Welcome to a new category of blog posts. Once a month, on a Friday, I will feature the description of and an excerpt from one of my previously published books. Sometimes these featured books, such as today’s feature, will be on sale for the weekend.
Let’s begin with the book’s description:
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.
His Beautiful Bea is the first in my Touches of Austen collection. These stories feature original characters and plots that have been touched in some way by the influence of Jane Austen and her novels. His Beautiful Bea has elements in it which harken back to Mansfield Park, but as you can see from the description and the excerpt below, this story is not a retelling or a variation of Mansfield Park. It is its own sweet tale of discovering love in an unexpected place.
Now for an excerpt. This portion is from chapter 4 which is about halfway through this short and sweet novella. Enjoy!
“She’s quite the beauty, is she not?” Roger Shelton eased himself down next to Graeme, who was seated a short distance away from Bea.
Graeme had wanted to sit with Bea as she drew, but since that would likely mean Shelton would follow suit, he did not. He knew how Bea enjoyed drawing in quietness, and Shelton was not the quietest of men.
“Which one?” Graeme asked, sparing only a glance at his friend before returning his eyes to his book, which was propped in such a fashion that he could appear to be reading and yet steal glances at Bea.
She had looked well earlier, but yesterday, her features had been drawn and tired, causing him to worry that she was becoming unwell. Bea would never admit such a thing until it was beyond what was acceptable and the apothecary would have to be called. As odd as it was to imagine, he actually wished she was the sort of lady who complained, but she was not.
“The one on your brother’s arm.”
“Ah, Miss Love. Did you not meet her in town at the Abernathy’s soiree?”
Shelton snapped his fingers. “That’s it! I have been attempting to place her all day. She is Amelia Abernathy’s friend.” He tipped his head. “I am surprised she did not latch on to you instead of your brother. I heard she was looking for money.”
Graeme shrugged. “I heard the same, but I was not here when she arrived.” He shifted and closed his book. “She had my brother well enchanted before I appeared. Not that I would have allowed her sort to cling to me anyway.”
“Her sort?’ Shelton asked with a laugh. “When did you become so discriminating in your tastes? There was a time when a pretty face and a pleasing figure was all that was needed to catch your interest.”
“Not if they were the sort to cry compromise, which she is. Besides, I do not like her — not even well enough for a dalliance.”
Shelton’s brows rose. “Your brother seems to like her quite well.”
“I also do not like that,” Graeme replied firmly. “I have warned him, but you know Everett.”
Shelton nodded. “He tends to think he is always right.”
“Do you think he genuinely likes her?”
Graeme sighed. “Yes. I have considered the possibility.” As much as he wished with all his heart that Everett was merely being duped, he could not deny that his brother seemed truly besotted and not just a complete fool. He stole a look at Bea. He had still not reasoned out how his brother could prefer Miss Love over Bea.
“She’s a pretty thing as well,” Shelton whispered as he indicated Bea with a nod of his head.
“Why are you whispering?” Graeme demanded as a quiver of irritation at the comment settled in his gut.
“I do not want her brother to hear me say such a thing. He seemed rather protective of her when I was introduced.”
Graeme chuckled. “Your reputation precedes you, my friend. Any brother with half an ounce of sense would be protective of a pretty sister around you. I swear you reek of charm and seduction.”
Shelton shrugged. “I do, do I not? But then so do you — or at least you used to. However, there is something different about you today. You are shunning pretty girls and keeping watch over her.” Again, he indicated Bea with a nod of his head. “Is she special?”
Graeme smiled and nodded. “She’s Bea.”
“I do not follow.”
“Her father and mine were good friends since childhood, and to make a long and tediously boring tale short, ten years ago, when Bea was nine and Max was sixteen, their father, Captain Tierney, moved them to Heathcote. He left shortly after they were settled and never returned — killed by the Spanish or the French. It is hard to tell the nationality of a bullet. My father had promised to care for the captain’s family if such a thing happened.”
“So, she is like a sister?”
Graeme shook his head. “No, not a sister. A friend.” A very dear friend, he added to himself. “She likes my brother,” Graeme blurted. “She has for some time.” He huffed. It was a sound of exasperation. “I have attempted to draw his attention away from Miss Love to Bea, but he is too besotted.” He shook his head. “He is going to break Bea’s heart, and I could throttle him for it.”
Shelton’s eyes were wide and his brows raised in surprise.
“Bea is quiet and all that is good. She is kind and helpful. She never wishes for praise but always wishes to please. She would make a perfect parson’s wife, but my brother is too stupid to recognize her worth.”
“Are you certain you do not think of her as a sister? For you speak like a brother or –” Shelton tilted his head and studied his friend. “You love her.”
Graeme’s brows furrowed, and he shook his head in disbelief. “Of course, I love her. She’s Bea.” He moved to rise, but Shelton’s hand on his arm stopped him.
“No, not as a friend. She’s the one you spoke about when you visited, is she not?”
Graeme blew out a breath and turned to face his friend. “Bea loves my brother, and I only wish to see her happy.” No matter how the idea of his brother marrying Bea irritated him, he knew she deserved better than a dolt who had to be convinced of her worth rather than recognizing it of his own volition.
Shelton nodded his head slowly as if he were considering what Graeme was saying, but Graeme knew better. Shelton was reasoning things out, piecing things together, and drawing conclusions. A gentleman did not survive as a rake and be generally well-liked as Shelton had without a keen mind.
“She loves my brother,” Graeme repeated. It had been foolish of him to speak to Shelton about a lady whom he found enchanting but was unavailable. However, his tongue had been loosened by alcohol that night after they had ridden out to purchase Shelton’s new hunter, and the things that Graeme had been pondering since the evening he had nearly kissed Bea during that blasted card game had come spilling out. He had been wise enough to leave out names, but still, he knew Shelton was no fool.
“You truly wish to see her happy?”
Graeme looked at Shelton warily. “Yes.”
Shelton smiled. “Then, capture her heart before your brother can break it.”
The hairs on the back of Graeme’s neck bristled. The smile Shelton was wearing was calculating. He had seen it before — often right before some poor chap was about to be fleeced or lose his lady.
“I consider myself the charitable sort,” Shelton continued, “and I am approaching that age where a wife will be expected. I could save her heart from harm.”
Graeme’s eyes narrowed. “You will stay away from her,” he growled.
Shelton chuckled, clearly enjoying taunting his friend. “Will you call me out if I do not?”
Graeme folded his arms and smirked in return. Shelton knew that Graeme would never call anyone out. It was, for one thing, illegal, and for another, Graeme was not the best shot nor all that adept with a sword. So to use a duel as a threat would be of no effect. However, there was a threat that Graeme knew would shake Shelton. “No, I will shoot your horse.”
Shelton chuckled again. “Very well, I will not risk my horse unless I see it is necessary to do so.” He rose. “However, I think I shall see what Miss Tierney has been drawing — just in the way of being friendly and all. Would you care to join me?”
“Did you say you were returning home tonight?” Graeme asked hopefully as he scrambled to his feet.
Shelton shook his head. “No, your mother said I may stay the week. She is a dear, is she not?”
“I promise you I will shoot your horse,” Graeme grumbled as he followed Shelton over to where Bea was sitting.