Since we had more winners and runners-up picks in the historical romance contest, the honorable mentions list is a little shorter. Three from Jessica and two from me.
Maggie Robinson — Paradise
When he was done, she’d be the greatest whore in all Christendom.
If they’d been in London, her body would have already been sold to the highest bidder in the Marriage Mart. He’d have to dower her for some chinless earl to take his pleasure in her innocence. Since London was out of the question, a ton marriage not on her horizon, there was no better man than he to teach her. She was destined to be a prim little prude if he didn’t intervene.
And she might prove more capable than her mother in providing him with an heir.
I think it was the first line that really got me. Now that’s a challenge and I want to know more about it. Why of all things is he determined to make her a whore, and that ending! The twist with the mother is great. There’s so much you open this story to with your 100 words. Great stuff.
Donna — The Wellspring at Bromley
“Do you need anything else, sir?”
Ignoring the unopened note from Gladstone on his clerk’s tray, Jeremy Trumbull stared at the other missive he’d received. The one that had made his heart stop.
“You should check in at Hawkins’ Infirmary, Harley Street. That is where your wife was taken after her accident. You have received your last warning.”
He took a ragged breath.
“No, Smithson. I’m leaving on personal business now. That will be all.”
Jeremy watched the man retreat, noted the shuffling gait, made a mental note to advertise for a younger clerk, then went quietly insane.
I have to admit, I thought this was a little odd, and that’s what made me pick it. Certainly the last thing I expected was for this man to “go quietly insane,” but that’s enough to make me want to read more. The note seems pretty straightforward, so what about it sent him over the edge and what is going to happen to the wife now?
Anonymous — Her Lover’s Keeper
Even after twenty years, London still stank. Diana Randall von Ulrich wrinkled her nose. The stench of urine and feces, of rotting corpses and food, and of innumerable fires belching their noxious coal fumes wafted into the hired coach as it lumbered through the slums clustered near the Thames.
She had never expected to return. After fifteen years of living in the sparkling splendor of Lake Como, she had stopped wishing to return. Had long ago stopped wishing she could erase the crime that had banished her from the bosom of her family and country.
My only concern with this one is that the voice feels more contemporary than historical, and that makes me a tad worried. Other than that though I love the setup. A return to any city is always interesting since the reader gets to see it in a new way, through the eyes of someone who doesn’t look at it daily. And of course learning why she decided to return and seeing what she’s up against really has my attention.
Renee — The Guardian’s Angel
Lady Anne Wharton squirmed against the threadbare bench of the coach. Each rut in the road forced her closer to a precarious situation. Under normal circumstances she would have traveled in finer luxury.
Today, however, she was in the care of her future husband’s burly guard. And today, she was not Lady Anne Wharton, but Amelia Cutstwald unwashed and dressed in rough homespun garments, which chafed areas best left unmentioned. And today, even though she was every inch a well-bred lady she very much felt like the harlot she was supposed to be.
I guess Jessica’s fascination with loose women rubbed off on me a bit, because I was very intrigued as to why this woman was posing as a “harlot.” There are a lot of questions raised by this short excerpt. Who is this future husband she’s promised to? Why is she hiding her true identity? And will she be able to pull the charade off? I’d keep reading to find out.
Anonymous 11:03 pm
“Pretend you are dead,” a deep voice said near her ear as she stepped from the back staircase.
Across the room, a furious pounding shook the only door of the inn’s private dining room.
“Drop to the floor. Now!” Strong hands gripped her arms and roughly shoved her down.
Her knees buckled, hitting cold stone. The force jolted her entire body, gnashing her teeth.
The door flew open, crashing against the wall as two men entered.
Men with pistols.
Alexandra Gaville hurriedly flattened to the pavers. The sudden smell of stale ale mixed with rotting meat filled her nostrils.
I love that we’re placed square in the middle of a very suspenseful scene. And I can’t wait to find out more about the heroine’s savior with the deep voice. The action is described perfectly, with just enough description to set the scene and keep the fast pace. Well done!
As we mentioned before, Jessica and I were very impressed with this batch of entries. You all did a fantastic job! If you think we might be the right fit, please do query us even if you weren’t one of our picks. It’s tough to judge on just 100 words.
Thanks again to all the participants!