Highlighting Linda McLaughlin’s hero, Stephen Chaplin, a barrister.
I recently visited Stephen Chaplin, Esquire at his offices in London’s Lincoln’s Inn to interview him.
LM: Mr. Chaplin, thank you so much for agreeing to meet with me. Can you tell me a bit about yourself? For instance, are you originally from the London area?
SC: No, my family is from Lincolnshire. I grew up on a small estate with my elder brother and my younger sister, Olivia.
LM: Where did you attend university?
SC: Cambridge, of course. The men of my family have done so for several generations. Then I came to Lincoln’s Inn to read for the law.
LM: Did you always want to be a barrister?
Not as a child, of course. Boys always have dreams of being brave warriors or finding one’s fortune at sea. But Father said I wasn’t cut out for the military–not obedient enough–though he thought I would do well in Parliament, since I seemed to enjoy arguing.
LM: You do think for yourself. What do you like most about the legal profession?
SC: I find it most gratifying when the law and justice align, which doesn’t always occur. Many of our laws are unnecessarily harsh, and I’d like to do something about that one day. In the meantime, I do what I can to help those in need of protection.
LM: What are your reading tastes
The Times, of course; all the London newspapers, for that matter. I rarely have time to read for pleasure, unlike my sister, Olivia, who devours every Gothic novel she can get her hands on, no matter how ridiculous. She even has hopes of publishing her own romantic novel one day. I’ve told her in no uncertain terms that she may not use my life experiences as fodder for her novel, or she will be very sorry!
LM: Hmm. What is the oddest thing that’s ever happened to you?
SC, with a smile: That would have to be the day I met the mysterious Mrs. Brown, who turned out to be Lady Elinor Ashworth. I was in the West Country, having a peaceful breakfast, when a madwoman in widow’s weeds came bursting through the door, demanding immediate passage to London. She appeared to be in need, so naturally I volunteered to assist, not knowing she would disrupt my life, destroy my peace of mind and make me fall madly in love with her.
About the Book, Lady Elinor’s Escape
Lady Elinor Ashworth always longed for adventure, but when she runs away from her abusive aunt, she finds more than she bargained for. Elinor fears her aunt who is irrational and dangerous, threatening Elinor and anyone she associates with. When she encounters an inquisitive gentleman, she accepts his help, but fearing for his safety, hides her identity by pretending to be a seamstress. She resists his every attempt to draw her out, all the while fighting her attraction to him.
There are too many women in barrister Stephen Chaplin’s life, but he has never been able to turn his back on a damsel in distress. The younger son of a baronet is a rescuer of troubled females, an unusual vocation fueled by guilt over his failure to save the woman he loved from her brutal husband. He cannot help falling in love with the secretive seamstress, but to his dismay, the truth of her background reveals Stephen as the ineligible party.
In this excerpt, Stephen shows up at the dress shop on a rainy spring day with a basket of flowers.
He handed her the basket of flowers, then shrugged out of his coat and handed it and his hat to Peggy O’Shea. She gave him a flirtatious smile in return before hanging the wet items on a nearby rack.
Elinor stepped forward. “Flowers, Mr. Chaplin?”
He turned toward her. “Ah, Mrs. Brown. Yes, I thought these spring blossoms just the thing to brighten Madame Latour’s shop on such a dismal day.”
“How very kind you are,” said Ellie. “But an entire basketful?”
He smiled. “The young girl selling them was in despair over the lack of customers. She appeared to be almost drowned and nearly in tears, so I bought all she had, including the basket.”
“And paid far more than they were worth, I am certain,” Elinor murmured.
“Did you say something, Mrs. Brown?” he asked with a raised brow.
“Nothing of importance.”
He rummaged through the basket and produced a nosegay of bluebells, which he presented to Dolly. “These are for you, to match your eyes.”
Her blue eyes grew wide with wonder as she accepted the nosegay. “Oh, sir, no one ever give me flowers afore.”
“Well, I am certain this will not be the last time,” he said gallantly. Ignoring Dolly’s worshipful look, he returned to the basket for another nosegay, white violets this time, which he gave to Peggy.
She bobbed him a curtsy. “Oh, thank ye, yer lordship.”
He gave her a warm smile. “You are very welcome, Miss O’Shea. But I am not a lord, merely a mister.”
“No matter. ’Tis a fine gentleman ye are, to be thinking of us working girls.”
“Girls, why do you not go on home?” Mimi asked. “You have all worked so very hard today, and there will be no more customers, n’est-ce-pas?”
With glad smiles for Mimi, and more thanks and curtsies for Stephen Chaplin, the girls donned their cloaks and left the shop.
“I will get a vase for these lovely flowers,” Mimi said. “Please come into the parlor, Monsieur Chaplin, and warm yourself by the fire. I have made the coffee and there is water for tea.”
“Thank you,” Stephen Chaplin said. He delved into the basket one last time before handing it to Mimi. As she left the room, he handed Elinor a bunch of purple violets.
Elinor held them to her nose and breathed in the sweet, delicate fragrance. “‘A violet in the youth of primary nature, forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting,’” she quoted.
“‘The perfume and suppliance of a minute; no more,’” he added softly.
Startled, she gazed into his warm honey-brown eyes and her pulse began to race. She would have to guard her heart around this man? Why did he have to have such an effect on her? Was it simply because he was the only eligible gentleman she had ever known?
No, a gentleman who brought flowers to poor shop girls and quoted Shakespeare was surely out of the ordinary. What a catch he would be for some young lady. But of course, not for her.
About the Author
Linda McLaughlin grew up with a love of books and history, so it’s only natural she prefers writing historical romance. She loves transporting her readers into the past where her characters learn that, in the journey of life, love is the sweetest reward. Linda also writes steamy to erotic romance under the name Lyndi Lamont, and is one half of the writing team of Lyn O’Farrell.
You can find her online at her website: http://lindalyndi.com
Twitter: @Lyndi Lamont https://twitter.com/LyndiLamont