I love writing a series. I get to spend over two years with characters I have come to know and love. They talk to me almost daily and what I find amazing, every time, is they usually teach me something. I’ve recently released INVITATION TO PASSION (My Lord’s).
When I started my Invitation To series, four handsome men introduced themselves to me (I have now met a fifth). Anthony and Richard Craven (twin brothers) and their best friends Rufus and Alex, and Rufus fellow spy Stephen.
I soon realized what sort of heroine would win Anthony and Rufus’s heart (Invitation To Ruin, book #1 and Invitation To Scandal, book #2) but I struggled to understand what woman would be right for Richard. He’s a man who doesn’t understand what true love is. He is always falling in love only to realize it’s not the real thing. And then when I finally met Rufus’s younger sister, Madeline, I understood why.
Madeline has known Richard Craven all her life, and she and Richard have a very unusual friendship (you’ll have to read their book, INVITATION TO PASSION to understand why), especially for the period. Due to the fact her father was rumored to be a traitor she has not had many friends. Richard is her one true friend and she talks to him about everything and anything.
Yet I saw before they did, that their friendship could be so much more. Theirs is a friend’s to lovers story, coupled with a marriage of convenience—I do love to make things difficult for them!
Here’s the blurb:
Consummate rake, Lord Richard Craven, has his heartbroken when the woman he loves is forced into an arranged marriage to a violent brute. To make matters worse, circumstances force him to marry Lady Madeline Knight–a woman he views more like a sister-only for fate to play the cruelest of tricks. Shortly after his wedding his former lover is widowed, and Richard learns she could be pregnant with his child.
Madeline Knight thought she was doing the right thing when she saved Richard Craven from his lover’s irate husband. Now her silly schoolgirl crush has left her married to a man who’s in love with another woman. Consumed with guilt over trapping Richard, she tries her best to be the perfect wife and win his heart. Failure is not an option. For if she fails she loses everything, she loves him too much not to set him free…
While Richard and Madeline confront the reality of their marriage, Madeline’s life comes under threat. A family enemy is set on revenge. Will Richard learn the truth of his heart, and what is truly precious to him, before the unknown enemy destroys their world?
Madeline and Richard taught me that friends, who are open and honest with each other, could tackle and conquer anything. That the honor code of true friendship means you would never do anything to hurt the other, and that you put their needs ahead of your own. You want them to be happy and will do anything to ensure that happens.
All of that sounds a lot like love to me. What do you think?
After the service, they waited with everyone else to offer their condolences. With Richard by her side, they greeted Sarah. Madeline could have been invisible. Sarah only had eyes for Richard, holding his hand longer than was necessary, making them once again the center of attention.
Madeline’s stomach rioted, as churning emotions clawed in her gut as she struggled to think of something appropriate to say to break the silence during the carriage drive home.
It was Richard who spoke first. “That went better than I hoped. I believe we quelled any rumors.”
Maddy’s mouth dropped open. Was the man blind as well as stupid? “Oh, yes. Your staunch I won’t look at Sarah wasn’t noted at all.”
He gave a puzzled frown at her sarcastic reply. “I didn’t wish to draw attention.”
“Give me strength,” she muttered under her breath while throwing her hands up in the air. “They all noticed you not looking, silly. You fed the gossip. You should have greeted her naturally because society knows she’s staying with your brother.”
“Really? Damn. Might be the perfect time to head to Newmarket and start finding some answers then. It will allow the talk to die down. If I leave London now, I can hardly be having an affair….”
Madeline fumed. You’ll be leaving me too, your new bride. Once again, people will talk. Worse still, she’d have to go and have dinner with Sarah. She’d have to sit and make pleasant conversation with her husband’s past lover.
“Fabulous. More talk. Husband leaves just as his wife and paramour sit down for a ‘civilized’ dinner.”
“You’re chewing your bottom lip. I know it will be awkward for you.”
“Awkward? How would you feel having to sit and chat with my past lover?”
She saw Richard’s jaw tic. Good. He needed to think about that scenario for a moment.
“You don’t have any past lovers and there will be no other man but me.”
She really tried not to smile at his obvious jealousy. “Now you know how I feel. If she even mentions you, I’ll want to scratch her eyes out.”
The only small thanks were Richard would now not be at the dinner too. She couldn’t bear to sit and listen to their polite conversation, constantly wondering what he was thinking and wishing.
“I’m a man. You’re bound to have to converse with some of my previous lovers at some stage. You know I was no saint.”
“ But not converse with a woman who is still in love with you.”
“Sarah’s not in love with me, she’s just scared. She thinks she needs me, that’s all.”
Maddy looked away in disgust. Richard was either in denial, or gullible if he believed that. The way Sarah watched him, smiled at him worshipped him with her eyes…was… utterly obvious.
Now was the time for her to be brave. Turning to face her husband who sat across from her looking out the carriage window, in fact, looking anywhere but at her, she asked, “And what of you? Are you still in love with her? That would seem to be the more important question.”
Richard turned to look at her. He ran his hands through his hair and Madeline almost prayed she’d go deaf. “No. I’m not in love with her.” Yet Richard’s eyes were full of panic. What did he not want her to know?
“I believe you.” The panicked gaze eased at her words. Ask him. Ask him now. Do you love me? But she couldn’t articulate this fundamental question. She was too much the coward—as usual.
Instead, they sat staring at each other; the only sounds were their breathing and the clatter of the carriage wheels over cobblestones.
Richard finally cleared his throat. “Be patient with me, Maddy. Soon Sarah’s brother will return from Italy, and we will have caught the culprit. Timothy Chesterton won’t escape. If he does, he will be a threat to Sarah’s child for the rest of its life. We have just one chance to prove his guilt.”
She didn’t care about her husband helping Sarah. She told herself to ignore the stabs of jealousy. She admired Richard’s desire to help others. That’s the kind of man he was, always helping unfortunates. Maddy would never have met him but for his desire to save her from the Chesterton siblings when she was only thirteen. She knew what it meant to have this man as a friend. She knew Sarah didn’t want to lose that.
The carriage pulled up in front of the house.
She said softly, “I don’t think it’s the situation with Sarah that you’re asking me to be patient with. When you know your heart, I’m sure you’ll tell me. Either way, I deserve to know the truth about the way you feel about me. That’s the only way we can remain friends.” She smiled as the footman opened the door of the carriage. She gave him her hand to help her step down. She looked over her shoulder at the man she loved with all her heart. “When you know if you want our relationship to be more than a friendship, I’ll be waiting.
What character, in any book, has taught you something or made you look at life differently? Leave a comment and win a copy of Invitation To Passion in Book or eBook. Open internationally, closes 31 August 2014.