Friday, March 19, 2010
Welcome to Allison Chase's guest blog!
The Secret Life of Girls…
Thank you, Danny and everyone at Love Romance & More for having me here today! This month marks the launch of my new Victorian series, Her Majesty’s Secret Servants, with the release of book one: MOST EAGERLY YOURS. Think The Young Victoria meets Sherlock Holmes – with lots of added passion! To celebrate, I’ll be giving away a copy, so read on, leave a comment at the end, and be entered to win.
Raised on their uncle’s country estate, the four orphaned Sutherland sisters formed a close friendship with the young Princess Victoria. Shortly before her coronation as queen, Victoria asks the sisters to serve her in matters requiring the utmost discretion.
They are to become her secret servants...
Laurel, the eldest, is the first to be called. The Queen is threatened by her jealous cousin, George Fitzclarence, who is known for speaking treason. She asks Laurel to pose as a wealthy widow and use her charms to win George’s trust, then find out what he is really plotting. Laurel is prepared for the risks of acting a part, but she encounters an unexpected and formidable obstacle in the Earl of Barensforth--George’s friend and a notorious rake, whom Victoria has warned her to avoid...
An undercover agent for the Home Office, Aidan Phillips, Earl of Barensforth, is on the trail of a financial hoax involving alchemy, murder...and George Fitzclarence. When a lovely young widow wanders into his path and turns his well-laid plans on end, he senses she is hiding something. Aidan is no stranger to seduction, or to the wiles of beautiful women. And he intends employing wiles of his own to uncover the lady’s secrets...
Actually, I’d had something else entirely planned for today’s blog, something relevant to MOST EAGERLY YOURS. But last week something truly wonderful occurred in my life, and I just have to talk about it.
The really odd thing is that this occurrence also happens to tie in with MOST EAGERLY YOURS in a way that warms my heart and raises goose bumps down my arms. In the story, the four orphaned Sutherland sisters are the childhood friends of Princess Victoria. Their fathers had military connections, and while the princess was young, her mother periodically brought her to visit the sisters on their uncle’s estate. The bonds were fierce, and when eleven-year-old Victoria confided in them about her startling and frightening discovery – that she would one day be Queen of England – the sisters immediately gathered around her in a protective circle of hugs and tears and encouragement, and promises that all will be well. On that day, in the privacy of an enclosed rose garden, hidden from the eyes of the nearby adults, a little secret society was formed. The sisters vowed to always be Victoria’s friends…even her secret servants if she ever needed them.
Soon enough, the Sutherland girls were deemed not important enough to continue their association with the heir-apparent, and ties with their dear little friend were broken… That is, until one night when England’s new queen leaves the palace on the sly and appeals to her secret servants for help in a matter that requires secrecy. What she asks is dangerous, but Laurel recalls the vow she once took. As if no time has passed, all the love and devotion she once felt toward the child Victoria is renewed. As much as she is willing to risk her welfare for her Queen, she is also eager to help her friend.
Because that’s what best friends do. They’re there for each other, no matter what. They listen, they lend support, offer encouragement, and even step in front of moving vehicles for each other.
Last week, while gripped by a bout of nostalgia, I googled an old friend. Not just any old friend, mind you, but my very best friend from way back in elementary school. The little girl who, on my first day of kindergarten, sat down next to me and became the sister I never had for the next several years, until I moved away, and then for a couple more years after that.
I really didn’t have any specific expectations. I just wanted to say hi, and see how she had faired over the years. Her response was immediate…and joyful. As was mine. By the end of that day, we’d corresponded back and forth several times, and now we’ve written several more times since. I can’t believe the ease with which we progressed from “how have you been?” to sharing very personal details of our lives over the years. Although we haven’t spoken on the phone yet, I “hear” my old friend’s voice in her written words, and I remember so vividly the times we held hands, polished each other’s fingernails, brushed each other’s hair, told each other everything and found strength in each other. We didn’t judge, we just listened and helped each other figure things out. When we were together, we were our own secret society and we never needed anyone else. With each other, we were always safe.
What I’ve discovered this past week is that in those simple, little girl friendships, there’s something powerful and honest and enduring. Now, nearly forty years later, we seem to be falling into the pattern of our old friendship. We can confide without judging or feeling judged. We can “whisper” our secrets to each other and feel safe.
I wonder, was I drawing upon this wonderful old friendship when I first conceived of Her Majesty’s Secret Servants? Maybe not consciously, but yes, what the Sutherlands shared with Victoria, I found somewhere inside myself. I also hadn’t consciously realized, until the other day, that it was the release of this particular book, as opposed to previous ones, that inspired me to seek out my own childhood friend, the “secret” friend of my heart that I’ve missed all these years. We still have a lot of catching up to do and so much to learn about each other – where we’ve traveled, our favorite books, movies and music, how we’ve dealt with being wives and mothers, what we hope for our futures – but there’s time for all that. It seemed impossible, but it’s just so good to have her back in my life.
Did you have a special childhood friend? How long has it been since you talked? Would you try to contact her now? I hope so! And I hope you’ll share your experiences with us today!