As an inexperienced author you think she knows everything, but then the same editor (long gone) had undermined my confidence in another book - A Stranger's Kiss - that became one of my bestsellers. (How many people turned down Harry Potter? Not that I'm suggesting, well you know...)
So much in publishing is about timing. The right ms on the right desk at the right moment.
When there's nowhere else to publish (and there wasn't when I wrote this) you stick the ms in the bottom drawer and get on with the next book. But every time you open that drawer it nags at you and the publishing world has changed out of all recognition and so A Summer's Lease is published today at Amazon.
Here's the set up...
In a midsummer's dawn, high in the woods above Beaumont Court, Charlotte Palmer encounters a man who at first sight she thinks is the ghost of Harry Beaumont, the buccaneer who built the Court in the 16th century.
His passionate kiss blasts away the illusion but when he extends a hand to her, an invitation to go with him, she hesitates and in a heartbeat he's gone.
Here's a taster...
CHARLOTTE Palmer woke long before dawn and lay in the not-quite-dark of midsummer listening as the night sounds were gradually overlaid by the birds stirring and trying their early morning voices.
She had toured the house the evening before when everyone had gone and it was quiet, saying goodbye to the past.
Now, in the dawn, she would walk through the gardens and up into the woods to the special place she had always gone when she was unhappy or life was difficult. A place where she could see the house nestling in its hollow and the river beyond.
The one thing that had always been a constant in her life.
She finished plaiting her hair and picked up the miniature portrait of Harry Beaumont — painted when he was a favourite at the first Elizabeth’s court — from the table beside her bed. She could almost hear the laughter promised by bold blue eyes that glinted with a wicked merriment. She would need a friendly face to see her through this day and on a sudden impulse, she slipped it into her pocket.
‘Daisy,’ she called softly, when she reached the stables. The horses had long since been sold, but Richard Beaumont would never have a dog in the house and her spaniel had slept there ever since she’d been forced to move into the Court.
Last night she would have welcomed the comfort of Daisy’s soft warm body on her bed, but now that Richard was dead and she could have done what she liked it would have felt like a betrayal to take advantage.
The small liver and white spaniel needed no second invitation, but bounded joyously to heel, then ran on ahead, giving short excited yelps as she snuffled at trails in the grass.
‘No, this way, girl.’
It was a long walk to the top of the hill and the church clock had chimed six before she finally sank onto the dew-soaked grass of the clearing. She hugged her knees and gazed down into the valley.
Swathed in the golden mist rising from the river the house — built by the same Harry Beaumont who smiled from her precious miniature — had an ethereal, magical quality. It was easy to imagine him pausing here as he caught his first glimpse of its tall brick chimneys after the long ride from Elizabeth’s court at Richmond. Easy to imagine him spurring his horse on, eager to hold his beloved Maria, see his children.
He had been the first in a long unbroken line of Beaumont men to hold the house against the world. Today the latest to be given that trust would arrive at Beaumont Court.
He was late by any standards.
Matthew Ryan had, it seemed, been too busy with business commitments in the Far East to come home to be with the dying Richard. To come to his funeral. It was nearly two weeks since Richard Beaumont had been laid to rest with his ancestors in the family vault below the church and only now had his heir found some time in his crowded schedule to come and take control of his inheritance.
‘Daisy, be quiet.’ The spaniel was barking at something in the woods, drawing her mind back to the clearing, away from disturbing thoughts of the changes that were bound to be made with his arrival and how they would affect her. The dog, intent on her quarry, ignored her. ‘Daisy!’ she called again, more urgently, scrambling to her feet as she disappeared into the thicket well aware that if she took off after a rabbit she would be gone all day.
But Daisy danced backwards into the clearing letting out excited little yaps. Narrowing her eyes against the slanting sun, Charlotte took a step towards the copse, halted uncertainly, her breath catching in her throat as she saw the shadowy figure of a man astride a large black horse, at the edge of the clearing, the low slanting sun giving him a halo about his dark curls.
The trees began to retreat giddily and, as her legs buckled beneath her, the man threw his leg over the animal’s head and slid to the ground moving swiftly to catch her, his shadowed expression so familiar that she whispered his name.