Lord and Lady Chesham’s ballroom
It was a truth universally acknowledged that Maximilian Frederick DeVere, Lord Fox, was God’s gift to the ladies of London. He was taller and brawnier than his peers and in possession of the sort of chiseled good looks—above and below the neck—that were more often found in works of classical art. By all accounts he was charming and universally liked by men and women alike, though for different reasons, of course. He won at two things, always: women and sport.
Fox strolled through the ballroom as if he owned the place. He nodded at friends and acquaintances—Carlyle, with whom he occasionally fenced, Fitzwalter, who he had soundly thrashed at boxing last week, and Willoughby, who was always game for a curricle race.
Fox flashed his famous grin as he heard the ladies’ usual comments when he strolled past.
“I think he just smiled at me.”
“I think I’m going to swoon.”
“God, Arabella Vaughn is one lucky woman.”
“Was,” someone corrected. “Didn’t you see the report in The London Weekly this morning?”
Fox’s grin faltered.
That was when Mr. Rupert Wright and Lord Mowbray found him. Their friendship stretched all the way back to their early days at Eton.
“We heard the news, Fox,” Rupert said grimly, clapping a hand on his shoulder.
“I daresay everyone has heard the news,” Fox replied dryly.
It didn’t escape his notice that the guests nearby had fallen silent. It was the first time he’d appeared in public since the news broke in the paper this morning, though Arabella had so kindly left him a note the day prior. Everyone was watching him to see how he would react, what he would say, if he would cry.
“Who would have thought we’d see this day?” Mowbray mused. “Miss Arabella Vaughn, darling of the haute ton, running off with an actor.”
“That alone would be scandalous,” Rupert said, adding, “Never mind that she has ditched Fox. Who is, apparently, considered a catch. What with his lofty title, wealth, and not hideous face.”
Fox’s Male Pride bristled. It’d been bristling and seething and enraged ever since the news broke that his beautiful, popular betrothed had left him to elope with some plebian actor.
Not just any actor, either, but Lucien Kemble. Yes, he was the current sensation among the haute ton, lighting up the stage each night in his role as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet. Covent Garden theater was sold out for the rest of the season. The gossip columns loved him, given his flair for dramatics both onstage and off—everything from tantrums to torrid love affairs to fits over his artistry. Women adored him; they may have sighed and swooned over Lucien Kemble as much as Fox.
To lose a woman to any other man was insupportable—and, until recently, not something that ever happened to him—but to lose her to someone who made his living prancing around onstage in tights? It was intolerable.
“Just who does she think she is?” Fox wondered aloud.
“She’s Arabella Vaughn. Beautiful. Popular. Enviable. Every young lady here aspires to be her. Every man here would like a shot with her,” Mowbray answered.
“She’s you, but in petticoats,” Rupert said, laughing.
It was true. He and Arabella were perfect together.
Like most men, he’d fallen for her at first sight after catching a glimpse of her across a crowded ballroom. She was beautiful in every possible way: a tall, lithe figure with full breasts; a mouth made for kissing and other things that gentlemen didn’t mention in polite company; blue eyes fringed in dark lashes; honey gold hair that fell in waves; a complexion that begged comparisons to cream and milk and moonlight.
Fox had taken one look at her and thought: mine.
They were a perfect match in beauty, wealth, social standing, all that. They both enjoyed taking the ton by storm. He remembered the pride he felt as they strolled through a ballroom arm in arm and the feeling of everyone’s eyes on them as they waltzed so elegantly.
They were great together.
They belonged together.
Fox also remembered the more private moments—so many stolen kisses, the intimacy of gently pushing aside a wayward strand of her golden hair, promises for their future as man and wife. They would have perfect children, and entertain the best of society, and generally live a life of wealth and pleasure and perfection, together.
Fox remembered his heart racing—nerves!—when he proposed because this beautiful girl he adored was going to be his.
And then she had eloped. With an actor.
All the novels in my Keeping Up With The Cavendishes series are inspired by my favorite romantic comedies. Lady Claire Is All That is based on the 90’s rom com She’s All That. Basically, I write stories that I want to read—funny, witty, happy ever afters—and I delight in seeing mash ups of modern times and pop culture with historical romance.
What gave you the most trouble with this story?
The heroine of Lady Claire Is All That is a math genius and I am…not. At all. There isn’t much math in the novel (phew!) but what does appear is thanks to one of my dearest romance writing friends Caroline Linden, who happens to have a math degree from Harvard.
Name one thing you won’t leave home without.
Besides the obvious phone, wallet, keys, etc, I never leave home without my lipgloss. I’m addicted! My husband hates it.
Name three things on your desk right now.
Three things always on my desk: laptop, phone, caffeinated beverage.
A la Twitter style, please describe your book in 140 characters or less.
In Lady Claire Is All That sparks fly between a brainy heroine and the hot jock of the haute ton in this Regency remake of the rom com She’s All That!
What types of scenes are your most favorite to write?
I love writing the funny, teasing, loving banter between the four siblings in my Keeping Up With The Cavendishes series. Writing some good flirtation between the hero and heroine is also a favorite of mine.
How long have you been writing, and what (or who) inspired you to start?
I’ve been writing romance novels for about twelve years now (though I’ve been writing for longer than that). Then, and now, I write the book that I’m in the mood to read because I’m still a reader first!
What do you like best about being a writer? What is the most challenging part?
The best part of being a writer is not having to wear pants or interact with humans. The hardest part is when I have to put on pants and interact with humans J
mother’s insistence and it wasn’t long before she was writing her own. Maya is now the author of multiple Regency historical romances. She lives in New York City with her darling dog and a rogue of her own.