An Excerpt from David Orsini’s
The Subtleties of Seduction
The morning after her father and Malcolm Turner had arranged things so that there would be no scandal, Linda Maguire awoke feeling uneasy. She had every right to believe that she had been betrayed. She had allowed herself, perhaps as a way of easing her sister Tracy’s grief over the recent death of their mother, to be caught up in a most awkward situation. The entire incident had been tinted with the moral ambiguities that she abhorred and that, she’d believed, her parents had influenced their daughters to abhor.
Casting its shadow upon them all, the episode had occurred within an extended July visit to the home of her fiancé Steven’s parents, Daniel and Olivia Bradford. She, her father, and her sister had been enjoying an agreeable month of summery activities radiating from the Bradfords’ superb estate in Newport, Rhode Island, while her father’s own splendid home a mile away on Ocean Drive was being revised by a team of architects, landscapers and interior designers. Within the four weeks of their visit in midsummer 1920, Daniel and Olivia had provided them with every resource of their hospitality that might allay the sorrow that had not left them even six months after her mother’s death. During what was for them an essential season of adjustment, she and her sister joined a small sailing party that included her always admirable Steven. In addition, there was Ryan Turner. Although he appeared to be a Harvard friend of the Bradfords’ younger son, Aaron, he made himself far more available to almost every other young person within convenient miles of the Bradfords’ imposing seaside property.
Ryan was a descendant of eminent Turners who had amassed their first fortunes in shipbuilding centuries earlier. Later they had amassed a profusion of more immense fortunes in iron, oil, and steel while acquiring the status of the legendary because of heroic exploits not only in various wars, but also in law and government. With careless assurance, he had drawn her sixteen-year-old sister into an ambiguous episode that might have compromised her. That this same Ryan Turner belonged to a family that had, through so many momentous ordeals and the most grievous personal tragedies, always maintained its obligations to the highest ethical standard, only made his wild youth’s indiscretions that much more dismaying. Although he was an assertive young man nearly twenty and well-trained surely in the code of behavior that men of his class were expected to represent dutifully and instantaneously (he was, after all, Malcolm Turner’s son), he did not always do his part. Too often, his actions were, if not wrong in their intention, certainly ambivalent in their resolution. By so behaving, he cast a cloud upon those friends whom he persuaded to join him in his adventures.