The Imperial Orchid
by Nicola Italia
Publication date: June 22nd 2021
Genres: Historical Romance
At the end of the Victorian era, Orchid Mania has gripped the wealthy and aristocratic men of England. Collectors are willing to spend a small fortune to obtain the rare flowers from distant lands. Lord Holloway, president of the Royal Horticultural Society in London, has decided to finance an expedition team to Ceylon to capture one of the rarest orchids on earth.
Frances Wakefield is an educated woman and a gifted illustrator and has traveled throughout Europe documenting various plants and flowers for the Society. When Lord Holloway handpicks her to travel to Ceylon as a member of the expedition team, she is thrilled.
When she lands in Egypt to meet the other team members, she comes face-to-face with Miles St. Clair, Lord Holloway’s son and heir. He is the arrogant, handsome, insufferable man she encountered at several soirees in London and the team’s leader.
Frances soon learns the trip to Ceylon is to find a very rare orchid. But someone has been watching Lord Holloway’s expedition team, and treachery is afoot. While the expedition intensifies, so does the growing attraction between Miles and Frances, who must work together if they hope to make it out of Ceylon alive.
Miles rubbed his chin and felt the growth of a day’s beard. He could barely remember the night before except that he had lost a goodly sum on whist, and he vaguely recalled a blonde half-naked in his arms.
He opened his eyes gingerly and saw that there was no blonde in sight, and he was indeed lying in a bed in one of his favorite brothels. The curtains covering the windows were crimson red, and the bed was a plush mattress in an ornate wooden frame with baby cupids detailed in the artwork. He groaned as his head ached; he had lost count of the number of whiskeys he had consumed the night before.
He contemplated looking for his trousers and getting dressed, but he knew that would cause his head to pound more. He preferred to lie in bed a while more until he felt a little better.
A sharp knock fell upon the door, and he looked up, wincing. He looked around but knew he was very much alone. Had the blonde returned? He wasn’t up for any more love play.
“Come in,” he called out.
He grinned with relief when his companion and long-time friend from university, Percival Browne, entered the room.
“You look like half-baked shit,” Percival told his friend as he picked up Miles’s trousers from the floor. Miles groaned as he caught the pants Percival flung at him.
“I don’t remember much of last night, Percy. Except that I lost a fair amount, and there was a blonde.” He tossed the bed sheets back and pulled on his trousers.
“Do you see my shir—” he began just as the clothing article hit him in the face.
“Cheers, mate,” Percival said as he took a chair opposite the bed. Miles narrowed his eyes at his friend as he pulled his shirt on.
“And did you say, ‘lost a fair amount?’” Percy eased the chair back. “If I recall the exact amount you lost as the correct amount, your best bet is to go to America and start afresh, so your father doesn’t skin you alive.”
Nicola spent her childhood in Los Angeles. As a young student in elementary school, she had a great fondness for reading and began to write creatively. She graduated from university with a degree in communications and held a variety of positions in journalism, education, government and non profit.
Nicola has traveled extensively throughout Europe, China and Central America.
Nicola’s goal is to create rich characters with a strong male lead and a passionate female lead.
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