This is funny, I was just re-reading Dashiell Hammet’s The Maltese Falcon (It all goes back to Humphrey Bogart) and what do I run across on a fellow author’s, Suzanne Purvis’ blog?
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt, This is My Story
Another one from last December. The giveaway is over….
Our next guest, Linda McLaughlin, is here to tell us a little bit about her Regency romance novel, Lady Elinor’s Escape, and the era and area in which it’s set. Miss Linda, why don’t you come on over here by the fire and, whenever you’re ready, tell us about your intrepid Miss?
I’ve been in love with historical fiction for most of my life, and Regency romance is one of my favorite subgenres. In 2003, shortly before Lady Elinor’s Escape was released, I had the pleasure of a jaunt through the “Regency triangle” of London, Bath and Brighton. It was one of the most enjoyable trips of my life. The photo on the book’s cover was adapted from one I took during my trip.
Lady Elinor’s Escape is kind of a Cinderella story in reverse. Though Elinor is well-born, the daughter of an earl, like Cinderella she is trapped in an untenable situation, stuck with a crazy, abusive aunt rather than a wicked stepmother. Elinor’s only hope is to escape to London where she hopes to send a message to her father, who is currently stationed in Lisbon. While in London, she pretends to be a seamstress in the shop of her mother’s former maid, Mimi, who plays the role of Fairy Godmother. The hero, Stephen Chaplin, plays the role of Prince Charming, though his social status is below hers, yet another complication once he realizes the woman he rescued is really a lady.
This isn’t your typical Regency romance. Much of the action takes place in the shop, showing a different side of the Regency. Not everyone lived in a grand town house with servants at their beck and call. Staying with Mimi gives Elinor a taste of “real life” and the experience makes her a stronger, more compassionate person.
Oh, I forgot to mention the book was a Finalist in the Regency Category of the 2005 Golden Quill Contest, sponsored by the Desert Rose Chapter of RWA.
Lady Elinor Ashworth always longed for adventure, but when she runs away from her abusive aunt, she finds more than she bargained for. Elinor fears her aunt who is irrational and dangerous, threatening Elinor and anyone she associates with. When she encounters an inquisitive gentleman, she accepts his help, but fearing for his safety, hides her identity by pretending to be a seamstress. She resists his every attempt to draw her out, all the while fighting her attraction to him.
There are too many women in barrister Stephen Chaplin’s life, but he has never been able to turn his back on a damsel in distress. The younger son of a baronet is a ‘rescuer’ of troubled females, an unusual vocation fueled by guilt over his failure to save the woman he loved from her brutal husband. He cannot help falling in love with his secretive seamstress, but to his dismay, the truth of her background reveals Stephen as the ineligible party.
Read an excerpt:
(Note: Elinor has run away from her abusive aunt who hit her the day before. She meets Stephen Chaplin at a nearby inn.)
“Excuse me, madam, but I could not help overhearing you say that you must leave for London immediately. Allow me to introduce myself. Stephen Chaplin, Esquire, at your service.”
Elinor turned to face the gentleman who had suddenly appeared. She stared at him through a haze of black, taking advantage of her veil to get a closer look at this tall, dark-haired, seemingly well bred gentleman. He was above average height, with finely chiseled features, and while he could not, strictly speaking, be deemed handsome, there was something in the intense scrutiny of his light brown eyes that drew her to him. By the cut of his bottle green Superfine coat, which emphasized his broad shoulders, but was not so tight as to hamper movement, and his casually tied neckcloth, she surmised he was no society dandy.
“How do you do?” she said politely, extending one black-gloved hand.
“Fine, thank you.”
As he took her hand and bowed over it, Elinor savored the warmth of his touch for a moment. It had been a long time since someone had touched her out of kindness. Suddenly realizing she was clutching his hand, she withdrew hers. He studied her, his gaze seeming to penetrate the veil, and she could only stand like the veriest lump under his scrutiny.
“I beg your pardon, madam, but what did you say your name was?”
“Eli—” Elinor broke off and feigned a cough, panic bubbling up inside. Her name. Dear heavens, she needed a new name. If she told him who she was, he would never agree to take her to Mimi. She stared down at the gentleman’s yellow nankeen trousers and shiny brown boots. “Brown,” she stammered. “Ellie Brown.”
“Mrs. Brown, may I offer my assistance? I’m heading for London myself and would be pleased to convey you as far as Chippenham, where you may pick up another stage coach.”
Relief flooded through her at his offer, but could she trust him? No proper young lady rides in a closed carriage with a gentleman who is not related to her. The words of her governess rang in her ears. “I do not think—”
“Of course, you are cautious,” he interrupted smoothly. “Any genteel lady would hesitate to trust a strange gentleman.”
“But I am not a lady,” she blurted. If Aunt Sarah learned that a ‘lady’ had been here, she would know where to look for her. “I am merely a seamstress.”
“Really,” he drawled, doubt evident in his tone.
“Yes, I have a position awaiting me in London.” She was surprised, and a bit uncomfortable, at how easily the lies flowed from her lips, but they were necessary.
“Then you had best accept my offer, lest your position go to someone else. Miss Wainwright can vouch for me. We traveled here together from London. Nancy,” he called out. “Over here.”
A young serving woman who was obviously in the family way approached them. “What can I do fer ye, Mr. Chaplin?”
“I have offered to convey Mrs. Brown to London, but she is not sure I can be trusted.”
Nancy giggled. “Oh, ma’am, ye’ve naught to fear. Mr. Chaplin’s the finest gentleman I’ve ever met. And we gets quite a few gents here at the Horse and Cart.”
“Yes, I expect you do.” And not all of them honorable, Elinor thought with a glance at Miss Wainwright’s belly.
Elinor pondered her choices. It was either Stephen Chaplin in a closed carriage or back to Aunt Sarah’s cottage where, at best, she would be locked in her bedroom after today’s escapade. And at worst…
She remembered Aunt Sarah’s pistol and promptly made up her mind. Stephen Chaplin was undoubtedly the lesser of two evils.
“Very well, sir, I accept your escort.”
“Would you care for some breakfast first?”
The inn was warm and she’d like nothing better than to settle near the fire and break her fast. Her stomach felt like it was stuck to her backbone, but she shook her head, afraid to stay a moment longer.
Scant minutes later, Mr. Chaplin led her outside to a closed traveling carriage standing in the inn yard. He must be a gentleman of some means, she mused, to have his own carriage. He supervised the loading of their luggage then held out his hand to help her into the carriage. As she stepped up, the wind caught her veil and blew it upwards. For a second she had a clear glimpse of his startled face.
He had seen the bruise.
Oh, poor Elinor. I’d go with Stephen, myself, how ’bout you gals? Well, care to give us a little peek at the trailer, Linda? I hear tell it’s very well done. 😉
Linda McLaughlin sold her first romance novel in 1997 to Kensington Precious Gems. Since then she has written historical and Regency romance for Amber Quill Press and, under the name Lyndi Lamont, she pens steamier romance, including male/male erotica, for the erotic imprints of AQP. You can reach her online at:
One commenter will win an electronic copy of Lady Elinor’s Escape.
Thanks for bringing us this intriguing tale, Linda!
Good luck with it, and all you do, and… Don’t forget to leaven Linda a comment or question for a c hance to win. 🙂
Five days and counting…Merry Christmas all!
Welcome, welcome. Thanks for reading. Let me introduce our fguest. Fantasy author Marsha A. Moore kicks things off this Christmas season with a look at the history behind her latest release, Le Cirque De Magie.
Sarasota, Florida: Home of the American Circus
My story, Le Cirque De Magie, is an historical fantasy set in Sarasota, Florida during the spring of 1925. The circus has its winter home in the seaside resort community, much like Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. That company made the city its winter quarters until 1960, when it moved twenty-five miles south to Venice.
I live south of Tampa and often visit Sarasota, an easy forty-five minute drive. When we first moved to the area three years ago, we toured the Ringling Museum—a fascinating trip back into the magic of the circus. The spirit of the circus pervades the community, adding to the local cultural heritage. I was fascinated by the local history, which inspired me to write this story.
As a hub of circus activity for over seventy-five years, the city has earned the title, “Home of the American Circus.” No other area in the country has served as homebase to as many circuses as Sarasota.
John and Charles Ringling established a 200-acre camp to provide an annual respite for the performers and allow opportunities, in the mild winter climate, to create new shows for the coming season.
In addition to that well-known circus, several smaller ones have based in Sarasota. One of the most recent and most dynamic is Circus Sarasota. It was established in 1997 by aerialist Dolly Jacobs, daughter of famed clown Lou Jacobs and aerialist Pedro Reis from South Africa. Circus Sarasota is a non-profit circus committed to “broadening the artistic contribution of the circus while raising the level and perception of the American circus.” Known for its highly artistic performance, the hometown circus features outstanding circus artists from around the world during its annual three-week performance schedule.
With all this local inspiration, it’s easy to see how my story originated. Come join me on my journey back when the magic of the big-top circus enthralled thousands.
The circus is a blur of commotion with last minute preparations for the spring tour. Ravi, the high-wire heart throb, becomes jittery when he meets the company’s newly-hired female dwarf. Hours before departure, his magical perceptions are on fire as he witnesses her involvement in a gory bump off.
The circus manager can’t be found. Ravi is desperate to protect his sweetheart and performing partner, Alice. The train creaks away, beginning the long journey with danger stowed on board. Nicknamed the Great Birdman, Ravi steps forward and exposes his true identity—a real risk during edgy, vigilante times of prohibition. A brave move—but will his Suparna abilities be enough to snuff out this fierce demon?
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Her creativity also spills into watercolor painting and drawing. After a move from Toledo to Tampa in 2008, she’s happily transforming into a Floridian, in love with the outdoors. Crazy about cycling, she usually passes the 1,000 mile mark yearly. She is learning kayaking and already addicted. She’s been a yoga enthusiast for over a decade and that spiritual quest helps her explore the mystical side of fantasy. She never has enough days spent at the beach, usually scribbling away at new stories with toes wiggling in the sand. Every day at the beach is magical! She is the author of the novel, TEARS ON A TRANQUIL LAKE, the first in a trilogy available through MuseItUp Publishing. Part two, TORTUGA TREASURE is scheduled for release in January, 2012. Look for the first of her epic fantasy romance series, SEEKING A SCRIBE: ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS ONE, to be available in March, 2012.
Le Cirque De Magie, Excerpt:
Before the evening show, he dressed early and patrolled the grounds. Nothing appeared suspicious outside, so he stood between sets of bleachers, watching for trouble during the performances. Again, Sadie missed her cue. It seemed too easy for her to give up at his warning—demons liked to fight.
Clowns, trained dogs, unicyclists, and fire-eaters all came and went without issue. Alice was in his sight, in the watchful company of her brother and the manager. Aromas of buttered popcorn and spun cotton candy mixed with animal odors—the typical circus smell. Nothing odd. He looked through the crowd for the dwarf. Instead of finding her, the number of children in the audience impressed him. All those smiling, young faces he must keep safe.
After a deep breath, he refocused, looking for any strange happening in the rings. Clown acts took the right and left rings. In the center, the snake charmer and his assistant wheeled out carts of large rush baskets. Three would contain his Naga friends. Upon the sweet notes of the charmer’s wooden flute, lids of the baskets opened and ropes danced up in response to his calls. Henry, Walter, and Gladys actually controlled those ropes, using their magic to extend them above their bodies. Ravi seldom watched the shows anymore. In full costume, the act came off well, a crowd-pleaser earning lots of cheers.
Tigers growled and pawed the wagon bed of their holding cage as it rolled in behind where Ravi stood. Sensing his magic, they clawed the bars nearest him, creating a spectacle.
Blocked from leaving by the animal wagon and not wanting to walk in front of the crowd, he climbed into the stands. When at last he found a seat, chaos ensued in the center ring.
The Nagas crawled in all directions, writhing and coiling. Above them a white bird with a forked, black tail swooped—a kite. It struck the snake people with both its talons and beak. The charmer, his assistant, and half a dozen other men ran around frantically. Some waved large nets on poles to catch the bird, and others yelled in various languages. How did the raptor get into the ring?
Ravi jumped to his feet, again wrestling to control his outward appearance.
Soon everyone around him stood, craning to see the ruckus.
The snakes hissed and struck, but the bird soared out of reach. In one ill-fated attempt, Henry missed and bit the shoulder of his trainer.
The men dropped their nets and kneeled beside the wounded man. They slapped his hands and cheeks. It was too late. Few knew the snake people possessed real, deadly venom.
The kite continued to torment Gladys, despite her attempts to slither under a cart. Her snake tail hung limp, wounded. Was that bird another form of the dwarf?
The tigers roared and flung themselves at their cage walls. Spectators screamed and rushed down the steps to leave. The rickety bleachers swayed with the frenzy of motion.
Ravi’s wing tips burst out of the slits in his costume at his shoulder blades. The tangle of people stopped him from getting to the ring, so he climbed atop the handrail and lifted into flight.
Someone high in the stands cried out, “Birdman!”
Wow. Cool! Thank you, Marsha. I confess, I’ve been down there a time or two in my long life, but I’d never known all that about the famous circus. Thanks so much for stopping by, and for the interesting local history lesson! Wasn’t it interesting, folks? Please feel free to leave Marsha a comment or question. Marsha, good luck with this tale, and all you do.
I just ran across this link while looking something up and thought it an interesting little tidbit about the grail, the fisher king legends, and the ruins of a 13th century castle in Wales:
There are some fabulous pictures of the castle ruins here:
There’s not a whole heck of a lot of it left, to tell by the pictures, but don’t you think that castle would make a cool setting for a classic Gothicy-flavored story? 🙂 (Maybe set in the 13th century, but wouldn’t it be even spookier to have a tourist caught up in some… oh, I don’t know, time travel zap, or a hole in the space-time continuum there? They’re neat pictures, if nothing else.
A Murder of Crows aired (or re-aired, rather.) on PBS a while back, was an interesting study on the habits and socialization of crows. If you’re interested in crows, and ravens, do try to catch it.
The show was delightful, with some beautiful shots of the birds—including one that had (who knew?) white markings on her wings. From a mythology lover’s standpoint alone, the birds can spark ones imagination. Aside from their ominous association with death, in so many mythologies, they are associated with portents, with the future, with seers—and why can’t one take that one step further, with a nod to the intelligence exhibited by these animals—and add on poets? And you know, crows and their cousins ravens, are big in Celtic mythology? The Welsh god Bran (god of poetry, wisdom, and whole lot of other brainy things ;)) is alternately sometimes said to entertain crows as well as ravens. The white-winged crow brought to mind the goddess Rhiannon’s birds. And my goodness, who doesn’t love Stevie Nicks’ tribute to She and Her birds?
Anyway, A Murder of Crows, is a fascinating little show, so if you’re interested keep a look out for it on PBS sometimes. If you miss it on television, the PBS site has access to the full show here.