Wednesday, May 13, 2009
EXCERPT FROM THE HOUSE IN GROSVENOR SQUARE
Mayfair, London: 1813
"Inexplicable." There was no other word for Mr. Mornay's behaviour to her that morning,and Ariana Forsythe could think of naught else unless it changed. Soon.
She looked at him challengingly, where he sat across from her in his expensive, plush black coach. Faultlessly handsome, Phillip Mornay was dressed stylishly in a twin-tailed frock coat, buff pantaloons and polished black boots. His beautifully tied cravat puffed lightly out from an embroidered white waistcoat, and his dark hair and famously handsome features were framed by a top hat. Everything he wore looked new, his clothing always did; and yet he might have worn it a dozen times, so comfortable did he appear in his attire. But he had barely looked at Ariana for more than a fleeting second since he had come for her
this morning, and it was beginning to grate on her nerves. She had to think of something to say.
"Tomorrow is the day I shall see the full of your house, is it not?" She had been in Mr. Mornay's
house in Grosvenor Square before, but this time she and Aunt Bentley were to get a tour, top to
bottom, so she would feel more at home after the wedding. She and Mr. Mornay were betrothed to be
married in two weeks.
The dark eyes flicked at her, and she felt a fleeting twinge of satisfaction.
She wanted to hold his attention, and began a smile, but he looked away, abruptly. What could be wrong? Mr. Mornay often studied her when they were together; she was so used to finding the dark-eyed warm gaze upon her, in fact, that she felt somewhat abandoned to be deprived of it, now. Had she done something to displease him? When he usually attended to her so deeply as though he could read into her soul?
They were on their way to the London Orphan Society, in Mr. Mornay's upholstered coach and- four, with its fashionable high-steppers and liveried footmen on back, to attend a special service at the Society's Chapel. A lady was giving a dramatic reading from Scripture; a most celebrated dramatic reading. Ariana and Mr. Mornay had received invitations for the event, with encouragement to invite anyone of their acquaintance. Thus, there were also four other occupants in the carriage this morning, and seating was snug.
On either side of Ariana was a relation. Her younger sister, Beatrice, just turned twelve, was to her left, and her aunt and chaperon for the season, Mrs. Agatha Bentley, sat on her right. The ladies faced the gentlemen sitting across from them; first, Mr. Peter O'Brien, a future cleric, at Beatrice's particular request; then Ariana's future husband, Mr. Mornay, silent and unapproachable, and finally, the agreeable Mr. Pellham, her aunt's betrothed. (She and her aunt were betrothed at the same time. A most fortuitous turn of events; Ariana ought to have been in raptures of joy.) But unless Mr. Mornay's demeanour changed, Ariana could not enjoy herself. His inattentiveness was such a contrast to his usual behaviour that it was impossible for her to ignore it, or shrug it off as mere ill humour.
It seemed ironic now that when all had been uncertain about the wedding, (when Ariana had held out against her desire to marry Mr. Mornay because she would only marry a man who could share her spiritual life in God,) that up to then, his love and affection were painfully clear. And now, after Mr. Mornay had undergone a stark change in his religion; that is, when he came to believe in a personal, loving God, and the betrothal was settled, suddenly he was behaving as though he wished it were not.
Sitting across from her, he should have been engaging her with his usual intent gaze, smiling slightly at her remarks when she amused him or spoke to others; instead, he sat staring out the window (a thing he never did) and appeared to be morosely preoccupied in his own thoughts. It pricked against her nerves. She would bring him out of this brown study if it took all her ingenuity!
And then he suddenly turned and spoke: "Did I mention I shall be occupied for the rest of the day? After leaving you at your house, following the morning's service?"
Her large, tan eyes sparkled into bluish-green as they tended to do whenever her feelings were stirred. "No, sir; you mentioned nothing to me." She gave him a look laden with perplexity, which
he responded to only with a brief, "Haven't I? Well, I've done, now."
Oh, dear. He is utterly not himself! Or has he taken a disgust of me?
The carriage fell silent. Mr. Mornay had thick, dark hair which tapered to the tip of his collar; short, dark sideburns, and handsome, strong-boned features. His eyes were deep, dark, and expressive, and his manner of dress, the height of manly perfection. Though he would not deign to discuss good style, he had a faultless sense of it, and many an aspiring buck or beau modeled their choice of attire after his. Like Ariana, his neatness appeared effortless. And he was universally approved of in the best houses, (save for those of the staunchest Whigs, who had still not forgiven Prinny or his pals, of which Mr. Mornay was one, for abandoning them for the Tories).
Linore Rose Burkard creates Inspirational Romance for the Jane Austen Soul. Her characters take you back in time to experience life and love during the era of Regency England (circa 1800 - 1830). Fans of classic romances, such as Pride & Prejudice, Emma, and Sense & Sensibility, will enjoy meeting Ariana Forsythe, a feisty heroine who finds her heart and beliefs tested by high-society London.
Ms. Burkard's novels include Before the Seasons Ends and The House in Grosvenor Square (coming April, 2009). Her stories blend Christian faith and romance with well-researched details from the Regency period. Her books and monthly newsletter captivate readers with little-known facts, exciting stories, and historical insights. Experience a romantic age, where timeless lessons still apply to modern life. And, enjoy romance that reminds us happy endings are possible for everyone.
Publisher's Weekly affirms, "Ms. Burkard's command of period detail is impressive, evident in material details, but also in dialogue. Her novels even help non-Regencyphiles learn the difference between ladies' pelisses and spencers...On the whole, it's a tasty confection."
Ms. Burkard began writing when she couldn't find a Regency romance with an inspirational twist. "There were Christian books that approached the genre," she says, "But, they fell short of being a genuine Regency. I knew that many women like me want stories that are historically authentic and offer glimpses of God's involvement in our lives. So, I finally gave up looking and decided to write one myself."
Ms. Burkard was raised in New York, where she graduated magna cum laude from the City University of New York with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature. She lives with her husband and five children in a town full of antique stores and gift shops in southwestern Ohio. Her hobbies include working on four new Regency novels, family movie nights, swimming, and gardening.