Release date: September 1, 2014
In 1859, ladies of New York society are expected to do three things well: find a husband, organize a household, and have children. But despite her mother’s best intentions, making her debut is the last thing on Rosemary Fitzpatrick’s mind.
Writing the popular Harry Hawk dime novels as F.P. Elliott, she’s too busy hiding her female identity from her new publisher, Henry Cooper. To protect her clandestine career, she ends up posing as the enigmatic author’s secretary.
Henry is not the typical Boston Brahmin, nor the typical publisher, and Rosemary entrances him from the moment they meet. As they work together and grow closer, he wonders how his traditional-minded father will react when he brings her into the family, because Henry firmly intends to marry the working-class woman.
But when her deception begins to unravel at the cotillion ball, will Henry be able to forgive her or has deceit cost her the man she loves?
Sensuality Level: Sensual
Becky Lower has traveled the country looking for great settings for her novels. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love, amid the backdrop of a great setting, be it present-day middle America or on a covered wagon headed west in the 1850s. Contemporary and historical romances are her specialty. Visit her website at www.beckylowerauthor.com.
An excerpt from The Duplicitous Debutante:
New York City, March 1859
Rosemary Fitzpatrick laid her fountain pen on the paper, oblivious to the blob of ink that fell from its tip and damaged the page. She picked up the letter she had received earlier in the day.
It was her own gun, and she was staring down the barrel.
The letter informed her that her publisher, Page Books, had been sold, as Mr. Page had retired. The new company, Cooper and Son Publishing, was sending an envoy from Boston to New York to meet with all the authors. And to decide whom to keep.
She read the words between the lines. And whom to cut.
She had never met Mr. Page. All their correspondence had been through the post. So Mr. Page had no idea one of his best-selling dime novel authors was a woman. F.P. Elliott was the name she’d come up with when she was only fourteen and submitted her first story, not once imagining she’d become one of Mr. Page’s most productive and popular authors.
She had only two days in which to find someone to impersonate F.P. Elliott.
Rosemary ran her ink-stained fingers through her hair as she pondered what to do. The logical choice, and her only real hope, was her older brother Halwyn. But he was married now and settled. And, despite the fact he loved his sister, Rosemary doubted he’d ever cracked open one of her books.
Well, it was worth a try, anyway. She hastily stood, removed her pinafore—which was covered in purplish-blue stains resembling bruises, but protected her dress—patted her hair back in place, and glided down the steps from her garret study in the four-story townhouse to the main level, where she encountered her mother in the drawing room.
“Oh, good. I was just on my way upstairs to find you. Do come in.”
Rosemary took a seat opposite her mother, who picked up the embroidery she had been working on. Rosemary took a moment to smooth her pale blue muslin dress and inhaled her mother’s subtle, comforting scent of lilacs before she brought her eyes up.
“Mother, I have a problem.”
Her mother glanced up from her needlework. “Well, if it’s a problem with one of your stories, I’m afraid I can’t help you. I don’t know where you get your ideas. Help yourself to some tea and a bit of Cook’s tangy lemon cake, why don’t you?”
Rosemary rose and poured herself a cup of tea, forgoing the cake. “Well, indirectly, it is about my stories.” She took a deep breath. “Mr. Page has retired and he’s sold the company to a Boston publisher.
Charlotte Fitzpatrick’s eyes locked on Rosemary’s. “Oh, dear.”
“Precisely. And the new publisher is sending someone to New York in two days to interview all the authors Mr. Page currently has under contract. They insist upon an in-person visit. Whatever can I do?”
Charlotte tapped her finger on her teeth for a moment, before her face broke into a smile. “We’ll just have to find someone to be Mr. Elliott!”