Today I am so pleased to welcome K.L. Noone to Joyfully Jay. K.L. has come to talk to us about her latest release, Midwinter Marriage. She has also brought along an exclusive excerpt. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!

 

I’m K.L. Noone, and thank you to Jay for letting me drop in to talk about “Midwinter Marriage” – happy to be here!

This story is the third (and final, or that’s the plan…) of my linked Midwinter Regency-with-minor magic novellas – they can all stand alone, though characters from each will pop up as supporting characters in the other stories! (The first two are “Midwinter Firelight,” which is Kit & Harry’s story, and then “Midwinter Music,” which is Sam & John’s story.)

“Midwinter Marriage” features a marriage of convenience, a classic “oh wait I’ve got Feelings” realization, demisexual representation, and a terrible Midwinter opera (about which, more in the exclusive excerpt)! It’s a story I hadn’t initially planned to write; Edmund had been in the background of the previous story, but I didn’t know him well, and he wasn’t terribly likeable. But then my publisher (JMS Books) had a call for stories involving a marriage of some sort, and my writer-brain wandered back to Edmund, and I wondered, well…just what sort of person would Edmund end up with, and what would happen if he had to get married, and what if his unlikeability has more to do with awkwardness and anxiety…

…and then I had a story.

I love a good marriage-of-convenience trope, and I also love historicals, and magic—I love playing with the fuzzy lines between history and fantasy, imagination and storytelling. So I’ve tried to make this alternate-Regency fairly close to reality, but just a little different: no major Epic Powers, but little magics, Edmund’s very localized weather-working or Sebastian’s ability to sketch a flower or a gear into life—for an hour or so. Little bits of enchantment, which seems appropriate for a Midwinter fairytale!

And, speaking of fairytales, this story is very much one! It’s got a wicked father, a handsome prince (well, a duke, in any case), a musical interlude, and a gathering of helpful side characters, ready to be Edmund’s chosen family, by the end. And, of course, a happily ever after!

…and I did promise a musical interlude, didn’t I? I always have playlists for my stories; this one has a variety, from The Struts’ “Bad Decisions” to Garbage’s cover of “Because The Night” – but I also got to write my characters going to the aforementioned opera! In this scene, Edmund and Sebastian attend a Midwinter performance—and Edmund has a few critiques.

I hope you enjoy!


Excerpt

The theatre glittered. Twinkled. Sparkled like an artist’s dream of a thousand snowflakes, possibly an artist with delusions regarding the world’s attachment to silver lace. Edmund had given up attempting to make sense of the plot—some ludicrous snowdrift fluff about the Winter Queen falling in love with a mortal prince—and had begun idly calculating the cost of the jewels in her Winter Tiara, if they’d been real and not costume-diamonds.

Sebastian leaned over. “How’s your headache?”

“Better. Those never last long.”

“A day counts as long, when you’re in pain.”

“I’m not,” Edmund said, after a moment. Had Sebastian always worried about him quite so much? “Or only as a consequence of this production. Ice elementals exist, but they are simply creatures, and they’re certainly not ruled by any sort of monarch, and even if they were, that monarch would be something quite otherworldly and likely not attracted to a human suitor…”

“This,” Sebastian said. “This is why I’m marrying you.”

“Because…I…object to childish winter operettas?”

“Something like that. It’s logical, you know. If you accept the basic premise—yes, I know, just accept it for a moment. Given the Queen’s existence, you can see how she might desire something new. Someone warm, when she’s never known warmth. Someone who brightens her cold realm.”

“I believe that song established that they cannot touch. He’ll melt her.”

Sebastian put a hand over his face. But he was also smiling. “Yes, that would be the difficulty. They’ll solve it.”

“Oh. You like Midwinter fairytales because the characters solve irrational problems in ways that are rational given their parameters.”

“Never let anyone tell you you’re not perfect,” Sebastian said, and actually reached over and gathered Edmund’s hand into his. They both had worn gloves, as far as proper evening attire went. That did not seem to make a difference, because at the touch Edmund’s protests about human tolerance of cold and potential freezing to death abruptly scattered into nothingness.

Sebastian added, “Listen to the music. The emotion of it. They’re separated right now, longing for each other…listen to the way the melodies interweave, and that loneliness, and then the hope, that flute coming in…”

Edmund could’ve argued. But Sebastian clearly saw, or rather heard, something worthwhile in the silly Midwinter performance, and Sebastian was holding his hand, in public, in their theatre box. For the world to see.

He shut his eyes to avoid looking at the distracting improbable Queen’s Tiara. He tried to listen. To hear what Sebastian heard.

Mostly he heard the elements, the layers, the technical detail. The piano, the violins, the cello. That swooping flute, as Sebastian had said: flying above, a lift and a promise, a response to the ache and longing. A brightness.

He opened his eyes to glance at Sebastian’s face. Sebastian was watching the performers, eyes soft, lips slightly parted. Enraptured, absorbed.

On the stage, the prince sang about finding a magic amulet, about a quest, about discovering a way to be with his love despite the cold. The Queen, for her part, vowed that she would give up her world, her throne, for love. If she could find him, could touch him.

That was a dreadful decision, and not one any self-respecting monarch would make. Edmund had many critiques. And yet, looking at Sebastian, he could not voice them.


Blurb

The Honorable Edmund Rookwood needs to get married. By Midwinter. Or his father will disinherit him.

Edmund has always tried to be a loyal son and dutiful heir — unlike his scandalous younger brother. But his father’s ultimatum seems impossible. Edmund has never fallen in love easily, and — according to his father — he’s a disappointment, inadequate, never good enough. Who would ever say yes to him?

Sebastian Melior, the Duke of Morinbrough, mathematician and inventor and Edmund’s best friend, offers to help. After all, Sebastian’s also unmarried, and they’ve known each other for years. So Sebastian’s proposal is a logical solution…

But this Midwinter marriage of convenience stirs up unexpected emotions. And Edmund and Sebastian just might discover they’ve been each other’s answers all along.

Buy Link: Amazon


Bio

K.L. Noone teaches college students about superheroes and Shakespeare by day, and writes queer romance – frequently historical, paranormal, or with fantasy elements, and always with happy endings – when not grading papers or researching medieval outlaw life. She is a Rainbow Award winner and a Queer Indie Book Award winner in Fantasy, and she also likes cats, rain, and good craft beer.

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