I'm happy to announce I've made my third sale to Carina. Title and release date remain TBD, but the latter will most likely be sometime in Fall 2012. I wish I wasn't dealing with a gap of a year plus between releases, but I've been rehabbing a pinched nerve that slowed my writing to a crawl for the first half of this year. Fortunately, it's finally starting to mend, and I'm learning to work around it, too. I take lots of stretch breaks, and I've experimented with voice recognition software (Dragon Dictate for the Mac), though it can drive me crazy. Once I said "raised his eyebrows" and Dragon typed "racist eyebrows," for example, and apparently the way I pronounce "Jane" sounds like "chain" to the Dragon at least half the time.
But I'd rather talk about my book than my neck, so...it's a historical romance with a (fictional) British general for a hero. The hero and heroine, Jack and Elizabeth, marry in 1804 to fulfill a deathbed promise and are soon separated by the demands of his military career. By the time they're reunited in early 1815, they've accumulated a long list of grievances against each other and wish they'd never married. Just as they're beginning to make their own peace, Jack is called back to war when Napoleon returns to power--only this time Elizabeth has no intention of remaining quietly behind in England.
In other words, I'm writing a Waterloo story. I think every Regency writer, at least those of us with even the tiniest degree of interest in the military side of the era, has one in her, and this is mine. Or possibly just my first.
Here's a brief excerpt for an early teaser--though keep in mind that the manuscript hasn't been edited yet, so this scene may or may not appear in the book itself. It's from the 1804 section of the story, where Jack is trying to explain his upcoming hasty marriage of convenience to his mother, who has early-onset senile dementia:
Jack paused in the doorway of his mother’s sitting room. It was a small chamber, warm and comfortably furnished but painfully neat. Years ago, her private rooms had been marked by the mild chaos of a busy woman, with baskets of mending, account-books and half-finished letters scattered here and there.
Mama sat at the window, paging through a book of engravings in the weak light of a gray morning. Before her mind had begun to go, she had been a creature of energy and alertness. If she sat during the day, she’d had a quill or needle in her hand. The only books she’d read were gothic novels—she’d claimed their horrors and thrills calmed the mind by contrast—and she had reserved them for the evening hours after her day’s work as mistress of Westerby Grange was done.
Seeing her so frail and faded broke Jack’s heart. How could Providence have been so cruel as to break such a fine mind, so vivid a soul? It would almost have been better if she had died, though Jack immediately sent up a guilty prayer assuring God he hadn’t meant it.
“Good morning, Mama,” he said gently.
She turned her head and peered at him out of gray eyes that had once been sharp and twinkling but had now grown soft, almost empty. She frowned. “Ned?”
“It’s Jack. Your younger son.” Her only child now—his older brother Ned had been killed in a riding accident shortly after Jack had gone into the army as an ensign of sixteen.
“Jack,” she said carefully. “You’ve grown so. I—I don’t remember.”
“It’s all right, Mama.” He sat in the chair opposite hers. “Do you remember Giles Hamilton?”
“Of course I do,” she snapped with a hint of her old spirit. “But you don’t. He died before you were born.”
Jack blinked in confusion of his own until he remembered that Giles had been named for his grandfather. “Never mind. I came to tell you I’m going to be married.”
“Married! You’re only a boy.”
What year was it in his mother’s mind? “I’m six-and-twenty, Mama. Full old enough to wed.”
She stared out the window. “Jack was such a sweet boy. Not so clever as Ned, and never could keep still, but he always had a smile on his face when he was a baby. Just like his father.”
Jack rubbed his eyes. He couldn’t conjure up a smile now. “The woman I’m marrying is named Elizabeth. Elizabeth Hamilton.”
“Giles had no daughter.”
“Not his daughter. His grandson’s widow. She will be here in a few days’ time, and she will look after you every day while I am in India.”
“Yes, Mama. I must go, for my regiment is there.”
“I’m in the army. A major now. You were so pleased when I got my first commission and came to show you my uniform.”
She shook her head. “Dick Armstrong’s doing. Didn’t raise sons to be food for powder, but your uncle was always filling your head with his tales of glory. What glory? Dick never won any...he helped lose the colonies.”
Jack bit his lip and looked away. Here was truth—Mama was past lying now—but she had made a convincing show of admiration ten years ago when he had appeared before her as a freshly-made ensign glorying in the splendor of a new red coat. “I love you, Mama,” he said at last. There seemed nothing else left to say.