I present to you, Thorncliff Manor.
Owned by Lady Duncaster, an eccentric widow with a penchant for cake, Thorncliff sits firmly upon the English countryside, located between Bournemouth and Portsmouth. Though little of the original structure remains visible, Thorncliff was initially built during the twelfth century by a knight named William Holden. Since then, each generation has expanded on it, creating a vast edifice with a total of 187 rooms, fifty of which are bedchambers. There are eight themed salons decorated in unique styles that pay tribute to some of the wonderful places Lady Duncaster visited with her late husband, like India and China.
The conservatory is quite possibly the finest one in Europe, modeled after the orangerie at the Versailles Palace, albeit with more glass to allow for a more outdoors feel. The impressive library, housing a vast variety of books that have been collected over the centuries, is 180 feet in length with comfortable seating arrangements located throughout in order to encourage reading or simply a bit of quiet conversation in good company.
Other notable rooms include the smoking room, the dining room (with space for one hundred guests), the gaming room, the ballroom, the music room and the exercise room.
Heading outside onto a sprawling terrace, tables and chairs set amidst potted plants and climbing roses, provide the guests with a wonderfully relaxing environment in which to enjoy their afternoon tea. Seated here, one has a direct view of the front lawn and the lake that lies beyond it. A frigate, now used for outdoor dining, can be seen – it is named The Endurance and was purchased many years ago by the late Lord Duncaster as gift for his wife – a memento since they once traveled aboard it together. To the right of this, is a Chinese pavilion, perfect for enjoying a quiet talk, a cup of tea or a midnight kiss.
Following the lake to the left, one will find the rose garden, and beyond it, an elaborate maze that can take a fair amount of time to get through. On the opposite side of the lake lies the forest, along with other lawns belonging to the estate, the chapel, and a path leading toward a grotto. Of course, no estate of this size and history would be complete without hidden tunnels and passageways, so Thorncliff does have several of those as well, many of which have not yet been explored.
Rumor does have it that a treasure can be found on the estate, but Lady Duncaster isn’t convinced, even though some of her guests are quite determined to find it. Who knows how lucky they’ll be?
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The first book in the series, Lady Sarah's Sinful Desires, goes on sale April 28th and is available now for pre-order.