Last month, during our RWA virtual chapter meeting, two of our members announced the publication of their first books. As this is always a momentous occasion, I invited them both to come here and share a bit about how their books came to be. This month, our chapter secretary and resident artist Charlotte Brothers is telling about her historical romance called Creatures of Habit. It’s the first in a series set in Victorian England in a village called Cherrybrook. I read the book and will share the text of my five-star review next week, but for now please let me introduce Charlotte!
It was lovely to be invited to share a little about my freshly published novella here on Four Foxes, One Hound courtesy of Patricia Kiyono. I joined the Mid-Michigan Romance Writers of America a few years ago and have enjoyed getting to know Patricia and reading her books!
The mellow yet playful plot of Creatures of Habit popped into my head pretty much whole cloth while I was on my return flight from the 2019 Historical Romance Retreat. Plots don’t come to me in quantities, so when one shows up, I start takin’ notes! I spent the entire six hour flight writing the beginning of Lawrence and Eugenia’s story, filling up the small, yellow notebook I had brought along.
I admit that the cheery hours spent in Cherrybrook, the fictional late Regency or early Victorian country town where this young couple lives was a welcome distraction from my seventh or so edit of a medieval novel that I will proudly publish this year (so help me, God). It’s also fair to mention that reading and writing are havens from the fear and unrest that the current world conditions are bringing to the forefront. I admit it without shame. It gives me a place “away”.
Any lovers of Lisa Kleypas’ Love in the Afternoon here? It’s my favorite book in her Hathaway series. I think a seed of Lisa’s protagonist in that book, Beatrix, landed close to dreamy British actor Rupert Penry-Jones and sparked life into animal loving Eugenia and quiet, steady Lawrence. I should warn you however, there are no dukes and while my lovers flirt when they’re smitten, there are no steamy Victorian love-making scenes (those can be fun reads of course, but the Cherrybrook series stays in the sitting room).
My mother, who beta reads for me, thought I should work on a short series all set in Cherrybrook and I thought “why not? It’ll be good for me. Push me along a bit. And so it has. I have the romantic leads chosen for all three remaining books, one for each season, and at least one half of each couple waiting for their own story is introduced or mentioned in Creatures of Habit. Another tidbit is that I painted my own cover art for this little book, so the cover illustration is a depiction of the real story setting and protagonists.
I have just about finished the second novella (Summer) which is twice as long as Creatures of Habit and allows us to meet a pair of complicated brothers and another sweetheart of Cherrybrook. Marian Lyle is feeling her age, and like Eugenia, is not your average, perfectly proper girl of the times. For some ladies, even back in 1839, interpreting the intentions of the unattached male was a challenge!
Creatures of Habit is my first published story. I owe a debt of gratitude for the pleasure I get from writing to my mother, who resurrected my love of fiction by gifting me a vintage copy of I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, my loving husband, who bought me my very first genre historical romance written by a “modern”, and all my writing friends who have given me community.
I am delighted to add story-crafting to my many “romantic” life experiences. Life has its ups and downs, and the ups for me have included rather ordinary, wonderful things like mothering, wife-ing (should be a verb), reading, traveling, cottage gardening. And less ordinary, an art career which took me and my family to Italy for some unforgettable years.
Writing and reading can be gentle pleasures and I continue to enjoy both.
Blurb for Creatures of Habit:
When Lieutenant Lawrence Trellaway returns from war in Spain, he finds his parents just as determined for him to marry their neighbors’ daughter, Eugenia Merritt, as before.
Fortunately, Lawrence’s dashing friend may provide a polite way out of family expectations, allowing him to return to his gardening and country gentlemen’s concerns.
Meanwhile, Eugenia is determined to keep her life the way it is. She likes her freedom, her pets and her flowers.
But soon each begins to wonder, would it really be so bad for love to bloom where it was planted?
Creatures of Habit can be purchased at Amazon.