Pippa Blackwell had never felt such a surge of terror. Her large, blue eyes were wide and searching frantically, and the dark waves of hair were sagging from their pins and coming loose in little sprigs.
But she couldn’t stop searching. Not when something so important had been lost.
For a family like hers, one without title but with great wealth, there was quite a lot of space within their home to search. Her bedroom was the most likely spot for the lost manuscript, but Pippa wondered if a maid had taken the pages, not realising that it was Pippa’s own work. Maybe a maid had put them in her father’s study?
It was possible, wasn’t it?
No! Of course, it wasn’t possible. Pippa was so careful with her writings. Her mother and father hated the fact that Pippa loved to write stories and they were always trying to discourage her from doing so. Because of that, she had grown very cautious in making certain they did not see her work or stumble upon it. She always had her pages hidden in the same drawer.
But she had taken them with her that morning when she had ridden in a carriage into town with her dear friend, Fiona. Was it possible that the pages had been lost on that ride? She still had the other two manuscripts with her. There was one which she had only just begun and had been reading to Fiona, and another which she had nearly finished.
But her favourite was now gone.
“No, no, no,” she whispered under her breath, frustrated and forlorn.
The pages were nowhere to be found.
Pippa knew that there was only one thing she could do now, and it was the last thing in all the world she wanted to do. She would have to ask her mother if she had seen the pages.
Pippa straightened her spine and took a deep breath. This was not going to be fun.
She made her way to the drawing room, where she was certain to find her mother. Indeed, as she walked through the door, her mother sat working on her stitching and making a doily which Pippa knew would end up as nothing more than an addition to her pile of already existing doilies.
“Ah, Pippa. There you are. Come and have a seat. You need to work on your stitching,” her mother said.
“Why?” she asked, curious.
“Because your stitching is dreadful,” her mother replied in a matter-of-fact tone.
Pippa gritted her teeth to stop herself from saying anything to her mother as to how frustrating it was to constantly be criticised. If she did not stop herself, she would undoubtedly complain to no end.
“Now, would you prefer the cream or the ivory?” her mother asked, offering her thread.
Looking at the threads, Pippa saw her future. It was bland, just like the cream and ivory.
“Mother, I actually came in here because I wanted to ask you something,” she said.
“You may ask while you stitch. This is important, Pippa. No man is going to want to marry a young woman who has no skills,” she nagged.
“I have no skills?” Pippa asked, frustrated. How could her mother not see the value in her efforts as a writer?
“Your pianoforte is adequate, but not exemplary. Your dancing is correct in the steps, but not graceful. And your stitching is awful. This is something which you shall find terribly easy to improve upon,” her mother said.
“Why must I learn how to stitch though? Is it really so important to a man that I can make doilies which are never to be used for anything?”
“Never used? How can you say that? They are of great value,” her mother insisted.
“You have piles of them which merely sit there,” Pippa pointed out, frustrated that she was wasting valuable words on an argument over the validity of doilies.
“Pippa, you may not understand now, but you shall one day when you are married. These skills, which prove that we are delicate, are deeply valuable to the men we marry. They are evidence of our grace and meekness and the fact that we are frail and lovely creatures,” her mother said, with the mildest hint of irritation.
“And that is something to be desired?” Pippa questioned, challenging her mother on what seemed to her to be an insult.
Her mother’s lips flattened into a thin line of frustration.
“These are the burdens we must bear, and they are what make us marriageable. Now, sit and stitch,” her mother ordered.
Pippa took one of the spools, not having any idea if it was cream or ivory, and began her work. If this were the only way she was going to be able to speak with her mother about the manuscript, it would have to do.
“Mother, I came to ask you about something,” she said again.
“Oh, yes. What is it now?”
“You know that I enjoy writing stories, Mother,” she began, cautiously.
“Ugh, yes, I do,” her mother grimaced, not looking up from the work she was doing.
“Well, I had written one story, a bit longer than my others,” she said, not wanting to mention that it was a full-length book.
“You ought to have spent that time working on your stitching,” her mother remarked.
“Well, I am sorry, Mother, but I did not. And now, I cannot find the book. Is it possible that you have seen it anywhere?” Pippa asked.
“A book? I have seen no book.”
“It was just pages, really. I had hoped that you may have seen them,” she said, trying to downplay her attachment to the work.
“I haven’t seen it, but what does it matter? I know you, Pippa. You are only going to go against our wishes and continue writing. You will just write it again,” her mother suggested.
Pippa was heartbroken but could not share with her mother that this novel had taken her nearly a year to write just the first draft. All that work and effort was for nothing. She had done so much and tried so hard, and yet her favorite of all her manuscripts was gone.
Of course, her mother would not understand. Her mother had made it clear that none of this was important to her at all. But for Pippa, this was everything. It was her greatest joy and her most important achievement. Even though her family did not support her, she could not stop.
She was a writer. That was all that mattered to her. It was more of her identity than any position which society would give her.
Nothing was more important than finding her manuscript, and until she had found it, she would be utterly dismayed.
For now, though, it appeared that it was missing for good. If she gave up hope, her mother was right. She would have to rewrite the entire thing. But was it possible for her to write it as well?
What if she did not grasp the intricacies of the characters again? What if she made a mistake? What if she left out an important scene?
All these possibilities devastated Pippa. It was almost enough to stop her from even considering the possibility of re-writing.
In fact, the thought of that was increasingly less appealing.
“Pippa, hand me that, will you?” her mother asked, gesturing towards a needle.
She did as instructed, not saying anything as she was still so distraught about the missing pages.
“Have any of the maids mentioned seeing a stack of papers, Mother? Could they have tossed them outside?” she asked.
“Pippa, please. Let it go. It was a waste of your valuable time anyway. You have other things to focus on,” her mother said.
“Enough, Pippa!” her mother exclaimed. “You need to stop thinking about books and begin thinking about the Wentworth ball this weekend. You know, Lord Rutherford will be in attendance.”
“Lord Rutherford is a notorious rake,” Pippa mumbled.
“That is an unfounded accusation, Pippa. Stop being so dour and look to the possibilities of the future. There may yet be good things ahead if you are only willing to see them.”
“But why must I focus solely on such things which mean very little to me?”
“I am urging you to focus on the possibility that your life just might be better than you are expecting, if only you are willing to look to the future and believe that there are wonderful possibilities ahead.”
“Such as?” Pippa asked dryly. Her mother’s speech and overuse of the word ‘possibilities’ was growing old.
But her mother appeared uncertain of her own train of thought and simply shrugged.
“Marriage, of course,” she replied.
Pippa was in no mood to think about marriage. If finding a husband meant that her days would be relegated to stitching and practicing her pianoforte, there was nothing desirable about it.
Of course, she considered the possibility that she would be able to spend her days working on her books. She would have to hide such activity from her future husband, but it was still a possibility. She just might be able to indulge in entertainment of her own making while he was out.
Was that possible? Could she find a way to use her time to her own advantage?
Certainly, she would have days filled with paying calls on other grand women or having to make the occasional doily for the sake of appearances. But maybe she would still find time to work on her books?
“Pippa, dear, are you listening to me?” her mother asked.
In truth, she had not been, but she smiled and released a deep breath to calm herself.
“Of course, Mother. Forgive me for being so distracted. Now, what were we discussing?”
“We were discussing the ball this weekend. I would like for you to try and charm Lord Cheltenham, but if he is distracted by that awful Miss Winters, please focus your attentions on Lord Hamilton,” her mother instructed.
“You wish for me to marry a baron?” she asked.
“At the very least. You ought to know by now that if you cannot marry equal, you must marry up. Besides, Lord Hamilton is not just a baron. His uncle is an earl and has no sons. You never know…” her mother shrugged, suggesting the possibility that Lord Hamilton could one day inherit the title.
“And Lord Cheltenham? Why is he the one you wish for me to pursue?” Pippa questioned.
Her mother exhaled in frustration.
“Pippa, we discussed this just three days ago. He is nearly as wealthy as the king himself. Were you not listening to me then, either? Good heavens, child. What am I to do with you?”
Pippa did not respond, for she wondered much the same. What was her mother supposed to do with her, and what was she supposed to do for herself? Was she always going to be relegated to wondering what her future would be like and whom she was meant to marry and whether she would ever have the freedom to pursue her own passion?
It appeared as though everything would forever be determined for her. She would have no say at any time and that was a painful fact which she was forced to accept.
But this was her life and she didn’t want to accept it. She wanted to strive on towards a better future and would do whatever she needed to reach that. After all, it wasn’t her fault that she had ended up being born to this station. If she had been born to a poor family, she would be allowed to have more of a say in her fate.
Yet, it was being wealthy which meant she had time to write as opposed to having to find a position working somewhere.
What a strange irony!
Suddenly, Pippa’s mind flooded with ideas for a novel about two opposing characters from different stations and how they intersected.
Yes, she was born to tell stories. She just had to convince her mother of that.
It was positively amazing. Doyle could hardly believe the beauty of the manuscript he had found when he was out on his walk that morning. It was a work of genius. Whomever the author was, he had done his duty well. The intricacies of the characters were exquisite.
He scratched at the stubble along his jaw as he read the words before him. There was something so poignant about the storyline, but it also held potential for even greater depth.
If there was anyone who knew what made for a good book, it was Doyle Brooks. As the owner of Brooks Books, he had read his fair share of works and knew what sold well and what didn’t.
This manuscript would certainly sell.
Then again, lately there were not many books selling at all out of Brooks Books. The shop was facing a great hardship. There were those who told him that it was because reading was becoming less important in a society more obsessed with image than intelligence, but there were others who told Doyle that it was his own fault.
They claimed that he was not the right sort of man to run a shop in London. He was too scraggly with his shaggy, sand-coloured hair, which he kept unfashionably loose. He wore the sort of suits which were fit for a man twice his age. In general, he did not have the right comportment for running a shop.
For that reason, and because of his own dislike of having to interact with the general population, Doyle had hired George Sinclair to run the shop for him. Doyle was able to spend his time however he wanted, be it gardening or going for walks.
George was a very charismatic young man and had all the right appearances. He was the sort who could draw people into the shop and had done his best, but the shop still needed to see a better income if Doyle were going to manage to pay George.
Perhaps a manuscript like this could do just that?
A knock at the door startled Doyle out of his intent reading and he stood and went to open the it. There stood James, his brother-in-law and dearest friend.
“Ah, you have come. Is it already so late in the day?” Doyle asked.
“It certainly is. Did you lose track of time again?” James questioned.
“Forgive me, I was busy,” Doyle said, making his way into the kitchen to make tea while James followed behind.
“Reading, I assume?” James asked.
“Yes, yes,” he nodded, filling the kettle with water and setting it on the stove.
“Well, don’t worry about me. I am patient,” James reasoned.
“Of course you are; you married Clarissa, and any man would have to be patient with my sister as his wife,” Doyle teased.
“The only patience I need now is in counting down the days until she returns. I do miss her a great deal,” James said.
“Then she is fortunate, because I would not,” Doyle chuckled still in jest.
“So, what were you reading? Anything good?” James asked.
Doyle sighed and smiled as he turned to James. H leaned against the wall beside the woodstove as his friend sat on a chair at the table.
“It is, actually. I never expected to find something so good.”
“What is it?” James asked.
“Excellent question. I only just discovered it, but I shall give you more information as I have it,” Doyle said vaguely. In truth, Doyle was forming an idea and he wasn’t quite ready to share it with James yet.
“All right, then. Anyway, how is the shop?” James asked, brushing past it.
“Oh, you know. Same as usual. Not enough customers and too many bills,” Doyle replied.
“How are you going to continue if this doesn’t change? I should hate to see you have to close down,” James said.
“As would I. But what I really need is to boost the shop by adding something. A new addition to our offerings.”
“Well, we have very little in the way of fiction. I would like to change that. I think fiction is the wave of the future. I know that it has long been looked down upon, but I do believe there is not only a market for it, but literary value to it,” Doyle explained.
“Certainly. I cannot see why not. And there shall always be readers who are seeking to explore something new, correct?” James asked.
“Precisely,” Doyle nodded.
“Well, it sounds to me like you know how you want to solve the matter at hand. How are you planning to proceed?”
“What I need is just the right book to show off; something to open the gateway to our new assortment of fiction works.”
“Have you purchased new works? And have you found the right one to display?” James questioned.
“I have not yet acquired all those which I intend to sell, but…but I may have just found the right book to use as a means of opening the door,” Doyle said.
“Excellent! Well, that is all very good for you. You are going to see success yet, I am sure of it. Besides, who could possibly turn away from your shop when you have such a reasonable business? Your prices are no worse than any other and you now have that obnoxiously handsome young man to lure in the young women,” James chuckled.
Doyle laughed and pulled the kettle from the stove as it began to whistle.
“Yes, George is rather a frustrating reminder of our missing youth, is he not?” Doyle asked.
“Precisely. I do wish that I could have had half his good looks when I was a young man,” James said.
“You are still a young man, James,” Doyle replied, noting that James was just thirty years of age to Doyle’s thirty-one.
“Regardless, I should very much like to ensure that your sister never sees him,” James said with a laugh.
“You have had Clarissa’s heart since we were children. I think you are secure.”
“I suppose so. Anyway, tell me about this novel,” James said.
Doyle was still cautious, not knowing how much he should share.
“It is…it is, as yet, unpublished. In fact…” he stumbled through how to say what he was planning and wondered just how much he could say without confessing to his diabolical scheme.
“Yes? What is it? You are behaving so strangely,” James commented.
“I know. Forgive me. I just have a lot of thoughts. You see, I have some work to do with the manuscript. I have quite a bit of editing and revising.”
“You are publishing something which you have written?” James asked in astonishment.
“Well…” he trailed off.
Thus far, he had not lied. He never claimed to have written the manuscript, only said that he was going to edit and revise parts of it, which was true.
“I am going to publish it,” he confirmed, which was also true. There was no need for Doyle to share that the rest of the novel had not been written by him but had been abandoned by some foolish man on a trail by the river.
“That is so exciting! I should very much like to read it. When will it be ready?” James asked.
“Oh, I have not decided just yet. I do hope that it shall be published within the next three months,” he said, trying to think about how many edits he needed to do prior to having the book printed. In truth, he may be able to finish it sooner if he worked hard enough.
Then again, Doyle had not yet finished reading the book. He may end up needing to make significant changes to the ending, after all. But he fully intended to finish reading it within the next two days. After that, he would have a better idea as to when it would be ready to appear in the bookshop.
“When did you begin writing it?” James asked.
“Oh…well, you know, it is difficult to put an exact date on it,” he answered with a nervous laugh.
“Of course, I understand. When you have such a project, it must be hard to keep track of such things. I do hope that you are able to publish it very soon, as I would truly love to read it. Oh, I am so proud to have a brother-in-law who is not only the owner of a bookstore, but the author of a book as well!” James exclaimed.
Doyle was entirely uncertain as to what he could say in reply. It was overwhelming to get himself caught up in this lie and not know where he should go next with it. After all, if he had not made up this tale about being the author of the book, or rather allowing James to think that was the situation, he wouldn’t have to worry.
But Doyle realised that this was going to continue for the foreseeable future. He would have to continue his lies if he had any intention of publishing the book as he intended to.
He would have to lie to his customers, to his friends, and his family. He would have to fool the entirety of London into thinking that he had been the author from the start.
And if the man who actually wrote the book ever confronted him? Well, Doyle would have to convince him as well. He was going to need to make changes, but just enough to shift parts of the book. Perhaps the names of the main characters, as well as removing the budding love story and shifting the perspective, which was currently being told by the young woman who was the lead character?
If he made these adjustments, perhaps he really could put the work out there as his own? There were a great many tasks ahead in order to do that, but Doyle was confident that he was more than able to take it on.
He would just have to be patient and be bold, and if this book did bring his shop back into a position in which it was viewed with respect and dignity, all the better. He would manage to afford to maintain his life as it was, as well as continue to pay George’s salary.
He could even repair the back window, which was beginning to show a separation between the glass and the wall, letting in a draft. In a bookstore, he could not give way for damp to cause mold. He would lose everything.
Yes, this book was going to be the key to having everything he wanted for his shop and for his life. He only needed to find a way to make everything come together exactly as he wanted.
“Doyle?” James asked, breaking him from his thoughts.
“Hmm?” he murmured in reply.
“I was just asking what happens in the story and how the novel ends?”
That was something Doyle still did not know the answer to. Until he figured it out for himself, he certainly could not share it with James.
“Well, the beauty of a good book is that the reader does not want the author to spoil the ending. You shall read it for yourself in due time.”
“I suppose that in due time, all of London shall be reading it,” James replied with enthusiasm.
Doyle was hoping that it would be all of England, because this book, with or without his hand, was a glorious work and it needed to be published.
“Enchanted by a Lady’s Talent” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
On the worst of days, the charming Pippa Blackwell loses something more precious to her than any other- her manuscript. Even though this piece of writing is the one she is most proud of, it appears that her mother and father will get their way, forcing her to let go of her dream of being an author. Devastated and filled with regret from the loss, Pippa worries about having no control over her future. However, when a poster at her favorite bookshop for a novel which sounds nearly identical to her own appears, Pippa hunts down the shop’s owner who apparently stole her work. Furious and determined to seek justice, she confronts him in an effort to right the wrong. However, how could she possibly do this when her heart melts everytime she sees him? Will she manage to stay true to her plan or will she follow her fiery heart?
When Doyle Brooks, the owner of a failing bookshop, finds an incredible manuscript, he decides to publish it as a way of drawing in business. Nothing makes him happier than the idea of succeeding through a story this powerful. Eager to see his shop thrive, Doyle tries to let go of his underlying guilt from the theft and excitedly dives into this new plan. However, this plan is proven to be anything but simple… When the real author shows up in the form of a beautiful, intelligent and energetic young woman, Doyle finds himself conflicted between his desire to succeed and his blooming interest in Pippa herself. Will he manage to let his feelings aside in order to save his bookshop or will he abandon everything by becoming lost in Pippa’s captivating eyes?
Against either of their wishes, Pippa and Doyle are thrown into a confusing and messy relationship as co-authors and Doyle has to decide whether or not he will truly credit the woman who has changed his life forever. When his employee, George Sinclair, decides he is also interested in Pippa, the lies, feelings and dreams of Doyle and Pippa are tested. Pippa must decide if she is willing to trust Doyle through his lies, just as he must decide what is more important: his business or his heart? Will they be ripped apart by dishonesty and the surrounding pressures? Or will their tale unfold into a true and everlasting romance?
“Enchanted by a Lady’s Talent” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.