I want to thank everyone who’s bought ‘Ravensdale’ – it makes me very happy that it’s selling!
For anyone who enjoys the thought of a spoof Regency Romance about highwaymen, spirited runaway heroines, outlawed Earls and underhand cousins with grudges, not to mention the odd ineffectual henchman or so, it’s still $0.99 on Amazon.com and £0.77 on Amazon.co.uk.
Well, it’s obvious I love its selling – I never heard of a writer who published something in the hope that it wouldn’t sell a single copy – though I suppose someone might do that as a sort of psychological experiment.
Anyway, I thought I’d publish an extract here, a comic scene from the book; I can’t give the comic bit of the book I loved writing most, because that comes at the ending, and would be to write a spoiler (of course, as it’s a comedy, everyone knows there’s going to be a very happy ending, but still…).
Reynaud Ravensdale is suffering from an increasing desperate passion for the hodyenish Isabella Murray, who acted so strangely when his band held up her father’s carriage. It manifests as an ache in his insides…
‘In a relatively clean and comfortable inn (which Selina might think sordid), Reynaud Ravensdale, otherwise Mr Fox, wasn’t eating a bowl of turnip soup. The landlord’s pretty wife Kate detested waste and planned to throw it back into the pot when nobody was looking. Opposite Ravensdale, Flashy Jack, who had called over and stayed to eat on his way to town, and Longface had finished theirs. Longface, chewing on a piece of bread with his remaining teeth, gazed mournfully across the table.
Mr Fox threw down his spoon. “Why do you stare at me like a looby? What ails you?”
Longface shook his head silently.
Kate’s younger sister Suki came from the back. Seeing her, Flashy Jack, his bright fair hair disguised under dye, took his porter to the bar. Kate came for the dirty plates. “Soup not to your liking?” she asked Ravensdale, who had gone to stand gazing out of the window, arms folded across his chest.
“It was well enough.”
“Have you got guts ache? You keep on leaving your food.”
The landlord, Tom Watts, so strapping and healthy that he didn’t remember when he had last left his own food, turned, shocked. “You don’t want to get anything like that. I’ve known cases, strong one month, invalids at the fireside the next.”
Mr Fox scowled and said nothing. Longface stared at him even more anxiously.
“Have you got bellyache?” Kate determined to speak plain though the fellow was a real toff, even, some said, none other than the Disgraced Lord Little Dean.
He kept silent, glowering into his porter.
Flashy Jack warmed to his theme: “He’s holding on round the chest. It could be lung trouble. That can be caught early. I knew a man, fading away with it, till his wife had him gargle rum every day. That set him to rights.”
“He ain’t got a cough,” Kate pointed out.
The object of their concern shifted under their gaze, which seemed to penetrate to his innards.
“I hear you don’t until that phlegm sets in. Then, before you know it, you’re spitting blood.”
“Mercy!” Suki joined in. She knew that they would all end on the gallows, but this was immediate.
The Chief Brigand, clearly only silent through reluctance to be ungallant to the women, turned on Jack: “Hold your noise, damn you! My insides are my own affair.”
Kate, undeterred, held up one finger: “I know the very thing, whatever it is. That cure I got from that pedlar works on anything. I’ve even tried it on baby there.” She smiled on her infant, sleeping in his cradle at the side of the bar.
“Well, you shouldn’t give it him, Kate. Those poisoners have surely caused more deaths than any honest rogue.” Mr Fox made for the door and stood outside – still slightly hunched, though now avoiding holding onto his chest – and gazing across the yard to where the hens scrabbled about in the dust.
“There’s no pleasing some folk.” Kate went back to collecting the dishes.
“There ain’t any pleasing him these last couple of weeks.” Jack turned his attention back to Suki….
…Late that night, when all was still in The Huntsman, Reynaud Ravensdale appeared downstairs, light in hand, looking for something. He searched first in the bar, then in the kitchen. At last his eyes fell on the brown bottle of the pedlar’s cure, also known as The Famed and Marvellous Elixir, which stood next to the teapot. Finding a spoon, he poured himself a generous helping, swallowing it in one gulp. Then he stood, eagerly waiting for the result.
This came speedily. His eyes widened, his face drained of colour, his breathing quickened and he swallowed and looked very ill for the next five minutes. Finally, recovering enough to speak, he swore heartily, poured the bottle down the sink, and trudged back to bed.’