Excerpt: The Love Note by Joanna Davidson Politano

Joanna Davidson Politano
Genre: Christian / Historical Fiction / Romance
Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: October 20, 2020
Number of Pages: 400
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Focused on a career in medicine and not on romance, Willa Duvall is thrown slightly off course during the summer of 1859 when she discovers a never-opened love letter in a crack of her old writing desk. Compelled to find the passionate soul who penned it and the person who never received it, she takes a job as a nurse at the seaside estate of Crestwicke Manor. Everyone at Crestwicke has feelings—mostly negative ones—about the man who wrote the letter, but he seems to have disappeared. With plenty of enticing clues but few answers, Willa’s search becomes even more complicated when she misplaces the letter and it passes from person to person in the house, each finding a thrilling or disheartening message in its words. Laced with mysteries large and small, this romantic Victorian-era tale of love lost, love deferred, and love found is sure to delight.

If you missed the first excerpt from The Love Note, please visit All the Ups and Downs.

The Love Note

by Joanna Davidson Politano

Chapter 1, Part Two

I recalled the girl’s mum clinging to that dear child, sobbing in messy relief. Even now I had a lump in my throat thinking about it. I wasn’t ready to stop having days like this. Not for any man in the world. I lifted my chin and looked directly into his handsome face. “I’m sorry, but I cannot accept your offer.”

He blinked. “You are refusing me?”

“Most apologetically, but firmly.” I was probably the only girl who would. Myles Cumberland was a squire’s son, well-educated and handsome to boot.

His neat mustache twitched. “After all the time we’ve spent together, I demand a reason.”

“As for the time together, my reason is simply that I enjoyed your company as another human being. As for the refusal . . . I cannot say.” How desperately I wished to, for the truth burned my tongue, but I restrained myself. There lay the problem with every failed courtship I’d ever experienced—the men had expected to lay claim to all I was, minus my brain. Female intelligence was an unwelcome intruder in every romance. But why? Why?

The music crescendoed and his voice grew loud. Urgent. “I must request that you tell me.”

I racked my brain, but found it overrun with patient data, clinical trials, and the periodic table, of all things. “We are not suited. Oil and water. Sodium and nitrogen.”

He frowned. “Sodium and . . . ?”

“Nitrogen is stable, and sodium would never react with it. In fact, sodium is stored—”

“In the queen’s English, please.”

I sighed. “There’s no combustion, no change to either element. They’re a terrible combination.” His eyes narrowed, and I pushed myself to land closer to the truth. “I do not have feelings for you that a wife should possess for her husband.”

“Perhaps I can change your mind.”

Not unless you can change yourself. I cut my thoughts short before they tumbled out of my mouth. “I’m sorry, but my answer is firm. I cannot marry you.”

He glared with the threat of argument in his eye.

Louder. Firmer. I collided into his arms as he stopped. “Myles, I do not love you.”

I froze in the sudden awareness that the music had ended—before I’d made my bold pronouncement. Chittering laughter and whisper filled the silence, and heat spidered up my face.

He stepped back and cleared his throat, voice low and private. “Well, now. It must be true, for you’ve ensured there are a hundred witnesses to verify your blatant lack of affection.”

“Myles, please don’t—”

“Good evening, Miss Duvall.” He bowed deeply. “Good evening, and goodbye.”


I escaped home and up to my attic room with a sickened heart, a biting conscience, and a burgundy-colored stain on my gown where I’d collided with someone’s drink. Fanny, our only maid, loosened the fastenings of my gown, then I dismissed her in a fit of agitation and pulled off the heavy gown myself. I had yet to face Father, who had buried himself deep in conversation at the reception. Hopefully the carriage had already returned for him so he wouldn’t be stranded long. I let down my hair, the great untamable mass of curls, and finished undressing.

Down to my chemise and stays, I donned a soft wrapper and shoved aside the notebooks and medical journals cluttering my desk. A little framed portrait smiled up at me and I leaned close to it. “Mama, I said no again.” I touched her face, forever preserved in the sepia-colored daguerreotype. It was a strange, rather starkly empty world when one’s mother was no longer in it, but here in this private attic dormer room, I felt traces of her. “I said no this morning to a doctor who tried to brush aside my concerns, and I saved a girl’s life. Then I said no to a man who wished to marry me . . . and I believe I saved my own.” I laid my cheek on the desk, tracing her gentle eyes. “Are you terribly disappointed?”

Her warm smile made it impossible to think she would be.

Yet the truth remained. I had a problem. Spinsterhood was setting in like a malignant disease, and I had an adverse reaction to the only remedy—marriage. I pulled out my lined notebook and fitted the last nib to my pen. It was time to address the illness, look for patterns, and determine an acceptable treatment.

The inevitable result of any friendship with the opposite gender seems to be, unequivocally, romance and matrimony—or a complete break. Therefore, the solution is that I must either give myself over to such a fate or end all friendships with the entire male population.

I recalled the bouncing lanterns of Lord Cumberland’s retreating carriage. Perhaps a lack of men in my life wouldn’t be terrible.

How anyone can find a remedy of any sort in—

The nib popped off my pen and went flying, rolling into the dark crevice on the left side of the desk. I attacked the little space with a hat pin, threading the nib out, and something crinkled as the nib inched out. I prodded deeper. A lovely vellum envelope appeared, still folded and sealed with wax, the corners softened by years. How long had it been there? I looked over the unmarked missive with delight, only hesitating a moment before breaking the seal and feasting on the lines meant for someone else.

Click here to read the entire first chapter of The Love Note!

Joanna Davidson Politano is the award-winning author of Lady Jayne Disappears and A Rumored Fortune. She loves tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives and is eager to hear anyone’s story.
She lives with her husband and their two kids in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan. You can find her at www.jdpstories.com.
ONE WINNER: Copy of The Love Note + $25 B&N Gift Card + Pack of 50 Love Notes Cards.
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