The Story Behind the Story:
In this era of e-books, backlist books are widely available, but it's rare for an older book to get a major re-release by a different publisher. I started my writing career with the shorter, lighter Signet Regency romances, but after five books, I was champing at the bit to write longer, more intense stories, which might also pay enough to allow me to become a full time writer. Hence, Dearly Beloved.
It was an edgy book when it was first published, and it's edgy still. It features themes that I return to again and again: Decent people who make bad mistakes. Redemption. Reconciliation. Becoming stronger in the mended places.
Since my Kensington editor was interested in publishing more of my backlist, I sent her Dearly Beloved, which is my one standalone Regency historical, not part of a series. I fully expected her not to want the story, but to my shock, she loved it! <blink>
So here is the new edition of Dearly Beloved with a spectacular new cover. (I've added covers of earlier editions.) The story and characters haven't changed, though. Here's the blurb:
As enigmatic as she is beautiful, Diana Lindsay is the most desirable and sought after woman in London, her smile worth a prince’s ransom. Yet Diana wants only one man—a haunted lord with mysterious secrets as deep as hers.
Gervase Brandelin, Viscount St. Aubyn, dedicated himself to the service of his country as a way to redeem the sins of his youth. As a spymaster, he seeks out Britain’s hidden enemies and nothing can sway him from his duty, until he meets a woman who touches his heart even more than she dazzles his senses. In Diana he finds warmth and hope, yet he is bitterly aware that she can never be his.
Then the two halves of Gervase’s life come together in a cataclysm that threatens to separate him from Diana forever. Perhaps love might bring them together, but first they must survive the assault of a deadly enemy.
“Dearly Beloved sets a new standard of excellence for historical romance. One of the best books of this or any other year,”
“Brimming with betrayal, passion, intrigue and love, Dearly Beloved is a novel that no romance reader should miss….one of my all time favorites…It’s a novel that will touch your heart, and a perfect example of what a romance novel should be.”
“Marvelous characters and excellent plotting…charming and wonderfully romantic.”
Affaire de Coeur
Here's an excerpt:
In spite of their physical closeness Gervase was remote from her, his expression harsh and withdrawn. Diana leaned across the narrow gap for a light kiss, asking softly, “Is something wrong?”
His eyes were shadowed and he was silent for too long. “You’re like…an addiction. The more I have of you, the more I crave you.”
“And you dislike that?”
“I don’t want to need anyone. Ever.”
Diana felt the chill of his mood dispelling her contentment and she sat up, wrapping her cloak around her. Without true intimacy, it seemed wrong to be naked in front of him. Staring into the fire, she wondered what one could say to a man who preferred aloneness, who wanted to be sufficient unto himself. “You need air to survive, and food and drink and sleep. To be fully human, one also needs other people.”
To even discuss such matters was to betray vulnerability, and there was a long interval before he answered. “Needing objects is safe enough—one kind of food can easily replace another. To need people is dangerous because…it gives them power over you.”
Still looking at the fire, she drew her knees up and wrapped her arms around her legs, folds of cloak spilling around her to the rug. “Sometimes that is true, but why do you assume that others will always use their power against you?”
With a brittle laugh, he said, “Experience.”
She turned to face him. “Can you truly say that everyone you have ever cared about has abused your trust?”
Silence. Then, “No. The risk increases with the level of caring. If one cares only a little, there is only a little danger. The real risk is in…caring deeply.”
Diana felt pity that he couldn’t even bring himself to say the word “love.” What had happened to him, that the very thought of loving was so frightening? “Then you are in no danger from me. I can see what a bother it must be that your lust is temporarily out of control, but sex is just a “thing,’ like the need for food and drink.”
She wished he would leave so she could give way to tears. It was a mistake to love a man who daren’t love in return. She stood, her voice gently mocking. “Take comfort in the fact that soon I will not be a novelty and you can easily replace me with another woman.”
Gervase stood also, coming behind her and wrapping his arms around her waist, pulling her against the hard length of his body. “Can I replace you that easily, Diana? Is that all that is between us—intemperate lust that will soon wane?”
She held herself rigid, fighting the desire to melt back against him. “I can’t answer that. Only you can.”
“But I don’t know the answer. I don’t even understand the question.”
Speaking from her own hurt, she said, “You don’t pay me enough to teach you the questions.”
His arms dropped away, and when he spoke it was in a voice of cool irony. “Good of you to remind me what is really between us. Since it is only vulgar money, there can be no danger.”
She turned to face him, her blue eyes stark with unhappiness. “You said that, not me. If that is what you choose to believe, then of course it must be the truth. After all, the customer is always right.”
He flinched back at her words. “If only it were that simple.” Placing his hands on Diana’s
shoulders, he drew her to him. “But even after that spectacular sexual exchange has discharged physical desire, I still want you. And so I fear you.”
She softened then, wrapping her arms around his waist and resting her head on his shoulder. “Do you really think I could ever hurt you?”
He laid his cheek against her tangled hair, the scent of lilac poignant around them. “I don’t know. I really…just…do not know. And that is what frightens me.”
It was impossible to be angry with Gervase when she could feel his pain and confusion as sharply as her own. Despairingly, Diana knew that she wanted to embark on the ultimate folly: to try to heal him with her love. Perhaps it would be better if they ended it right now. “Do you want me to leave Aubynwood?”
His arms tightened around her. “I don’t want you to leave. I just…want you. And that’s the hell of it.”
I hope Dearly Beloved will a new readership in this new edition with the gorgeous new cover! I'll be giving away two copies (and this is worldwide, not just the US.) To qualify for the drawing, leave a comment between now and Thursday midnight.