I’m thrilled to announce the official release this week of my new historical romance, A Song at Twilight. A loose sequel to my previous novel, Waltz with a Stranger, A Song at Twilight is a second chance at love story between a rising star of the Victorian opera and concert stage and the man she fell in love with at seventeen--and has never been able to forget. [Earlier posts about the book may be found here and here]
Music often plays a significant role in my stories, partly because I love it myself, and partly because it was one of the most popular and reliable forms of entertainment in Victorian England. From the highbrow operas of Verdi and Wagner to the frothier operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan to the music halls and burlesques, music was a pleasure accessible to people of all classes. At home, families would often gather around the piano in the evenings to sing their favorite songs. Playing an instrument (usually the piano) was deemed an essential accomplishment for a young lady, and most schoolchildren were taught to sing as a matter of course, even if none progressed further than the church choir.
In A Song at Twilight, music is practically a character in its own right--a palpable expression of yearning, desire, and dawning love. Sophie, the heroine, has the best voice in her musical family, as well as being a talented amateur violinist. Robin, the hero, knows her gift is exceptional, and encourages her to venture out of her comfort zone and pursue a career as a professional singer. She, in turn, inspires and encourages him in his scheme to turn his white elephant of a country estate into a thriving (and profitable) resort hotel. But their secret, most cherished dream is of a life together . . . a dream that seems forever out of reach. Or is it?
Here, Robin and Sophie must confront their burgeoning attraction as they discuss the uses to which they could put the garden pavilion on his estate . . .
“And the pavilion isn’t too tiny,” Sophie mused aloud. “I was thinking—a string quartet could fit in here comfortably enough. And with those open walls, you could place rows of chairs on almost all sides of the pavilion, except behind the performers, of course.”
“You’re proposing outdoor concerts as well?”
“Why not? Doesn’t London hold concerts in the park on occasion? You could do something similar here.”
“Wouldn’t that be tempting fate? I know how often it rains here.”
“True,” she conceded. “But one could say that about nearly every place in England. And we do have fairly mild springs and summers. You could put up an awning over the seats for cooler afternoons and evenings, or move things indoors if rain should come on.” She looked up at the underside of the roof. “And this would be a lovely place to perform. Less formal than the ballroom, and romantic too, especially in the evenings. Can’t you imagine it? A summer evening, with all the stars out and perhaps a full moon, and the honeysuckle in bloom…”
“As long as no one complains of the ague afterward.”
Sophie shook her head. “Men! You haven’t an atom of true romance in you!”
A corner of his mouth quirked up. “I’m content to leave the romance to women, my dear. But forgive me—I don’t mean to be a spoilsport. And the idea has its charms… summer concerts at the hotel. Perhaps you’ll become a great singer one day and perform here as a guest artist. All the best people will come flocking down to Cornwall just to hear you.”
“Now who’s being a romantic?” Sophie scoffed lightly. “But, I admit, I should be delighted to sing here someday.” She drifted to the center of the pavilion floor and gazed out across the lawn, imagining it all: a balmy summer evening, graced by a silvery crescent moon, the air fragrant with honeysuckle and roses, the lilt of violins, and a sea of faces gazing expectantly up at the stage.
Holding the picture in her mind, she began to sing, her voice lower and more intimate than in the ballroom: "Once in the dear dead days beyond recall, / When on the world the mists began to fall--"
She broke off at the expression on Mr. Pendarvis’s face; the canted brow gave him a wry, quizzical look. “What?”
“What do you know of ‘days beyond recall'? You’re seventeen.”
He sounded bemused rather than condescending, but Sophie flushed defensively. “Eighteen, nearly. And perhaps I understand more than you think.”
She glanced up at the roof above her and continued with the chorus, still singing at half-pitch but with a springwater clarity that filled the whole pavilion:
“Just a song at twilight, when the lights are low
And the flickering shadows softly come and go,
Though the heart be weary, sad the day and long
Yet still to us at twilight comes Love’s old song
Comes Love’s old sweet song…”
As the last notes faded into silence, Sophie stole a glance at Mr. Pendarvis to find him staring at her, his face unguarded in a way she had never seen it. The firm line of his mouth was relaxed, almost soft, and his eyes…
She caught her breath as the air flashed electric between them. Then, in the next instant, he shouldered away from the pavilion entrance and closed the distance between in two strides.
Sophie did not know whether his mouth came down on hers, or whether hers rose to meet his, but the end result was the same. Here, in this sun-warmed pavilion fragrant with honeysuckle, Robin Pendarvis was kissing her, his mouth tender but assured, his arms enfolding her and drawing her close to his heart. Marveling, she closed her eyes and kissed him back.
Interested, dear readers? I’ll be giving away a signed copy of A Song at Twilight to a commenter below until midnight PST on Sunday, Oct 6.
Available Now from:
Barnes and Noble
(Virtual Tour Itinerary: www.pamelasherwood.com/news)
ETA: Sarah R. wins this week's giveaway of A Song at Twilight! Please contact me (my website has an email link) with your mailing address so I can send it off to you as soon as possible. Thanks for stopping by!