Be Warned: These are the scribblings of a writer unruly, unsupervised, and largely unrepentant

Monday, December 31, 2018

It's All New

Coming this Spring 2019 - Bespoke

He's just been sent from Scotland Yard to solve a murder in the Yorkshire Dales; she's just opened her own business in York baking killer cakes. He wants a peaceful life; she's aiming for revolution. He likes to keep both feet on the ground; she dreams of scandalizing the neighborhood on a bicycle.

He's never getting married again-- most women ought to be stamped on the forehead with a danger warning and clapped into handcuffs. She thinks men are simply an obstacle to her ambitions and if it's true that the way to a man's heart is through his digestive system, that explains why a great deal of gaseous waste frequently finds its path out of the wrong end.
 
This might be an unlikely recipe, but it's the start of a remarkable partnership in crime-solving. And a match made in chocolate.

They're not Bogart and Bacall; they're not Astaire and Rogers. They're not even Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. It's late Victorian England and the world may be changing, but is it quite ready for this pairing? They're not even prepared for it themselves. Nevertheless, some wayward kind of chemistry keeps drawing them together and it can't be blamed entirely on the cake. Or the corpse in the conservatory.

Meet some new characters this year as they embark on adventure in an old fashioned mystery romance: BESPOKE.

Hot off the presses in 2019. Stay tuned for more news.

Happy New Year!
JF
 
(Cake and photo provided by my remarkably talented sister.)

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Have a Verry Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a wonderful holiday with friends and family. Curl up by a crackling fire (even if its the one on Netflix), watch some schmaltzy movies, drink mulled wine and, when you've got a peaceful moment all to yourself, read a good book.

Thank you for sticking with me for another year and I wish you all the best for 2019. Let's make it the best yet.

To you and your families, Merry Christmas x


Jayne

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Love and the Spin Cycle


            My faithful readers will have noticed that over the past few years my books tend to include a lot less "Rumpy Pumpy".  (Don't do it, I was told, your books won't sell without sex!) But I was tired of publishers pushing for more "steam", by which they meant sex -- marking up my draft manuscripts with where I should insert (no pun intended) more and more of that marketable commodity, often at the expense of my plot and my characters' sanity. After the runaway  success of a certain trilogy of books in the publishing world, the pressure became even worse. So I stepped away from all that, stuffed my face full of chocolate, drank some wine, and self-indulgently went back to what I really wanted to write: interesting, funny (hopefully) stories about characters who fall in love. Simple, right?

            These days my stories are often labeled "mild" or "sweet"— as if they're the unadventurous choice on a curry menu— because of their lack of detailed sex scenes. But I like to think I still manage to get enough chemistry between those pages to make them sizzle and, most of all, to make the love between my characters feel warm, real and everlasting.

            There are other writers thinking the same and putting out wonderful stories without scenes that include everything but a hospital gown and a pair of cold stirrups. Thank goodness I am not abandoned in my endeavors!

            I know the romances I grew up reading and falling in love with did not have a single waving womb-ferret in the storyline. Of course, trends in publishing come and go, so I'm waiting this one out, clinging to my mast like Chief Brody in the final scene of "Jaws". Yes, I'm stubborn—sometimes to a fault— but if I'm not writing something I would actually enjoy reading, then what's the point? I might as well be writing out menus, thinking up birthday card greetings, or typing out scripts in a tiny cubicle at a marketing call center.

            There are readers who prefer the bedroom door wide open; they want to be there at the scene or with their eye pressed to the keyhole-- and that's perfectly fine too. I'm far from a pearl-clutching prude. I'm a firm believer in "to each his/her own" and occasionally the literary version of a spin-cycle is just what the reader wants. There are already plenty of excellent writers, new and well-established, to whom they can turn for their "steamier" sex scenes. I really don't think the world needs one more (namely me) fumbling along the same path.

            So at the risk of being pelted by second-hand rubber gadgetry and leather thongs from the balcony, I've decided that my characters are entitled to a little privacy and from now on their doors will be shut, leaving something to the imagination. Unless, of course, they decide to take matters into their own hands and defy this curmudgeonly old scribbler. Hey, it's happened before.

            The truth is that I like mystery and interesting characters with more than lust going on in their lives, because sooner or later, if we are to believe in them, they have to get out of bed and function. And to me there is nothing very mysterious about sex. By now we all know how it works and what goes where. If you don't -- well, I'm sure there's somebody more qualified than a romance writer to help you. We'd probably only manage some purple prose to get you even more confused! (Does anybody actually know what the word "turgid" means these days without Googling it?)

            So while there shouldn't be anything too baffling about sex in this day and age, "Love" and how that all works is still quite a fascinating mystery. Who knows where or when it will strike? What is it capable of at full power? How does it work? Can it ever really be killed? Does it really conquer all?

            Love is a chemical reaction that the human race has not been able to figure out in two thousand years. Now, that is what I find interesting to write about. For me, a romance shouldn't be a mechanical "how to", it should be a "what if?" or a "what happens when?"

            It may not be the most marketable subject in the publishing world at the moment, but Love is worth writing about.

            And that's just this author-and-reader's humble opinion.

        
    Next year my writing will be taking a slightly wider turn toward mystery with "Bespoke", the tale in which a Victorian cake baker and a Scotland Yard detective first team up to solve a murder. Yes, there is romance too, but it will be a reluctant, slow-burning conflagration, progressing over a few books, during which the duo will get to know each other better as they solve more crimes in Victorian England and keep trying to throw cold water over each other's flames. In other words, do not expect brass bed-knobs banging against the damask wallpaper. Not in the first few chapters, in any case.

            For those of you who might be interested, "Bespoke" will also keep readers in touch with the Deverell family. (Oh no, not again - I hear you cry). It is NOT necessary for you to have read any of the Deverell books, however.

          
  Also coming up next year  - The Crollalanzas - a story of three seventeenth century women, who have grown up in Italy, believing themselves to be the illegitimate daughters of William Shakespeare and conceived during his "lost years". What happens when they leave Italy, intent on tracing their roots in London and starting a new life?  Will they see their dreams come to fruition and does love, or heartbreak, wait for them in this strange, unsophisticated country? Before it's too late, will they meet the man they were always told is their father?

            Author's Note: Crollalanza translates into Shakespeare and is a common surname in Italy. Indeed, some folk hold this fact to mean that Shakespeare was actually Italian (Sicilian, no less). Well, I don't know what to say about that, but at the very least many suspect that he spent some of his "lost years" in Italy, which would explain his fascination with the country and why he used it as a setting for many of his plays.

            So there is a little of what you can expect from me next year, as I take another meandering, klutzy path on my writing adventures. Stick with me if you dare. There will be murder, mystery, romance, rat poison and severed feet. Oh, and cake.

            But I cannot guarantee a thrill as rapid and tumultuous as the spin-cycle. l think I put my characters, and my readers, through quite enough as it is.

 

JF

Image used: Le Primtemps by Pierre-Auguste Cot c. 1873. My book covers for 2019
             

Monday, December 3, 2018

Character Showcase - John Paul "Sigh" Deverell


            John Paul is the youngest son of the infamous True Deverell and his second wife Olivia. His youngest sibling is fifteen years his senior, so he has nieces and nephews who are older than him and this has often caused "J.P." to feel left out— an afterthought in the family.

            As a boy growing up, he was usually alone with his games and books, since the others had little time for him and were seldom home. Eventually he decided he was better off on his own in any case. He was used to it, knew how to cope for himself, and didn't get entangled in other people's troubles. His mother tried to make him polite and gentlemanly, but any attempt she made to involve him with children his age simply made him feel awkward and even more different.

            His father, anxious not to "make a mess" of his last son too, decided long ago that he had better let his beloved wife, Olivia, take the greater hand in rearing this child, while he would take a more distant role. His first wife had been a terrible mother, but Olivia was very different and he enjoyed seeing the special pleasure her son brought to her life. For once, he thought, he could relax, content in the knowledge that his second wife was a warm and loving mother. He would not have to prevent this one from pecking her child to pieces.

            But eventually, as J.P. proves to be remarkably clever, plowing through his school and university career with accolades aplenty, his father— who always wished he could have had a formal education himself— finds it difficult to be close to his son. He fears he has left it too late to make a connection, and that, while thinking to do the best for his son, he has shut himself out. About his other sons, he knows everything, for in many ways they are just like him. But when it comes to J.P., he knows almost nothing.

            True Deverell is immensely proud of his youngest son's accomplishments, but his well-meaning plan not to interfere, has left J.P. thinking that his father has little to no interest in him. Occasionally he secretly wishes he could be more like his rowdy siblings, if that might get him some of his father's attention. But he's now thirty and has settled into his role as the grumpy solitary of the family. At least he has not caused any scandals yet, although, born with the Deverell name, he knows most people have a preconceived notion before they've even met him.

            He is studious, somber, never reckless and not very sociable. Most of the time he finds other people to be annoying and frustrating, their company largely incommodious. Women have passed in and out of his life without making much impression, but that's fine with him. He does not want to be involved too deeply with anybody.

 
            Females were, in general, hysterical creatures; it was well documented. As engines ran on coal and steam, woman ran on smelling salts, screaming fits and accusations.

            He did not intend to commence the cost of keeping one himself on a permanent arrangement at any time in the near future.

 
            His one good friend, Jacob— dear to him since their schooldays together and, strangely enough, the complete opposite in personality— died suddenly last Christmas. This has left J.P. alone to run the business they started together and he has thrown himself into it, sparing little time for a life outside work. Despite his plan never to get entangled in anybody else's strife, he has also taken on the responsibility of caring for Jacob's widow and children.

            This Christmas, Jacob is about to pay a visit to his old partner, to thank him and to point out that underneath that grim, "scrooge"-like demeanor, J.P. Deverell is actually a kind and generous man. He just does a very good job of disguising it— even from himself.

            J.P. has also managed to hide how very much he misses his friend, but memories, ushered in by Jacob's mischievous ghost, will change all that.

            He doesn't believe in magic, either at Christmas or any time of the year, but there is something in the air tonight. And it's looking for him.

            This year a reluctant, unsociable hero will take an unforgettable journey, aided by the spirit of Christmas ("Bah Humbug") and the arrival of a Snow Angel, who is waiting to knock seven bells out of him.  


            Angels, he was about to learn, can do that to a man; they are not the dainty, ethereal creatures one might imagine.
 

            So join poor, unsuspecting J. P. Deverell on a path that will wind through the past, the present and get a bit of kick from the future too. He doesn't generally like company, but I'm sure he wants to tell you this story. That's one thing he did inherit from his father - a talent for story telling. Even his heroine doesn't know for sure how much is true.
Is it really all her fault, or was it his suddenly jolted memory that finally brought them back together? Or was it the magic of Christmas?

 
 
 
 

Images used here: Photograph of snowy tree - Author's own. Painting "Yes" by John Everett Millais (1877)

Friday, November 30, 2018

Character Showcase: Anne Follyot


            Anne is a young woman who has, for many years, managed everything for her family— when they will let her. But now her beloved father is dead and the plan for Anne to safely spend her future looking after him in his dotage is scuppered. Now somewhere must be found to put Anne.

            Her elder brother, Wilfred, is disdainful of his sister's worth and thinks her more than a little "addled" for talking to make-believe friends, dancing in the rain, and not knowing when to "shut up."
 

            "Her chattering tongue shows a peculiar want of humility and is most unladylike."

  

           When her no-nonsense mother was alive, Anne's wistful perusal of brighter colors on the haberdasher's shelves had always been corralled with a sharp dose of wisdom and practicality.

            "Anne, you do better in brown," her mother would say. "It doesn't show stains or make promises you can't deliver. It's steadfast, practical and doesn't try to stand out."

Her sister, Lizzie,  was only five when their mother died and Anne was ten. From that time onward Anne became her little sister's mother figure and did everything for her. But now that they are older and Lizzie newly married, their roles are awkwardly reversed. Anne is still trying to get accustomed to the change and to young bride Lizzie's amiable, but ill-equipped, attempts to "look after" her spinster elder sister.

            Anne also has several aunts and great-aunts who have made it their mission to find her a  home now that Wilfred has sold the family house. And, of course, that means finding her a husband, no matter how far into the barrel they must scrape.

            But all her family's efforts to make her resigned to the dull fate of a plain girl, fit only for brown and practical uses, are in vain. Anne has—shockingly—made up her own mind about how she wants to spend her future. She is determined to know independence as a "modern girl" of 1877.
On her own for the first time at one and twenty, she takes herself into the exciting, wicked world of London, far away from the little Oxfordshire village where she grew up (population forty-nine, and all her business, or lack of it, known to them, as theirs was to her). She has found employmentafter a few false starts— as a salesgirl at Lockreedy and Velder's Universal Emporium. For her it is the perfect position, allowing her to meet new people every day and to be a part of the ever-changing, ever-moving world that, until now, has passed her by like a speeding omnibus.
 
           Of course, she has managed all this very slyly, before any aunts can organize an alternative
path for her, but she writes to them all regularly, so that they need have no fear of her being abducted by pirates or highwaymen. She makes sure her letters are entertaining enough that nobody might get it into their head that she is lonely, homesick or afraid for her future as a single woman.

            Well, perhaps she makes up a few adventures for herself in those letters, but at least they do the trick of keeping her well-meaning aunts from finding more potential suitors for her. After all, they have not got the slightest idea what sort of man she might like, anymore than they know of her yearning for a rose madder dress instead of brown. They have not even bothered to ask. They think they know what's best for her. As an aunt once explained,

 
            Now, be mindful of this, Anne. You are a serviceable creature, not afraid or unaccustomed to hard work. Keeping house for your father and siblings these past ten years you are well broken in to drudgery, and that is your main attraction— your usefulness. Remember that. A plain, mild tempered bachelor, or a steady, elderly widower, will serve you better than some handsome, charming scoundrel likely to chase after every pretty face that passes...

 
            But Anne knows, in the back of her mind -- where he has been abandoned in the land of forgotten memories -- exactly with whom she wants to spend her future. She just needs a hard nudge to remember him.

            And when she is about to lose all chance of ever knowing a kiss from his lips, Anne Follyot's  clever, vivid and determined imagination finds a way to bring them together. With the help of a little seasonal magic, a few ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, and the strength of true love, she stops a certain grumpy fellow in his tracks and diverts his course to finally collide with her own.

            Her father had always said that her lively, clever mind would be the way to a man's heart. But  he did not know how right he was.

            Anne Follyot has always taken care of everybody else. Finally, this Christmas, its time she takes care of herself and gets the very present she wants. Nothing will stand in this "modern girl's" way.

 

* * * *
 
Want to know how Anne's Christmas wish for love comes true? Pre-order your e-book copy of The Snow Angel now! Or purchase now in print!

Images used: "Study of a girl reading" by Valentine Cameron Prinsep (c. 1860-1870)
and "Decorating the Christmas Tree" by Marcel Rieder 1898.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

A Snibble for the Holiday Season

As an unabashed lover of Christmas Specials -- particularly those of "Call the Midwife", "Blackadder", "Only fools and Horses" and "Still Game" - I decided this year to write a Christmas-themed novella. It is not something I ever attempted before and for a few years I have not been in a particularly Christmassy frame of mind, until its too late. But this year, in late October, I had a visit from relatives who travelled thousands of miles to see me, which put me in a festive, "larking about" mood.

Well, I should have realized that a novella was not going to fit my story. You know how I am, by now. And, unlike Charles Dickens, I am not paid by the word. Sadly.

In any case, my characters soon decided they needed more space and more attention than might be afforded by the constraints of a novella. Thus, their story developed into a short novel -- for which, I am told, there is no name. "Shnovel"? "Novort?" I'll settle for "Christmas Snibble." (You know, one of those treats that is  meant to be just a nibble, but turns into a bit more, because you can't stop eating it and -- hey, it's Christmas!)

I hope you, my readers, enjoy The Snow Angel. Out on December 5th, it is now available for pre-order  (another thing I don't often try) on Amazon.

Here is a very sneaky peek that might whet your appetite for egg nog and "Quality Street" chocolates.

 
 
(Excerpt from The Snow Angel).
 
 

"That Deverell still not here yet?" her landlady called out as she passed through the hall with the tea tray. "It's well after five, surely. Near six by now."

            Anne Follyot ceased humming mid-note and put on her most sensible, patient face, carefully holding the candle away with both hands, rather than be accused of playing fast and loose with that precious commodity. "I daresay he will come when he can, Mrs. Smith. He's a busy gentleman, I understand, and it is very good of him to make room in his plans for me at all."

            Mrs. Smith plainly thought the word "gentleman" unsuitable in this case, for as soon as those polite syllables were uttered, her lips shriveled to the size and texture of a small dried prune. "'Tis a shame your aunt could find no better, more respectable companion for your journey. And that's all I have to say in the matter."

            "I appreciate your concern, Mrs. Smith, but I'm sure it will work out very well. Mr. Deverell's private carriage is a vast improvement on the mail coach."

            She'd lived in London several months now, long enough to know that few folk there had much good to say of the Deverell family, who were disdainfully considered "new wealth" and upstarts— and those were some of the kindest epithets. But who was Anne Follyot to sneer? She wasn't even "old" wealth.

            Deverells, so the saying went, did things differently. They were filthy rich, reputedly shameless, lawless, and mostly unprincipled.

            She could not help but think it must be exhausting, not to mention logistically impossible, for a handful of males to "ruin" such a vast number of women and leave quite so much chaos in their wake.  They would never have a moment to sleep or read a good book.

            As a lover of good stories herself, she was certain a great many tales of Deverell debauchery were entirely made up to keep life interesting for those who told them.

            "You're a naive young miss," her landlady muttered. "I wish you had firmer hands to guide you, but it's not my business. I've got enough to do, and it's not my job to act as your mother. You'll end up ruined, no doubt, like many a wide-eyed chit before you. Fancy sending a Deverell for your innocent young niece. Like sending a fox to fetch a hen to market! What can your aunt be thinking?"

            "Mrs. Smith, you are a very dear lady to worry so about me. But I am not nearly as helpless as I might look. I am, after all, a woman of the modern age."

            Her landlady looked skeptical of this claim. She was not, however, the first person to think Anne a little light in the head— a consequence, perhaps, of her spirits refusing to be crushed under the weight of misfortune. They thought she must live in her own strange, fantasy world, but her feet were quite well grounded in this one. She simply made the best she could of it, which, she had sadly come to realize, made her puzzling and insufferable company to most. As if to see her happy with so little made their own fortunes decline rapidly.

            "You were raised in a one bull country village, Miss Follyot. What do you know of men like Deverells?"

            "I know that they pull their breeches on one leg at a time, just as other men do. Men like my father and brother. They have all the same parts and require all the same handling."

            The landlady huffed. "I would not be so certain of that. Not from the stories I've heard."

            "But I have familiarity with all manner of beasts. I've stared down an escaped seed ox and helped lance an abscess on the ear of a particularly peevish sow more than twice my size. Few things cast any fear in my heart."


            "You'll be soft clay in that man's claws, mark my words!"

            Before Anne could give any further words of assurance, Mrs. Smith walked into the parlor, still shaking her head, and nudging the door shut swiftly behind her to keep out the cold breeze that
blew through the hall of her narrow boarding house. The other young ladies who rented rooms there were gathered around a cheerful fire in that parlor, waiting to enjoy a hot cup of tea and some buttered crumpets. Very likely, in the anticipation of these delights, they had all forgotten about Anne. Not that she was ever very memorable.

            Now she was abandoned to whatever gruesome fate awaited her at the hands of a Deverell. The way Mrs. Smith said that name— as if it had to be got out as quickly as possible, under cover of darkness, before curious neighbors witnessed its departure— the syllables rolled together and made it sound like "Devil".
 
            Anne felt a little like the heroine in a Brontë novel, hovering on the cusp of an adventure, unfathomable in its awfulness, bursting with dire and dreadful possibilities. Perhaps something remarkable was finally about to happen to her and this time she would not have to make it up while standing at her wash bowl or peeling potatoes.

            She'd had her eye on a length of rose madder silk taffeta from Lockreedy and Velder, you see, but would feel a fraud wearing a gown made of it until she had a reason. Rose madder was not the sort of color associated with plain, ordinary, unexciting girls to whom nothing ever happened.
 

The flame of her candle went out. She caught her breath.


            A shadowy shape suddenly formed at the end of the alley and then proceeded to fill the frosty window as it drew nearer with an uneven gait. At first she thought the beast had three legs, until she realized that one of them was a cane, swung impatiently ahead of him between every step. Sometimes he slipped and then she saw the bristling fog of his breath as he exhaled a curse into the crisp winter's air.


            It could be nobody else but the man himself. The Deverell. Gentlemen visitors were not permitted at Mrs. Smith's boarding house, except on errands of urgency, and tradesmen came only in daylight. So who else could it be?
            The relief she felt at seeing him was surprisingly warm, considering she had already told herself that she wouldn't mind if he didn't come. There were, after all, crumpets to be had by way of compensation and now she would have to forgo the treat.
            But there he was.
            Before he could ring the bell, she swept the door open in anxious haste.
            "Mr. J.P. Deverell, I presume?"
            He was six foot tall and about as happy as a bull that had somehow got wind of its imminent castration. At least he had the manners to remove his hat and there were no horns visible beneath. But it was a brief gesture, clearly made under duress, and as a tight sigh oozed out of one side of his mouth, he confirmed his identity with a gruff, "Regrettably."
            It was instantly clear that there would be no apology for his lack of punctuality, for as his gaze drifted over her smoking candle wick, old brown coat, dented trunk and wicker basket, he exhaled a weary, "You're ready then." A sneer turned up the corner of his mouth. "That's something, at least." As if, because she was a woman, he'd expected much more fuss and fanfare around her departure.
            "And you're better late than never," she exclaimed cheerily. "We're doing well already, aren't we?" With that, and holding her basket in the crook of one arm, she reached down for a handle of her trunk. He had begun to turn away, so she said, "Could you be so kind as to get the other? I have not much within it that is of value and tossing it all about will do little harm, but I do hate the noise it makes when it drags along the cobbles."
            His lips parted for another plume of breath as he looked back at her. "Why do women require so much baggage?" He looked like a mythical creature, Anne thought suddenly. A dragon whose flames were temporarily dampened and reduced to puffs of smoke. Before she could respond, he bent and grabbed the other handle— so violently that it came away with a spirited crack.
            "Ah. I fear my trunk was quite unprepared for such a forceful handling," she murmured, looking at the broken, bent and now useless brass ring in Deverell's large fist. "It is generally accustomed to a more delicate grip. I just had that handle re-affixed too, alas!"
            "Apparently the job was not done well enough."
            "Take pity on my poor trunk, sir, for it is much older than I and has, I believe, traveled mostly in the service of maiden aunts, postulant nuns and missionaries' wives. I suppose you'll be quite a shock to it."
            He glowered down at her. "And vice versa." The words rumbled out of him on another cloud of mist and then he tossed the broken handle across the alley, thrust his cane at her to catch and lifted the trunk onto his shoulder, as if it weighed as much as a sack of feathers. "Why do you stand there gawping, woman? One foot before the other, if you please. If you can manage that much on your dainty stumps. I haven't all damnable night and if you imagine I might be prevailed upon to carry you too, let me disabuse you of the notion."
            Having balanced her trunk thus, he limped away toward the lamp post, his coat flapping around him like the wings of a raven, speckled with glittering snowflakes that had already begun to form a crust upon his shoulder until her trunk displaced them.
            She was very tempted to go back inside and eat crumpets. Dreadful, rude man!
            But suddenly she felt a warmer whisper of air against the back of her neck and knew that somebody had opened the parlor door, just a crack, to peek around it. They were all most curious, naturally, about the Deverell at the door. They must wonder how she, plain Miss Anne Follyot, previously of Little Marshes, Oxfordshire— population forty-nine, and all her business, or lack of it, known to them, as theirs was to her—and owner of mostly brown garments, had any connection to such a man.
            For once she was a person of interest.
            Anne recovered her breath, lifted her chin and decided that despite his surly lack of manners there was nothing else to be done, but follow the Deverell.
            For the sake of her abused and kidnapped trunk, if for no other reason.
            Besides, she wanted adventure, did she not? There was not a moment to waste if she was to get away before Lizzie arrived and ended all hope of excitement.
            Perhaps she would accomplish just a smidgen of rose madder scandal, before she was too old to have any and they buried her in brown.
* * * *

 
You can find The Snow Angel now for pre-order or on official release on December 5th!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Coming in December!

The Snow Angel

Be warned - A short Victorian novel is coming to all online bookstores in early December and just in time for the holidays this year. Something to enjoy with your eggnog and mince pies this season!

* * * *

            It's Christmas 1877 and Anne Follyot— of little beauty and no fortune, but sturdy spirit and an excess of imagination— is invited to stay with her favorite aunt in Cornwall. She's all anticipation, waiting for the man chosen to escort her on this journey. According to her aunt, she met him before, many years ago, but Anne cannot remember him and she's positive that he must long-since have forgotten her. She's never been memorable.

   
         But J.P. Deverell, Esq. is now a grown man with a dangerous reputation, of which her aunt cannot possibly be aware. And Anne means to make the most of her aunt's mistake and this adventure. She considers herself a modern, independent woman, for whom a little scandal is well overdue. If she doesn't seize this chance now, she might never have another.

            As Charles Dickens wrote, "No space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunity misused."

 * * * *
 

            He's in no temper for eggnog and mistletoe; no mood to tolerate the painfully polite company of some plain spinster, in a carriage, for three days. It's probably a contrivance to get him home for Christmas.

            Remember Anne Follyot? He doesn't care to remember himself sixteen years ago, let alone recall the dull vicar's five year-old niece.

            He'd planned to spend his Yuletide working, alone and in peace. But a letter from his mother has guilted him into this act of begrudging chivalry, aided by the whispers of his best friend's mischievous ghost.

            "Bah, Humbug!" As Charles Dickens also wrote.

 
* * * *
 

            But this journey will not turn out quite the way either traveler expects, for when these two opposites collide, so do ghosts of the past, the present and the future.

            It will be a holiday season with all the usual fare—peril, pandemonium, family quarrels, mulled wine and bodily injury. Certainly a Christmas adventure never to be forgotten this time.

            At least, by one of them.

Get  your copy December 5th! Or pre-order now

Author's note: For those of you who read and enjoy the Deverells series, please know "The Snow Angel" includes the adventures of one member of that family. I chose not to list it as a "Deverells Book", because I did not want readers assuming they must be familiar with the series in order to pick this one up. It is possible to enjoy this Christmas story without knowing anything about the family, however, it will be a Christmas bonus for those of you who do (I hope!).