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Sneak Peeks

The Davenports: Meet Helen!

We’re celebrating some of our favorite characters from The Davenports as we count down to the stunning historical romance debut from author Krystal Marquis! Today, we’re excited to introduce you to Helen, the younger Davenport daughter. With an array of hidden talents and a knack for fixing cars, Helen isn’t afraid to show the world what she can do.

Learn more about The Davenports here and scroll down to read a sneak peek about Helen!

Helen took a deep breath, still recovering from her small panic. “Olivia is not here. She’s out with Ruby. They should be back before dinner.”

He nodded and stuffed his hands in his pocket. “Well, I’ll be off then. You’ll tell her I came by?”

Helen looked at the great gate at the end of the drive and then back at the house.

“Miss Davenport?”

Helen bristled at his tone, but decided to use it to her advantage. “I will. If you help me.”

Mr. Lawrence removed his hat and bowed. “How may I be of service?”

She tapped her chin and pretended to think hard. “There is a damsel in great need of rescuing.”

“Am I to assume you’re the damsel?”

“Of course not, squire. We are going to rescue her.” Helen waited.

Mr. Lawrence stepped closer and dropped his voice low. “Is it a dragon, or a sorcerer, that has our damsel?”

“Yes,” Helen said. A laugh escaped her lips.

He raised an eyebrow at this answer, a smile tugging at his full mouth. “In that case, best not keep her waiting.” His palm opened between them. “Where is their lair?” he whispered.

With one final glance at Freeport Manor, Helen grasped his fingers and climbed into the carriage. “There’s a bookstore in town. I’m sure we can find her somewhere in there. I can direct you.”

Riding beside Mr. Lawrence in a buggy made by her father’s company felt like an illicit act. She ran her hand over the plush seat. “Where did you get this?”

“Your father was kind enough to let me use one. Perhaps he knew it was destined for great things.”

Helen laughed. She was thrilled to have escaped the house, but equally appalled that she’d fled beside the man who was wooing her sister. The tree-lined drive of Freeport Manor disappeared behind them. The neighborhood gave way to louder, crowded traffic broken up by patches of green.

“Thank you,” Helen said. “I had to get out of the house.”

“Is it haunted?”

Helen’s brows knit together. “No, of course not.”

“You looked like you’d seen a ghost.” He smiled. “Are you sure you’re not the damsel? Is this a test?”

Helen smacked his leg with her parasol. “I am no damsel!” She fought the urge to cross her arms like a child. Mr. Lawrence was the same age as John and the other young men who worked in the garage. She was surprised at how comfortable she felt around him. Most of her interactions with men revolved around carriages or automobiles. Not her plight against conformity.

“I’m no damsel,” she repeated. “But maybe I did need some minor rescuing.”

His eyes cut from the road to her. “What horrid fate did I save you from?”

Helen looked at the storefronts without really seeing them. “I’m running away from my etiquette lessons. My manners have been found to be lacking, and though I am far too old for a gov­erness, my mother has employed one to correct my behavior before I chase away all the eligible bachelors Olivia passes over.”

Mr. Lawrence’s mouth screwed to the side at the mention of her sister. Helen barreled on. Did he not know he would have competition for her sister’s hand? “And it is horrid. None of what I’m learning has any practical value. I’d much rather be pursuing my own interests. There’s bound to be someone out there who wouldn’t mind a perpetually disheveled lady who can’t run her own household, but doesn’t mind helping saddle a horse or repair an axle or generally get her hands dirty.”

Helen and Mr. Lawrence both looked at her hands: chipped nails and dark stains. Part of her cursed the gloves she’d left on her chair, but the larger, truer part of herself was defiant and proud.

Her breath caught when she saw the hint of a smile on Mr. Lawrence’s face. He lazily held the reins between his hands and stared straight ahead. Helen’s stomach turned. This is exactly the kind of behavior her mother and Mrs. Milford were trying to lec­ture out of her. Great, he must think I’m a lost cause. But why do I even care? And with that thought, the rest of her grievances flew out of her head.

“It’s no easy task balancing what you want for yourself and what your family wants for you.” He sat up straighter in his seat. “I’m not only here looking for prospects for my family business, but ways to save it. The Lawrence family name means something in certain circles, as I expect yours does. I have been cursed and blessed to be an only child, all of the fortune as well as the burden of responsibility. Everything I do affects my parents and our future.”

“I know how lucky I’ve been.” Helen picked at the lace of her parasol. “Olivia shines under Mama’s attention and John always knew the business would be his.”

Mr. Lawrence looked at her from under his long lashes. “And you? What fills your days? I’m sure not having a defined role isn’t going well either.”

“What are you talking about? We’re going to save a damsel!” She smiled. Helen knew that she used her parents’ preoccupa­tions as opportunities to do what she wanted. She wasn’t ignored and never felt neglected, but understood her place in the family dynamic. “No, I still believe I’m very fortunate.” Money and privi­lege set her family apart, and she was loved.

Listen to Helen’s playlist

Penguin Teen