Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Surprise Agent Invasion #46

Genre: (Regency Era) Historical Romance
Word Count:  91,000 


Straight-laced, devoted daughter and self-proclaimed spinster, Lily Phillips is forced to become a liar, seductress and thief to retrieve her family’s lost property.  Her secret is safe until her brothers order her from a quiet life in Whitby to an arranged marriage in London—a move that threatens to reveal her past when she encounters the man with whom her crime spree began.
Devon Grey, Duke of Thornwood, known to all of London as the Mad Duke, is an explorer chained to a city he hates by the title he never wanted.  After he’s coerced by his friend into an evening out, Devon makes his greatest discovery yet.  There, in a London ballroom stands the prim miss he’s searched for since that night a year ago.  After all, how could he forget the night Lily stole from him, vanishing while he slept?
Determined to have his revenge, Devon blackmails Lily into participating in various escapades to torment her would-be suitors and scandalize London society.  At the risk of having her secret revealed, Lily bends to Devon’s will.  Forced to participate in such terrible activities as setting hunting dogs upon a skirt chaser’s crotch in the middle of a ballroom, or knocking a pompous horse breeder from his much revered high horse; she eventually begins to enjoy the stunts.   Lily remembers why she let her guard down with Devon a year ago.  In turn, Devon watches this mysterious Lily begin to bloom into the woman of his desires.
Will Devon burn his dreams of scientific exploration and truly forgive Lily in time to save her from the unwanted betrothal her brothers are forcing upon her? Will Lily abandon her need to be proper and honor her family in order to accept the Mad Duke into her life? 
When Lily stole from Devon, she stole his heart.  But, can love be stolen?
I’m a PRO member of Romance Writers of America, as well as Carolina Romance Writers.  If you would like to read more about Devon and Lily, I would be delighted to send you a partial or the full manuscript.  I appreciate your time and consideration regarding my work and look forward to your response.

First 250:

London, England
Spring, 1815
Devon paused to allow a carriage to pass.  He felt a heat spread across his back.  Someone was watching him. 
Turning, he cast a quick glance down the street toward Habersham’s shop.  He would not be at all surprised to see old man Habersham running after him to continue their chat of the Mad Duke’s antics.  Yet all that met his eyes were a group of austere looking ladies ordering some poor footman to load their packages into a carriage. 
Then, he noticed a set of lady’s boots scurry around them before disappearing behind a food vendor.
He was being ridiculous, why would anyone be following him?  He shook off the thought and continued down the street.  The clean buildings of Bond Street began to diminish, making way for simple shops, taverns and the occasional brothel.  The crowded street thinned and the people traversing the area now were common folk out running errands.  A comfortable feeling of peace filled Devon as he left the trappings of wealth behind, favoring the simplicity of a society revolving around trade.  It was as if two separate worlds inhabited the city.  Right now, he wanted nothing to do with the world to which he belonged. 
Moving onto a side street, he strode into the shadows of stone buildings that grew closer together as he progressed.  He had just rounded another corner when he heard footsteps at his back.  It was never a good sign to be followed in this section of town.  It had only taken losing all the money in his pocket one time to discover the truth of that sentiment. 
He spun, determined to catch whoever it was off guard.  The only movement that met his eyes was the swirling edge of a blue dress as it whipped around a corner.


  1. I enjoyed much of the premise of your story. Coercing Lily into participating in (mostly) harmless hijinks that bring out a different side of her is a delightful and humorous way of developing both her character and the romance.

    I wasn't fond of him thinking of himself in the third person (the Mad Duke), even if it's rather a persona he dons for his own amusement or just the way he's perceived. It also wasn't a developed-enough thought (his antics, his 'Mad Duke' nickname) to gain you anything here since that train of thought is immediately dropped, so I'd either leave that for later, or give it more in-depth treatment (overhear the prim and proper ladies discussing him, etc).

    You start off with a sense that he's being watched, then jump to he's being followed. But nowhere do you suggest the following part. So make the connection. It also seems that as he travels from the busy Bond Street into a less-distinguished neighborhood, you may seem a diminution of foot traffic, but then it would pick back up again as you get into the densely-packed disreputable neighborhoods? It sounds, from the 'this section of town' description, that he's wandering in a pretty dicey neighborhood. How far, exactly has he walked and why? Just getting away from wealth seems a little gratuitous.

    I also couldn't understand why he couldn't pursue his scientific interests. Weren't most of the great British explorers from the aristocracy? So lay out carefully why he's so 'stuck' in London now, and why would marrying Lily destroy any dreams of exploration?

  2. I'm intrigued by this premise and I'd love to see a bit. Please send the first three chapters by attachment to Nephele[dot]Tempest[at]knightagency[dot]net. Thanks!