I am dogged in my pursuit of new books. I subscribe to Publisher’s Marketplace. I read publishers quarterly catalogs. I read Advance magazine. However, the path to discovering a new book is sometimes fortuitous—by chance rather than by design. Such was the case with author Sawyer North. Our serendipitous introduction on Twitter makes his debut historical romance novel, Fair Weather Enemies, all the sweeter because of the journey.
Seriously, what Janeite would not want to follow @MrDarcyExplains? Check out his description of himself:
“I write Regency romance. I’m a man. Weird, I know. My wife is just happy we read the same stuff now. But she’s cooler. #ReadARegency”
His tweets are witty and funny too.
— Sawyer North (@MrDarcyExplains) March 23, 2020
With all of these intriguing attributes (thinks he is Mr. Darcy? a man writing Regency romance? and his wicked wit?) I had to read his book. I did not regret it and am still smiling.
Sawyer was kind enough to indulge this Janeite and historical romance lover with an excerpt for my readers. I hope you will give Fair Weather Enemies a try. Just think of a bantering Lizzy and Darcy (during the first proposal scene) on a treasure hunt through England, and X marks the spot.
The Hancocks and Ashfords have had a long-standing feud between their families long before Miss Jane Hancock couldn’t stand the sight of gentleman farmer Adam Ashford. But after both families fall on hard times and an unscrupulous creditor forces Jane and Adam to sign a devil’s bargain, they’ll finally understand the true meaning of keeping your enemies close at hand.
The terms of this bargain? Locate a lost treasure shrouded in deception and mystery.
The catch? Only one can claim it to win…the loser is left to ruin.
As Jane and Adam embark on a trek throughout England, they plan to hate their adversary, no matter how attractive, generous, and kind they are.
Sometimes, plans change…
Like virtuous knights of old, Adam and Barlow stood guard between the moody brood sow and the ladies. Fortunately, the large pig seemed content to remain motionless while emitting periodic grunts. As the wagon bumped along toward evening, Adam shoved aside the snuffling nose of an inquisitive piglet to better view Jane. She sat near the front of the wagon engaged in low conversation with Hester. Sleeping piglets sprawled around her, and one lay nestled beneath her hand. He did not know what might be considered proper attire for traveling with swine, but Jane’s appearance transcended her situation. A well-worn riding habit of faded blue covered most of a sturdy cotton walking dress, illuminating the blue of her eyes. Her prominent cheekbones, narrow nose, and dimpled chin seemed appropriate to a miller’s daughter—delicately bold. Not unlike her general demeanor, he decided. He did not notice Jane’s gaze until she spoke to him.
“Do you wish to say something, sir?”
He cut his eyes away quickly to hide the fact that he had been staring. Her gentle laugh informed him that she already knew. He looked her way again. “Would you find my presence overly odious if I joined you for a bit of conversation? I have exhausted my discussion points with Mr. Barlow and the brood sow.”
He motioned toward the solicitor and the massive pig, both of whom were sleeping soundly. Jane blinked three times in rapid succession but retained the smile. Her hand patted the wagon bed next to her. He moved to her side and sat, with the blissful piglet as a buffer between them.
“Thank you,” he said.
“I believe I will rest now,” said Hester overly loudly. She rolled away to feign sleep. Jane peeked at her aunt and shook her head. She turned to regard Adam with a steady confident gaze that he found lacking in many women her age. He reluctantly commended her for that.
“So…what might we discuss?”
He glanced down at the sleeping piglet. “I suppose we should begin with your new friend. He seems a bit young for you.”
“Sir,” she said with mock umbrage. “I must begin by offering offense on behalf of the pig, as ‘he’ is a ‘she’.”
“My apologies to the pig, then. Perhaps the odor has dulled my powers of observation.”
She nodded. “On behalf of Lily, I accept.”
“She has taken a particular liking to me, it seems. I cannot very well continue calling her ‘piglet’ as if her regard meant nothing.”
He laughed unexpectedly. “Of course. Very sensible. One should not slight a pig unnecessarily. Unfortunately for me, the sow seems rather disinterested in my friendship.”
“And this disappoints you?”
“Immensely. I crave nothing more than the sentimental regard of those in my company.”
She cocked her head and frowned. “Even those predisposed to despising the very ground on which you walk?”
“Why, may I ask? Is it not natural for opponents to maintain a healthy disdain for one another?”
Adam looked away, uncomfortable with the directness of her questions. “I suppose it is.” Then he cut his eyes toward her. “After all, how could we remain, enemies, if we ceased hating each other?”
His comment appeared to startle her. “We? I was speaking of piglets. Now, you talk of us. This all seems rather unexpected.”
“Right. But let us not speak of piglets. Let us instead discuss the merits of remaining enemies. After you, Jane.”
She placed a finger dramatically against her chin. “The prospect of despising you gets me out of bed in the morning. I rise each day thinking, ‘how might I ruin Adam Ashford today?’ Your turn, sir.”
He pursed his lips in thought. “My disdain for you serves as a good reference point. Having a reliable enemy allows me to see all others in a better light. It allows me to sort people into two convenient categories—my enemy and everyone else.”
“Should not your categories be more nuanced?”
“Such as friend of your enemy, enemy of your enemy, enemy of your friend, and those you truly love? To name just a few?”
The sparkle of her eyes made clear her amusement with the discussion. This pleased him, though he did not know why. “I see your point. Perhaps I should reconsider my categories. But see here, we have identified only two merits of maintaining a healthy hatred for each other. Surely, there are others.”
She nodded agreement. “There is at least one more.”
“And that is?”
“Convenient scapegoating. Having an enemy tells me whom I might blame for all the ills of my life. For all the ills of the world, actually. Without a proper enemy, I might be forced to consider my own role in such unpleasant things. How terribly inconvenient.”
He chuckled again. “Well said. I, too, find comfort in having such a readily available scapegoat. Keeps me from the need for self-reflection. And everyone knows that gentlemen abhor such distressing and taxing thoughts.”
“Just as I suspected.” She giggled, much to his surprise. An awkward pause overcame them, as often happens when conversation trends perilously toward painful truths.
Chapter 8, pages 48 – 51
- “Superb comic timing and witty banter adds some of the best content to any historical romance I have read in a long time.”—Gwendalyn’s Books
- “Wow, the detail in this story is great! Grab a copy of this one and settle in for a great read. I can’t wait for more from this author!”—The Reading Cafe
- “I couldn’t put the book down until I had read the final page. The writing is well done and the plot moved along at a good pace. I just sorry there aren’t any more novels from Mr. North. I definitely look forward to his next one.”—Debra Elizabeth, bestselling author of Love by Secrets
- A fun, witty, romance. Sawyer North is a sparkling new talent in Regency romance.”—Laurel Ann Nattress, editor of Jane Austen Made Me Do It
After self-publishing science fiction novels over a period of years, Sawyer North made the truly unusual move into historical romance. Although romance is a strong thread in nearly all his works, he came to straight-up, nothing-but-romance only after turning fifty. Since then, he is plagued by the question, “What took me so long?” His awakening began rather innocuously when he casually watched the 2015 version of Poldark. Before he knew it, he was falling headlong into the abyss of historical romance and read fifteen such novels over a three-month span. However, no number could sufficiently scratch his itch for more, so he did what any writer would do and began constructing stories of his own. In April of 2019, he received his first contract with Entangled Publishing, and in February 2020, his debut historical romance, Fair Weather Enemies, was published.
Fair Weather Enemies, by Sawyer North
Entangled Publishing (February 10, 2020)
Trade paperback & eBook (270) pages
Cover image, book description, excerpt, and author bio courtesy of Entangled Publishing © 2020; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2020, Austenprose.com