“Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.
Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”
― William Faulkner
As the above quote suggests, I have been reading quite a lot lately. I’m calling it research and not procrastination of course! I’ve been reading a lot of romance novels, as this seems to be the genre that Lonely Hearts fits into. As you probably know, when it comes to the romance genre, there is an awful lot of trash out there and I have read quite a number of them it seems while browsing some of the free e-books available on Amazon.
“There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.”
― Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist
Sometimes I feel as though I am reading the first draft of a novel with some of these e-books, complete with missing sentences and horrible spelling mistakes, but I can’t help myself, if I start reading something, I must finish it, despite how rubbish it may be. Unfortunately for some of the authors, their story idea is quite good, but not fully developed and the story ends abruptly without any real answers and no sign of a sequel, that’s sometimes one of the most frustrating things. I think to myself, if only they had gotten an editor (or a better one) or spend longer developing their ideas then perhaps their novel wouldn’t be the half-assed crap it turned out to be.
“The first draft of anything is shit.”
― Ernest Hemingway
However, occasionally I am pleasantly surprised by some of them and I even discover myself a new author to follow. Shelly Thacker is one of those authors and while she is not a newcomer, she was not an author I had previously heard of until I came across the first book in Shelly’s Stolen Brides series, Forever His. Shelly is an Historical Romance author, whose work has previously been published through Avon and Dell. According to Shelly’s website, she is now an Indie author, publishing her own books with the help of digital media platforms, something which I admire.
Now, back to the book. Forever His, like all of Shelly Thacker’s books it seems, is an Historical Romance – but with a twist. Here’s the synopsis straight from her website:
Image courtesy of shellythacker.com
On New Year’s Eve, she tumbles 700 years back in time–and into the bed of a darkly dangerous knight.
Sir Gaston de Varennes wanted a docile bride who would fit into his plans for vengeance and justice, but a trick of time finds him married to a thoroughly modern American lady who turns his castle, his life, and his heart upside down. Will her desperate secret tear them apart after only a few bittersweet weeks of stolen passion — or will they conquer mistrust, treachery, and time itself to discover a love that spans the centuries?
I very much enjoy historical fiction, I like the idea of there being some truth behind the fiction. Perhaps this is why Rose and Thomas’ story came to me in such a way (in such a time). The twists and turns in the plot of Forever His had me totally hooked and kept me guessing. I just had to keep reading, even in the wee hours of the morning, when I really should have been sleeping…. or writing. There is really only one complaint I have, I want to know what happens next to Gaston and his American bride! That’s no fault of the author though, the story ended quite well and probably when it should have, but I always want to know what happens after the “Happily Ever After”, I’m the same with movies as well.
Even though Forever His is the first book of the Stolen Brides series, judging by the synopsis of the other books in the series, they follow the stories of different characters.
“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”
― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
I really enjoyed the twist in the historical aspect of Forever His, as well as the interesting historical aspects in the story. Shelly’s details and descriptions of scenes and characters, transported me to medieval France, not only describing the visual aspects but also the smell and feel of the world that she has so carefully created.
Perhaps I am totally behind in my discovery of Shelly Thacker, perhaps everyone has already heard of her, but for me she is definitely an author I will be following from now on.
And now my lovely followers, I have another small excerpt from Lonely Hearts for you all, remember it is still the first draft, so be kind.
Over the next few hours as Lillian helped me to get ready. I started to get to know her. Lillian was probably in her mid-thirties. She seemed to be kind and caring and had a wonderful sense of humour. I discovered that she was a woman of many talents, not only did she perform the usual duties of an assistant, such as making appointments, typing various business related correspondence, organising meetings and what not, she also had an impeccable talent for styling hair and accurately guessing a woman’s sizing just from a glance. It seems before picking up the dress and shoes that met Thomas’ requirements, Lillian had casually walked past József’s shop and from the quick glance she had, she accurately guessed my dress and shoe size, her accuracy was unbelievable. I couldn’t help feeling a pinch of jealousy towards Lillian though, this woman had the opportunity to see Thomas every day, she probably knew more about his day-to-day life than most people, perhaps even his family. As Lillian made the final touches on my hair and make-up, I pushed those feelings aside and focused on the exciting evening that was planned for me. Then for the first time I could remember in a long time, I allowed myself to get a little bit excited about something, well, maybe more than a little. Again my thoughts drifted towards the different possibilities of the evening’s plans. Thoughts of him grasping my hand and kissing it sent waves of awareness through my body. I momentarily allowed myself to be lost in my little daydream, imagining the hardness of his body brushing up against mine as we dance, his strong body framing mine as he leads me effortlessly around a dance floor…
“Rosie, Rose, ROSIE!” Lillian’s voice shook me out of my thoughts, back into the now. “I’m sorry Lillian, what did you say?” She let out a dramatic sigh, “Thinking about something in particular Rosie? Or perhaps you were thinking of someone?” Her smile told me she knew it was someone I was thinking of and exactly who that someone was. “Sorry Lillian, I was miles away.”
“Yes, I noticed, well I’m all done here, what do you think?” I stood carefully not wanting to trip on the bottom of the beautiful sleeveless V-neck silk gown that had been chosen for me. It really was gorgeous, the back was a little risqué and I was thankful that my hair covered the majority of my almost bare back. The dress was in one of my favourite colours, a lovely shade of emerald green colour that was perfectly matched the necklace and earrings that had been delivered earlier that afternoon. Running my hands over the smooth material of the dress, I took a deep breath to calm myself. A mixture of nervousness and excitement surged through me but as I looked more closely into the mirror and nervousness began to take over. My breathing began to quicken and even though I knew I was being silly, thoughts of the teasing and bullying I endured as a child returned to my mind. There they were, despite the makeup, the freckles that covered my face were very clearly visible. What if Thomas didn’t like freckles, I’m sure he saw them the first time we met, but what if it’s something he wanted covered, something he found to be unattractive in a woman. Lillian must have noticed the rising panic in my eyes, “What’s wrong, is it the dress, the hair? I have enough time to change your hair if you don’t like it.”
I shook my head, “No it’s nothing, really, I love what you’ve done with my hair.” It was the truth I really did love what she’d done, my hair was down in a wave of honey blonde down my back, parted to the side and held back from my face with a beautiful emerald and diamond hair comb that matched the earrings and necklace.
“Then what is it Rosie?” Lillian prodded. I let out a small sigh, there was no way I could really say this without sounding silly, “It’s just that… um… you can still see my freckles.” Lillian stifled a laugh, I knew it would sound silly, “My girl, your freckles are what makes you, you! Don’t be ashamed of them! Plus, Mr. Heath specifically requested that I go lightly on the makeup he said he wanted to be able to recognise you, so I’m assuming that means freckles and all!” I smiled at Lillian, feeling a little relieved, I was sure she wouldn’t make up something like that just to make me feel better. Could it be true that Thomas actually liked my freckles? However much I doubted it, in that moment I allowed myself to believe and the excitement for the evening ahead began to trump my nervousness again and I looked at myself in the mirror and nodded in approval, “So we’re happy now are we?” Lillian asked. I gave Lillian a small hug, “Thank you, there’s no way I would have been able to do this without you.”
“What, you couldn’t brush your hair and put on a dress without me?” she joked, “Anyway, it was my pleasure. It’s nice to have some time away from the desk, the schedules and the men in suits. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my work, but everyone and then a woman needs some ladies’ time.” I nodded knowing a little of what she meant, I cared for József dearly, but I had very few female friends and wondered if perhaps Lillian could become a friend. “So Lillian, what’s next?” It was early evening and I knew soon, my evening with Thomas would be beginning. “Well dear Rosie, first we put on our shoes,” she said holding up a lovely pair of satin peep-toe shoes in the same shade of green as the dress, “then…” there was a knock at the door and which sent my stomach fluttering, “then we answer the door, because I believe your chariot awaits.”
© Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within, (2013-2015). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.