A Regency Invitation

This is the Blog of the Book! Read all about the process by which Regency authors Joanna Maitland, Elizabeth Rolls and Nicola Cornick wrote collaboratively to create the story of the Regency House Party of the Season! A Regency Invitation is published in November 2005 from Harlequin Historicals.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

And yet MORE synopsis and character development...

[Note to blog readers: This is the cover of the Australian/NZ version which came out in December 2005. US and UK covers on previous posts.]

21 December 2003

Elizabeth, you said (yesterday, I think) re your opening scene:

>>Glad you approve of Anthony's outburst. I can see him being very, very embarrassed. Perhaps you two might like to flag your characters likely responses to me? GA Harriet of course is delighted.<<>


Sarah, delighted and bubbling over with it, is about to say something she probably shouldn't. She gets as far as a delighted laugh and "But that's--" when
John, seeing the danger, gets hold of her arm and escorts her out of the room and back to their chamber where they can discuss the development in private. He's grinning non-stop while he does it, though.

Marcus raises his eyebrows, grins fleetingly, and then leans back against the door jamb, crossing his arms, to watch what happens next. Throws a speaking look at Amy. May even wink. Amy is just astonished (and struck dumb) since she hasn't caught up with this part of the Lyndhurst family history. She's trying to come to terms with the idea that she wasn't the only one playing a part in the household. At Marcus's speaking look/wink, she blushes violently.

William is momentarily horrified in case Georgiana can queer his pitch with Anthony and John, but covers it up so quickly that (probably) no one else notices. They're all too busy goggling at Anthony and his wife. William will then try to be the soul of discretion, shepherding everyone else out so that husband and wife can be alone.

At least, that's how I see them. You may have different ideas, especially about William, since he'll be all yours by then

21 December 2003

Agree that we should definitely have the invitation at the beginning to set the scene, Joanna. I will ask Kim if she will let us have a map as well. My mil's calligraphy is considerably nicer than my style of drawing!

Elizabeth, I think Quinn can disappear after Peter snaffles the heiress if you both want him to. He's only really there as a foil for Peter and someone for him to confide in and I imagine you have enough characters populating your two stories not to need a hanger-on. However if you want him for background, then please do keep him!

I'd put all the servants in the main house and only have the permanent outdoor ones in the village. You'll notice I've taken the lodges away except for the North Lodge which could be Ned's "prison", Joanna. We can put the lodges back in if you like but since the house is now a L shape rather than a square, there should be room for them all inside!

Many thanks for the character notes, Joanna, and for putting together the back story. I have to go back to my HQN book now. How I wish I had both of you to help with that plot!

21 December 2003

Map is attached. Please don't laugh at my sheep! I told you I couldn't draw! If there are any changes you'd like to make, just let me know.

[Note to blog readers: sorry we can’t import that drawing for you. It was not nearly as bad as Nicola claims!]

21 December 2003

Thanks for the drawing. Nothing wrong with it, to my mind, Nicola.

I've finished the first draft of the outline. (See below) When we've decided how to do it, we can attach the family tree but I haven't done it with this version. BTW, there is a mistake on the family tree. I got Marcus's date of birth wrong. It should be 1790. I'll change it (and make any other changes we need) before we send the family tree to Richmond.

I can see a number of problems with the approach I've used for the outline. In particular, it says hardly anything about Georgiana, Great Aunt Harriet and Georgiana's backstory. There are lots of other things missing, too. Please feel free to propose a different approach.

Tomorrow, I'll try to turn my scene synopsis into a synopsis that could be sent to Richmond, but for now I'm calling it a day. Speak to you both tomorrow.



It is September, 1819, more than four years since the Duchess of Richmond’s ball on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo and the fateful quarrel between Anthony Lyndhurst and his new young wife, Georgiana. Anthony has not set eyes on her since he returned from Waterloo. He has searched, but now despairs of finding any trace of her. He has come to believe she must be dead.

Belief is not enough, however. Until he knows for sure, Anthony can take no action. He needs a heir for his great wealth, but he is not free to remarry. He has decided to face his demons: he will select an heir from among the younger members of the extended Lyndhurst family (see family tree). There is no single obvious candidate and so Anthony has organised a house party for family and friends at his hunting box, Lyndhurst Chase, to judge, once and for all, which of them is most deserving.

Cassie Ward is the youngest contender and the only female. But could Anthony bequeath a fortune to a headstrong girl who has no husband to guide her and no prospect of finding one? Cassie is already an heiress, but no man in his right mind would choose to marry a girl with a reputation as a dangerous radical. On the other hand, if Anthony can find a suitor who really needs Cassie’s wealth, a match might yet be made for her—provided, of course, that Cassie can be persuaded to do as she is told, for once.

John, Earl of Mardon, the eldest of the cousins, has no need of Anthony’s wealth, though he would be an able steward of it. Now that John has found happiness in a second marriage to Sarah, he has everything that Anthony himself once wanted. Surely John doesn’t need more?

John’s younger brother, William Lyndhurst-Flint, is the only other family member who was at the Duchess of Richmond’s ball and knows more than the public version of the story of Anthony’s failed marriage. William could certainly use Anthony’s wealth since he is always in debt. If he were the nominated heir, he would be borrowing against his expectations before the week was out. But Anthony, too, was a younger son once. He knows what it is like to have no prospects. Will he favour William out of fellow-feeling?

And then there is Marcus Sinclair, another cousin who already has wealth enough. However, Marcus has disappeared. In a very public quarrel with a man called Frobisher in a London gaming hell, Marcus was heard to threaten Frobisher’s life. Two days later, Frobisher was attacked and left for dead. A warrant has been issued for Marcus’s arrest. Surely he would not dare to show his face at Lyndhurst Chase when he could be arrested and carried off to gaol at any moment?

One man does know where Marcus is—feckless young Ned Devereaux, one of the early guests at the house party. Now Ned, too, has disappeared, having warned his practical older sister, Amy, that something smoky was going on at Lyndhurst Chase. Amy fears the worst. If Ned has been murdered, Amy will be alone in the world, and practically penniless. She must find out the truth, but she dare not appear at the Chase as herself. With the help of her friend, Sarah, Countess of Mardon, she will go to the Chase in the guise of a lady’s maid so that she can search both above and below stairs for clues to her brother’s disappearance.

Three interwoven stories (see individual synopses) gradually unpick the knots and tangles of THE LYNDHURST INTRIGUE:

1 LADY OF FORTUNE (Nicola Cornick)
How Cassie lights upon a suitor who is far from the sober and steady gentleman that her male relatives have in mind for her.

2 AN UNCOMMON ABIGAIL (Joanna Maitland)
How Amy resolves the mystery of her brother’s disappearance, discovers the proof of Marcus’s innocence and falls in love with him in the process.

3 THE PRODIGAL BRIDE (Elizabeth Rolls)
In which Anthony’s final decision is made for him by the return of his missing wife (who is companion to Great Aunt Harriet Lyndhurst) and the resolution of their many misunderstandings.
(Material to include at end of outline, or in covering note to editors)


We propose the individual titles above [in the outline], and the overall title of
The Lyndhurst Intrigue.


Lyndhurst Chase is very loosely based on Ashdown House. Some of the details common to both the real and the imaginary house are crucial to the stories, such as the crowning cupola and balustraded roof. An artist’s impression along the lines of Ashdown could make a beautiful backdrop for the cover and would help the readers to understand certain parts of the story.

A picture of Ashdown can be seen at on the National Trust website:

21 December 2003

Joanna, I think your outline is splendid and I'd be very happy to go with that. Thank you very much for all your hard work!

21 December 2003

Joanna this looks great. I'll be sending more of Georgiana's backstory through, along with Anthony's, later this evening so it can be added to what you have here. By the way, one of the reasons that Marcus is so loyal to Anthony is that Anthony saved Marcus from a scheming Mama shortly after he inherited. One of the officers' wives. And of course the usual wartime bonding.

It sounds like we also need backstory on Great Aunt Harriet Lyndhurst.

Thanks for the reactions, Joanna. I can just see them all trying to hide the delighted grins while Anthony waits for the floor to open up.

Love the map Nicola. It will be really useful. And your sheep are obviously the same breed as mine.

21 December 2003

Does Elizabeth's comment mean that Nicola has drawn Australian sheep? How can you tell?

I'll be happy to include a paragraph about Georgiana in the outline. Maybe it could go in after paragraph 1 if I change the beginning of the existing paragraph 2? Or would you prefer it to come towards the end? More stuff about Anthony, too, is fine if you tell me where you want it to go.

Thank you for confirming that Anthony saved Marcus. I knew he must have done something like that. Older brother-type stuff. The bonds between them will be very strong, I think, though always understated in speech. (Stiff upper-lips, natch!)

GAH backstory. Actually, I had thought of a backstory while lying in bed this morning staring at the ceiling. What if GAH had fallen in love with a poor army officer in, say, about 1766-7 when she was under age? Her family would have disapproved, of course, and he would have been shown the door. GAH, strong-minded, then refused to marry any of the other suitors put forward by Great-grandfather Lyndhurst (being by far the youngest and a girl, she'd always been spoilt so they wouldn't force her to marry) though she wasn't prepared to go against her family, even once she was 21, by eloping with him. Also, a practical point, since she didn't come into her modest inheritance till she was 25, and he was poor, she couldn't afford to marry without family sanction.

She did carry on a secret correspondence with her soldier for some years (till she was, say, 24 or so) but then he married, a much wealthier woman than GAH, and the correspondence stopped just as she came into her inheritance. She decided that marriage was overrated and she would stay single. She heard, years later, that her soldier had been killed during one of the battles (which?) of the American War of Independence. By then, she'd become increasingly bitter and acid-tongued on the whole subject of love and, especially, men!

Of course, her support of Georgiana will show that she still has a soft spot for lovers, but perhaps she could try not to show it, covering it up with caustic remarks? So in the opening scene of book 3, GAH would be delighted because she'd been right and because her scheming had worked, rather more than because the lovers were back together?

One correction on the character stuff I sent round yesterday. It can't be right to say (second last para) that William uses cant in front of ladies. He wouldn't. He's much too controlled and Machiavellian to make such a mistake, especially if it would undermine his ability to charm them. So please delete that bit. The drawl is probably right, though, and he would use cant with men to show that he's up to snuff on everything, even things like shooting that he's no good at. He has an inferiority complex and a huge chip on his shoulder, it seems. OTOH, he *was* led to believe he'd be the heir, so he has some justification. I hope that helps to make him a rounded character.

I think we need to be very subtle in how we present William. It would be easy to signal that he's the villain early on and he could seem a bit two-dimensional. Maybe in book 1, he could be thoroughly charming whenever he appears in the flesh, Nicola? Cassie really dislikes him, as you said, but maybe she complains to Peter that she can't get any of the other family members to take her reservations seriously? They simply say that William needs to find a rich wife so he was bound to make a play for Cassie. They make allowances (including, to a degree, for his gambling and his debts) because he's a younger son with no prospects? Then at the start of book 2, via Amy, William's servant-groping would become clear, at least to the reader. Later, his possible involvement with the attack on Frobisher would come out. Finally, in book 3, his full villainy would be exposed. Does that work??

The sun is shining here and it's a gorgeous day, though cold and a little windy. The tree (fake) is up in the hall and cards will be hung around later today (possibly). Have to go and pick some holly later, though not sure that there are any berries left on ours. Unfortunately, we don't have mistletoe on any of our trees, even though Herefordshire is full of it. Shades of Asterix in this part of the world. Now where did I put my golden sickle?

21 December 2003

Have been revising today. Anything rather than trying to write my synopsis!

I've decided that Amy needs more of a disguise. So she's still wearing loose-fitting clothes and an ugly cap that totally hides her silver blonde hair, but now she's also wearing thick glasses in an attempt to hide her unusual violet-blue eye colour. Also, she pretends to be very demure, never looking directly at anyone, so they don't look directly into her eyes. Of course, failing to look someone in the eye can appear shifty. Perhaps Cassie might comment on that, as well as the strange clothes, Nicola?

22 December 2003

Joanna - on the subject of Amy not looking directly at anyone; weren't the servants supposed to avoid looking directly at their betters.? I read that somewhere recently. I'm not sure how far that would go with a lady's maid. Perhaps it just relates to the lower and not the upper servants. Obviously it doesn't matter if she meets Sarah's eyes.

If Amy is wearing thick glasses it will make it quite hard for her to see. Sorry, not wanting to poke holes, but just thought I should mention it. Wearing glasses that don't fit your eyes also tends to give one a headache. Unless you were planning for her to have had a pair made especially that are just flat, plain glass. Even those might cause headaches for her if they were thick enough to hide her eyes. And if she doesn't wear glasses normally, she probably wouldn't realise that. So she'd just grab whatever her Papa used for reading. And find out all the disadvantages later! A very human error.

Perhaps Cassie can notice that Amy removes her glasses rather frequently to rub her eyes? I actually think the glasses are a great idea, but you might need to take the headaches into account!

I like the backstory for Harriet. I had something similar in mind to explain her attitude.

Getting my character notes sorted. Slight interruption to clean up for an inspection this morning.

22 December 2003

Re the glasses. I'd thought that Amy would already have some plain glass specs because she loves getting involved in amateur theatricals. (Sarah comments that's Amy's a terrific actress.) So there shouldn't be too much of a problem of headaches. Nonetheless, Amy might well remove them to rub her eyes and it's a great idea to have Cassie notice. (Very noticing young woman is our Cassie ) And thanks, Elizabeth, for poking holes. Better that we do it to each other now than that we get it from ye eds later.

You're right about servants not looking at their betters. That was certainly in the Edwardian Country House TV series where female servants had to turn their backs if the mistress happened upon them so that the mistress was not forced into acknowledging the menial servant's presence. In one scene, the female servant had to hide under the table when the master came in. That didn't apply in the same way to the lady's maid, though, I don't think. My Amy is just being ultra careful, because she knows what she's doing is very risky. Her reputation would be shot if she was caught. She's playing the part as quiet, very demure, and also very stuck-up/snobbish/aloof about her position as the highest visiting servant so she can avoid difficult situations.

Hope the inspection goes/went well, Elizabeth.

MUST DO my synopsis today.

22 December 2003

Sterling work yet again, Joanna. Thank you. Are you taking any time off for Christmas?!

Apparently at Ashdown, the lower servants had to pretend to be invisible and melt into the wallpaper if the Earl or Countess of Craven happened to pass by. A bit like some film stars these days, who insist no one make eye contact with them! I've been having a look at some of the Ashdown census returns and love the fact that Lady Evelyn Craven referred to her occupation as "Countess". Must have been a full time job!

Back to my HQN book, the first 3 chapters and synopsis of which have to be in to Richmond at the start of January! I've changed it about 21 times so far.

22 December 2003

Yes, I will be having time off but I'm very conscious that Elizabeth's time is limited and it's not fair on her if we don't get our collective finger out. My children are arriving on Wednesday so I shall be having time off then. They are all leaving on Sunday and Monday, at which time I'll no doubt collapse in a heap and scuttle back to my computer. Also I'm committed to consultancy stuff from 7th -12th January. Need to get all this done before then. That's my excuse anyway.

Pity we can't say that no one could make contact with the nobs lest they give them the evil eye! A bit medieval, but satisfying

22 December 2003

Here are the promised backstory and characteristics.

Shall send them off, check my inbox and then collapse. I have made some alterations in their appearances for various reasons. It's all explained, what and why, in the document.

Anthony David Lyndhurst is 31 born in 1788, he was the younger son of David Gillespie Lyndhurst and his wife Alison Jane Lyndhurst, nee Winton. He is tall, about 6’2 with dark auburn hair and grey eyes.

He appears very calm and reserved for the most part, although in unguarded moments, such as when he sees his cousin John’s wedded happiness, he appears sad and bitter. There is still a touch of humour about him. He is very active and fit. He has remained largely at Lyndhurst Chase since selling out his commission in late 1815, eschewing society and grieving the loss of his bride. He goes to London very occasionally, but prefers to remain at the Chase breeding horses and adding to his library, or to visit his cousins, Marcus Sinclair and John, Earl of Mardon at their country seats.

Even if he wished to enter society fully it would be impossible. There are some very unsavoury stories circulating about what happened to his wife. (Hope that helps, Joanna!) Rumours such as that he caught her with her lover and murdered them both – the lover on the field at Waterloo . . . that’s the wildest, but they are all fairly nasty and salacious.

This house party has sprung out of his determination to make the best decision he possibly can about how to leave his estate and fortune.

Anthony joined the army in 1807 and served right through the Peninsula campaign and at Waterloo. From being a rather wild and impetuous youth, he matured into a responsible and talented officer. He was promoted to the rank of Major after Toulouse. His adored mother died in 1809 and his father, David, died in 1812, leaving the bulk of his estate to his eldest son, Harvey. Anthony continued to serve in the Peninsula. Harvey wanted Anthony to sell out and come home, concerned about the succession since he had not yet married, but Anthony insisted on remaining in the army. He assumed that Harvey would now marry and set up his nursery. Harvey died of typhoid in November 1814. About to sell out, when Napoleon escaped from Elba the following March, Anthony decided that his greatest duty lay with the army and remained in Brussels waiting for Napoleon to cross the frontier.

Anthony was very much conscious of the need to marry, and marry fast. Not just to secure the succession, but to protect himself from the machinations of all the Mamas with hopeful daughters lurking in Brussels. He met the seventeen year old Georgiana Milne at a picnic in late April and was enchanted with her. Unfortunately Miss Milne was betrothed to a younger officer, Justin Finch-Scott. Naturally Anthony dismissed her from his mind. A week later, Justin, under severe pressure from his family, jilted Georgiana, who, having honourably undertaken to release Finch-Scott, found herself shunned as the jilt. Disgusted by the hypocrisy, Anthony stepped in when Georgiana was subjected to a number of catty remarks at a ball and swept her off to dance. His original impression was confirmed and he married her towards the end of May, to the shock and chagrin of all the fashionable English women in Brussels, who had viewed the immensely wealthy and charming Major Lyndhurst as THEIRS.

Anthony’s is an immensely chivalrous nature, but he does have a temper and his fair share of pride. He finds that he doesn’t much like the thought that his bride is probably still in love with another. So much so that, despite his urgent need for an heir, he delays introducing Georgiana to her marital duties, wishing to be quite sure that it is him she wants, not Finch-Scott. He hates the idea that he may in some way be forcing himself on her and seduces her slowly, but surely, during the fortnight leading up to the Duchess of Richmond’s ball.

In all the confusion of the ball when the call to arms comes, Anthony is misled by his cousin, William Lyndhurst-Flint, into believing that Georgiana is about to engage in an affair with her ex-suitor. He catches Georgiana kissing Justin Finch-Scott in the garden. Unfortunately his temper, compounded of jealousy and incipient battle nerves, gets the better of him and he says a great many things that he ought not to have said.

He returns from Waterloo to discover Georgiana gone, along with a valuable necklace. His attempts to trace her are fruitless. Her erstwhile guardians have seen nothing of her and have no idea where she might have gone.

He returns to Lyndhurst Chase, a saddened and altered man after failing to find any trace of Georgiana. He knows that she did not flee to Finch-Scott, since the younger man died at Waterloo. He cannot believe after four years of silence that she is alive and is convinced that she was caught up in the flight from Brussels and died.

When she appears at the house party he is furious. Four years of guilt and grief and the little minx was with Harriet all along. Laughing at them all, no doubt. He is determined to teach her a salutary lesson, which involves getting her back where she belongs. Namely, in his bed.

His temper, which no one has seen unleashed for years, is on a very short leash as his frustration mounts. A house party is an appalling venue to seduce a lady who does not want to be seduced and resorts to hiding in your great aunt’s bedchamber mending handkerchiefs to avoid even speaking to you privately.

Everyone notes his suddenly twitchy temper, but puts it down to the constant needling to which Harriet is subjecting him. He is also of course seriously worried by the scrape Marcus has got himself into.

NB I have deleted Anthony’s limp. I can’t believe that Georgie would have left Brussels without waiting to know that he was safe. If he had been injured then she wouldn’t have left. So, no limp.

Georgiana Milne was born in 1798, only child of Frederick Milne and his wife, Elizabeth Milne, née Saunders. She spent her childhood following the drum with her father and mother until the latter’s death in 1812. After that Georgiana remained in the care of friends in Lisbon. Georgiana is of medium height, slender with very dark brown, wavy hair and hazel eyes. She has very fair skin.

She is intensely loyal, but has been very lonely, since her father’s diplomatic friends in Lisbon, the Carringtons, are extremely formal. She was devastated to learn that her father had fallen at Toulouse at the very end of the war.

The Carringtons took her to Brussels with them in April 1815, determined to find an eligible situation for her. Mrs Carrington has little hope that Georgiana will marry, indeed, it would be most improper since she has no dowry to bring to her marriage and nothing in the way of connections. They feel obliged to keep her until they can find her an eligible position as a companion. She is not qualified to be a governess since she spent her childhood following the drum and has absolutely no ladylike accomplishments, except that she reads aloud beautifully and can sew and knit extremely well. (Joanna – if you can find a way to use any of these accomplishments in your story . . . perhaps GAH might be doing a little meddling! I can see Georgie reading aloud to the company after dinner, rather like that scene in the Emma Thompson movie of Sense and Sensibility. I also envisaged her avoiding Anthony by doing GAH’s mending all the time. In GAH’s bedchamber.)

Realising that she is slated for a life as a companion, Georgiana accepts when the charming and handsome Justin Finch-Scott offers marriage. She does not love him, but longs for a family and place of her own.

Under pressure from his family to secure his future with the heiress they have picked out, Finch-Scott asks her to release him from the betrothal. She does so and finds that she is cast as the jilt and a presumptuous little hussy, no better than she should be, attempting to snare a husband.

When Major Anthony Lyndhurst steps in to give several society ladies a set down and sweeps her off to dance, she is overwhelmed. He is kind, chivalrous and makes her laugh. She tumbles into love with the greatest of ease and accepts his offer of marriage with joy, believing that he loves her. With no dowry and no connections, she can imagine no other reason for his offer. Her joy is shattered when Anthony makes it plain that he is entering a marriage of convenience – for an heir on his part and, he assumes, security on hers. He believes, so he tells her – that they may suit very well.

Georgiana is only seventeen. She is far too young and naïve to understand the mix of emotions spurring Anthony’s temper at the Duchess of Richmond’s ball. Shattered by his evident lack of trust she waits only until she is certain of his safety after the battle to return to England. She takes only the clothes and personal possessions that she owned before her marriage. She leaves a note informing Anthony that she has gone to her godmother in Devon and gives him the address.

When he doesn’t come looking for her, she assumes that he does not want her back. What she doesn’t know is that Anthony’s cousin, William Lyndhurst-Flint, has destroyed the letter and also stolen the pearl necklace that had belonged to Anthony’s mother.

After six months in Devon Georgie accepts that Anthony does not want her back and, at her godmother’s urging, accepts a position as companion to one of her godmother’s oldest friends. Knowing that Lady Harriet Lyndhurst is Anthony’s great aunt, Georgie takes the position under the name Miss Emma Saunders. She has no idea that Lady Harriet knows perfectly well who she is and that the two old ladies are scheming mercilessly and awaiting their chance to put the marriage back together.

When Lady Harriet announces that she intends to descend upon a house party at Lyndhurst Chase, Georgiana is horrified, but cannot avoid the visit without resigning her position which she cannot afford to do. Her godmother has died and she has nowhere else to go. She assumes that since Anthony does not want her back, he will ignore her presence to avoid any scandal.

Unfortunately Anthony has different ideas and she finds herself constantly having to avoid him.

NB I have altered Georgie’s appearance. At first she had very blue eyes which I thought might be pushing it a bit given that Joanna’s Amy has such striking blue eyes. Also I thought that her originally tawny hair might be a little close to Cassie’s dark blonde.

23 December 2003

Have just had a quick read, Elizabeth, and I think it's great. Love the very young girl totally overwhelmed by what happens in Brussels. All very convincing and with lots of hooks that I can pick up in story 2 after GAH and Georgiana arrive. I had been wondering how you'd justify Georgiana's having taken a position with a lady called Lyndhurst, but it makes perfect sense to me as you have it. I'll put all your names and dates into the family tree, too.

Just one point, you have GAH as Lady Harriet Lyndhurst. I think she has to be Miss. Otherwise Great-Grandfather would have been at least an earl, and the title would have descended to Anthony which would be an inconvenience for the plot.

Thanks for doing the various physical changes. Didn't mean to screw you up with Amy. I was trying to make her different from Georgiana. No reason why you can't have blue eyes if you want. I do think Amy has to be striking enough, as herself, that it is vaguely plausible that she's not recognised as having been the abigail. The cap, glasses and demurely downcast eyes may also help there.


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