I’ve been promising readers a new book for a long time, but several personal challenges made writing time next to impossible to come by. Life has finally smoothed out somewhat, though, and I should be launching my next two books, NOT QUITE A LADY and NOT QUITE A GENTLEMAN a little later on this summer.
What are the next books about?
A cast of recurring characters populates my imaginary Regency world. Some of these characters play major supporting roles, while others are more like movie extras, but once in a while one of the extras steps out of the shadows and takes on a greater role. That’s what happened with Samuel “Pink” Peplim.
In NOT QUITE A LADY, Pink is the hero’s best friend, a sidekick, but he was so much fun to write that I just had to make him the hero of the next book.
Pink is a “pink o’ the ton,” a dandy, a fop, a peacock. Someone who lives for fashion and parties and gossip. So when he whispered in my ear that he actually leads a double life, one I should write about, I was understandably intrigued.
It turns out that out in the wilds of Cornwall, the mincing “Pink” Peplim turns into Jago “Jag” Lanyon, manly man! As the dashing Jag Lanyon, Pink robs from the rich and gives to the poor. He’s a local hero. And he’s good at it. In fact, the persona feels so natural to him that, as the book opens, he’s not really sure who he is anymore, Jag or Pink.
Enter our heroine, Rosie Greypool, who helps Pink figure himself out.
Clever and resourceful, Rosie has lived by her wits for as long as she can remember, and she’s tired of it. Left an orphan as a young girl, she had no choice but to become a thief and keep moving to avoid being caught. On the day our story opens, her luck runs out. She picks the wrong pocket and is almost caught, but at the last second, she’s saved by a Legend, none other than the famous Jag Lanyon.
Jag puts her on his horse and sends it galloping off to his remote, farmhouse hideout whilst he deals with her pursuers. Once there, Rosie realizes she can steal Lanyon blind—but then she discovers evidence of Jag’s alter ego and realizes that Jag has something much more valuable to her than a few trinkets. As “Pink Peplim,” he can help her become the lady she was born to be. If he chooses to. And if he does not, there’s always blackmail…
I’m having the best time writing this book, and I can’t wait to share it with you. Thank you for bearing with me as I pass through the end of this dry spell. You’re the best!
My apologies to the artist Thomas Phillips, who painted the excellent portrait you see here. The subject is “Sir Humphry Davy, Bt [Baronet],” and he was painted in 1829. Just as Jane Austen did, I peruse Regency portraiture to find pictures I think match my characters. Just look at Sir Humphry. He looks like a man who has some secrets, and he matches Pink Peplim physically, apart from the original portrait’s dark brown hair, which, through the magic of Photoshop, I made ginger to match Pink’s mop.
When my daughter saw this portrait, she said with a wrinkled nose, “Mama, I hate to tell you this, but … I think your portrait of Pink looks like a dweeb.”
“Exactly!” I replied. “But,” I reassured her, “the Jag Lanyon version of Pink is definitely no Dweeb.” Since I’m an artist, I just might have to do a second, “Jag Lanyon, Manly Man,” version of this portrait. When I look at this man’s face, I can already see it. Can’t you?