Sunday Spotlight on Daring and Decorum

Daring and Decorum, the first volume in what the author hopes will become a series, is a highwayman’s tale with a delightful twist, due out August 1 from Supposed Crimes. It features rambles across lonely moors, daring rides on horseback, sword-fights, unexpected desire, a bit of botany, and endless cups of tea.

The second volume, covering the period of Elizabeth’s first book publication and art showing in London, is entitled Silence and Secrecy. It deals with the secrets Elizabeth must keep to lead a life she never could have imagined choosing, but which now seems the only possible one for her. The author hopes to see it published sometime next year.

Both books feature as a background (and sometimes as a foreground) the political milieu of mid-1790s England: poverty contrasted with lavish wealth, bread riots, calls for political reform, counter-charges of treason and sedition, the movement for abolition, and above all, the fear of the French revolution being imported to British shores.

A separate story involving the highwayman will appear in an upcoming holiday box set from The Final Draft Tavern (which will also feature stories from Jude and Mari Christie!).

Buy Links for Daring and Decorum:

Amazon | Amazon UK | Website | Smashwords

Excerpt from Daring and Decorum

Miss Elizabeth Collington and her widowed friend, Mrs. Rebecca Burgess, have just emerged from a concert in Bath’s Upper Assembly Rooms when they are accosted by an old friend of Elizabeth’s.

I enjoyed the concert, but in truth I found Bath’s constant round of entertainments rather a chore, and was already beginning to long for the quiet routines of home. I was about to voice this thought to Rebecca as we emerged from the Upper Rooms after the performance, when I spotted Anthony and two other gentlemen in the crowd, moving toward us. They made a distressing sight. Anthony appeared not to have changed clothes since the previous night, and had even slept in them, judging by their disheveled state. His cravat hung limply from his collar, its diamond stud missing. His tailcoat remained unbuttoned, and his waistcoat was only partly fastened. His companions were in a like state of undress. Worse, they leaned on one another and staggered together as if they were under the influence of strong drink.

Rebecca pulled on my arm, whispering in my ear, “This way, Lizzie. Pay them no mind.”

But it was too late. Anthony had seen us, and had already tipped his felt hat to us. I could not give my oldest friend the cut direct, no matter his condition. I felt a measure of sympathy for him, and concern over what evils these companions might even now be encouraging in him.

“Lord Burnside,” I greeted him, giving a brief curtsy. I did not smile, but let my eyes show my concern. Rebecca, standing to my left, regarded me for a moment before at last giving her own curtsy.

“Lizzie—” Anthony said with a slight bow. He seemed the soberest of the three. “Miss Collington, I mean.” He turned to Rebecca and did the same. “Mrs. Burgess.” As he straightened, he tried to stand more erect, and to restore some semblance of propriety to his countenance while fumbling at the buttons of his tailcoat. “I hoped we would find you here.” Remembering his manners, he turned to his companions. “Allow me to introduce my friends, Lord Hartwood and Lord Petersly.”

Anthony might have recovered something of his gentlemanly manners, but his companions had not. Before either of us could curtsy to them, the one standing next to Anthony, Lord Petersly, exclaimed, “So this is the one you’ve been pining over. Damn me, Burnside, I can see why!”

Anthony gave him a cutting glare. “Petersly, remember where we are.” Around us, the crowd leaving the Assembly Rooms was thinning as sedan chairs carried people away, but we were still in danger of creating a scene.

As Anthony seemed unable to control his friends, I turned to see how Rebecca would manage the situation. She glared coldly at the three, meeting Anthony’s apologetic gaze at eye level. She had to tilt her head back to look up at Lord Hartwood, who now moved up to her on her left, returning her glare with his own frank appraisal of her person. “I always did like a tall woman. Mr. Burgess is a lucky man.” With an arch grin, he stepped within an impertinent distance of her.

“Stand a pace farther off, my lord,” Rebecca said, fiddling with the sleeve at her right wrist. I had never heard her voice sound so grim and hard.

Just then my attention was directed away from her as Lord Petersly grasped my right hand and pressed it to his lips. Never had I been so glad of my kidskin gloves! Even still, I could feel the rasp of his unshaven chin through the cloth. “It is the greatest pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss Elizabeth,” he said.

I pulled back at his use of my Christian name, which he should not have known, but he still grasped my hand in his own. Anthony looked on in mortification, but seemed incapable of the slightest attempt at restraining his friend.

“Burnside may have a family that thwarts his desires,” the lout went on, “but I assure you I do not. I would be glad to pay my attentions to a young lady of such blushing manner and attractive person.” His eyes roved up and down, taking in every inch of me.

Finally Anthony had heard enough. “Come now, Petersly.” He grasped his friend by the shoulder to pull him away, stepping in between us as he did so.

Just then there was a jostling on my left as Lord Hartwood gave a cry. I turned to see him sprawling into the street, Rebecca looking down at him as she rearranged the skirts of her gown. All around us the remaining concert goers gasped and paused to watch. “You’re in your cups, my lord,” Rebecca said, “and you’ve trod on my gown.” She put a protective arm around me as the fellow got clumsily to his feet.

“You—” he stammered. “She—”

“What?” Rebecca snapped. “Are you saying a woman threw you to the ground?”

“No, of course not! That would be absurd!” He stared around in confusion. “Apologies for my clumsiness, madam, and—for treading on your gown.”

Rebecca turned me away from them. “Come, Miss Collington, let us leave the young lords to their entertainment. We have an early start tomorrow.” We didn’t bother waiting for chairs, but made our way down the square in front of the assembly rooms toward Alfred Street.

We had not gone far when Anthony made to follow. “Please! Wait!” he called after us. “You must accept my profoundest apologies for my friends’ reprehensible conduct. Please, won’t you allow me to escort you?” He seemed almost sober now.

Rebecca froze and turned halfway to him. “Oh, certainly! We never know when we might be accosted by a trio of drunken wastrels.”

Meet Larry Hogue

Lawrence Hogue’s writing is all over the place and all over time. He started out in nonfiction/nature writing with a personal narrative/environmental history of the Anza-Borrego Desert called All the Wild and Lonely Places: Journeys in a Desert Landscape. After moving to Michigan, he switched to writing fiction, including contemporary stories set in the desert and fanfiction based on the videogame Skyrim. He’s a fan of folk music, and got the idea for Daring and Decorum while listening to Loreena McKennitt’s outstanding adaptation of Alfred Noyes’ poem, The Highwayman. When not speaking a word for nature or for forgotten LGBT people of history, he spends his white-knighting, gender-betraying energies on Twitter and Facebook, and sometimes on the streets of Lansing, MI, and Washington DC. He’s been called a Social Justice Warrior, but prefers Social Justice Wizard or perhaps Social Justice Lawful Neutral Rogue.

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