Depending on who you asked, you’d get very different answers. And over the months to come, as the release date for A Night to Surrender approaches, I hope to give you readers more information about the village and its inhabitants, so you can form your own ideas.
In the meantime, I’ll offer you two competing points of view on this tiny seaside village.
The female perspective, provided by heroine Susanna Finch:
In recent years, Spindle Cove had become the seaside destination of choice for a certain type of well-bred young lady: the sort no one knew what to do with. They included the sickly, the scandalous, and the painfully shy; young wives disenchanted with matrimony and young girls too enchanted with the wrong men . . . All of them delivered here by the guardians to whom they presented problems, in hopes that the sea air would cure them of their ills.
As the only daughter of the only local gentleman, Susanna was the village hostess by default. These awkward young ladies no one knew what to do with . . . she knew what to do with them. Or rather, she knew what not to do with them. No “cures” were necessary. They didn’t need doctors pressing lancets to their veins, or finishing school matrons harping on their diction. They just needed a place to be themselves.
Spindle Cove was that place.
And here we have an alternate male view, as described to hero Victor (“Bram”) Bramwell, the new Earl of Rycliff. Bram’s just been charged with forming a local militia, and his cousin Colin is being… Well, Colin is being Colin, as you’ll understand when you read the book.
Blast. This day had not gone as planned. By this time, he was supposed to be well on his way to the Brighton Barracks, preparing to leave for Portugal and rejoin the war. Instead, he was . . . an earl, suddenly. Stuck at this ruined castle, having pledged to undertake the military equivalent of teaching nursery school. And to make it all worse, he was plagued with lust for a woman he couldn’t have. Couldn’t even touch, if he ever wanted his command back.
As if he sensed Bram’s predicament, Colin started to laugh.
“What’s so amusing?”
“Only that you’ve been played for a greater fool than you realize. Didn’t you hear them earlier? This is Spindle Cove, Bram. Spindle. Cove.”
“You keep saying that like I should know the name. I don’t.”
“You really must get around to the clubs. Allow me to enlighten you. Spindle Cove—or Spinster Cove, as we call it—is a seaside holiday village. Good families send their fragile-flower daughters here for the restorative sea air. Or whenever they don’t know what else to do with them. My friend Carstairs sent his sister here last summer, when she grew too fond of the stable boy.”
“And so . . . ?”
“And so, your little militia plan? Doomed before it even starts. Families send their daughters and wards here because it’s safe. It’s safe because there are no men. That’s why they call it Spinster Cove.”
“There have to be men. There’s no such thing as a village with no men.”
“Well, there may be a few servants and tradesmen. An odd soul or two down there with a shriveled twig and a couple of currants dangling between his legs. But there aren’t any real men. Carstairs told us all about it. He couldn’t believe what he found when he came to fetch his sister. The women here are man-eaters.”
Bram was scarcely paying attention. He focused his gaze to catch the last glimpses of Miss Finch as her figure receded into the distance. She was like a sunset all to herself, her molten bronze hair aglow as she sank beneath the bluff’s horizon. Fiery. Brilliant. When she disappeared, he felt instantly cooler.
And then, only then, did he turn to his yammering cousin. “What were you saying?”
“We have to get out of here, Bram. Before they take our bollocks and use them for pincushions.”
So there you have it. Spindle Cove is a place of differing opinions, and they frequently divide along gender lines. The series kicks off with A Night to Surrender, a steamy, humorous, Regency-set “battle of the sexes”–coming to a store near you on August 30, 2011. Check back for more excerpts and info in months to come!