From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:
Happy Friday, dear readers. Autumn has arrived in the Pacific Northwest. The leaves are vivid with color and the temps are dropping. I am rushing to finish garden projects such as planting spring bulbs and laying down mulch. It seems that there is never enough time to put the garden to bed for the winter.
I am pleased to feature author Rachel Knowles at Austenprose today. We are showcasing her second novel in The Merry Romances series, A Reason for Romance. This Regency romance is an inspirational fiction story set in 1810 that can be read as a standalone in the series.
Rachel runs the delightful and inspiring blog, Regency History, and is an authority on the era. She has also penned The Perfect Match (2015), the first book in The Merry Romances series, and the nonfiction book, What Regency Women Did for Us (2017), if you would like to delve deeper into the times that Jane Austen lived and publisher her books in.
Curl up with a cup of tea and enjoy the exclusive excerpt from A Reason for Romance which Rachel has generously shared with us today.
The Earl of Castleford believes he’s found the love of his life. Georgiana Merry is searching for a romantic hero nothing like the reserved Earl. How can he capture her heart before the intriguing Sir James steals it away?
Repelled by his father’s unfaithfulness, Lord Castleford has locked away his feelings, saving them for one woman alone. He does not expect her to be the impulsive Miss Merry, the reckless young lady whose elopement he once foiled.
Georgiana Merry tends to act on her feelings with no thought to the consequences. She goes to London looking for romantic love, but all she finds is friendship with the philanthropic Lord Castleford.
The appearance of the fascinating Sir James seems like the answer to her dreams.
But Georgiana has been misled by her feelings before. Afraid of making another mistake, she takes counsel from the mysterious Sylph – her self-appointed guardian who sends her anonymous letters.
Can the Sylph help her discover where her heart truly lies before she makes another decision she might regret?
When they arrived at St James’s, the courtyard was already swarming with people. They had only taken a few steps before the Duchess stopped to talk to an acquaintance. Despite the cold, Georgiana was glad of the opportunity to look around her without having to worry that she might miss her footing. She wanted to etch the entire scene in her memory so she would not forget a thing.
Her eyes flitted this way and that, taking it all in. Officers resplendent in their uniforms; peers in their robes; other aristocrats in their richly embroidered velvet coats. The ladies were dressed in velvet and satin in a myriad of colours with embroidery and lace in abundance, but she did not think any of them looked as magnificent as her grandmother. Most wore ostrich feathers in their hair, and she glanced from one to another, working out whose headdress was tallest.
Eliza nudged her. “Why is that gentleman staring at us?”
“I don’t suppose anyone is staring at us,” Georgiana replied, without taking her eyes off the height of the feathers she was trying to compare. “I expect they are ogling Grandmama’s diamonds!”
“No – that gentleman over there is definitely gazing at us. At least, he’s looking at you. Perhaps it is someone you know. He must be a lord because of his robes – an earl, I think. He looks as if he recognises you but can’t quite place where he has seen you before.”
Her interest piqued at last, Georgiana turned her eyes in the direction of Eliza’s nod. But she was too late. The gentleman had disappeared.
“Tell me if you see him again,” Georgiana said.
When the Duchess had finished her conversation, they resumed their progress across the courtyard. They walked sedately behind their grandmother, up the stairs and into a chamber whose walls were covered with exquisite tapestry. The Duchess handed cards with their names on to the person in attendance and they were ushered into the drawing room where they lined up with the rest of the company.
Whilst they stood, waiting for the Queen to appear, Georgiana scanned the sea of faces. As she had expected, she saw no one she knew apart from Lady Frances and her parents. How strange that a gentleman – no, a nobleman – should think he recognised her. He must have been mistaken.
* * *
No one could have guessed at the rebellious thoughts behind Lord Castleford’s smile as he arrived at St James’s Palace that afternoon. Since becoming earl, he had done his duty, appearing at court and taking part in the round of balls and concerts and other sundry events that composed the London season, with the hope – the slim and seemingly vain hope – that he might find his ‘one woman’.
From the day he learned that his father was not faithful to his mother, he had vowed that there would only ever be one woman for him. It still made his stomach knot with pain when he remembered how his father had flaunted his mistress in front of him and laughed at his confusion. He had seen the hurt his mother had borne and resolved never to cause his wife the same grief.
His father had thought him weak not to take a mistress, but he knew that was a lie. It was not easy to wait, especially since finding a wife was proving more difficult than he had expected. Was it too much to ask that he might find a godly woman like his mother to love?
Here he was, at the start of another year, and his search for a wife continued. He resented parading himself as a prize on the marriage mart, a prey to every ambitious debutante, but saw it as unavoidable. Fortunately, he was blessed with great patience and a rather dry sense of humour that enabled him to view the schemes of matchmaking mothers with cynical detachment.
He was in no hurry to make his way up to the state rooms. The less time he spent in that stifling atmosphere waiting for the Queen, the better. He thought he would linger a little longer in the courtyard, where at least the air was cold and fresh. A moment later, he was regretting his decision.
“Castleford,” a familiar voice drawled in his ear. Involuntarily, he stiffened. He turned to greet Lord Harting with every appearance of civility, but he could not like the older man. His political opinion oscillated, sometimes this way, sometimes that. How could you trust a man who changed his mind on a whim?
Chapter 3, pages 26-27
Rachel Knowles first read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice at the age of thirteen and fell in love, not only with Mr Darcy, but with the entire Regency period.
Since 2011, she has been blogging about her research on the Regency History blog.
Rachel lives in the beautiful Georgian seaside town of Weymouth in Dorset, on the south coast of England, with her husband, Andrew. They have four grown-up daughters and a growing number of grandchildren.
- A Reason for Romance: The Merry Romances (Book 2) by Rachel Knowles
- Sandsfoot Publishing (24 February 2021)
- Trade paperback, & eBook 306 pages
- ISBN: 978-1910883020
- Genre: Regency Romance, Inspirational Fiction
Cover image, book description, excerpt, and author bio courtesy of Sandsfoot Publishing © 2021; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2021, austenprose.com.