Here it is! I asked my designer Lee at Halo Studios for pretty and romantic and that is exactly what he gave me. Also, below is my first draft of the blurb. Unlike my Masquerade Series, this one definitely stops, as Barbara Cartland famously declared that a romance novel should, at the bedroom door.
Her Foolish Heart is the story of a growing love between two delightful people who are made for each other, although only one of them knows it.
It has been seven long and empty years since Marianne’s dream of love was snuffed out by a French bullet at the siege of Badajoz. Her bloom has faded and now she is a mere drudge at the beck and call of her selfish stepmother and unfeeling sister. Then she meets Lord Marchmount, a man so like her dead lover in appearance that the heart she thought buried in the grave revives with new life and hope.
But Beau Laurier, Arbiter of Fashion and leader of the ton, wants Marianne for himself and is determined to thwart her blossoming romance.
My new traditional (clean) Regency is almost ready to roll out. My designer, Lee at Halo Studios, is working on the cover and I am about to hand it over to my editor who will ensure I haven’t committed such unforgivable sins as dangling modifiers or run-on sentences. Then one last polish and brush up and I think it should be ready in a couple of weeks.
So, as a taste of what is to come here is the first chapter of:
Her Foolish Heart
Heatherton Hall, in the county of Somerset, was the property of Sir Richard Dudley, a gentleman of limited income, many liabilities and optimistic disposition. He was the possessor of a handsome wife, his second, two unmarried daughters and a son just down from Oxford.
At the present time they were all together, for it was Christmas and Edward, the son and heir, had reluctantly consented to celebrate the season under the paternal roof. The young ladies were seated in the morning-room with their Mama, while the gentlemen had strolled out of doors to inspect the latest addition to Sir Richard’s stable.
‘Well my dear, I hope your brother may be tolerably amused,’ remarked Lady Dudley to Miss Aurelia Dudley in her usual plaintive tone. ‘I had thought of getting up a little dance for you all. What do you think? Would it answer?’
‘Oh Mama, only think how tedious,’ answered Aurelia, petulantly. ‘I dare say we could not find more than five couples that we would care to stand up with and I think I may answer for it that my brother would be intolerably bored.’
The elder Miss Dudley, the child of Sir Richard’s first marriage and, at six-and-twenty, some seven years older than her half-sister, interposed, although she had not been asked her opinion. ‘You mean that you would be bored, Aurelia. How very cross you are. I think it would be charming, Mama.’
The sisters were not at all alike. Marianne was the image of the dark-haired, dainty mother who had died at Edward’s birth. Miss Aurelia, on the other hand, was tall, angelically fair and so very lovely that even her habitually discontented expression quite failed to destroy her beauty.
‘I’m sure you are in the right of it, Aurelia, my love,’ said Lady Dudley, ignoring Marianne. ‘It is a pity there are so few families in the County worthy of visiting.’
‘To be sure. But as Marianne is not so nice, I am sure Mrs. Carter would be delighted to take her to the next assembly.’ She turned on her sister. ‘You may be sure of seeing all your common friends there and we will be spared the trouble of entertaining them at the Hall.’
Her strict sense of propriety prevented Marianne from entering into arguments with her stepmother but she was perfectly capable of dealing with her sister. ‘I am sorry you find my friends common. You move in such very refined circles yourself, of course.’
Aurelia gave an angry titter. ‘I suppose you mean to taunt me with the fact that your grandpapa was an earl while mine was but a Bristol merchant. I daresay he could have bought and sold your precious earl!’
‘Oh, I am sure you are right. But, just a hint Aurelia dear, it’s rather vulgar to talk about it.’
‘Oh, I do not dwell on it except that since Grandpapa made me his heiress, I shall expect to make a much better match than you, who will have nothing but what Papa settles upon you. Although how you expect to receive an offer at all considering the appearance you present, I do not know. I should be ashamed to be seen in such a plain gown. No wonder you are unmarried and on the shelf.’ She glanced down at her own over-trimmed gown with satisfaction.
This attack left Marianne as unmoved as the other. She had never admired the style her stepmother and sister favoured. Her gown was of soft, leaf-green merino, made high at the neck with just a ruffle of starched, white linen to frame her face. The sleeves were long, with tight cuffs, each fastened with a row of buttons that reached to her elbow. She looked elegant and ladylike which was all that she cared for. She had long accepted that, as her sister had so kindly reminder her, she was on the shelf.
Aurelia picked up a book and flipped idly through the pages. After a few minutes she began to fidget and, glancing at the clock, she wondered irritably where her father and brother had got to. ‘For Edward promised to take me into Taunton this morning and if he does not come in soon there will not be time before luncheon. I am particularly anxious to go this morning because I wish to discover when the ball at the Castle is to be.’
‘Really, is it certain then?’ enquired Marianne, looking up from her embroidery with delicately raised brows.
‘Well, Susan had it from her sister who is under parlour-maid. However, one cannot be sure and so I want to talk to Mr Tully, for he is certain to know.’
Fairmile Castle was the property of the Earl of Reddish, the largest landowner in the area. He rarely visited Somerset for his principal seat was in Norfolk but he was to spend the festive season among them for the first time in many years. He was a middle-aged man, a recent widower and childless. The news of his arrival would have created little interest in the neighbourhood had it not been rumoured that he would bring a large party of guests with him. Guests must be entertained and the young ladies in the neighbourhood thought it highly probably that the Earl would give a ball for them. From thinking it likely, they were very soon thinking it a certainty and no one was more impatient than Miss Aurelia to discover when the great event was to take place.
Marianne agreed that Mr Tully, the grocer, was the person most likely to be acquainted with what was going forward at the Castle, but she deplored her sister’s curiosity. It offended her pride that her family should be so very interested in the doings of the Earl, while she was tolerably certain that his lordship took not the slightest interest in them.
Before Aurelia had jumped up to look out of the window more than a dozen times, the gentlemen returned to the house. They walked into the peaceful morning room arguing amicably over the new acquisition’s points, thus awakening Lady Dudley who had been snoring gently on the sofa. Edward, a well-made, handsome young man with his sister’s dark hair and wide-set, grey eyes, was immediately reminded of his promise by his younger sister, and as they had all fallen into the habit of doing what Aurelia demanded of them, he agreed to drive her into the village in his sporting curricle. She hurried off to put on her pelisse and bonnet, leaving Edward to seat himself beside Marianne.
‘How do you go on, Sis? Pretty well I hope.’
She smiled at him and reached out a hand to straighten his neckcloth. ‘Quite well thank you, Ned’
He put an arm around her and gave her a quick hug. ‘I know. You do not have tell me. I can see Aurelia has been her usual sweet self. You should stand up to her.’
‘Oh, I am accustomed to it. And you can hardly talk. Look how she pestered you into taking her into Taunton when I know that you do not in the least want to.’
‘Well, you know how I hate a row. Anyway, I’m only here for a couple of weeks. You have to live with her.’
‘She is not always so tiresome. She is merely a little spoiled, and very bored.
Sir Richard strolled over to his wife’s side from the fireplace where he had been warming his hands. ‘Well, well, it is good to see the family gathered together like this. It is all too rare that I have you all under my roof.’
‘Indeed it is,’ agreed his wife, smiling amiably at her husband. ‘I am sure I have not seen Ned for a twelvemonth for he was to have come to us this summer but nothing came of it.’
Edward looked a little uncomfortable at this and murmured something about it being time to be off. When Aurelia returned she was agreeably surprised to find him not only ready but eager to be gone.
‘Do you care to come too, Marianne?’ asked Edward as they were on the point of departing.
‘Good Heavens, what are you thinking of?’ exclaimed Aurelia sharply. ‘We should be so crowded!’
‘Oh no, Marianne cannot go. I need her to sort my silks,’ interrupted Lady Dudley eagerly.
Marianne had half risen, as indeed she would have enjoyed a ride in an open carriage on this crisp, bright day. But in the face of such decided opposition she sat down again.
Sir Richard, who appeared at times to be willfully blind to the conduct of his wife and daughter, now spoke with some displeasure. ‘Your silks are not a matter of urgency I think, Lady Dudley, and you, Miss, will scarcely find yourself incommoded by your sister’s joining you. The jaunt will do her good, she looks pale. Run and put on your bonnet, my dear.’
While Marianne went composedly to do as she was bid, Sir Richard maintained a disapproving silence which Aurelia did not dare to break. She was very much in awe of her father and usually took care not to tease or scold her sister while he was present. Edward, meanwhile, was enduring a comprehensive lamentation from Lady Dudley upon the state of her health, the inclemency of the weather and the lack of eligible society in the neighbourhood.
‘Here she is!’ Edward exclaimed, jumping up from the sofa, relieved to escape further grumblings from his stepmother. ‘That’s a very pretty bonnet, love.’
She smiled charmingly, revealing unexpected dimples. The compliment was all the more acceptable as she had, with her own hands, fashioned the high crowned bonnet of ruched, plum-coloured velvet, trimmed with dusky-pink, silk anemones. Miss Aurelia gave an exclamation of impatience. ‘Well, are we going or are we to stand here admiring Marianne’s hat?’
‘We are going, Miss,’ responded Edward, casting her look of dislike as they left the morning room. ‘And I’ll tell you what, if you do not sweeten that temper of yours, you’ll never get a husband.’
‘Well I am sure Marianne’s temper is meek enough and she has not found one.’
Edward frowned. ‘You know very well she would have been married years ago but that poor Deveril was killed.’
Marianne, who had been listening to this passage with composure intervened, ‘That will do, Ned. I know Aurelia does not mean to be unkind.’
Her sister had the grace to look a little ashamed and climbed with unusual meekness into the carriage.
Most books sell well in the first few weeks and then there’s a drop off. In the world of traditional publishing, these books are remaindered, pulped and never seen again except in charity shops. But, the wonderful thing about e-books is that they hang around for, as far as we know, all eternity. So it’s possible to give them a new lease of life.
Merry Masquerade will, therefore, be on sale for a month, 99cents in the US, 77p in the UK and a corresponding reduction on all other Amazon sites.
Merry Masquerade is as frothy as a glass of champagne, as frivolous as a pink parasol and as sexy as Victoria’s Secret underwear. My heroine, Clarissa, is feisty, funny and knows exactly what she wants. And what she wants is Robin, handsome, wicked, down-on-his luck and madly in lust.
Masquerading as maidservant, Rose, to escape an odious suitor, she allows Robin and his eccentric aunt to teach her to speak, eat, dress and dance like a lady, all things she knows as well, if not better, than they do. She drinks from finger bowls, trips up her partner in the waltz and drives her poor mentors insane with her sudden and always inconvenient lapses into a broad Devonshire accent.
But the odious suitor is in pursuit and things become a little darker and a little more dangerous for the lovers. Should Clarissa trust Robin to keep her safe?
Amazon.co.uk Merry Masquerade (A Regency Masquerade)
Amazon.com Merry Masquerade (A Regency Masquerade)
I am so happy to be able to say that Magical Masquerade is available in paperback from Amazon at: Magical Masquerade: A Regency Masquerade (Volume 4)
And the Createspace store at: https://www.createspace.com/4725574.
Everyone loves a rogue and Mysterious Masquerade has more loveable rogues than you can shake a stick at! My hero, Tristan, Duke of Staynes, is Darcy with a dash of James Bond; but my heroine, Angel Graham, is no Miss Moneypenny. She is more than capable of holding her own in the murky world of espionage, just as she can adorn a ton party and play a nifty game of Vingt-et-Un.
Angel is one of my favourite heroines. As a reader on Amazon has said: I particularly liked Angelica, as she was strong and definitely no damsel in distress. Even Tristan recognized that she was strong when one of the bad characters attempted to use Angelica as a shield and Tristan just looked over and knew that Angelica had things under control.
Mysterious Masquerade is another novel that started life many years ago. I began it in California in 1993 if memory serves. I finished about half of it but life issues intruded. We moved house, then country and by the time I picked it up again I was involved with other projects. I always promised myself I would finish it someday and when I embarked on my Masquerade series I realised this one, with a little adjustment, would fit perfectly.
Moonlight Masquerade is not just the first in the Regency Masquerade series, it is also the first book I ever wrote. It began life in 1976 as The Silk Purse. Since then it has been, variously, The Master of Hawkwood, The Cat’s Cradle, and finally Moonlight Masquerade. The names of the character’s have also changed several times as has the nature of my heroine. To quote myself in one of my Delia Darling monologues ‘When I first began to write the heroine was of course a virgin and remained so throughout the book. Now editors just demand sex, sex and more sex. How they expect one to find the time to write I really don’t know!
So the innocent, submissive little heroine, Arabella, of The Silk Purse transformed over a period of nearly 40 years into strong, sensual, and far from submissive Amarylis Trent. She is still a girl wooed for her fortune by the handsome hero, who naturally falls deeply in love with her, but she is playing her own game with the dashing Marquis and Merry Trent is nobody’s fool.
I’m so glad now that The Silk Purse never saw the light of day. It was, quite frankly, rotten. Most writers should probaly trash their first efforts. Georgette Heyer, indeed, successfully supressed several of her early works. I found them all in the UCLA Graduate School library and I think she overreacted. They aren’t bad, they’re just not as brilliant as her later works when she had found her wonderful, distinctive voice.
A magical Regency re-telling of Beauty and the Beast
Beauty is Minette de Saint Saze, a lovely innocent who must save her twin sister’s honour at the cost of her own virtue. The Beast is His Grace the Duke of Rochford, a bitter man with a heart as scarred as his own, once handsome, face.
Minette reluctantly takes her sister’s place in Camer Castle, the lair of the Beast, where she learns to know the real man behind the cynical mask Rochford presents to the world. She longs to heal his terrible hurt, yet she knows that, for her sister’s sake, he must never suspect that the girl who is falling in love with him is not the society Beauty who accepted his fortune and scorned his passion.
As love flames into desire, Minette comes to understand that the only true happiness she will ever know is in the arms of this damaged man who does not, and never can, belong to her.