by Mary Jo
Editing and producing e-versions of earlier books is an interesting, nostalgic, and sometimes alarming process. I agree with everything Cara/Andrea said in her Wednesday discussion of the e-release of three of her Signet Regencies. Proofing forces an author to confront all the appalling writing weaknesses that she has been struggling to eliminate. Thank heaven that in popular fiction, a good story can trump wordiness! To a point, anyhow. <G>
I’ve just uploaded the ebook verson of Dearly Beloved, my first true Regency historical romance after I’d written 7 traditional Signet Regencies. I wanted a rock ‘em, sock ‘em story that would push the limits beyond anything I’d attempted, and I succeeded. I also wanted to do the sort of deception that Mary Stewart did in The Ivy Tree, where a plot twist makes what came before look different in light of new information.
Yes, I was probably biting off too much, but if I were a reasonable person, I wouldn't have become a writer. <G> Though I generally avoid Amazon reviews, I just noticed one that said Dearly Beloved was a book people either loved or hated. Luckily, this particular reviewer loved the book, but others didn't. Which is fine. No book is for everyone.
When my agent was sending out the manuscript, at least one editor refused to even consider it because the heroine, Diana Lindsay, goes to London to become a courtesan. But that is much too simple a description of the story.
Diana is a woman of instinct and intuition, and it is instinct that drives her from her remote Yorkshire home to find a better life. Dangerously beautiful, she realizes that being an elite courtesan will give her freedom and power, and London will give her young son more opportunities.
At her first venture into the demimonde, Diana meets Gervase, a haunted lord and spymaster who is entranced by her warmth and kindness. Soon they are locked in an intense, passionate love affair. But they each have their secrets, and their approaches to life are catastrophically different in ways that threaten to wrench them apart.
Here’s an excerpt, along with the original cover, which I loved for its tenderness. I think it looks more like the characters in my head than any other cover I've had:
In spite of their physical closeness Gervase was remote from her, his expression harsh and withdrawn.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.”
Dearly Beloved: Love it or hate it. The book was nominated for the RWA book of the year award and won the NJRW best historical of the year award. It also brought me my first hate mail.
Here’s a review quote from Terrie Figueroa of www.romrevtoday.com”
"Brimming with betrayal, passion, intrigue and love, Dearly Beloved is a novel that no romance reader should miss…It's a novel that will touch your heart, and a perfect example of what a romance novel should be."
I love the quote, though I don’t think the book is for every romance reader. <G>
The e-edition of Dearly Beloved is currently being uploaded to the usual platforms. The only current link I have is for Amazon, but Nook and Kobo and the others will follow over the next few days.
I have two more novels that I have yet to edit, format, and upload: Uncommon Vows, (my one medieval) and Lady of Fortune, originally a Signet Super Regency. They will become available later this year, but I have no idea when!
In the meantime, I’ll give a print copy of Dearly Beloved to someone who leaves a comment between now and midnight Saturday.
While I have your attention: I’m thinking of making some of my books available in print on demand (POD) editions, which look and cost about the same as a trade paperback. So, more expensive than mass market paperbacks. Do you have any thoughts about this? Would you consider buying the print edition of a book that is otherwise available only as an ebook? Let me know what you think, please!
Mary Jo, who would start POD with Thunder and Roses, first of the Fallen Angels series