Miss Richardson Comes Of Age (Zebra Regency Romance)

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Authors: Wilma Counts
works of popular novelists?”
    “Some of them.” She was suddenly on her guard.
    “And the authors?”
    “Some of them,” she repeated. “I know Mr. Scott, for instance, and Mrs. Edgeworth. Wh-what are you proposing?”
    “I intend a rather scholarly analysis of the phenomenon of the modern novel.”
    “I see . . .” But she did not see, really, what he was about.
    “I shall, of course, include in my study the works of our friend, Miss Emma Bennet.”
    “I see . . .” Now she not only felt foolish in repeating herself so, but she felt a twinge of apprehension slither through her. What was he up to?
    “I shall interview such of them as I can. I would have liked to interview Miss Austen,” he said regretfully.
    “Her death was very untimely—not, mind you, that death is ever considered truly timely.” She thought this a morose comment, so she added brightly, “But her work will continue to delight for some time to come.”
    “Yes. I think hers will do so.”
    “You—you wanted my help?”
    “Yes. As you know more of London society in general than I—and apparently have some familiarity with the literary scene—I wonder if you could help me locate Emma Bennet so that I might interview her?”

    Annabelle was stunned. “L-locate Emma Bennet?” she stuttered.
    “I thought you might have some ideas on the matter,” Lord Rolsbury said.
    “N-not really.”
    “Have you no interest in the matter at all? I should think you would bear some resentment of her high-handedness.” He gave her a penetrating look.
    “Well ...” Annabelle struggled for a response. “In truth, the portrait of the heiress was not as devastating as that of the suitors.”
    “Precisely. That is what led me to believe you must be known to her. Though I am forced to observe that the piece does not present a very flattering view of you, either.”
    “I had not thought of it as flattering or unflattering.” She realized this was the truth. She had concentrated on caricatures of the other persons in the story and just let the character of the heiress develop in relation to those around her.
    “I do not see much in the way of real characterization in the portrait of the heiress in that story,” Rolsbury said. “She has not your spirit —she is far too passive.”
    Annabelle knew she would find amusement in this scene later, but for now she did not know whether to be offended or flattered. On the one hand, Rolsbury had just accused Emma Bennet of shallow character development. On the other, he apparently viewed Miss Richardson as far more likable than the heiress in the story.
    She gave him what she thought must be a vacuous smile and said, “Thank you—I think. Probably the writer intended to focus on other characters.”
    “Probably.” He sounded vague and she hoped he was tiring of the topic. “So? Can you help me?”
    She chose her words carefully. “I do not see how I could possibly produce the information you need.” Lord! How she hated lying. She was surely no better at it than Letty.
    “In your circles, you might come across something.”
    “I will try to keep my eyes and mind open,” she said.
    They went on to discuss other matters, but for Annabelle the easy camaraderie of the first part of their conversation was gone.
    Several days into his research on popular novels, Thorne abruptly realized that he was violating the first rule of scholarship. He was trying to justify a preconceived notion instead of keeping an open mind to see what he could learn about what was, after all, a fairly new literary phenomenon.
    True, telling stories was perhaps mankind’s oldest form of entertainment. The novel, per se, had appeared only in the last century, however. When he set about defining his terms and examining his primary sources, those brilliantly skewering judgments seemed no longer quite so brilliant.
    He wanted to test some of his ideas, but the London Literary League was not due to meet for another two

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