A Thrill of Hope Read Online Anna Markland

Categories Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance Tags Authors:
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Total pages in book: 20
Estimated words: 18257 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 91(@200wpm)___ 73(@250wpm)___ 61(@300wpm)
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“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices…”
Foiling an attempt to assassinate Queen Victoria earns Parker a medal and royal gratitude. The lunatic’s bayonet plunged into his thigh leaves him with a pronounced limp and reassignment to a small constabulary. Particularly trying is having to spend Christmas Day with his miserly uncle.
During her family’s Yuletide celebrations, Samantha discovers she doesn’t love her straitlaced fiancé. A bleak future looms large.
Neither realize that anarchists are plotting to blow up a newly-constructed railway bridge—although Parker might if he’d heed the mysterious warning voices he hears.
A tale of the eternal struggle between good and evil.

Previously published in the O Night Divine anthology.

FULL BOOK START HERE:

AUST, GLOUCESTER, ENGLAND, CHRISTMAS DAY 1879

Sitting demurely in one of the well-upholstered chairs in the living room of her parents’ comfortable Georgian-style house, hands folded in her lap, Samantha Hindley surveyed the others in the circle. She resisted the urge to smile at her fiancé seated across from her. There was no hope of winning the party game if she showed the least bit of amusement. Brock was a stickler for rules. Not that she had a chance against him. He rarely smiled anyway. He tended to be too serious, but she put his dour nature down to his many responsibilities as an up-and-coming young barrister.

Samantha’s fun-loving younger sister was already giggling, so it was unlikely Grace would win the game in a month of Sundays.

Papa had already imbibed too much mulled wine to stay poker-faced for long.

Mama would excuse herself before the game was done to fret over the Christmas dinner being prepared in the kitchens. The delicious aroma of roasted turkey was already making Samantha’s stomach growl.

“You go first, Sister,” Grace declared.

Samantha nodded. “Hah,” she exclaimed loudly, struggling for control when her sister burst out laughing and tipped sideways off her chair.

“You’re out, Grace,” Brock said, sounding bored with the game already.

Samantha shifted in her seat when her father rolled his eyes and said, “I think she realizes that.”

“Hee, hee, hee,” Grace taunted as she regained her seat.

“You’re out. You can’t play,” Brock repeated without a trace of a smile.

“I know, silly,” Samantha’s sister replied.

“Manners, Grace,” their red-faced mother admonished. “Let’s just carry on, shall we? Ho.”

Samantha was hard pressed not to laugh when her father stuck out his tongue in response to his wife’s self-conscious attempt, but she held firm.

Apparently realizing his attempts to play the wag weren’t having the desired effect, her papa took his turn. “Heeeeee,” he exclaimed, baring his teeth in a ghoulish grimace.

It took only a minute for rolling laughter to bubble up in his throat. When a great guffaw emerged, he reached for his tumbler of mulled wine and took a hefty swig as a coughing fit ensued.

Grace thumped her father on the back until he stopped coughing and blew his nose. The honking was enough to make a corpse laugh.

“You’re out, Mr. Hindley,” Brock declared.

“Really?” her father rasped, his face beet red and merry eyes wide.

Clearly unaware of the sarcasm, Brock muttered, “I’ll go next, shall I? Ha.”

“I must see to dinner,” her mother murmured as she rose and hurried off.

A mischievous determination to best Brock rose suddenly in Samantha’s breast. She respected that the man of the family should make the decisions, but her fiancé was sometimes too domineering, too sure he was always right. This was a laughing game, after all. She’d make him smile at least, if it was the last thing she did. “Ho,” she said, jaw clenched as she narrowed her gaze.

“Hee,” Brock replied sternly, his dark eyes flashing a warning.

Samantha took a deep breath and decided to play on, despite the sudden tightness in her throat. “Ha.”

“Ho,” Brock intoned, his long fingers curling around the lions’ heads carved on the end of his chair’s arms.

“Hee.” Samantha resented the sound of defeat in her voice, and was she actually sweating?

“Ha,” Brock sneered, his upper lip curling in triumph.

Out of the corner of her eye, Samantha saw Grace’s head swiveling back and forth as if she were watching a tennis match. She gritted her teeth, but the struggle became futile when her father tried to make Brock laugh by crossing his eyes, sticking his thumbs in his ears and wiggling his fingers. His future son-in-law looked down his nose at him as if he’d lost his wits. Samantha couldn’t hold on. She laughed in an effort to rid herself of the uneasy feeling she really didn’t like her betrothed much when he was in a domineering mood. Irritation niggled when Brock smugly declared himself the winner.

“Well, you could at least smile about it,” Grace muttered, earning a glowering frown from her future brother-in-law.

Samantha was afraid he was about to take her sister to task for a lack of respect. Grace tended to speak without forethought, but she didn’t have a mean bone in her body. Samantha breathed a sigh of relief when her mother reappeared and announced that dinner was about to be served.


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