Today, I welcome a fellow Beau Monder, Elf Ahearn to “Every Woman Dreams.” This is her first visit with us, and I hope you will show her the kindness you customarily show me. What can I tell you about Elf’s writing? Her tag line says it all: “Regency Romance with a Gothic Twist.”
Elf brings us a fabulous story of the real-life horse upon which she based her inspiration for Manifesto, the horse in her release of A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing: The Albright Sisters, Book 1. You will discover real inspiration in this tale!
Elf says: Reading annotated novels is cool. I adore knowing that Lewis Carroll created the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland because hat makers used mercury to cure felt and went insane from it, and that the Mock Turtle’s song parodied a famous poem whose first stanza read, “Will you walk into my parlour? Said the spider to the fly.” So I thought I’d do a little annotating myself.
A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing, which is currently on sale for a mere .99 cents at Amazon.com, features a dabble-gray stallion named Manifesto, and he was inspired by Snowman, a horse I worshipped as an equine-crazed tween.
In 1956 Snowman was a plow horse in Pennsylvania’s Amish country, and his eventual owner, Harry E. de Leyer was the owner of a riding school on Long Island. For whatever reason, Snowman’s Amish master put the white and speckled horse up for auction. As is still the case at these events, any animal not sold by the time the gavel makes its final knock, is loaded into a truck and hauled off to the slaughterhouse.
Harry, hoping to buy a few cheap school horses, was late to the auction, but in time to watch eight-year-old Snowman take his final steps up the truck’s ramp.
Now when I was a kid, I could swear I read this, but I have no proof it’s true; when Harry spied Snowman in the livestock trailer, he saw “a look of eagles” in the horse’s eyes. “A look of eagles;” I love that. So Harry motioned to the driver to lead Snowman back out, and he handed the guy $80 for his troubles.
A few months passed, and Harry used Snowman as a school horse, but being a shrewd business man, sold the animal to a neighbor for twice what he paid. Snowman would have none of it, though. Upon being turned out in the neighbor’s paddock, Snowman popped the five-foot fence between the two properties and galloped back to Harry. The humans tried again, but the $80 plow horse thwarted their efforts by leaping every obstacle they put in front of him. The eagle would not land.
Recognizing Snowman’s extraordinary ability, Harry bought him back. Two years later his $80 investment won so many shows, he was named the U.S. Equestrian Federation’s Horse of the Year, the Professional Horseman’s champion, and the champion of Madison Square Garden’s Diamond Jubilee. In 1959, Snowman became the first horse to win the Open Jumper Championship at Madison Square Garden two years in a row.
Snowman was dubbed the “Cinderella horse,” and LIFE magazine called his reversal of fortune a “nags to riches” story. In addition, a book was written about him titled “The Eighty-Dollar Champion,” and there’s even a documentary called “Harry & Snowman.”
Manifesto, the stallion in A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing, shares Snowman’s color and jumping ability, but my fictional horse is so spirited only Ellie can ride him. Snowman, however, was so gentle there’s a famous picture of Harry’s six kids riding him bareback. Even Johnny Carson once mounted him on national TV. But like Snowman, Manifesto is a champion, and Ellie, like Henry, considers her horse her best friend. And last, but most important, both horses share that look of eagles.
A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing
In Lord Hugh Davenport’s opinion, women of the ton perpetually hide behind a mask of deception. That’s hard for Ellie Albright, the daughter of an earl, to swallow—especially since she’s disguised herself as a stable hand to get back the prized stallion her father sold to Hugh to pay a debt. If Hugh learns her true identity she’ll lose the horse and her family will go bankrupt. Somehow, though, losing Hugh’s affection is beginning to seem even worse.
Already only a step away from being snagged in her own web of lies, Ellie’s deceit threatens to spin out of control when Hugh’s mother invites Ellie and her sisters to a house party. Now Ellie has to scramble to keep Hugh from knowing she’s the stable girl he wants to marry, while simultaneously trying to win his trust as herself. Can she keep her costumes straight long enough to save her family? And even if she does, will it be worth losing his love?
This is a new release of a previously published edition.
Available on Amazon for 99 cents.
Excerpt from A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing
Ellie eyed the splattered front of her gown. “Now look what you’ve done. I’m a mess.”
The beast yanked a crumpled handkerchief from his pocket. “Use this,” he said, accidentally brushing her breast.
Ellie shied from his touch. “My Heavens, sir, cease and desist! Now, give me your handkerchief, slowly.” As she took the linen square, her hand halted in midair. The sour look she intended for her assailant melted. La, what a handsome man. And then she realized she’d seen him before, but where? Dark eyes, nearly black, met her own, a hooked curl bisected his forehead, meeting the edge of a scar that crossed the ruddy crest of his right cheek.
I’m staring. Quickly she pretended to swab a spot of wine at her waist. Her breath went shallow and her thoughts scattered, but a smile tipped the corners of her lips. She’d had the great good fortune to be trod upon by one of Devon’s most elusive bachelors, Hugh Davenport, Earl of Bruxburton – one of the few gentlemen who’d failed to call at Fairland. A pulse of pain reminded her of her foot. “I … I think I need to sit down,” she told him.
“Ah yes…” said Hugh, looking for an empty chair.
Putting the tiniest bit of weight down, Ellie received a powerful jolt. “I’m afraid I’ll not be dancing again this evening.”
Hugh’s back straightened and a hard look seeped into his eyes. Is he annoyed? she wondered.
“Well, there must be a chair here somewhere.” He moved off on the hunt.
Ellie took a few limping steps after him. “I’ll need your assistance.” He came back and eyed her suspiciously. “Your arm, in fact,” she told him.
His lips hardened, but he looped her arm through his. As they passed a row of seated grande dams, every eye watched with envy.
At an alcove, Hugh stopped to let her pass. “In here,” he said.
“I can’t go in there alone with you.”
“Did you see a free chair on the floor?” he said. “Because what I saw was a row of plump sugar plums, and none of them likely to abandon her seat.”
“People will say I’ve been compromised.”
“Nonsense. I couldn’t possibly compromise anyone in an alcove shielded by a simple palm tree. A young lady compromised in such a manner either wants to be or wants to pretend she was. Which one are you?”
Meet Elf Ahearn: Elf Ahearn, yes that is her real name – lives in New York with her wonderful husband and a pesky cat who believes she’s the inspiration for all of Elf’s books, yet is really a charming distraction from writing. Learn more about Elf at elfahearn.com or on Facebook. Learn more about the cat by subscribing to The Writer’s Cat—a very infrequent newsletter about the feline in apricot fur.
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