THIS PAST MONDAY, OCTOBER 15, saw the release of another new Regency for me. This release is a culmination of five weeks of releases and a bit of chaos, beginning on September 8. Permit me to explain, beginning with this most recent release.
What began as a project from writers of the Beau Monde, the Regency-based chapter of the Romance Writers of America, CHRISTMAS EVER AFTER is a Christmas anthology, featuring 8 fabulous writers and best-selling authors of “clean” Regencies.
This anthology contains:
Letters from Home by Regina Jeffers
How the Duke Stole Christmas by Alanna Lucas
Courting a Spinster for Christmas by Arietta Richmond
Kissing by the Mistletoe by Cora Lee
Miss Hadley’s Holly by Victoria Hinshaw
The Duke’s Christmas Wish by Emma Kaye
The Resurrection of Regina by Janis Susan May
Lady Eleanor’s Christmas by Becca St. John
876 pages of wonderful romantic reads that will put you in the mood for love and for the holidays from Dreamstone Publishing for $0.99.
“Letters from Home”
She is the woman whose letters to another man kept Simon alive during the war. He is the English officer her late Scottish husband praised as being incomparable. She stirs his soul; in her, his heart whispers of being home. However, the lady wishes to remain “invisible.” Can Major Lord Simon Lanford claim Mrs. Faith Lamont as his wife or will his rise to the earldom and his family’s expectations keep them apart?
Teaser from Chapter Three:
He must apologize to the lady. Simon had watched Mrs. Lamont throughout the previous evening’s meal and entertainment. She sat with several of the other chaperones. but never once did she look in his direction. He had been paired with Lady Sophia, then Miss DeLong, and finally Lady Annabelle, while the one lady who held his interest made light conversation with people old enough to be her parents.
“She’ll not avoid me today,” he told the mirror in his room. “I have questions.”
“Pardon, sir?” Riggs, his former batman turned valet, asked.
Simon debated but a few elongated seconds before instructing, “I wish to learn more of Miss DeLong.” Riggs’s eyebrows shot upward, but his man made no remark, which was unusual, and so Simon explained, “Not because I have intentions toward the chit, but because I wish to rid myself of her advances. She is the most forward of those gathered in Aunt Josephine’s drawing room. When I was forced to claim her as a partner for the games last evening, her hands often found my person and not all she whispered in my ear had to do with strategy to win the match. Aunt Josephine warned me to keep my doors locked, and I agree. I wish you to bed in the dressing room for the time being. Moreover, I wish you to question her maid—”
“The lady does not employ a maid,” Riggs added before Simon could continue.
“No lady’s maid for the daughter of a baron?” Simon questioned.
Riggs gruffly bit out his reply, “Caro, the maid your aunt assigned to clean the woman’s rooms says Mrs. Lamont dresses her cousin.”
“Naturally,” Simon hissed. “The lack of a maid speaks to Miss DeLong’s circumstances and her appearance on our threshold, claiming an invitation my aunt swears was never issued.” Simon frowned. “I do not like the games the ton plays.” With a sigh of resignation, he added, “Learn what you can of Mrs. Lamont. I discovered yesterday that she is a widow, lost her husband at Quatre Bras.”
“Quatre Bras?” Riggs asked. “I recall no one at Quatre Bras by the name of Lamont among the English contingent.”
“Neither do I,” Simon admitted. “But if the lady has been reduced to the circumstances of serving Miss DeLong, I would consider it my responsibility to see the woman to a better way, especially if Mr. Lamont served honorably.”
Riggs asked in concerned tones, “Do you think this Lamont fellow be one of those who deserted?”
“Such might explain the woman’s current situation,” Simon concluded. “Surely, she should have a widow’s pension to sustain her, otherwise.”
“The fact Mrs. Lamont possesses the same connections as Miss DeLong should provide a better position than she has.”
“True. I had not considered her position in those terms. Perhaps I should consult DeBrett’s to learn more of Mrs. Lamont’s relationship to the barony. Is she a first cousin or one further down the family tree? Does she deserve my consideration or not?”
Originally, there were to be four boxed sets: clean, sensual, spicy, and steamy. Unfortunately, some who volunteered for the project found themselves over extended. Eventually, the group agreed, for this first year, we would combine the clean and sensual sets into one anthology and the spicy and steamy sets into another. For me, that became a problem, for I was to have a story in both the “clean” set and in the “sensual” set. My story for the “sensual” set is entitled “Lady Joy and the Earl.” What was I to do with the tale? I could hold onto it until next Christmas, but that is not of my nature. Moreover, at age 71, another year may not be God’s plan for me.
According to the publishing contract, “Letters from Home” cannot be published individually as an eBook until after March 2019, but it can be released in print. Therefore, I decided to release “Lady Joy and the Earl” on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited and then combine “Lady Joy…” with “Letters from Home” in a print edition, entitled Beautified by Love.
Blurb for Beautified by Love:
“Letters from Home”
She is the woman whose letters to another man kept Simon alive during the war. He is the English officer her late Scottish husband praised as being “incomparable.” Can Major Lord Simon Lanford claim Mrs. Faith Lamont as his wife or will his rise to the earldom and his family’s expectations keep them apart?
“Lady Joy and the Earl”
They have loved each other since childhood, but life has not been kind to either of them. James Highcliffe’s arranged marriage had been everything but loving, and Lady Joy’s late husband believed a woman’s spirit was meant to be broken. Therefore, convincing Lady Jocelyn Lathrop to abandon her freedom and consider marriage to him after twenty plus years apart may be more than the Earl of Hough can manage. Only the spirit of Christmas can bring these two together when secrets mean to keep them apart.
“One Minute Past Christmas”
An Appalachian grandfather and his granddaughter are blessed with a special ability—a gift that enables them briefly to witness a miraculous gathering in the sky each year at exactly one minute past Christmas. The experience fills them with wonder, but they worry their secret “gift” will end with them because, in forty-four years, no other relative has displayed an inclination to carry it on to a new generation.
Teaser from Chapter One of “Lady Joy and the Earl”
Even before she turned around, Jocelyn knew Lord Hough had entered the ballroom. A hush fell over those in attendance, followed by a swell of whispers. Slowly, she pivoted to take in the magnificence of the man. James Highcliffe stood beneath the archway, his still muscular frame filling the opening. A tall figure dressed in black. Except for the blue hue of his waistcoat, he reminded her of a character from a Minerva Press romance. He was not as lean as she remembered, but there was nothing amiss with the manner in which his evening clothes set off his figure.
Irritably, she realized she held her breath until his gaze found hers. A slight smile lifted his lips. Their gaze held for several elongated ticks of the clock. Jocelyn could not look away. She knew she should turn and pretend not to notice his presence; yet, like a ninny, she studied his approach, enjoying the ease with which he moved. He was the one by whom she judged all other males—unfortunately, he was the one who had broken her young heart.
Jocelyn purposely turned to remind her niece Constance not to appear too eager to greet Lord Hough. “It would be unseemly,” she whispered her caution.
“But it was kind of his lordship to agree to escort us, Aunt.”
“It was,” Joy reluctantly agreed. When she learned her brother had made arrangements with Lord Hough without consulting her, she was most upset at the prospect of encountering the earl again. She had been in Kent with Lathrop when James Highcliffe spoke his vows to another, and she was glad for it. Such was the reason she had agreed to an earlier date for her nuptials than the one James had named. Jocelyn knew she was not strong enough to witness his marrying another. “I forget you see Lord Hough often at home.”
“More so since the death of his wife,” Constance explained. “But often enough, at church and such. How long has it been since you encountered Lord Hough?”
“Twenty-two years, four months, and eighteen days,” his lordship responded before Jocelyn could claim her wits about her.
Constance’s mouth stood agape in astonishment. “How can you be so certain, my lord?”
Lord Hough winked at Constance before presenting Jocelyn’s niece a proper bow, a reminder to Constance to respond accordingly. “I recall clearly, Lady Constance, for that was the day Lady Jocelyn married Lord Lathrop, and the viscount spirited away Aberford’s sunshine.”
Jocelyn willed the embarrassment from her cheeks. “Lord Hough bams you, Constance. His lordship possesses a great sense of humor.” The fact the numbers he quoted were accurate to the day of her exchanging her vows with Harrison Lathrop not only surprised her, but irritated her. Lord Hough had walked away from their blossoming romance when he was nineteen and she several months on the other side of sixteen. Two years later, she became Lady Lathrop. Four months later, James married Lady Louisa Connick, a woman he had never courted. For more than two decades, except for one brief encounter after her father’s death, they had never stood in the same room together, certainly never side-by-side.
Before Jocelyn could continue, Lord Sheldon appeared at Constance’s side. “Lady Constance, I believe this is our dance. The set is forming.”
“May I be excused, Aunt?”
“Certainly.” Jocelyn deliberately nodded to Lord Sheldon. “I shall be waiting here for my niece’s return.”
Attempting to ignore the very masculine man standing beside her, Jocelyn watched Constance as her niece and Sheldon took their places in the set.
“Would you care to dance, Joy?” Hough asked softly.
Despite her best efforts, Jocelyn’s heart hitched higher just hearing her family’s pet name for her on Lord Hough’s lips.
In a frustrated warning to control her emotions, her eyebrows drew together in a fierce frown. “A chaperone does not dance,” she chastised.
When she turned to him, his cinnamon-colored eyes presented her a long, slow look. Staring into those eyes, Jocelyn recognized the familiar merriment she had known years prior. “Do you not recall the steps, my lady?” he teased.
“When was the last time you danced, James Highcliffe?” she challenged.
“Your sixteenth birthday,” he said without hesitation.
The idea shocked her. “Surely you and Lady Hough shared a dance upon occasion.”
His brow climbed a fraction. “I am not accustomed to exaggerating when speaking of momentous events. I assure you, Louisa and I never danced. My late wife despised the exercise, but I recall your being quite fond of twirling about a dance floor, as well as your being excessively light on your feet and on mine.”
Jocelyn blushed and covered the emotion with a flick of her fan. “Not any longer,” she said tersely. “Girlish fantasies. A woman who has borne two sons can no longer be termed light on her feet.”
Lord Hough leaned closer to whisper in her ear. “Do not fish for compliments, Joy, for you must surely own a looking glass. But if you do not, simply know, in my eyes, you remain the most beautiful woman of my acquaintance.”
“Your lordship—” She meant to caution him against such forwardness, but her eyes landed upon his lips, and all thoughts of anything but whether his kiss would be as exciting as the last one they had shared filled her brain.
“No reprimands,” he said in what appeared to be bemusement, “or I will be compelled to kiss you into silence.”
Joy struggled against the shiver of desire skittering up her spine. There was a time the man standing before her was her world. She would not make that mistake again. Lathrop had taught her all the lessons she required about disappointment.
“No kissing, my lord,” she hissed through tight lips. “No cuddling. No dancing. No flirting. I am Constance’s chaperone, and, until my brother’s return, you are our escort. If you are interested in female companionship, I am certain there are many in this ballroom willing to oblige you, whether you desire a mistress or a wife.”
His voice, when responding, was both low and demanding. “We will kiss, Lady Lathrop.” His words were quiet and deliberately stressed. “And cuddle and flirt and dance. And when I choose a wife, it will be you. I will have no mistress—only you, Joy, as the chatelaine of my manor and of my life.”
“Most assuredly, you jest. We have not laid eyes on each other for twenty years, and you expect me to consider marriage to a man I barely know.”
“You know me, Joy. It was Lathrop you did not know.”
Purchase Link for “Lady Joy and the Earl”
Purchase Link for Beautified by Love
My month (plus) of releases began with the release of my latest JAFF book, Where There’s a Fitzwilliam Darcy, There’s a Way. I had no trouble releasing the eBook of this novel, but, as many of you know, the print copy became an obstacle that nearly broke me. I was ready to hang my pen on a string in my office and admit I finally knew defeat.
For those of you unfamiliar with the situation, I will attempt to make a quick explanation.
Many who self published used the services of a company called CreateSpace for the print copies of their books, and used Kindle, Kobo, Nook, etc., for the eBook versions. Although Amazon owned CreateSpace, until recently, if there were slight variations in the info. submitted on CreateSpace and that submitted on Kindle, there was no problem. Of late, however, Amazon has closed down CreateSpace and migrated books on the CS site into Kindle Direct Publishing. Amazon uses computers to scan the books to make certain there are no discrepancies. I published Where There’s a FitzWILLiam Darcy about the same time as my books on CS migrated over to KDP. I admit part of the problem was me. On the print copy, I listed “There’s a Way” as the subtitle. On the eBook copy, I used the long title. When the print copy went “into review,” the Amazon computers determined I had infringed on the copyright of one of their “high performing authors in our catalog.” As all this is computerized, I could not get a real life person to realize the person I was infringing on was ME. They kept asking if I had a contract with Regina Jeffers to publish her book in print form.
Eventually, I contacted Jeff Bezos. The first time he gave my plea to someone who sent me the same “infringement” email. I contacted him a second time and included two screen shots of the book on my KDP page showing it was still “in review,” meaning it was locked and no changes could be made. Another four days later, I spoke to an actual person, who unlocked the file. I immediately went in and made certain the book details for both files were identical. Then, I hit publish. Twelve hours (and 24 days later) the print copy of the book went live. Of course, I’ve lost all those sales that might have been, but it is available.
Where There’s a FitzWILLiam Darcy, There’s a Way
To him that will, ways are never wanting.
ELIZABETH BENNET’s world has turned upon its head. Not only is her family about to be banished from their beloved Longbourn after her father’s sudden death, but Mr. Darcy has appeared upon her threshold, not to renew his proposal, as she first feared, but, rather, to serve as Mr. Collins’s agent in taking an accounting of the estate’s “treasures” before her father’s cousin steals away all her memories of the place.
FITZWILLIAM DARCY certainly has no desire to encounter Elizabeth Bennet again so soon after her mordant refusal of his hand in marriage, but when his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, strikes a bargain in which her ladyship agrees to provide his Cousin Anne a London Season if Darcy will become Mr. Collins’s agent in Hertfordshire, Darcy accepts in hopes he can convince Miss Elizabeth to think better of him than she, obviously, does. Yet, how can he persuade the woman to recognize his inherent sense of honor, when his inventory of Longbourn’s entailed land and real properties announces the date she and her family will be homeless?
Teaser from Chapter Three:
“Uncle, come quickly!” Elizabeth called. “Mama has lost all reason!”
She had warned her Uncle Gardiner informing Mrs. Bennet of her husband’s missing will would be a mistake, but Gardiner had argued that having a purpose would ease Mrs. Bennet’s despondency. Obviously, Elizabeth’s uncle had forgotten the force of chaos always surrounding his youngest sister.
“What has Fanny done now?” he growled as he followed Elizabeth through Longbourn’s passageways.
“You must see it to believe it,” she cautioned, as she led the way up the stairs. Reaching her father’s former quarters, she flung the door open and stepped from his way, so her uncle could view the havoc Mrs. Bennet had orchestrated.
“Dear Lord,” he groaned. “Francis Margaret Gardiner, what is this madness?”
Elizabeth stood with her back to the door. She did not know whether to laugh or to cry. Her mother and two youngest sisters had annihilated her father’s bedchamber. Papers were strewn across the floor. Drawers turned upon their heads, spilling their precious contents onto the Persian rug, which Mr. Bennet had chosen over his wife’s objections, saying the rug would keep the floors warmer in the winter than the plain wooden floor. Kitty stood before their father’s wardrobe, tossing his best jackets and waistcoats over her shoulder to litter the floor, while Lydia, with scissors in hand, cut open pillows to dump the feathers into a pile at her feet.
With her and Uncle Gardiner’s entrance, her mother had frozen in place, the hammer she had been wielding raised above her head. Large gaping holes appeared in the walls. Plaster dust and splintered wood marked the outline of the walls.
Her mother swiped at the dust peppering her cheeks. “I am searching for Mr. Bennet’s will,” she announced royally. “Is that not what you asked me to do?”
Elizabeth watched in fascination as her Uncle Gardiner schooled his expression, looking very much like her Grandfather Gardiner must have when dealing with Francis Gardiner as a child. “Let me understand all this.” He gestured to the debris scattered across Mr. Bennet’s quarters. “You believe your husband, a man with whom you resided for four and twenty years, knocked a hole in his wall, hid his will, and then repaired the wall, to perfection, I might add, with such skill that no one took note for months-on-end of the alteration.”
Before Elizabeth’s mother could respond, he turned to Lydia. “And you think Mr. Bennet hid his will in his pillows? When, may I ask, did you ever observe Thomas Bennet use a needle and thread, for if he were so foolish as to hide his will within, Mr. Bennet would be called upon to remove the previous stitches, stuff the will inside the casing, and repair the seams.”
Lydia looked upon him as if their uncle had asked her to prove the world was not round.
“Did it occur to you that one could simply feel the pillow and know whether it contained a written document the thickness of an estate will?”
“But Mama—” Lydia protested lamely.
“And you, Kitty,” Mr. Gardiner continued, completely ignoring Lydia’s pout. “Did you think your father walked around since last November with his will in his jacket pocket? I suppose moving it from coat to coat with each change of his clothes. Or worse,” he gestured to the clothes littering the floor, “did you suspect he carried it about in his small clothes.”
Turning back to his sister, he continued his chastisements, “Fanny, this is ridiculous! I want this room put in order. Place Mr. Bennet’s clothes upon the bed, folded in neat stacks. All drawers will be replaced and their contents organized appropriately.”
Her mother huffed her disapproval. “Then send Hill up. I shall be in my room grieving my loss.” Mrs. Bennet placed the hammer upon the window seat and started toward the door, but Uncle Gardiner was faster.
“You are going nowhere until this room is set to order,” he growled.
“But my nerves,” her mother protested.
“Will be better served by activity than time spent brooding over your trials,” he countered.
Even though her head barely reached her brother’s chest, Mrs. Bennet pulled herself up to her full height. “Until Mr. Collins arrives with that traitorous wife of his, I am still Longbourn’s mistress.”
“You speak foolishness,” he argued. “With Mr. Bennet’s passing, you and the girls became the responsibility of my Brother Philips and me. I know for certain when we discover Mr. Bennet’s will, it will name me as executor, for Thomas and I discussed his doing so extensively on more than one occasion. Therefore, as both your brother and your late husband’s confidant, I am taking control of this family. You will remain here in all this debris until you restore the room to some sense of order.” He turned to Elizabeth. “Lizzy, fetch me a chair and the mail. I will make use of the time while I wait for the room to be set aright.”
“Yes, sir.” She scooted past him. Elizabeth had noted the look of contempt her mother presented her for Elizabeth’s part in her uncle’s arrival in Mr. Bennet’s quarters. “Another black mark on her tally sheet,” she grumbled, as she wrestled a straight-backed chair across Mrs. Bennet’s sitting room. In frustration, she thought to pick up the offending piece of furniture and toss it into the passageway. Instead, she permitted her tears a moment of release. Collapsing onto the chair, she buried her face in her hands. “How shall we survive?” she hiccupped on a loud sob.
Since arriving at Longbourn seven days prior, she had not been permitted even one minute to mourn her dearest father privately. She had crossed Longbourn’s threshold to discover pure chaos. Jane’s attempts to organize the household were being ignored by all until Elizabeth had raised her voice and demanded calm, while, in reality, all she really wanted to do was to sneak into the room where her father’s body rested in repose and grieve for the loss of the most important person in her life. Since that moment, they had all turned to her to handle the correspondence required for Mr. Collins’s succession as the new master of Longbourn. “How can I do this, God?” she whispered. “I am not strong enough. I need my father. Whom may I trust? Who will give a care for my future?”
Mary’s voice caught Elizabeth unaware, and Elizabeth sighed with deep regret. Once again, she had not been permitted five minutes even, to dwell upon her misery. Aggravated, she wiped her tears away with the heels of her hands. “Yes, Mary.”
Her sister said apologetically, “You have a visitor in the front parlor.”
With a deep steadying breath, she rose. “A visitor? Has not everyone in the neighborhood made his condolence call?” She did not think she could hear another go on about her father’s unconventional character or hint the need for payment of an outstanding bill, one her father had not addressed before his passing. Perhaps tomorrow. But not today. “Who can it be?”
NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAYS: ALL THREE GIVEAWAYS WILL END AT MIDNIGHT EST ON SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2018. LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW TO BE A PART OF THE DRAWING.
GIVEAWAY #1: I have 3 eBook copies of Christmas Ever After available to those who comment below.
GIVEAWAY #2: I have 2 eBook copies of “Lady Joy and the Earl” available to those who comment below.
GIVEAWAY #3: I have 2 eBook copies of Where There’s a FitzWILLiam Darcy, There’s a Way available to those who comment below.