Welcome one and all to my ballroom. Recently, I received a tweet from a Miss @sonomalass. I don’t believe I am related to any @sonomalasses. Must be Scottish. Anyway this tweet, which for the uninformed is a very brief communication delivered by carrier pigeon, informs me that the Festival of Minerva runs from the 19th to the 23rd of March. Funny, I though it was this week. Wait, she adds that it’s a pagan Roman feast. (I’m not sure my cousin the Archbishop of Canterbury would approve. On the other hand who cares what he thinks? He has meager calves.) Anyway, this week is the Festival of Minerva at My Ballroom because both Miss Dare and Miss Neville are introducing their new heroines who are both, confusingly, named Minerva. Ah! Here they are.
Tessa and Miranda enter, accompanied by unfamiliar young ladies. Both of these new acquaintances are dressed in glowing white with teal and fuschia trim.
Lady B: One dark, one fair. Thanks goodness they don’t look entirely the same.
Miranda: Lady B. Allow me to introduce Miss Minerva Montrose who is making her debut in London this month.
Minerva M: [curtsies] How do you do Lady B. Thank you for inviting me today. Is the Prime Minister here?
Lady B: Dear me. He doesn’t seem a suitable companion for a young gel.
Miranda: Minerva wants his job.
Lady B: That’s very forward of her.
Miranda: I’m afraid Minerva does possess a certain impetuous ruthlessness when in pursuit of her ambitions.
Minerva M: I know I can’t be Prime Minister thanks to the antiquated political system.
Miranda (aside): I haven’t told Minerva about Margaret Thatcher in case she cuts her hair and invades the Falkland Islands.
From behind her book, dark-haired Minerva Highwood grumbles: Men keep all the interesting professions for themselves.
Minerva M: But I can marry a man and help him to be Prime Minister.
Lady B: That seems unwise. Men dislike being made to do things. I don’t attempt it with Lord B, which is why he never attends my balls. Of course if I really want something I have methods of persuasion you’d be well advised to adopt.
Minerva H: Such as bribery?
Lady B: Bribery? Why, Miss Highwood. I’m shocked.
Minerva H: I may have no plans of marrying a man with political ambitions, but there is a certain feckless aristocrat I’m hoping will escort me to a scientific symposium in Edinburgh. He’s low on funds at the moment, so I plan to bribe him.
Lady B: Isn’t that a bit immoral?
Minerva H: Believe me, morals hold no sway with this particular gentleman–and I use that term loosely. For myself, I see the plan as imminently logical.
Tessa, aside: My Minerva is a scientist, you see.
Lady B: My dear Minervas. What on earth would make you think of plying powerful men with coercion and bribery, when you have so many other persuasive charms?
The two Minervas turn and stare, nonplussed, at one another.
Minerva H: Charms?
Lady B tsks and waves them toward the ratafia with her fan. Run along now, gels. I’m sure you can find lots of things in common. I need a word with your creators.
Lady B: Dear me, Miss Dare. I don’t know what to say about your Minerva and her ‘imminently logical’ schemes.
Tessa: Don’t worry. Min’s about to have all her logical assumptions about Colin–and herself–upended, the moment they leave on their crazy road trip to Scotland.
Lady B: But Miss Neville. Your heroine appears to suffer from Delusions of Grandeur. How will you ever marry her off?
Miranda: Funny you should mention grandeur because that, at least, is what my Minerva is going to get. She is shortly going to find herself forced to marry Lord Blakeney, son and heir to the Duke of Hampton. Unfortunately he’s only interested in sports and she thinks he’s an idiot.
Tessa: What a coincidence! My Minerva’s hero, Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne, is widely thought to be a shallow, featherbrained rake.
Lady B: Two excessively handsome gentlemen have arrived. Could they be our heroes-in-the-making?
Miranda: That’s Blake.
Tessa: With Colin.
Lady B: I don’t know about their brains, but I approve of their legs.
All three of us nod. And share a quiet sigh.
Lady B: [startles] Oh dear. I just had the most distressing thought. Even I’m confused about the two Minervas. Seeing as how both Blake and Colin are known more for their looks than their intellects…
Miranda: Oh, no.
Tessa: The men might be confused too. They might end up paired with the wrong Minervas!
Lady B: Well, we can’t have that. Quickly, let’s make a chart. Even if these gentlemen aren’t the sharpest pins in the caddy, surely they can read a simple chart.
|Minerva Montrose||Minerva Highwood|
|Hair Color||blonde||dark brown|
|Protective male relatives||many||none|
|Beautiful older sister||Diana||Diana|
|Field of interest||politics||geology|
|Hidden weakness||no head for champagne||occasional self-doubt|
|Secret weapon||bossiness||rock-filled reticule|
|Best qualities||Social conscience and empathy||Courage and loyalty|
|Expectations of a man||Highest||Highest|
|Capacity for devotion and love||Boundless||Boundless|
Lady B, Tessa, and Miranda look on with interest as the gentlemen study the posted chart.
Miranda: They’re so quiet.
Tessa: That’s not like them.
Lady B: Well, they’re not running away! Which means they must be a great deal smarter than either of them let on.
Blake: Interesting about the champagne.
Colin: I hope there’s not going to be a quiz.
Lady B: I could make a splendid chart about Lord B, but he’d be annoyed at me for telling secrets. I daresay it would take all night to make up to him for it. Hmm …. Never mind.
Do you know two people, either in real life or fiction, with the same name? With the same name as you? Or other romance characters with the same name? Make a list of distinguishing attributes. (And by a list we mean anything from one to the sky’s the limit)
To celebrate the release this week of A WEEK TO BE WICKED and CONFESSIONS FROM AN ARRANGED MARRIAGE, Miss Dare and Miss Neville are giving away copies of their books to two Ballroom guests. Make a comment to enter the drawing.