A Detestable Name by Arabella Brown Genre: Chaste Regency Romance
After Waterloo, Captain Newsam thought he'd finished with war.
Then he became lord of Gomersall...
His mother despises him, his sisters need husbands, the estate is ill-run, the servants are insubordinate, and his tenants are lazy. Worst of all, the only woman he wants to marry is widowed Mary Thorpe - but she detests even his name because his rakish brother ruined her family.
He's brave enough to face anything - but can he succeed?
Lady Newsam surged to her feet, shawls and rugs slipping to the floor, as the new Lord Newsam entered her airless, heavily-draped parlour.
“At last you condescend to call upon your family, Granville?” she assailed him. “You had so little regard for the social decencies that you could not even trouble yourself to attend your brother's funeral! That was beyond toleration!"
This unjust accusation pushed Lord Newsam to protest, "But I never even received news of Anthony’s accident until well after he was buried! And I had to have my blacks made!"
"And did you then post home at once, to comfort your grieving mother? No! You preferred to dally with your friend! Why were you not here with us, to begin with?" his mother demanded. "But you have never cared for Gomersall!" She threw up an outraged hand. Another shawl slipped off.
Lord Newsam's hands, holding the edges of his coat, were white at the knuckles. He prided himself on his self-control, but it threatened to crumble.
"You have always made it plain that my presence at Gomersall was not desired. And I found it heartbreaking to see the estate neglected.”
Lady Newsam sniffed. "You need not put on airs merely because you have been elevated to the title!" she informed him. "Your absences from Gomersall have told me more clearly than any oily words how little you feel for your ancestral heritage! What does your fathers' estate mean to you? Mere bricks and mortar and clods of earth, I have no doubt!”
“But – “
"And when have you ever cared for your family? Do you believe your dereliction of duty has gone unnoticed? When have you ever shown concern for your sisters' welfare? Or made the slightest push to see them settled? What affection have you shown me, your own mother, weak and ill as I am?”
“Now, Mama – “
"But then," she pressed ahead with unabated energy, "you have none of the nobility of the Newsams, have you? Anthony was everything that was elegant and gentlemanly! His airs! His manners! His dress! He was so bold-spirited – but what would you know of such things? You, a spiritless, dull, Quakerish lump!”
Lord Newsam privately considered it preferable to be even a Quakerish lump than to kill oneself cramming one’s horse at a hedge in the turmoil of a hunt, but he made no reply.
“And what have you have done to ensure the succession?” his mother rushed on. “Nothing! That the title should descend to someone like you when it might have been held by Anthony, who was so completely worthy of it! Oh, the tragedy of it! It is not to be borne!"
She flung her hand out, shedding a further wrap. Lord Newsam’s sister Amelia glanced at her brother’s face and, startled, checked in the act of restoring her mother’s shawl. She had often thought her brother a fine-looking man, but the black scowl and thinned mouth made him look actually ugly. Amelia hated dissension, but as she opened trembling lips to pour oil on the stormy waters, her mother leapt to the attack again.
"And the thought of your father's chamber being occupied by you! You! You are not fit to occupy his stables!" Lady Newsam's voice throbbed with sensibility.
"You may set your mind at rest, Mama; I shall remain at the Dower House," Lord Newsam said shortly. “I bid you good evening.” Bestowing a frigid bow upon his mother, he left the room. The door closed with a faint click.
Within the sitting-room, Lord Newsam’s younger sister Charlotte rose from her seat in a corner. “Well done, Mama!” she said coolly. “You have no doubt worked up an appetite for dinner while removing everyone else’s.”
Although she now lives in the U.K., Arabella Brown grew up in a small U.S. town. She spent most of her youth in the local Carnegie Public Library (thank you, Mr. Carnegie!), where she learned that intensive reading does more to broaden your horizons than school does. She still reads voraciously and her house is lined with thousands of books. Despite her emphasis on meticulous research, it’s the plot and the characters she particularly loves to create. She enjoys Jane Austen’s and Georgette Heyer’s novels and wishes there were more of them.
Under another name, Ms Brown has published a number of novels set in periods ranging from the 12th century to the 1960’s. This is her first Regency.
Premum non nocere: first of all, do no harm. It’s the oath every doctor takes.
I think authors of historicals ought to take one, too: first of all, don’t mislead.
The ability to manipulate words is dangerous. When it comes to setting stories in different eras, it ought to be controlled because often the reader knows much less than the author about the period. Her impressions come from the book in her hand. I research meticulously for my historicals because I feel I have that responsiblity and because I don’t want to let my readers down.
When “A Detestable Name” first appeared, a very kind lady – an editor with thorough knowledge of the Regency era – contacted me to say she liked the writing but that she didn’t feel she could recomment the book without some alterations.
Well, I panicked. I posted a warning telling everybody not to buy the book until the revised version was ready in a couple of weeks – as soon as I knew what mistakes this lady had found.
I didn’t have to hold my breath long. She was quick, but had found only two! Everything else, it turned out, boiled down to her wish to see a lot more detail, so much that if I had agreed, I felt it would not only have slowed down the action, it would have made the book the size of War and Peace.
An Important Book wasn’t really in my sights. I’m afraid I let down this lovely lady – all her comments were for my own good, remember, and though she normally charges, she gave me her advice for free! – and it was an impressive compliment that she was so willing to take the time to suggest improvements – but I was aiming for a pleasant, entertaining read, something to curl up with on a long winter evening. So all I did was correct the two errors.
(Oh, all right.. Before you start screaming, I’ll tell you what the two mistakes were. One was that I forgot that a young lady travelling needed to take her maid along – and then I had to get her home again, which meant moving a private conversation to a different setting. The other – and my wonderful lady picked it up because she knows costuming – was not allowing enough time to sew an elaborate dress. Nothing to sink the book – but I’d have traduced my principles if I hadn’t dealt with them, wouldn’t I?)
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