The "Top Five Things" Rebecca Sherringham likes to do when not reading (or managing her father and brother).
Rebecca ("Becky the Bold", as she likes to be known) is a young lady who once enjoyed a great many adventures, thanks to her travels with an eccentric father who also happened to be a Major in the army But now that her father is retired and the family settled down at last in sleepy Hawcombe Prior, she can finally put those wandering boots away and lead— what she hopes will be— a tranquil, unexciting, unromantic life.
If only things would go to plan!
Rebecca, sadly, can't seem to stay away from trouble. Especially when it arrives in the form of Colonel Lucius "Lucky" Wainwright, a man supposed to be dead a dozen years and not much missed by those he left behind. The despicable rake soon turns her desire for peace and ladylike serenity completely on its head. Not that she would let him know it. She has far more important and interesting things to do, listed thus (and in no particular order):
1.) Peruse secretly kept catalog of lacy under-things, although she really shouldn't buy any as wool is far more practical and sensible. Well, it doesn't hurt to look and pretend she has a few feminine bones in her sturdy body, does it? A lady ought to have at least one secret weakness. Striving for perfection can be an awful chore and dreadfully wearing on the nerves.
2.) Learn her lines for the next performance of the Priory Players— a village amateur dramatics group that would be sadly adrift without her, because they need someone to play the male parts. None of the other girls can wear a beard and breeches with quite the same fearless aplomb. A lady must always save others from embarrassment and should never be too aloof to enjoy a good joke. Even at her own expense.
3.) Find ways to annoy Mrs. Kenton, the parson's nosy, gossiping wife. Not at all a challenging prospect, but always satisfying sport when one is at a loose end. A lady should never be idle and a tongue kept sharp will never be lost for words.
4.) Go for long rambles amid the fallen leaves. The rainier and windier the day the better. After all, she may find a handsome young man with a love of Shakespeare's sonnets and a twisted ankle to rescue in her path. A lady ought to get exercise in the fresh air as often as possible to put bloom in her cheeks, especially when she is prone to freckles and nothing much ever makes her blush.
5.) Sing Yuletide songs at the top of one's lungs, even if one has been accused of strangling a tune rather than holding it. A lady must learn to be gracious in the face of criticism. After all, it is one wretched man's opinion and what he knows about polite society or keeping his rude opinions to himself could be written on a snowflake.
But Colonel "Lucky" Luke Wainwright has found this list and translated it (see below) into what he sees as her five favorite things to do.
I. Insult unfortunate old soldier returned from the grave.
II. Tease, torment and tempt a sad, loveless, ugly fellow with her inequitable beauty and dangerous curves.
III. Quarrel with a man who has lived fifteen years longer in the world and therefore knows a vast deal more about everything. Then flirt with a weak-chinned sapling who will cause her nothing but grief. But will she be warned?? Oh, no! Damnable woman.
IV. Accuse harmless cripple of every sin in the world and never let him get a word in sideways.
V. Drive a certain confused Colonel utterly mad with desire and deny she meant to do it.
There are two sides to every story, of course. No doubt, somewhere between these lists lurks the truth!
Title: Sinfully Ever After
Series: Book Club Belles Society
Author: Jayne Fresina
Pubdate: December 2, 2014
Teaching scandalous young men a lesson? This is not your typical book club
To Rebecca Sherringham, all men are open books—read quickly and forgotten. Perhaps she’s just too practical for love. The last thing she needs is another bore around—especially one that’s supposed to be dead.
Captain Lucius “Luke” Wainwright turns up a decade after disappearing without a trace. He’s on a mission to claim his birthright and he’s not going away again until he gets it. But Becky and the ladies of the village Book Club Belles Society won’t let this rogue get away with his sins. He’ll soon find that certain young ladies are accustomed to dealing with villains.
Jayne Fresina sprouted up in England. Entertained by her father’s colorful tales of growing up in the countryside, and surrounded by opinionated sisters, she’s always had inspiration for her beleaguered heroes and unstoppable heroines. She lives in upstate New York. Visit www.jaynefresina.com.