Monday, April 14, 2014

Meet My Main Character, by Marilyn Watson

I am delighted to have been tagged in a series called, “Meet My Main Character.” It is the brain child of my host Debra Brown who is the Administrator of English Historical Fiction Authors and our Host. Although I have written Blog pieces before, I stuck to historical figures or vainglorious deeds. There is no end to them thank heavens, for those of us that love history and never tire of it. Research has me following it down each rabbit hole. This works out very nicely for Historical Fiction. It’s important to include rich details of actual events.

You can read my excerpt here which I have been working on like mad. It’s very different from the mysteries I write set in the 1930's and still in its early stages, so this is just a taste of things to come.

This is set in the Court of Louis XIV with all its twists and turns. There was so much to choose from in the wealth of material I could have read for years. I chose to start with the Memoirs of Madame de Montespan as she had so many little tidbits to share. I found her utterly fascinating...charming and ruthless. I had to tuck her into my Fiction. She is one of my inspirations, so I include her Portrait. How could it be otherwise?

1) What is the name of your character? Is she fictional or a historic person?

My main Character is fictional although set in actual events. Louise de Mortemart is a very distant Cousin of Madame de Montespan, favorite Mistress of Louis XIV at this time. The Marquise and the Court of Versailles are very real.

2) When and where is the story set?

The Story is primarily set around Versailles during the year 1680. But the beginning opens in 1677 with a series of murders directly in Paris.

3) What should we know about her?

Louise is a distant Cousin of the illustrious branch of the de Rochechouart de Mortemart family and a very poor one at that. Due to misfortune with no hopes of a well-connected Marriage she is sent to amend that by ingratiating herself to the King. As a distant relative she hopes to please Athénaïs, Marquis de Montespan during her stay. She may be enticed to introduce her to the King who would take an interest in her and give her a dowry. It had been known to happen.

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up her life?

She is asked to perform a task that on the surface appears simple. Go to a certain Lady and pick up a love potion... that is all the rage in Paris at the time. She is unaware that the dealer of herbs and love potions is also performing little favors that include poison. “Not until she arrives at the home of Madame, that is, and then it becomes apparent there are some horrible things going on.”

5) What is the personal goal of the character?

In the beginning Louise hopes to repair the poverty of her family. However once she is caught at the home of a poisoner, picking up a love potion, she is then hunted by his Agent. She desperately tries not to get caught up in the web of events.

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

Poison is a Woman’s Game, and you can read more here.

7) When can we expect the book to be published?

Tentatively, at the end of the year. I am writing furiously.

Thank you for visiting with me. I would like to tag three Authors who will publish their posts on April 17th.

Denise Wilson Falvo

Francine Howarth

Ella Quinn

Excerpt from Poison is a Woman's Game by Marilyn Watson


Darkness had come early to the underbelly of Paris. A small street leading off the Rue Thevenol to a spot known as the Cour des Miracles hid a wretched corner of Paris. In its seamy misery were beggars, thieves and prostitutes. The wretched hovels that surrounded the Rue St. Denis and the Court housed these families that bred and lived like infestations on Paris. In doorways there were shadowy figures as women finished their transactions clutching a few coins in their hands. A quick fumble in the dark, a swish of their petticoat as they finished with each Man, moving on looking for the next Customer.

One with a large belly staggered down the Street grunting as she looked for a place to rest. Her face was young and lined with pain. Unable to perform, she had not eaten all day. In a dark doorway, the gaudy figure of a Woman pointed at her stomach screeching, “Amalie you’ll never work with a brat; you’re a fool,” spitting in disdain at her feet.

“Pute” snarled the girl. Her tone ferocious as the other Woman rose menacingly to her feet. She walked quickly, not stopping, for dusk was beginning to fall; the mist coming off the pavement gave an eerie glow to her surroundings.

She had no time for a fight. The strong need to rest kept her agitated, looking for a cool place to sit and relieve the pain.

Out of the shadows, a form glided up to her. “Here, you need help; come with me.” He placed a hand on her shivering shoulders.

She looked up at him with tired eyes. “Why would you help me, Father? I am a harlot.”

“Do not speak of yourself that way, Child. I help all those who have sinned; it’s God’s will. It was through no choice of your own. You needed to eat. The coins kept your belly filled. Come with me.” His voice was kind, and she so badly needed it at this moment.

She muttered under her breath, “Oh God,”… but pain was driving her to find shelter. “The Babe,” he grasped her hard by the elbow, “is it to be born soon?”

“Soon, yes,” she gasped as a moan escaped her. “I need to find a place…somewhere.” She looked around. The Streets were grimy and wet; urine and rotten sewage reeked from the corners.

“Not here.” He led her down an evil smelling back lane, “I know someone that will help you,” he muttered, “it’s close.” His arm urged her down the rough cobblestone lane.

“Who would help the likes of me?” her voice broke. She bit her lip as her eyes watered.

“A midwife.” He whispered in her ear, “Someone who can deliver. Come.” His voice was urgent. He led her bulky form by the arm, keeping in the inky darkness down one street and another till they came to a small house. Entering from the back without knocking, he dragged her quickly through a door.

“Quick,” he said to a woman neatly dressed in black, “she is in labor.” He motioned to her belly, “Soon to bear a Child.” He nodded his head to her, “Old mother, can you help?”

The Woman grinned at him nodding her head. Showing no surprise, she led them to a back room that smelled of herbs and something stronger.

The sense of excitement from him transmitted to the Woman. “She’ll come out of this strong. It’ll be a healthy baby for her,” winking at him. “A lively one, “she muttered to herself.

Sweating and grunting, her face moist with pain, it seemed hours to Amalie before the Child came. He came with a rush, his pink face screaming in a wide- open, gusty wail.

“Here,” the young Woman, who had been selling her body just a day before. “Let me suckle him. It will quiet him. ”She reached her arms for him her face still flushed.

“You want to hold him? No, you need to give him up.” the midwife cackled. “He can’t be following you around while every man pays for his pleasure. You need money. I can get you gold coins for him. Take the money and buy bread.” She turned looking at her intensely, “it’s no life for a babe.”

The forlorn, beaten girl, old before her time, thought it over and slowly nodded. “But you will keep him safe. I don’t want him to live on the streets like I do.” Her face pleaded. Looking at the baby, “Is he healthy?”

“You are young.” The Midwife wiped her hands on her black dress. “A lusty boy—he might have a place here.” She grinned at the Priest, “I’ll take care of it.” Studying the girl’s face, “You need to drink something,” bending over a vial. “This will help the pain.” She handed her a glass filled with a bitter demi-vin wine. “I make it myself, “the little Lady nodded, “It’ll make you feel better.”

“It’s bitter,” the girl swallowed more. ” But if it’ll help the pain.” She drank letting the last drop run down her mouth in haste. Wiping it with the back of her hand, she grimaced.

“Rest a bit; then you can leave,” pointing to the girl. Picking up the baby, she scooped up an old cloth and put him in it. She pointed, “Here put it in this,” to the Priest, and they left the room.

Outside the door he murmured, “I told you I’d get you one.”

Lying there, Amalie felt a prick of unease. She decided to follow them. Something was wrong. The looks were not seemly between a Priest and the likes of her. She raised herself painfully to her feet. Holding onto the edge of a table she felt her head spin. She was dizzy from the loss of blood. Her hands were soiled but strong as she steadied herself. This was her first birth. She had been careful to use vinegar to prevent any births except this time. Pain shot through her legs slowing her down. She forced herself to move, dragging one foot after the other. Passing a dirty baby blanket, she snatched it up, smelling another baby recently here. It still held the sour smell of urine and something else.

Down the hallway, the two whisperings gave her chills. They weren’t coming back with the coins to buy bread. It was more likely they planned to cut her throat.

She staggered down the hallway holding onto the wall. Through the open door she saw her baby. He lay in an open room with no blanket or covering. She walked toward him and reached for him, cuddling his warm little body while she held the blanket twisted in her hand.

The edges of the room shadowed to black. Someone was coming. Amalie trembled as she put the sleeping baby back on the table. Breathing became difficult as though her neck was being squeezed tightly. She staggered to the door, wiping away her sweat to see, finally grasping the doorknob. Escape was at hand—she felt the knob turn under her fingers and a rush of cold air on her face. The stomach spasms were worse as she bent over vomiting, finally falling on the ground in convulsions. The coins. What use were they?

“Not far here, look out the back for her…no, wait you fool. People are coming, I must go greet them. You go and make the Altar presentable. What difference does it make to the child now?”

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Meet My Main Character by John Campbell

John is a good friend of mine whose first two books won the The Harper Collins/Authonomy Gold Medal. He answers questions about the MC of the second book of his series below.

1) What is the name of my main character? Is he real or fictitious?

Malcolm Roberts is a fictitious thirteen-year-old who comes to interact with Winston Churchill in the 1920s. That encounter is of some minor importance compared to the issues and mysteries he must solve in the story.

2) When and where is the story set?

A Lark Ascending is part of my 1914 collection, the second novel. It begins in the fall of 1921 and runs through February 1922, a short time span compared to the first of the collection, which is a saga. The purpose of the collection is to dramatize the impact of the Great War.

Lark is set in London’s East End.

3) What should we know about him?

Malcolm is driven to rein in his father’s attention, and this leads to his daring and eventual sleuthing. Malcolm’s father is suffering, and distracted by, the type of Shell Shock that involves night terrors. The condition worsens and threatens Malcolm’s safety. This forces Malcolm to move in with an eccentric aunt while his father gets treatment in an asylum (Malcolm’s mother died of the Spanish Flu).

4) What is his main conflict? What messes up his life?

Driven as he is, he comes upon two mysteries that he needs to solve. The first involves a plot that could upset Britain’s international relations during the vulnerable time when countries and ideologies are yet reeling after the war. Malcolm has strong reasons for not trusting the authorities, but he does befriend a newspaperman to better investigate the matter. The second mystery compels Malcolm to find the murderer(s) of one of his mentors.

Girls mess him up. The Malcolm Roberts series will follow his rites of passage. In this first novel, a lovely but acerbic Serbian girl becomes his love interest and then his nemesis, yet he needs her to solve the mysteries.

5) What is Malcolm’s personal goal?

In addition to craving his father’s attention, the void in Malcolm’s heart is even larger than that. He is a lonely character. He aims to fill that void.

Despite his loneliness, he has two sidekick friends: Sid Shapiro and a street urchin from Limehouse named Jun. Sid’s family attend the Poltava Synagogue, a place with connections to one of the mysteries. We do not learn of Jun’s family or heritage, other than he is partly Chinese. Jun supports himself by cleaning an opium den and a fashionable Chinese restaurant, in addition to running errands for pay. Both boys help Malcolm with the mysteries.

6) What is the book's title?

My 1914 collection consists of the following:

-Walk to Paradise Garden (released in 2012)

-A Lark Ascending

-In These Distracting Times

-Beneath a Winter Garden

-Nimrod’s End

Although Walk to Paradise Garden is not part of the Malcolm Roberts series, it contributes to the arc of the collection and does have links (such as shared characters) with the other books.

7) When will the book be released?

Here is the link for Walk to Paradise Garden.

A Lark Ascending should be ready for release by July 2014.

I have an excerpt of Lark on my blog, which I resurrected for the honor of being featured here. Thank you.

Watch for posts on the 12th by:

1) Sue Millard

2) Diana Birchall

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring into Books Giveaway Hop April 7- 14

The Companion of Lady Holmeshire
by Debra Brown

Lowly servant Emma Carrington becomes the companion to the widowed Countess of Holmeshire. Emma has eyes for the widow's son, but it is hopeless; besides the class difference, the young Earl of Holmeshire has long been engaged to a London lady. It seems Emma exists for the amusement of polite society where she receives a rude reception. Travel with the Holmeshires from a castle near the Scottish border to a small English village and then into London for the season as puzzling events and mysterious strangers lead to a surprise ending.

"This is an elegant novel. I was quickly absorbed into it, finishing it over the course of a weekend. The characters are well drawn, the settings refined and the plot reminiscent of Jane Austen. The attention to historical detail is remarkable; the writing equal to the complexities of a plot which is as good as any Georgette Heyer novel."
Judith Arnopp, Goodreads Review

"What I liked the most about this book was that it was intelligent. Just when I thought I had the plot and ending sussed, I was proven wrong. There are a lot of surprises along the way before ending with a beautifully tied-up conclusion. I wasn't expecting the plot to develop as it did and I was glad for this. The entire book was a beautiful, unpredictable, well-written and entertaining piece and I look forward to reading more from this talented Author."
Jennifer Elgey, Books That Spark

Enter to win an ecopy of The Companion of Lady Holmeshire by commenting at the bottom of this post.

Visit other blogs on this hop by visiting Goodreads here:

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Meet My Main Character, by Debra Brown

I am hoping to start a chain of posts by historical fiction authors in which we introduce the main character of our work in progress or soon to be published novel. This is trial by error, so if there is a question that should be included, please leave me a comment. Thanks!

My vision of Evangeline
1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Evangeline. She is entirely fictional, but I hope there is a group of people who will identify with her.

2) When and where is the story set?

It is in England at the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign. Evangeline has been raised isolated on a large estate by a reclusive mother (based on Miss Havisham). The only friend she has been allowed is her twin brother, Dante.

3) What should we know about him/her?

Evangeline is a poetess and is devoted to living by the strict Rules of the household created by her mother. This, to her, compensates for the sense of neglect caused by her mother's seemingly emotionless, reclusive existence.

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

Dante has met his love. To Evangeline, that means she has lost Dante or rather that he has been stolen from her. This triggers an OCD with all its irrational behaviors.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?

On the surface, Evangeline struggles to win her brother back, though she never really lost him. The deeper dilemma, of course, is whether or not she can learn to live with the reality of his having found a wife, whether she can adjust to a more normal life, and whether she can overcome the chains of the OCD.

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

The title is For the Skylark. You can read the first section HERE.

7) When can we expect the book to be published?

I hope by the end of this year. It depends upon life!

Thanks for visiting the post. I have tagged five authors to follow me; they will post about their main characters on the ninth.

1) Rosanne Lortz 

2) Catherine Gilflurt

3) Evelyn Tidman

4) John Campbell

5) Linda Root

Let me know what you think of Evangeline!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Author Interview on New Release: Mesmerised, by Michelle Shine

I'd like you to meet Michelle Shine, author of Mesmerised, a novel about Dr. Paul Gachet in Paris.

The year is 1863
Paris is imbued with the spirit of revolution. A group of rogue painters, later to become known as the Impressionists, revolt against the ideals of the art establishment. One of them, Dr Paul Gachet, is also inspired to update the world of medicine,
with homeopathy.

1) Welcome, Michelle! I have read your debut novel Mesmerised and really enjoyed it. Perhaps your background would explain why you happened to write a book about a homeopathic physician?

Hi Debbie, yes that’s true and thank you for asking me to do this interview. They say, ‘write about what you know' and in this instance it was an easy option for me as I happen to be a homeopath myself.

Tell us about yourself.

I think most importantly, I am a mother of 3. And these days I write pretty much full time, although I still lecture in homeopathy and see a small number of patients. A question people have often asked me, is why I decided to study homeopathy in the first place, especially as it is purported — by many high profile sceptics — not to work. The answer is that my eldest son, when he was a child, was very sick indeed, and the conventional route only served to make him more sick. A friend of mine suggested that I try homeopathy. I was pretty desperate and would have tried anything at the time. The first thing that heartened me about homeopathy was the consultation. None of the doctors I had consulted with had asked my son anything. They examined him, weighed him and always directed their questions to me. The homeopath spent quite a considerable amount of time trying to understand his subjective symptoms. I understood that the remedy was chosen predominantly on what he was feeling as opposed to a disease diagnosis. In other words, every patient gets a remedy that suits their individual problem. It took a little while but the remedy worked, and within a relatively short period of time he was able to come off all medication, allopathic and homeopathic, and remain completely asymptomatic. With a result like that, I guess it is no wonder I became interested in the subject and wanted to study it. Although my main motivation for becoming a homeopath was that having been given the gift of greater health for my son, I wanted to give something back.

2) Ah, and why did you choose Dr. Paul Gachet as your protagonist?

That’s a good question. It was quite a few years ago now that I read a book entitled The Homeopathic Revolution by Dana Ullman. Basically, the book lists all the famous people who have used homeopathy through the ages and categorises them by their job spec or title. When I got to the section on artists I was absolutely staggered to find so many pages dedicated to the Impressionists and the mention of their physician Dr Paul Gachet. At that point I didn’t know that I would one day write a novel featuring these characters, but I immediately began researching the art history involved and Gachet. My interest was piqued, you could say.

3) There are medical case histories comfortably touched on in fictional form throughout the book. Were these true case histories?

Only two were real cases. Alfred Pissarro (brother of Camille) really was cured by Dr Gachet’s little homeopathic pills when he was on his deathbed and the allopaths had given up on him, and Gachet was also called in when Edouard Manet was dying of syphilis. Gachet is reported to have advised Manet not to go ahead with the amputation that ended his life so painfully.

4) Could you explain the role the Paris art scene plays in your novel?

Well, one of the things that I was struck by when I was doing my research was the political similarity between homeopathy and impressionist art at that time. Both practices were revolutionary, organic, and frowned upon by the establishment.

5) What did you enjoy most about writing Mesmerised?

The whole experience was a very joyful one. When I started the novel I had only just lost my husband a few months before; Gachet’s world was so much more seductive than my own at the time, I literally threw myself into it. Not wishing to return to my own circumstances at all I almost became Gachet for the six months it took to write the first draft.

6) Is there anything you would have done differently in the research, writing, or publication of the book?

My editor stopped me from continuing to edit into infinity, but in reality there was 4 years from conception to publication. I had plenty of time to reflect, refine and craft. So no, I don’t think so.

7) Are you working on a sequel or another novel?

Yes, I’m always writing. My intention is, at some point, to write Gachet’s story into a trilogy.

8) Do you have other writings besides your fiction?

I’ve written a homeopathic textbook which is used to teach homeopathy students in several colleges, and an autobiographical
text that was very therapeutic to write but is not for publication. There are also some ramblings on my website and an essay about the writing of Mesmerised on my blog:

9) What are your long term goals?

To have readers all over the world. To keep writing. And having had the wonderful experience of working with the incredibly talented Teodora Berglund and team on the book trailer for Mesmerised, I now have dreams for it to one day be made into a full length feature film.

10) I'd be the first in line to see it! Besides you, of course. Do you have any thoughts for your readers?

Just a special thank you to all those who have taken the time to review my book on Amazon and Goodreads and to everyone else, thank you for reading.

Publisher’s bookshop
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Michelle Shine lives in London, England. For twenty years she ran a successful homeopathic practice. She is the author of What About the Potency? A homeopathic textbook now in its third edition and The Subtle Art of Healing, a novella which was longlisted for the Cinnamon Press Novella Award in 2007. Her short stories have appeared in Grey Sparrow, Liar’s League, Epiphany, and several collections. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck University.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A New Release!

by Jeanna Ellsworth

I am so happy to be a guest on English Epochs. I thought I would tell a little about the book I just wrote called Pride and Persistence that was just published on

Here is the back cover intrigue: Undaunted by a threatening storm, Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley insists he must deliver his letter to Miss Elizabeth Bennet–– then tragedy strikes. Riddled with guilt, Elizabeth comes to the aid of the comatose Mr. Darcy and stays by his side until he regains consciousness. She soon learns that although Mr. Darcy has awoken, he has not returned to himself. And with no memory of his first disastrous proposal, he has concluded that there is nothing he wants more than to propose to Miss Elizabeth. This humorous journey of love leaves one asking, can persistence pacify prejudice? Can Elizabeth see the real gentleman behind the injury, a man who persists in professing his love to her every chance he gets? In this Regency variation of Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet both learn the value of persistence.

I thought I would share an excerpt with you. At this point in the book, since Darcy’s head injury has left him perseverating on the fact that he wants to propose to Elizabeth, she has had to endure several proposals. She seems to have a knack for calming his emotionally volatile state. Because she has been so useful in helping him stay calm, the doctor has solicited Lady Catherine’s help in making Elizabeth stay longer to help her nephew. Lady Catherine is unaware of Mr. Darcy’s admiration, nor the multiple proposals, but she does have a rare ability to persuade Elizabeth who has had to endure 6 weeks of terrible food at the parsonage because the Mrs. Collins’s cook, Mrs. Wilkinson, lacks talent in the kitchen.

“Do stop pacing on my rug, Miss Bennet. I pride myself on my choices of décor, and that one was imported from France, I will have you know. It is one of a kind, made especially for me. I will not have you destroy it with your shuffling feet.”

Well, if you are trying to convince me to stay with that kind of flattery, you will be very disappointed. “Yes, Lady Catherine,” she smiled.

Elizabeth waited while Lady Catherine dismissed the servant with orders for tea and refreshments. She watched as the overbearing woman took her place of power at the center of the room and then motioned with her hand where she desired Elizabeth to sit. Elizabeth smiled, but sat down where she was told. The seating arrangement was not the battle she wished to fight today.

“I suspect that you desire to thank me for my offer,” Lady Catherine said, looking down her nose.

“No, ma’am.”

Surprise rose in every crevice of the wrinkled face. “I see you are up to your impertinent ways again. Of course you are grateful. How could you not be? I imagine your father will be quite impressed that I offered such a thing.”

“My father is impressed with a number of things, but he does not mind letting me travel by post, I assure you.”

“He may have felt that way before I wrote to him and told him of your new plans, but now that you have a safe and reliable method of travel, I would think that he will prefer it immensely.”

They were interrupted temporarily by the arrival of their refreshments, and Elizabeth’s stomach growled quietly. She could see that the raspberry muffins and chocolate cream puffs that she loved so much were on the tray, and there were enough to feed five people! Suddenly she was very grateful to be at Rosings.

The last few days, and most of the last few weeks for that matter, had been filled with nearly inedible food that Elizabeth had often forced herself to eat. Poor Mrs. Wilkinson! If only she had a lick of talent in the kitchen. She reached for one of the chocolate cream puffs. Maybe she could stall this argument until all the pastries were eaten. “You wrote to my father?”

“Of course I did! What else would a most loyal aunt do but ensure the health of her favorite nephew? I sent it by express yesterday and just received the return letter a moment ago. So, it is all arranged. He, of course, did not argue with me. No one ever does, except you.” Lady Catherine poured the tea and handed Elizabeth a cup, who took it greedily.

The tea was heavenly. It had just a hint of lemon and milk, like the tea she made at home but so much better. Such a delicious concoction could never be obtained at the parsonage. Elizabeth was delighted to indulge her senses.

She reached for another chocolate cream puff, and the cream leaked out onto her finger. Too bad I cannot just lick it off. She instead used her napkin and bemoaned the precious cream. She placed the rest of the cream puff on her tongue, feeling the smooth, sweet icing graze her teeth as she bit into it. She had to take a bigger bite than intended to encase the cream threatening to escape, but she didn’t mind. She didn’t intend to do much talking with these delightful treats in front of her. She tried not to moan in pleasure, but a small one escaped her mouth. To hide the moan, she thought she should probably say something. “I will do whatever Mr. Darcy needs of me.”

“Good. Then it is all settled.”

Elizabeth was shocked back from staring at a raspberry muffin. “What? What did you say?”

“Personally, I am a little shocked that you so readily agreed, but I do know what is best. Perhaps you are beginning to see that.”
She contemplated delaying the correction until she got one of those muffins onto her plate, but it was not in her nature.

“No, Lady Catherine. I meant I will do what Mr. Darcy needs of me while I am here, but I cannot stay another six weeks.” She took a moment to evaluate Lady Catherine’s response while enjoying another long drink of her tea. The expected displeasure came quickly enough but not so quickly that Elizabeth couldn’t reach for a muffin and take a bite first.

“I dare say you shall! I am under strict doctor’s orders!”

Elizabeth coughed on the muffin. “Doctor’s orders? It was not Mr. Darcy who suggested it?”

“Why would he do something like that? No, indeed he did not. Darcy would never request your presence when he is to be engaged to my daughter. As soon as he is well, it will be settled. The doctor came straight over yesterday and insisted that you stay six more weeks. He said you were talented and showed marked abilities in handling my nephew’s specific needs, and that he had never seen such influence for good. Coming from that man, it is a commendation indeed, and I agreed with him, despite the fact that I so despise him.” Lady Catherine eyed Elizabeth suspiciously, picked up a cream puff, and tried to daintily nibble on it.

Elizabeth’s stomach was too happy for her to make sense of what Lady Catherine was saying. Why did Colonel Fitzwilliam say it had been Mr. Darcy’s idea? Or had he? She couldn’t remember the conversation now with the delicacies before her. She took another bite of muffin and felt the small tart fruit, still warm from the oven, mash against her tongue and cheeks. It was beyond anything she could have hoped for. The sugar crystals sprinkled on the top crust counteracted the tartness perfectly. She took another bite ravenously and then tried to calm herself.

She had to keep her wits about her because if Lady Catherine offered her another muffin right now, she would do anything. The pleasure in her mouth was so intense that without realizing it, she relaxed and slouched a little into the back of the chair.
“So, you see, it is the express medical counsel that you maintain the interaction you have had with my nephew until he is well. At that time, I shall be happy to do you the service of transporting you to Longbourn myself. And do sit up! You will drop crumbs all over! This behavior is exactly what I would expect from a lady raised with no governess.”

Elizabeth sat up but only to grab another chocolate cream puff. She promptly put its entirety in her mouth and gave a slightly wicked smile. How are these manners for you? But even her extremely blissful taste buds couldn’t stop her from saying, “Lady Catherine, I assure you I do nothing more than anyone else would do. I do not know why he responds so well to me.”

“Exactly my point. No one really knows what will work with head injuries. So, whatever you are doing, keep doing it. Whatever you are saying, keep saying it . . . for six more weeks.”

She swallowed the last bit of cream puff, finished the last of her tea, and put her cup down. Should she ask for more tea or forge on into the battle? At the moment, her senses were overwhelmed. Her taste buds had a certain level of control over her that she couldn’t quite explain. All she knew was that she desperately wanted another muffin, and she was ready to do anything to get it.

“If I stay, and I have not agreed to do so, mind you,” Elizabeth replied, “I would wish for something in return.” She picked up her tea cup and gestured her desire for more. What was wrong with her? Why was she negotiating? Why couldn’t she think past a warm raspberry muffin and more tea?

Lady Catherine slowly smiled. “It seems you have been won over by my cook’s talent. I rarely get to compliment her on her usefulness. Now, hold your cup steady.” She poured the hot liquid into the cup. She then pushed the refreshment platter closer to Elizabeth. “If there is anything you need, just ask. My cook is used to special requests, and I am happy to loan her to you in exchange for your services.”

Was it really over? Had she really just accepted to stay at the parsonage in exchange for a few baked treats? She eyed the last muffin jealously. Without fully being aware of what she was doing, she snatched it up and took a bite. Then she realized that in doing so, she had just sealed the deal. They sat in silence for a minute while she finished it.

At one point, it looked like there had been too many refreshments; now, there was not enough, for she had just sold six weeks of her time for a few cream puffs and muffins. And impressively perfect tea, do not forget. She giggled. It very well might be worth it. She savored the full cup she held possessively in her hands.


I hope you all liked the excerpt. I am giving away either a paperback (U.S. only) or an eBook (internationally) to those who comment on this blog. Thank you again for having me! It was a pleasure to be a guest!

The winner of this giveaway is Lúthien84!

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Website for her other books and works in progress can be found at

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