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Victorian Historical Romance
BY DANA WAYNE
She’s running from the past
The jagged scar on Bea Lockhart’s face never lets her forget she’s damaged goods, unsuited for marriage or society. Hidden in the shadows, she efficiently runs her father’s fashionable New York mercantile, making it the place for the social elite to shop.
But her soul cries out for more, making her easy prey for a handsome rogue who ultimately destroys her trust. Shattered, she flees to a small town in Texas.
He wants a family
Lucian Moreau was raised by his wealthy, unsympathetic grandfather. An educated world traveler, he had everything a man could want.
Except a family.
When his grandfather proposes an arranged marriage between two powerful New York dynasties, Luc agrees, believing the union will provide what he lacks.
Instead, betrayal forces him to see the charade his life has become. Angry and hurt, he leaves everything behind to start over in Texas.
Past and Present Collide
Haunted by deception and a lifetime of loneliness and rejection, these two lost souls find love at last.
But when past and present come together, will their love be strong enough to stop the collision from destroying their future?
How it All Began
One of the questions I get asked a lot is how I got started writing books. Well, my love affair with words began when I was a child, sitting in Daddy’s lap as he read passages from this stack of paperback westerns he kept by the side of his favorite chair. I was amazed someone could paint a picture with words so vivid I could see it in my mind. And that’s when I decided I wanted to be able to do that, too.
Well, we all know life has a way of forcing us to make detours and U-turns along the way, and I was no exception. But always in the back of my mind, this dream simmered, and waited for the chance to blossom.
Over the years, I wrote things for the newspaper, short stories and poems, and things for writer’s group anthologies, but nothing really satisfied the writer-hunger inside until I retired in 2013 and had time to pursue that dream.
I quickly discovered that putting words on paper is one thing, forming those words into a cohesive story is a whole other ball of wax.
I hooked up with a couple of writers’ groups and learned a lot, but it wasn’t until my first really hard critique session that I discovered how much more I had to learn. It was both enlightening and discouraging.
When I got home, I told my husband I might as well give up and be a greeter at Wal-Mart because I didn’t think I had the stuff to be a writer.
He disagreed and refused to let me quit because he knew how important it was to me. With his encouragement and unwavering support, I got back on the horse so-to-speak, and I’m so glad I did. I took their critiques and polished my submission – several times. And my second critique session garnered more positive reactions, which inspired me to keep going. With each and every critique, I found a way to get better.
On June 30, 2016, at the age of sixty-six, a lifelong dream became a reality when my first book, Secrets of the Heart was published. A book whose first critique nearly had me in tears, questioning if I had the right stuff to write, went on to win first place in a statewide contest, and I never looked back.
Today, I am working on book #7, all self-published, and my work has won two international awards, several state awards as well as nominations for other awards.
I absolutely love what I do. I love the whole creative process that begins with an idea that expands and changes with each ‘what if’ until I finally reach ‘the end’.
By the way, those are a writer’s four favorite words…‘what-if’ and ‘the-end’. Every what-if you answer brings you closer to ‘the end’.
If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be this: Never give up on your dream because you are never too old to achieve it.
Victorian Historical Romance
BY DANA WAYNE
East Texas, Late February 1879
A rain-sleet mixture pelted the grime-coated window of the train car, leaving a trail of muddy streaks puddled at the bottom. Beulah Mae Lockhart considered this less-than-auspicious welcome to Texas a good omen. Start bad end well was her philosophy. At least, she tried to make it so.
She pulled the oft-folded piece of paper from her handbag and smoothed it over her lap. A newly awakened sense of strength bolstered her spirits, and her body vibrated with new life as she reread it. I, Frank Barker, owner of Bakersville General Store, Bakersville, Texas, do hereby sell said business, building, and all contents to B.M. Lockhart of New York City. Sale includes the inventory listed below, the house located behind the store, and any items left behind.
Bea scanned the list already committed to memory, which was nothing like the items stocked by her father’s upscale mercantile in New York. Basic frontier supplies: farm tools, flour, sugar, lard, seed. No silk or satin. No crystal or silver service. Nothing extravagant. Nothing special.
But it was hers. And one day, it would be special.
She returned the treasured document to her bag and shivered as frigid air seeped around the edge of the window. The heavy wool coat was no match for the deep chill ingrained into the wooden floor that leached into her feet despite her leather boots and thick stockings. Only another hour or so. I can stand it that long.
A woman seated across the aisle ducked her head when Bea caught her staring at the jagged scar on her right cheek. Bea didn’t bother to adjust the hat’s veil to cover it. She refused to hide anymore. People would accept her as is, disfigurement and all, or they could go to, well, they could go away and leave her be.
Bea sat up straighter and addressed the woman. “Are you from Bakersville?”
Startled, the woman flinched and looked at the scar again rather than meeting Bea’s gaze. “Um, yes. We live in town.” She shifted in the seat, eyes finally making contact. “I’ve not seen you around before.”
“I recently purchased some property there.”
The woman’s eyes lit up. “I’m Eunice Martin. My Jeb runs the post office and telegraph. The only thing I know for sale around here is the mercantile, but I heard someone named B.M. Lockhart from New York bought it. Is that your husband?”
Bea countered the question with one of her own. “How long have you lived there?”
The look of disappointment on her companion’s face was so acute Bea almost felt sorry for her.
“About six years.” The woman cocked her head to one side. “You’re not from around here, are you?”
Mrs. Martin’s eyes lingered over the scar, and Bea struggled to stifle the angry retort hovering on the tip of her tongue. She refused to explain it to anyone, especially someone so noticeably rude. “I understand there is a rather nice hotel in town.”
“There is.” She blustered and sat up straighter, gloved hands clasped over an expansive waistline. One bushy brow arched upward. “If you don’t mind associating with…well, her kind.”
Bea’s protective instinct kicked in with a vengeance. A victim of unwarranted bias because of the scar, she had no tolerance for discrimination or prejudice. “And just what kind is that, Mrs. Martin?” She made no effort to temper the iciness in her voice.
Seemingly unaware of Bea’s disapproval, the woman’s face became infused with what appeared to be misguided happiness.
“She’s not married.” She leaned forward, and her voice dropped though no other passengers were close enough to hear. “And has a child.” She straightened and sucked in a self-righteous breath. “And you know what that means.”
It took Bea a moment to regain her composure. “No, I don’t know.” Before the nasty woman could say more, she cut her off. “And neither do you.”
Mrs. Martin sputtered and sat back in the seat, blinking rapidly. “I’m merely trying to help.”
“Are you now? By implying the owner of the hotel is somehow unworthy of my patronage simply because she has a child?”
“She doesn’t have a husband,” snapped Mrs. Martin, “and no one knows why.”
“Meaning you don’t know, and for that reason alone, you supposed the worst-case scenario.” Bea sat up straighter. “I do not listen to gossip and prefer to evaluate people based on how they treat me. And others.” With that stiff reprimand, she turned and looked out the window, effectively ending the conversation.
Unfairly shunned by her family and society as well, Bea quickly related to the unknown woman’s plight. Ever since the accident when Bea was thirteen, she stoically endured her mother’s declaration that the scar somehow made her unworthy of love or even affection. Tutors and other household staff tried to fill the emotional void caused by her parents’ coldness.
But, thanks to her grandmother’s steadfast love and support, Bea managed to grow up relatively well-adjusted but painfully shy. Her sudden death eight years ago left Bea inconsolable for weeks.
Until that surprise visit from Granny’s lawyer. The sizeable and unexpected inheritance provided a much-needed boost of self-confidence and initiated a series of long-overdue changes. The first one being her refusal to relinquish control of the money to her father, who believed women in general, were ill-suited for such things.
Thanks to the guidance and support of her late grandmother’s lawyer and banker, Bea discovered she possessed a shrewd head for business. Using her beloved grandmother as inspiration, Bea began to consider a future away from New York and her parents.
Still, after years of being told she was somehow defective, it took time to gain the confidence to not only venture outside the home but convince her father to teach her how to run his fashionable mercantile, albeit from the back rooms. The only reason he relented was her mother’s declaration that since Bea was completely unmarriageable, “She may as well make herself useful.” Under Bea’s leadership, Lockhart’s quickly became the place for the social elite to purchase whatever the most current rage happened to be.
Until disaster struck in the form of one Edmund Wilshire Abernathy III. Surprised and flattered by the handsome aristocrat’s attention, Bea fell hard and fast. Three months later, they became engaged.
Even now, her face burned with shame as she recalled the debacle. One would think a woman thirty years of age would be smart enough to see past the smooth-talking Englishman to the scoundrel lurking beneath the surface.
Thankfully, Bea ignored her mother’s insistence she grant Edmond control of her finances before they married. Otherwise, he would have likely squandered it all on his worthless schemes before his real character became known. Some of her parents’ friends and her father were not so lucky.
Image was everything to her parents, and the subsequent scandal rocked their world. They placed full blame on Bea for the debacle, despite the fact it was her father who brought Edmond into their home and encouraged their relationship and subsequent engagement.
That disastrous event set her feet on the path she now trod.
She wasn’t surprised when her parents’ first concern upon hearing of her plan to leave was if she intended to replace the money Edmond swindled from them.
She suffered no qualms in refusing their request.
The screech of the train’s whistle interrupted her musings. She stiffened her back and inhaled. The past is gone. My future starts today.
The steam engine’s dirty window and swirling smoke obscured her view as the train rolled to a stop.
She allowed herself only a moment’s hesitation before rising to meet her future.
Dana Wayne fulfilled a lifelong dream to become a published author at the age of sixty-six with the release of her first book, Secrets of The Heart. Since then, she has self-published six highly regarded and award-winning novels as well as two cookbooks. Among the many awards her work has garnered is the prestigious international Best Indie Book Award for Contemporary Romance, the 2022 Bronze Medal for Contempoary Romance from Readers Favorite, and a 2022 Quarter-finalast in International BookLife Prize Contest.
A strong advocate for new writers, she started a podcast in 2020 called A Writers Life where she shares her experiences and provides tips on writing as well as inspiration and education.
A sixth-generation Texan, she still resides in the Piney Woods. She is a sought-after speaker and frequent guest on various writing blogs. A die-hard romantic, her heart-warming stories are filled with strong women, second chances, and happily ever after.
When she isn’t writing or spending time with family, she is an avid crafter, especially Christmas related items, her favorite being table top Christmas trees, a craft she learned from her mother.
Links to Dana’s websites, blogs, books, #ad etc.:
Universal Buy Link: books2read.com/u/3kvKOK
Special Giveaway: Dana will give away a free e-book or signed paperback (U.S. Only) of UNVEILING BEULAH to one lucky reader who comments on her Karen’s Killer Book Bench blog.
Thanks, Dana, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!