I have a confession to make. At soon to be forty eight years old, I have yet to outgrow my childhood obsession with fairy tales. As a painfully shy child, reading was my much-coveted escape from reality, and even from the age of seven or eight, I sought this escape through the kind of stories where prince charming places a glass slipper on the abused step-daughter Cinderella, awakens Sleeping Beauty with a kiss, or gallops in on his gleaming white charger to rescue Rapunzel from her tower; for what are fairy tales if not the ultimate romance?
And now as a historical romance writer, I feel it is both my onus and my honor to craft a very adult kind of fairy tale, one in which all of my characters find their soul mates, and live happily ever after. But in fairy tales, this pairing often requires the assistance of a fairy godmother. In my first erotic romance novella, A BREACH OF PROMISE, that role is filled by Lady Russell, the mother of the exceedingly reluctant groom.
A BREACH OF PROMISE Excerpt:
“Ah, my youngest son condescends to visit his neglected mother at last,” Lady Russell scolded while tilting her head for the kiss Marcus planted on her cheek.“Visit? I was under the distinct impression you’d issued a summons. Ouch!” he exclaimed as the smart flick of her fan connected with his wrist.
“Don’t be cheeky.” Ignoring his scowl, Lady Russell simply patted the seat on the silk-damask sofa. “Sit with me, Marcus. We must talk.”
“You mean, you must talk and I must listen,” he amended with a sardonic curve of his lips.
“Quite so, dearest,” she said. Marcus had no sooner flipped his coat skirts to sit before Lady Russell turned to fully face her son. “Marcus, you are a fool.”
Having long been his mother’s favorite, the remark came as something of a shock. “An auspicious beginning,” he remarked dryly. “And dismaying to my illusion that the world at large considers me a man of parts.”
“Wicked boy.” She pursed her lips. “You know very well I’m speaking of Lydia. Your betrothal was perfectly arranged years ago to the ideal girl. It confounds me how you have managed to botch it all up!”
“While I confess I’ve been remiss—”
“Remiss! The girl has not laid eyes on you but once since your betrothal party! You’ve been positively nonexistent! How could you be so careless and insensitive?”
“What was left for me to do, Mama? You had already quite taken the burden of finding a wife off my shoulders.”
“Nevertheless, after I sowed the garden, you failed to tend it.”
“You already know I am resolved to make amends. ‘Tis why I have brought her here.”
“You seem to think this will be easily fixed, but I begin to doubt your success. How do you expect to go on with Lydia, to win her over?”
“Win? Why should I have to win what is already mine?”
“Was yours—for the losing. By sheer negligence you have alienated her affections, and now must work to win them back.”
Marcus laughed outright. “I daresay that shan’t be much of a challenge. Don’t fret, Mama. All shall be smoothed over anon. I’ll humble myself and charm her. She’ll be beside herself with all the attention I flourish upon her.”
“Marcus. You don’t understand. The girl has character.”
“Character?” Marcus winced. “Is it as bad as all that? Why is it all girls with no claim to pulchritude positively brim with character?”
Lady Russell stared at him for a moment. “You are monstrous!” Marcus warily watched the fan, but she flipped it open only to cool herself. “In no way does Lydia want for looks. She is an exceedingly handsome girl.”
“Of course she is.” His expression belied his words.
“I doubt she’ll have you now anyway. And it serves you right.” The ubiquitous fan snapped shut in emphasis.
Marcus gave a condescending smirk. “Mama, she’ll be eating out of my hand before the night is over.”
In the first two novellas of my Devil DeVere series, the role of fairy godmother is usurped by the most unlikely of people— the meddling, machinating, devil himself, Viscount Ludovic DeVere.
In A WILD NIGHT’S BRIDE, DeVere has made it his mission to bring his best friend Ned out three years of mourning and self-imposed celibacy.
A WILD NIGHT’S BRIDE Excerpt:
DeVere, on the other hand, evinced no such qualms. He had already loosened his cravat and was stripping off his coat.
“As I said earlier, there is no need,” Phoebe insisted. “A couple of buttons and a raised petticoat are all the business requires.”
“How delightfully unromantic you are, my dear!” he chuckled. “But while most men would be charmed to comply with your simple wishes, I have quite another game in mind. One that most definitely requires you to disrobe.”
“But what if I don’t want to?”
“Oh but you will,” he said with a smug smile.
She glared. “You are very sure of yourself!”
He studied his buffed fingernails. “I am sure of Ned. Thus, we must put on a convincing show.”
Her brows came together in a deep scowl. “What do you mean? What has Ned to do with this?”
“Everything. And at any moment, I expect him to burst through that door like a raging bull.”
Phoebe looked from DeVere to the door, and her mouth dropped. “But why would he do that? What on earth are you up to?”
DeVere’s eyes gleamed with suppressed mirth. “Because this entire evening has been a dismal failure, I am now pressed to take extreme measures. For you and I, my pet, are about to bring my dear friend, Ned, back to the living.”
In THE VIRGIN HUNTRESS, the devil DeVere is in reality the heroine’s godfather, and is thus ideally suited for his role:
“Must I have a reason?” she said. “You are my godfather, after all.”
He chuckled long and hard. “No my dear, reasons are only for those beings with inferior understanding.”
She brightened. “I just knew we would be of one accord.”
“Did you now? We have found but one topic in which we agree. Am I to believe there are others?”
“Undoubtedly,” Vesta exclaimed.
“Do you care to elaborate? Although it probably is best not to be seen alone in my company, why were you so insistent on avoiding Hyde Park?”
“Because they must not know I have spoken with you.”
“Aunt Di and Captain Hew.”
“Ah,” he nodded. “And why is this?”
“Because they would neither understand nor approve.”
“Of you speaking with me?”
“No, of what I speak to you about.”
“And that topic would be?”
“Aunt Di and Captain Hew.”
“Ah, but of course.”
“It’s all wrong, don’t you see?” Vesta said. “Aunt Di is lovely but she’s far too old.”
“For Captain Hew, you mean?”
“Indeed I do! And she has already been married once! Should she not give others a chance? It’s only fair after all.”
“And Captain Hew, he is far too distracted by her.”
“That he sees nothing… or no one else?”
“Precisely! I knew you of all people would understand.”
“So what do you propose as an answer to this dilemma?”
Vesta wrinkled her brow “I haven’t quite decided. ‘Tis why I seek your advice. I first thought about asking her to return home, as it is my father’s house after all, but then who would I have to chaperone me? Polly couldn’t do so.”
“My maid. Well, she’s only a borrowed maid to begin with. So you see why that wouldn’t answer at all.”
“No, borrowed maids are always an inferior lot.”
“Even if I found my own abigail, she still wouldn’t be an appropriate chaperone, so you see why I can’t send Diana home.” “Indeed, I do. Have you another solution?”
“I do but it’s a thorny one.” She gave him a sidelong glance. “It would require the assistance of one with considerable resources, one who might be in harmony with my proposal.”
“Go on, my dear,” he urged.
“It’s simple really. If Diana cannot be sent home, then Captain Hew must be taken away from her. It’s the only way as I see it. And it’s purely for his own good.”
“Then you have only my brother’s best interests at heart?”
“Of course I do, godfather!”
“And that would be…”
“Because I love him.”
“You are in love with Hew.”
“Madly. Desperately. Passionately.”
“Does my brother know of his good fortune? Does he share your sentiments, Lady Vesta?”
“But how can he when he is blinded by her?” her voice quivered, “When he hasn’t even had a chance to look in my direction?”
“So in truth, you seek only to enlighten him of the treasure that lies under his very nose?”
”Yes! Do you not see that this is the only way?”
“But of course I see, my pet.”
”Then you will help me?” Vesta asked with the wide-eyed look that always worked with Papa. She was unsure how to read the twitch of her godfather’s mouth until he turned a brilliant smile upon her.
“My dear, should I search the world over, I can’t imagine finding a more perfect match for my revoltingly straight-laced brother, Hew. Moreover, I have considerable, some would even say nearly infinite resources, all of which I am willing to unwaveringly place at your disposal.”
** Sometimes cupid needs a little help!**
What is your favorite fairy tale?
Please leave a meaningful comment below with name and email for my giveaway of (10) e-copies of either
A BREACH OF PROMISE or A WILD NIGHT’S BRIDE (reader’s choice)