Yes. You read that right. (If you managed to translate it at all, that is.) I've published my second novella! It's a Regency romance, and it was a lot of fun to write.
Most of the time.
The initial writing of it, getting the bare bones of the plot and scenes typed out, was fun. Getting back my editing notes from my critique partners was less fun, but since they made some great suggestions, I can't be upset. The story is definitely improved because of their input. And it got me thinking about how most writers are not an island. I'm certainly not.
Erin Knightley and Ava Stone have been great sounding boards throughout the process, not minding if I talked at them, trying to work out what the heck was going on in my story. Samantha Grace and Erica Monroe sent me those fabulous critiques that so kindly pointed out my enormous plot holes. (Don't worry, ladies. I'm totally ready to return the favor.) Andris Bear very patiently made endless versions of The Lady and the Duke's cover until I was happy with it, and that was no easy task, mind you.
I also received quite a bit of...help from Twitter. Yes, I suppose we can call it help.
Deanna Raybourn and Chandra Ryan helped me come up with the costume that Audrey wore to the fancy dress ball, although Marquita Valentine gave me a couple of interesting suggestions also. (Erm. We'll just leave it at that, mmkay?) And Maya Rodale was having a conversation, which I was not a part of but stuck my nose into anyway, that gave me a great idea. A really fun idea. She was joking about how someone should write a Regency era Katniss, and while my Audrey in NO WAY resembles the Hunger Games heroine, I did take the germ of that bit of brilliance and run with it. It's one of my favorite parts of the novella, actually. I'm not saying anything else. You'll just have to read it. *G*
The Lady and Duke:
Miss Audrey Ellis has failed to catch a wealthy, titled husband in her two London Seasons,and merely wishes to return to her quiet country life, leaving high society behind her for good. But when an unexpected encounter brings the Duke of Halford into her life, she will have to decide if she has the courage to change her prudent, unadventurous plans and reach for something more.
William Langston, the Duke of Halford, wasn't looking for love. He came to Town to hunt down his sister's blackmailer, hoping to head off a scandal in the making. But the Viscount Claremont is more elusive than the duke was prepared for, and leads him on a chase through society's drawing rooms and balls. Will soon finds himself distracted from his mission by Audrey's fresh beauty and lack of pretension, something scarce in his rarefied world.
The pair are drawn together despite their differences, but as scandal looms and rumors spread, danger is closer than ever before.
There was the sound of a scuffle beyond the portal leading to the main part of the house and Audrey, along with several other guests, craned her neck to see what the commotion was. The door was suddenly flung open and in strode Halford, his face set and grim. His gaze swept the room and upon seeing her, he faltered, his expression softening. Audrey blinked, surprised and unsettled by his sudden appearance.
After their encounter at the lending library, she had not counted on seeing him so soon.
"His Grace, the Duke of Halford," announced the butler breathlessly, having darted into the room on the duke’s heels. Having done his duty, he sniffed, straightened his mussed jacket and retreated stiffly. By the butler’s behavior, Audrey could only surmise that the duke had not given the man any time to announce him, but simply barreled right through.
How very curious.
Just as Halford stepped toward her, Lieutenant Whitton returned with a glass of lemonade in his hand. He stopped directly in front of Audrey, blocking her view of the duke.
"The lemonade was nicely chilled, so I assumed you would prefer it over the punch, which was shamefully warm," he said, full of good cheer.
Audrey forced a smile and took the glass he proffered, willing him to move. He remained blocking her view, as if he had taken root on the spot. There was such a thing as taking chivalry too far. Having done his mother’s bidding, he should be halfway across the room by now, flirting with giggly, petite blond Beatrice Lettington.
Although the venomous twit certainly didn't deserve someone half as nice as the lieutenant.
It was amazing how one's view could change so precipitously. Only a few weeks ago, Audrey would have been delighted for Lieutenant Whitton to wait upon her hand, as he was a second son and not as closely bound to London society as his older brother, but now she had to smother the urge to shoo him away. She impatiently sipped her lemonade as he nattered on about his newest piece of horseflesh and discreetly attempted to peer around the man.
A wall of red and white, edged with gilt braiding, stood between her and the thing she wanted to see most.
"Lieutenant," she interrupted his monologue on the glorious history of the pair of Arabian horses his brother had acquired recently. "Would you be so kind as to fetch me something to eat? I am quite famished."
"Of course. I would be delighted," he said, his expression brightening, blue eyes filled with cheer. Despite the fact his attentions were unwelcome, he really was adorable. If she had met him before Will, she was convinced she could have fallen in love with him quite easily. As it stood, however, she just wanted him to go bother someone else.
"Would you mind finding me a plum? I adore plums."
"At your service, Miss Ellis. A plum, it is," he replied, with a short, very correct bow and strode off in the direction of the buffet tables set up in the adjoining room. Audrey sighed with relief and looked around.
The duke was nowhere to be seen.
She frowned and stood up, her heel catching on the hem of her dress. Ignoring the snigger from Beatrice as the girl whispered to a friend from behind her fan, Audrey smoothed her dress and walked to the terrace doors. Perhaps Halford was outside. She took a few steps across the bricks and peered out on the lawn, where several hearty souls still wandered, determined to enjoy the garden despite the heat.
Will was not one of them, however. Wherever had he gone?
"For shame, Miss Ellis. You are indeed as devious as you had claimed."
The soft accusation came from behind her. As a shiver worked its way down her spine, Audrey slowly pivoted to find Halford leaning on the door frame directly behind her, his shoulder propped against wood.
So, there you go. I hope you enjoyed the excerpt! If you wish to purchase the The Lady and the Duke, it's available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble Online and Smashwords.
But, I'm giving away a free e-copy today! All you have to do is share your favorite love story of all time, whether it's from a novel, movie or real life. Leave your answer, and email address, in the comments to be entered in the drawing, and good luck!