Lady Henrietta Parker, daughter of the Earl of Blakemoor, has turned down many a suitor for fear that the ton’s bachelors are only interested in her wealth. But despite the warnings of her dearest friends, Harriet and Hero, she can’t resist the challenge rudely posed by her stepsister: transform an ordinary London dockworker into a society gentleman suitable for the “marriage mart.” Only after a handshake seals the deal does Retta fear she may have gone too far . . .
When Jake Bolton is swept from the grime of the seaport into the elegance of Blakemoor House, he appears every inch the rough, cockney working man who is to undergo Retta’s training in etiquette, wardrobe, and elocution. But Jake himself is a master of deception—with much more at stake than a drawing room wager. But will his clandestine mission take second place to his irresistible tutor, her intriguing proposal . . . and true love?
Sydney dutifully becomes Lady Paxton, but, try as she might, she cannot forget Zachary’s kiss. Life intervenes for both of them, but the memory lingers even as she becomes a social success in London and he wages war in the Peninsula. Then suddenly she is a widow and he has control of her life.
LESSON LEARNED: The writer who separates the hero and heroine for a long period of time takes a huge gamble. I hope this one pays off.
Obviously blaming herself as children are wont to do, Justin Wingate’s daughter Joy has not spoken a word since her mother’s death. Still reeling from the loss of her husband and, most of all, for her young son, Meghan Kenwick agrees to attend a house party even though she knows the guests will include the man she holds responsible for her loss: Justin.
Originally a novella for an anthology. This one had to have a kitten because, as Editor John Sconamiglio said, “Kittens sell.” The problem: I am not much a fan of felines.
LESSON LEARNED: Kittens sell.
To protect her son from his abusive grandfather, widowed Lady Kathryn flees with the child and takes a position in Yorkshire as housekeeper for Jeremy Chilton, the beleaguered Earl of Kenrick who is trying to rescue his earldom from the clutches of a wily creditor. Kate is determined to protect her son, but how does she protect her own heart?
Two rather unrelated questions provided the seeds for this book. What did a “lesser” son–neither the heir nor the spare–do with his life, especially if he had no inheritance to sustain him? What recourse did a woman have in trying to protect her child in a society which accorded all legal control to men?
Headstrong and determined, Miss Nicole D’Arcy impetuously accepts when her cousins challenge her claim that she can pass herself as a cook in a refined household and hold the position for at least six weeks. She has not counted on an angry but oh-so-attractive wounded war hero as her employer.
A novella for an anthology with two other authors. It had to include a recipe. The problem: how to get a well-bred young woman of the ton into a kitchen.
LESSON LEARNED: Readers will accept even the most bizarre situations if one explains adequately.
American OSS agent Erin Forster, posing as a journalist in Nazi-occupied Paris, must locate a certain unidentified German officer. As a courier for a group plotting to kill Hitler, Major Alexander von Eisen is wary of anyone who could possibly be an agent of the Reich.
WWII was a total diversion for me. America has always benefitted from the work of female spies, never more so than in WWII. Fiction, but fact-based—from American female spy befriended by a German officer, to a baby born in an abandoned railroad car; from refugee lines to POW camps.
LESSON LEARNED: Self-publishing is a really hard way to go!!!!!
Playing nursemaid to a spoiled society girl is no job for a soldier in His Majesty’s Army, but Nathan is given little choice as he and the lady’s father pursue French spies. He soon discovers that Lady Allyson is not exactly as spoiled as he thought she was.
At least two readers objected to a ghost in a Regency, but I liked the spritely ten-year-old who had been around since the first George’s reign.
LESSON LEARNED: Sometimes you just gotta go with your gut.
Theo Ruskin, who unexpectedly becomes Viscount Amesbury, heir to his father’s earldom, is not only set on finding out the truth about his brother’s death, but is also determined to deal with labor unrest in the earl’s knitting mills and in the nation at large. Hannah Whitmore, the vicar’s attractive, but prickly daughter views him as part of the problem, not a solution.
Grittier. I wanted to take my characters out of the London ballrooms and drawing rooms to see how common English people coped.
LESSON LEARNED: The American experience notwithstanding, class warfare is an integral aspect of the universal human condition. However, many Regency readers prefer the fluff of ballrooms and drawing rooms.
There is not a great deal about either rules or marriage in this one. After the Battle of Badajoz in the Peninsular War, Major Jacob Forster literally owes life and limb to Mrs. Rachel Brady, who saved both for him. So, when her scoundrel of a husband sells her in a drunken “auction,” Jacob outbids all other contenders. Meanwhile, the war wages on through the Pyrenees and into France with Rachel now following the drum as before, but as a part of Major Forster’s small entourage.
Another one based on a composite of historical facts. Wife selling was the poor people’s method of divorce in an age when only the very rich could afford to dissolve a marriage. A longer look at the plight of women “following the drum” in the Peninsula.
LESSON LEARNED: Do not argue with your editor about a title.
When certain suitors embarrass Miss Annabelle Richardson, she retaliates by writing a satirical novel that takes the ton by storm. Unfortunately, Thorne Wainwright, Earl of Rolsbury, takes sharp exception to the resulting humiliation of his younger brother. As a writer and critic himself, he is determined to avenge the family honor.
This is a follow-up to THE TROUBLE WITH HARRIET which is a follow-up to THE WAGERED WIFE, but the books do not have to be read in order. Each is a stand-alone story.
LESSON LEARNED: Female writers often lived on the fringes.
Upon the deaths of her immensely wealthy husband and his titled father, Mrs. Harriet Knightly and Lord Marcus Jeffries, Earl of Wyndham, discover that they share custody of a wayward teenager, Annabelle Richardson. Harriet and Marcus clash over both the proper role and education of women, and over major political issues as Marcus tries to justify government positions under attack by a pesky newspaper writer known as the “Gadfly.”
A follow-up to THE WAGERED WIFE. The older brother demanded his own story.
LESSON LEARNED: In Regency England, a woman could be a journalist, but only if she did so discreetly—i.e., anonymously.
As a young man on the town Trevor Jeffries is duped into a wager which he ends up losing. He is obligated to marry a sixteen-year-old girl, Caitlyn, whom he does not know at all and whom he finds less than attractive. After a not-quite-blissful week of marriage, Trevor finds himself at the mercy of his aristocratic family who intervene to persuade him to agree to an annulment and be shipped off to the Peninsula. Seven years later he is his own man and Caitlyn, an accomplished and beautiful woman, is still his wife. But will she welcome him back into her life?
Inspired by a true story that was a “throw away detail” in a research source.
LESSON LEARNED: Truth makes good fiction.
Cymberly Winthrop willfully defies a society that would require that she marry a man with whom she was accidentally alone for several hours and thus “compromised.” Instead she chooses to join her soldier father and defies convention again by “following the drum” as a single woman through the Peninsular campaign. She even defies her heart in ignoring her attraction to Major Geoffrey Ryder whose distant relationship to her dead mother’s estranged aristocratic family she holds against him, though he repeatedly proves his courage and honor
When I had to cut my first book from 100k words to 70k, I had to abandon a whole chapter in which the hero, lying wounded and unconscious on a battlefield, is rescued by the heroine. THE WILLFUL MISS WINTHROP allowed me to retrieve that scene.
When her guardian tries to marry her off to an old reprobate in an effort to gain control of her wealth, Lady Elinor runs away. If only she can elude him for a few months, she will be able to claim her inheritance. As “Miss Palmer” she becomes governess to the children of the widowed Lord Trenville, an important member of the government with access to secrets French spies would dearly love to have. Elinor seems to have successfully escaped her guardian, but can she escape suspicion as a spy? More to the point, can she escape the forbidden attraction to her employer?
The heroine, daughter of a deceased earl, runs away to escape a marriage being contracted by her dastardly guardian. But how—in Regency England—could a single woman protect her virtue and her reputation? Her options: governess or paid companion. My bookish heroine chooses the former.
LESSON LEARNED: Research even the most insignificant details—sharks do not have skeletons! Who knew?
A strong sense of duty leads both Sarah Longbourne and Matthew Cameron to accept the dictates of the wills of her grandfather and his uncle. Can this marriage ever be anything more that a legalistic business arrangement?
Having been a fan of Regency novels for nearly 40 years, when I retired from teaching (the first time) I attempted to write one. Actually, I started it even earlier. Wrote a first chapter that was lost in the move when I left Germany. All I knew was that it would be a “marriage of convenience” story. The heroine would be a strong, independent woman trapped by both family and social mores; the hero would be a soldier in Wellington’s Peninsular army and equally “trapped” by his own sense of honor. I played with it for a couple of years and finally finished it in 1998. The manuscript was over 100k words. A Chicago agent, Jane Jordan Browne, agreed to try to sell it for me—IF I cut it to 70k words! I did so. And so did she.
Cutting it was embarrassingly easy! I saved one whole chapter to be used in a later book (as then unplanned, but the chapter was just too good to discard!).
Brevity truly is the soul of wit.
Never throw away something that might prove useful later.