Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Once More My Love

I have been reading romances since before I probably should have been. In our upstairs hallway we had a big chest of drawers built into the wall and the bottom right hand drawer was filled with - wonders of all wonders - BOOKS! But not just any books. These books had beautiful covers of ravishing women and swash buckling men. They promised adventure and romance and passion. They kept me up late many a night pouring through their pages, my heart pounding and my stomach in a tight coil of anxiety as I wondered if the dashing hero would win the fair heroine. 

These "bodice rippers" as they're known today were my first experience with historical romance. Since then I've gone on to become a great fan of Lisa Kleypas, Judith McNaught, Jude Deveraux, and Julie Garwood (yes, yes, 'J' names really ARE the best) but I've always held a special place in my heart for those tattered books that served as my first introduction to the tried and true formula of a romance novel. 

And it was because of those books that I was inspired to write the Wedded Women Quartet, not because I wanted to write books similar to those I'd read, but because I wanted to write something different. 

Brooding hero meets young, gorgeous (and innocent) debutante. There is an instant attraction, but for reasons outside of their control they can't be together. Angst ensue, it appears they are going to leave each other for good at least once, and then the "big understanding" happens and they live happily-ever-after, usually after getting married. 

Sound familiar? 

(It should, especially if you've read The Runaway Duchess!)

While I admittedly adore romance novels that follow this formula and have written one of my own, I also was always left to wonder "what next?" What happens after the happily-ever-after? Do they live in bliss for the rest of their lives? Well, they're human, so the answer to that is a big fat no. That's the idea I used to shape the Quartet. It's also the idea I used when writing my new novella, whose title I'm going to tell you in just a little bit. 

This one takes place shortly after The Runaway Duchess although the hero and heroine met long before that. As in, thirty years before when they were engaged to be married. But Reginald was a future duke and Abigail was the third daughter of a baron -- hardly a match made in aristocrat heaven. The engagement was broken and they parted ways.  

Thirty years go by. Reginald has just laid his wife to rest, a woman he liked but never loved. Abigail is living by herself in London, a spinster of forty-seven. They moved on with their lives, but they never forgot each other, no matter how hard they tried. 

That sets up the premise for the novella, which is called (dun dun dun).....


Here's a short excerpt, taken from Chapter Four. Abigail has just learned of Reginald's return to London, and he's wasted no time in tracking her down. 

 “I have moved back to Ashburn House permanently.” Reginald sat up, pushing his spine into the rigid back of the chair. “I am only in London for a short time on business, but I knew I needed to see you. I had to see you.”
He saw the moment Abigail's resolve cracked. Her entire body trembled, one hard jolt that moved her to the edge of her seat. A line appeared between her brows, sinking deep into the ivory skin. Taking a deep breath she lowered her head as though to compose herself, and when she raised it again there was a defiant gleam in her eyes that had not been there before and he could not help but think: there she is – there’s my girl.
“You married someone else, Reginald. You left me and you married someone else.”  It was not an accusation, but rather a fact. A fact that had changed both of their lives forever.
“I know I did, and you know the reasons. But I’ve come back—”
“Thirty years too late. You’ve come back thirty years too late. I thought I could do this,” she muttered, more to herself than to him. “I thought I could sit here and listen to you, but I cannot.” The overwhelming hurt in her eyes cut to his very soul. “I will not. You broke my heart when I was a girl, Reginald. I will not give it back to you so you can break it again. You need to leave now.”
He stood up as something akin to panic flooded his chest, making it hard to breathe. He couldn’t leave, not yet. Not before he made it better. Not before he made them better. Damn it all to hell. He’d had thirty years to prepare for this moment – thirty years – and he was mucking it all up. “Abby, if you would just listen—”
“What could you possibly say?” Standing as well, she crossed her arms tight over her chest and glared at him through the sparkle of tears that clung to her lashes. “Nothing,” she said before he could utter a word. “There is nothing left to be said. Let the past be the past, and please go.” 
“I do not want the past to be the bloody past!” He was shouting, but he didn’t give a damn. He would shout until every window in the house cracked if it would make her listen to him. In a rare show of temper he kicked the table between them aside with one furious sweep of his foot. It skidded across the floor and flipped on its side, fracturing a slender leg in the process. Abigail’s eyes went wide.
“Out,” she hissed, jabbing her finger at the door. “Now.” 

Look for the cover reveal next Wednesday, the 4th of September!

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