As I stop to think about this week’s post, I find myself contemplating one of the reviewers’ remarks on The English Lily. The review was quite flattering, I’m happy to say, but she also said she wished I’d tied up a few things in the story. For example, the opening of the book is on a ship. But when pirates storm aboard, Viscount Lawrie realizes the passengers are in grave danger, and more than likely they were all destined for one fate: Death.
In a desperate search for Lady Kendra, Joseph finds her terrified, cowering in a corner of her cabin holding the strange doll he suspected assisted in her recovery from her recent illness. Just before the pirates kick the door in, Joseph kisses Kendra, suddenly sorry he would not have the opportunity to marry her after all. But, he decides in that moment, to make her last moment with him as fairy tale as possible.
Here is the excerpt:
He rushed over. “Thank God,” he whispered. He crouched down next to her. “Thank God,” he said again, touching his forehead to hers.
“Joseph? Lord Lawrie?” Her voice cracked. Her white glove was no longer white. He wished he could have protected her from that.
Leaning back, he peeled the stained fabric away.
Her hand clenched. “My hands—”
He brushed his lips over the tiny scars. “Your hand is perfect,” he said. “We’ll have to marry, you know.”
“Married. I’ve dreamed of marrying,” she whispered, smiling. Her eyes were dry, but in them he read the shock and fear.
Something tight squeezed Joseph’s chest, he found he could hardly breathe. Death hovered over them. While he might fail in creating bliss for Kendra’s last moments on this earth, he could offer her the whimsical fairytale.
Joseph dropped her hand and cupped her head with both hands. “Lady Kendra Frazier, would you do me the honor of becoming my wife, mademoiselle, s’il vous plait?”
With a stately incline of her head, she replied with a trembling smile. “I shall be honored, Viscount Lawrie, Chevalier Joseph Pinetti Gray. Lord Hardwick’s Marriage Act was enforced in Scotland, in fifty-four, so we’ve no need to post the banns.” A small hysterical laugh erupted. “Shall we escape to Gretna Green, my lord?”
Her spirit touched him as nothing else could. Even in the throes of shock and danger, she managed to recall his full proper name and title. He pulled her to him as heavy steps echoed on the wooden planks just beyond the door. But for a moment he could pretend they would live a long and fruitful life together. “Oui, Gretna Green suits my purposes, perfectly, love,” he whispered against her lips, before crushing them beneath his own.
The door crashed back.
If you haven’t read the story, I shall tell you. The crux of the matter is that when they wake, they have been transported from the ship to Gretna Green. This of course, plays right in to Joseph’s hands. He’d planned on marrying Kendra, regardless. Now the opportunity drops in his lap. (If you are wondering about the curse of the doll, well, since true love is what breaks the curse, then of course, it goes without saying that Joseph is hindered from consummating his marriage with Kendra until he can admit he is in love with her. )
So. . .back to my original point. The reviewer. She mentioned that she wished that I had wrapped what of had become of the other passengers on the ship, including Louisa, Lady Kendra’s sweet maid. And, of course, there Niccòlo de Lecce. (Niccòlo is the brother of Essie’s hero, Alessandro, from The Surprising Enchantress – book iii of my Cinderella Series.)
We, as authors in the romance industry, realize that what the hero or heroine don’t know can’t be told. I suppose in my roundabout way of thinking, the idea of another Scrimshaw Doll Tale is rattling around in my head. I don’t know how that’s even possible. There’s just not room in there for another story—or so I thought.
So here’s my question:
What do you think of Niccòlo, who has been stranded on an island for several years, with perhaps one or two of the others? But wait! There is the issue of the doll. . . I do have an idea regarding that teeny issue. You see, Kendra did want others to not fear the things she has always feared. And generously gave the doll to a kind innkeeper’s daughter. . .
Hmmm. What do you do next?