Legacy fan Elizabeth Hanbury has recently released her 7th novel. Liz writes delightful Regency romance stories with wit and humor. I’ve read all her works, and I’m excited there’s a new short story to read — just in time for summer vacation!
This publication is special in it’s intention, however. All proceeds from the sale of the book will go to Crohn’s MAP Vaccine fund, a charity based at King’s College, London researching a cure for Crohn’s Disease.
Life is a song, but love is the music…
Life is hard for Jessica Smeaton in Regency Bath. She lives in a shabby lodging house and struggles to survive on what she earns from teaching music, hoping that one day the waltzes she composes will sell.
When handsome artist Richard Knight moves into the room above, things start off on the wrong note but could he turn out to be her knight to the rescue?
And here’s a teaser from the opening pages…
The knocking from above didn’t disturb her at first. She was so absorbed in her composing.
The second bout of knocking wrenched her mind out of her music.
The third and much louder series of knocks rang in her ears and sent a hum of indignation flowing through her veins. A stream of plaster dust drifted down from above and settled on the music manuscript in front of her. Jessica jumped up from her battered pianoforte, raised her eyes to the ceiling and uttered a growl of fury.
This was too much. The unseen brute in the room above (no woman could knock with such disdain) disliked her playing and was letting his feelings be known using the heel of his boot. She was vaguely aware of a new tenant had moved in a week or more ago but she had not yet met the person. She was too busy earning a meagre living and now he was banging the floor to complain about her playing. How insulting!
Jessica walked back to her pianoforte, flexing her fingers. Defiantly, she struck the keys as hard as she could.
The reply from above was not long in coming: ban, bang, bang!
Slowly and deliberately she closed the lid. Heat seeped into her cheeks and she tilted her chin: the light of battle had entered her soul. She’d had a dreadful week and now this. Enough was enough. Stopping only to tidy her hair in the mirror and make sure she had no plaster dust on her face, she wrenched open the door, crossed the hallway and started to climb the stairs. For once she dod not notice the peeling paintwork and faded wallpaper of the rambling old lodging house.
Jessica didn’t consider the impropriety of tackling the idiot in his lair. The landlady Miss Cardew took an unconventional and bohemian attitude to stifling society rules. She believed it helped her tenants” artistic muse to deal with each other as they saw fit with only a few rules to keep the right side of respectable Bath society, the lodging house being tucked away in a quiet street off Queen Square. Miss Cardew loved to encourage artists and offered low rents to such types, for which Jessica was extremely grateful.
Today even the benignly vague Mis Cardew would have scuttled our of the way and felt a pang of pity for the wretch about to get a piece of Jessica’s mind. She reached the door and was tempted to bang on it with her clenched first, but her old teacher’s edict to always be a lady no matter what provocation is offered flashed before her and instead she drew a steadying breath, tapped firmly and waited.
‘Come in,’ said a voice.
She was forced to admit it was a very pleasant, silky voice even if its owner lacked an taste in music.
Jessica entered. The room was scantily furnished, as were most of the rooms in Miss Cardew’s lodging house. A few threadbare rugs were scattered over the floor. A small fire burned in the grate. Paints and Brushes were spread out over the table under the large window, through which streamed a bright afternoon sun. Various canvases were popped up around the walls. In the centre was an easel, behind which Jessica could see top boots and a pain of breeches covering muscular thighs.
Distracting. Very distracting.
She pulled herself together. ‘I have come–‘ began Jessica.
‘I don’t need any models at present. You can leave your card on the table,’ announced the silky voice.
She felt her cheeks grow pinker, her indignation deepen. ‘I am not a model,’ she said in icy tones, ‘I cam to–‘
At this the brute emerged from behind his easel, wiping his hands. Jessica stared, her mouth falling open a little.
She might have guessed how it would be. Fate delights in playing tricks. Not only did The Brute have a voice as smooth as hot chocolate, he had devilishly handsome exterior. Broad shouldered and of athletic build, along with the breeches, he wore a white shirt with sleeves rolled up the elbows to reveal strong forearms sprinkled with soft dark hair. his shirt was splattered here and there with paint and open at the neck to reveal a tantalising glimpse of chest hair. He was clean-shaven but his colouring meant late afternoon stubble was already shading his jaw. Beautiful brown eyes were fixed on her in a disconcerting manner. His hair was disheveled and standing up on end as if he had run his fingers through it often. Jessica felt an inconvenient urge to do the same, admitting to herself that he was one of the most attractive men she had ever seen. She might be furious but she was always fair.
I think Liz must have been remembering a certain train scene as she wrote this!
For more about Liz Hanbury’s long history as an Armitage fan, check out our earlier interview with her here and her post about North and South‘s ten year anniversary here.