Anything for You, my Lady now has a cover!
I decided to try my hand at making my own cover and was swiftly overwhelmed by the chasm between professional cover designers and myself, but I am still pleased, overall, with the results. I put the design up in a Facebook group, thinking I would get 3 or 4 ideas of how to improve it, and instead I got around 30 comments and MANY things that ought to be fixed! I fixed some of the most pressing, and for now, with my deadline rapidly encroaching and with more edits left to make, I am happy with it, and grateful that it will be self-published. That way, when I manage to fix the cover and get it *precisely* the way I want it, I will be able to upload a new cover.
Without further ado, here is the cover!
And without further ado, here's a little teaser to introduce the antagonist! As one (male) beta reader put it, "Harbottle is wonderfully creepy. His lines are exceptionally well-written. Do guys like him actually exist?"
“Mr. Thomas Harbottle.”
“Yes, of course. Mr. Harbottle. I do hope you are enjoying the party this evening.”
“Indeed I am,” he said. His cheeks were flushed and his forehead shimmered in the overly warm, humid room. “Delightful way to spend an evening.”
Virginia gave a tight smile. It was a terrible way to spend an evening, in her opinion. But she remained as pleasant as she could. “Thank you very much for coming,” she said. “I hope that you enjoy yourself.” She curtsied again and began to walk away, only to hear him mutter something under his breath.
“Too high in the instep to do the pretty for a guest.”
Her cheeks flushed and she turned back toward him, stung by his words. “Did you need something, sir? Can I help you find some suitable entertainment?”
He lifted his chin. “I had hoped that you might provide me with a bit of entertainment, as you are easily the prettiest young lady in the room.”
She blinked a couple of times at his bald request. “I am no court jester, sir.”
He laughed aloud. “Go on,” he said. “Don’t you ever like to get yourself into a bit of trouble now and then?”
She almost smiled at how accurate his assessment was, though clearly not for the reasons he seemed to think. “Trouble? No,” she said. “But I do precisely as I please.” Her heart pounded at this little falsehood, but her bold rendezvous with Mr. Clifton that morning had granted her more courage than she usually felt.
“Oh, the mouse has grown some claws, has she?” the dandy said with a smirk.
She took an involuntary step backward and made contact with someone’s shoulder in the crowded room. “I do beg your pardon!” she told the lady, before stepping to the side to maintain her distance from the impertinent Mr. Harbottle.
“Mr. Harbottle, I am not certain what you are attempting to goad me into doing, but it will not work, whatever it is,” she said.
Far from seeming put out, the fire in his eyes only seemed to glow brighter. “Such spirit,” he said. “I do like a young lady who puts up a bit of resistance. Makes the reward at the end of the chase that much more delightful.”
Virginia could not hide her grimace. “I beg your pardon, sir. I am afraid I must be elsewhere.”
She turned and hurried away, looking about for her mother. He would never dare provoke her in such a manner with her mother in hearing distance.
“Oh, there you are, Virginia,” her mother said. “I see you were talking with young Mr. Harbottle over there. I am very pleased! I have just been speaking with his mother, Mrs. Harbottle.”
An older blonde woman wearing bright pink silk bobbed a polite greeting to Virginia and Virginia responded with a curtsy and a tight-lipped smile.
“We were just speaking of arranging a visit together,” Mrs. Harbottle said. “Perhaps for a walk near the water, if you would like? I am sure my son would love to provide an escort for you.”
Virginia’s smile stiffened further. “How very . . . lovely,” she said.
Excited for this book to be released NEXT WEEK, and again--it will be available to read for free! I hope you enjoy reading it!
Heyer is the grandmother of Regency romance, the inventor of the genre, and the queen of period-accurate research to pepper her books with the charming minutiae of the time period. I was introduced to her work by a college roommate who loaned me a copy of The Grand Sophy, and once I managed to slog through the first few chapters of period-accurate prose (no one ever said her books were light, easy reads for people in our day!) I was HOOKED. She crafts delightful characters that spring off the page and pull you into their immersive historic world. I don't know a single Regency author who doesn't have intense respect for Georgette Heyer.
I admit I borrowed heavily from Georgette Heyer's dictionary of charming Regency slang when writing the companion to A Stage for Harriet that will be published next. Green as Grass tells the story of a fashionable London socialite, and its drama is far quieter and more realistic than my first book's, with no villains beyond those everyday sorts of people who make steam come out of our nostrils.
This is one of my favorite little scenes of witty banter between our charming heroine and a (non-romantic!) friend of hers in Green as Grass, my next book from Cedar Fort (Release date TBD):
Thinking of Lady Margaret for even a moment was enough to sour her expression, so when she went to the punch table, Robert Dalton greeted her by saying, “Well, good evening, Miss Grenfeld—who’s set up your bristles?”
Louisa laughed lightly. Robert Dalton was a delightfully ineligible young bachelor of eight-and-twenty who gambled heavily, flirted freely, and made easy friends wherever he went. “It is as good to see you as ever, Mr. Dalton. Whatever leads you to believe I’m angry?”
Robert gave her such a skeptical expression she almost had to laugh again. “Tell me, then, Miss Louisa. Who is responsible for that look on your face? Need I call someone out?”
She giggled once more. “Call out a widow? I should think not!”
“Is she a wealthy, young widow? Because I just might pay her a call. None too plump in the pocket at the moment, you know.” He winked.
Her eyes sparkled with her smile. “You never seem to be, Mr. Dalton.”
He accepted the rub with a grin. “What is the latest on-dit, then, Madam? From what little I’ve heard, that Brougham newcomer seems set to make you an offer already!”
She could feel her cheeks flush, but only smiled. “I don’t know about that.” She glanced about to be sure she wouldn’t be overheard before saying, “His mother asked that I introduce him to some more eligible young ladies, and even suggested that I set my cap at her nephew, Alfred Stanley.”
His mouth fell open and he shook his head. “You cannot be serious,” he said.
“I’m afraid I am serious, Mr. Dalton,” Louisa said, taking a sip of punch.
“Alfred Stanley? Does she know who you are?”
Louisa flushed with pleasure at the implied compliment. “Far too respectable for the likes of Mr. Stanley?” she said hopefully.
“I should say so! You are a diamond of the first water! He’s a . . . a loose screw too short on blunt for the petticoat line!”
One or two older ladies looked over at him when he made this exclamation, clearly scandalized. He nodded a brief apology to them before shaking his head at Louisa. “I should lower my voice, but ‘tis a shocking outrage. What did you say to the woman?”
Louisa looked heavenward. “What could I say, Mr. Dalton? I am a young, unattached woman of no consequence in her mind, and she the widowed daughter of an earl who refuses to recognize me as a respectable young lady, let alone as someone to be emulated. It would’ve been useless to contradict her.”
Mr. Dalton shook his head. “You didn’t answer my question, though, Miss Grenfeld. Are you setting your cap at that Brougham fellow? He’s said to be full of juice and very well-born, but I’ve never seen him at Watier’s! You never really know a man until you play a game of Faro at his side.”
“Let us hope, for the sake of his fortune, that he is never seen at Watier’s,” Louisa said with a smile, her mind flashing to their friend Mr. Brummell’s embarrassing gaming debts.
Robert narrowed his eyes at her. “Fine then, Miss. You keep your secrets, and I’ll keep mine.”
She laughed at this. “When have you ever kept a secret, sir?”
He wiggled his eyebrows. “If I told you, it’d never be a secret now, would it?”
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who am I?
My name is Mary-Celeste, but my friends call me M.C. I am a writer, wife, mother, amateur gardener, sourdough bread baker, n00b video gamer, Austen enthusiast, tabletop gamer, Trekkie, and generally cheerful human being. I write Regency romances and I post about it here (among other things). Thanks for stopping by!