Today's before/after is Juliet Moore's Victorian romance, "Punish Me with Roses." It's a wee bit on the long side--I like to keep it below 180 words if possible--but I think it works.
After her cousin is fatally poisoned, Victoria Clavering becomes both an heiress and the number one suspect.
Fearing prosecution, Victoria escapes to her uncle's estate in Cornwall, a place of dark legends and intrepid smugglers. There is safety in avoidance … until she meets Alexander Trevelyn, the second son of a wealthy landowner.
Victoria falls for the handsome stranger, never realizing he's the man who's been sent to prove her guilt and make her pay.
Victoria needs to put her life back together and figuring out what really happened on that cold Christmas Eve her cousin died is the only way.
Christmas, 1847 may be the bleakest of pretty orphan Victoria Clavering's life. She lives under the thumb of her guardian Hugh Clavering, a callous man who begrudges her even the smallest kindnesses. When Hugh and his valet are poisoned on Christmas Eve, Victoria becomes both heiress and murder suspect.
Alex Trevelyn, the valet's cousin, is convinced she's guilty. As far as Alex is concerned, the world is divided into the completely innocent and the completely wicked, and Victoria is as wicked as they come. After all, Hugh left his money first to Alex's cousin and then to Victoria. With both men dead, she inherits it all.
Alex vows to bring her to justice--until they meet, and unexpected passion flares between them. Soon Alex finds himself trying to protect Victoria after a series of threatening notes attached to roses, even though he still believes she's guilty.
Victoria must convince Alex of her innocence and clear her name. Alex must learn that life is more shaded than simple black and white. And they've got to do it quickly, to save their love and Victoria's life.