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Friday, June 9, 2017

Guest Post with Author Harmony Williams and Giveaway

Harmony Williams has been living vicariously in Regency-era England since she discovered Jane Austen. Since time machines don’t yet exist, she’s had to make do with books—fictional and non-fictional. On the rare occasion she doesn’t have her nose stuck in a book, she likes to drink tea and spend time with her 90-lb lapdog. A feminist, she writes stories about strong women and the men who support them as equals.

Childhood Pen Pals

When I was five, my family moved two hours south. As an adult, this doesn’t seem like an insurmountable distance, but to a child, I might as well have been on the other side of the universe. I would be enrolled in a new school, I would have to make new friends, all of this in a new place.

I had been best friends with Laura as long as I could remember. We went on play dates. I looked forward to going to school because she would be there. When I moved, I was being separated from my best friend, as cruel a fate as the one our school wanted to give us by sticking us in separate Grade One classes.

Mom consoled me by telling me that I could write her letters and we’d visit each other over the summer. Deep down, I must have been a writer even then, because I loved that idea. I wrote and told her about the chicken farm we’d moved to, the corn fields nearby, the dogs the neighbor kept. I wrote her pages of letters and drew helpful pictures that I’m sure didn’t remotely resemble what I was attempting to draw. She wrote back once or twice, but not in nearly as much detail and our correspondence didn’t even live until that promised summer visit. I remember waiting and hoping for that letter to come, the one that never arrived.

In that way, I understand Francine Annesley’s frustrations with Julian when, as adults, she reunites with her childhood best friend. Unlike with my correspondence with Laura, Francine and Julian’s letters lasted far longer after they were separated, until they were in their early twenties, before he stopped writing a year before How to Ruin Your Reputation in 10 Days begins. Francine was just as broken hearted when the letters didn’t come as I was at five years old—perhaps more so, since she and Julian had managed to keep in touch for almost ten years until that day.

The fact that they wrote letters to each other as they grew up describing their hopes and dreams, detailing their frustrations and sorrows, is vital to the romance that kindles between them upon reuniting face to face. They relied on each other in times of need. They shared their happiest moments. Can Francine forgive him for never writing her back a year ago?

If I met Laura face to face, I would seek reconciliation. I would try to catch up and learn how her life has progressed since we last crossed paths. But over twenty years has passed, and that has granted me a lot more perspective. If I’d been six or seven and she suddenly showed up out of the blue, I think I’d be every bit as cross with her as Francine is with Julian.

Would you be able to forgive your closest friend if they suddenly stopped talking to you? Reach out to me on Twitter at @harmony_writes and let me know!

In 1814 London, England, a lady is defined as a demure, delicate flower. Miss Francine Annesley is not that lady. If men were like plants, she would have a garden of admirers to choose from instead of the thorn in her side since childhood, Julian Beckwith. But she would make an even worse nun than she does a lady, which will be her fate if she can't dig up a husband before the Season ends. However, Julian is not an option.

With only ten short days left in the Season, Francine doesn't have time to waste on petty squabbles or knee-weakening kisses, even if Julian's offer to fulfill her every wish rouses her curiosity. It seems men are more complicated than plants. Too bad love bloomed at the most inconvenient of times...

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“Before you launch another harebrained scheme, ask me. At least while I’m in London.”

His proposal took me aback. I stared at him, mouth agape, as I tried to discern whether or not he meant the offer. I shifted my arms to cross them in front of my chest, but he stood too near. I couldn’t cross them without brushing his chest. The thought of touching him sent odd tingles over my skin.

“Why?” I asked finally. “So you can stop me?”

“Hardly.” He emitted an odd sound. I couldn’t decide if it was closer to a snort or a chuckle. He shook his head ruefully. “I doubt I can stop you once your mind is made up.”

I matched his smile. He had that right.

But…could I still trust him? This was Julian, the boy I’d known from birth. We’d embarked on more escapades than I could count, but never before as adults. Much had changed in the ten years since we’d lived adjacent to each other.

And my freedom was about to be cropped short.

On a whim, I said, “Kiss me.”

It was madness. He’d never do it.

He flinched. “Are you mad?”

“Hardly. If you want to fulfill my requests, then kiss me. Otherwise I’ll have to turn elsewhere.”

I didn’t mean it. I was the staid one of my friends, the voice of reason. Despite the way Mary flouted convention, I never stepped a toe out of line of my own volition. Maybe I should start.

He scraped a hand over his mouth. My pulse beat faster. To my astonishment, he considered the request. My head spun. How far would he take his offer?

Up For Grabs:
  • 1 Print copy of How to Play the Game of Love

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  1. I've never read Harmony before but look forward to starting. Thanks for the opportunity.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com