Secrets Behind Locked Doors

Secrets Behind Locked Doors
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FROM THE DARKEST OF SHADOWS…After a year wrongfully imprisoned in an asylum, Louisa Turnhill can’t believe it when Robert, Lord Fleetwood, arrives to rescue her. As her new guardian, he’s there to take Louisa to his London townhouse – and a different life. … TO THE DAZZLING WORLD OF THE TON Thrust into an unknown world of debutantes and balls, Louisa starts to put her trust in Robert. But his life is tainted with darkness too, and with Society’s eyes upon them will they ever be able to shake off the secrets that once lurked behind locked doors?

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‘I want to take you away from here, Louisa,’ he said eventually. ‘I want to take you somewhere safe whilst I figure out exactly what’s happened.’

Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. Robert surmised that she hadn’t had much reason to trust people in the last few years. She wrapped her arms around her body protectively and started to hunch into herself.

‘I promise I won’t hurt you,’ Robert said, kneeling down in front of her and gently taking her hand. ‘I won’t let anyone hurt you ever again.’

She flinched as his skin touched hers, not pulling her hand away but cowering a little, as if she expected him to hit her.

‘Trust me,’ he said quietly.

Louisa regarded him for almost a minute in silence, staring into his eyes, and Robert felt as though she’d studied his soul. Eventually she gave a small, almost imperceptible nod.


Ever since I can remember I have been fascinated by the workings of the mind: what makes one person thrive whilst another will be made to withdraw. One thing that has particularly intrigued me is how society’s perception of mental illness has changed over time. This is demonstrated perfectly by our treatment of those suffering from mental illness. Hundreds of years ago such people were shunned by society and cast out of their communities. In the Regency period common practice was to lock away anyone with unexplainable behaviour and pretend they didn’t exist. This led to an increase in the number of unregulated and unlicenced institutions where the unfortunate inmates received no rehabilitation or medical care, worsening their conditions. Stories abound about unfortunate individuals discarded in asylums by their relatives who, despite having no reason to lock them up, wished to gain from their disappearance.

Another psychological theme runs through this book. For centuries men have fought in wars which have left mental as well as physical scars. The symptoms of shell-shock, or post-traumatic stress disorder, have only recently been recognised as a consequence of the strains that battle places upon the psyche. However, the soldiers of the Napoleonic wars would have been subject to many of the same stresses as soldiers of today. SECRETS BEHIND LOCKED DOORS explores how such mental scars can be a barrier between the sufferer and the wider world. In writing a character with some features of PTSD I hoped to portray how the disorder can impact on every aspect of life—including love.

Secrets Behind Locked Doors

Laura Martin

LAURA MARTIN writes historical romances with an adventurous undercurrent. When not writing she spends her time working as a doctor in Cambridgeshire, where she lives with her husband. In her spare moments Laura loves to lose herself in a book, and has been known to read cover to cover in a single day when the story is particularly gripping. She also loves to travel—especially visiting historical sites and far-flung shores.

For Dad, for all the inspiration and encouragement. And for Luke. I couldn’t do it without you.

Chapter One

Robert fought the urge to turn around and flee. He wasn’t a man who had ever run from anything. Six years he’d fought in the army and he’d never backed down from a fight, but right now his courage was deserting him.

‘Ready, sir?’ asked Yates, his agent, apparently oblivious to his discomfort.

Robert nodded, raised his hand and knocked on the imposing front door.

The stench hit him as soon as he walked inside. It was a mixture of sweat and cabbage and something else he didn’t even want to guess at. He wondered how the staff coped with it, the smell permeating their clothes and lingering as they returned home to their families. At least they could return home though, he supposed. Some of the inmates wouldn’t ever leave the confines of the Lewisham Asylum; they’d spend long years cooped up in the dreary rooms with only their screams for company.

‘Lord Fleetwood—’ a grubby little man hurried out to greet them ‘—it is such an honour to meet you. I’m Symes, the humble proprietor of this establishment.’

Robert nodded silently in greeting. He wanted to get his business here sorted as quickly as possible and escape. Already he was feeling despair, the same sensation the patients must have felt as they were dragged out of the sunlight one last time.

‘I said to your man there must be a mistake,’ Symes said as he led Robert into his office. ‘None of our patients are gently born, we haven’t got any ladies here.’

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