Guest blogger Annie Burrows
It’s a thrill to finally be blogging on this site, since I’ve been dipping into it for some time now. Amanda has invited me to tell you a bit about my next novel, which comes out in the UK in October in hardback, (ISBN 978 – 0- 263 – 20214 – 4) and in December in paperback.
Published by Mills & Boon, it is called “Captain Fawley’s Innocent Bride”
It is actually the third in a loosely linked series I have written, featuring a character who played a significant role in both “His Cinderella Bride” (my debut novel for Mills & Boon), and “The Earl’s Untouched Bride” which came out in a mixed line anthology in May.
In those earlier stories, we saw Captain Fawley undergoing rehabilitation into something approaching normal life after suffering horrific injuries at the battle of Salamanca. He tugged at my heartstrings so much, I just had to give him his own love story.
Now, I know there has recently been some controversy about heroes of romantic fiction all being tall, rich, and physically perfect specimens. In Captain Fawley, I have attempted to show that a man can be a romantic hero, without benefit of wealth, or good looks, (or possibly even height). The ex-soldier is wounded not only in body, but in spirit, and to begin with, it seems impossible that he should ever become whole again. But then he discovers his brother’s spinster aunt has made him a beneficiary of her will:
"You forget, perhaps, that I mentioned there were conditions attached to you inheriting anything,” said the Earl of Walton, with icy calm. “Until a few weeks ago, nobody, least of all myself, could have guessed you might want to meet them.”
“If I had known what they are, I would have been able to make the decision for myself!”
“Then do so now,” the Earl stated coldly. “If you truly wish to escape the ignominy of living on my charity, all you have to do is make a respectable marriage. For one thing my aunt made resoundingly clear. She had no wish to have a bachelor living in her house. But do not tarry, Robert. If you are not married by the time Percy attains the age of thirty, then the trustees have decreed everything will go to him. He is, after all, a blood relative, which you are not.”
Robert felt as though the wind had been knocked out of him. No woman in her right mind would marry him. He knew it. Charles knew it. That was why he had not told him about the legacy. Knowing that a fortune lurked forever just beyond his reach would only have added a further layer of torture to his existence.
He slumped back into his chair. It was not even as though Percy Lampton needed the money as much as he did. Lampton lived a comfortable, independent bachelor lifestyle. Whereas he was completely dependent on his brother. His half brother, he corrected himself.
If only there was some way out. Or at least, some way he could prevent Percy getting his hands on his Aunt Euphemia’s fortune. His mind revolved over what Walton had just told him about this will. All he had to do, apparently, was to persuade a respectable female to marry him. Yes, that was all, he reflected bitterly. Persuade some poor woman to wake up to the nightmare of his face upon her pillow every morning.
He damned the Lamptons volubly, and comprehensively, before addressing his second glass of brandy.
He had hated the name of Lampton for as long as he could remember. They had destroyed his mother, blighted his childhood with their insinuations of his illegitimacy, and made no secret of the fact they had hoped he would die in some foreign country while he was on active service. The French had done their damnedest, but he was not an easy man to kill. He had survived an explosion, two amputations, a fever, and gruelling months of rehabilitation.
Even in his darkest hour, when he had felt he had nothing left to live for, he had refused to let them beat him.
And he was not going to let them beat him now.
If Percy Lampton thought he was going to sit back while he waltzed off with his inheritance, then he was very much mistaken.
He would find a way to best all the Lamptons.
His face twisted into a mask of hatred.
And he didn’t much care how low he might have to stoop to do so.
And so, the race to find a bride is on!
Can Captain Fawley find a woman who can look beneath the surface scarring to his heart?
And, will he be able to persuade her to marry him, before his odious cousin (tall and handsome, but very definitely NOT hero material) can claim the inheritance that will have the power to transform his life?
Hope you enjoy this tale of a very different type of hero, as much as I enjoyed creating him!