Please welcome historical author Judith Laik to the blog! Judith thought her book, A The Lady Protests, would be finished by now, but has had to push off the publication until later in June. But, she has decided to share with us some of her writing process! Judith will give away either the new book or reader’s choice of one of her other books. All you have to do is leave a comment telling her you want it.
Sometimes, or all the time, an author needs visual inspiration to see what their characters look like. And that is what Judith did. So, she is sharing with you the pictures she found of her secondary her heroine Arietta Foxworth.
This is a photo of her secondary hero Jasper Linton (although Jasper is a little more blonde).
Eventually, actually, probably pretty quickly, Judith’s thoughts about her characters and story will produce a cover something like this.
Now the blurb.
A Lady in Charge
Since the death of her musician stepfather, Beatrice Foxworth has struggled to hold her remaining family together: her innocent, head-in-the-clouds stepsister, Arietta; and her devastated mother. When Arietta is abducted, Beatrice must save her from ruin – or worse.
A Pleasure-seeking Gentleman
Philip Hollesley carelessly promised a friend to oversee his naïve younger brother’s first essay into London bachelorhood. When Jasper Linton elopes with an unsuitable young woman, the last thing Philip wants to do is become involved. But he gave his word, so it’s up to him to chase down the young fool before he can tie the knot in Gretna Green.
Adversaries turned Reluctant Allies
But there never was so strange a pursuit. Beatrice and Philip, chaperoned by her matchmaking mama, discover an odd assortment of humanity is also tracking them: a rejected lord, an aging demimondaine and her aristocratic lover, a group of rowdy young bucks, and a mysterious man.
The Lady Protests
Beatrice and Philip can’t agree on anything – except the necessity to overtake Jasper and Arietta – and to fight their inconvenient attraction to each other.
And an excerpt.
As Jasper paid for two meat pies, Arietta spotted something moving in the alley and nearly moved away from the corner, suspecting a rat or other vermin. The creature didn’t move like one, however, and she peered as it slunk closer.
It crawled under the cart and looked fearfully at Arietta. She realized it was a small dog, the tan color of the dirt in the street, with a matted coat, and, even through the mats and dirt, she could see it was terribly thin. Two bright black eyes shone through the hair falling in its face, and a pink tongue lolled out of its mouth.
With her pie in hand, Arietta bent down, and the dog darted away, just a few feet, then stopped, staring at the pie. “You poor ragamuffin,” she said in a coaxing voice, “do you want some pie?” She broke off a piece and held it out to the dog, who looked at it suspiciously, but longingly.
“That beast been hanging about for days. It’s just a nuisance, but nobody’s been able to catch it,” said the pie lady.
“Come here, love, and I’ll give you some pie,” Arietta wheedled. A stump of a tail wagged doubtfully, and the dog came forward a foot or two.
Jasper said, “The thing is filthy, probably has fleas. You should let it be.”
“No, he’s starving, poor puppy. And he’s so afraid. Come here, baby,” she pleaded again, and the dog crawled closer, merely a couple of feet from her outstretched hand. “Just a little more and the pie is yours.” She waved the bit of pastry slowly so as not to startle him, and he came all the way to her hand and snatched the tidbit, then ran as if afraid to be trapped.
He stopped just a few feet away, looking back at the rest of her pie. “Yes, you can have more if you come back,” she said, breaking off another bite and holding it toward him.
He moved towards her more boldly, but still snatched the bite and ran off. This time, Arietta went toward him. He retreated, and she bent down again with her hand out. He came forward, to discover she didn’t have any treat in her hand this time. As he sniffed, her hand settled very gently on his head and stroked him softly. She offered him more of the pie, with her hand resting in her lap, and he climbed up to take it from her, not retreating this time, but looking at the rest of her pie.
She closed her arm around him and cuddled him against her, feeding the rest of the pie to him, then standing with him in her arms. He wiggled a little bit and she reassured him with soothing sounds. “We need to take him with us,” she said, looking up at Jasper. “He obviously has no one to care for him.”
Jasper groaned. “We can’t take him. How can we care for him on the road?”
“It’s no harder than caring for ourselves. He won’t be any trouble. Could you buy me another pie? I’m still hungry.”
With a quiet curse under his breath, Jasper obeyed, and they headed back to the inn. “I strongly doubt the innkeeper will let you bring him inside. He’s filthy and no doubt flearidden.”
“You already pointed that out. He needs a bath, obviously. I’ll ask the maid to bring up a tub. Once he’s cleaned up, I’m sure he’ll be quite presentable.”
An hour later, Jasper reflected that Arietta’s airy words had proved utterly false. Not only was the dog trouble, he was a damned pestilence. And the bath that would make him presentable had turned out to be near-impossible.
He looked around their room at a scene of chaos. The tub full of muddy, cooling water, puddles of water dotting the floor, Arietta’s dress and his own clothing soaking, and the dog lying, in his mud-bespattered glory, on the white coverlet of the four-poster bed, which was now spotted with paw prints all over its surface.
The mutt lay panting, an expression that looked very like a laugh of triumph.
Arietta, on the other hand, appeared about to cry. She glanced at him, took a deep breath, and said, “We are not going to let one small dog get the best of us.” She marched over to the bed, picked up the dog, and carried him, squirming in her arms, back to the tub.
“Here, you hold him, and I shall find something to tempt him to behave.” She handed over the wet bundle, and started for the door. The terrier growled at Jasper and, with teeth bared, leaped at his face. Jasper threw his head back, his grip on the dog loosening.
As Arietta departed the room, Jasper’s nemesis squirmed out of his arms, dashed through the open door, and down the stairs. Screams and crashes sounded from below. Jasper and Arietta raced down the stairs.
A party of passengers from a stagecoach had arrived at the inn, and were refreshing themselves while the horses were changed. From the spatters of mud on their coats, the dog had bounced off them all, as well as the barmaid, who had dropped a tray with a teapot and cups on the floor.
At that moment the front door opened, and the coachman started through it. Arietta yelled, “Close the door! Don’t—” But it was too late. A brown streak flashed through the opening.
“Oh, no!” Arietta ran to the door and looked out, Jasper following in time to see the dog run down the street in front of the inn and around a corner, disappearing.
Our vintage farmhouse needs constant upkeep, which we can barely keep up with, since it always needs new paint or new fences or…Luckily the most recent thing we repaired is the plumbing, so that’s working pretty well these days. With us living out in the country, we experience frequent power outages. There’s nothing more romantic than huddling under blankets in front of a cozy fire in the fireplace, with more blankets blocking the drafts from the other rooms in the house. The downside is that without power the well doesn’t work, either.
My husband and I like to get away as often as we can, taking off for a few days at the ocean or the lake. I usually bring my laptop with me on these excursions, working on whatever my current writing project is. I love to travel to more faraway places also. Our big adventure this year will be a family trip to my husband’s birthplace, Estonia. I think his relatives are a little taken aback by the thought of being inundated with seven of us, but we’ll manage.
My favorite destination, though, is England. My most recent trips there, in 2003 and 2005, were with groups equally fascinated with the Regency period, and we visited many sites with associations to that time. Heaven! There’s nothing like actually seeing the locations where my stories took place, even if altered to varying degrees by the 200-some years since those events happened. As a bonus, the gift shops at many of the museums and historic sites have more lovely books that I would never have come across at home!