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Is a Publishing War Brewing?

Dear Mr. Clemens,

I write to request your assistance in correcting a grievous wrong. Your publication is highly regarded in all circles and any cause you endorse must be regarded as just, right and worthy of action. The wrong against which I need your assistance is the devious and unprincipled revelation of a character’s life story without requesting permission from the character so revealed. This heinous invasion of privacy has happened to every character I know and even to some ‘real’ persons who have suffered the embarrassing and often difficult consequences of unauthorized biography.

One Night's Desire by Rue Allyn

This is the book in which Ms. Allyn cruelly details the demise of my family and my testimony against my father.

My own case is typical, and I along with all the private details of my life will soon be exposed. Thus, I use my experience as an example of the outrageous lengths to which these invasive authors will go.

My name is Elise Van Demer—yes, that Elise Van Demer. I am indeed the woman who as an innocent and untried girl on the cusp of adulthood reported to the law her own father as a liar, cheat, thief, and murderer.** My public involvement in that scandal was unavoidable. I was after all a witness to his crimes and swore testimony in a court of law, which placed every detail of that humiliating experience on public record. Public record, mind you, which is no invasion of privacy no matter how mortifying the details.

Also a matter of public record is the fact that my father subsequently and spitefully disowned me and denied me my birthright. He actually imagined that I was in the wrong to report his crimes. Confessing that a parent, an individual who is supposedly an example and protector, is a criminal of the worst sort is not an easy thing. There are characters who have tarred me with my father’s brush, and despite the unkind rumors they spread, I persevere in my attempts to restore my birthright and my good name.

As you can see even the public facts of a character’s life can be difficult. However, the sort of invasive authorship to which I firmly object and against which I seek your hearty endorsement involves the exposure of very private details to the reading public. The guilty party in my case is a Ms. Rue Allyn. She has a history of investigating the most intimate details in a character’s life then presenting those details to the public thinly disguised as a romantic novel. I say thinly disguised because she does not even bother to change the names to protect the innocent. Note, she had the gall recently to pen an article claiming that she herself chooses the names of the characters in her books. (https://wp.me/p2d2BX-CT). Balderdash. I know my name and knew it long before ever encountering this conscienceless female. But I digress.

ShAMEtext.

Kissing-Couple-Silhouette

The artist has more sensitivity than Ms. Allyn and refused to show our faces when he captured this moment of passion between Boyd and me.

To continue my example, I have worked very hard to erase the name of Elise Van Demer from the memories of characters throughout the world and most especially in the Wyoming territories. I have managed to disguise myself as a muleskinner (no one would expect delicately reared Ms. Elise Van Demer to be driving a mule team that hauls necessities to outlying Wyoming ranches and farms). This disguise has allowed me to remain in Wyoming, developing helpful connections, and gathering resources and information with the purpose of regaining my birthright. However, along comes Ms. Allyn, poking her authorial nose in where it most definitely does not belong. (Can you imagine, she even discovered intimate details, physical details, regarding my relationship with former Pinkerton agent, Boyd Alvarez.) She is ruining everything.

MULEteam

I include this image to prove to you and your readers that I know whereof I speak regarding mules and driving mule teams.

For myself, my only hope is that she is unable to publish her insidious narrative before I accomplish my goals. That has been the saving grace for most of my character friends. Ms. Allyn is no fly-by-night author. She is meticulous, if invasive, in her research, thus causing much delay in the publication of her supposed novels. I am now in a race to succeed with my plans before she can expose me and ruin all that I hope for.

You may ask why I reveal so much to you and your readers, if I still have a chance for happiness before Ms Allyn publishes her torrid tale? My purpose is to warn the public that thousands of unprincipled authors like Ms. Allyn exist. They must be stopped. Also, I regret to say, that while the Teatime Tattler is very popular in Wyoming Territory, we often receive copies six to twelve months after the periodical’s publication. I sincerely hope to have achieved all my aims before anyone in Wyoming can read this particular article.

Hopefully the experiences I’ve related will prompt you to wage war in print against authors such as Ms. Allyn, and gain respect for a character’s right to privacy.

*Note to the readers of the Teatime Tattler. In fairness, I have offered Ms. Allyn the opportunity to rebut Ms. Van Demer’s claims and will publish said rebuttal as soon as I may receive it.

**Ms. Van Demer’s involvement in her father’s trial is detailed in a novel by Ms. Rue Allyn titled One Night’s Desire which can be found at various retailers most notably, Amazon along with all of Ms. Allyn’s other currently available novels.Author Rue Allyn Head Shot

About Rue Allyn:  Award winning author, Rue Allyn, learned story telling at her grandfather’s knee. (Well it was really more like on his knee—I was two.) She’s been weaving her own tales ever since. She has worked as an instructor, mother, sailor, clerk, sales associate, and painter, along with a variety of other types of employment. She has lived and traveled in places all over the globe from Keflavik Iceland (I did not care much for the long nights of winter.) and Fairbanks Alaska to Panama City and the streets of London England to a large number of places in between. Now that her two sons have left the nest, Rue and her husband of more than four decades (Try living with the same person for more than forty years—that’s a true adventure.) have retired and moved south.

When not writing, learning to play new games, (I’m starting to learn Bridge) and working jigsaw puzzles, Rue travels the world and surfs the internet in search of background material and inspiration for her next heart melting romance. She loves to hear from readers, and you may contact her at contact@RueAllyn.com She can’t wait to hear from you.

What Rue likes best about the belles is their can-do spirit. This group isn’t afraid to try anything the publishing world can dish out. The only other place I’ve found such completely supportive energy is with my fellow sisters-in-arms, the RomVets.

An Interview with Mrs. Barlow

Susana’s time-traveling Regency lady, Lady Pendleton, came down with a stomach ailment and was unable to travel to Oxfordshire to complete the series of interviews she agreed to before returning to the 21st century. (Prior to that, however, she did manage to interview Jane Livingston the hero’s sister, while they were both enjoying the Little Season in London.) And she somehow contrived to send Mrs. Barlow, Lucy’s mother, to Susana at her winter home in Florida for a brief interview. Susana is determined that someday she’s going to find out how Lady P manages to do these things.

Susana: Welcome to Florida, Mrs. Barlow. I hope you enjoy your stay. May I offer you some refreshments?

Mrs. Barlow: [looking around her in wonder] No thank you, Miss Ellis. My stomach is still a bit queasy from the journey.

Susana: Oh dear, I hope you are not coming down with the same ailment that has sidelined my friend Lady Pendleton.

Mrs. Barlow: Lady Pendleton? Oh yes, the woman who sent me here. She’s a bit-er-eccentric, is she not?

Susana: [hiding a smile] Indeed she is, Mrs. Barlow. But kindhearted and quite harmless, really.

Mrs. Barlow: [looking relieved] I’m glad to hear it, Miss Ellis. This is all quite a shock, you know. She said you wished to inquire about my daughter Lucy?

Susana: Er, yes. It’s research for a story I’m writing. I understand you have five daughters?

Mrs. Barlow: [Sighing] Indeed I do. Five daughters to marry off and no sons.

Susana: And Lucy is the eldest?

Mrs. Barlow: Yes, she is already eight and ten years of age and of an age to make her bow to Society, but unfortunately, her father and I have not the means to stake her. [Shaking her head] A house in London with servants is enormously expensive. We cannot even stand the cost of providing her with a suitable wardrobe. [Sighing] It is very sad, really. Lucy is a delightful girl who would be a splendid wife, but there are few eligible gentlemen here in Charlbury.

Susana: I understand the young man next door recently returned from service in the Peninsula. Livingston, I believe. Andrew Livingston. Could he be a prospect, do you think?

Mrs. Barlow: [Sighing deeply] No, unfortunately he’s betrothed to some London chit. Since before he took up his colors two years ago. I suppose they’ll be marrying posthaste now that he’s returned. A shame really, because Lucy has always had a tendre for him. The Livingstons are an unexceptionable family and quite well-to-heel, and it would be a great thing if Lucy were to be settled so near, but no, he’s never seen Lucy as anything but a child.

Susana: What a conundrum! Are there no other ways for young ladies to meet eligible gentlemen in the country?

Mrs. Barlow: Occasionally, someone’s cousin or nephew comes to town for a visit, but there are few eligibles in that lot. There are assemblies, of course. Oh, that reminds me. [Perking up] There was a quite agreeable viscount at the last assembly who seemed quite taken with Lucy. He danced twice with her. Perhaps he will come to call soon. Oh my, that would be a marvelous thing for my girls! To have their sister a viscountess who can sponsor them in London when the time comes! I must urge Lucy to encourage him!

Susana: Was she equally taken with him, then?

Mrs. Barlow: [shrugging] These things resolve themselves over time. I don’t believe she was repulsed by him. He looked well enough, for an older gentleman, and his manners were unexceptionable. It is said that he was a considerate husband to his late wife, and seems to be devoted to his three daughters.

Susana: Oh, he’s a widower. No doubt looking for a mother for his daughters.

Mrs. Barlow: And an heir, of course. He still needs a son to inherit the title, and Lucy is young enough to manage that.

Susana: [Doubtfully] I suppose so, and yet—one could wish a love match for her.

Mrs. Barlow: [Stiffening] Lucy is a practical girl, and not at all the sort to waste time dreaming of the impossible. She will make a wonderful wife and mother and take great pleasure in using her elevated circumstances to assist her sisters.

Susana: I’m sure she will, Mrs. Barlow. I did not mean to imply otherwise. Please forgive me if I offended you.

Mrs. Barlow: [Relaxing] Of course. I’m afraid this is a topic about which Mr. Barlow and I frequently cross swords. He says Lucy is still young and will find her own way. But he’s never been the most practical man, and I suspect he’d be just as glad to have all of them at home with us forever.

Susana: An indulgent father then. [Glances at the clock]. Oh dear, it’s almost time for our visit to end. I wonder if you’d like to take a walk around the park, Mrs. Barlow. It’s such a lovely day, and you might enjoy the flora and fauna here in central Florida. Perhaps we’ll even see an alligator in the lake.

Mrs. Barlow: An alligator! Goodness!

Susana: From a distance, of course. But there are palm trees and snake birds, and plenty of sun to warm you before you go back to chilly England

Mrs. Barlow: [shivering] Chilly indeed! The weather has been exceptionally cold this year. By all means, let us walk a bit in the sunshine.

And so ends the interview. It may interest you to know that the winter of 1813-1814, when A Twelfth Night Tale takes place, was one of the coldest on record, so much so that in February the Thames froze and a frost fair was held for four days, during which an elephant was led across the river under Blackfriars Bridge.

Leah Barlow

Introducing Mrs. Barlow

Mrs. Leah Barlow, mother of five lovely daughters herself, has graciously condescended to provide Susana’s Parlour (see today’s post here) with some of her tasteful advisements on housewifely matters, such as meal planning and the rearing of children, in hopes that our readers will find them informative. Having recently set up a Twitter account where she will be sharing her most treasured household tips, she hopes many of you will follow her: https://twitter.com/lucybarlowsmom

Much of her advice comes from this manual, which she insists should be in every housewife’s possession:

The Cook and Housewife’s Manual, Containing the Most approved Modern Receipts for Making Soups, Gravies, Sauces, Regouts, and All Made-dishes; and for Pies, Puddings, Pickles, and Preserves; Also, for Baking Brewing, Making Home-made Wines, Cordials, &c.

Mrs. Margaret Dods (Christian Isobel Johnstone), Edinburgh, 1826

Available free on Google

About A Twelfth Night Tale

Without dowries or the opportunity to meet eligible gentlemen, the five Barlow sisters stand little chance of making advantageous marriages. When Lucy, the eldest, attracts the attention of a wealthy viscount, she knows she should encourage his attentions, since marriage to a peer will be advantageous to all. The man of her dreams was Andrew Livingston, her best friend’s brother. But he’s always treated her like a child, and now he’s betrothed to another. Perhaps the time has come to accept reality… and Lord Bexley.

Andrew returned from the Peninsular War with a lame arm and emotional scars. Surprisingly, it’s his sister’s friend, “little Lucy”—now a strikingly lovely young woman—who shows him the way out of his melancholy. But with an eligible viscount courting her, Andrew will need a little Christmas magic to win her for himself.

Amazon • iBooks • Kobo • Nook

Heard on the Boardwalk of Camp Floyd

Camp Floyd, Utah, 1860

“Did you hear about the other night at the saloon?” Miss Mora whispered, then forced a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes at a tall, dark, and handsome passing them on the boardwalk.

“No, whatever happened?” Miss Alamander, dressed in blue, sidled closer to her friend, if you could call her that, and together they took refuge behind her fan. Miss Mora’s lips made a moue at the back of the man who had just passed them without sparing the ladies, in their glittering (if slightly stained) dresses, another glance.

“I’d gone with Mr. Sorley for an evening of fun and cards at his cabin, entertaining him and his friends,” Miss Mora gave the other woman a wicked smile, “and—“

“I’ll bet you made a pretty penny for that night’s work,” Miss Alamander cut in, her lips tight.

She just smirked.

“Okay.” The woman in blue crossed her arms and waited, but Miss Mora just stood with one brow raised. Her curiosity eventually got the better of her, even over her annoyance at Miss Mora’s good fortune at the potential expense of hers. “What happened?” she finally asked.

“You wouldn’t think it, would you, but that big blond brute of a man, Jackson—”

“Yes?” she breathed, egging Miss Mora on.

“If you’d let me finish,” she harrumphed, “Jackson stumbled into the saloon late last night, drunk as a skunk, and…” She broke off and smiled over her fan at a man passing by, then resumed, “he stormed across the room toward this boy, and he so young he hadn’t a hair on his face.”

“And…?”

“Well, the young lad had his hat on, a big ten-galón hat, you know, like the caballeros from Mexico wear?”

“Get on with it,” Miss Alamander said crossly. We don’t have all day.” She smiled at a filthy man riding his horse past them, his stench following him, and swallowed hard.

“That boy, he got the best of him!” Miss Mora whispered.

Miss Alamander looked up from the blue bodice that just barely covering her bosom and blinked. “But no one gets the best of Mr. Jackson! That’s impossible, how did he do it?” She hissed as Miss Mora turned away from her to make eyes at a man walking down the street leading his mules not a yard away from them.

The gentleman’s accoutrements bespoke his success in the goldfields—not only his exquisite, if dusty, clothing, but the fine wood and leather cases piled high over his pickaxes, shovels, and pans. His waistcoat alone must have cost more than her wages for a month. She gulped and took a breath deep enough to nearly bust herself out of her bodice, but he never looked her way as Miss Mora strode boldly toward him.

“And how might you be today, sir?” she asked him in a throaty tone, somehow wiggling her top half at the same time she floated off the boardwalk and through the mud.

“All the better for seeing you,” he said, with a chuckle. “Will you ladies be here long?”

At least this time, he included Miss Alamander in his glance.

“That depends upon what you have in mind, sir,” Miss Mora continued, as she slithered up to him and stood between him and Miss Alamander, as if on purpose. Her gliding was made all the more difficult by the half-foot of slop which the locals deigned to call a “street” here in Camp Floyd. The soldiers didn’t seem to mind, but the ladies did.

“What do you say you come along with me for awhile,” he said, then nodded at Miss Alamander, still standing on the boards, “and then you can rejoin your friend afterward?”

The woman in blue took a deep breath and unclenched her hands and smoothed the silk down over her abdomen and joined them demurely before her. She gritted her teeth and forced a smile at him, then turned to face the other men passing her by as the stores closed for the day.

No one was up for a tussle at this early hour, at least the locals, and the soldiers would be at their mess up at the fort, so Miss Alamander cooled her heels for what seemed a month and fought back a smile.

This was going to be fun.

She schooled her features to look impatient as Miss Mora finally returned, a bit less tidy than when she’d left. She was missing a few hairpins, but wore a big smile. She jingled as she hopped up onto the boardwalk.

“So stop looking like the cat that ate the cream,” Miss Alamander said, pursing her lips, “and tell me! How did a mere boy best big old Jackson, especially when he was in his cups?”

“He cut him.” Miss Mora gave her a sideways smile. “Jackson stormed toward him, and you know how big he is, but this boy, his waist no bigger around than that brute’s leg, just stood up at his table, cool as a cucumber, knocked his glass on a table, even with his arms held behind his back by one of Jackson’s henchmen, and cut him. Sliced his arms and then those of the despicable man behind him, and bolted out the door! No one’s seen the boy since.”

“No.” Miss Alamander did her best to look shocked, but it would be nothing to what she was about to see on her friend’s face. She couldn’t wait.

“Yes,” Miss Mora said, nodding her head emphatically.

“You don’t say,” Miss Alamander said. “Now I remember. I heard something about that… I heard it wasn’t a boy at all… it was a girl!

Miss Mora’s chin dropped until it came to rest on her ample and exposed bosom. For once, she was speechless.

Wow, what a woman, if it was one! Who could she be? You’ll have to read A Long Trail Rolling to find out!

About the Book

Camp Floyd

A Long Trail Rolling

She didn’t expect to become a target…but she is one now.

Just orphaned, Aleksandra holds the family secret her father died for. She hides by joining the Pony Express as a boy, where an alluring Californio sees through her guise and offers help—and more.

Xavier’s conviction that women cannot be trusted is deeply rooted in the reasons he left his birthright. But Alex is like no woman he has ever met.

With the killer getting closer and an Indian war brewing, Alex and Xavier must decide whom they can trust, and what they really want.

Lizzi is one of the newest Bluestocking Belles!

Lizzi

A Long Trail Rolling is the first book in

The Long Trails series, out now!

Find the book here:

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The Marquess’s Misalliance

Marquess WeddingExtract from the diary of Lady Caroline Chantry, sister to Giles, Marquess of Huntercombe. November 1803

Dear Diary,

What a dreadful day! I write in absolute outrage. I have had no time to write the past two days, but after dear Letty and I had gone to so much trouble to furnish Giles with a list of perfectly eligible brides, our fool of a brother has married, actually married that dreadful creature who called herself Lady Emma Lacy. Well, it appears poor Lord Peter Lacy did make an honest woman of her, but no one can possibly have forgotten that she jilted Sir Augustus Bolt at the very steps of the altar eleven years ago, having refused to say her vows and walked out of the church. And she was seen not moments later embracing Lord Peter on the very steps of St George’s and leaving with him! One would hope the son of a duke would have known better than to become entangled with such a mi. Of course her family cast her off and poor Lord Peter had to drop out of society completely. No doubt he regretted making such a fool of himself before he died!

But unfortunately he did die, and this is the woman my poor brother has been hoodwinked into marrying. Worse, he has made an enemy of the wretched woman’s erstwhile father-in-law, the Duke of Keswick, by refusing to cede guardianship of the duke’s grandson and heir. We are given to understand that Emma had previously refused to hand the child over at Keswick’s very reasonable request and she had the gall to apply to my poor brother for help. She seems to believe that she has some right as a mother to be responsible for her own child. Fancy! A mere woman setting herself up above a duke! I think it very likely that she has been reading treasonous rubbish such as that dreadful Wollstonecraft woman’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, and so I shall warn Giles at the first opportunity!

Marquess WeddingMy poor, dear sister, Letty, and I attended the wedding at Huntercombe House only this morning. How I shall ever hold up my head again, I cannot say. But Giles has informed us that if we do not wish for a public breach we must recognise his bride and really, what choice do we have? But such a wedding! The bride’s father and mother were there, but did the poor Earl of Dersingham give his daughter away? He did not! Instead the bride’s children did so, if you please! I wonder the marriage can be considered legal with such a flagrant disregard for all decency. And all Giles would say when I mentioned it, and very tactfully! was that since Dersingham had apparently not shown up for Emma’s first wedding they had thought it wiser not to rely on him this time!

As if that were not scandal enough, the Duke of Keswick appeared at the last moment with his son, Lord Martin Lacy and a magistrate. I thought for a moment that they meant to forbid the marriage, but sadly it was not to be. Giles remembered his manners for long enough to bid them welcome and they sat down at the back. I believe Giles had some discussion with his grace afterwards, but apparently he has insisted on retaining guardianship of the two children. Really, it would be much more the thing if the boy and his sister were raised by their father’s family. Especially since the boy is now Keswick’s heir. It is none of Giles’s business after all. And as for the girl I consider her to be a pert little minx, and all the better for a sharp set-down and some discipline! But what can you expect when her mother defies all authority and sets up to know better than her own father and father-in-law.

I can only pray that my poor brother does not come quickly to realise his mistake, but I fear he is in for a sad disappointment and that we can expect nothing but sorrow and scandal from this appalling mesalliance.

Marquess WeddingAbout the Book: His Convenient Marchioness

After the loss of his wife and children, the Marquess of Huntercombe closed his heart to love. But now that he must marry to secure an heir, he’s determined that the beautiful, impoverished widow Lady Emma Lacy should be his…

Emma has vowed never to marry for money so must refuse him. But when her children’s grandfather sets to steal them away from her, she has no other option: she must become the marquess’s convenient bride!

https://www.amazon.com/His-Convenient-Marchioness-Lords-Altar/dp/1335051635

https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781488086434_his-convenient-marchioness.html

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/his-convenient-marchioness-elizabeth-rolls/1126552293

https://www.millsandboon.co.uk/p54418/his-convenient-marchioness.htm

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Convenient-Marchioness-Mills-Historical-Lords-ebook/dp/B073TRS6T7/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

About the Author

Elizabeth Rolls lives in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia in a valley of apple, pear and cherry orchards. She considers tea bags the work of the devil, and has what many consider far too many books along with three dogs and two cats. She enjoys cooking, reading, walking the dogs and sampling the offerings of local wine makers.

http://www.elizabethrolls.com/books.html

 

A Famous Artist Asks For Help

Dear Mr. Clemens,

Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun. A self-portrait. The late 18th-early 19th century French portrait painter was one of Marie-Antoinette’s favourite court painters

I am writing to ask if you will lend your considerable influence as one of society’s leading doyen in sponsoring a talented young artist I have taken a liking to.

Miss Laura Cappleman, you may have heard, made a successful debut in the Season of 1814, but the events after that time have been largely tragic.

You might think it quite selfish of me to make light of the poor girl’s misfortune, but it seems to have quite the unexpected outcome.

You see, her experience has made her art one of a kind. When she paints scenes of the Oriental marketplaces of Africa or of life inside the Ottoman harem, one is utterly transported.

One can feel the beating heat of the sun, smell the pungent aroma of the spices, shudder the menace of the large eunuchs and their scimitars, be awe-struck by the opulence inside these pleasure palaces.

Miss Cappleman knows these places first hand. If her name didn’t ring a bell when I first mentioned it, I’m sure you remember hearing about her abduction in August of 1814 at the hands of white slavers. It was covered in The Times.

The story of her rescue two years later is one of the most remarkable tales I’ve heard. I’m trying to persuade her to draw on her experience more to create great art for the world to see.

The Royal Academy summer exhibition is the perfect opportunity for this young lady to make a debut of another sort – a launch into the artworld which is her due.

A word in the ear of the Royal Academy directors and sponsors to consider this impressive young artist would be considered a personal favour.

Yours,
Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun

Revenge of the Corsairs

Madame Vigée-Le Brun stood in front of the still life. She pulled a small pince-nez from her reticule to take a close look. After a minute or two, the great French artist left that painting without comment and examined the portrait of Victoria.

Pull yourself together, Laura! If she were to enter the Royal Academy’s exhibition, her works would be judged worthy or wanting in a heartbeat. If she were to exhibit at all, many people would be staring at her work. Yet this somehow, seemed different.

After a length of time, the French woman looked up from the portrait and spoke. “I understand from your sister-in-law that you have returned to England only recently.”

“Yes. I spent time abroad.”

“Did you do anything? Did you see anything?”

Laura’s mouth dried. “I, ah, I mean, I spent time in Sicily and…”

The artist removed the glasses. “And you experienced nothing?”

“I beg your pardon?”

The older woman let out a long, put-upon sigh. “All I see is practiced technique, adequate color choice, and a schoolgirl’s sensibilities.”

Laura couldn’t help the gasp that escaped her mouth.

“I’m sure you are a delight to your friends and family, who no doubt praise you endlessly, but I am not here to coddle or to give you false flattery. I do not see the soul of an artist in these paintings.”

Laura fought a trembling of shame, and fear, and disappointment. It was a small miracle she was able to reply, “Then I am sorry to have wasted your time, Madame.”

The woman shrugged. “I said I would look at your works and I will.”

The third painting, she studied for a few seconds; the fourth, the landscape, received nothing more than a cursory glance. “I spent three years in Rome, I was inducted into the Accademia di San Luca,” she continued conversationally, either unaware or unconcerned Laura’s hope had turned to dust.

“How very nice for you,” replied Laura, bitterness dripping from each word.

“What I am trying to say to you, ma fille, is your work seems utterly unmarked by your time abroad. That, I fear, makes you a dabbler, someone who pretends to be an artist. If you can live on La Méditerranée and not be influenced by such histoire, people, and surroundings, then I’m afraid you will be nothing more than a very little talent.”

Laura looked down. Her knuckles were white, but her face, she was sure, was puce. Her disappointment of a few moments ago was now a rage. How dare that woman say she was unmarked!

“How dare you?” she repeated out loud, unaware Madame Vigée-Le Brun had approached her final painting.

“You have no idea what happened to me there. No idea! I have been scarred to the depths of my soul. I was seized and imprisoned for nearly two years in an Ottoman harem. I was violated repeatedly by a man who had the power of life and death over me. The only good thing I have left is painting. Can you blame me for not wanting it tainted?”

When she looked up, Madame Vigée-Le Brun was not looking at her; she peered instead at the last painting, the Tunisian market scene. “La! That is it – c’est de cela que je parlais!”

Her face animated, the woman turned the easel around so the canvas faced them both. Laura could feel the desert heat of its colors from where she stood.

“You are afraid of this beast that is locked in your breast? Let it out, my dear! You cannot hide from it! I see hints of it in this painting here. In this work, I begin to see the world as you see it.”

Revenge of the Corsairs out now exclusive to Amazon

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