Today we welcome author Jill Hughey and her book "VAIN" an amazing historical romance.
Lily had her life planned, neat and tidy as thread on a spindle, until her mother died and her father snipped at the seams of her future by abandoning Lily in their shop. A nobleman unexpectedly gives her hope when he brings fabric for a special garment. Lily survives on his first payment, and immerses herself in sewing and embroidering an incomparable garment for him, as her tidy plan continues to unravel.
Theophilus, Lord of Ribeauville, takes his responsibility to his townspeople seriously and, therefore, does not dally with local women. Desire wars with duty when Lily glances up at him while adjusting the hem on his Easter tunic. As her deteriorating circumstances push them together, Theo and Lily learn that the path to his heart just might be through his wardrobe, though the exquisite outfit she creates is the only part of her that fits in his precarious aristocratic world.
PRAISES FOR "VAIN":
“I absolutely loved the story!” – Gina Ardito, Excellence in Editing
“Great character development.” – JeanSquires, beta reader
Release Date: March 14, 2013. Genre: Romance, historical, medieval
“Please,” she choked, turning to stare at
a loom against the wall. “If I leave I can never come back, can I? I will never
live here again. My mother!” she cried.
He pulled her against him, letting her
tears wet the ugly yellow fabric at his shoulder. The luxury of such comfort
and strength surrounding her, even for the minute she allowed it, burned into
every piece of her that touched him. She had been alone for so long, and the
realization of how acutely lonely she had been nearly drowned her.
She pulled away, mortified and confused by
the strange combination of alarm and rightness his embrace evoked. She wiped
viciously at her face. Of all people to weep on. Now her humiliation was
He watched her as she composed her
emotions again. “Our parents leave us. That is part of every person’s life, if
we do not leave them first.” He sighed. “I can see you had a happy childhood
here. You tried, Lily. You have tried every way you can to preserve your way of
life. Quite frankly, I have, too. There is nothing more we can do except remove
you from Riculf’s path.”
She huffed out a breath of disbelief then
turned in a complete circle to survey the workshop. “Must I leave all the
“I do not know the particulars of the
agreement. Since I have a vested interest in seeing my tunic made before
Easter, let us say you will bring whatever you need to complete it. Can I help
you gather your things?”
“Oh, no,” she gasped, horrified at the
idea of him picking through her meager belongings. “I will collect everything
and walk to your house later.” Much, much later, after she had shed her tears
of goodbye and after darkness fell, when, hopefully, no one would witness her
“Leaving you here, alone, defeats the
purpose of my trip. Besides, I have a cart outside.”
“Yes, a cart. Now, start packing. Gusta
will have dinner ready,” he advised, as though Lily were a welcomed houseguest
instead of an adult orphan. Mentioning Gusta removed any hope of discretion. The
housekeeper never revealed any of her lord’s personal details, but other
tidbits were fed to informants who, in turn, kept Gusta up to date on local
gossip. Lily’s ride on Theophilus’s cart would probably surprise very few
people. In fact, the streets might be lined with spectators waiting to see her
“I brought some sacks. Let me fetch them.”
Lily took the assortment of bags from him
at the door, hoping he would take the hint to give her some privacy while she
gathered her things. He retreated.
The living quarters were surprisingly easy
to empty. Her tiny larder of food fit in one bag. Her complete wardrobe loaded
two more. She blinked away tears as she tucked the patchwork lovingly in with
her clothing. She took her bedding, even rolling up the hay filled mattress,
more as a point of protest than anything else.
She grabbed another sack to methodically
ransack the workroom, taking one of everything they had duplicates of. Riculf
would never know there had been two shears, extra needles stashed on the top
shelf, or empty spindles in a box in the corner. As she filled another bag, she
noticed the full sacks she’d stacked by the door had already disappeared. She
folded her lord’s tunic and all the extra cloth then wrapped it in the flax in
which it had arrived.
Theo cooled his heels by the cart,
listening for her approach with each bulging sack and depressed by the task of
gathering Lily’s meager belongings. He almost questioned her need for the
mattress, then decided he liked the idea of Riculf finding a stripped cot where
he had expected his unpaid laborer to sleep. The parcel of familiar flax made
his hands itch with longing to unwrap her work. He had seen enough draped over
her table to excite him. As anticipated, the gold embroidery set the burgundy
off perfectly. But now was not the time to admire a piece of clothing.
A peculiar gurgling caught his attention. Another
sound like a hiccup drew him toward the door. Lily stood at the loom, her hand
lovingly caressing a frame that stood about her height.
Theo had vague memories of his visits to
the tailor throughout the years. Someone had always been sitting at the loom,
though he had paid scant attention. My
mother! Lily had said. Little had Theo known that the woman in the shadows
had been the cord lashing the family together. He thought, not for the first
time, if Willis walked up to him, he would happily stick his spata in the man’s
belly and let him bleed out in the street. As far as he could tell, the man
would be as useful to Lily dead as he was alive.
Just as the violent thought erupted in his
mind, Lily collected herself again. She reached up to pick at a spot at the end
of the left rail, working diligently until Theo’s curiosity overwhelmed him. “What
are you doing?” he asked.
She did not even turn. “This peg comes
loose sometimes and lets the loom get floppy. It is hard to notice at first
until you see the weave is uneven.”
“You are making certain the peg is tight?”
Lily glanced over her shoulder, her gray
eyes glittering with more than tears. “Perhaps you should wait outside again,”
she advised before returning to her sabotage. “There, I am done anyway,” she
added as she brushed off her hands.
He could not stop a chuckle. Lily had
proven herself to be dignified and self-contained in every challenge she’d
confronted. This little flash of devilment intrigued him. The girl had spirit. “I
do not expect it will provide any consolation,” he remarked, “but I admire how
you have conducted yourself the past few weeks. In the last few minutes, too.” Her
pale, drained face could have been carved from marble. If her hair was as dark
as those angled eyebrows, it would be striking against her skin.
“Thank you, my
lord,” she intoned stiffly. “You have been very kind.” She turned to leave,
stopping only once, at the door, where she gripped the frame and looked back
one last time at the only home she’d ever known, now abandoned in the space of
a half hour.
Jill Hughey has loved historical romance since sneaking peeks at her mother’s library years ago. She has enjoyed writing just as long. She prides herself on deep character development, and settings that take her readers on long, satisfying journeys to places they have probably never been in a book before.
Jill lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. Her hobby is singing lessons, in which she studies classical soprano and some lighthearted works.