Authors: Viveka Portman
The Observations of Curious Governess
From the erotic pen of Viveka Portman comes the latest instalment in the sexiest set of diaries you have ever read…
When Miss Martha Swan enters the fine home of Lord and Lady Stanton to become a governess, she is full of lofty ideals. Yet something is amiss in the hallowed halls of Stanton: whispers, laughter, and something darker and more wicked echoes from behind closed doors, and Martha is determined to find out what.
She soon discovers that all is not as it seems in this stately home. The lord and lady have secrets — lustful, carnal, shameful secrets that could spell ruination for all. Martha wants to be appalled, but she finds herself intrigued, and when her long-time friend Mr Jonathan Reeves comes to visit, Martha conceives a daring plan to assuage her curiosity. Thing are not so simple however, as neither Martha nor Jonathan have the money to marry. Nothing can come from this relationship — nothing but the experience of ecstasy. In such a situation, what is a curious governess to do?
Viveka Portman is an author of romantic erotic fiction, and has a fascination about times past. With a Bachelor’s degree in anthropology, Viveka weaves historical fact into fiction to create lively, realistic and thrilling tales, sure to titillate and engage the most discerning reader. Considered an upstanding member of society, Viveka does not make a habit of eavesdropping, gossiping or making vulgar displays of impropriety — except, that is, in writing.
Many thanks once again to the wonderful team at Escape Publishing for your support and enthusiasm. I’d like to thank my critique partner and awesome friend, author Shona Husk, for her blunt and honest critiques – they are gold. I’d also like to thank my good friend and author Loretta Hill for taking the brave step into critiquing erotic romance – I hope I didn’t shock you too much.
To my husband – for surviving with good humour the many raised eyebrows you receive for being married to an erotic romance author.
There are days in a young lady’s life that shall have a significance that resounds through all her years. For myself, today was such a day.
It was with little fanfare but much excitement that I departed my family home in London for the employ of the Stanton Household. I was not sorry to leave our lovely but decaying terrace in London for the glorious stately home of the Lord and Lady Stanton. Indeed, no. It is here in the green fields of Wiltshire I will meet my young charges, the children of Stanton whom I have come to govern, and start my new life.
There is little question that I am verily thrilled to be leaving London to pursue this dream of independence. One must understand that I have long had a passion for books and learning, and it is this passion, alongside sad matters of finance, that have brought me to this pass. I believe it is my mother who has had the most difficulty accepting my new position. She is much concerned that I shall lament my existence as a spinster. To this, I could not offer a convincing response. For there is much to delight in my new position, I know – the independence from my family, the ability to earn an income, and the opportunity to enrich my own knowledge of the world and all it encompasses. This said, there is the possibility that I shall, in some small way, lament my existence without the affection of a husband, though currently I cannot confirm or deny that I shall indeed feel this way. There has been but one man who held sway over my affections, and he I cannot marry. He is from a family close to my own, and I have known him always. It is an unhappy circumstance that there can be no union betwixt us due to the financial strains of our families. So it has come to pass that regardless of my heart’s affection, I shall never become this gentleman’s wife. If I am honest and objective, I know I shall find benefit in the spinster life. I will never have to breed child after child ‘til I am little more than an empty husk – the fate of many a married lady. In addition, my life as a governess shall also allow me a level of independence that a woman of my breeding should otherwise never accomplish. It is my hope that, despite my heart’s disappointment, this post shall suit me very well.
For all the unfortunate aspects of my upbringing, I have been most fortunate to have been blessed with an exemplary education. Though my father laments it – and calls it the root of my unnatural intelligence – I am most thankful. I attended Mrs Cadwell’s Academy for Ladies, on Hanley Road in London. I attended only through my mother’s friendship with the headmistress, for our finances would not allow for such frivolities as female education otherwise. Mrs Cadwell’s Academy is the most admirable of establishments in my mind. Most institutions for the education of ladies are not established to transmit expert knowledge to women, but to serve as a model of elegance and moral rectitude – or so I have heard it suggested.
Though I shall be the very first to admit that moral fortitude and elegance are a necessity for a gently born lady, I am an ardent believer in improvement of the mind. Indeed, I have read
Letters on the Improvement of the Mind, Addressed to a Lady
, by Mrs Hester Chapone, more times than I can count. I should read it once more, had I not left it in the library at our home in London. I confess that Mrs Chapone is something of an idol for me, possessed as she was with such fierce intellect, and so sought by society for her conversation. She allowed neither her sex nor marriage to disable her. She is one whom I
aspire to be like. Thus I shall write my own letters, in this very diary, in some replication of those great letters of Mrs Chapone. Upon these pages I shall discuss my observations of circumstances and individuals most pertinent to my new and independent life. I do so in the hope that in some distant time, my writings, pitiable though they may be in comparison to the great Mrs Chapone, shall be admired and studied at length to allow the improvement of the mind of all those who read them.
Martha Jane Swan.
As I have alluded to the
for my writings, I shall now elaborate upon the first day at my post of governess in Stanton House.
Upon my arrival I was naturally nervous about how I should be received by this most noble of families. I will not have it said that I hail from common stock, indeed no. Although some in the position of governess come from the commons, I myself hail from an old and proud family – which was once of great means indeed. I shall not lay blame entirely at the fault of my father, who is a most benevolent fellow, but it cannot be overstated that the Swan estate has suffered significant losses under his guidance and leadership. I do not feel however, that the sad matters of finance that afflict my family ought result in myself being treated poorly or without the respect due to my long and honourable heritage.
You see, circumstances largely conspired against the Swans – leading my father to make some most disadvantageous decisions with regard to our estates. I can acknowledge, with no pleasure, that the Swan family is not alone in this suffering – I know a number of well-bred families who have suffered the same damages due to inopportune investments in the Americas.
Suffice to say, it was my most ardent hope that the family of whom I am now in the employ will not hold me in lower esteem due to my finances – and I am most pleased to say they have not done as I feared.
It was with a great onset of nerves that I was met upon my arrival by the butler, Evans. Yet he allayed my nerves and seemed a very good sort and most courteous towards me. He introduced me to the housekeeper, a Mrs Roberts. After a brief refreshment in the servants’ quarters, I was shown to my room, where my luggage had been immediately taken.
The room was not what I had expected. Mrs Roberts explained somewhat hastily that the servants’ quarters were full to capacity, and that Lady Stanton had decided I was to reside in the rooms beside those of my charges, so that I may be close to them at all times. I find this very satisfactory, and in truth a great relief. Those fears I’d harboured of ill-treatment seemed almost ridiculous as I looked about the room.
It was gloriously laid out, with heavy velvet draperies and large canopied bed. It was a much finer room than I had expected, to be sure. The walls were papered with delicate pink peony paper and I was just about to walk towards the fine window seat so as to observe the view when a knock interrupted my musings. I opened the door and was surprised to see a tall, stern but handsome woman of nearly my own age.
‘I am Bess Miller, Milady’s maid,’ she introduced herself delicately. Her tone was not at all that archaic burr of the region, but delicately refined. A hint of her modest beginnings was not past detection, but little remained otherwise. ‘Miss Swan, you are required in Milady’s sitting room to meet your charges,’ Miller said.
I smiled at her, trying to still my hammering breast. ‘Of course,’ I nodded. ‘Please.’ I gestured to her to take the lead.
I followed Miller down the beautifully furnished corridors, hoping not to seem overawed at the luxury represented in the paintings, curtains, and vases that lined them. I noticed that Miller walked in that efficient manner of one in service who enjoys their position. I admired how she seemed so calm and confident. I hope that we shall become friends.
It had been an unfortunate fact of my childhood that I had few friends. Those members of the peerage who knew us sympathised with our circumstances, naturally, but did not want their daughters accompanied by one so impoverished, regardless of breeding. It was an understandable, but lamentable, fact of our lives. My mother had hoped, at one time, that I may be fostered by one of our more fortunate acquaintances – but it had not eventuated. So, I sincerely hoped that friendship would blossom with this most efficient, softly spoken lady’s maid before me.
We finally arrived at a very fine afternoon sitting room. The sun shone through the windows casting the room golden – which merely seemed to magnify the sense of wealth and luxury. It was a far cry from the tattered couches and peeling paper of our own sitting room in the London terrace.
Lady Stanton was sitting upon a velvet high-backed chair, apparently broodingly watching out the window. Her hair was a fine auburn, beautifully coiffed. Her face was like a painting, and I was surprised by her youthfulness. A mother of four, and breeding with a fifth – she appeared graciously rounded, and her face miraculously unlined by wear.
‘Miss Martha Swan, Milady,’ Miller introduced me, before moving back a discreet distance, but not leaving her mistress unsupervised.
‘Good afternoon,’ I bobbed and curtsied, inclining my head in deference to her noble position.
‘Good afternoon.’ Her eyes alighted on me but offered no insight into the thoughts that may be crossing her mind.
I wondered most absently then how it would be to be a lady of such refinement and wealth. No doubt she was cosseted, well cared for and shamelessly doted upon by a loving and indulgent husband. It was how my mother should have lived if my father had not made such disadvantageous choices in his investments abroad.
I noticed then the lady watching me with a studied glance, and I knew I’d hesitated overlong in my musings.
‘I am honoured to meet you, Lady Stanton, and am most grateful to take this position at Stanton House.’
Lady Stanton’s eyes creased, and her coral lips curled with a genteel smile. ‘Of course, it is our pleasure.’ She gestured for me to sit.