Time cannot imprison love nor hold it in place. At Balmoral, a two-hundred-year-old estate in old Northampton, love calls and only the heart can answer.
When five-year-old Albert Farraday first sets foot on the grounds of Balmoral, he senses its magic. After he returns from the Korean War and is employed as the caretaker, Camille, the mysterious new wife of the owner of the estate, leads Albert to believe there is indeed a force drawing the love-worn to Balmoral.
After Camille’s widowed niece visits the mansion, then disappears, he is certain his own sister Lydia traveled to meet her love and didn’t go mad as his mother had suggested.
Over the years Balmoral welcomes brokenhearted travelers who find their way to the portal and into the arms of love, and Albert comes to the understanding he is not only the custodian of Balmoral but the keeper of its secrets.
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The year was 1942, and Randolph Mitchell, along with several of his fellow soldiers, marched down a road pockmarked by shelling in London. He shuddered as a light mist fell around him. Late summer had gone.
A captain at twenty-two, Randolph’s first glimpses of war lay around him. Bile rose in his throat at the devastation. Is this what years of military boarding school has brought me to? He bent to retrieve a bit of paper. Printed roses danced on the edge, and with nowhere to discard it, he pocketed the small scrap of the life people there once lived.
When the men arrived in town earlier, Randolph spotted the young woman gazing into a merchant’s window. She carried herself with an air of importance. Ribbons and lace accented her oddly-layered clothes of multicolored fabrics. Such elaborate attire was ill-suited because people were starving and only making do. Randolph dismissed her unusual manner of dress. Who could she be? So out of place, yet so beautiful.
His troop moved up the street, and as he surveyed the area, he forced himself to forget the woman, but when he approached the shop, she turned, and their eyes met. Randolph Mitchell lost his heart in that split second, but it would take his head a while to figure it out. His eyes pursued her as she picked her way through the rubble of the bombed-out buildings.
“Hello,” he ventured.
As a delicate pink color rose from her neck, she turned her eyes toward the window. Randolph sauntered to stand beside her and glanced at their reflection. He stood a good foot taller than she. His wrinkled uniform caused a pang of self-consciousness, but his desire to speak to her quelled his embarrassment. “I’m Randolph Mitchell, US Army.” He smiled, studying her porcelain complexion and bright hazel eyes, hoping for a welcome response.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be talking to you,” the woman said.
“It’s safe. We’ve been sent here to protect you. Or err… your country.” Randolph took his cap off and grinned at her. “I, ah, we might make sure you get home. Do you live close by?”
The young woman’s face blanched as she shook her head. “I used to live here.” She sighed. Then she backed away, turned around, and started running.
Randolph clenched his fists. He had to find out.
“Wait! I didn’t mean any harm!” He called after her. “Your name? At least tell me your name!”
“Camille Windham,” came from her lips, and her name planted itself in Randolph’s heart.