Lawrence as a boyI probably won’t get to keep that title. Authors rarely do. But The Singular Mr. Sinclair is the working title for Book One in The House of Lovell series.

When I first get to know my characters, I like to meet them as children. So much of who we are is shaped during those early years so it’s important for me to know what happened to them then, whether I share that information with my readers or not. You’re in luck. This time, I’m sharing. Last week I promised to give you a taste of this story, so without further ado, let me introduce you to our hero, Lawrence Sinclair:


Ware Hall, Wiltshire, 1796

By the time Lawrence Sinclair was ten years of age, he was certain of one thing in this world.

He would never make a scholar.

Mr. Hazelton, his tutor, despaired of Lawrence ever amounting to anything in the classroom. To start with, even after years of practice, his penmanship was still a rough scrawl of chicken scratches and uneven lines.

“I cannot be held to account for it, Your Lordship,” Mr. Hazelton explained to Lawrence’s uncle, Lord Ware. “The boy persists in using his left hand unless I tie it behind his back.”

Mr. Hazelton didn’t tell the earl that he also routinely beat Lawrence’s left knuckles with a ruler until they were red as poppies. Nothing worked. Lawrence remained stubbornly cack-handed.

Perhaps his struggle to write legibly bled over into other subjects, but he failed to excel in any area of Mr. Hazelton’s tutelage. Lord Ware, however, was delighted with the progress of his son Ralph. Though a year younger than Lawrence, his cousin was already leagues ahead of him in grammar, rhetoric and Latin. Ralph could do a long column of sums in his head and translate a John Donne poem into French so beautifully that the words still sang.

Lawrence’s only flash of brilliance was that he sat a horse with distinction. He and his mount took leaps with ease, even ones from which older, more experienced riders might shy. He also learned that his tendency to use his left hand could be an advantage in fencing.

“Your foe willna ken how to come at ye,” his old Scottish fencing master had told him. “But dinna let His Lordship know I let ye practice so. We must make sure ye can switch hands at will, aye?”

Still, a gentleman with no prospects shouldn’t rely on those talents alone to make his way in the world.

For make his own way, he must.

Lawrence would inherit nothing. He and his mother had lived under the begrudging care of Harcourt Sinclair, Lord Ware, since his father, the earl’s younger brother by less than a minute, died in a curricle accident a month before Lawrence was born. Lawrence regretted not having any memory of his sire, but he wondered if he should. Whispers of “just deserts” and “larking about with a Bird of Paradise” floated in conversations just over his head when the adults in his life thought he wasn’t attending.

People also remarked how different Lawrence’s father had been from his brother, the earl. In appearance as well as temperament, where Harcourt was a steady, plodding, draft horse, Lawrence’s father Henry had been a flighty racer, lean and strong. Twins were like that sometimes. The earl took after their mother’s people while Henry favored the Sinclair’s darkly handsome line.

Sometimes Lawrence stood before his father’s portrait in the family gallery of Ware Hall, gazing up at the deep brown eyes that were so like his own, and puzzled over the man. He often imagined how different his life might have been if his father hadn’t died while “larking about,” with or without any sort of bird.

For one thing, Lawrence likely wouldn’t be living under his stern uncle’s roof. That would be a blessing beyond measure. Ware Hall was a fine estate, with expansive grounds, but however well appointed, a cage was still a cage. Lord Ware’s strictures were hard enough on Lawrence, but the earl ruled the whole family with a heavy hand.  

Just once, Lawrence would have rejoiced to see his mother contradict his uncle on anything. But his mother was a quiet woman who seldom smiled, so docile and frail, Lawrence was forced to wonder if she cared about anything at all. Still, surely she would have been happier, he thought, if she’d been allowed to return to her own family in the Lake District.

Lawrence had never met his mother’s people. His grandfather on that side reportedly held a tidy baronetcy, but Lord Ware always said his brother had “married beneath himself, if that were possible.” The daughter of a minor, late-made noble simply did not signify when weighed against the son of an earl.

Even a second son.

But Lord Ware wouldn’t hear of Lawrence and his mother returning north. The earl might not like Lawrence over much—or his mother, either, come to that—but he was duty bound to provide for his nephew’s upbringing.

For if there was one thing the earl was certain of in this world, it was duty.

“The boy is my blood, demmit. He bears the Sinclair name. I’ll not have him growing up wild as a thistle and ending up like his father. We don’t need another foolish accident to blacken the house of Ware.”

Then just before Lawrence’s eleventh birthday, another accident did happen. It might not have been accompanied by whispers of shame and disgrace, but it was so horrific, so unexpected, it was an affront to heaven and the natural order of things and surely the will of God Himself. It made his father’s sins—including the “larking about” bit—seem small by comparison.

And Lawrence became certain of a second thing in this world.

His uncle wished him dead.


Hope you enjoyed meeting young Lawrence. Next week, you’ll get to know Lady Caroline!


CruiseAntiguaWe had a little excitement on our recent cruise. Just after 6AM before we docked in Antigua, the ship’s emergency horn sounded.

“Well, that’s not good,” I said to the DH as I bolted out of bed.

A young sounding female voice came over the loud speaker announcing that she was the officer of the watch and there appeared to be a fire in one of the engines.

“Not good at all,” the DH agreed. (He remained in bed. Being of Norwegian descent, he’s not easily excited about things–whether good or bad.) Then, someone apparently woke our captain and in sleepy, halting, heavily accented English, he gave orders to evacuate several crew decks.

“Even more not good,” I said.

CruiseAntiguaAtlanticWe were assured by the voice from the bridge that no action by guests was required.

“Yeah. Tell that to my insides,” I said as I pulled on some capris and a t-shirt.

The DH remained in a prone position while I stepped onto the balcony to see that we were dead in the water and drifting. We were only about 15 miles from Antigua and if the call to abandon ship was given, surely we’d be rescued fairly quickly. Surely.

Since no action was required the voice kept assuring us, I mentally packed a backpack of essentials–our passports (which drawer had I put those in?), my meds (Guess I could leave the vitamins behind), warm clothes (what warm clothes? We were headed to within 12 degrees of the Equator. I hadn’t brought warm clothes!)

Then just as I was working myself into a full blown worst case scenario, the ship’s remaining engines sputtered to life, the captain came on the speaker to assure us that there had been no fire after all, just an engine that had belched out some vapors. We’d be late to Antigua, but everything was fine.

CruiseAntiguaNelsonDockYardWhen I left the balcony and came back into our cabin, I was happy to see that the DH had gotten dressed. Finally, he’d taken our situation seriously.

“Not really,” he said. “It’s time for breakfast and they won’t let me in the dining room without pants.”


If you’d like to see more of my pics from the Caribbean, be sure to like me on Facebook!

A Rake by Any Other NameIt’s that time again! A Rake by Any Other Name hits the bookstore shelves on November 4th! Strap on your cyber-stilettos and come with me on a jaunt to some of the hottest romance blogs around. You’ll enjoy sneak peeks at my Regency-set answer to Downton Abbey, random stuff about me, and of course, a chance to win at every stop.

Here’s my itinerary for this week:

Nov. 3: HarlequinJunkies
Nov. 4: JauntyQuills
            Elizabeth Boyle’s Blog
Nov. 5: FreshFiction
Nov. 7: From the TBR Pile

Mark your calendars and plan to join me each day! I look forward to hearing from YOU!