Okay, truth time. I write a daily post on my blog. Yes, one every day. Sometimes, more than once a day. Evidently, I don’t have a problem finding something to say.
But what to say about me that I haven’t already said? Hmm. Okay, here’s something I bet you didn’t know. I’m a computer game nut. I play those hidden object games and computer Mahjong every day. Games allow me to stay at the computer and completely move my brain from the 19th century to something else while I’m subconsciously working on a writing problem. Besides, I’m a writer and puzzles are natural to me.
Now that I’ve confessed something you probably didn’t know – and something not remotely interesting – let’s segue to something that IS interesting. The Book. I’m torn between being naturally modest and being honest. What the heck, let’s give up the modesty stuff and let me tell you the truth.
I love Sold to the Laird. I love the characters, love the time frame, the locales, and the plot. I normally don’t say that about a book before its launch date. I tend to be very restrained and modest (really, I do). This book, however, is different. I absolutely, totally, completely love this book. Is that too gushing?
Once in awhile, a book seems magical to write. Sold to the Laird was one of those books. When it was done, I started smiling.
I love it so much that I want to stand in front of a bookstore, grab your arm and lead you to a copy, get down on my knees and beg that you buy it, read it, then tell me what you think. That’s a whole lotta love.
I know, I know, I should be more restrained. I should be blasé. I should be unaffected. I’m not. I’m excited and enthusiastic, and I consider that a blessing since this is my twenty-fourth book. (Can you believe it? Twenty-four.)
Okay, I hated the title. But let’s be honest here – again. Writers don’t get a choice in titles. The marketing committee or the sales committee or the editorial committee decides what they’re calling a book. It’s out of my hands. After a few months, however, I decided it didn’t matter. The title was distinctive. People would remember it. Isn’t that what counts?
Besides, I hope the story takes over and readers remember Lady Sarah and Douglas Eston.
Douglas is a self-made man, which wasn’t exactly an easy feat in the 19th century. Sarah is the daughter of a duke, trying to do the best for her ailing mother. On the surface, they have absolutely nothing in common but they’re forced to marry to save the life of a woman already on her deathbed. Lady Sarah is one of those indomitable women who never stop. She’s been responsible for the family estate since she was a young woman. When she’s overwhelmed by circumstances, she finds it difficult to depend on anyone, especially Douglas. Douglas has never had anyone rely on him before now. How the two of them support the other, falling in love along the way, is the premise of Sold to a Laird.
I truly hope you remember the name – Sold to a Laird – the story, and that you love it as much as I do.
Make sure and leave a comment for Karen along with your email addy as she is giving away a copy of Sold to a Laird as well as a book tote to one lucky commenter.
Late Spring, 1860
“Good afternoon, Simons,” she said, pulling off her gloves. “Is my father at home?”
“I shall inquire of His Grace, Lady Sarah,” the majordomo said, taking her gloves as well as the bonnet she removed. He placed them on a table she recognized only too well. Two months ago, it had been in the Winter Parlor at Chavensworth.
Lady Sarah surveyed herself in the mirror. She was presentable.
“Never mind, Simons,” she said. “You know as well as I that my father will probably refuse to see me.”
The majordomo didn’t respond. Simons was, if nothing else, exquisitely tactful.
Without waiting for him to precede her, she strode down the corridor. Her father was partial to emerald green and it was obvious here in the dark carpet and the wallpaper. She felt as if she were in a lush cave made of leaves, the smell not unlike that of forest undergrowth, dank and dark. No doubt the result of the tobacco he smoked in his study.
“Lady Sarah,” Simons whispered, following her.
Deliberately ignoring the rest of what the man was saying, she halted in front of the study door, then resolutely grabbed the latch and opened it.
“If you send Mother to Scotland, she will die,” she said, entering the room.
A second later, she halted, stunned into silence by the presence of the man seated on the other side of her father’s desk, a man even now rising from his chair. A look of surprise marred his features. The expression was infinitely preferable to the frightening look on her father’s face.
The words needed to be said, and even though they’d exploded from her with none of the tact or grace she’d been taught, they were the truth.
“She is dying,” she said, ignoring the stranger in favor of her father who, unlike the man opposite him, still remained seated. His square face was florid, his blue eyes narrowed as they stared at her without a glint of recognition. “She won’t survive the journey.”
He didn’t say a word, merely inclined his head, a gesture that inspired Simons to put his hand on her arm. She shook it off, determined not to be moved from the room.
“Why Scotland? Why now?” If she was going to be punished, she might as well truly deserve it.
The stranger glanced at her father, then over at her. She deliberately didn’t look in his direction. What on earth would she do if there was pity in his glance? She’d dissolve into tears, pleasing her father and shaming herself. So, she did what she always did in her father’s presence, blocked out the emotions she was feeling.
Instead, she concentrated on the reason she was here, in London, in her least favorite place on earth – her father’s home.
“She’s weaker each day. Why send her away?”
Nothing altered his expression – not sorrow, or regret or any type of remorse. If anything, his expression steadied and solidified, human flesh taking on the impression of stone.
He looked down at the papers in front of him, suddenly pushing them away with one finger.
“You say you need investors, Eston?” he asked, addressing the man standing in front of him. “But you believe this invention of yours to be profitable?”
Was she being dismissed? With no word at all?
Sarah forced herself to remain in place, hands clenched together in front of her. Simons stood behind her, implacable and silent.
“Yes, Your Grace.”
Her father stared down at the blotter, picking something up between two fingers and stretching them toward the stranger. The other man extended his hand, palm up, to receive something small and glittering in the afternoon light.
“You can replicate it, then? And make them larger?”
“Yes, Your Grace.”
Her father glanced at her then, and Sarah realized he’d not forgotten her presence at all.
“You’ve asked for a great amount of money, Eston.”
“Not for the return, Your Grace.”
She took a few steps forward, toward her father's desk. Did she imagine that the older man tensed the closer she came? She could not relent. None of her letters had been answered. Nor had her father deigned to answer any of the handwritten messages she’d sent with a footman. All she had left was this, a personal appeal. If he wanted her to beg, she would. Her mother was dying, what was a little humiliation?
Her father held up his hand as if to forestall her advance. She halted, ever conscious of her father's temper. She’d learned several lessons when dealing with her father, lessons that she’d never forgotten. Don’t incite his anger. Never insist or demand. Never tell him he’s wrong.
Today she was flouting all those lessons.
She remained where she was, determined that he would not discover that she clasped her hands in front of her to still their trembling. Or that her lips were clamped firmly shut for the same reason.
Her fear always seemed to please him in some horrid way.
He turned to the man who still stood in front of the desk. Not a supplicant, merely someone who looked, strangely enough, like her father’s equal. The Duke of Herridge was a formidable figure, yet the man who faced him was as tall and as commanding in his own way.
If she hadn’t been so worried about her mother, Sarah would have been more curious about him.
"How desperate are you for funds, Eston?” her father asked.
"Not desperate at all, Your Grace. If you decide not to invest, there are other men who have made overtures. You’re the first I’ve met.”
"I have not said that I refuse to invest in your invention. Instead, I propose that our venture be a more permanent one."
"And what permanent venture would you propose?" the stranger asked.
Her father glanced over at her. "I have a daughter who insists on remaining unmarried. Two very expensive seasons have proven what I’ve always known. No one else can abide her. I will enter into a bargain with you, Eston, but instead of money, I’ll give you my daughter.” His eyes narrowed. “You aren’t married, are you?”
“No, Your Grace,” the stranger said.
“Then take her as your bride.”