Jennifer's Journal


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fair Incognito

Writers make mistakes.  Distracted by life events—deaths, births, weddings, divorces, family accidents and illnesses— we sometimes let small story problems slip past us.  Normally these are caught by our editors or noticed and corrected during the reading of line edits or page proofs.  Now and then, one makes it into print.  Very few have actually gotten that far in my sixty-something books and novellas, but a fairly obvious one showed up in my 2007 novel, ROGUE'S SALUTE.  This involved the love scene between Nicholas and the "Fair Incognito" at Tivoli Gardens.


That I failed to resolve this small mystery truly bothered me when it was brought to my attention after the book was published, yet it seemed nothing could be done about it.  The books had been printed and shipped; I had others to write and little time to consider old errors.  Then a couple of weeks ago, I received an email asking in plaintive tones, "Is Juliette going to spend for the rest of her life thinking Nicholas betrayed her with the "Fair Incognito"?"


Two things became immediately clear.  First, readers sometimes become so involved in a story that the personal problems of the characters linger in mind long after the book ends.  Second, it wasn't strictly true that the question couldn't be resolved.  Though books four and five in the series had already been written, there was a sixth and final book in the making.  Surely I could find a place in it somewhere to include a solution for this issue?


That's the point of this message then, to promise that the "Fair Incognito" question will be settled between Nicholas and Juliette in the final book of the series, TRIUMPH IN ARMS (working title.)  And for those who can't wait that long – January of 2010! – I'm including here a small interruption of the scene on page 499 of ROGUE'S SALUTE, where Nicholas explains the actions of his former enemy and new brother-in-law by marriage, Daspit.  These few additional words will, I hope, provide some sense of completion for all those who would rather not wait over two years to see what I might write!


Addition to the summation in Rogue's Salute, written in Juliette's point of view, Nicholas speaking after the two of them are finally alone in their bedchamber.  He's stretched out on the bed while she sits at her dressing table:


"…When I weathered the small storm of Cables's death, primarily because no one cared what became of a Gallatin Street whoremaster – forgive me, but I know other term which fits – then Daspit thought he would surely have to meet me on the dueling field at some point.  Or meet me again since he thought I had taken him to task for his mistreatment of his placée, to demonstrate how I could threaten his health and his pretensions.  He had us waylaid at Tivoli Gardens with the idea of making this future match more even."

            Juliette looked up abruptly, her heartbeat stuttering in her chest.  "Us?"

            "Us," Nicholas said with precision.  "You and I, my Fair Incognito."

            Fair Incognito…

            "You knew.  All this time, you've known it was I who left the masked ball with you, walked with you into the dark garden, shared…"

            "Of course I knew,' he answered in rough certainty.  "How could I not?  I had held you, breathed your sweet scent, tasted your lips.  Who else could so destroy my concentration that I allowed a pair of ruffians to surprise me, almost overpower me?"

            He had known.  A great weight seemed to rise from her shoulders, taking with it every doubt she'd ever harbored.  "You might have said so."

            "What, and spoil your pleasure?"  He shook his head while soft remembrance rose in his eyes.  "And mine."


            "No, no, discovering the passionate lady behind the nun was far too intriguing."

            "You were intrigued?  Truly?"  A slow smile tilted her mouth as she held his dark eyes.  "I'm…glad."

            "Don't," he said in vibrant command.


            "Don't look like that or it will be the end of both my recital and my better intentions."

            "No, not yet," she said softly, lowering her gaze to the hairbrush in her hands.  "Go on, if you please."

            "It isn't what I please at all—"

            He stopped, drew a deep breath.  After a moment, he continued, though the words had a random sound.  "At any rate, in Daspit's mind the garden attack was imminently fair since he considered that I had set upon him unfairly in the earlier midnight duel, one actually perpetrated by Croquere while masked.  It was only this morning that Daspit recognized, finally, that I had never sought to harm him."


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