Katharine: Dearest Lady B, today I am honored to make you acquainted with a wonderful authoress of romantic historical fiction, Michelle Diener.
I first met Michelle through her lovely blog, Magical Musings, then had the great delight of meeting her in person at a gathering of authoresses. I’ve been following her rise to stardom and am simply thrilled that she has come to visit us today to celebrate her newest novel, The Emperor’s Conspiracy. Set in 1811 London, it’s full of vivid history, nail-biting intrigue and delicious romance. Without further ado, voilà Michelle! (That voilà was for the emperor, you know — Napoleon.)
Michelle: A very great pleasure to meet you, Lady B.
Lady B: (Dragging her gaze from the far wall of the ballroom) Likewise, I’m sure. (Her gaze swings back to a figure sitting demurely beneath a potted palm)
Michelle: I see you can’t keep your eyes off Miss Charlotte Raven. I agree she is compelling.
Lady B: You know her do you? (Looks across in approval) Very fine family, and a great fortune. Lady Howe doesn’t look as if she’s going to marry again, and I understand Miss Raven is her sole benefactor. (Pauses) There seems to be something a little different about Miss Raven tonight.
Michelle: (A little smugly) I know her quite well, yes. And she isn’t trying to be so dowdy tonight, I think.
Lady B: (Tilts her head consideringly) I think you may be right. Her dress suits her very well, and she isn’t as intent on disappearing into the wallpaper as usual.
They both watch Miss Raven turn down a group of three young men, asking for a dance.
Lady B: I can’t imagine how frustrated Lady Howe must be at the girl’s consistent refusal to take a suitor.
Michelle: (Shrugs) I’ve heard she has good reason for that.
Lady B: (Lowering her voice) What reasons?
Michelle: (Whispering) It seems every suitor she does allow into her life . . . is set upon.
Lady B: Set upon?
Michelle: Robbed. Beaten. Given a good batty-fanging.
Lady B: Your language! (Pauses) Is this true?
Michelle: Quite true. Miss Raven no longer encourages them — to save them from a bloody nose and a stolen pocket book. Or worse.
Lady B: But who . . ?
A murmur rises from the entrance, and every head turns in that direction.
Lady B: (gasps) That can’t be . . . He hasn’t attended a ball in years!
Michelle: (Peers around Lady B) Lord Durnham? Oh, yes, that’s him all right.
Lady B: But he’s not even stopping to greet people, he’s just going straight across the room to . . . (gapes) Miss Raven?
Michelle: He’s no socialite, that’s for sure. No idea of how to play the manners game. And quite uncaring of the scene he’s making.
Lady B: Well, he certainly makes a dashing figure, and one can forgive a man a lot for that.
Katharine: (Whispering aside to Michelle) And she pretty much always does.
Lady B: I had no idea he’d been introduced to Miss Raven.
Michelle: Well, introduced might be putting too formal a slant on their first meeting. But they do know each other.
Lady B: It cannot be a very amicable acquaintance. Miss Raven does not seem particularly happy to see him.
Michelle: Ah, no. (Smiles mysteriously) For someone who never attends balls, Lord Durnham looks like he’s about to be led a very merry dance, don’t you think? (Curtsies a farewell and backs away) I’ve just seen Lord Aldridge, the hero of my next book, Banquet of Lies, lurking at the entrance and I must speak to him, if you don’t mind. I hear he’s looking for a French chef and I may know of one . . .
We all have something we dread doing. Attending balls is Lord Durnham’s worst nightmare. What is yours, and what would induce you to go anyway? Bribery? Chocolate? The love of your life? One randomly drawn commenter today will win a copy of Michelle’s fabulous The Emperor’s Conspiracy.