Contrary to what I was led to believe when I was a young man, the writing community I found on Twitter has proven to be a supportive one. Each author possesses his/her/their unique voice and gift. It is a community where writers support and encourage one another. We have different ideas and definitions of success. It’s great that in the universe, we aren’t all pursuing the same things–there is abundance instead of scarcity. As an author, when it comes to advice and tips, I’ve learned to take what I like and leave the rest, to use what works for me. I will always be a work-in-progress. At the end of the day, I am satisfied knowing that I have written the books I want to read, and there is a reading audience out there who wants to hear my story.
I love trailblazers, and Mae West was one of them. She wasn’t pretty by Hollywood starlet standards, and she was 40 when she debuted in movies. However, she was memorable for her unique blend of sex and comedy. She was also a playwright. Her play, Diamond Lil, became the movie She Done Him Wrong in 1933. Mae West was probably the first actress to have both script control and creative control of her movies, virtually unheard of for a woman back then. Filled with healthy doses of double entendres and sexual innuendo, the movie may have brought about the Hays Code, but it saved Paramount Studios from bankruptcy. How many of you out there remember this famous line of hers: “Come up sometime and see me. I’m home every evening.”
That being said, I recently finished Patricia A. Knight’s historical romance novel, Husband For Hire, which heartily appeals to my love of romance in Regency-era England. Lady Eleanor Russell, only child of the Earl and Countess of Rutledge, has a dilemma. Having been an independent woman when it came to the affairs of the family estate and an avid horsewoman, she is now (gasp!) 30 and unmarried. This wouldn’t have been a big deal for her, but for one pesky detail; when her father dies, the state takes everything due to the lack of a male heir. Being a resourceful woman, Eleanor takes the reins and conducts the 19th century version of a job interview, with salary and benefits, to fill this unexpected position of husband–in name only, of course.
Enter twenty-something Lord Miles Everleigh, third son of the Duke of Chelsony. The embodiment of tall, dark and handsome (or as Mae West would say, “warm, dark and handsome”), Miles comes with some baggage of his own. Thanks to Edgar, his older, odious, obnoxious, skinflint of a half-brother, he has been struggling to make ends meet. Said brother, who currently holds the title of Duke of Chelsony, has also made Miles’ mother’s life miserable. His younger brother Edmund, known as Ned, has a gambling problem, and the enforcers are breathing down his neck. Having been the paramour of his share of older widows in high society, Miles is tired of this life style and being looked down upon by Edgar as a manwhore. Despite the challenges, Miles cares deeply for the welfare of his mother and his younger brother.
Eleanor is far from a simpering, shrinking violet. She is opinionated, independent and a bit prickly, which suits Miles. They share a common bond of their love of horses. He agrees to the terms of his new position–sort of. What he never took into account was falling in love with his wife, and his determination to win her love. Apparently, everyone knows he loves her–everyone but Eleanor.
Between a disastrous wedding night, dangerous creditors, intrusive representatives of the Crown, and meddling/matchmaking relatives, Miles and Eleanor navigate their way to a sweet, passionate and loving HEA. All in all, a most satisfying read, and I appreciated the context of a love match between an older woman and a younger man.
Readers, I also recommend the supplements following Husband For Hire; they are eye-opening and informative. But first, you’ll have to go to your local Amazon/Barnes & Noble library to check out this book.