An Escape to Love: Two Regency Romances
Regency romance; historical fiction; clean romance; classic romantic fiction
The Courtship of Lord Blackhurst What happens when a lady falls in love, not with her betrothed, but rather with his cousin? Miss Priscilla Keenan has been promised to the Marquess of Blackhurst since her birth. The problem is: She has never laid eyes upon the man. So, when Blackhurst sends his cousin to York to assist Priscilla in readying Blackhurst’s home estate for the marquess’s return from his service in India, it is only natural for Priscilla to ask Mr. Alden something of the marquess’s disposition. Yet, those conversations lead Cilla onto a different path, one where she presents her heart to the wrong gentleman. How can she and Alden find happiness together when the world means to keep them apart? Inspired by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Courtship of Miles Standish,” this tale wants for nothing, especially not a happy ending, which it has, but that ending is not what the reader anticipates. Lord Radcliffe’s Best Friend Hendrake Barrymore, Lord Radcliffe, is a typical male, a bit daff when it comes to the ways of women, especially the ways of one particular woman, Miss Adelaide Shaw, his childhood companion, a girl who plays a part in every pleasant memory Drake holds. Yet, since he failed to deliver Addy’s first kiss on her fifteenth birthday, his former “friend” has struck him from her life just at a time when Radcliffe has come to the conclusion Adelaide is the one woman who best suits him. This tale is more than a familiar story of friends to lovers for it presents the old maxim an unusual twist.
There had been a time when they were inseparable, roaming the hills and valleys making up their fathers’ estates. Then he had been sent off to school and had returned home full of himself—too concerned with arrogance at being the future earl to find time to spend with the one person he had always considered as important to his self-worth as were his parents. Yet, soon, everything changed for both of them. It had been her fifteenth birthday. He, or rather, he should say, his mother, had presented Adelaide with two song birds in a cage, a gift from his family, and Addy had seemed so pleased to have them. She kept giving him looks, that, at the time, he did not understand, but would be thrilled to receive today. Then he had made a colossal error. His friends had teased him, egging Drake on until he maneuvered one of Lord Shaw’s maids into what he thought was an empty room so he might steal a kiss. He had never treated a servant of his father’s house or Shaw’s as such, but French and Scott had kept saying it was all a “lark” and expected of young lords. As the maid quickly agreed, Drake had foolishly thought them correct. Unfortunately, Addy was in the room he had chosen. It was not until days later had he wondered why she had been lurking in the shadows of her family’s library. Had she planned an assignation of her own? He had just tugged the maid into the room behind him and closed the door, positioning the girl along the wall, when Adelaide showed herself. “What do you think you are doing?” she demanded in sharp tones. He had searched for an explanation, but none came to him readily enough to satisfy Adelaide. Angry, she had struck him then—not a simple slap, but rather a solid punch to his side. If the blow had not made him wince, Drake would have known pride: He had taught her how to punch, while not breaking her thumb or any of her fingers. “You derelict! I thought you above such manipulations, but you are no better than those two coxcombs who accompanied you to my father’s house!” “Now, Addy,” he began. She punched him a second time. “Do not ‘Addy’ me, Hendrake Barrymore! I am ‘Miss Shaw’ to you, as you are ‘Lord Chadwick’ to me.” She turned her venomous tone on the maid. “If I were you, Iris, I would return to my ‘assigned’ duties and pray my mistress has a poor memory.” The girl scampered quickly from the room. He and Adelaide stood in silence, eyeing each other in a manner he had never thought to consider. When had Adelaide Shaw become such a fetching female? She stood there, chest heaving in anger, and he felt his manhood come to life. Regrettably, Addy did not appear to know the same awareness of him. “You do not mean to offer me an excuse for your behavior?” she demanded. Although Drake was not proud of his intentions, he was not about to admit himself in the wrong. She was not his parent. “It was only to be a simple kiss, Miss Shaw,” he said with a hint of authority, after all, he was the son of the Earl of Radcliffe. “For you, perhaps, it was a simple kiss,” Adelaide countered. “However, your actions have likely cost Iris her position in my father’s house. Her regrets will fall on my mother’s deaf ears, for the baroness does not tolerate such foolishness from her staff. It will be considered by both Lady Shaw and Iris as more than a simple kiss before this evening knows an end.” Drake had not considered the ramifications of his actions in those terms. “What do you wish of me, Adelaide? I have apologized. If you wish me to speak to your mother in Iris’s behalf, I will. I do not wish Iris to lose her position because of me.” “What do I wish from you?” she repeated in frustration. “Yes,” he answered in equal dismay. “I shall tell you what I want, my lord,” she accented each of her words by poking him in the chest with her index finger. “I want the return of my friend—the young man who was good and kind and thoughtful. I want that man to return to his sensibilities. I do not much care for the man you are becoming. I fear the earldom is doomed if this is the type of man you have designed for yourself.” He caught her finger and forcibly held her hand against his chest. He said softly, “I am the same Hendrake Barrymore you have always known, Adelaide. I promise.” “No, you are not,” she said as tears filled her eyes. “The Hendrake Barrymore I know would have recalled what he promised me on my twelfth birthday.” Drake searched his memory as to what she referred. At length, it dawned on him. “On your twelfth birthday, when you attempted to kiss me, I told you we would share your first kiss when you were fifteen.” He would not have minded that kiss, for she was, in his estimation, suddenly very desirable. “You wished a kiss when you were twelve and I was sixteen, but I told you you must be closer to becoming a woman to appreciate fully such a kiss.” Belatedly, he realized he had always been fascinated by Adelaide Shaw: She had been more than a valuable friend; she was his truest companion, the one who provided his life the perfect balance. “I would still be willing to share your first kiss, Addy.” His breathing hitched higher, anticipating the possibilities. She shoved away from him then. “I fear you are too late, my lord. My first kiss, or should I say, the echo of one, occurred in this very room not ten minutes prior. I found it quite dissatisfying! As to my second kiss, I would prefer it came from a man who held the same values as I. Enjoy your pursuits, my lord.” Then, she walked from the room and, essentially, from his life. Now, six years later, they were no closer than they had been when she left him standing alone in a dark room and regretting his choices. The one woman he wished to court—the one woman he thought might bring satisfaction to his world—despised him.
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What’s your favorite part about being a romance author?
First, the romance genre, is, quite obviously, a women-dominated field. It is, as a whole, a community of like-minded individuals. There is a sense of community not found in most other genres. My most loyal readers have become “friends” I have never met personally, but who wish me “Happy Birthday” on social media and are interested in my life outside of my books. They share pictures of their children, send me Christmas cards, etc. A romance writer can feel as if she “is home” with her readers. I grew up reading history and romance in my mother’s house. I combine the two in my stories. Holding a Ph.D., I wrote for the “literary world” in the past, which I sometimes found to be quite weary and oftentimes caustic. There is a smaller slice of the pie to go around. Not to say there are not reviewers who rip apart an author upon occasion, but, with romance, most will simply say, “This one is not for me, but, for other readers, it would be perfect.” The readers are not so cutthroat as in the literary world.
Here’s my tip to add romance to your love life:
Simply pick up the slack. Anticipate the other person’s needs. Take her car in for a good cleaning or an oil change. Do the dishes without being asked. Choose a gift she would not buy for herself, or perhaps she would if she was not one everyone’s emergency contact, even if you think she does not need another vintage style teapot or first edition book or whatever is her guilty pleasure.
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon CA account to win.
Runs February 1 – 28
Drawing will be held on March 1.
Regina Jeffers, an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era romances, has worn many hats over her lifetime: daughter, student, military brat, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, tax preparer, journalist, choreographer, Broadway dancer, theatre director, history buff, grant writer, media literacy consultant, and author. Living outside of Charlotte, NC, Jeffers writes novels that take the ordinary and adds a bit of mayhem, while mastering tension in her own life with a bit of gardening and the exuberance of her “grand joys.”
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