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Jennifer Haymore

Exclusive: Historical Hookups by Jennifer Haymore

Exclusive: Historical Hookups by Jennifer Haymore

In celebration of historical releases from Forever, they set up a group blog tour of their authors.  The task for the author was to create a 500-600 word short based on the criteria set out by the author’s fans.  We published Eileen Dreyer’s piece last time and requested Jennifer Haymore for this go around.

HaymoreJennifer

Her short had to include the following elements:

  • Hair color - Reddish-brown hair, the color of mahogany
  • Social status - Dishonored heiress
  • Family situation - It’s complicated
  • Hero’s archétype  - Rake
  • Scene takes place in - The cloakroom

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Original Pieces Graphic

 

Garrett Wayland slipped into the coatroom behind her. Concealing himself between a glossy ermine cloak and a woolen overcoat that smelled of wet cat, he watched as she sat on the floor, propped her diary on her knees, and began to write.

Alicia Stratton.

Her beauty twisted his gut. The meager light danced over her thick mahogany hair, enhancing endless shades of red, gold, and brown. A furrow dug between her brows as she chewed on the top of her pencil, a gesture he found exceedingly charming. The curve of her bosom, clad in ivory silk, contrasted against the darkness of the wall behind her, making his skin prickle with the urge to touch her.

It had been over a month since he’d been this close to her. He’d thought to protect her by staying away, but that had been a mistake.

He stepped forward, clearing his throat softly. “Miss Stratton.”

She glanced up, unsurprised, as if encountering him in an abandoned cloakroom in the middle of a theatrical performance was the most natural thing in the world. She inclined her head in greeting. “Mr. Wayland.”

“I see you’ve given up on The Man Hater. In the middle of act two, no less. And you chose the cloakroom as your escape.” He glanced around the tiny room, lit only by a lamp on its lowest setting on the miniature desk at the entrance, and crowded with hanging cloaks, coats, capes, and various other coverings.

Her lips twisted. “It is a most comfortable cloakroom. Far more comfortable than my father’s box.”

He understood. Even from across the theater, the tension had prickled across his skin. People had looked down their noses at her, cutting her. It had infuriated him.

Tonight was her first public appearance in the six weeks following the Stratton Family Scandals. Her father had come through unscathed, despite being caught in bed by his third wife with three mistresses and having an unprecedented three CrimCon proceedings filed against him by three cuckolded husbands.

Alicia, however, was not so fortunate. The vultures at Almack’s had caught her in a lip-lock with a man—Garrett, to be specific—and her reputation had been shredded. It hadn’t been their first kiss; it had been their calamitous kiss. Not necessarily for Garrett, but what the ton saw as a bit of sport for a rake like him meant dishonor and disaster to Alicia. He had watched in growing disgust as society had swooped in and attempted to peck away her spirit.

It hadn’t succeeded.

“You’re not a man-hater, then?” he asked, half in jest.

She shrugged. “I am told I should be.”

“By whom?”

“My stepmother. She assures me that none of you are to be trusted.”

“Do you agree?”

Gripping her diary in one hand, Alicia rose gracefully to her feet. “Should I?”

Truthfully, he’d never given any woman a reason to trust him. But damned if he didn’t want this one to trust him. Damned if he didn’t want to give her a reason. A hundred reasons.

Loyalty…devotion…honor…love. All alien ideas to him. But as she stepped closer, he breathed in her rosewater-tinged femininity and those concepts swam within him, circling like sharks until he was sure they’d devour him.

Crazily, he wanted to be devoured.

“Can you be trusted, Mr. Wayland?” She gazed up at him with golden-flecked brown eyes that peeled away the rakish skin that had protected him for so long and exposed the man underneath.

The man who was in love with her.

“Yes. I can be trusted.” The words emerged in a low rasp.

She opened her diary and held it out to him. The page contained three sentences:

 I saw him in his box tonight.

I wonder if he’ll follow me to the cloakroom.

I hope he does.

The diary slipped from her fingers and landed on the floor with a soft thud. She wrapped her arms around his neck, brought his mouth down to hers, and her fresh taste burst over his lips. Soft but insistent, sweet but erotic, a challenge and a surrender. The kiss altered his universe. It settled all those odd and confusing concepts prowling about within him, and he found peace.

It was time—past time—he did what was right. Not only because honor compelled him. But this was what he wanted. What he needed. Beyond any desire or need he’d ever experienced in his meaningless existence.

Alicia brought him meaning. She brought him clarity. She’d become everything to him.

When the kiss ended, he stood there, his body and mind reeling, his eyes squeezed shut. Then he whispered, his voice hoarse with emotion, “Marry me, Alicia.”

He opened his eyes.

But she…and her diary…were gone.

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Dear Author

REVIEW: A Hint of Wicked by Jennifer Haymore

Dear Ms. Haymore,

When I first picked up A Hint of Wicked, I did not have much in the way of expectations. I assumed that this was your first book, since I hadn’t heard your name before. I hadn’t really heard any buzz about the book, and I had to remind myself of the plot before I started by rereading the blurb. I rarely go into reading a romance with less of an idea of what to expect. It was a refreshing change, and one of the strengths of the novel turned out to be how difficult it was to guess what direction the story was going to go in.

The book opens with our heroine, Sophie, the Duchess of Calton, discovering that her beloved husband Garrett has fallen at Waterloo. With Sophie when she gets the news is Tristan, Garrett’s cousin and a dear friend to both Garrett and Sophie.

The story then shifts to eight years later; Tristan has succeeded his cousin as the Duke of Calton, and has now been married to Sophie for a year. Together they are raising her daughter Miranda (Sophie was pregnant with Garrett’s child when he left to fight Napoleon) and his son Gary (named after Garrett), born of Tristan’s late wife.

Tristan and Sophie clearly have a loving and strong relationship, though Sophie still loves and misses Garrett (Tristan does as well, for that matter). They are in the midst of making love one night when Garrett returns quite unexpectedly from the dead and catches them in flagrante delicto. He mistakes the scene due to the fact that Sophie is tied to the bed naked – Tristan and Sophie apparently like to play domination games at times – and sporting a large bruise from a horse-riding accident. Garrett proceeds to beat Tristan to a pulp before order can be restored.

It turns out that Garrett has only recently (and partially) recovered from amnesia; he has been living and working as a laborer in France. He has returned to England with the help of a former member of his regiment, a Mr. Fisk. Garrett is furious and devastated to learn that his wife has moved on, and with his closest friend, no less. He orders Tristan out of the house and declares his intention to see Tristan and Sophie’s marriage voided.

What followed was, for me, an uneven tale, with some faults and virtues. The prose never really rose above workmanlike level for me. It wasn’t bad, for the most part, and you managed to avoid many of the cliches that run rampant in regency-set romances, which I appreciated. But the writing lacked the spark that would raise it above “competent”, and this caused the characterization to suffer. The three protagonists are pretty broadly and hazily drawn. Garrett is supposed to be intimidating but essentially gentle at heart, but we are told that rather than shown it (it doesn’t help that we mostly see Garrett after his return, when confusion and anger make the gentleness less apparent; he skirts the edge of unlikability for the majority of the book). Tristan is less autocratic than Garrett, not having been raised to the dukedom. I’d say he’s in general a little more cultured and “soft” than Garrett, but this is a vague impression I have, and I’m not sure I could even say what it’s based on.

Sophie feels slightly more fully drawn than Garrett or Tristan, perhaps partly because her feelings upon Garrett’s return are so complicated. She felt anachronistic to me in some of her emotions and actions. But I appreciated very much that you created a heroine who really was torn. I also appreciated that you allowed her to have sexual feelings for both men; I always live in hope that romance will someday permanently overcome the heroine arousal=true love equation.

There were a couple of other anachronistic elements that jarred me slightly – one comes when it’s suggested that Sophie could obtain a divorce on the basis of her husband’s adultery, which as far as I know was not a possibility at that time. Another comes when Sophie’s and Garrett’s young daughter joins the family for dinner – I had always been under the impression that this did not occur in aristocratic families of the era. These were minor issues, but contributed a bit to the “wallpaper historical” sense that I got from the book at times.

In addition to the tangled mess that exists between Garrett, Tristan and Sophie, there is an external villain working to undermine Garrett and his belief in his own sanity. I could have done without this plotline entirely, especially as the identity of the villain was quite obvious and the lead characters seemed pretty dense at times in making the necessary connections.

The love scenes in A Hint of Wicked were well done; the rather risque bondage scene near the beginning of the book led me expect that the story that followed would be spicier than it was, but ultimately it becomes clear that this scene was not gratuitious; it was included to illustrate something about the couple’s relationship.

Without giving too much away, I will say that I found the resolution of the love triangle disappointing; the story up to that point led me to expect something different. I would’ve been open to a different ending, though I suspect many other readers wouldn’t.

My grade for A Hint of Wicked is a high B-. I will definitely be on the lookout for future works from you; with slightly stronger prose and characterization I can imagine enjoying future books from you very much.

Best regards,

Jennie

This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.