I met Lady Oakley in A GRAND GESTURE. She was the hostess of a ball that Catherine, the heroine of A GRAND GESTURE attended. I found her to be a delightful older woman—tall and spare, with bright, intelligent eyes behind gold wire-frame glasses. After the second time we met, in HEART OF A TIGER, book three in my “A Chance Inquiry” series, I thought she would make an excellent Miss Marple type character for a Regency mystery series. She laughed at me when I made the suggestion and heartily disagreed. However, she wanted to introduce me to her friend, Vivian, the Dowager Duchess of Malmsby. She told me the duchess has a most interesting family and they would be better subjects for future novels.
Well, I agreed to meet the duchess and learn about the extended Nowlton family—Nowlton being the family surname. Lady Oakley was correct. They are an excellent family to follow and write about, and her grace, the Duchess of Malmsby, insisted she help me in writing “The Art of Love” series. As she says, her family has many, many talents; but, until now, have not shown a talent for love. She is happy that we could work together to mend this gap.
Now that the third book in the series is about to be released, the three of us, her grace, Lady Oakley, and myself, met for tea:
“When we planned the series, we only planned on happily-ever-after stories for your grandchildren, yet here we are with the third book giving a happily-ever-after to your youngest son, Aidan,” I said as I accepted a teacup and saucer from my hostess, the duchess.
“I’m ashamed to admit I had not considered Aidan as requiring a happily-ever-after; however, now I see he deserved this book more than anyone deserved their story,” the duchess said*.*
Lady Oakley nodded vigorously, the white plume stuck in her purple turban bouncing. “And Aidan needed a kick in the breeches,” she said as she stirred the drop of cream added to her tea.
“Sally! How can you say that?” the duchess countered.
“Easily. Here he is, a man in his mid-thirties, stuck in a farmer’s wagon rut, so busy with his business and all the requested family tasks, the man took no time to consider himself. –And you certainly haven’t spared him a thought.”
“Lady Oakley,” I said, as I set my teacup back on its saucer. “That is unfair. You know Aidan has not displayed any interest before in a happily-ever-after.”
“Neither did Ann or Helena. That’s never stopped the duchess from meddling and insisting they have their own stories. You wrote AN ARTFUL DECEIT and AN ARTFUL COMPROMISE for them,” Lady Oakley countered.
“True,” I conceded.
“Honestly, I never noticed how much older Aidan had become. He was my baby,” the duchess dolefully said with a drawn-out sigh. “He had that disappointment in love three years ago. I was letting him recover.”
Lady Oakley sunk her head and looked over her glasses frame at her friend. “Fustian.” She shook a long finger at the duchess. “You like having Aidan available as escort and general factotum.”
The duchess shifted a little in her seat, trying hard not to take responsibility.
I held my hands up. “Enough ladies. The important thing is Aidan now has his story, AN ARTFUL LIE, and is getting his happily-ever-after.”
“And with a most wonderful woman, too,” said the duchess*.*
We all nodded. “Lady Isabella Blessingame,” I stated.
“Yes,” the duchess said. “I am so happy they have been able to put those lies from three years ago—artful as they might have been—behind them.”
“But you will miss having Aidan available for all your whims,” Lady Oakley said, wryly.
The duchess looked at Lady Oakley sharply, then shrugged and smiled. “Yes, but I’m gaining a more independent family and a daughter who will no doubt keep us that way.”
Lady Oakley snorted as she laughed. “And this is only book three of a six-book series. I foresee more future excitement.”
The duchess looked at me. “Well, Holly, what shall we be having for excitement?”
I smiled as I sipped my now tepid tea.
Watch for the release of AN ARTFUL LIE, Aidan and Isabella’s story, on March 22, 2023.
Holly Newman is a pseudonym for Holly Thompson. She lives in Florida seven miles from the Gulf Coast with Ken and their six cats. Holly decided to be a writer when she was in the fifth grade and filled notebooks with stories—until a mean-spirited high school teacher told her she had no talent for writing. Crushed, for several years she stopped writing, but the writing bug didn’t go away. Her first book won first place in the University of Texas at Dallas fiction writing competition and was first runner-up for the Rita award from Romance Writers of America.
Holly’s interest in the Regency period came while in high school and she volunteered to re-shelve returned books at the community library. Every week there were Georgette Heyer novels to be shelved. Curious, she checked one out and became immersed in the world of the regency.
Fast forward ten years. When attending Science Fiction Conventions she met people who read science fiction; but also enjoyed the works of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, just as she did. They liked these books so much that they wore regency costumes at the science fiction convention. They even had regency era dancing on the convention program. These Science Fiction readers and writers knew a lot about the regency era. Intrigued, Holly did research on the era and quickly went from being a casual regency reader to a regency history buff. After that, with encouragement from science fiction authors, it was just a small step to writing regencies.