I like to think I’ve always been a fan of Jane Austen, but it’s not really true. (How scandalous!) But in fairness, I have to say I don’t think encouraging high schoolers to study Mansfield Park in necessarily the best introduction to appreciating the joys of Jane Austen. Fortunately, my librarian’s mother’s persistence in ensuring her daughters watched the films and TV adaptations of the 1990s helped bring Jane Austen’s books and the Regency era alive, and as I grew older I gained a new appreciation for the wit and mastery of the language, the way so much could be said in just a glance, and a love for the manners and general swoon-worthiness of big houses (!), fancy gardens (!), and heroes of good looks and great amiability. (Apart from Mr. Darcy’s initial frostiness, of course, but he is – and always will be – the exception!)
As someone who perhaps longed to live in these times a little too much, I suppose it was inevitable that I would one day write a story based in the Regency era. My writing journey started with contemporary stories, after I watched the closing ceremony of the Vancouver Winter Olympics and wondered why an Australian girl was walking into the arena holding hands with a US athlete. What was their story? Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t find out, so I made it up. ☺️ Thus began a very long journey to publication as I honed my craft through entering online writing contests and taking on feedback, among which came the realization that US publishers aren’t so interested in stories with Australian characters or settings, so perhaps I should write something they were interested in: historical romance.
So I kept writing, a Regency romance this time, something I hoped could blend the wonderful wit and memorable characters I love in Georgette Heyer’s Regency-era novels, with the social mores and subtlety of Jane Austen, along with my own Australian sensibility, and desire to write stories offering hope. I kept entering contests and started finaling, and eventually gained the attention of a US agent, who agreed to represent this little Aussie (yay!), and eventually found me a US publishing home (double yay!).
The Elusive Miss Ellison, an inspirational Regency romance with shades of Pride and Prejudice, became the first of my Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace series, published by Kregel Publications. Last year was a wild ride with my author debut, then seeing two more books release, all while juggling writing, editing and learning more about the joys of marketing. A second series (Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope) is being published in 2018, with the first of these, Winning Miss Winthrop, releasing in March this year.
Winning Miss Winthrop is something of a homage to Persuasion, which vies with Pride and Prejudice as my favorite Jane Austen. I love the angst of poor Anne Elliot, the way the social niceties of the day force her to hide her pain as she suffers from the thoughtlessness of those around her, the way she patiently holds true to her values even as all hope (and love) seems lost. And how can you not love someone like Captain Wentworth, unable to ever find Anne’s equal – especially when he looks like Rupert Penry Jones?
I wanted to create a similar character to sweet Anne, and so Catherine Winthrop was born, the eldest daughter of a Baron, who, after a family tragedy, is led to scandal-breathing Bath, a masquerade, and many misunderstandings, before finally being reunited with the man she thought lost. Ah, true love…
In 2015 I was extremely blessed to visit my sister in England, managing to see several places I’ve only ever dreamed about—or ‘seen’ in books, films or TV- and of course, my first port of call had to be Bath. A visit to this World Heritage-listed town, filled with grand Georgian buildings and cobblestoned streets, helps understand the need for sedan chairs instead of carriages (many streets are steep), whilst ‘taking the waters’ at the Pump Room and seeing the Assembly rooms gives new insight into Austen’s references to such activities in her novels—and also adding greater authenticity to my own work, as does a visit to the Jane Austen Centre (and enjoying high tea there ‘with Mr. Darcy’ ☺️). I have a page on my website about my time there: www.carolynmillerauthor.com/a-trip-to-bath which is a fun way to connect a little more with some of the scenes mentioned in Winning Miss Winthrop.
Here’s the blurb for Winning Miss Winthrop:
Catherine Winthrop is almost at her last prayers, rejected years ago by the man who stole her heart. When tragedy brings him back into her life, she must suffer further grief in silence, amid her family's pain and hostility, which eventually sends her to seek solace in Bath.
Jonathan Carlew might be wealthy, but the mystery surrounding his birth has shadowed his life, bringing fresh challenges as he takes on the Barony. Caught between appeasing the Winthrop family's concerns and doing what he could to salvage their failing estate, he must also weigh the echoes of the past with the demands of his new responsibilities.
Two hearts must decide whether present speculation will condemn them to the dust of their memories, or if the whispers of forgiveness can provide freedom for the future.
And here is an excerpt from the first chapter, that gives something of an idea of the marvellous wit to be found within Winning Miss Winthrop 😉 (apologies for the formatting which didn’t come out correctly):
White’s Gentlemen’s Club, London
“I lay you ten guineas the next lady who walks past is a complete fright.”
“Only ten? I wager five-and-twenty. What say you, Carlew?”
Jonathan Carlew looked up from his newspaper at his two companions. “I say a fool and his money is quickly parted.”
“Well, nobody shall ever accuse you of being a fool, you stingy old man,” Viscount Henry Carmichael said, tease in his eyes.
Jon hid his smile. Who would have thought one day’s difference in their birth dates would lead to years of such jests? “What some call stingy others call wise.”
“Your modesty overwhelms.” Major Thomas Hale, the third member of the party snorted. “Now, Carmichael, here comes our next contender. What say you, ugly or divine?”
“Must it be one or the other?” Jon asked.
“My dear fellow, a woman is either decidedly pretty or decidedly not.”
“One simply has to decide which of the two?” Jon suggested.
“Exactly.” The heir to the Earl of Bevington nodded.
“But surely that implies a degree of subjectivity, if, as the poets say, beauty does lie in the eye of the beholder.”
The major lifted his glass to peer through the bow window. “Well, I behold a fright. Carmichael, you owe me a pony.”
The viscount handed over twenty-five pounds, muttering about the audacity of such ladies to walk without consideration for the eyes of men.
“Can you imagine what the ladies must think of such ogling?”
“Ogling! Carlew, I resent the implication.”
“My apologies, Hale, but I meant no implication.”
Carmichael laughed. “You are a sly dog, Carlew. Next you will be saying a woman’s appearance ought count for nothing.”
Jon merely smiled.
“Well may it be for some to be fastidious about such things, but good heavens, if a man means to be leg-shackled then let it be to a lady whom he finds pleasing to gaze upon.”
“Does that hold true for the lady in question also? Indeed, if this line of reasoning is so, there would be many of us destined to singlehood on account of our less than perfect looks.”
The major gave a loud harrumph as Carmichael said, “You seem to forget the numbers of ladies at the ball last week who seemed very willing to overlook your ill-favored face.”
The tips of Jon’s ears grew hot. “I confess it had slipped my mind.”
That evening in question had been one of the more excruciating of his life. Perhaps if he’d learned to flirt like Carmichael or Hale he might be more successful in ensuring the women who flocked to him knew not to expect anything more than a deftly turned compliment. But as Hale had commented that evening, Jon’s more serious demeanor and deep voice lent a gravity to his words that only seemed to encourage the clinging young ladies with whom he had no desire to further his acquaintance.
“Next you’ll be saying a woman should not be judged on her face.”
“Should a man’s?”
His companions both stared at him before Hale gave another loud harrumph.
“Carlew, your observations are both unnecessary and unkind. Go back to your paper if you don’t mind.”
Jon chuckled, shook his head at his friends’ antics, and retired once more behind the screen of The Times. His smile faded, the printed words before him meaningless. While he didn’t begrudge them—they were his friends, who had helped keep him sane these past years when India had a way of hardening even the kindest of men—he couldn’t help but wonder how these gentlemen would rate the woman who had once caught his eye. Not strictly pretty, let alone divine, he couldn’t help but think she would rate rather poorly on Hale’s scale of attractiveness.
His fingers clenched. Relaxed. Not that he should care. These were foolish thoughts. He was unlikely to see her, and even if he did, she had long ago made her feelings abundantly clear.
No. Perhaps he was a fool after all. Surely two years of adventure and business should have been enough to rid him of these feelings.
Perhaps it was time to think on a lady who might not mind his connections to trade, at least until that far away day when he might assume the title. His earnings from his time on the Indian subcontinent should, correctly invested, hold out for quite a few more years, and the interest on his shares in his father’s companies was steadily improving, so Trelling said. Perhaps there was a lady who might not mind being married to such a man. He could offer constancy, and quite a tidy fortune, if little else.
His spirits dipped.
Perhaps one day there might even be one prepared to overlook the haze concerning the legitimacy of his birth.
About the Author
Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. Together with her husband she has pastored a church for ten years, and worked part-time as a public high school English and Learning and Support teacher. A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her Regency novels include The Elusive Miss Ellison, The Captivating Lady Charlotte, The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, Winning Miss Winthrop and Miss Serena's Secret, all available from Amazon, Book Depository, Koorong, etc.
Connect with Carolyn Miller
Books by Carolyn Miller
Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace
Regency Brides: The Promise of Hope
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Also available at Amazon UK, Amazon AU, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Christianbook, GooglePlay, and Koorong.
I want to thank Carolyn Miller for stopping by here today and introducing herself to me! Her books look lovely, and I'm looking forward to losing myself in them!
How about you? Have you read any of Carolyn's books? Which one do you think I should read first?
How about you? Have you read any of Carolyn's books? Which one do you think I should read first?