual.

The housekeeper led him downstairs to a room lined with bookcases and labeled drawers, as well as a battered desk. "The doctor consults in here. He has a surgical theater where the atrium used to be. Best light." She flicked her head toward the door. "He plans to turn the servants' hall into more convalescing rooms when he expands, which makes you wonder where the servants will eat."

Daniel nodded as if vastly interested, though he wondered no such thing. He was pondering how Dr. Croft kept curious onlookers from beholding gory surgeries in a glass atrium. Surely it must be boiling in the summers, and at St. Bartholomew's Hospital Croft always advocated keeping patients cold.

The housekeeper continued, warming to the subject of her domestic difficulties. "Of course, there is only me and Cook that live in, and both of us have rooms upstairs. The other servants live out and come during the day. Odd, but there it is." She clamped her hands into a knot, daring him to argue.

Excerpted from The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake. Copyright © 2021 by Audrey Blake. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks Landmark. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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