Please welcome guest author Beverley Eikli back to the blog. If you’ve read Beverley’s earlier posts here at the blog you know what an adventurous life she’s led. If you’ve missed her posts I urge you to look back and read them. Today Beverley is taking us in a little different direction and sharing some of the experiences that shaped her sense of adventure.
The things that Change Us
By Beverley Eikli
When I finished school I spent a gap year working and studying in the UK.
I was a shy, studious eighteen year old who had never been away from my family so joining friends of my parents at their holiday home in Portugal was a huge adventure.
It was the summer of 1983 and at the end of this two-week stay I activated my month-long Eurail pass at the Penedo railway station, intending to travel to Germany to meet friends of friends with whom I’d travel for the next four weeks.
It was going to be the adventure of a lifetime but little did I know how much it would shape my attitude towards the way I lived my life.
Shortly after the train began its journey, a ‘go-slow’ strike delayed my arrival by more than 12 hours – and, not surprisingly, there was no one waiting at the designated meeting point.
In those days overseas communication for most backpackers like me meant a pocketful of coins fed rapidly into a phone box or a handwritten letter. Now here I was at Cologne railway station, alone for the first time in my life, with no way of contacting these people.
It was a shock, to say the least. I couldn’t return to England and waste my Eurail pass. I couldn’t ask my parents for help – or worry them.
I think the turning point was the reaction of the German woman who asked me in the Ladies Rest Rooms why I was crying. Instead of sympathy I received a very matter-of-fact, “Vell, it is a beautiful day. The sun is shining and you have a month to enjoy it. Go and make the most of it.”
It was just the advice I needed. Within half an hour I was sailing down the Rhine being fed pieces of salami by a couple of friendly American young men. The sun was shining and suddenly I was filled with the most extraordinary sense of adventure.
Traveling on my own certainly meant I met a lot of people. At eighteen I was small and didn’t look my age and people of all ages seemed to take a protective or motherly approach towards me. I was invited back to stay at the homes of young Swiss and Germans in between making up my own itinerary that took me through Italy, East Berlin, Yugoslavia, and France. I loved the freedom.
My letters home to my parents outlined my activities using the plural ‘we’ and, all in all, I had a ball. Yes, there were some terrifying occasions, like getting off a train in the middle of the night in Germany and discovering I was in a field where the train must have stopped to pick up milk or drop off the newspapers. After trudging through paddocks I entered a forest, terrified, for it was nearly midnight and I couldn’t even find a road. Eventually I saw a light in the distance. You can imagine the shock with which I was greeted as I walked in on a hall full of beer-swilling German men.
You might also imagine my terror as I slid onto the bench seat of the car belonging to one of them while I prayed they’d drive me to the next town, as promised. They did.
And so at the end of lots of adventure I emerged, unscathed, with a healthy appreciation of what amazing things one can do on one’s own, and the wonderful freedom of making all one’s own choices.
I certainly don’t want my daughters to do as I did, and I’ve subsequently developed a very healthy attitude towards risk. There are risks in everything. But there’s also the need to take risks to reap bigger rewards. That’s mostly what I learned during this fateful month away.
In my books my nineteenth century heroines, cosseted by convention and family, often take risks, to benefit themselves or their families.
Here is the blurb for my most recent Regency Romantic Intrigue, A Little Deception – nominated Favorite Historical of 2011 by ARRA (Australian Romance Readers Association) – in which my heroine, Rose, does just that.
A one-night charade to save the family sugar plantation wins loyal and determined Rose Chesterfield more than she bargained for – marriage to the deliciously notorious rake, Viscount Rampton.
“A love match!” proclaims London’s catch of the season who happily admits he has been hoist on his own petard.
But when his new wife is implicated in the theft of several diamond necklaces Rampton wonders if her deception goes beyond trapping him into marriage. Is she the innocent she claims, or a scheming fortune hunter with a penchant for money, mischief and men?
Here is an excerpt:
‘MISS CHESTERFIELD.’ Miss Chesterfield. The name should have provoked rage; instead, Rampton was dismayed by a surge of feeling that was so far from rage as to render him no better than a slavering schoolboy when confronted with the object of his adolescent obsession.
‘Show her in,’ he said, struggling for the self-possession that had always been second nature to him and tossing aside the reading matter which had failed to engage his attention for the past hour.
So, she had come to state her terms.
Having been caught well and truly in flagrante delicto, he accepted he had no one but himself to blame. Experience with women had tuned his antennae finely when it came to sensing all manner of ruses calculated to inveigle him into matrimony. But Lady Chesterfield – Miss Chesterfield, as it turned out – had slipped entirely under his guard.
Stonily he faced the door while he waited for her to enter, the events of the past week flashing through his mind. For twenty-four hours after she’d been hauled off by her brother, Rampton had paced his study like a caged lion, fueling his anger with the multiple lies and untruths she’d fed him as he tried to relive exactly the moment at which he should have become aware of her deception. Any half-intelligent man would have sensed that not all was as it seemed at the very outset, he told himself.
Cynically, he had waited for Miss Chesterfield to call and negotiate the terms of his matrimonial incarceration. He had practiced all manner of snide and ironic responses, while his anticipation at seeing her again had grown steadily more unbearable.
He wanted only to tell her what he thought of her.
So he assumed.
But she had not come, and that had been worse.
After three days he had snapped. Arriving unannounced, he had confronted a pale and patently uncomfortable Sir Charles in his study and stonily dictated the terms of a marriage contract. He was a man of honour and he had compromised a lady. She was the clear victor in their final round; she had more than just pinked him. Now he must pay the price.
Rampton had been prepared for a rambling defense from Sir Charles of his sister’s behavior. And, if Sir Charles were in a robust mood, perhaps a healthy lashing of recrimination for Rampton.
But when the young baronet said only that his sister did not wish to marry him Rampton was at last moved to anger.
‘Doing it too brown, sir!’ he declared. ‘She engineered that little scene so that I’d have no choice but to suffer her joy as she leg-shackled me on her triumphant progress towards the altar!’
Sir Charles, looking white around the gills, concurred miserably, ‘I know, I know. But she’s made me tell you, expressly, sir, that she has no intention of holding you to marriage. That, in fact, she does not desire it.’
‘Does not desire it?’
He could not believe it. It was all part of the charade. There was a trick involved somewhere, though right now he could not see it.
Not want to marry him?
Why, every unmarried female participating in the social whirligig was there with only one thing on their minds and most of them saw waltzing off with him as the ultimate feather in their caps.
Not want to marry him? When she’d gone to such pains to ensnare him?
The very notion was preposterous.
He would not believe it.
Thanks so much for dropping by.
Beverley Eikli wrote her first romance when she was seventeen. However, drowning the heroine on the last page (p550!) was, she discovered, not in the spirit of the genre so her romance-writing career ground to a halt and she became a journalist.
After throwing in her secure job on South Australia’s metropolitan daily The Advertiser to manage a luxury safari lodge in the Okavango Delta, in Botswana, Beverley discovered a new world of romance and adventure in a thatched cottage in the middle of a mopane forest with the handsome Norwegian bush pilot she met around a camp fire.
Eighteen years later, after exploring the world in the back of Cessna 404s and CASA 212s as an airborne geophysical survey operator during low-level sorties over the French Guyanese jungle and Greenland’s ice cap, Beverley is back in Australia living a more conventional life with her husband and two daughters in a pretty country town an hour north of Melbourne. She writes Regency Historical Intrigue as Beverley Eikli and erotic historicals as Beverley Oakley.
You can buy the book here
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