|Only a Hero Will Do.|
Susan Lodge, welcome to Romance Lives Forever. Let's talk about your book, Only a Hero Will Do.
Genre: Regency Romance
Barnes and Noble http://barnesandnoble.com/w/only-a-hero-will-do-susan-lodge/1107076321?ean=2940014973380
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Cover artist: Valerie Tibbs
Length: 71,000 words
Heat rating: 1
Hetty’s desperate gamble to avoid an odious match lands her all at sea. Can an overbearing ship’s physician really be the hero she needs to escape her treacherous family?
Marriage to a cruel dandy is not how Hetty Avebury envisions spending the rest of her life. Determined to raise funds to escape the match she earns money the only way she knows how--gambling. Her plans go astray and she finds herself onboard a man-of-war under the care of its stern physician. But Hetty soon realizes that the disapproving Doctor Withington is not at all the man she had first imagined
What are your main characters' names, ages, and occupations?
Hetty Avebury, aged twenty two--daughter of Sir Henry Avebury. No occupation (apart from covert gambler when in need of funds).
Doctor Robert Withington, aged thirty one--Physician to the Fleet.
Hetty stepped down from the post chaise with Annie in tow. Her eyes widened at the hubbub of Portsmouth Harbour, milling with all manner of people. The air vibrated with noise as officers, crewmen, tradesmen, and harbour officials all went about their tasks.
A shrill laugh made Hetty turn toward two women sitting on a wooden chest. The first -- dangerously close to spilling out of her grubby gown -- made strange gestures while the other leered through wide, painted lips. Hetty set off in the opposite direction then stepped back sharply as a barrow rolled across the cobbles, narrowly missing her toes.
Annie shadowed Hetty with increasing alarm. “Are you sure about what you’re doing, Miss Hetty? We could go back. It’s not too late to change your mind.”
“Annie, will you please walk beside me? Try to remember, I am supposed to be your brother not your employer. You must keep your arm on mine.”
Annie pursed her lips but did as she was told.
At five foot four, Hetty was tall enough to masquerade as a male. Her disguise was not of fine quality this time, as she had no desire to stand out in the crowd. It was serviceable and clean, if a little ill-fitting. She resembled a rather youthful clerk.
They had left in the early hours after Hetty had written her aunt a short note to tell her not to worry. She couldn’t risk anything else, as she knew Stark and her father would ask too many questions. If she knew nothing, Aunt Amelia wouldn’t have to lie -- something she didn’t like to do.
Hetty planned to secure passage to the Isle of Wight, where she would seek out her very good friend, Lucy Brampton. Lucy had been her closest companion until the age of nineteen, when she had married a successful businessman from the East India Company. They now resided in wedded bliss just outside Ryde. At least she would have a place to stay for a few days until
she planned her next move. Lucy would not let her down.
After a moment, Hetty and Annie searched for a respectable inn, both having missed breakfast. It was only after they had seated themselves in the Boar’s Head and ordered a modest meal that Hetty realized it was a bad choice.
The tables were occupied by groups of unsavoury looking males, half of whom were staring at Annie in a very vulgar way. Hetty looked around with a feeling of foreboding while picking at a cold rabbit pie. The room started to empty as a strange murmur of discontent rippled through the establishment.
Annie fidgeted beside her. “I don’t like it, Miss Hetty! It ain’t right.”
Hetty groaned. “Harry -- not Miss Hetty! For heaven’s sake, Annie!”
“Beg pardon…Harry,” she said, as though the name was blasphemous, “but I think we should go now.”
Hetty agreed and prepared to rise when the door shot open and the remaining customers scattered in all directions. A small party of hefty men, armed with wooden batons, sauntered in and stopped in the center of the room, assessing the occupants.
Annie grabbed Hetty’s arm. “It’s the press-gang!”
It took a moment for Annie’s words to register then Hetty swallowed violently. If only her skirts were back on. One of them noticed her and narrowed his eyes with a terrifying gleam like a predator.
He pointed his finger her way. “Now, lad, I reckon you look ripe for adventure. Eager to serve your king, I wager.”
Hetty shook her head and grasped Annie. “No, sir, I have my sister here to look after.”
The man wandered closer, his fleshy face beamed and his voice cajoled. “What’s your name, lad, and how old are you?”
“Harry Blake. I am fourteen.” Surely that is too young.
The man considered her for a moment, and Hetty didn’t dare to breathe.
Logic ceased. Hetty ducked under the table and tried to crawl toward the door, but one of them crunched a foul-smelling boot down on the small of her back, and her breath escaped in one whoosh of pain. A large hand hoisted her up by the neckcloth and placed her on her feet. Another voice entered the nightmare.
“Hang on, Clarkson, look at him. He’s too puny -- and look at them hands!They be soft as my arse.” He spat on the floor in disgust.
Hope reared for a moment, but Clarkson was not to be dissuaded.
“But we be desperate. Mr. Haines said so. I daren’t go back with less than ten hands. Boy’s got to be useful for something.”
Hetty glared and opened her mouth to declare her true identity, when she was roughly hauled over Clarkson’s shoulder and carried outside.
Interview with Hetty Avebury
Tell us about yourself.
Good evening KayelIe. Thank you for inviting me to talk to you today.
I was born in Hampshire, England and reside at Avebury Hall. My life has always been comfortable financially, being the daughter of Sir Henry Avebury. But since my mother died of scarlet fever, five years ago, things have not been so pleasant. I have acquired a step mother who likes to spend money--so much so that she has now landed the Aveburys in debt. So, something has to be sold to raise funds--and unfortunately it is I.
Lord Stark is to be my betrothed. However, as his title is the only good thing about him, I have no intention of marrying the awful man.
What do you think is your strongest point?
I am an optimist. Although this quality has been sorely tested in the last few months. But I remain convinced that my circumstances will improve.
Do you have a weakness? (If so, what do you think it is? What does your lover think it is? What does your enemy think it is?)
My weakness is gambling. I cannot resist a game. Luckily I am very good at it. My step mother and my betrothed, both unpleasant creatures, do not realize that I am able to gain funds this way. Therefore you might also say it is a strength.
As for lover! Where an earth did you get that scandalous suggestion from? My reputation may be in ruins but honestly the rumors about me are grossly exaggerated.
What drives you to do the things you do? What makes you want to be liked
Everyone wants to be liked--do they not? I do what I think is the right thing at the time but it often turns out to have been exactly the opposite. I have often been told that I think too much for a female.
What's your favorite guilty pleasure?
I often dress as a young man. This is to protect my identity when attending some gambling venues which do not care to admit females. I adore it when I am able to escape wearing my stays.
If you didn't know how old you were how old would you be?
There is so much of life that I have yet to experience so at times I do not feel very old. Then again there have been many times in the last year when I have been criticized for still being unwed. Apparently at twenty two I am virtually on the shelf.
A biography has been written about you. What do you think the title would be in six words or less?
Things a Lady should not know.
If money were not an object, where would you most like to live?
As far as possible away from Lord Stark and my scheming stepmother.
If you were a tool, what would people use you to do?
I can be rather impulsive and rush head long into trouble. So may be a battering ram.
Picture yourself as a store. Considering your personality and lifestyle, what type of products would be sold there?
Books! I can never get enough of the exciting informative kind (if you understand my meaning). The attendant at the library always examines my choices, so they are limited to the mundane.
As a child, what was your favorite thing about school?
I did not go to school. I had a governess who taught me the excessively dull, embroidery, water colors and etiquette. However after a lot of persuasion my father did permit my brother’s tutor to teach me mathematics. Learning about mathematical probability was the greatest education ever (considering my gambling tendencies).
Tell us an embarrassing story
I could fill the page with embarrassing things that have happened in the last months. Being taken by the press gang, whilst trying to secure a berth to the Isle of Wight. Being sick (twice) over Doctor Withington’s coat--–luckily it was only his second best. Then there was the time I was caught in Lady Bertram’s garden alone with Lord Stark. I still cannot understand why everyone thought that it was my fault. The man tricked me.
If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
Take in moderation. You may experience side effects, such as headaches, confusion and sudden bouts of laughter.
Please Fill in the Blanks as the character
I love eating shortbread with elderberry cordial.
I'm always ready for another shortbread.
When I'm alone, I wonder if I have inadvertently upset everyone.
If I had a halo it would be buried at the bottom of my reticule where I could ignore it and carry on with my life without feeling guilty.
If I could swim I would feel much safer when onboard a Royal Naval ship in the middle of a war.
About the Author
I have been writing stories for ever but only in the last few years seriously started marketing my work. My first success was a short story published in a national woman’s magazine in the UK. This small but long awaited success prompted me to finish my novel Only a Hero Will Do.
I live in England so I am surrounded by locations which inspire me to write historical romance. The historic naval dockyard of Portsmouth and Jane Austen’s house at Chawton are just two great places to relax whilst contemplating the next challenges for my Regency heroes and heroines.
Having worked in a variety of locations in the South of England, including London, Bristol, and Portsmouth, I have always been surrounded with maritime history, so it is not surprising that this novel is partly set at sea.
I am working on another regency story and hope to have it completed for the new year.
Finally a big thank you to Kayelle for featuring ‘Only a Hero Will Do’ on the Romance Lives Forever Blog.