Here are the first few pages of this book-
Westerville, Ohio 1855
Her customary walk across the college quadrangle had become an executioner’s march.
Kate’s heeled shoes clunked over the flagstones. Her full skirt and horsehair crinoline
dragged from her waist, too warm even for this mild May morning.
black iron door handle with a clammy palm. The dim foyer led to the lecture hall. Her breath
came faster and her corset squeezed her lungs. It had not felt so tight when the maid laced it an
hour ago. Up ahead loomed the dark rectangle of the hall’s oaken door, which stood ajar.
At the threshold, she paused. Inside the hall, a baritone voice lifted in clear, well-
balanced phrases. The speaker’s persuasive power carried even here. Ben Hanby. He was the
best orator in the class. She laid a hand to her midsection to quell the pulsing nausea there. If she
did not go in now, she would not go at all.
At her push, the door swung open to reveal rows of masculine shoulders in dark coats, all
heads turned toward the speaker. Each gentleman’s neat coattails fell open over his knees, black
against the polished wood floor. Each white collar rose to the sweep of hair worn according to
the current vogue, longer than a Roman’s but never past the collar.
On the raised platform beyond them, Ben Hanby stood, as natural and poised as if he
were alone in the room, his dark hair thick over his brow. His eyes were intent, his face alive
with interest in his subject, but his words floated past Kate in a wash of sounds her jumping
nerves could not interpret. Of course speaking came easily for him—his father was a minister.
He finished with a question to the audience, and even her disrupted attention caught the
subtle humor in the lift of his eyebrow as he delivered his line straight-faced. A chuckle rose
from the young men, echoed in the lighter laughter of the small party of young lady scholars
seated with their chaperone on the end of the front row.
Ben Hanby descended the stairs, the barest smile appearing as he exchanged glances with
“Miss Winter.” Professor Hayworth’s bass rumbled across the hall.
She froze on the threshold. Heads turned toward her. Her skin tingled in waves of heat,
her heart kicked in an uneven cadence. Could it stop from such fright?—the thought made it
worsen, like a stutter in her chest that could not move on to the next beat.
“I am glad you choose to join us today.” Professor Hayworth spoke to her from the dais,
beside the podium, full bearded in his formal black robe. “You have arrived just in time to give
the first of our ladies’ speeches.”