I´m very excited to share my good news with you. My latest Regency romance, A Reason to Rebel, has been accepted for publication by Samhain in America. It will appear as an e-book in April 2009 and then as a paperback in February 2010.
The book examines the difficulties faced by a young widow. Left penniless by her late husband her father tries to force her into another marriage in order to further his own ambitions. Estelle is dutiful to a fault but this time she has been pushed too far and has a reason to rebel. She flees to the estate of Alexander, Viscount Crawley, posing as Miss Tilling, a displaced governess, and takes up a position as companion to Lord Crawley´s mother. These are the thoughts that pass through Alex´s head at his first sight of her.
Miss Tilling was attired in a russet-coloured travelling gown. It was trimmed with green braid and complemented with a matching bonnet that struggled to contain an abundance of wayward auburn curls. Several had escaped and trailed across her shoulders in arresting spirals but if Miss Tilling noticed their rebellious turn she did not attempt to rectify the situation. To Alex´s eye her costume appeared rather grand for a governess. He would have expected something more serviceable and less fashionable, but the colour became her so well that he did not dwell upon the incongruity.
The girl was exceptionally thin and walked slowly up the steps to the door which Phelps was holding open for her. She leanred heavily on the coachman´s arm the whole time. Alex raised a brow. Either she really was unwell or she was an exception actress. She drew closer to his vantage point and he suspected it was the former, as what little he could see of her face beneath the wide brim of her bonnet was deathly pale.
As though sensing his presence she lifted her head at that precise moment and turned it in his direction. Alex let out an oath of astonishment. He could see her features more clearly now but had not been prepared to encounter such wild beauty. His preconceived notion that all governesses had a duty to be unremarkable was immediately brought into question.
She looked exhausted, ready to drop with fatigue. Any air of vulnerability clung to her and her expression hinted at a great sadness. It overwhelmed Alex with a desire to banish whatever demons afflicted her and persuade her to smile. Miss Tilling´s features softened by a genuine smile would, he suspected, be an experience worth the effort it required to bring it about. He quickly suppressed the thought. She was to be a temporary guest in his house, a house in which he would spend precious little time over the next few weeks. Provided Miss Tilling proved to be an acceptable companion for his mother, naturally.
But still his eyes did not leave her person. Miss Tilling had resumed her ascent of the steps and he could no longer see her face but that was no impediment to his imaginatiion. The appearance of her arresting eyes seemed intent upon lingering in his mind, tormenting him with their compelling expression. They were quite the most remarkable eyes he had ever encountered in a female face. If this creature really had been dismissed from her position Alex had no difficulty in believing that a jealous wife had seized upon her illness as an excuse to remove temptation for her husband´s path. What man worthy of the name would be able to resist the allure of such exquisitely displaced features, enhanced by those damned eyes? They were expressive pools, blinking with a combination of curiosity and intelligence as she took in her surroundings.
But what colour were they? For some inexplicable reason it was important that he should know. Hazel to complement the hue of her hair he would be willing to wager, although he could not tell from this distance. What he did know as that in the brief seconds they had turned in his direction he could feel the weight of a great sorrow in their reflection. Something more than a slight fever afflicted this child if he was any judge. Once again he felt the overpowering need to act as her protector. For the second time in less than a minute he found himself desirous of witnessing her remarkable features enchanced by a smile.
Well, it would seem that Estelle has made quite an impression upon her host, without even being aware of it.
More next time.