Tonight my ballroom seems more like a carnival than a London soirée. Candles glitter, gowns of gold and silver sparkle with jewels, the bright regimentals of officers and noble blue and white of naval heroes complement the elegant evening dress of earls and dukes, and the orchestra is in especially fine fettle. Fans flutter, glasses of champagne clink, and dancers pirouette, all to the gay music of laughter and general merriment.
This festiveness is nothing unusual in my ballroom, of course. Neither are my guests’ charming peculiarities. For instance, Miss Sally Fitzhugh (The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla) has certainly brought her pet stoat, Lady Florence Oblong, to my ball before. Cam Bedwyr’s magnificent white stallion (Kisses, She Wrote) cavorts with the Earl and Countess of Cross’s three-legged dog (One Good Earl Deserves a Lover) around a specially cultivated rosebush that dear Pippa gifted to me. (Its flower is called The Baine. Naturally.) At the pianoforte, Bridget Forrester challenges the orchestra (Let It Be Me), but it’s as though Beethoven himself is playing so no one minds a bit (and Oliver Merrick listens rapturously, the darling man). Over there is Tarquin Compton (The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton) sharing his naughty books with Angelina Whitcombe (The Short and Fascinating Tale of Angelina Whitcombe) who is showing him her notebook full of horrible drawings in return, to the vast amusement of everyone. And there is dear Minerva Highwood enthralling my guests with the footprint of her dinosaur, Francine (A Week to be Wicked). Thanks heavens she hasn’t brought the live creature–whatever it is–into the place.
<squawk> Different genre <squawk>
“Ah, Albert, it’s a fabulous crush tonight, as it should be on an occasion that is both sad and happy. But I simply had to have every one of the characters my authoresses introduced in this ballroom here tonight.”
<squawk> Daring ladies and dashing lords! <squawk>
“Do you know, in all these years I’ve never tested the full capacity of the room, although I have never been worried that we couldn’t squeeze in another guest or two. The architect of Beaufetheringstone House was a Doctor and he constructed it in the manner known as à la Tardis.”
<squawk> Time traveler <squawk>
“Exactly, Albert. I am never quite sure what year it is. Monty!”
“Yes, Aunt Tropey?”
“What year is it tonight?”
“Blessed if I know. I’ve never been good with numbers.”
<squawk> 2014 <squawk>
“Don’t be foolish, Albert. That simply isn’t possible.”
Monty takes my lorgnette and peers through it at the seven ladies approaching, arrayed in their finest gowns.
“There they are! My dear authoresses!”
“Dear authoresses?” Miss Ashe whispers to Miss MacLean. “Oh, wow. This must really be our last ball.”
“She’s certainly sentimental,” Miss MacLean mumbles.
“I’ve never seen the ballroom so crowded,” Miss Willig says.
“Or so merry,” Miss Neville adds.
“The place is positively overflowing. There are at least three wallflowers behind each potted plant.” Miss Darby shrugs. “I checked.”
“The footmen are refilling the punch bowl at least once every quarter hour,” Miss Dare notes.
“We barely found you in the crowd,” Miss Noble says.
I survey my guests with a pleased eye. “What did you expect for our farewell ball?”
“Farewell ball?” a familiar voice says nearby.
“Gaelen!” Miss MacLean exclaims. “You’ve come!”
I watch my authoresses greet Miss Foley with the warmth and affection they show all of my guests. They think me an old termagant, and I certainly am. But I will miss these gels and the remarkable people they have invited into my ballroom each week.
Miss Foley links her elbow with mine. “So this is your last ball, Lady B?”
<squawk> No more lobster patties <squawk>
“My dear Albert! Although my authoresses cannot accompany us on our journey, I do not intend that we should be deprived of the basic creature comforts. I have Miss Dare’s spiked ratafia recipe in my reticule.”
“But where are you going, Lady B?” Miss Noble asks.
“If you expect me to allow you to spin it into a scandalous story, I shan’t.”
“We would never do such a thing,” Miss Neville vows without any indication of sincerity whatsoever.
“Lord B and I are taking Albert on a long overdue journey. I will leave it at that.”
My authoresses offer grumbles in varying degrees of discontent, but I know them. They are impertinent minxes and I adore them. Yes, I can admit that now that I am departing and shutting the doors of Beaufetheringstone House. But I shan’t say it aloud, of course. Instead, I say, “Now, I believe it’s time for each of you to say your farewells.”
As always, they do not disappoint me.
I am so grateful to have been given the chance to dance through my shoes in Lady B’s ballroom. I couldn’t have asked for a more inviting group of authoresses and readers to welcome me when I joined the party (even when my characters accidentally destroyed parts of the Ballroom in the process). I have cherished every single Albert squawk, Lady B moment of magic and Monty damsel-saving scheme.
It’s hard to say good-bye to such a warm, wonderful place, but I know that we will all miss the Ballroom, but I have a feeling that Lady B has earned a special place in each of our hearts. Personally, I know every time an imperious voice yells my name I will be looking over my shoulder for an impressive woman dressed in circa 1780-1830 garb, ready to cut me down and force feed me tea at the same time.
Thank you. Those two words–small and often overused–express all. Thank you to Sarah for embarking upon this adventure with me. Thank you to Miranda, Gaelen, Tessa and Sabrina for climbing aboard with their laughter and brilliance, and for inviting Lady B to captain us. Thank you to Kate and Lauren for completing our set so perfectly. Thank you to our designer Jennifer Wu for giving us such a beautiful, easy place to entertain. Thank you to the gorgeous fleet of sister authoresses who have come along on our adventure from time to time. And never least, thank you to our beloved guests, readers and writers that I now cherish as friends. This ballroom has been a joy for me. I will miss our fun here, miss the hilarity and affection and gentlemen’s legs. I will miss it all. xoxo
There’s an old cliche about the guest who comes to dinner and won’t leave. I visited the Ballroom as Sarah MacLean’s guest lo these many years ago and fell in thrall to Lady B, Albert, and, most of all, the wonderful company of authoresses and readers. It has been truly a privilege to share the shenanigans in the Ballroom, from rogue-ogling to parrot- wrangling.
I suspect that, like King Arthur, the Ballroom isn’t really gone; it will only be sleeping, ready to come to our aid when we need entertainment, good company, ratafia, or a highly opinionated parrot. So I won’t say farewell, but only “until we meet again”. Au revoir, mes Ballroomies!
When Katharine and Sarah invited me to join The Ballroom Blog I accepted with delight, even more so when I learned what other wonderful Authoresses were part of our band. Tessa, Sabrina, Gaelen, and later Lauren and Kate, have been the best possible colleagues and their brilliant posts always a pleasure to read. I shall miss them and our wonderful Ballroom regulars who’ve become friends. Perhaps most of all I will miss Lady B and Albert, surely the best hostess/parrot duo ever to surf the space-time continuum. Ever since my first post, when Lady B discovered poor Celia Seaton cowering in a cupboard and treated her with her trademark mixture of acerbity and kindness, I’ve adored the woman. When I grow up I want to be like her. Also, that way I’d get to see Lord B’s legs.
I want to thank everyone who has ever joined us here in the Ballroom and made Lady B’s events a daily crush! It’s been such an incredible time and I’ve adored the opportunity to play with (and lovingly make fun of) classic romance tropes. Lady B has been a fabulous hostess, and quite kind to me despite my starting out eavesdropping behind potted plants or bringing courtesans to her balls. But that’s been the magic of The Ballroom Blog. When Katharine and Sarah came up with the idea for this blog, I really had no idea how much it would take on a life of its own and I’ve loved the opportunity to creatively collaborate with all these brilliant authors. One of my novellas even stemmed from a series of blog posts here! I shall miss the balls and all of our regular attendees and…I’m a little teary saying farewell.
The Ballroom has been an incredible place for me and for all my characters since Lady B invited me to join her. I’ve enjoyed every moment here, celebrating with Albert and Monty and the Lady herself (though I’m still wishing I’d had a chance to meet Lord B!), but more than all that, I’ve loved partying with the other authoresses…drinking ratafia with Tessa, hiding behind potted ferns with Sabrina, climbing ship’s rigging with Kate, ogling handsome devils with Katharine & Miranda, and throwing pink parties with Lauren. I’ll miss them most of all.
Lady Beaufetheringstone has been the most wonderful host…and you all have been the most wonderful fellow ball-goers. Thank you so so much for making The Ballroom such an awesome place to be for the last few years.
Lady B’s Ballroom has been a magical place for me, and it’s so hard to say farewell. For several Seasons now, I’ve felt so lucky to be welcomed into this wonderful society of authoresses and readers. It’s been a delight getting to know everyone, and being inspired by the atmosphere of romance and creativity. One of my novellas was even born right here, in the Ballroom! There are so many moments I’ll carry with me and treasure, and when we meet again…for we must meet again…I will have the spiked ratafia waiting.
Several of them are sniffling, and Miss Ashe and Miss Dare are both ruffling handkerchiefs beneath their noses like perfect hoydens. My guests dance on in the candlelight, oblivious. It is the ideal moment to depart.
“Are you ready?”
“A readier fellow you’ll never find. Shall we be off?” He cocks his elbow for my hand and we move toward the door.
Miss Darby notices. ”But… You’re leaving now?”
“Just like that?” Miss Willig demands.
“In the middle of your own ball?” exclaims Miss Noble.
“Sometimes, my dear gels,” I reply, “one must break the rules in order to live one’s dreams. I thought you all knew that.” I gesture to the dancers–their heroes and heroines. “They certainly do.”
As one, all eight authoresses blink at me. And they smile. Then, taking up their shawls and cloaks, and casting mischievous last glances back at the ballroom, they follow me through the door.
Before the house and beneath a shockingly starry sky, one by one, with fond embraces and affectionate adieus, they climb into their carriages and depart.
Monty closes the door of Beaufetheringstone House and the music from my ballroom hushes but does not cease, the revelry and romance enduring despite my departure. From within the carriage, my dear Lord B beckons to me. I catch a glimpse of his left calf encased in a silk stocking and feel no qualm whatsoever about leaving behind the ballroom for this journey. A lady must keep her priorities straight, after all.
“Well that about wraps it.” My nephew throws his agile limbs into a bow that makes me proud. “Till next time, Auntie!” With a buss on my cheek and a tip of his hat, he climbs atop his horse and disappears down the street.
From within the carriage my lord says, “Darling, shall we?”
<squawk> Next adventure! <squawk>
The footman hands me up. The carriage starts off, leaving the glowing windows and gay laughter of Beaufetheringstone House to continue into the night.
~ ~ ~
What have you loved most about The Ballroom? As a farewell gift, we are giving away eight signed books to randomly chosen commenters. As always, love and hugs to you all.
To find The Ballroom authoresses on their next adventures, please visit us here: