Hello! I am BWL Publishing Inc. author Victoria Chatham. You can view and purchase any of my titles by visiting my BWL Author Page here http://bookswelove.net/chatham-victoria/.
From as far back as I can remember, the writing was as much part of my life as reading. I don’t remember learning to read, only that I could and did. Reading books made a significant impact on my life. Having a soldier dad meant we were always on the move, never overseas but to several postings in England and Wales. I learnt early on the disappointment of leaving friends behind, but books came with me or could be borrowed from libraries wherever we lived.
The power of the stories I read stayed with me, right from Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass, to Treasure Island, Gulliver’s Travels, Black Beauty and many more of what were then considered children’s classics. At age thirteen, I read my first Georgette Heyer Regency romance, Sprig Muslin, and fell utterly in love with the genre. My favourite Heyer novel is Frederica, which I still find as fresh and funny as the first time I read it.
It was also at age thirteen that I started writing real stories, prompted by my English teachers who praised my award-winning essays. And then life happened. Leaving school and getting a job is a heady experience, especially in the early sixties, with happy hippies and flower power added into the mix. My other life-long love is horses, and it was finally a job in a hunting stable that took me away from home. I still read plenty of books, but the writing faded into the background only to re-emerge when my children arrived on the scene.
Just as I had enjoyed books as a kid, I made sure mine had books too. Quite apart from the books they owned, we made weekly visits to our local library. Those were the days of Fattypuffs and Thinifers, Flat Stanley, The Starlight Barking, and, of course, every Ladybird book published. We also – shock, horror! – drew stories on the dining room wall. I’m no psychologist, but it always appeared to me that telling a child not to do something meant they automatically did it. So we crossed that bridge by designating a wall on which they could draw. When it was full, we painted over it and started writing stories again.
It wasn’t until I immigrated to Canada that I became serious about writing. This time nothing short of publication would do. My husband, now deceased, was my most significant support. He signed me up for writing classes, silently supplied cups of tea and mugs of coffee during the times I sat down to type out the next bestseller, and in general, believed in me while I did not. But writing had become a given, a little bit of heaven every day when I could retreat into a world of lords, ladies, and happy-ever-afters.
I have one contemporary western romance amidst my publishing line-up, but it’s the historicals that I enjoy writing the most. I have also written short stories, three of which appeared in an anthology from which all proceeds go to supporting breast cancer research. One author suffered a loss, one survived, and at the time my stories were included, I was finishing a five-year course of post-cancer treatment. A year after finishing that, I faced a second go-round with breast cancer and all that entailed. Books, through all those treatments and surgeries, were, along with my dogs, my constant companions.
Here is an excerpt from my first Regency romance, His Dark Enchantress. I hope you enjoy it.
“Good morning, Miss Devereux.”
“Good morning, my Lord.”
Lucius chuckled, and at the sound, Emmaline set her jaw and lifted her chin.
“Does it kill you to be polite to me?” Lucius asked, his voice as soft as the silk lavender gown she had worn to Almack’s.
“Cuts me to the core,” Emmaline responded promptly.
He laughed at that and escorted her to the waiting riding party.
“I hope you find Psyche to your liking,” he said, indicating the perfectly groomed dark brown mare that Noble held.
“She’s beautiful.” Emmaline patted the mare’s neck before allowing Noble to assist her into the saddle.
Lucius mounted his horse, and with a clatter of hooves, they made their way towards the park. Beamish rode ahead with Lucius while Noble brought up the rear.
“Is all well?” Juliana reached across from her horse, caught Emmaline’s hand, and gave it a little squeeze.
Emmaline returned the pressure. “I’m so sorry, Juliana, but I’m afraid your brother appears to bring out the worst in me.”
“Don’t feel bad. That is a reaction many people experience.” Juliana smiled a little as she thought of how best to explain her brother’s behaviour. “Lucius can often be overbearing. I think it stems from him having inherited the title at such a young age. He was but fifteen when our Papa died, and losing him affected Lucius greatly.”
“I’m sorry. I did not know that.”
“Well, it was a long time ago. Caroline tells me they were on excellent terms, and she would remember, being the eldest of us three. Lucius tried his best to be responsible but became quite wayward after he went to Oxford.”
“I remember you telling me he was considered quite the rake. But, rake or not, you are so lucky to have a family.” A wistful tone echoed in Emmaline’s voice.
“Not all the time.” Juliana checked her mount, which showed signs of wanting to forge ahead. “Both Lucius and Caroline, who I know mean well, are doing their best to marry me off to gentlemen who do not inspire me in the slightest.”
Emmaline took note of the words, not missing the softness with which they were spoken.
“Mr. Beamish has still not spoken to your brother?” she whispered.
Juliana shook her head. “The opportunity has not yet presented itself.”
“How did you come to know Mr. Beamish?”
“His father’s estate borders Avondale Park, and he and Lucius practically grew up together. They are close in age, you know, and went up to Oxford within a term of each other.”
“Oh, I see.”
Juliana shot her an amused glance. “They are opposites, are they not?”
Emmaline smiled at her friend’s perception.
“Maybe that’s what makes them friends,” she said.
Once in the park and trotting smartly along Rotten Row, Emmaline silently agreed with Mrs. Babbidge that it was, indeed, a fine morning. Sunlight glinted off the waters of the Serpentine, a light breeze tweaked the leaves on the trees, and the green turf beside the tan-covered ride stretched invitingly before her. A little demon of daring whispered in Emmaline’s ear but was drowned out by a question from Juliana.
“Did you enjoy last evening?”
Emmaline bit her lip. There was no way she could tell Juliana the truth, that her feelings for Lucius had grown more quickly, more deeply than she could have ever believed and that, once having stepped into his arms, she had not wanted to step out of them.
“It is a long time since I have been in the company of so many people,” she said. “I was simply overcome by it all. I am so sorry I spoiled your evening.”
“You did not spoil my evening, silly.”
“No?” Emmaline gave Juliana a sideways glance.
“Well, maybe a tad,” Juliana admitted with a smile. “I enjoyed Mr. Beamish’s company very much.”
“Aha – now comes the truth of it!”
“As does my brother.”
Emmaline looked up to see Lucius trotting towards them. He sat his horse in perfect balance. Beneath lowered lids, she glanced at the long, firm muscles of his thighs, imagined his slim fingers that were even now encased in black leather riding gloves, closing around hers. She swallowed hard.
“Juliana, I have to ask you quickly – have you divulged any information from my letters to your brother?”
“None. You know I would not.”
Emmaline cast Juliana a grateful smile, but Lucius was too close for her to say more.
“I trust the air has revived you this morning?” he asked of her as he drew alongside.
“Indeed, my Lord, I am now feeling quite well,” Emmaline acknowledged. The little demon was back, its voice stronger now. She turned her head and looked Lucius directly in the eye. “The only thing that could make me feel any better would be to race you to the end of the ride, for I know I would win.”
As soon as she uttered the words, Emmaline could have bitten her tongue. Why had she let that demon spur her to issue such a challenge? She gulped. Too late now to retract it.