Welcome, Lady Jenna!
Ahoy! I know I could read a book I’ve written (probably any other book as well) and no matter how many times I read the copy, I’ll find something new to change with each reading. Usually these are very minor—one space too many, a letter left off a word, a space needed between two words.
Back in October, when I was doing the final galley proofs for Only A Mistress Will Do, I ran into some truly major mistakes that could have been disastrous had I not caught them on the final round through the book. I fault no one but myself because we all read the manuscript numerous times and none of us caught these until the penultimate moment. (I won’t go back and read it again for fear I’ll find something else I missed and it’s too late!)
Near-Disaster #1: A Change of Name
I know all writers do this, but I changed both minor and major characters’ names mid-way through writing the book. Mistress took me a long time to write—I have a day job that had me distracted while writing much of the book. I wrote during rehearsals, I wrote on car trips, I wrote on that book for probably a good six months without going back and reading it throughout until I sent it off to my beta readers.
But none of us caught that I’d managed to change the name of Lord Trevor’s valet from Spencer in the early chapters, to Marks in the later chapters. The funny thing is, Marks & Spencer is the name of a large department store in Britain. I’ve been in one when I was in Dublin years ago. So I think it quite funny that though I changed his name, I still had a department store in mind for this valet the whole time. (He finally became Marks throughout.)
I also managed to change Lady Downing’s (the mother of the hero’s betrothed) Christian name from Frances to Harriet during the course of the book. She finally became Harriet because I think it funnier and she became quite a funny character by the end of the book.
Near-Disaster #2: The Matter of an “E”
While I was making the final pass through the galley, something drew my attention to the spelling of one of my characters’ name. Madame Amorina Vestry is a significant character in the whole series. She’s appeared in all three books so far and will have a role in the final two as well. However, I realized, while reading the book aloud, that I’d been rather capricious in the spelling of the word “Madame.” On some pages it was “Madam” and on others it was “Madame.” In fact, the spelling sometimes changed on a single page. I simply hadn’t been paying attention. To set the matter to rest, I checked the first two books, in which her name was spelled “Madame Vestry.” Changes made, but again, it could have been very bad.
Near-Disaster #3: In Which I Can Do Magic
This was the ultimate mistake that would have been terribly embarrassing had I not finally realized it. About half-way through the book, the hero and his betrothed (not the heroine) are on an outing to the local village. His betrothed sees an old man coming through the snow: “Yipping, Jasper [a dog] raced toward an ancient board wagon pulled by a small pony just rounding the corner of the baker’s shop.” Ok, all well and good.
But “Abracadabra,” on the next page, “Mr. Blake eased himself down out of the seat and slowly tethered his team of oxen.”
When I finally heard what I had just read, I went back to the previous page, and suddenly thought I might cast up my accounts. None of us know how we missed this, but I still give thanks that I did catch it. And now I can laugh about how I can turn a pony into oxen with a wave of my pen. 🙂
The man of her dreams . . . belongs to another woman.
Destitute and without friends, Violet Carlton is forced to seek employment at the House of Pleasure in London. She steels herself for her first customer and is shocked when the man rescues her instead of ravishing her. A grateful Violet cannot help but admire the handsome Viscount Trevor. But she must curb her desire for the dashing nobleman she can never have because he is already betrothed to another . . .
Tristan had gone to the House of Pleasure for a last bit of fun before he became a faithful married man. But when he recognizes the woman in his bed, he becomes determined to save her instead. Now, his heart wars with his head as he falls for the vulnerable courtesan. Unable to break his betrothal without a scandal, Tris resolves to find Violet proper employment or a husband of her own. Still, his arms ache for Violet, urging him to abandon propriety and sacrifice everything to be with the woman he loves. . . .
~ EXCERPT ~
“You heard me playing?” She didn’t know whether to be excited or terrified.
“I came in about halfway through. Just before you broke free.” Straightening, he handed her the sheets of parchment. “It was like watching a bird leave the ground and soar.” His fingers brushed her palm as he passed the music to her.
The spark that leaped from him to her sent her reeling. She stumbled back and he caught her wrist, scalding her, making her tremble inside.
“I do beg pardon. I shouldn’t have startled you so. Come, sit down here.” He escorted her to a chair before the fire. “Let me get Mrs. Parker. She had brought the tea tray while you were playing, but I selfishly sent it back.” His eyes were warm and dark. “I didn’t want you to stop.” He disappeared into the passageway, calling for the cook.
Torn between the elation of playing music again and the shock of Tristan’s touch, Violet sat in the chair, allowing the warmth of the fire to soothe her for a moment or two, until he reappeared. At least he had liked her playing, although she was mortified he’d heard her stumble so badly at the end. She would practice hard so when he heard her again he would be even more pleased. And she did want to please him. A small repayment for his numerous kindnesses, but something within her power to do.
Tristan entered bearing the tea tray himself and she rose, holding out her hands to take it from him.
“No, my dear. Please sit.” He nodded to her chair and she sank down again. “You’ve given me a treat after a long and taxing day, so indulge me by allowing me to serve you.” Once he had settled the tray on the music chest, he pulled a small flute-edged table in front of her. “Mrs. Parker assures me the shortbread came out of the oven not ten minutes ago.”
Violet inhaled aromas of fragrant tea and sweet pastry and her stomach gave a growl. She clamped her hands over the offending organ as heat rushed to her face. Curse it. Just when she might have become comfortable with him.
“You are ready for tea, I see.” He grinned, taking some of the embarrassment out of the moment. “Well, I could tell you have worked hard for it. That is why you are so accomplished.”
“Not very accomplished now,” she said, accepting a napkin from him.
“Nonsense. I’ve no musical ability myself, but I recognize true talent when I hear it. Sugar? Milk?” He poured a cup, then hovered over the bowl of sugar with a pair of tongs.
“One lump and a splash of milk, please. I have not played for a very long time. And even longer since I had the opportunity to practice regularly.” She sipped the tea, deliciously hot and sweet, and took a bite of the still warm petticoat tail. “Ummm.” Violet couldn’t hold back the sigh of contentment. The confection all but melted on her tongue.
“Mrs. Parker’s shortbread would rival Mrs. McLintock’s I’m sure.” He leaned back in his chair opposite her and crunched into a wedge. It disappeared in two bites and he reached for another one.
“Who is Mrs. McLintock?”
“The Scottish woman who apparently invented shortbread about thirty years ago.” When he laughed, his face turned boyish. “At least she gets the credit for writing it down in a recipe book before anyone else. Mrs. Parker told me the first time she baked them for me.” His laughter died as he looked at her, his gaze traveling from her head to her feet. “I see you met with Madame Angelique.”
“Yes, I did. It was quite a surprise.” Completely aware of his scrutiny, Violet sat straighter and smoothed out her skirt. “I cannot thank you enough, my lord.”
He glared at her over the shortbread. “My lord?”
“Tristan. Tris.” She blushed and could do absolutely nothing about it. “You have been more than generous to me. I cannot think how I shall ever repay you.” There. She had given him the opportunity to issue the suggestion she still half expected. Better to get it out in the open and be done with it.
He raised his eyebrows as he lifted his teacup to his lips.
Those very full, very sensual lips she could still feel kissing her body.
“Can you not, my dear? Perhaps I can think of a way you could repay me that will be to our mutual satisfaction.” Tris set his cup down and took her hands.
Her pulse raced and her mouth dried to dust.
“Will you become my mistress?”
Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical in all time periods because passion is timeless. She has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager. A romantic herself, she has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise. She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories. She’s a theatre director when she’s not writing and lives in Virginia with her family, including two very vocal cats.
Jenna is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America as well as Vice-President of Chesapeake Romance Writers, her local chapter of RWA. She has three series currently available: The House of Pleasure, set in Georgian England, Handful of Hearts, set in Regency England, and Time Enough to Love, set in medieval England and France.
She currently writes to support her chocolate habit.
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Thanks for sharing your latest book with us, Lady Jenna! Happy Release Day!!!