(Photo from the movie, The Duchess, 2008)
In Ballroom Secrets, Sarah Jane is the jealous rival who sets up Lillianna’s scandal. She is forced into marriage with Robert, a man of terrible and abusive character.
In the second Ballroom novel, I wanted to focus on poor Sarah. Her lot in life could have broken her, but it has, over the years, made her compassionate, mellow, and a devoted mother to her son, who is now 6 years old. Robert hardly darkened the door of his home after their honeymoon, so she has lived in relative peace, other than the rumors and stories she hears about his misdeeds.
All that changes, though, when Robert descends upon their home after an absence of nearly a year and insists upon taking young James with him to begin a boarding school. Sarah is heartbroken, but she is powerless to stop Robert, and so she becomes almost a recluse in her southern home.
A storm tears through Florence several weeks later, and her home is all but destroyed. A relative agrees to allow her to stay in their country home, where she is completely alone save a maid, a cook, and the single gardener employed to tend to the estate. He is rough and strong and, to Sarah’s surprise, a poet. Without meaning to, she falls in love with him. If Robert discovers, their affair, however, it could mean being cut off from James forever, and Sarah must make a difficult choice to risk everything to keep those she loves.