Evolution Series Book Three: Vain
by Jill Hughey
Lily had her life planned, neat and tidy as thread on a spindle, until her mother died and her father snipped at the seams of her future by abandoning Lily in their shop. A nobleman unexpectedly gives her hope when he brings fabric for a special garment. Lily survives on his first payment, and immerses herself in sewing and embroidering an incomparable garment for him, as her tidy plan continues to unravel.
Theophilus, Lord of Ribeauville, takes his responsibility to his townspeople seriously and, therefore, does not dally with local women. Desire wars with duty when Lily glances up at him while adjusting the hem on his Easter tunic. As her deteriorating circumstances push them together, Theo and Lily learn that the path to his heart just might be through his wardrobe, though the exquisite outfit she creates is the only part of her that fits in his precarious aristocratic world.
PRAISES FOR “VAIN”:
“I absolutely loved the story!” – Gina Ardito, Excellence in Editing
I received a copy for free in exchange for a review. My thoughts are my own. There were issues getting this book to me through no fault of the author, and I did read beyond my usual speed to get this done though I received the book today. I wasn’t sure where the setting was and I assumed she made it up, but I do love historical. If this was in France, I missed it. If it’s real, then even cooler.
What I liked about the book were Lily and Theo. They kept me reading because I cared about the characters. He’s smart. She’s strong. Together they pulled through through, but at times it seemed impossible. I do love cinderella stories. I will go through later and read at a more leisurely pace and I don’t ever reread books as I suffer from total recall when I pick up a book and start again. So I definately missed out on good stuff. I know and I recommend reading this book. It was great.
Release Date: March 14, 2013.
Genre: Romance, historical, medieval
Jill Hughey has loved historical romance since sneaking peeks at her mother’s library years ago. She has enjoyed writing just as long. She prides herself on deep character development, and settings that take her readers on long, satisfying journeys to places they have probably never been in a book before.
Jill lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. Her hobby is singing lessons, in which she studies classical soprano and some lighthearted works.
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The book contains fully consummated sex scenes similar to most historical romance. The language is sensual, not graphic.
TOP TEN ACTORS TO PLAY THEO
Many authors find pictures of half-naked men to “flesh out” the physical appearance of their male characters. I don’t. My new release is Vain, and it is the first book for which I even sought headshots of characters. These I gleaned randomly off the internet. No celebrities included. So, needless to say, the request to pick, not one, but TEN actors who could play my hero was a little tough but ended up being surprisingly fun!
The hero in Vain is named Theophilus, though it is often shortened to Theo. He is a nobleman in Charlemagne’s Empire. The important characteristics an actor would need are the ability to portray both authority and sympathy, soulful eyes, a tidy beard around the mouth only, and a strong but not overly bulky physical build. He must be aristocratic, and I found myself drawn to English and Irish actors.
I had to use the IMDB website to make sure I was choosing men the right age. Scrolling through the “Best-looking and Talented Male Actors Under 40” list is not a bad way to kill a half hour of your life, I’ll tell you that. Here’s the link if you want to look up these handsome gentlemen.
- Rupert Penry-Jones – he’d have to dye his hair a little darker, but his hazel eye color, ability to play both cool detachment and sympathetic tenderness, and overall gorgeousness would overcome any other obstacles. Solid body without steroidal overtones = perfect. If you haven’t seen the version of “Persuasion” where he looks deeply into Anne’s eyes and says A man does not forget such a passion with such a woman…. OMG, he rocks Jane Austen.
- Jonathan Rhys Meyers – hair would have to be longer and darker, and too bad about the addiction issues, but he can play the tender aristocrat. I love him in “August Rush”.
- Ryan McPartlin – anyone watch the TV series “Chuck?” I always liked Ryan’s voice.
- Matt Bomer – another “Chuck” actor, currently on “White Collar” and cute as a button. Love that strong jaw.
- Adam Brody – perfect hair, good eyes, and if you haven’t seen “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” his fifteen minutes are wonderful.
- A young Richard Gere (if I had a time machine), because of the hair and the shape of his eyes. Lily, the heroine, describes Theo’s eyes as soulful and a little droopy at the outer corners, and I often thought about Richard Gere’s eyes as I was writing. He definitely has the authority with sympathy thing down, too.
- Hayden Christensen – nothing like going from “Star Wars: Episode III” to the Middle Ages!
- James Franco – he wouldn’t be my first choice – a little too popular and sort of odd, if one believes the tabloids. His looks would work, though.
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt – that’s a stretch, but maybe….
- Max Thierot – no idea if he can act, but the looks are right on.
Thanks for having me. This was a fun exercise!
Lily did not know what had changed. For just a moment, her lord had appeared angry, and now he jerked at the tunic like it did not fit properly when, in fact, she had done admirably well. “Please, my lord,” she interjected when the pins and threads tacking the tops of the shoulder became visible between the pieces of fabric. “You do not have to decide now. You also do not have to destroy it. I will fix whatever has displeased you.”
He froze. His hazel eyes, heated instead of droopy with kindness, flicked onto her. “Will you?”
She retreated another step, unsure of his meaning. The distrust on his face oddly combined with sudden, intense interest. This fitting had become very strange. Her insides had sparkled when she touched him. Could he have sensed that? “My lord, if you are satisfied with the general fit, I will have plenty of work to do. You can decide about the sleeves and hem another day.”
He straightened, finally letting the hem drop, but kept his narrowed eyes on her. “I like the sleeve where you have it. I am undecided on the hem,” he finally intoned with careful enunciation.
She lifted her hand to indicate his arm. “Can I just mark it, sir? The roll will come undone when you take the tunic off.” His eyes narrowed even further. He nodded curtly. She scurried to find her chalk and made one quick streak of white on the sleeve. “Should I help you?” she asked, trying to recover their professional manner of dealing with one another.
“No. Wait outside while I change,” he ordered.
Oh, dear. She rushed out the door, flustered. What had happened? Everything had been fine until she’d begun making adjustments to his hem. That had felt horribly awkward to her. Had it bothered him too? She had been trying to do her job briskly, just as her father had always done. Maybe a man did not mind another man touching his hem but very much minded a woman doing so. Lily sighed, pressing her back against the wall, then resting her head there, as well. Even though she occupied the same world she always had, every day brought unforeseen and unfamiliar questions and challenges. She did her best to guess and fool her way through it all. In truth, the only time she felt comfortable in her own skin was when she worked on the lord’s tunic. Or at least she felt comfortable when her lord was not in the tunic as she worked on it.
She sighed. If only her father had returned. He would have that hem rolled and marked in a thrice. He would explain Riculf.
He would talk to Cluny and set her life on the right course again.
Her lord emerged, once again smartly attired in the green tunic and mantle she had sewn last spring about this time. He did not know she had sewn it. Her father had done the fitting. She had made every cut and stitch. “Father is never coming back, is he?” she blurted.
The question did not surprise him. He stood straight and proud and confident in his own comfortable life. “Not soon enough,” he said.
At first she did not understand the answer. Then it clicked. Not soon enough to help you. Not soon enough to manage Riculf or Cluny. Not soon enough to return you to normalcy or even respectability. “He lives with a woman?” she asked, eager to familiarize herself with all the ugliness at once.
Her lord cursed softly under his breath. “Yes. He misses your mother desperately.”
Her hand flew up, and she pressed the back of it to her mouth, stifling an unwanted sob of distress. She turned away to compose herself. “It must be very difficult for him,” she observed with the feeling of seeing things from a great distance.
“I did try, Lily. I reminded him of his duty to you. I reminded him of your mother. I tried every argument.”
Unwarranted resentment boiled up in her. Who was this Theophilus to involve himself in her life? Why should she feel gratitude when he stood so calmly to tell her how bad things were? Why should he be allowed to make her uncomfortable in her own shop? How dare he? She bit the inside of her cheek against the angry, unfair slander she wished to shout at him.
“Thank you, my lord,” she gritted as meekly as she could manage. “I appreciate your efforts today. I am sure you have pleasanter plans for tomorrow. Now, I must continue my work.”
She forced herself stiffly through the door. She did not close it until she heard her lord’s retreating footsteps. The tunic waited, lovingly spread on the worktable. Her strange, quick anger receded, replaced with the more sane and familiar despair.
Her fingertip traced across the slightly overlarge shoulder to the clever neckline. This neckline was the only perfect thing left in the entire world, as near as she could tell. Tonight, she would rework the shoulders. Tomorrow, she would sew the pleats and join the body pieces and sleeves. Soon, she promised herself, she would make tiny invisible stitches around this neckline, and that would be one right thing. And she must consider the embroidery. She must devote some time to the pattern.
Blessedly immersed in her work, she did not let herself think about Father anymore.