A little dose of reality never hurt anybody. Our Novel Magic feature this week is a historical romance inspired by true events.
J.L. Regen’s book–Secret Desires— was inspired by a real life story of lovers who join hearts against many odds. She lives in the New York metropolitan area, is a published photojournalist, has short suspense stories online, and has taught English as a Second Language to students around the globe. This is her first contemporary romance. She has also published three nonfiction books and is crafting a historical suspense set in World War II.
J.L. answered a couple of questions for us–just enough to make us curious. Take a peek and then read Chapter 1 of Secret Desires.
What is the inspiration for your new release?
What is the inspiration for my new book? A tribute in the form of a suspense with romance set in WWII to honor the memory of my beloved medic uncle.
Do you listen to music as you write? Share some of your favorite writing music with us and tell us how it influences your writing.
I can’t listen to music as it distracts me but classical is my favorite.
Do you have a new project in the works? Can you give us a sneak peek?
I have four projects in the works: The WWII novel, a scented suspense, and two romances with suspense–one international and the other set on a college campus.
Want more? Check out J.L.’s Amazon Author Page for contact info.
Secret Desires –Chapter 1–by J.L. Regen
Margo Simmons gripped the edges of the leather chair. Devastated after receiving a letter about her Uncle Harry’s death, she didn’t know what to expect from Mr. Steinberg. Her only other encounter with lawyers had been during the reading of her father’s will. Though she was only five at the time, she remembered her mother’s anguish over losing her husband and being a single parent.
An older gentleman clothed in pinstripes walked into the office as she reflected on the past.
“I’m sorry your mother couldn’t be here for the reading,” the family lawyer said. “You’ve grown into a lovely young woman.”
Margo blinked back tears at memories of good times shared with Uncle Harry. “Not so young. I’m twenty-three.”
The portly man squeezed himself into a swivel chair and peered at her over wire-rimmed bifocals.
Margo gripped her knees to steady her nerves. “They’re downsizing at her dress shop. She was afraid to leave early. My stepfather is furious because Uncle Harry didn’t leave him any money.”
Mr. Steinberg nodded in sympathy at the pained expression on the young woman’s face. “It saddens me to hear Jerry hasn’t changed. However, since you’re the only one present to hear your uncle’s will, I’ll get to the point. Harry has left you his Riverside Drive condominium and the sum of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.”
Margo jumped up from the chair and hugged the man. “This is a miracle. I can’t wait to tell my Mom. She’s wanted me to get out on my own. Now I can.”
The attorney pushed bifocals up his fleshy nose. “In today’s market, two hundred and fifty thousand dollars won’t last long unless invested wisely.”
The only thing Margo knew about investments was she didn’t have enough money to make any.
“Mr. Steinberg, do you know of someone who can advise me so I make wise investments?”
He raised his hand. “Not so fast my dear. Your Uncle stipulated that you be gainfully employed for a year before you can claim your inheritance. The last time your mother and I spoke, you were studying to be a French teacher.”
Margo stared at the vibrant red dragon design on an Oriental rug and thought of the threadbare one under her rickety dining room table. Her eyes darted from his monogrammed attaché case to her worn shoulder strap bag. She had to find a way to tell him of her predicament.
“I’ve been looking for a teaching job for two years, but I am on the substitute list and have a part-time job at a dry cleaner so I’m employed. I know it’s not a professional job, but it’s respectable work. ”
Mr. Steinberg made notes in her uncle’s folder. “I’m afraid that won’t do, my dear. Harry loved you but was very clear on the type of employment.”
A tear rolled down Margo’s cheek. “I don’t know how much longer I can live at home. Mama is working twice as hard since Jerry was laid off from his job at the newspaper. He couldn’t get the hang of technology. He’s been on disability from an old back injury. Could I at least speak to an investment counsellor to get an idea of what to do with my inheritance? It would give me something to dream about.”
Margo sat on her hands as she waited with trepidation for the lawyer’s response. Since childhood, all she ever wanted was to be part of a happy family and not have to worry about money. Instead of granting her wishes, life had brought her a mean stepfather. Jerry fractured a childhood that had been filled with love when her birth father was alive.
Mr. Steinberg lifted a business card from a sterling silver box. “I highly recommend Edward Master. He’s with the investment banking firm of Chartwell, Morgan, and Master. He’ll give you solid advice. Shall I see if he’s available now?”
Margo glanced at her watch. “Yes, but it’s kind of short notice, isn’t it?”
“Your uncle was my good friend. Let’s see if Master is available.” The attorney lifted the receiver and punched in a number.A few minutes later, he wrote an address on a slip of paper. “You’re in luck, young lady. Mr. Master has an opening at eleven.” He checked his watch. “It’s now ten. It shouldn’t take you an hour to walk from Grand Central to Fifty Ninth and Madison.”
Steinberg handed her the paper. “Hurry along.”
Margo stole a glance at her checkbook. She had exactly a hundred dollars.
“Mr. Steinberg, I don’t have enough money for your fee until I get my next paycheck.”
The lawyer extended his hand. “No worries. Harry loved you very much. He’s taken care of the legal expenses. I feel like a brute treating you this way, but I must adhere to the terms of your uncle’s will. Please keep me posted on your job status. The minute you’ve signed a full-time teaching contract, I will start the paperwork on your inheritance and condo title transfer.”
Margo grasped the man’s fingers. “Thanks so much for your help.”
He smiled. “Say hello to your mother.”
Margo retraced her steps to the elevator and headed for the subway line to take her to Mr. Master’s office. She fantasized about taking a vacation in Italy. She could buy a new couch for the living room. The one she was sleeping on was overdue at the Salvation Army. It made her feel like a homeless person. Then there was the dress in Lord & Taylor’s window her mother had admired. She’d hoped to do something to reward the woman for all she’d sacrificed to raise Margo with Jerry absent most of the time. She still needed to pay off her student loans, which were messing up her credit rating.
Life shouldn’t be so complicated at twenty three. The secret desires she’d locked away in the hope chest of her heart would have to wait to be set free.