Once upon a time, there was a historical romance author. She loved writing about the Regency period, and she loved stories that connected in some way, so she populated her books with characters who were friends or cousins or school acquaintances. After all, the ton, or those people in London counted to have good breeding and taste, numbered no more than 10,000 by some estimates. Surely they knew each other at least in passing.
She never set out to write a series. Her publisher early on wasn’t too keen on that. When she sat down to write the next book, she simply chose a year that made sense to the plot and looked at who else she’d already written about who might be in that location at that time. But slowly, over the course of ten novels and three novellas, she built a little community within her stories.
And now, more than 15 years later, those stories are coming back to life again, this time in the order they should have been published to begin with and buffed to a shine.
I’m delighted to report that The Incomparable Miss Compton, the eighth Regency romance I published, is now the second book in The Uncommon Courtships series. It follows the story of Anne Preswick (of The Unflappable Miss Fairchild) as she attempts to find a wife for powerful Parliamentarian Malcolm Breckonridge. Of course he must be introduced to the Incomparable Miss Compton, the reigning belle. But Malcolm finds he is far more attracted to the young lady’s spinster chaperone, Miss Sarah Compton.
Here’s a peek:
“You have nothing to say to me, then, madam?” he demanded as the dance once more sent them past each other, shoulder to shoulder. As she took her place opposite him, her expressive eyes widened at his gruff tone. He waited for her to pretend he had actually asked her to dance, to say anything that would give him some idea of her game. She merely allowed the gentleman of the second couple in their set to take her hand and lead her out, as the dance demanded. When he approached the lady of the second couple to do the same, he could not help but notice that she quailed under the frown that had evidently formed on his face. He managed a grimace that would have to pass for a smile and found himself back opposite the mysterious lady. He was rather glad to see that they had reached the end of the line of dancers and would be standing out for a round.
“Forgive my impertinence, my lord,“ she said as they waited to rejoin the set. Her voice was deep for a woman. “I must thank you for not giving me away. It was most kind of you.”
“I hope you plan to reward my kindness with an explanation,” he replied.
She blushed again, and he found the effect even more charming. Was she some kind of sorceress that he could not focus on his intended interrogation?
“I shall try, my lord,” she said. “You had just been introduced to Persephone Compton, I believe?”
He frowned, toying with the idea that she was bent on usurping the lady in his affections. As he had not had time to form any affections, and she was not in the lady’s league in looks, he threw the idea off as preposterous.
“Lord Prestwick had performed the introduction as you arrived,” he confirmed.
“May I ask why you wished to be made known to her?” she persisted.
His frown deepened. That ought to have been enough to cause the most ardent campaigner to desist, but she did not seem to be affected by it. “I am not in the habit of discussing my affairs with strangers, madam.”
She gazed at him. “I imagine you must convince them to vote your way out of sheer intimidation.”
Surprised, he could not think of an answer.
Malcolm Breckonridge, speechless. His peers would laugh themselves sick. He was so appalled that the moment of silence stretched. As the dance ended, she dropped a curtsey, and he remembered himself and bowed.
“Your servant, madam,” he managed. “I wish you luck.”
She laid a hand on his arm. “I fear I have been forward. Would you take a turn about the room with me, my lord, so that I might explain myself further?”
Malcolm stared at her. He had given her a set-down calculated in look and manner to quell the most pretentious upstart, and she remained focused on her purpose. Could she be the woman he sought? She certainly had the courage to stand up to him. One could not have asked for a more queenly consort. It was too much to hope that she be intelligent as well. He decided it only made sense to investigate further.
He offered her his arm. “Very well. I’d like to hear how a sensible woman like you came to invite me to dance.”
I hope you’ll want to read The Incomparable Miss Compton. Again.