In the absence of another Red Pencil Thursday volunteer, I’m serving up the first 500 words of my current work-in-progress, Between a Rake and a Hard Place. It’s the last book in the Royal Rakes series (Book #1–Waking Up with a Rake comes out next month! ). The series is loosely based on the very real “Hymen Race Terrific.”
In November 1817, Princess Charlotte died along with her stillborn son. Suddenly, the younger sons of King George III realized they had an opportunity to put their progeny on the throne, if only they could be first to present their mad father with a legitimate grandchild. So, the Dukes of Clarence, Cambridge and Kent went a-courting. But what if someone wanted to make sure the House of Hanover did not continue on the throne? What better way to end the dynasty than to send a determined rake to seduce the young lady right out from under the duke’s royal nose?
Anyway, that’s the premise and here are the first 500 words of Book #3 in the Royal Rakes series (which is due out in January 2014).
P.S. If you want to see someone else’s work here next week, you know what you have to do! Send yours in. I know it’s hard to take your bath in public, which pretty much sums up what we do here on Thursdays, but the upside is that not only the volunteer benefits. Other writers can learn what to do and more specifically, what not to do during those dreadfully important first 500 words. And if you’re a reader, we really appreciate your comments because, after all, without you, there’s no reason for us to write!
Between a Rake and a Hard Place
Lady Serena Osbourne uncrossed her legs and barely resisted the urge to rub her burning inner thighs.
Drat these trousers!
She’d planned this exploit for weeks. She committed the map of London in her father’s study to memory so she could walk to Boodles, exclusive haunt of the country squire and horse set, without asking for directions. She commissioned the beautifully tailored masculine ensemble she was wearing, though bribing her modiste to do it secretly had cost the earth. She determined the right time for slipping away from the watchful eyes of her footman.
But she hadn’t counted on chafing.
Men must have cast iron undergarments.
Unfortunately, Serena couldn’t wear her usual pantalets beneath the blasted gray wool without spoiling the line of the trousers.
But other than the chafing, she found wearing men’s clothing as exciting an adventure as she’d hoped. When she walked down the male dominated section of St. James Street to the gentlemen’s club, she reveled in a newborn sense of freedom. Ordinarily, a woman walking without an escort on that block would be castigated as a wanton, but she strolled it freely, albeit itchily, in her trousers, waistcoat, tailcoat and great coat. Plenty of layers to conceal her true form.
There’d been a moment of panic at the ornate door of Boodles when she wasn’t sure her disguise as her cousin Rowland would hold. They favored one another strongly, being blessed with fashionably favorable coloring as blue-eyed blonds and had the same delicately chiseled features, down to the small dimple on their chins. She and Rowland were both Osbournes to the bone.
Rowland was not gifted with unusual stature or broad shoulders, so that made the disguise easier to pull off. But if the doorkeeper at the club had looked too closely when Serena removed her topper, he’d have noticed that her blond hair was bound by a pale ribbon and secreted down her back beneath the stiff collar and cravat. Evidently, Rowland hadn’t put in an appearance at the club recently enough for the differences between them to be marked and she was admitted readily.
Now Serena was ensconced before a cozy fire with a cup of fine Arabica bean coffee on the small table beside her wing chair, a freshly ironed copy of the Times on her lap, and the low hum of masculine conversation all around her. She reveled in being surrounded by the rich mahogany paneling, brass fittings and undeniably masculine scent that was a combination of damp tweed, for it had rained early on, spicy bergamot and old leather.
She’d done it. She was the first woman to invade Boodles since its establishment in 1762. Now all she had to do was drink her coffee and make good her escape without engaging anyone in conversation and she’d be—
“Osbourne, isn’t it?”
Serena gulped and looked up into a pair of speculatively narrowed green eyes. They belonged to Sir Jonah Sharp.
And there’s the end of the excerpt. It’s your turn to have at me. I’d like to hear what works and what doesn’t work for you. What suggestions or questions do you have about this opening?