Message From The Author
As it happens with many of my books, the idea for PRINCESS CHARMING came out of my research. I was reading about women who had suffered under the antiquated marriage and property laws of 19th-century England. These were real women I was reading about, women with names, women who, having suffered themselves, tried to better the lot of all women. And so there came to me the idea of the Ladies Lending Library in Soho Square, a sorority of ladies who hold out a helping hand to women in distress. Without these resourceful women, I would have had no story to tell.
Gwyneth Barrie, a war widow with a young son to support, is one of these women. At the Librarys annual Open House, Gwyn and another young woman inadvertently exchange coats, and from that moment on, Gwyn becomes the target of a cold-blooded killer.
Jason Radley is a distant cousin whom Gwyn has not seen in eight years. She has good reason to keep Jason at arms length, a reason he knows nothing about. But good reason or not, when she is plunged into a nightmare of murder and deceit, there is no one she would rather have on her side than the man who once broke her heart.
Visit my website at www.pangea.ca/thornton or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For those of you who have read Whisper His Name, youll meet Richard Maitland and Harper again in PRINCESS CHARMING. Look for Richards own story in THE PERFECT PRINCESS, coming October 2001.
Excerpt from PRINCESS CHARMING
Who is Princess Charming, Mama? [her son] Mark asked.
The question gave Gwyn quite a jolt. Princess Charming was what Jason used to call her, meaning the opposite, of course.
Where did that come from?
I asked Cousin Jason why he wasnt married and
Mark, you didnt! Thats a personal question.
Well, he was asking me a lot of questions.
Oh he was, was he? Her tone of voice brought a frown to Marks face. Recovering herself quickly, she went on with a smile, That was to be expected, I suppose. I mean, we are cousins, and we havent seen each other in a very long time.
She smoothed the covers on Marks bed. She folded his clothes. She tidied the towels at the washstand. Finally, losing patience, she said, Well, what did Jason say when you asked why he wasnt married?
Oh. He said he was waiting for Princess Charming to come along.
Gwyn gave a short laugh. Then hell wait till doomsday.
But who is she, Mama?
Shes the perfect woman, and as any sane woman knows, she doesnt exist. When Mark looked puzzled, she elaborated, That was Cousin Jasons way of saying that he hasnt met the woman yet whom he wants to marry.
Jason had always made fun of her hair. Carrot Top, hed called her when they were children. She hadnt minded because sometimes, just sometimes, if Jason had no one else to play with, hed allowed her to trail after him. And where Jason went, she was sure to follow, even if she had to do it by stealth, which she frequently did.
All that changed when he turned fifteen. He didnt want her near him at any price. Trish told her why. Jason, it seemed, had discovered girls, not skinny girl-children like they were, but older women of eighteen or nineteen, women whom they were not likely to meet in her mothers drawing room.
She, Gwyn, had straight away succumbed to a monumental huff. She was no longer wanted, not even accepted on sufferance, and that hurt. In fact,
she was crushed.
The years passed, and her hero-worship of Jason faded. By the time she was sixteen, she was as scandalized as Grandmother Radley by Jasons reputation. Scandalized and fascinated. Shed seen how Jason looked at women and they looked at him, and it did something peculiar to her insides.
She made up her mind, then, that she was one female who would never fall under Jason Radleys spell. And just to show him how immune she was, she attached herself to George.
Hell never marry you, Gwyn, Jason said once. Dont you understand? George has to marry for money. Now take me. Im a younger son. Nobody cares whom I marry. Why dont you try those soulful looks on me for a change? Of course, well have to wait a few years till youre all grown up.
His eyes gleamed with laughter. She stomped off in a rage.
She gazed at her reflection without really seeing it.
Well be seeing a lot more of each other from now on.
She was twenty-six years old. Shed been a soldiers wife. Shed seen things, done things, that most women could never imagine. She wasnt going to let Jasons careless words frighten her.
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