The Road to Redway (Bonus #2)
Redway Acres Book Two - Maria
BIG SPOILERS if you haven't read book two!
This month, July 2021, “Redway Acres Book Two – Maria” turned five years old. So, I decided to write a bonus blog for you about how “Redway Acres” became a saga.
After “Redway Acres Book One – Helena”, I thought that would be it. Initially, parts of book three were in this book, but Helena wanted her book to herself (and Nathaniel). Then, changing Alexander’s wards to identical twins, Harriet and Maria, I decided book two would be about Maria’s marriage. With that decision, I now had a three-book series in mind.
In truth, Alexander enjoyed watching Harriet bloom, for she had been an extremely timid child, more so after her sister’s marriage and departure from Eastease.
Below are Nathaniel’s thoughts during his walk across the fields with Harriet in book one. The truth behind them would not become evident until what really happened with the Davenport elopement was revealed in book two. The Harriet that Nathaniel watched “run and laugh” was Maria pretending to be Harriet, and he knew. As Maria was the more vivacious of the two, he was glad to see her run and laugh.
God be damned; she is teasing me, Nathaniel thought. “I will give you a ten-count head start, Harriet,” he warned.
Harriet screamed and ran as fast as she could, picking up her skirts over the long grass. It is so good, Nathaniel thought, to see her run and laugh. “That is ten,” he shouted and then easily overtook her. Taking hold of her waist, he lifted her off the ground and swung her in a tight circle, making her squeal with delight.
This was not the original twin switch I had in mind. I knew that one twin would marry Robert Davenport and thought it to be Maria, as I wrote the following part before I had a change of plans.
Now Mr. Davenport sat beside Harriet, turning the pages of the music himself. Maria leaned towards him, which should afford him an excellent view of her breasts. He looked up from them and into her face, so she gave him a pert expression that would tell him she knew exactly where his eyes roamed. She leaned further forward, addressing Harriet and pointing at a piece of music that perfectly suited her own voice
My original plan was for Maria to pretend to be Harriet and run off with Davenport when she realised he intended to marry her sister even after compromising Maria at the eastside shelter. This deception would allow for the annulment.
However, a more devious scenario for the Wyndham twins had come to my mind, but I was unsure if I should relinquish my original plan. Then one evening, as I finished reading a book where a man who was horrible throughout turned out to be a hero, I wondered if the author truly knew he would be the good guy from the start? Did it matter if the author didn’t but decided to change it?
What if Maria pretended to be Harriet, not to run away with Davenport but save her sister’s good name by making it seem like Maria was the one who eloped? Finding the actual Harriet’s letter when she got back to their rooms, Maria rewrote it. Here she explains when everyone discovers the duplicity.
“The fact that everyone so easily accepted that it was Maria that ran away with him made me realise what my behaviour had been before. The Hopwoods thought me capable of it anyway. Why not let them keep their good opinion of Harriet? Did I not deserve their censure after what I had done?”
I thought through the problems this change of plan would cause. How could I avoid Alexander discovering it was Harriet he pursued to Scotland? How could I stop him from catching up to them? Could an annulment still work? Would I have to change anything in book one?
Then an astonishing thought hit me. Harriet from book one was not Harriet but Maria! So I reread it, and the idea that the Harriet façade hid a dormant Maria due to the actions of Davenport fit nicely. Alexander unconsciously spots it when he refuses ‘Harriet’s' request to ride sidesaddle.
Harriet had been upset, saying she only wished to ride astride at Eastease. ‘I am not planning to ride through the village of Eastcambe naked, like Lady Godiva through Coventry!’ she had exclaimed before storming out of the room. An action reminiscent of her absent twin.
The one person who might be most offended by ‘Harriet’s’ duplicity was Genevieve, as she became a big sister figure for her. So I needed ‘Harriet’ to acknowledge the deceit to Gennie.
“I want you to know,” Harriet continued, “that between us, it was only my name that was a lie. Everything else, every story, every confidence, all the advice you bestowed upon me, that was all in truth.
One other person affected by this was Luke Parker, who everyone considered to be romancing the original Harriet. Maria, as Harriet, had continued their friendship and worried he had expectations of more with her when he loved her sister. So, untangling that mess meant a possible book four.
Finally, let’s consider the tragic ending of this book. I’m sorry (not sorry) for my readers, her children and poor Mr. Brooks. For me, aside from it fitting my storyline, this event held two purposes. Firstly, my readers now knew that no character was safe. Secondly, I became aware that what I was writing was not a romance but a saga.