I am so thrilled to be able to welcome Author Katherine Longshore to the blog to share a few of her favorite scenes from MANOR OF SECRETS and to be able to kick off the MANOR OF SECRETS Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours.
I know exactly how the author feels when it comes to choosing favorites. If I was tasked with choosing only five, not only would there be at least ten favorites listed, but they’d likely change each day.
And if I had to choose my favorite of the five scenes she chose… well… I couldn’t do it.
While I, of course, love the scene that’s rather swoon-y, I can’t help but adore the ones that are telling about both Janie and Charlotte’s personalities. So there’s just no way I could single one out as a top favorite. Can you?
Anyway… MANOR OF SECRETS releases on Tuesday – that’s just one day away – so if you haven’t had the chance to read it early you’ll be able to grab a copy. And if you’re in the U.S. and you’d like the chance to win a signed copy, be sure to enter in the giveaway that’s included with this tour.
If you’d like to know more about the book and author, their information is included just a bit further below. But first let me turn the blog over to the author so you can check out the five scenes she has chosen to share and hear just why they’re scenes she enjoyed writing.
If you’re anything like me you won’t be able to choose a favorite.
The Guest Post
Katherine Longshore’s Top 5 Favorite Scenes
It’s so difficult for me to pick and choose a “favorite” anything. My lists of favorite movies and books changes daily, my favorite foods depend on cravings, and even my chocolate preferences are inconstant (though I generally feel the darker the better). So asking me my favorite scenes in one of my own books seems a choice of Herculean effort.
That said, here are some scenes from MANOR OF SECRETS that I had the most fun writing—in fact, the characters pretty much wrote themselves.
In this early scene, Charlotte and her friend Fran have found Janie, the kitchen maid, wading in the lake—when she’s supposed to be working—and Janie rushes off to avoid getting fired.
“Why don’t we do that?” Charlotte asked without thinking.
“Take our stockings off. Wade in the lake.”
Fran laughed. “You do have a fanciful imagination, Charlotte.”
Charlotte hesitated. “It looked . . . nice.”
“It’s mucky. And full of crawly things.”
Charlotte tried to smile. “Now who has the fanciful imagination?”
But something about the look on the kitchen maid’s face when she dipped her feet in the water wouldn’t leave her be. The possibility of adventure. Of relief. No matter how small.
“I think I’ll brave the crawly things,” Charlotte said, surprising herself.
Fran narrowed her eyes. “You are not a kitchen maid, Charlotte Edmonds.”
“You’re right,” Charlotte said, her conviction growing stronger. “I’m not. I don’t have a job I need to do.”
“Oh, yes, you do. Your job is to be hostess. To be at your mother’s side. You may not be making the finger sandwiches and pots of tea, but you have a job to do, just like she does.”
Charlotte hesitated. But only for an instant. Then she turned and walked down to the water.
“I can’t lose mine,” she called. Even if I wanted to.
For Janie, the most important thing in her world is keeping her job, and the only home she’s ever known. Something her new feelings for Harry, the hall boy, could put in jeopardy. But Harry knows how tenuous life for a servant is at The Manor.
“This house wouldn’t run without you, Harry Peasgood.”
Harry hefted a bucket of water onto the table. “I have no illusions of my importance here, Janie. Look at this.” He stuck his hand into the water and then looked up at her. “See my hand?”
“Of course, I do. It’s in my clean water.”
Harry didn’t laugh. He watched her as he drew his hand out of the bucket, making sure she saw what he was doing. “See that water? Think it notices my absence? Well, neither will anyone here.”
It was true the downstairs staff at The Manor changed regularly. Laundresses, kitchen maids, gardeners’ boys. They were invisible. Didn’t even have names — if Lady Charlotte wanted to call Janie Jenny, she’d be Jenny.
But Harry had been there for years. He’d opened the tradesman’s door to her when she’d arrived — half-starved and silent — returning to a birthplace she’d never seen and a mother she didn’t know. He was one of the reasons The Manor felt like home.
“I would notice,” Janie blurted.
Harry grinned. “Only because I wouldn’t be around to make your tea in the morning.”
This is one of the top contenders for my favorite scene in the whole book—it gives Charlotte a glimpse of the camaraderie downstairs and the reader insight into each of the characters. The kitchen has received some imported hot chilies, Charlotte has been dared—with the others—to taste one.
All of them were staring at her. As the person with most precedence, she should eat first. Or perhaps, this was what it felt like to be dared to do something. Charlotte looked down at the pepper in her fingers. The skin was almost waxy, the interior a lighter color, moist and threaded with little creases, speckled by tiny seeds.
She thought of what Janie had said, that the pepper set the tongue on fire. Her courage left her and she stared helplessly at the kitchen maid, hoping for reprieve.
“‘Cry God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’” Janie said and dropped the piece of pepper onto her tongue. Janie’s eyes watered, but she raised an eyebrow at Charlotte. A challenge.
Lawrence laughed and followed suit and Harry close after.
“Water,” Harry gasped and turned to the sink behind him, placing his entire mouth under the spigot. Janie laughed, her cheeks red and the tears streaming freely down her face.
Lawrence hiccupped, his lips pressed tightly together, his eyes squeezed shut. He hiccupped again.
Charlotte knew she’d never be accepted unless she tried this. She’d never be an adventurer — or even a writer — if she didn’t do things that frightened her. She had to prove her mettle if she ever wanted to ask Janie for help.
Charlotte put the piece of pepper in her mouth and chewed until it seemed the very sun of India burned bright upon her tongue.
Janie handed her a glass of milk and raised one of her own in a silent toast.
Charlotte smiled through the fire. “The game’s afoot,” she said.
She had passed the test.
Charlotte continues to visit the servants downstairs—appreciating what she perceives as their freedom. Until one night, the footman, Lawrence, invites her to dance.
When Lawrence stepped closer, Charlotte expected something extraordinary to happen. She expected thunder to sound. Or her mother to enter the room and scream the house down.
But all she felt was Lawrence’s confidence — his fingers gentle, but slightly rough at the edges, and the strength of his grasp.
When she felt his other hand on her waist, she was suddenly — painfully — aware that she hadn’t tightened her corset. That her skirt was merely pinned closed. That she could feel her clothes moving against her skin. She’d danced with boys before, of course. Under the watchful eye of her mother and the entire aristocratic circle of Kent and Sussex. She’d danced with her brothers and the local landowners and her father. She’d danced with Andrew Broadhurst.
But Andrew held her hand lightly, his fingers barely touching her waist as he methodically led her through the dance.
Lawrence held her hand firmly, his touch on her lower back sure and present, his fingers pressing her skin through the thin linen of her traveling jacket every time he steered her in another direction. Lawrence danced like he felt the music. He held her like he was sure she wouldn’t break.
He waltzed her around the table as if they were in an uncrowded ballroom, each turn bringing her another glimpse of the stove, the window, the sink, Janie. She had to move exactly as he wanted, follow his rhythm, his guidance.
This wasn’t a showy dance with quick turns. It didn’t cover a lot of ground. It wasn’t one where the girl could draw attention to the drape of her skirts or traverse an entire ballroom. It was intimate. Close.
Meanwhile, Janie is getting a taste of what it’s like to know her own mind, and a desire not to be treated as a second-class citizen…
Miss Caldwell stalked into the kitchen.
“You could show a little deference,” Miss Caldwell said. “Or don’t you think the rules apply to you?”
“I try my best, Miss Caldwell.” Janie laced her words with submissiveness but seethed inside.
“Well, you’ll have to try better than that,” Miss Caldwell hissed, looking ready to strike. “A good servant turns away from her betters when seeing them in the hall. A good servant is invisible. She doesn’t wear filthy kitchen clothes upstairs.”
Miss Caldwell flicked a hand toward Janie’s limp cap and stained apron.
“A good servant knows her place. She knows what’s wanted before anyone else. You should have had chocolate. Just in case.”
Janie stared at her silently.
“A good servant . . .” Miss Caldwell was right up in Janie’s face. “. . . does not raise her eyes to her mistress.”
Janie knew she should look down at her feet. At her hands clasped before her. She knew she should bow her head.
But she didn’t. Instead she looked Miss Caldwell directly in the eye.
“You are not my mistress.”
About Manor of Secrets
The year is 1911. And at The Manor, nothing is as it seems . . .
Lady Charlotte Edmonds: Beautiful, wealthy, and sheltered, Charlotte feels suffocated by the strictures of upper-crust society. She longs to see the world beyond The Manor, to seek out high adventure. And most of all, romance.
Janie Seward: Fiery, hardworking, and clever, Janie knows she can be more than just a kitchen maid. But she isn’t sure she possesses the courage — or the means — to break free and follow her passions.
Both Charlotte and Janie are ready for change. As their paths overlap in the gilded hallways and dark corridors of The Manor, rules are broken and secrets are revealed. Secrets that will alter the course of their lives. . . forever.
Publication date: January 28, 2014
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | GOODREADS
About Katherine Longshore
Katherine Longshore grew up on the northern California coast. At university, she created her own major in Cross-Cultural Studies and Communications, planning to travel and write. Forever.
Four years, six continents and countless pairs of shoes later, she went to England for two weeks, stayed five years and discovered history. She now lives in California with her husband, two children and a sun-worshiping dog.
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The tour includes a seriously amazing giveaway for,,,
FIVE (5) SIGNED copies of MANOR OF SECRETS – US Only.
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The Tour Schedule
Jan. 27th – Fiktshun – Guest Post
Jan. 28th – Two Chicks on Books – Guest Post
Jan. 29th – Good Books and Good Wine – Review
Jan. 30th – Hobbitsies – Review
Jan. 31st – Magical Urban Fantasy Reads – Interview
Feb. 3rd – A Glass of Wine – Guest Post
Feb. 4th – Mundie Moms – Interview & Review
Feb. 5th – Read My Breath Away – Guest Post
Feb. 6th – Page Turners – Review
Feb. 7th – Tales of a Ravenous Reader – Guest Post