Thanks to the magic of the interwebz, Miss Ellie Vyne, intrepid heroine of Jayne Fresina’s The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne, dropped by the virtual offices recently to introduce herself. She also brought along a present for one of you to win – a copy of the book she stars in!!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.
[Ellie] Loves to dance, usually trips!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share a typical day in the life of Ellie Vyne?
[Ellie] I always emerge from bed with the absolute certainty that all will go well. Within half an hour I am usually safely disabused of that notion.
When a guest of my sisters, I rise early. I never like to cause too much additional work for the staff. I am in the way enough as it is, and frequently reminded of it. Once dressed, I must then endure breakfast. This is an event during which my sisters will lecture me about deportment, my sadly inadequate looks, my stained gowns and the importance of finding a husband before I am utterly lost. They fear, of course, that as I grow older and don a lace cap, I shall look to them for my food and shelter. They have no idea that I am the one who has provided for them as best I can all these years. Somehow they imagine their father, the Admiral, has managed it all on his stretched Navy pension. But it is much better that they have no inkling of the manner in which I paid for their society debuts and weddings. They have very small brains already overloaded with the trials of their daily lives—inefficient housemaids, hems that require stitching, books that take too long to read, you know the sort of thing— and I wouldn’t want to increase their worries or labors.
After breakfast we must sit and find "worthy" employment until noon. The less said about that the better. Then guests will pay visits. You might imagine this could provide some much needed jollity, but by rule these visits must never last longer than half an hour and frequently never exceed a quarter. There is barely time to ascertain the state of a person’s health in so short a visit, let alone find out anything of juicy detail. It is hardly worth putting my book down to listen, but if I do not I must suffer the red-hot poker pricks of my sisters’ angry looks. So I close my book, tilt my head and look intensely concerned about the muddy state of the path this morning, Mrs. Smith’s husband’s gout, the goat’s cough and —aha, a lively piece of news at last—the sow’s dramatically reckless escape from the pen in which she was supposed to be serviced by the boar. Poor sow; I know how she feels.
Of course, now my sisters are married and have taken up superior residency in London, their neighbors have even less interesting tales to relate.
If I am staying at Lark Hollow, my stepfather’s house in the country, visitors are kept to a minimum, for in the afternoons he naps—if he can find a spot in the house where rain is not dripping through the roof. Later he will play cards or chess with me and I must always allow him to win, for he is a very poor loser and will sulk grandly for three hours if he is not the victor. Trust me, you would never want to see the Admiral in a sulk.
In the evenings, at my sisters’ houses, one is expected to participate in whatever "entertainment" they are attending or hosting. At such painful times I generally like to pretend I am someone else and somewhere else! Again I think with reverence of Mrs. Smith’s daring boar and consider breaking my way to freedom with a merry "oink". I should like to see my sisters chasing me about the garden, trying to corral me back into the party.
When invited to join friends in Brighton or Bath I have a vast deal more fun and, naturally, more opportunity to use my disguise as the count de Bonneville. Balls start at ten and seldom finish before three in the morning. Then there is no early rising! What I get up to on those occasions it would be indiscreet to tell.
As you see there is really no typical day for me. I never know what fate has in store for Ellie Vyne.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words come to mind when you think of James?
[Ellie] Villainously charming menace.
There are a great many more. It is cruel to keep me to only three!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is his most annoying fault?
[Ellie]He believes nothing I tell him.
Again, there are so many more from which I must choose only one, alas!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the sweetest thing he’s ever done?
[Ellie] Saved me from the fate of a wallflower recently by asking me to dance, even when I had a torn dress and trifle on my rear. I’m sure he had an ulterior motive, but it was rather sweet. Even I must be forced to acknowledge it. I suppose. But he is a Hartley and good deeds do not come naturally to them, so it must have taken a vast effort on his part.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What made you start masquerading as Count de Bonneville?
[Ellie] Someone has to help with my stepfather’s debts. Admiral Vyne, you see, has fine champagne tastes on a bad ale budget. At eighty it’s much too late to make him change his ways and I promised my mama, on her deathbed, that I would take care of him. After all he had saved us both from a shipwreck once. Then my younger half-sisters both required dowries and wedding trousseaus. Raising a family is a most expensive undertaking, so I found. But once I began the masquerade as an exiled French count, just to gamble at cards and fleece unsuspecting aristocrats of their coin, I began to enjoy the role. It is a wonderful escape to be someone else for a while.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How close have you come to having your ruse discovered?
[Ellie] I cannot be sure of that. I often wonder how I get away with it and occasionally I think I’m being followed, but who would ever guess that Miss Ellie Vyne is behind it all? I mean, I look so innocent. Don’t I?
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Do you find the threat of being caught more frightening or more exhilarating?
[Ellie] Oh, exhilarating, most definitely! I suppose, as an aged spinster of twenty seven, I should be very bored if I did not have that excitement to keep me on my toes. Time enough to sit in a corner with my sewing once I have "retired" the count for good.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be?
[Ellie] I would never have painted an ink moustache on James Hartley’s face while he slept under a tree.
Wait…what am I saying? I most certainly would. Of course I would. How could I resist? He really shouldn’t have been laying there. It was asking for trouble. I daresay he should even thank me for the lesson he learned from that incident.
And how was I to know that no one would tell him what was drawn on his face—that he would walk about like that for the entire day?
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?
[Ellie] My mama’s pearls. They are dainty and elegant, which is almost enough to make me feel dainty and elegant too. It is all I have left of her, so I carry them with me always.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your dreams for the future in five words or less?
[Ellie] Books, fireplace, sleeping dog. Peace.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
Here’s more info about the book:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jayne Fresina sprouted up in England, the youngest in a family of four girls. Entertained by her father’s colorful tales of growing up in the countryside, and surrounded by opinionated sisters— all with far more exciting lives than hers— she’s always had inspiration for her beleaguered heroes and unstoppable heroines. Her next novel in the Sydney Dovedale regency romance series, Lady Mercy Danforthe Flirts with Scandal, will be in stores in June 2013. For more information, please visit www.jaynefresina.com and check out her blog: http://jaynefresinaromanceauthor.blogspot.com/.
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