“I trust very few.” She trusted Bea and Mr. Clayton, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Shelton, and of course, Mr. Norman and – she nearly sighed – Walter. Perhaps it was more accurate to say she trusted all save her sister and anyone who appeared to love her sister. However, that would be rather rude to say, though the thought was tempting. “No, you trust everyone,” Felicity countered. “You always have.” Grace shook her head. “Not any longer.” (Her Secret Beau, Chapter 15)
Broken trust is a lot like a broken bottle of ink. As it spills out and covers all the surfaces in its path, the ink leaves a path of potential destruction. Sometimes the mess the ink creates can be cleaned up easily and the damage it is capable of doing can be mitigated. Often, however, the ink leaves behind permanent stains which alter forever the way something looks. That’s what has happened to Grace, the heroine of Her Secret Beau. You see, Grace was born with trust issues. Her personality is one that is given to trusting easily and eagerly. She is the sort who would think the best of everyone she met until she was told differently. And do you know who has been telling her differently? Her older sister, Felicity. Felicity is the creator of her own destiny. She’s confident and possesses what could be wonderful leadership qualities if she were to point them in a proper direction. However, with Felicity’s confidence has come a healthy dose of selfishness.
She is the oldest sister. She should have the best. She is the one who should marry first. Her sister should do as she says. Even her friendships are a means to an end.
Have you ever met anyone like that? I’m sure we all have. Grace grew up trusting her sister and following naively in her shadow until her sister went a step too far and broke the heart of a gentleman because a better possibility for a husband appeared on the scene. From that point forward, Grace’s ability to willingly and eagerly trust others begins to waver and causes her to take up a scheme to ensure her sister will not steal any other gentlemen from her. (Did I mention that Grace liked the gentleman whose heart got broken but had given him up because her sister claimed to love him? I didn’t? Well, that happened.) Much like Catherine Morland’s story in Northanger Abbey, Grace’s story, to this point in my Touches of Austen series, is a coming of age story. When we first meet her in book one of the series, she is naive. Then, in book two, she faces some harsh realities which shake her view of life. Finally, in book three, she steps out of the secondary character role and into the role of heroine and meets the gentleman who will help her learn that trusting is not so dangerous as it appears if one chooses to trust the right person. That right person is, of course, a person who loves Grace more than he loves himself. Along with learning who to trust in book three, Grace is also learning that love is more than just a game a lady plays to score the most handsome husband with the best estate and bank account. She is in the process of putting away childish things and putting on more mature ideas and thoughts. And Mr. Walter Blakesley, who is book three’s trustworthy hero — despite his willingness to partake in Grace’s scheme to deceive her sister and mother, is just the person to help Grace learn about love.
A pained expression created a great furrow between Grace’s eyes. “Then, how is one ever to know if one is in love enough to marry?” “That is an excellent question,” Roger replied, turning to Walter. “Do you have an explanation? You always had some reply when we pondered such impossible things in school.” Walter shook his head. “I am afraid my answer will not be satisfying, for I think that love is not something which can be dissected into bits and pieces to be analyzed for proof of existence. Not that it cannot be examined and found to exist.” “I am terribly confused,” Grace said. Walter smiled at her. “I think that one just simply knows, and that, for each person, the item of proof differs despite some similarities in all cases.” (Her Secret Beau, Chapter 10)
For Grace, that item of proof comes in the form of Walter’s refusal to ask Felicity to dance, which causes her to realize, as her scheme is falling apart, that Mr. Blakesley was right —
“…I will remind you, however, that your sister will never sway me to pay her any particular attention.” “I cannot trust her,” Grace said softly. “You do not have to. You need only trust me.” (Her Secret Beau, Chapter 11)
— Grace’s trust did not need to be in her sister, who, at this point in the story, is still a selfish creature. Her trust only needed to rest in Walter and his love for her above all others.
“That was my promise,” he said. “And I will never break a promise I have made to you. Even if I found your sister charming – which I do not — I would not break it.” (Her Secret Beau, Chapter 16)
Of course, just when Grace has realized that she can trust Walter, just when she’s finally ready to allow him to tell the world he is courting her, just as she is facing a delightfully happy future free from fear of her sister’s machinations, her newly claimed loved is put to the test. 1 Corinthians 13:7 says that love “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”(New International Version) You’ll notice that trust is included in a list of related qualities here that follow a natural progression. Remember how I said that Walter was going to help Grace learn about love? Let me summarize how Walter has, and will, live out the progression of love found in the above verse. To begin with in Her Secret Beau, Grace has witnessed Walter’s protection. In this case, the protection is not from anything life-threatening or excessively dangerous, but it is rather protection from a scheming sister, which, to Grace, is a very important thing from which to be shielded. Remember, her sister has broken her trust. That stain has darkened Grace’s view of the world and threatens to make her future quite bleak. Walter’s steadfast, honest character is just the balm which is needed to keep Grace from falling completely into despair and distrust. As a result of Walter’s actions in proving his willingness to keep her heart from being broken by her sister, Grace has opened her heart to trusting and loving him. Then, when things become grim and as Grace attempts to protect him, Walter will complete the progression of love. For instead of giving up when presented with less than favourable circumstances, he will cling to hope and determinedly pursue a happy resolution.* And, though this story is set in a fictional world and is played out by imperfectly perfect characters, is that not a lovely picture of what love should be? Protecting, trusting, hoping, and persevering.
*Remember, “Happily ever after does not mean perfect. Cinderella still had scars.” Grace has found her happily ever after with Walter, but not everything is all neat and tidy. There is still potential for increased sadness and difficulty. However, they are determined to face and go through it together.
And now for some book information:
Her Secret Beau is book three in my Touches of Austen series. If you are not familiar with what a Touches of Austen book is, let me give you as brief an overview as possible. Each book will have some elements in it which nod to one of Jane Austen’s novels.
For instance, book 1 nods to Mansfield Park. The heroine, Bea has some qualities of Fanny Price — she tends to be quiet, likes books, and is in love with the younger son of a baronet. (Or she thinks she loves him, but she doesn’t — she discovers she actually loves someone else.) In book two, there are two best friends who fall in love with each other which is a nod to Emma. (There is also matchmaking that goes awry.) In book 3, the heroine, Grace might make you think of Catherine Morland, from Northanger Abbey, because of her naivety. She also goes to stay with friends while she is in Bath just as Catherine does. (There might even be a character in this book who reminds you of a ne’er-do-well from one of Miss Austen’s novels — though I am not telling you which character or which novel because I would not want to ruin the fun of discovery.)
The nods are small and varied, and you might find things that remind you of more than one novel in each book. These stories are not meant to be variations or retellings. They are completely original plots and characters. They are all sweet Regency romances. The first book is the shortest and this third book is the longest of the three. The fact that Her Secret Beau is the third in a series means it is best read after books 1 and 2, which poses a problem if you have not read books 1 and 2. However, I’ve got you covered there if you act quickly — as in TODAY, JANUARY 14, 2020!
- Today is the last day to get book 1, His Beautiful Bea, for FREE in the Kindle Store.
- Today is also a day when you can get book 2, His Darling Friend, for $0.99 (USD with other currencies also reduced) in the Kindle Store. This sale will end on Friday, January 17, 2020.
- Her Secret Beau is currently on pre-order at Amazon and will be released on January 21, 2020. But, I am also giving away one ebook copy of this story — see the details below.
- It should be noted that these books are exclusive to Amazon as they are all enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited program. Therefore, if you are a Kindle Unlimited reader, you can read them for free as part of your subscription.
- Book 4, His Irreplaceable Belle, is currently under construction. In fact, I’m only a few chapters into writing this book. However, as of today, I have begun posting this story a chapter at a time on my blog. You can check that out here.
I know that’s a lot of exciting information! I won’t throw anymore at you except to share the details about the giveaway:
Leave a comment below to be entered into a draw for one ebook copy of Her Secret Bea.
The contest closes at 11:59 PM EST on January 21, 2020.
Winners will be announced on January 26, 2020.