Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Regency comedy GIFTS GONE ASTRAY: The Hero, Heroine and Location by Linda Banche

Gifts Gone Astray is my latest regency comedy novella. Meet the hero, heroine, and find out about the location.

The hero, Stephen, in his own words:

Greetings. I am Mr. Stephen Fairfax, lately arrived here at the Earl of Langley's country estate, Four Winds, to work as tutor for his lordship's young son.

And "work" is the appropriate term. Although I taught at Cambridge for several years before I accepted this post, I have never before seen such a badly-behaved child. I vow, my private name for the boy, "Horrible Harold" is too mild an epithet for this child's actions. I wonder if I will survive.

But survive I must, until, and if, I can find employment more to my liking. With so many of the former military returning after Napoleon's defeat, jobs are scarce. I lost my position at Cambridge six months ago. A nobleman with more influence than my baron father appropriated my job for his ex-soldier son.

But then, if I had never come to Four Winds, I would never have met Mrs. Anne Copely. The young widow is the most beautiful, intelligent, kind, gracious, indeed, the most glorious lady I have ever encountered. And she regards me with some favor, too. She has given me a gift as part of her family's summer party. The generous earl includes the servants in the gift-giving, but do I detect more in her present? I certainly hope so.

Now all I have to do is open the package…

The heroine, Anne, in her own words:
My greetings to all. I am Mrs. Anne Copely. I have newly come to my Uncle James's country estate, Four Winds, for our annual family party. Although my job as teacher at Mrs. Black's girls' school is tolerable, this summer celebration is so festive, it has become the high point of my year.

Especially since my dear Edward's death. Oh, how I miss him. I am grateful for the years we had, and the pain of his passing has diminished with time. While part of me will always love him, he has been gone these two years and I must continue on.

On my first day here, I noticed Mr. Stephen Fairfax, the new tutor for Uncle James's son. What a handsome man. And not only attractive, intelligent and kind, but we are both teachers and like books! Since everyone, including the servants, receives a gift at this fete, what better way to honor my late husband's memory than to give one of his favorite books to Mr. Fairfax?

Gracious, was I too forward in giving Mr. Fairfax a present? I hope not, since I disguised my action by giving several other servants gifts, too. I liked that book as much as my husband did. Will Mr. Fairfax see my special meaning?

I do so hope he likes the gift.

And the location:
Anne and Stephens' romance takes place in Langley, Cheshire. The seat of Stephen's employer, the Earl of Langley, Langley is a town on the western edge of the Macclesfield Forest. Langley is also east of the town of Bollin, and southeast of Liverpool and Manchester.

I selected this location because I set the story on a country estate. Macclesfield Forest provides a backdrop, and Stephen goes to Bollin on his day off. Also, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, the first passenger railway, was in its formative stages, and the start-up process brings a businessman to consult with the Earl of Langley. The railroad also plays a role for Stephen. I wrote a post on Regency Railroads here.

The time is the summer of 1817, two years after the passage of the Corn Laws, which raised the price of grain so high most people couldn't afford it, and one year after The Year Without a Summer, which destroyed that year's crops in many places. The combination of the two events wreaked havoc with many landowner's incomes. Anne's brother, John, is one of those landowners, and Stephen's father is another. I wrote two posts on The Year Without a Summer, which is also the setting for Pumpkinnapper. Blog post part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here.

Gifts Gone Astray BUY Link:

Thank you all,
Linda Banche
Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!

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