The Friend Zone, Regency Style

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One of my favorite party questions (and I’m terrible at parties; I can never keep names and faces straight) is asking people how they ended up with their significant others.  Sometimes as they tell the story, they’ll mention the mistakes they made along the way:  falling for the Narcissist who never called, the Peter Pan who refused to grow up, the bad boy who couldn’t be faithful, the commitment-phobe who kept them dangling for years.  My own near-miss inspired my new regency romance, Ruined by Rumor:  I wanted a nice guy, but when he finally showed up, I put him in the Friend Zone.

I was still in college at the time, and one of my roommates was dating a classmate from a large rooming group.  Over the course of a few days I met his roommates, about a dozen of them, and we all became friends.  They were brash, funny, gregarious guys—all except one.  He was cute but quiet.  He mostly hung back and didn’t join in the teasing, the trash talking, and the noisy conversation.  I mentally categorized him as a math major or a computer geek, someone a bit antisocial.  I certainly didn’t see him as potential date material.

Fast forward three years, and I’d learned the quiet roommate wasn’t really that quiet, just on the shy side.  He wasn’t even a math major or a computer geek.  In fact, I’d had everything about him wrong.  The man I’d ruled out as potential date material turned out to be excellent husband material—witty, principled, charming, and thoughtful.  We got married two years after graduation, and he’s a great husband and father, a handsome doctor, frankly the best thing that ever happened to me.  The point is, it took me far too long to realize just how unfair I’d been to him, discounting his romantic possibilities.  It’s easy to be dazzled by men with quick smiles and smooth lines—the Wickhams and Willoughbys of Jane Austen’s novels—but it’s a man’s character that really counts in the long run.

The sheltered heroine of Ruined by Rumor, Roxana Langley, has to learn that same lesson.  She’s young and inexperienced, since the only man she’s ever loved has been off fighting the French.

Ruined by Rumor cover, Alex and Roxana, the hero and heroine

After waiting five years for her fiancé to return from the war and marry her, Roxana Langley has been jilted! She may have longed for excitement, but this was not what she had in mind…

Who could possibly throw over a woman as beautiful and vivacious as Roxana? Certainly not Alex Winslow, the Earl of Ayersley, who has spent years trying in vain to forget his unrequited love. When he learns she’s been abandoned by her cad of a fiancé, he finds himself offering a shoulder for her to cry on. Comfort soon turns into a passionate kiss—and scandal when they are caught in an embrace.

Only one thing will save Roxana from certain ruination: marriage to the earl. The match may save her reputation, but responsible, tongue-tied Ayersley is a far cry from her dashing former fiancé. She’s convinced Ayersley is merely doing his duty…while he’s sure Roxana is still in love with another man. Are they trading one disaster for another?

Ruined by Rumor received four stars from RT Book Reviews, which called it “…delightful, absorbing…a truly entertaining vacation to the past.” You can buy Ruined by Rumor here.

Nowadays we’re not likely to enter a marriage of convenience before we find Mr. Right, but everyone’s path to romance is special.  How did you meet the love of your life?  Did you sense right away that he (or she) could be The One, or did it take something more to open your eyes? Leave a comment, and I’ll use Random.org to select the winner of a $25 Sephora gift certificate. (Edited to add: I’ll need the winner’s e-mail address to send the prize, so you can either include it in your comment or check back here tomorrow and be prepared to contact me with it if you’re the winner. I’ll post the winner’s name on Wednesday morning 5/23 after 8:00 a.m. Eastern, which is also the cut-off time for entering.)

Alyssa Everett grew up in Florida, where from an early age her favorite books typically had dukes in them. She met her future husband at Harvard University. They currently live with their three children in small-town Pennsylvania. Ruined by Rumor is her debut romance.  Expect her next regency from Carina Press in early 2013.

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Ruined by Rumor

23 thoughts on “The Friend Zone, Regency Style”

  1. Elyse Mady says:

    Alyssa – My favourite Austen heroes are Edward Ferrars and Captain Wentworth. No flash. No big moment, just steady, enduring and so swoon worthy.

    As for my SO – we met by chance and it was pretty much like at first sight. One fortuitous shelter from a thunderstorm later and we had a date scheduled for the next night. That was thirteen years and two kids ago.

  2. Fortuitous shelter from a thunderstorm sounds like a match made in romance heaven (or the song “Bus Stop” by the Hollies, if anyone else knows that song). Edward Ferrars and Captain Wentworth are definitely swoon worthy–good choices!

  3. I met my hubby in my first class, first day of college. I thought he was a cutie and he wasn’t interested at all.

    For a few years we had mutual friends and ran into each other but never clicked. I was best friends with his roommate but again, no sparks.

    Then after another year I ran into him again and he asked me to come to a party if I “wanted to hang out”. That was it. We’ve hardly been apart since that night and we’ve been married 11 years now.

    I knew it all along. He had some growing to do. :)

  4. Sabrina, I love your last line! There are a lot of men (and women too) who have some growing to do first. And how cool is it that you met in your first class on the first day? Sounds like destiny to me.

  5. Great post! My husband and I were pen-friends (paper and pen kind–this was pre-email!). At first I just thought he was someone fun to write, but then he started calling and the rest is history! :)

  6. You must write some pretty appealing letters, Cynthia! Thanks for stopping by. I’ve entered you in the contest–stop by tomorrow to see if you’ve won, since I’ll need the winner’s e-mail address to send the prize.

  7. Rachel says:

    I’m a total Wentworth girl as well. I have commissioned 14 pieces of Wentworth jewelry. I’m an addict.

    How did I meet the love of my life? On a website….not what you think: petfinder.com. She was a two year old Siberian Husky who was found wandering the streets of Cleveland. That was five years ago. I know. I know. It should be a man, but to be honest after being in an abusive relationship for five years I’m not really ready to fall in love with anyone except my dog Rory.

  8. My husband and I met at a science fiction convention, which pretty much says it all.

  9. infinitieh says:

    I guess I thought my now boyfriend had potential when I met him but I wasn’t looking for one. He grew on me, I guess. :)

  10. Vonnie says:

    This is a lovely, lovely book. It’s my favorite one of yours, Alyssa, because of the pathos in it. Because of that underlying angst, the HEA comes not just as a pleasure but also as a relief.

  11. @Rachel – So sorry to hear about the abusive relationship. I wish everyone could be spared that particular experience. But I’m glad you and Rory found each other!

    @Nicole – I’ve always thought that science fiction conventions and comic cons are an excellent place to meet nice guys, since in my (admittedly limited) experience, it’s one place where men outnumber women–and the men all like to read.

    @infinitieh – Yay for boyfriends who turn up when they’re least expected! Thanks for stopping by.

  12. @Vonnie – Thanks so much! That means a lot, coming from a fellow regency author.

  13. Lisa Brown says:

    I met my husband at work…typical, right? I had absolutely no intentions of becoming involved with anyone, since I had just broken up with someone, two months prior. I say this because I had a premonition the moment we met. That little voice was saying, “You’re going to be together.” Anyway, he worked in the warehouse, I in the office. I had to bring orders to him in the warehouse to be filled, sometimes he come into the office for information. I just could not avoid him. I tried my best, knowing what that premonition had told me, but in the end, it didn’t work. We went to lunch, and I was hooked! We have been together, now, 23 years, and it’s been a lot of fun :)

  14. What a great story, Lisa! We should all listen to our “little voice” more often, I think, since sometimes intuition is just the subconscious picking up on cues our conscious mind doesn’t want to acknowledge.

  15. Dee J. says:

    Alyssa,
    Congrats on the new release!

    I was the new girl at work and a guy walked by and introduced himself. Said he worked upstairs. A handful of co-workers had mentioned his name as the “life of the party” so when he walked away I realized this was the man they’d been talking about. My exact thoughts: “What’s the big deal.” Then I checked out his ass as he went upstairs. PERFECT. So I married him (23 years ago). Been together for almost 27. Still has a great ass. And he’s a great guy to boot. A win/win.

  16. Dee says:

    I haven’t yet met the love of my life but I’ve come close with my best friend. Our families were friends and he and I never talked until we ended up attending the same school and he gave me a ride back to campus my freshman year. I’ve never connected with someone like that — the conversation was so stimulating and then I saw him in a new light. Rather than being that guy I am forced to greet at holiday get togethers, he’s become my best friend (although my feelings might be stronger than his). Who knows though what this could develop into — hopefully something more because it would be well worth it! :)

  17. @Dee J – Thanks! A perfect ass will get a girl’s attention in a hurry. Especially if the guy has a personality to match.

    @Dee – Here’s hoping you get that “something more” with your best friend. He sounds promising!

  18. Crystal Guidroz says:

    My husband and I saw each other at a gas station in passing then later that evening met up in the same bar in New Orleans. After a while we ended up talking, exchanged numbers (we found out we lived in the same city 2 1/2 hours away. He called and met me out with friends, we hung out, and yes I knew that night he was “the one”…later he told me he felt the same thing that night. From that night forward we continued to date and will be married 9 years this November. He is my best friend, lover, soulmate.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

    cguidroz2@cox.net

  19. @Crystal – How lucky for both of you that you lived in the same city, and not 2 1/2 hours in the other direction. Thanks for sharing your story!

  20. My husband and I were both American volunteers with a program that places young adults for volunteer years in various nonprofits and churches around the UK. We met at the international volunteers’ welcome conference, both as jet-lagged as could be. I remember seeing him at the next table during the opening lunch but dismissing him as not my type–so it wasn’t love at first SIGHT–but once we got to talking we were all but inseparable, sitting up till 2 AM on the staircase just talking and talking. I had a feeling by the end of the weekend I’d be marrying him, though we didn’t even officially start dating until we got a mutual weekend off from our volunteer gigs (in different cities, but fortunately not too far apart–if one of us had been in, say, Aberdeen and the other in Portsmouth, who knows if our relationship would’ve ever gotten off the ground). We got engaged the Christmas after we got back to the States, and were married almost two years to the day after we first me.

  21. Karen D says:

    So happy to see your book out there, Alyssa!

    I met my husband while we both worked at a newspaper. He asked me if I wanted to get some coffee and I said, “No.” Then I told him that I didn’t drink coffee but I would love to go for a hot chocolate:-) I didn’t know he was the ONE straight away, but I had a strong inkling when I realized how easy it was to talk to him that night. We’ve been married for 14 years, have 3 kids and he’s still my best friend.

  22. @Susanna – I’m impressed that even jet lag couldn’t stop the course of true love.

    @Karen D – I’m glad you followed up your “No” with a counter-offer!

    Most of these comments are making me wish we could also hear the story from the man’s perspective,

  23. Random.org has selected the winning comment number, and after eliminating its first choice, which was one of my own replies, the winner is…comment #1, by Elyse Mady! Elyse, you’re the winner of the $25 Sephora gift card! Check your e-mail for a message about receiving your prize.

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