Monday, 26 March 2012

Reluctance by Jen Black

 From a review by Margaret Scott Chrisawn, Ph.D

"This is a historical romance in the best sense of the genre.  Jen Black has captured the setting of the North Country with such precision and spare, elegant descriptions that the reader could be nowhere else but Northumberland.  She has done the same with her characters who, from the two protagonists to minor figures who pass briefly through the novel, are rendered with precision and such beautiful detail that they become real, rather than one-dimensional actors from a stock play.  One of the most difficult aspects of a book any book, is dialogue, and if the characters speak to each other as if they’re reciting lines from a very bad play, this ruins the story, no matter how inventive the plot.  The dialogue throughout the story is crisp, funny, moving, emotional, and above all, believable for each character who speaks.  Not an easy thing to accomplish, but Ms. Black is a master at it."


Frances did not dare move, hardly dared to breathe. The slightest movement would draw his attention to her. She held her breath and hoped he would drift off back to sleep.

He would be furious she had invaded his home, his privacy, his grief.

How had she ever thought coming here had been a sensible thing to do? Arriving alone at a gentleman’s house was the height of folly. As she stared at him, her reasons suddenly seemed specious indeed. His well-being was not her concern and never would be.

Her thigh muscles ached from holding her in such an awkward position against the door. Skin prickling with unease, heart thundering against her ribs, she waited. Oh, dear Lord, she was going to collapse to the floor if he did not shut his eyes soon. Her thighs burned and trembled. She had to breathe—

His hand flopped to the mattress, his head rolled on the pillow, and his wide, vacant gaze slowly focused on her. “Why, Lady Rathmere…”

Through the thunder of blood in her ears, his voice reached her as if from a great distance.

His brows drew together. “What the blazes are you doing here?”

Frances struggled upright and took a step away from the door. “To, er…see you got home safely. After last night. You know. You were drunk and probably don’t remember.” Frances shook out her skirts and tugged the jacket of her riding habit into place without looking in his direction. Her face burned and prickled as blood suffused her skin.

He groaned.

He sank back against the pillows, a fingertip pressed to each temple.

Clearly he had a monstrous headache. Her mouth twitched. There was a God after all. If she simply opened the door and retreated, he might not notice until too late.

Her hand closed on the door knob.


She glanced over her shoulder and sucked in a shocked breath. His hollowed cheeks, tangled hair, and shadowed eyes spoke of sleepless nights, misery, and deprivation. With a huge effort, he pushed to his feet and stood there swaying as if a huge wind roared through the room.

Reluctance, by Jen Black, will be published in April by MuseItUp Publishing.


Lindsay Townsend said...

Wonderful excerpt, Jen! And a wonderful review! Thoroughly well deserved!

Jen Black said...

Thanks Lindsay!