I will probably regret doing this, but I’m going to see how well I like (or loathe) posting a snippet of a work-in-progress every Tuesday. This will continue until I tire of it, or until I can’t bear to put rough preliminary sentences out on the web for all and sundry to see.
Also, CAVEAT: anything posted here is subject to change. I change major plot points up until the very final draft, and minor characters’ names can change on a whim. So, don’t get too wedded to anything I post here, since it may never show up in the final draft.
Now that I’ve caveated you to death, here’s a snippet of something I’m playing around with – a (potentially serialized) first-person Regency starring Lady Christabel Claiborne, who was a secondary character in THE MARQUESS WHO LOVED ME. Enjoy!
Before I begin, I want you to know…I never thought to make a scandal of myself. Never even dreamt of it, all those years I spent in my mother’s house. I was immured like a nun, counting the hours between breakfast, supper, and bed as regularly as one might arrange the prayers in a cathedral.
But when I met Sebastian Staunton, I was lost.
I suppose, dear Reader, that you wouldn’t understand my fascination with Mr. Staunton. He was a middling sort of man, possessed of middling brown hair, middling brown eyes, and the middling fortune expected of a second son. I’d heard the rumors of his reputation, of course — the only thing that wasn’t middling about him. Still, even with that warning I failed to notice the hidden spark in his eyes. I failed to notice the powerful body he hid under his proper evening suit. I failed to notice the keen way in which he observed me, as though I were a potential threat and not a middling sort of woman myself.
I, like everyone else in his life, underestimated him. I saw the rake he intended for me to see. But if I may be allowed to defend my former naivete, I wasn’t looking for seduction. I didn’t anticipate that he presented any danger to me at all.
If I had known, that night in my sister-in-law’s ballroom, just where Sebastian Staunton would take me — or the methods he would use to deliver me there — perhaps I would have succumbed to a fit of vapors. That’s a lie, of course. I’ve never been ladylike enough for vapors. But perhaps — perhaps I would have reconsidered. Perhaps I would have stayed away from him, stayed safe in Sussex until my skin turned to paper and my bones brittled, until all hope of another life was just a wisp of fog in my age-dulled mind.
That night, though, Sebastian Staunton interested me greatly, and for only one reason.
Mr. Staunton possessed a ship. And I would do anything, promise anything, become anything, for the chance to run away on it.