Please give a warm welcome to fellow Casablanca Author Jayne Fresina, here to celebrate the release of the fourth book in her Sydney Dovedale regency romance series, Miss Molly Robbins Designs a Seduction
A Cinderella Story
"She's a bony wisp of a girl, whom a good gust of wind could blow clear across the common, and she's in possession of a frightfully melancholic disposition, but she has a very neat stitch."
A description of Molly Robbins (from The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne, Sydney Dovedale Book 2)
Hello again! I'm back to celebrate the release of the fourth and final book in my series about the characters of Sydney Dovedale - MISS MOLLY ROBBINS DESIGNS A SEDUCTION.
This is a bittersweet, poignant ending for me, having lived with the village and its inhabitants in my mind for so long! I actually did shed a tear or two saying goodbye as I wrote the last paragraph, but I couldn't wallow for long in sadness. I knew it was time to tackle a new series and a whole new set of mischievous characters who were already demanding their story. Still, as I hit "save" and prepared to send off that manuscript to my editor, I definitely had a lump in my throat. It was like sending a last child off to college.
I did a lot of reminiscing. When I began this series I had no idea that it would be more than one book. I certainly didn't know a publisher would want it, or that so many others would become involved in shaping it— from editors to cover artists to publicists. Or that people I had never met would one day pick it up from a book store shelf and think, "Hmm, this looks good. I'll buy it!"
I spent so many years struggling to get published so when it finally happened it did feel like a fairytale. And then the realization of how hard I had to work soon set in! Four books later I was ready to tell Molly's story, because I knew exactly how it felt to have a dream within your grasp at last, to be doing something you love— but to have to work very hard at it— and then to hold your breath as you put the finished product out there to be enjoyed (hopefully!) by others.
Several readers contacted me to say they wish I would continue with the Sydney Dovedale series. Maybe, one day, I will—but for now I feel the series is rounded off with Molly's story which is, in many ways, a Cinderella fairytale.
But Molly doesn't rise from the ashes by magic. She owes her transformation and her success to hard work, determination, a shrewd ability to see beauty inside the sulkiest of beasts...and a little bit of good fortune.
In the first Sydney Dovedale book, the story began with a stranger moving in to the village, whereas the last book ends with a village-born girl (Molly) leaving that place to move on with a new life. In many ways I suppose those characters are me –I moved in four books ago and now I'm leaving.
I've learned so much along the way and made a lot of friends. I've done my best to pair off lovers and give out "just deserts." There are characters who have lived with me through all four books, but perhaps the one that touches me the most is Molly Robbins. She started out life as a bit-player— a shy little girl in book one, where she is mentioned as having a gap in her teeth and a terrible fear of most things, including a bird that gets trapped in the schoolroom. Molly's transformation takes place over the course of the series, so I felt as if I grew with her. By the fourth book, when she finally gets her own love story, mousy little Molly, once described as "very thin and plain" has grown into an ambitious, determined young woman with a good head on her shoulders and a clear vision for her future.
Of course, something or someone has to get in her way or it wouldn't be much of a story, but she is no longer the fearful, timid country girl afraid of her own shadow, so you can rest assured she will fight to succeed. She has confidence in her talents and is comfortable in her new shoes as Miss Margaret Robbins, dress designer for "Discerning Ladies". Perhaps, one day soon, she'll have yet another title?
As Molly grew up so did I. Over the course of four books I learned a great deal about writing and all the business that goes along with it. Like Molly, I think the experience has made me stronger, has taught me about my readers and what they enjoy— as well as, sometimes, what they don't! The experience of writing this series has made me more focused on a plan for my future, because now I know this is something I want to do for the rest of my life. I believe getting to know Molly Robbins helped me to know myself better too.
I hope the readers love Margaret "Molly" Robbins as much as I do. She's come a long way and at the end of the final chapter she still has a distance to go, but I know she'll make a success of it.
It might be the end of a book and a series, but it's not the end of her story. Or mine!
I'll leave you with an excerpt from MISS MOLLY ROBBINS DESIGNS A SEDUCTION -
“Oh, I must show Sinjun!” Lady Anne exclaimed, dashing out, barefoot, onto the landing. “Brother! You’re home early.”
“Rain stopped play,” he called up to her. “We came back for refreshments.”
“Do you like my new gown? Is it not simply scrumptious?”
Molly, standing back from the stair rail, felt her heart skip an entire verse and go straight to the chorus.
“Oh, he has no appreciation for gowns,” Lady Anne replied airily.
The object of their discussion spoke up, causing Molly to grip the pleats of her skirt as if someone might try to strip it off her. “On the contrary.” The sound of his voice, that deep, rolling, distant thunder brought back every moment of their last encounter and that heated quarrel. “I always appreciate a well-dressed figure,” he added.
Appreciates the pleasure of undressing them, more like, she thought dourly.
Bearing more resemblance to a Whitechapel hoyden than a Mayfair miss, Lady Anne shouted over the banister, “The miracle worker herself is here to fix me. You can tell her in person how well you appreciate her work, Danforthe.”
Molly pretended not to see the lady beckoning or to hear her saucy remark, but Lady Anne grabbed her hand, drawing her closer to the carved railings. She cautiously looked down into the hall.
Today he wore cricket whites, with his shirtsleeves rolled up and his hair, dampened with a mixture of perspiration and rain, flopped over his brow. How broad his naked forearms were as he rested his knuckles on his hips. To Molly’s eye, he appeared almost indecently undressed and insufferably handsome—not in the pretty, dandified way, as was fashionable among his set, but in an unrepentant, unpretentious, unpracticed manner.
It made her dizzy, looking down the great distance into the hall and finding his eyes, a distinctly wicked shade of silver-gray today, looking up at her.
“I am acquainted with the lady, of course,” he said. “Miss Robbins.”
It felt muggy on the landing suddenly, the air hot and heavy and thick.
, he’d said, in that deep, firm, masterful voice as they argued in his drawing room the last time they met. She’d expected no acknowledgement of her presence this time after her stern comments, but having dispensed with the formal greeting, he added, “And I believe the lady keeps some unflattering, uncalled-for ideas about me. How she came by them I couldn’t say.”
Molly could not retreat, for Lady Anne still gripped her hand. She felt cornered. To say nothing would look foolish. To simper and smile would be even worse. The young lady at her side ought to be shown how to handle arrogant gentlemen. So she gathered her courage to fight back. “I tend to have my eyes and ears open, your lordship. That is how I come by my ideas.”
Carver smoothly returned her parry. “The problem, Miss Robbins, is that a woman’s eyes and ears are generally receptive only to things that verify her ingrained opinions. A woman uses her senses selectively.”
“At least she puts them to some use. Unlike a gentleman who deadens his with brandy and port so he need not feel or know anything.”
Lady Anne exhaled a peal of tinkling laughter that vibrated even through her fingers where they gripped Molly’s. “It seems Miss Robbins can match you for cynicism, Danforthe.”
She caught his eye again, saw him raise a hand to his hair, fingers combing through it. “Miss Robbins is indeed a force to be reckoned with. Too clever for me, by far. Too upright and virtuous for an old devil like me.” A sly smile lifted one side of his mouth, and Molly’s heart almost ceased to drum its beat.
When the two gentlemen finally disappeared from view, Molly was able to coax Lady Anne back into her room, and spent the remainder of the visit desperately trying to coax her own mind likewise.
“Well, you put in his place, Miss Robbins.” The young lady giggled. “I’ve never heard anyone stand up to him so boldly.”
Bold? No one had ever accused her of being bold before.
Later, while leaving the Rothespurs’ house, Molly heard Carver’s low voice in the drawing room to which the gentlemen had retreated, and felt that same tempestuous beat overtaking her usually steady pulse. It was like the old days, she thought, when she worked in his house and heard him every day through walls and doors. She missed the sound of his voice, she realized with a sudden wrenching ache of nostalgia. She missed him.
No point dwelling upon that now. She had a new life and was no longer one of his minions. As he’d said, his life was his and hers was hers. Someone else would get his cordial water when he stumbled down to the kitchens in the small hours, forgetting to ring the bell.
But there was a delay in finding her coat. While the servants of the house were sent to find it and a footman was dispatched to ask the coachman for his patience, Molly waited for her coat with a growing sense of some mischief afoot. Sure enough, Carver soon appeared with her missing garment slung over his arm.
“Miss Robbins. Would this belong to you, by chance?”
She frowned, reaching for it.
He held the coat away from her fingers, swiftly moving it behind his back. She glanced up to the landing and was relieved to find they were not being observed. The butler was off searching for her coat, and Lady Anne’s brother was in the drawing room, out of sight. The footman holding the door had discreetly averted his gaze.
“I have a very busy day, your lordship,” she muttered.
She didn’t want to feel his touch, for she knew already how it had the power to render her bones soft and her will compliant. She wanted to run as fast as her feet could carry her. Instead, she bravely turned, slipping her arms into the sleeves while he held the coat for her.
“You try to ensnare me,” he whispered in her ear, his hands resting lightly on her shoulders for the briefest of moments. “While your lips insult me, your eyes pull me closer. This is your design for my seduction, I think. You seek my attention, Mouse, by running under my feet at every opportunity.”
“I can assure you nothing is further from my intentions,” she replied hotly, tugging her collar out of his fingers and facing him again. Remembering the footman nearby, she lowered her voice. “Even if I should desire your attention, I wouldn’t fathom how to begin.” Then she caught his smile and realized he merely teased her to get her temper up. “Have you no other woman to pester, sir?”
His eyes narrowed. “None like you.”
“Yes, I daresay hardworking women of ambition are in short supply in the places you frequent, your lordship.”
“As are virginal maids and determined spinsters.”
“You should widen your hunting grounds and find some nice girls for a change.”
“Good gracious, whatever would I want a nice girl for? I have a reputation to maintain.”
Molly studied his face for a moment, noting all the signs of his smothered amusement at her expense.
“How funny you look when you’re angry and trying to despise me,” he whispered. “But you know what they say…that there is only a slender leap between anger and desire.”
It was hopeless. If she stayed much longer in the presence of this wicked seducer, he would make her laugh, and that would never do.
Exasperated, she made for the door. He followed and walked with her to the fly waiting outside, as if it was an everyday occurrence for the Earl of Everscham to escort a dressmaker, or even know she existed. He offered his hand to help her up. To refuse would be pettish and another protest he would mock, so she laid her fingers lightly over his and stepped into the fly.
© Jayne Fresina, 2014
Didn’t you just love that excerpt? We have a great giveaway prize pack for this blog post:
- The 4 book set of the Sydney Dovedale series: The Most Improper Miss Sophie Valentine, The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne, Lady Mercy Danforthe Flirts with Scandal, Miss Molly Robbins Designs a Seduction
- A box of tea and mug
- And a tin of English Butter Fudge from Jayne
To enter, tell us in the comments what series you wish could have continued beyond its last title (and who knows, maybe we’ll convince Jayne to come back to Sydney Dovedale one day). Open to US and Canada only, please be sure to leave an email address in your comment so you can be contacted if you’re the winner. A random winner will be chosen on Thursday, 2/13.
MISS MOLLY ROBBINS DESIGNS A SEDUCTION BY JAYNE FRESINA – IN STORES FEBRUARY 2014
She Designs Dresses for London's Leading Ladies…
Molly Robbins is finally stepping into the spotlight. Her unique dress designs have caught the eye of London's elite. And if it means her own dress shop, proper Molly will make a deal with the devil himself—the notoriously naughty Earl of Everscham. But becoming his mistress is not a part of their arrangement. It's right there in the contract's fine print: No Tomfoolery.
He's an Expert at Taking Them Off…
Carver Danforthe has a reputation for beautiful mistresses, cutting remarks, and shirking his responsibilities—not for indulging the ambitions of his sister's maid. He must have been drunk when he signed that blasted contract. The stubborn female may thing she's gotten the best of him, but what this situation calls for is a little hands-on negotiating...
All's Fair in Love and Fashion…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Historical romance author Jayne Fresina sprouted up in England. Entertained by her father’s colorful tales of growing up in the countryside, and surrounded by opinionated sisters, she’s always had inspiration for her beleaguered heroes and unstoppable heroines. Miss Molly Robbins Designs a Seduction is the fourth book in her Sydney Dovedale series. She lives in upstate New York where she is working on a brand new regency romance series, the Book Club Belles Society. Visit www.jaynefresina.com for more information.
To Purchase Miss Molly Robbins Designs a Seduction: