The Gentleman & the Dreamer: romance, politics, fatherhood, and a knight in shining armor complex

Tagline: Can Leavenworth love the woman of his dreams, or just rescue her?

1827

Paul Leavenworth has made it to the top. As a Black British gentleman and a third son, he’s had to work harder than anyone else, but he’s leveraged a brilliant military career into an even more brilliant political career. Pushing forty and feeling his age, Leavenworth finally has a home of his own and the time to spend with his family. Well, that is, he’ll have the time just as soon as he deals with this crisis. And that one. One of these days, he’s sure he’ll have the time.

Trying to spend a few peaceful days with his parents — and a rambling house full of siblings, nieces, and nephews — Leavenworth gets dragged into another crisis, but this is for a friend. He’s sure that bailing their neighbor out of jail will be just like a dozen other similar political maneuvers, although this time he has to pretend to be her husband to meet the wardens punitive requirements.

But Sophy Robinson is like no one else. Creative, passionate, and genuine, Leavenworth is drawn to her like a bee staggering into a foxglove. In the three days they are forced to stay together in Birmingham pretending to be married, Sophy and Leavenworth tumble into… well, something emotional and confusing. Leavenworth doesn’t want to take advantage of Sophy’s vulnerability by expecting anything more from her, so they both return to their ordinary lives — Leavenworth rushing back to London to help form the next coalition government.

Leavenworth wants to arrange his marriage and his family just right, just like he has always figured it will go. But people’s hearts are not as easy to arrange as political alliances — even Leavenworth’s own heart. As his closest friend goes through a tragedy, Leavenworth realizes that maybe it’s time to hold on to love.

But when he finally gallops back to Maryhurst to declare himself, Sophy is gone.

Can Leavenworth find Sophy to rescue her a second time? And more importantly… is being the knight in shining armor enough foundation for a marriage?

Sophy has a passion for herbal remedies, and is sure there’s a tisane to solve all problems. She designed it herself.
Photo by Lisa Hobbs on Unsplash

Status Update:

The Gentleman & the Dreamer is currently (July 2023) mostly written, and the first act is in revisions with a critique group. I am hoping to have a clean draft ready for alpha readers and sensitivity readers later this summer. I will be searching for representation for this book when I am at conferences this fall.

Drafts should be ready for beta readers by early fall. If you want to join my beta reader team for this book, please contact me.

If you have a relevant specialty and are willing to read for cultural sensitivity or historical accuracy, I can compensate you. For this book, I’m looking for Black readers (especially English), Black men (especially fathers), and anyone who knows 19th century British politics better than I can learn it from books.

Inspiration for this book:

This fascinating information coming soon

watercolor of flower garden

Opening 500 words from The Gentleman & the Dreamer:

August. The season of fat, bumbling bees and overblown roses nodding their heavy heads in the sun; not fat, bumbling Tories and overblown arguments on Parliament floor. 
Paul Leavenworth ran his hand over his sun-warmed hair and grinned – that was a good analogy if he did say so himself. He meandered down the front drive, admiring his mother’s perennial beds, studying cloudy explosions of mallow, spears of foxgloves staggering into the delphinium, honeysuckle entirely out of hand. 
Finally, he was here. He’d meant to come a month ago, but even with Parliament out of session, his colleagues kept sending him hand-delivered letters, MP’s wanted speeches for their constituents. Summer was half over by the time he had finally made it to the easy comfort of his family estate.

Pounding hoofbeats yanked Leavenworth out of his reverie, immediately at attention. But he was at his parents’ home – surely a visitor to Paradise was calling on one of the many people who lived at Paradise –

“Oh Paul! Thank goodness you’re here!” 

So even out here, he attracted emergencies like honeysuckle attracts hummingbirds. 

Meg King drew her horse in a tight circle, kicking up dust from the driveway, and Leavenworth reached for the bridle. 

“Don’t worry.” Leavenworth pitched his voice low and soothing, patting the bay’s withers as he led them to the mounting block. “Don’t worry, I’m here. I’ll help. I’ll always help.” He glanced at Meg, concern leaching through his professional habit. They had grown up together, the same age and living next door. Leavenworth had left Maryhurst twenty years ago and Meg had married locally; their connection had changed but never faded.

Was it her daughter, the little one with the bad eyes? Financial crisis at her husband’s estate – no, she wouldn’t lather a horse for that. Father getting worse – but then she’d start next door. As Leavenworth helped his oldest friend dismount, he cataloged the possible disasters which might incite Meg to gallop past all her neighbors on the off-chance that he, personally, was in Maryhurst. 

Twenty minutes later, they were sitting in the back garden with lemonade and scones, and Leavenworth still hadn’t figured it out. Meg had smoothed her skirt, fixed her hair, and was admiring the garden design.

It was the English way. The more strongly you felt something, the harder you worked to hold it in.

“How are the children? Are Alice’s eyes improved?” Leavenworth guessed that motherly concern might set Meg on her cross-country gallop, although he hadn’t figured out where he might come in.

“They’re doing so well!” Meg smiled. “And fancy you remembering a detail like that.” 

Details were his stock in trade, but he was out of practice on mind reading. 

Leavenworth refilled her glass as they worked through all four of her children. 

“Listen to me natter on!” Meg laughed, light and tinny. “What about your news! Is it wonderful to have a place of your own after all these years?”

“I miss it.” Leavenworth stretched his legs out, ankles crossed. “Living with a family, that is.”