Guess the Mystery! Today's lovely host is Vicki Delany. Vicki will be giving away a copy of the second book in the Lighthouse Library series, Booked for Trouble to the lucky winner.Winner will be chosen on Saturday. Good Luck everyone!
Only in the very back of my mind, in my most secret dreams, did I ever dare hope I’d have such a moment.
Too bad it was being ruined by the cacophony of false compliments and long-held grievances going on behind me.
The party was a private affair, a viewing of the new collection for staff and board members of the Bodie Island Lighthouse Library, as well as local dignitaries and community supporters, before the official opening tomorrow. We were celebrating the arrival of a complete set of Jane Austen first editions, on loan for three months. Jane Austen. My literary idol. So close.
I tried to block out everyone and everything and concentrate. I rubbed my hands together. Perspiration was building inside the loose white gloves. That, of course, was the purpose of the gloves: to keep human sweat and other impurities off the precious objects.
I took a deep breath, closed my eyes. And I touched the worn leather cover. I imagined I could feel the very power of the words themselves coming up through my fingers. “Incredible,” a voice beside me said.
My eyes flew open. I snatched my hand back, embarrassed to be caught in a moment so emotional, so personal. “Go ahead, honey,” Bertie said with a laugh. Her eyes danced with amusement. She understood. “Open it.” “Am I allowed to? I wouldn’t want to damage anything.”
“These books are precious, to be sure. But they’ll be put back in their cabinet soon as the party’s over. And they’ve been cherished, cared for, and thus aren’t as fragile as some would be at that age. Enjoy, Lucy. Enjoy. But don’t spend too long here. I have people I need you to meet.”
The head librarian touched my arm lightly, gave me another smile, and went back to her guests.
I turned the heavy cover, flipped pages with shaking hands, and was soon gazing in awestruck wonder at the frontispiece of the first volume of Sense and Sensibility, by “A Lady.” A Lady all the world now knew to be Miss Jane Austen. An illustrated first edition, printed in in 1811. I closed my eyes again and breathed. The scent was of old paper and aging leather, carrying with it memories of the foggy streets of London, the sound of horse’s hooves rattling across cobblestones, the gentle rustle of skirts and petticoats, and flickering candlelight.
All I wanted to do was to gather the volume into my hands, spirit it away to a cozy corner with a good reading lamp, and curl up, to spend the rest of the night simply enjoying it. Reading it, smelling it, touching it. To be lost in Austen’s delightful pastoral . A world of balls and dances. Of men in handsome uniforms and women in beautiful gowns. Romance and laughter. As well as foolishness and heartbreak. Sense versus sensibility.
With a sigh, I remembered that I had duties. They might be informal ones, but they were still duties.
Eva Gates is the national bestselling author of the Lighthouse Library cozy series from Penguin Random House, set in a historic lighthouse on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The third book in the series, Reading up a Storm, was released on April 5, 2016. Eva is the pen name of Vicki Delany, one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers, author of the Constable Molly Smith series from Poisoned Pen Press and the Year Round Christmas Mysteries from Penguin Random House.
Find them at www.vickidelany.com.
Facebook: Vicki Delany & Eva Gates (evagatesauthor) and
twitter: @vickidelany and @evagatesauthor