I grew up in the sticks. Actually, I probably grew up in the twigs. That’s how remote my home was. I had one of those childhoods that when you look back on it, it takes on a very orange color, a true sign of genuine awesomeness as illustrated in any movie ever. I ran barefoot every summer. Out the door at dawn, called in at dusk for supper. I built forts, swam in lakes, caught crawfish in the creek. And I often went missing. Like a lot. Enough that it made my parents worry. You see, I was really good at finding a place to read where no one would bother me. It was my own superpower.
But having such a remote, wild upbringing meant it was a very long journey into town. I might sound like that old computer game, Oregon Trail, but my life was a lot like that. So these long journeys into town meant a very long time in the car, and as someone prone to motion sickness, reading was out of the question. So my dad came up with two things that we could do in the car. First, my dad was a music man, and he would always try to get me to sing in harmony with him. Years later we would find out I was tone deaf, but man, my dad gets huge kudos for trying over and over again to get me to sing in harmony.
But I always had another option. Dad would say to me, “Tell me a story, Jessie Clever.” My dad was the only person who ever called me Jessie, and when he would ask for a story, I would have one ready to go. Years later as I was preparing to publish my first book, I paused at what name I was going to use as my author name. I was newly married at the time, and my married name fit like a new winter coat, bulky and uncomfortable because it hadn’t been worn in yet. And then out of that orange memory of childhood, I heard my dad’s voice. Tell me a story, Jessie Clever. And that’s the name that stuck. My dad passed away in 2015, but every time I sit down to write, I hear his voice in my head, asking me to tell a story, and for that, I’m thankful.
Samuel Black must make a decision: to be a spy like his father or follow his heart.
Either is likely to give his mother chest pains.
For Samuel is no longer a lad with the ambitious and noble wish of being a lamplighter to keep the seedy streets of London safe. About to embark on university, his mind stirs with the thoughts of creating a policing force in London to safeguard its citizens. Held back by his family’s legacy as spies, Samuel does not make his ideas known.
But when he stops a would-be purse-snatcher, his path unexpectedly veers into that of one Miss Penelope Paiget, and suddenly, Samuel must make a choice.
The short stories in the Spy Series:
1. To Be a Spy
2. To Be a Duke
3. To Be a Lady
4. To Be a Debutante
The Spy Series short stories take place after the conclusion of the Spy Series. Look for the continuation of Samuel’s story in the Shadowing London Series coming September 2017.
It happened on Marlborough Street a little past two o’clock two days before Christmas.
Samuel had just returned from Eton the day before as his Greek studies had compelled him to stay longer than the rest of the students. It all sounded rather dull, but honestly, it was quite thrilling as one of his tutors believed he had stumbled upon an undiscovered Biblical text. The ramifications could be enormous, and so when asked to assist him in analyzing the text, Samuel had stayed on, of course. It wasn’t as if he would miss the opportunity.
And thus two days before Christmas, he found himself on Marlborough trying desperately to find a present for Jane and Elizabeth. He wondered briefly if any other man of ten and eighteen was stricken with not just one headstrong sister but two for whom to shop, and if those sisters were raised by an equally headstrong mother. All three of them would not settle for the customary ribbons or baubles or fabrics that other ladies would surely drool over. If it were anything less than divine, the Black women would not find it at all appealing.
Samuel stared in one window after another hoping inspiration would strike. It was while waiting for inspiration that the crime was committed.
He was standing innocently enough outside of Rugbottom’s Books admiring a particularly ornate illustration of Shakespeare’s sonnets when the commotion began behind him. Having been raised in less than ordinary circumstances, the time that lapsed between when the commotion began and when Samuel noticed it was rather exaggerated. But commotions were quite common in the Black family, and he thought nothing of it.
Until Lady Delia Witherspoon screamed.
“He’s stolen my reticule!”
Samuel turned at this in time to see Lady Witherspoon pointing at a fleeing figure clutching the offended reticule under his arm.
And then Lady Witherspoon screamed again.
“That man! He’s stolen my reticule!”
The fleeing man charged at Samuel directly, as it was previously noted, Samuel merely stood in the middle of the pavement staring into a window. He was obviously ripe for any interaction with a passerby on the pavement, even should that passerby be a thief.
As he watched the thief approach, Samuel’s mind took that opportunity to think on matters. He wondered briefly if other gentlemen stepped out of the way of fleeing criminals or if they advanced. He wondered if they cowered at the thought of getting their waistcoat ruined. And then he wondered what the wives of said gentlemen would think if their noble husbands did not act to avenge the slight against a lady.
Samuel thought none of that likely as the gentlemen of the ton that he had had the pleasure of meeting were all sopping idiots. The apprehension of criminals was not something that suited such personalities.
And then Samuel sighed.
He sighed because he quite liked his waistcoat. It was a fine cranberry color that went well with his breeches, and if he had learned anything from his Uncle Alec, it was that a man who showed care for his dress showed care in every aspect of his life. And that was why Samuel was rather despondent to put his cranberry waistcoat in danger.
About the Author:
In the second grade, Jessie began a story about a duck and a lost ring. Two harrowing pages of wide ruled notebook paper later, the ring was found. And Jessie has been writing ever since.
Armed with the firm belief that women in the Regency era could be truly awesome heroines, Jessie began telling their stories in her Spy Series, a thrilling ride in historical espionage that showcases human faults and triumphs and most importantly, love.
Jessie makes her home in the great state of New Hampshire where she lives with her husband and two very opinionated Basset Hounds. For more, visit her website at jessieclever.com.
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