Eleanor Belford is content to lead a simple, quiet life. That is, until she accidentally stumbles upon Your Highness Prince Patrick – a dashing heir to the throne who would turn her world upside down.
She is drawn at once to his charm and compassion, as he is to her wit and intelligence. Against their sweet, budding romance is King Theodore II, Patrick’s Father, who would rather be skinned alive rather than see his one and only son, the heir to his kingdom, marry a simple peasant; and the King’s malevolent, most trusted advisor, Lord Jonathan Batthersby, who has lusted over her since the first time he laid eyes on her.
Essentially a love story, Eleanor I delves into the issue of social (in)justice; of picking oneself up after facing an adversity and making the best of the card one has been dealt with.
Her hand paused from kneading the fluffy dough, frowning upon hearing three even, subsequent knocks, eyes travelling from the door to the bowl in turns; she would very much like not to be distracted.
“Who is it?” She bellowed, wiping her floured hands on the apron tied around her waist and hurrying across. Her eyes bulged out as soon as she swung the door open, staring face-to-face with the tall, gallant young man she had never thought of meeting ever again.
“Your Highness,” she bowed, the corner of her eye catching the sight of the Royal Carriage parked opposite the next house when she straightened up. “I see you’ve paid a visit to Daniel?”
Patrick was mesmerised by the sight of a white powder smeared across her lower jaw, his mind weighing the options of informing her of the fact or reaching forward to try remove the flour himself, therefore providing an opportunity to touch her that he didn’t fully register her enquiry at first; his cheeks turning slightly crimson upon realising that Eleanor had tilted her head to one side, pondering whether he had suddenly gone mute.
“Oh… ah… yes… yes I have,” he replied, stumbling over his words, tucking the fact of her perceptiveness into his mental pocket. “He seemed to be recovering well.”
He swayed somewhat awkwardly, face slightly contorted as he raked his brain as to what to say next.
“Daniel informed me that you live here, and… well,” he paused slightly, casting a quick, contemplative glance. “I just want to make sure you’d found your way back from the Palace from the other day.”
He watched in utter amazement as the pair of blue eyes, now the colour of summer sky, altered from utter blankness to a slight irritation; the spark of anger at being ridiculed was quickly being snuffed out upon realising that the Prince was, good-naturedly teasing her, her own cheeks flaming uncontrollably, so noticeable the Prince was making another mental note.
“Your Highness is too kind,” she answered at last, one end of their lips twitching before they erupted into a light chuckle.
“I’m wondering… if you’re not busy… perhaps… would you like to take a walk?”
“Ah…well I… actually, I need to…”
“She would love to.”
Eleanor whipped around, glaring at a man of his height, with matching, albeit much shorter auburn hair, and a pair of striking blue eyes who had come to be standing behind her, his own lips curling up into a smile. “It can wait,” he added, bending down and lowering his voice to a soft whisper, laying a hand gently on the curve of her chin to wipe away the flour.
The realisation as to the man whom she had turned her back to still standing nearby, patiently waiting for her answer reminded her. Eleanor took a deep breath and faced Patrick once more.
“Your Highness, may I present my Father. Cameron Belford.”
She would have liked to step aside and nudged her Father forward, perhaps giving her that small window of opportunity to slip away unnoticed and disappeared from the Prince’s vicinity whilst her Father kept him preoccupied. However, as if her Father had sensed her plan, he laid a firm hand on her shoulder, keeping her rooted to the spot, the other one snaking out from behind her to shake Patrick’s offered hand firmly.
He muttered some flimsy excuse about having to return his full, undivided attention the current matter at hand, shoving Eleanor towards the Prince and closing the door behind her, leaving the girl glowering in utter mortification, believing that if she listened closely, she could hear her Father’s muffled giggle from the other side of the door.
She turned around, flashing a civil, helpless smile at Patrick, hiding her resignation. Just like that day in the Palace, her hand was placed in the crook of Patrick’s arm, his other hand, knotted, large, and surprisingly warm, covering hers as they strolled down the small hill at the end of the gravelled road.