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[Gilberte] Wild: The Leslie Brenton Story

Rhianon's picture

After finally cajoling Annelise into slumber with almost an hour’s worth of stories about Yogi the cat’s adventures in Daddy’s garrison, Gilly slunk back to her own bed and its own little cocoon of blankets. Ordinarily, she would have preferred a bubble bath with a nice glass of red wine on the side, but the winter climes made even heated baths somewhat less than comfortable and even worse, there was no Llane around to tease. So, instead, she poured herself a glass of warm cider and piled herself into the blankets.

As she gazed out the nearby window, the curtains rustling in the night breeze and the clouds passing neatly over the moon like soldiers in formation, she let her thoughts wander. She was so tired of the fuss everyone was making over the copy of “Fifty Layers of Shadow” that Llane had brought back from Draenor. Before she even had the chance to mark out her favorite passages, her brothers’ wives had discovered the book and immediately begged to borrow it. She hadn’t seen it since - but she had never stopped hearing about the tales of the ivory-skinned heroine and her mysterious lover…including some tidbits she had never imagined hearing cross of the lips of her middle brother’s fairly straight-laced wife.

To be honest, Gilly didn’t quite like the book. She wasn’t sure how it was possible, but she was fairly certain the author had capitalized on some of her own work in her last novel. Furthermore, there was no agency to the heroine, no real artistry in the text, and no real boundary-pushing that one couldn’t find in a more titillating format. As her publisher would say, the magic was all in the marketing. Devlin Plume had explained the novel’s hold to her during their last contract meeting. “You see, Miss Lachlan - or is it Mrs Venner, now? - it’s all about the presentation. Those fine ladies would never dare pick up one of my more sensational serials for fear of gossip, but now they’re openly reading that book simply because it has a tame title and some abstract art on the cover.”

His subtext, of course, was that she had to beat Fifty Layers at its own game. Write something just as shocking, just as seemingly provocative, in her own much more polished prose and place that in the hands of women like her brothers’ wives. Her past two novels had been best-sellers, yes, but they had been fairly tame - with the exception of a few scenes in the most recent. Nothing surprising, nothing a member of the Gilnean Ladies’ Tea Society would feel nervous picking up and reading in her sitting room during a quiet evening. That explained their popularity, Devlin Plume had told her. It was perfectly respectable to pine after Leslie Brenton or wish to be the daring paladin Ellinora.

She sighed and looked down at her most recent find in her lap. It was a small booklet, hardly a novella, that she had found tucked in alongside Fifty Layers and appeared to be another work in the same series as Northern Exposure. “Savage Passions…” She opened the booklet and fingered the first page. “Perhaps it’s intended to be the start of some kind of serial…”

She spent the rest of the night - and several cider refills - reading and rereading the text. It was perfect. Why hadn’t she thought of it? She had certainly branched out in similar directions, but the possibilities…

The next morning, she made burnt pancakes for Annelise and then ushered her off to her mother’s house under the pretense that “Mommy has work to do.” Well, she did - in a way. She hurried back home to her autopress and began banging the noisy keys relentlessly. This was going to be amazing.

“That’s the quickest draft you’ve ever delivered to me, Mrs Venner, “ Devlin Plume told her the next day, eyeing the stack of neatly printed pages on his desk.

Gilly smiled at him and shrugged. “I had some good inspiration. I think you’ll like it.”

“So, what’s the draw? What’s the hook?” The gnome asked as he began to leaf through the manuscript.

“Well, you know how popular Leslie Brenton is…”

“Of course I do. The ladies adore him.”

Gilly leaned back in her chair, smiling. “We’ve never really learned much about him, you know. And I think the public might appreciate something with a bit more focus on their favorite hero rather than their favorite heroine. Perhaps draw some new readership, right?”

“I’m listening…” Devlin reached for the cup of coffee on his desk, eyes never leaving the manuscript.

“The story is quite simple, honestly. He’s on a mission - a dangerous one on Draenor, you know. There’s this Rangari — that’s a kind of Draenei scout. Spy, rather. Elusive, cunning, the whole bit. He’s working with Leslie on the mission and they become rather close as often happens in such situations…”

Devlin raised an eyebrow at her and she continued. “Anyway, imagine it - an agile, exotic Draenei and our favorite gentle hunter working together in the wilds of an unknown world, becoming closer day by day…”

“And Brenton’s lady?”

“Oh, she’s in there, of course.” Gilly smiled. “A love triangle never hurt anyone, did it?”

Devlin chuckled. “No, not at all. I’d say it might do us another best-seller in fact.” He stood up and picked up the manuscript, returning Gilly’s grin. “Dammit, lady, if you weren’t already married, I’d marry you right now.”

Gilly laughed. “Too late for that, Devlin. But thanks for the compliment.”


Lirriel's picture

"One of these days, Gilberte.

"One of these days, Gilberte. To. The. Moons." *fist shake*

Rhianon's picture

*sings& "Stuck with me ~~~ "

*sings& "Stuck with me ~~~ "

Llane Venner's picture

"I disavow ANY knowledge of

"I disavow all knowledge of my wife writing fiction involving Brennan and anyone who isn't Alynore."

"I travel, I write, I kill things."

Rhianon's picture

"But it's NOT Alynore and

"But it's NOT Alynore and's Ellinora and Leslie! And anyway, who said Ellinora -wasn't- involved?"

Llane Venner's picture

*fingers in ears* "La-la-la

*fingers in ears* "La-la-la not listening! Need to maintain plausible deniability!"

"I travel, I write, I kill things."