I finished reading a Regency historical romance today by one of my favorite romance authors, Jo Beverley, who sadly died last year. It’s been a while since I’ve read one, which is funny because that was original genesis of the whole Keegan family saga. (I really liked the book, by the way. It was romantic, gushy, uplifting, although there was a theme of death throughout, which was really poignant considering it’s probably Jo Beverley’s last book).
Now granted, I realize it’s weird to be writing a lot of short stories based around a trunked and ripped apart novel. But one of my projects so far this year is the first draft of a Regency (well, technically, it’s Georgian England) historical romance novella and it takes place in the same world with the Keegans.
And this is my first snippet of 2017: a scene from early on in The New Bride of Banner’s Edge.
Yes, guys, I already have a title #win
Miles Keegan sat at one end of the dining table, addressing himself to his coffee and eggs, his attention divided between his breakfast and the London Times.
“Good morning.” He glanced away from the headlines about Napoleon Bonaparte being elected Emperor of the French to return the greeting to Lady Banston, his hostess. Lord Banston was at the other end of the table, a copy of the paper still unread beside him. He was engrossed reading a long letter instead.
Lady Banston took a plate and selected her breakfast from the silver-domed dishes on the sideboard. This was a cozy domestic scene, one that they’d shared often, for the Banstons were Miles’s neighbors back in their Gloucestershire village and they were happy to have him stay in their London house for a few weeks’ time. Their respective children were upstairs having their breakfast while Mayfair woke up outside of Banston House after yet another night of balls, parties, and the theater. Such was the Season.
“Darling? Whatever is the matter?” Lady Banston asked. Lord Banston was rubbing his temple.
“This is from Stockton,” Banston said, referring to his estate steward. “He regrets to say that he must visit his sister Lady Windham in Kent for a brief time for Sir Calvin Windham has died and he needs to attend the funeral. He wrote to say he’s leaving Havers in charge in his absence.”
Lady Windham took a sip of tea. “Sir Calvin is dead? Why, he wasn’t that much older than either of you.”
Miles nodded, then turned the page of the newspaper. He wasn’t well acquainted with Sir Calvin Windham, having met him briefly a few years ago, but he knew Lady Windham. She visited Stockton nearly every summer, often bringing her daughter Laura with her. The poor woman. Losing a spouse was something all too familiar to Miles.
“I think I saw him at Tattersall’s last week,” Banston said. “Stockton doesn’t mention the cause of death.”
“And what, pray tell, were you doing at Tattersall’s?” Lady Banston asked.
“Looking at horses, as one does at Tatt’s.”
Miles shook his head at the marital exchange. The headlines on this page varied: the battles being waged in India, the war on France, Pitt the Younger becoming Prime Minister again…
Baronet Dies After Epsom Derby.
He skimmed the first few lines. “Here it is,” he said to his companions. “‘Sir Calvin Windham, baronet of Windham Magna, Kent, was thrown with some force from his horse near Epsom on the 17th of May. His head was sorely injured and he died after a day. He is survived by his heir, his cousin Mr. James Windham of Canterbury, his mother the Dowager Lady Windham, and his wife and daughter.'”
Lady Banston shook her head. “Oh, my goodness. Thrown from a horse. Lady Windham said he was horse-mad.”
“Then I suppose he died doing something he loved,” Banston said.
It wouldn’t make anything easier for Lady Windham, however. She was a cheerful woman with a strong constitution and artistic talent, but she had shadows. Of course she did. Didn’t they all, somewhere?
“I’ll write to her,” Lady Banston said. “I wonder how distant a relation the heir is—well, the new baronet.”
“I ought to write her, too,” Miles said. “I know all too well what being the widower is like.” His wife Adele died suddenly five years ago. He’d moved on and their daughters grew everyday, but the memories of that time still hit him afresh every so often.
He pushed his chair back. With that sad note, it was time to start his day.