First, in January, I told you that I hoped to publish six – eight Leenie-length* books this year.
[*Leenie-length = short and sweet, or however many words the story needs to be told :)]
Today’s release (which we will get to in a moment) is number six! AND I have number seven on the way to publication (I will mention later), and number eight is about half-written while, what I assume will be, number nine (a number I did not expect to see this year) is posting on Thursdays on my blog, leeniebrown.com.
Second, also in January, I said I wanted to take a step into some new writing areas. One of those areas was the realm of Austenesque stories — the process of finding inspiration in the writings of Jane Austen and putting that inspiration into an original story.
Today marks the official release day of His Beautiful Bea, the very first story in my Touches of Austen Collection. These books will be original sweet Regency romances written with intentional Touches of Austen.
Let me explain the concept of these books a bit further….
One of the first things I do when looking for a book is read the back cover. The back cover of His Beautiful Bea reads:
She loves his brother. He wishes to see her happy. But neither expected this outcome.
Graeme Clayton has always thought of his brother, Everett, as a bit of a blockhead. However, when Everett seems to prefer a fawning and flirtatious lady over Beatrice Tierney, Graeme knows that his brother is not just a bit of a blockhead but a complete and utter fool!
Knowing that Beatrice secretly loves Everett and despite his opinion of his brother’s mental faculties, Graeme vows to do his part to bring the two together. For to Graeme, there is nothing more important than seeing his lovely neighbour and good friend happy.
Beatrice Tierney has long harboured feelings for Graeme’s younger brother, who is serious and thoughtful ? or at least he used to be. Now, she fears she must watch any hope she had of ever securing his heart slip away forever.
However, she is not destined to watch alone. Graeme has positioned himself as her champion and with his help, she just might find both true happiness and love.
From that, I gather that this book is about a girl secretly in love with a younger brother. My left eyebrow raises as an Austen novel comes to mind. That sounds a bit like Fanny Price.
“But wait!” you cry. “This description says Beatrice is Graeme’s neighbour. Fanny was not Tom Bertram’s neighbour.”
This story is not a retelling or a variation of Mansfield Park. It is a story which, in part, is inspired by Mansfield Park.
Beatrice being a neighbor is our first clue.
The second clue is how Graeme, the elder brother, has first billing in the description. This would indicate he is the hero — as in the one that gets the girl.
Again, this lets us know that while this story may have touches of Mansfield Park in it, it is not a retelling or a variation.
His Beautiful Bea is, in fact, a completely original story with different events, different characters, and a different happily ever after.
Can you see more clearly now what a Touches of Austen story is? I hope you do.
I also hope you will enjoy trying to pick out some of the Mansfield Park influences as you read while noting the many differences. If you would like to share your observations or read observations of others or just participate with me and other readers of this collection of books, I have created a Facebook group just for that purpose. https://www.facebook.com/groups/TouchesofAustenReadersGroup/
And now, for a little bit of the story. This scene happens in chapter two during a game of whist. We will join the group of players mid-game as a change of partners from Bea and Grace to Bea and Graeme is being suggested by Felicity. (FYI: Grace and Felicity Love are Beatrice and Max Tierney’s cousins.)
“Oh, then we shall deal you in at the next hand. I am certain my sister would not mind surrendering her seat to you for one round, would you dear?” Felicity turned to her sister with what Graeme classified as the most patronizing of smiles.
Grace blinked and looked first at Graeme and then her sister.
Graeme, who had made it a bit of a sport for himself to observe chits in the ballroom for their small unspoken conversations, did not miss the slight tip of Felicity’s head toward Bea and her pleading eyes that flicked in Everett’s direction. Apparently, Felicity found Bea to be something of a threat. This was good, Graeme supposed. It likely meant his brother had spoken of Bea and had not forgotten her completely when faced with the fawning and flirtatious Felicity.
“Most happily,” Grace replied with a smile that was given a moment too late to be genuine.
“Very good then,” said Graeme, settling back and crossing his arms, “pay attention to what is being played and do not leave me in a place where it will be impossible to make ten before my brother does.” Graeme ignored the scowl Everett gave him as well as the flustered gasping noise Grace made.
“Mr. Clayton does not like to lose,” Bea tried to cover Graeme’s rudeness. “He is rather intense when he plays. It was not at all a pleasant evening when Mr. Everett Clayton and I beat Mr. Clayton and my brother.”
“I should say it was not,” muttered Max, who was sitting diagonally across the table from Graeme and between the two Misses Loves. “He can be rather blustery when he is in a foul mood.”
“And are you as blustery as he?” Grace lay a hand on Max’s sleeve.
“Mind your cards,” growled Graeme.
“None is so blustery as Mr. Clayton,” Bea answered, turning to give Graeme a small teasing smile that caused him to catch his breath and swallow instead of retorting.
Good heavens, his brother was a fool!
“I, on the other hand, do not care if we win or lose,” Bea continued, “as either way my book shall be returned when our game has concluded.”
Graeme raised his left brow. “She jests. Bea enjoys winning as much as I do. It is just that she is incapable of being anything less than gracious.”
Idiot, he shouted in his mind while glaring at his brother. He doubted Miss Love contained two ounces of the good-natured temperament Bea possessed.
“You speak of my cousin so familiarly,” said Felicity with a raised brow.
“My brother likes to flout social conventions when he can,” replied Everett, once again laying his card and taking the trick.
“I see no need for such formality with good friends of long standing.” Graeme stretched out his legs and purposefully bumped his brother’s, the idiot’s, leg with his foot. “How old were you when you arrived at Heathcote, Bea?”
“Can you not do the maths?” Max asked with a chuckle. “You know how old you were then and how old you are now as well as how old my sister is. It is but a simple calculation.”
Graeme shrugged. “I prefer to allow Bea to save me the bother of such things.” And he wished to give Bea an opportunity to speak about something of substance and a previous claim to both his and his brother’s attentions and affections. It was likely that Everett would miss the point of the lesson as he was once again smiling at Felicity, but perhaps that lady would feel a small jab of something, he didn’t care what. She had given enough of her own over the course of the game.
“I was nine, Max was fifteen, as was your brother — no, that is not correct. Mr. Everett Clayton had just turned sixteen, and you were…”
Bea’s lips were curled into a small smile, and she tapped her lip with a finger as if she actually had to strain to remember his age.
The bumbling blockhead! Graeme’s foot bumped his brother’s once again as Graeme uncrossed and re-crossed his ankles. If Everett would pause for even one moment and take his eyes off his cards or Miss Love and looked — really looked — at Bea and the way her lips pursed into a perfectly kissable pucker before she decided she had calculated Graeme’s age appropriately, there would be no way Everett could continue entertaining Miss Love when such a beguiling creature as Bea sat beside him.
“I believe, Mr. Clayton was an extremely ancient seventeen, were you not? Your birthday is in May, and we had arrived in March, just at the end.”
“There is no fault in your memory,” Graeme replied. “But do mind your cards.”
“She only had to take her mind off them because you could not subtract ten from nineteen,” protested Max, who was once again laughing at Graeme, not that it bothered Graeme in the least. He preferred not to be taken too seriously. Serious times would be his eventually, but they were not his lot just yet.
“It is not that I could not do the calculation. It is that I did not wish to do it,” Graeme replied. “The other one,” he whispered to Bea.
So did you notice any nods to Mansfield Park in that excerpt? Did you recognize ways in which this story is original? If so, and you would like to be entered for to win an ebook copy of His Beautiful Bea, then leave your observations in the comments.
Contest closes at MIDNIGHT EST on August 4, 2017.
Readers should note that His Beautiful Bea is a gentle story with a subtle internal conflict of coming to realize that love was always right beside you. If you are looking for drama, this is not the story for you. However, if you wish to be wrapped in a comforting story blanket and left feeling wonderful, then you will love His Beautiful Bea.
Wait, Leenie! You said you would tell us about book number seven.
And so, I shall. 🙂 Keep reading.
My foray into the world of Mansfield Park did not stop with the completion of His Beautiful Bea novella. I found inspiration for a second novella called Henry: To Prove Himself Worthy, which will be coming out later this month. This story picks up events in Henry Crawford’s life after the completion of Mansfield Park. This novella will be an Other Pens Collection story Jane Austen meets sweet Regency romance story. So be looking for information to be posted about it soon! One place you can find out about the progress of this book is in the readers group set up for the books that will be in this series — my Other Pens Collection (stories where Jane Austen left off). You can join that group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OtherPensReadersGroup/.