Q: Hello, I am speaking to you from Pittsburgh, 1888, and I am speaking with Margaret Bernstein, ladies’ maid. Thank you for joining me today, Margaret. Tell me about your position.
A: I am in the service of Mrs. Regina Waring. You’ve heard of Waring Glassworks? That’s her.
Q: A woman runs the business?
A: She has since her husband died. Before he died, she was still the person running it, but no one would never admit to just how much of it she was doing. She was the one with the brains, not her husband. Which is why he married her in the first place, I think.
Q: I thought here in the 1880s, a woman’s sphere is supposed to be the home?
A: That may be true in plenty of places, but not in this household. Mr. Waring was no more traditional than his wife.
Q: What happened to Mr. Waring?
A: He died in a horrible explosion while he was on a trip to Minnesota. Mr. and Mrs. Waring own flour mills, you see, and he went to tour some of the big mills up there that are built next to St. Anthony’s Falls. And he happened to be there when the biggest mill exploded. He was not in the building anymore, but he was crushed by a wall that fell on top of him.
Q: But Mrs. Waring chose to carry on in his absence?
A: Mrs. Waring always carries on. Nothing ever slows that woman down. Fortunately, I’m good at fixing her hair in a hurry.
Regina Waring seems to have it all. A loving husband, a successful business, and the most expensive wardrobe in town. But nothing is what it appears to be. Her husband is critical and demanding, the business teeters on ruin, even the opulent wardrobe is a clever illusion.
Regina’s life is one long tiptoe through a minefield; one wrong step and her entire life is going to blow up and destroy her. Attempting to hold it all together, she appeases the husband, dresses the part, and never, never says what she is really thinking. That would get in the way of getting things done. And, if there’s one thing Regina did really well, it was getting things done.
Enter Thomas Baldwin. Young and handsome and completely off limits, Regina is smitten at first sight. Then, to her great astonishment, he slowly becomes her best friend. He’s the one person in her life who never lets her down. Torn between her fascination with him and her desire not to ruin a marvelous friendship, she tries to enjoy each moment with him as it comes.
If only that were enough.
Regina pounded the pavement from bank to bank, begging, taking out loans, laying awake night after night trying to figure out how she was going to keep everything afloat. As Tom had said, times were hard, businesses were failing daily.
Regina’s businesses would not have been among the ones in danger – if only Henry had seen fit to give her the benefit of the doubt. But eight years of marriage and one successful business arrangement after another meant less to him than the chemistry of male bonding.
As with every crisis she had faced thus far in her life, Regina gritted her teeth, and looked for the lesson to be learned. This time, she concluded that no one really listens to what you have to say. Telling people not to do something is pointless. They will do what they want. The people you trust most will let you down. Her parents had. Her husband had.
When Lucy returned from the ladies’ cloakroom, Regina excused herself and went in. After she’d deposited her cloak and retrieved her fan, she stared blankly at her reflection in the long mirror.
Her youngest sister Abigail was the cleverest seamstress in the States. Having a good dressmaker was a special sort of secret weapon. The more prosperous she looked, the less anyone would suspect how desperately close to ruin the Waring empire was.
She forced herself to smile and lifted her chin a little. “Attitude is everything, my girl,” she told herself. “Go in like a queen, not a pauper. Men will do favors for queens much more eagerly than they will for beggar girls. Abi can make you look like a queen; your job is to act the part.”
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE
Jeanette Watts will be awarding a Victorian cameo necklace to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn host.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Jeanette Watts only lived in Pittsburgh for four years, but in her heart, she will always be a Pittsburgher. She missed the city so much after her move to Ohio, she had to write a love story about it.
She has written television commercials, marketing newspapers, stage melodramas, four screenplays, three novels, and a textbook on waltzing. When she isn’t writing, she teaches social ballroom dances, refinishes various parts of her house, and sews historical costumes and dance costumes for her Cancan troupe.