Dark Blue Waves
Publication date: May 27th 2022
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance, Time-Travel, Women’s Fiction
When you wake up in Bath, England two hundred years in the past, how far can a love of Jane Austen get you?
Janet Roberts dreams of an academic career in literature, so she can hardly believe her good fortune when she’s accepted into a Jane Austen graduate seminar in Bath, England. Settled in Georgian splendor among her seminar colleagues, Janet and her classmates live, eat and breathe Jane Austen.
An accident interrupts this idyll when Janet regains consciousness in her own room—back in Regency England. For a scholar of nineteenth-century literature, this should be a dream come true.
But Janet quickly learns there’s a world of difference between scholarly knowledge of the written page and maneuvering real life as a reluctant time traveler.
Her burgeoning friendship with Emma Huntington eases her entrée into nineteenth-century society. However, Emma’s brother, the handsome, proud and frustratingly magnetic Sir Edward, is far less welcoming.
While desperately attempting to make sense of her dilemma, Janet treads a thin line between trying to blend into her new world and not being unmasked as the imposter she is. Can she discover the way to return to her twenty-first century life? After working so hard to create a rewarding nineteenth-century life for herself and opening her hart to friendship and love, does she even want to?
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Janet marveled at her reflection in the mirror. Her light brown hair with its sunny highlights looked elegant swept up; her neck appeared long and delicate. Her green eyes sparkled. She looked older, more sophisticated with her nineteenth-century toilette. She was certainly too suntanned to be fashionable among the creamy-skinned young women of Bath. Her form was perhaps too muscular for nineteenth-century tastes, but sport-sculpted shoulders and legs would be well-covered by the fashions of the day.
It did not require an extreme stretch of the imagination to believe that she might have just stepped out of the Bennet household. If only she could learn the manners and banish anachronisms from her discourse, she might actually get away with it.
“Why, Jane! Don’t you look lovely! What a miraculous recovery.” Emma glided into the room, all smiles and good cheer. “Doctor Perry has given me an excellent report. We are to take a short walk, but I have strict instructions to rest frequently. I have brought my sketching pad and pencils so that we shall have every excuse to sit and rest. Doctor Perry assures me you are strong, and he is confident you should soon be back to your old self.”
Janet smiled at her new friend. How kind they were being to her. She followed Emma out of the room, and then out the front door into the glorious, sunny June day.
June 17, 1813.
She could hardly believe it. She, Janet Roberts, writing her master’s thesis on nineteenth-century English social customs and manners and how they were reflected in the literature of the period, was now walking around Bath on June 17, 1813. This was a dream come true. How her fellow students and scholars would envy her, if only they knew.
But would they ever know? Would she ever return to her twenty-first-century life to complete that half-finished thesis, the one she needed to finalize by next May? Would she return to finish her Austen seminar? She’d agonized endlessly over her father controlling every aspect of her life—her studies, her career, her choice of a husband—yet here she was, a few days later, and her life was one giant question mark.
Emma slipped her arm through Janet’s, and the two women walked along the green of The Crescent, then continued the short distance to The Circus. This was the very same route Janet jogged with Siobhan only a few days earlier, on the morning of the accident that changed her life.
The streets were a riot of sights, sounds, and color. Women in their elegant dresses, servant girls in their coarse, functional smocks and aprons. In Janet’s world, it was not always easy to distinguish the classes by fashion. A twenty-first-century internet billionaire might work daily in jeans and a hooded sweatshirt, just like the worker cleaning the streets. But here, in this new world, class and privilege were prominently displayed in one’s dress and carriage. There were no blurred lines. No room for ambiguity.
Children wandered the streets, carrying heavy parcels and buckets in their delicate, tiny hands. Janet longed to relieve them of their loads. How on earth could such young creatures be working so hard, carrying burdens that must weigh as much as they? Surely they should be in school, or enjoying their brief childhood, or accompanied by an observant adult, someone to ensure that they were vigilant and would not risk being run over and killed by a passing horse and carriage in a careless moment of childish distraction. Goodness, her modern sensibilities found this far too difficult to digest.
As she and Emma promenaded, elegant men stepped aside to allow them to pass. The men smiled and tipped their hats to the passing ladies.
The smell of horse manure was overwhelming. It hung so thickly in the air that Janet felt a wave of nausea wash over her. She saw a few men braving oncoming traffic, shovels in hand, attempting to clear the streets, only able to eliminate a small portion of the mountains of accumulated horse droppings.
Hadn’t the automobile been touted as the ideal solution to eliminate pollution? Janet, alongside her middle school classmates, had laughed smugly at the absurdity of that premise. How easy to have been smug in her clean and hygienic modern world. But now that she was actually living in the time period and breathing in the overwhelming odor that must have permeated every major city, she felt more sympathy for those who had welcomed the technology as a possible liberation from the nauseating stench that blanketed cities and towns.
Janet tried in vain to compose her face, but she couldn’t help but stare at the sights and sounds all around her.
Emma laughed at her friend. “You must remember to close your mouth and not gape at your surroundings. It looks as if you are out in the world for the first time, my dear Jane. Surely, you have not forgotten in this brief time what the world looks like beyond the confines of the sick bed.”
You would be surprised, Emma.
Kimberly grew up in the suburbs of Boston and in Saratoga Springs, New York, although she now calls the Harlem neighborhood of New York City home when she’s back in the US. She studied political science and history at Cornell University and earned her MBA, with a concentration in strategy and marketing, from Bocconi University in Milan.
Afflicted with a severe case of Wanderlust, she worked in journalism and government in the US, Czech Republic and Austria, before settling down in Rome, where she works in international development, and writes fiction any chance she gets.
She is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) and The Historical Novel Society and has published several short stories and two novels: Three Coins and Dark Blue Waves.
After years spent living in Italy with her Italian husband and sons, she’s fluent in speaking with her hands, and she loves setting her stories in her beautiful, adoptive country.