Between Duty and Desire

Genre: Historical Romance

Tropes: forbidden love, surprise pregnancy, rich girl/poor boy, wrong side of the tracks

Characters: Eloise Bryce, Joseph O’Shiel

Setting: New York, 1883 (Gilded Age)


Heat Level: As hot as you like it


Eloise Bryce


I am torn between duty and desire.


As the only daughter of wealthy parents, I have every luxury I could ever want and live in grand style. Mama and Papa see to that. I have a brother to carry on the family business, a brother destined for politics, and a sister who has already married into another wealthy family.


Now my papa’s eyes have turned to me, planning and plotting on what family I shall marry into. Only, my heart has already been claimed. Joseph and I met by chance, and I fell in love even when I knew I shouldn’t. 


While I spend my evenings in opulent mansions, navigating the glittering balls and scandalous secrets of high society, Joseph spends his trying to earn extra money with his paintings. His days are spent toiling in a factory. And the moments we do manage to steal together are magic.


But I know I am expected to marry a man of equal social standing. My papa will never let me marry Joseph. Even though I carry the most scandalous secret of all: Joseph’s baby. We never meant for this to happen, but our love couldn’t be contained any longer.


Now my father has issued an ultimatum: walk away from Joseph completely or watch him be destroyed. I can’t believe this; my own father betraying me for the sake of appearance. But unless I do as he says; unless I walk away from Joseph, go into hiding until I have the child, then give it up and marry the man my father chooses, he will destroy Joseph’s life.


I must decide whether to follow my heart or succumb to the pressures of my family. With every choice I make, I risk losing everything—including the love of my life.


Joseph O’Shiel


I left Ireland for America with less than two dollars to my name. I have little more than that now, working for pennies in a factory and earning what little I can by selling my paintings. But I scrape by.


It’s not enough to keep a wife, let alone keep a wife in the style Eloise is accustomed to. I love her desperately, but love won’t keep food on the table or the wolf from the door.


I know I shouldn’t love her, should never have touched her. But from the moment we met, I was drawn to her. And she feels the same for me, and that in itself is a miracle. But our love can’t be, even though I’ve planted a child in her.


Her father refuses to let his daughter wed with the likes of me: a dirty Irish immigrant. And I understand, I truly do. I don’t want Eloise to suffer by being my wife, and her father will shun her if she defies his wishes.


So I tell her I’ll go. I tell her to abide by her father’s rules, to marry and have a happy life. And I leave. But I can’t stay gone. I watch from afar, and I see how unhappy Eloise is. And I feel the same unhappiness.


Our only option is to run away. But how can I really ask Eloise to choose between the life of luxury she’s always known and the life of hardship that is all I can offer. Our love, it seems, is doomed.


Decisions must be made. But once they are, will Eloise and I still be together? Or will I lose the only woman I could ever love?


**Possible tagline: Between Duty and Desire is a sweeping tale of love, betrayal, and the pursuit of happiness in a world where appearances matter more than anything else.**

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