In my next installment of The Fairbourne Quartet—The Conquest of Lady Cassandra—coming in late February—a secondary character emerged as I wrote who developed in unexpected ways. It was not some hunk who would require his own story (although Viscount Kendale, while still secondary, filled out quite nicely as I wrote this book.) It was not some sweet miss who would be a future heroine either (although Lydia, Southwaite’s peculiar sister, also came into her own as the pages passed.) Instead it was an elderly woman, Cassandra’s Aunt Sophie.
A little bawdy, a tad outré, and suspiciously independent like Cassandra herself, Aunt Sophie is having senior moments at best and slipping mentally at worst. Protecting Aunt Sophie from those who seek to use her to further their own agendas becomes Cassandra’s goal. Accumulating the funds to take Sophie away brings Cassandra into conflict with Viscount Ambury, the charming man about town who was Southwaite’s friend in the first book of the series. He wants both Cassandra and Sophie to stay in London because he is investigating a mystery that involves them.
Aunt Sophie reminds me of the actress Betty White. At an age when she has no one to impress and nothing to prove, having lived a nonconformist life for which she will never apologize, she feels free to speak her mind no matter what outrageous direction her mind takes. Whether flirting with Scottish footmen half her age, or commenting on women who rouge their bottoms, she was a delight to get to know. Cassandra takes after her in many ways, much to their family’s dismay.
Only after I finished the book did I notice that Cassandra’s story reflected experiences I have had, as have many of my readers. Caring for an older relative is becoming very common. The relationship reversals and the delicate negotiations involved are familiar to me. So are the emotions of watching a loved one who once protected me now need my help. This book is humorous, like Sophie is herself, but those poignant emotions are in it too.
I should have an excerpt of The Conquest of Lady Cassandra up on this web site by November, once copy edits are completed. It is available now for pre-order, however.
In other news, The Surrender of Miss Fairbourne is being rereleased this October in a special edition as part of Penguin’s Read Pink campaign. This edition is immediately identifiable because it has a pink ribbon on the front. Read Pink is my publisher effort to bring awareness to breast cancer research sponsored by The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Penguin is making a generous contribution to the foundation and it is everyone’s hope that readers will consider making contributions as well, to this good cause or to other nonprofits that work toward a cure. You can learn more about this initiative at www.penguin.com/readpink.
I will be giving an all day writing workshop in Raleigh (Cary), NC on October 13. If you are in that area and want information, click HERE.
Finally, if you live in the Pittsburgh area, I will be at a large group signing on October 27 from 1-6 pm at the Mt. Lebanon Galleria.
Enjoy the cool weather of autumn! For those of us who endured heat waves and drought this summer, the change of season is delicious this year. Whenever crisp breezes flow I think about snuggling in with a good book. Don’t you? My To Be Read pile is calling.