I am delighted to be sharing an extract for The Makings of a Lady by Catherine Tinley today as part of the Blog Blitz with Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. I have not had the chance to read this yet, the extract is a glimpse into a book that is definitely going to be one I want to read and I just love this cover.
Be calm, she thought.
Be gracious. Be twenty-two.
Lady Olivia Fanton is eager to prove she’s no longer a child. However, just as she thinks she’s found a suitable match in the suave Mr Manning, charismatic Captain Jem Ford walks back into her life, bringing with him all the embarrassment of her infatuation four years before! She’s determined to appear mature, distant, friendly. But does she dare hope he’ll notice her as the lady she’s become?
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This extract is taken from chapter one. It highlights Lady Olivia’s frustration with her well-meaning but over-protective family, and her desire for adventure. She’s also nervous about the fact that Jem Ford will be visiting the family the next day. Olivia had an embarrassing crush on Jem a few years before. Just to complicate things, a new man then appears in her life…
Olivia stared at her own reflection. Stormy grey eyes, dark curls, fashionable habit. What is the point of wearing fine things, she was thinking, when no one ever sees me but my own family? I could wear my oldest muslin and nobody would care.
Rejecting the matching hat, she stated firmly that she would ride today with her head uncovered. Someone will see you tomorrow, an inner voice murmured. Jem will be here. After four years, you will see him again.
Ignoring the thought, she focused instead on her current frustration. This year they were not in London for the Season, because of Charlotte’s condition. Oh, but it was hard to be two-and-twenty and stuck in the country! At least in London there were balls and routs, and trips to the theatre, and people who realised you were a grown-up young lady. Not a child. And there were ways to avoid seeing certain people, if you did not wish to spend time with them. A house-guest in the country could not be avoided.
Olivia absent-mindedly thanked Susie and made her way to the stables, enjoying the feel of the May sunshine on her shoulders. As always, she felt a rush of love when she saw her fine-looking mare, Dahlia.
‘Hello, my beauty!’ She nuzzled the horse’s delicate cheek and slipped her a treat. Dahlia pranced impatiently and had to be told to hold still while the groom handed Olivia up and into the side-saddle.
‘I shan’t need you, Joseph!’ Olivia waved away the head groom, who was just about to offer to accompany her. ‘I won’t leave our lands, I promise!’ He looked disapproving, but refrained from chastising her.
‘Where do you plan to go, miss?’ He was always concerned when she rode alone, though why he should be, Olivia could not fathom. Nothing ever happened here.
‘I’ll go to the river,’ she said decidedly, ‘and the Bluebell Woods.’
She could feel the groom watching her as she trotted out of the stable yard. She really felt it today—how much she was watched and protected, and imprisoned. It was an itch between her shoulder blades and it seemed as though it had been there her whole life. Her brothers. The servants. Great-Aunt Clara. Her sisters-in-law. Why could they not see she was no longer a child? And how was she supposed to appear different to—to other people—if her own family treated her as though she was still a debutante?
Stop it! she told herself sternly. This is no prison and they all care about you. That is why they do it—they are just trying to protect you.
The words failed to quell the burning inside her and so she did the only thing she could—she let Dahlia build from a trot to a canter, then to a full gallop through the deer park. She steered Dahlia eastwards through the fields and lanes of the estate farms, until at last she reached the Bluebell Woods. At this time of year, bluebells were everywhere—along the hedgerows, around the estate workers’ cottages and there was a good sprinkling of them in the Home Wood. But here, at the most easterly edge of the Chadcombe estate, here was where they grew in abundance.
Olivia directed Dahlia into the woods. Slowing to a walk, she savoured the coolness of the air, the smells of luxuriant foliage and fertile soil, and the magical colours of the woodland. Sturdy browns and greys mingled with lush green, and everywhere the indigo-purple beauty of the nodding bluebells. The canopy of ash and elm, oak and maple filtered verdant sunlight to warm the ferns and flowers on the forest floor. To her left, a startled squirrel raced up a tree, its tail a flash of rich bronze. Birds chirruped and called, and small creatures rustled in the undergrowth.
Olivia felt the tension leave her shoulders. This place never failed to calm her.
She made her way to the river and allowed Dahlia to drink. She dismounted, leaving her overskirts tied up, and tethered the mare to a nearby sapling in the cool shade. The horse promptly tilted one hind hoof and rested, her tail twitching at flies.
The next half-hour was delightful. Olivia wandered through her favourite part of the woods, up and down along the riverside, gathering bluebells as she went. Clara would love them. The day was warm, so, greatly daring, she removed her half-boots and silk stockings and sat down, dabbling her feet in the coolness of the sparkling river. She allowed the idyllic peace of her surroundings to soothe her, and—briefly—put tomorrow’s worries to one side. The sun gently warmed her shoulders, the river babbled to itself, and the woodland whispered and swayed, oblivious to its own beauty.
All it needs, she thought, a little wistfully, is for a romantic hero to appear…
The small river marked the edge of Chadcombe’s lands, forming the boundary with their neighbours at Monkton Park… From here, Olivia could see a mass of white flowers on the far riverbank. On impulse, she stood and gathered her skirts. Leaving her stockings and boots with the small pile of bluebells, she ventured across the stepping stones barefoot, lifting her petticoats to make sure she was putting her feet in the right places. Reaching the far side safely, she began plucking handfuls of sweet-scented lily-of-the-valley—they would be the perfect foil for the bluebells.
Monkton Park’s owners, Mr and Mrs Foxley, were Olivia’s friends. Indeed, Mrs Foxley—Faith—was Charlotte’s cousin. Olivia had nothing to fear from being on the wrong side of the river. Or so she thought. Old fears run deep, so when a man’s voice suddenly spoke nearby, Olivia’s heart leapt in alarm.
‘“The summer’s flow’r is to the summer sweet,”’ the voice intoned.
Olivia whirled around to face the speaker.
‘Ah,’ he said, ‘a rose indeed!’
His cultured accent – and his knowledge of poetry – proclaimed him to be a man of information and learning. She took in his appearance at a glance. My, she thought, he is handsome!
He looked to be a few years older than her – possibly around Harry’s age. He had expressive brown eyes, thick, dark hair, and an unfashionably swarthy complexion – as if he had been in a warmer climate than England. His clothing proclaimed him the gentleman – a crisp white shirt open at the neck in a way which Adam would have abhorred, well-fitting unmentionables, boots that gleamed with a polished shine, and a well-cut Weston coat. He was, in every detail, the embodiment of a romantic hero.
Olivia’s jaw dropped. Just moments ago, she had been wishing for just such a man to appear. She felt the hairs on the back of her neck spring to attention. Fate had never yet noticed her, or interfered in her life. Was this to be a turning point? Was this, in fact, the beginning of a story that would be truly hers?
About the Author:
Catherine Tinley writes heartwarming Regency love stories for Harlequin Mills & Boon. She has loved reading and writing since childhood, and has a particular fondness for love, romance, and happy endings. After a career encompassing speech & language therapy, NHS management, maternity campaigning and being President of a charity, she now works in Sure Start. She lives in Ireland with her husband, children, cat, and dog and can be reached at catherinetinley.com, as well as facebook.com/CatherineTinleyWriter and @CatherineTinley on twitter.
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Don’t forget to take a look at Catherine Tinley’s Social media accounts. She is running a giveaway to win a copy of the book, along with two other (surprise) romance novels by other writers.
2 x UK/Ireland Winners and 1 x International Winner.
For all the details look out for Catherine Tinley on Facebook and Twitter.
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