Too Early for Christmas!
As though to emphasise the fact that there are only 11 weeks to go, I received copies of my two US-published Christmas anthologies, The Heart of Christmas, which contains a reprint of the story The Season for Suitors and Together By Christmas which has the first print publication of my very short novella The Unmasking of Lady Loveless. Together by Christmas also features the wonderful story Mistletoe Masquerade by our own Louise Allen and it’s a great pleasure and lots of fun to be sharing an anthology with Louise!
October is novella month for me really as I am also very proud to have a short story, The Elopement, in the RNA’s anthology Loves Me, Loves Me Not. I’ve included a short extract from the story below.
That’s it for books from me until next summer, when MIRA will be publishing my Brides of Fortune trilogy in the UK. I’m currently working on a new trilogy for HQN so I’ll be beavering away on that and also hoping to have a bit more time for research trips, talks and visits to historic houses – starting with Duart Castle, which I’ll be visiting next week whilst on my holidays!
“It was a fact universally acknowledged in the village of Marston Priors that Amanda, Lady Marston, although young, was the unchallenged arbiter of good manners.
“For,” as Mrs Duke said to Mrs Davy, “if Lady Marston feels it is inappropriate to travel even the shortest distance in a carriage without one’s personal maid, I am sure that you will never see me defying convention by going out alone.” Mrs Davy, who could not afford to employ a lady’s maid, agreed glumly.
It was therefore all the more surprising that on the morning of a fine April day the Marston household was rent by screams of shock and outrage emanating from Lady Marston’s bedchamber.
Amanda Marston had woken slowly and luxuriously that morning, as was her habit. She knew that the day was well advanced because Benson had drawn back the curtains and the spring sunshine was dappling the beautiful new Axminster carpet and drawing out all its rich and vivid colours. For a moment she lay still, admiring her taste in decoration. She knew she had an eye for design. It was one of her greatest accomplishments and showed impeccable judgment.
The scent of the hot chocolate lured her and she reached out a languid hand for the cup. Her fingers brushed the crisp parchment of the letter and she picked it up absent-mindedly, still mulling over whether the bed drapes required refurbishment and if so whether pale green would be an appropriate colour. And the material… Gauze, perhaps, although that might look dangerously like a harlot’s boudoir… Not that she knew anything of such things…
She read the first line of the letter with vague attention, the second with concentration and the third with outrage.
“My dear Amanda
It is with great pleasure that I can inform you that I have eloped with Mr Sampson. I have always hankered after participating in an elopement so you may imagine my pleasure now. I believe that the usual form of words on these occasions is: “Pray do not come after us.” I am of age several times over and know my own mind, so there is no point in either you or Hugo trying to fetch me back. Indeed, I hope you will both wish me happy. Your loving grandmother-in-law, Eleanor Pevensey.”
Amanda gave a shriek, an action that startled her as much as it did the footman on duty on the landing outside. Normally Amanda never screamed, not even in a ladylike manner over a dead mouse or small spider. Secretly she had always considered having the vapours to be a vulgar way of attracting attention to oneself. Now, however, she shrieked again as the true import of the letter struck her.
Lady Pevensey had eloped.
Lady Pevensey was entrusting herself and all her lovely fortune into the hands of a penniless curate.
Of all the outrages perpetrated by her husband’s seventy seven year old grandmother this was by far the most shocking. Lady Pevensey had been living at Marston Hall for six months and Amanda had found the old lady’s disregard for convention a serious trial. Lady Pevensey rode to hounds, swore like a trooper and forgot all about visiting hours but none of these offences against propriety was as dreadfully scandalous as an elopement.
Amanda realised that she was shaking so much that drops of chocolate had spilt on the beautiful linen of her bedclothes. Never had she felt so overset, not even when the silk for her new evening gown had been quite the wrong shade of rose pink. This was an entirely different sensation. She felt genuinely distressed. It was such a novelty that she almost stopped to examine her feelings but there was no time to spare.”