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Today’s hook is from Chapter One of my sweet Regency romance, Lady Elinor’s Escape, currently on a 99-cent Amazon Kindle Countdown Deal in the US and UK. (Apologies to readers in other countries. Those are the only two places where I can do the Kindle Countdown deals.)
Today’s snippet is from Chapter 1 of the book and will give some idea of why Elinor needed to escape. For those not familiar with Regency London, Newgate was a notorious prison.
She might as well be in Newgate.
Lady Elinor Ashworth stared out the window of her bedchamber at acres of farmland sprouting new growth. Spring green brightened the vista, taunting her with the promise of freedom. After three long, lonely months trapped in this cottage, her spirit cried out for something more, something she could not name.
She glanced at the sketchbook in her lap. She had intended to draw the pastoral scene outside her window, but her hand had sketched a young lady forlornly staring through the panes of a window. A truer self-portrait had never been drawn.
Until the last few months, she had been allowed to wander alone through the Wiltshire countryside, but no longer. Not since Aunt Sarah came out of her melancholy and turned into a raving madwoman.
All her life Elinor had dreamed of adventure, so what she was planning to do should not daunt her in the slightest. She had read about people braving the ocean in small boats, exploring the jungles of Africa, searching for ancient artifacts in Egypt.
In contrast, stealing out of her aunt’s house in the dark, walking to the nearest coaching inn and traveling by herself to London hardly qualified as an adventure. The merest of escapades, in fact. Or so she assured herself to calm the butterflies suddenly dancing in her stomach. Still, what other choice did she have?
But it all depended on Mimi’s assistance.
Jumping up, she paced her small bedroom, eight steps forward, eight steps back, noting that the carpeting had begun to show the wear and tear of her impatience, a well-worn trail that led nowhere. Her immediate problem was finding a way to mail the letter to Mimi without her aunt knowing about it. In the past she’d been allowed to walk to the nearby village of Lacock, but lately…
With a sigh, she sat behind her small desk and skimmed the letter she’d just written in decent, if not fluent, French.
Beechwood Cottage, Wiltshire
April 29, 1812
I have quite made up my mind to come to London and hope I may stay with you for a while. I would not ask except there is no one else upon whom I may impose. It will be only for a short time, just until I can find a way to join my father in Portugal.
I have not heard from him in several months and fear our letters are being intercepted by my Aunt Sarah, whose behavior has become quite unpredictable. She has come out of the deep melancholy she suffered after dear Uncle Thomas’s death, but she is often not herself. She sees French spies around every turn of a country lane, and of late, has begun accusing me of spying for Napoleon.
That is not the whole story, but I will explain more when I see you. Dear friend, do say I may stay with you. I eagerly await your answer.
Your little Ellie
Elinor folded her letter and had just picked up the sealing wax when her aunt burst into the room. Her graying hair had escaped from its bun and there was a wild look in her blue eyes. Oh, no, it was one of those days.
Before Elinor could stand, her aunt strode to the desk and towered over her.
“There you are, missy. I’ve been looking for you. What is that?” She snatched the letter from Elinor’s hand and looked at it. “Ah, ha! This is the proof I’ve been waiting for.”
Elinor’s heart thumped madly. “What are you talking about, Aunt Sarah? Proof of what?”
“Spying. Here it is, writ in your own hand.”
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