Guest post from Pamela Sherwood:
Thank you for hosting me today, ELF!
In Which the Course of True Love Fails to Run Smooth--And Thereby Hangs a Tale
by Pamela Sherwood
A second chance at love is one of my favorite romance themes, right up there with friends to lovers and partners in crime. Because most of us probably have had a relationship in our past that didn’t work out the way we hoped, about which we’ve wondered: “What if?” What if we’d been older and wiser, what if we hadn’t had that stupid misunderstanding, what if we hadn’t let someone come between us, what if we’d taken another path?
Second chance romances are all about the road not taken. And about trying to fix something that went wrong in the past. Whether the original split occurred because of misunderstandings, interlopers, or just damned bad luck, the estranged couple receives the rare opportunity to reclaim their lost happiness . . . if they have the courage to fight for it and for each other.
I didn’t know what Robin and Sophie’s story would be when I first introduced them as supporting characters in my first book, Waltz with a Stranger. What I did know was that Sophie was young, idealistic, and deep in the throes of her first serious attachment. And that Robin had a number of secrets that made him a less than ideal matrimonial prospect. When I began resolving the various complications in Waltz with a Stranger, I left Robin and Sophie’s situation open-ended. The potential for a future happy ending was there . . . and so were the seeds for disaster.
And there was the plot for my next book right in front of me. A plot that would allow both characters to grow, mature, and even suffer in the cause of true love. That would put them through hell and bring them out the other side, stronger and more determined to be together. That would make them understand on a visceral level just what it takes for a relationship to succeed against the odds: mutual trust, commitment, and teamwork.
Getting to that point with Robin and Sophie was almost as hard on me as it was on them. For one thing, I discovered early on that their love story needed to unfold in a nonlinear manner, that I would have to alternate between the past and the present to give the most complete picture of their relationship, to illustrate the reasoning behind their choices, and to show the contrast between them then and now. The process wasn’t smooth by any means, full of stops and starts as I mapped my couple’s emotional trajectory. But by the time I wrestled it into submission, I felt that I had a story that might just strike a chord with anyone who’s ever loved, lost, and longed for a second chance to make things right.
Late in England’s Victorian age, the world is changing–new freedoms, new ideas, and perhaps a chance for an old love to be new again…
A love too strong to let go …
Aspiring singer Sophie Tresilian had the world at her feet–fame, fortune, and true love–until the man of her dreams broke her heart. Now she’s the toast of Europe, desired by countless men but unwilling to commit to any of them. Then Robin Pendarvis walks back into her life …
Four years ago, Rob had hoped to make Sophie his bride, but secrets from his past forced him to let her go. Seeing her again revives all the old pain–and all the old passion. It might be against every rule, but somehow, some way, he will bring them together again…
(Author’s Note: One of the most heart-stopping moments for me in any second chance at love story is the first meeting between the hero and heroine after the split. Especially when the circumstances dictate that they conduct themselves with discretion, even as their conflicting emotions--pain, passion, desire, anger--simmer and seethe below the surface. Here, after a triumphant performance at the Royal Albert Hall, Sophie comes face to face with Robin for the first time in four years.)
Like one in a trance, she watched him approach, cutting through the crowd with the swift, purposeful stride she had loved in him. A few of the fashionably dressed throng glanced at him in mingled curiosity and irritation, but none attempted to deter him. And then he was before her, close enough to touch if she stretched out her hand… as she must not do, lest she lose herself once more. Someone of her own, a voice half-wry, half-mocking whispered in her head. Except that he hadn’t been—or only for a little while.
His voice was the same, deep and resonant, its slight Cornish burr more of an intonation than an accent and much fainter than her own when she’d first come to London as a wide-eyed debutante. Nor did he look so different from the way he had four years ago. Thirty-one now, and no longer in his first youth. Perhaps a little leaner, with some faint lines about his eyes and mouth. But his dark-brown hair was still thick, his eyes still blue and piercing. A visionary’s eyes that saw how things might be and strove to transmute them into reality.
And how she’d loved that in him.
The only thing he hadn’t been able to envision, at the last, was a future for them, together. But that had been her decision as much as his. No rancor between them, ever—she’d been determined on that score—but regrets enough to last a lifetime, aching continually, like an old wound in inclement weather.
She was still staring, tongue-tied and transfixed. Remember who you are, Sophie told herself. If not a diva, she was still a professional singer of some note, no longer a schoolroom miss to be thrown into confusion by a chance encounter. Shaking off the paralysis, she swallowed dryly and managed to summon a response.
“Mr. Pendarvis. Good evening. You are looking very well.”
The angular planes of his face seemed to relax at her words. “As are you, Miss Tresilian, and sounding even better. Magnificent, in fact. I congratulate you.”
Sophie found she could smile, though the expression felt strange and unfamiliar on her face. “Thank you.”
His eyes warmed, their cool blue brightening to a hue that reminded her of a sunlit summer sky. “I can’t say that I’m surprised, however. I knew you were destined for a great future from the moment I first heard you sing.”
Memory stirred, seductive and dangerous as a siren’s song. “Thank you again,” Sophie said hurriedly, “but I still have so much to learn. I am… glad to see you here tonight. It’s always good to see a familiar face. What brings you to London?”
His face grew remote again. “Some business, of a personal nature.”
“I see.” Sophie tried to sound neutral. “Well, I am honored that you found the time to attend this concert.”
A smile softened his features. “I would not have missed it for the world.” He paused, his eyes intent on her face. “Miss Tresilian, I wondered if we might have a private word.”
Sophie felt her pulse quicken, along with a strange flutter of what was either excitement or apprehension just behind her midriff. “A private word?” she echoed faintly.
Robin nodded. “About something that may concern us both—”
He broke off, glancing over his shoulder as the hum of conversation around them suddenly intensified. Following the direction of his gaze, Sophie saw more visitors coming in. Soon it would be impossible for that private word, if it weren’t already. And from the look she saw on Robin’s face, he’d come to the same realization.
Turning back to her, he asked almost abruptly, “Miss Tresilian, do you still ride in the mornings?”
She moistened her lips. “I do. When I can, that is.”
“In Hyde Park?”
She nodded confirmation, aware of the press of people around them, the escalating buzz of countless voices praising, exclaiming, criticizing…
He leaned in, his voice pitched for her ears alone. “The Rotten Row, then? Between the hours of nine and ten o’clock?”
“Yes.” The lone syllable emerged more as a breath than as a word, but he appeared to have no difficulty hearing it.
He drew back, spoke in the same low tone. “Until then, Miss Tresilian.”
A sketch of a bow, then he was gone, threading his way through the crowd. Hemmed in by the throng, Sophie could only watch as he attained the doorway and disappeared through it.
As completely as he’d disappeared from her life four years ago.
Song at Twilight (Amazon buy link)
And don't forget the first book, Waltz With a Stranger
Waltz With a Stranger (Amazon buy link)
AUTHOR BIO AND LINKS
Pamela Sherwood grew up in a family of teachers and taught college-level literature and writing courses for several years before turning to writing full time. She holds a doctorate in English literature, specializing in the Romantic and Victorian periods, eras that continue to fascinate her and provide her with countless opportunities for virtual time travel. She lives in Southern California where she continues to write the kind of books she loves to read.
One lucky person in the U.S. or Canada will win a print copy of A Song at Twilight! Please leave a comment with a valid e-address and tell us what you love the most about historical romance and whether you have a favorite era. Winner will be chosen using random.org after October 19, 2013.