Note: I'm including these because I hear on writing boards over and over that beginning writers have a great deal of trouble condensing their work into synopses, so I thought it might be helpful to see some examples.
These were written long ago, before the second half of the novel was rewritten, so don't worry about spoilers!
Courting Jamie, a novel of approximately 72,000 words
JAMIE RILEY, penniless young historian, arrives at the London townhouse of the Earl of St. Joseph to take up a position as tutor to the earl’s three sons. He is stunned to learn that the man who hired him has died with his family in a tragic accident, but is hired to stay on as secretary to the new earl, STEPHEN CLAIR. While Stephen, tall, dark, and appropriately handsome, is looking to replace his expensive kept lover, he has no romantic interest in the plain, bespectacled Jamie.
Jamie meets the rest of the household, which he finds strangely disorganized. The staff is too small for an earl’s establishment, and some of the members are openly disrespectful of their master. Jamie learns Stephen has a romantic preference for men. Jamie isn’t sure how he feels about this revelation, but thinks that Stephen’s scandalous behavior probably explains the servant problem.
As Jamie struggles to improve Stephen’s household and finances, Stephen struggles with his growing attraction to his mousy secretary. Jamie resists Stephen’s advances, haunted by the example of his mother, who was seduced and abandoned by a lord. Jamie is convinced that if he gives in to Stephen, Stephen will soon tire of him and cast him off, and Jamie both needs his job and has come to regard the rest of Stephen’s staff as family.
Before long, however, Stephen succeeds in seducing the inexperienced Jamie. When Stephen gives a priceless book to Jamie by mistake, Jamie misinterprets it as an attempt at payment, and flees Stephen’s home. Without the resources to search for Jamie himself, Stephen turns to his first lover JACK, whom he suspects is Jamie’s grandfather.
Jack finds Jamie and takes his grandson in, and the two become close. Jack refuses to allow Jamie to return to Stephen until he is convinced Stephen will make Jamie happy. In the meantime, if Stephen wants to see Jamie, Jack will allow three visits per week, properly chaperoned. Stephen reluctantly agrees to court Jamie under Jack’s conditions.
Several weeks of chaperoned outings follow, including trips to the British Museum and Vauxhall Gardens, and nights at the opera and theater. Slowly, Stephen learns to take responsibility for more and more: his servants, his finances, his relationship with Jamie. At the same time, Jamie loosens up some: using his hand to pleasure Stephen surreptitiously at the theater, getting drunk and kissing a new friend.
Jamie’s father visits unexpectedly while Jack is away, and reacts violently to Jamie’s presence. He beats Jamie, then has his servants throw him in the Thames. One of Jack’s footmen fishes Jamie out before he drowns, but the water is filthy and freezing, and there is worry that Jamie will sicken and perhaps even die. Stephen hurries to Jamie’s bedside.
When Jamie recovers, he tells his grandfather he wants to go home to Stephen. He is not yet convinced that Stephen loves him as he does Stephen, but doesn’t want to face dying again without ever having known life at Stephen’s side. Jack agrees to let Jamie go, provided Stephen can meet his conditions.
The next evening, Stephen comes to dine with Jamie and Jack, only to find that he and Jamie are left suspiciously alone. After dinner, Jamie and Stephen share their fantasies about each other. Jamie’s fantasy is sexual, but Stephen’s is romantic: he imagines waking up in the middle of the night, and finding Jamie is there beside him. At last, he admits he loves Jamie, and begs him to come home. Stephen and Jamie make love, fulfilling Jamie’s fantasy.
In the morning, Stephen formally calls on Jack, asking that Jamie be allowed to return home with him. Stephen promises to meet the conditions Jack sets, and do his best to make Jamie happy.
On Christmas Eve, Jamie returns home to Stephen’s house, with Jack along to confirm that the required conditions have been met. Jamie is welcomed by Stephen’s staff, and finds his new rooms to his liking. Jack relinquishes Jamie to Stephen’s care. That night, Jamie wakes up happy beside Stephen. He surreptitiously rouses Stephen, so that Stephen wakes up, and finds Jamie there. Both their fantasies now fulfilled, the two drift into contented sleep.
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Courting Jamie, a novel of approximately 72,000 words
STEPHEN CLAIR, Earl of St. Joseph, is playing cards with his valet for the last half-bottle of French brandy in the earl’s London townhouse, when JAMIE RILEY, penniless young historian, arrives at to take up a position as tutor to the earl’s three sons. Or so Jamie thinks. He is stunned to learn that the previous earl, Stephen’s brother, has died with his family in a tragic accident. While Stephen, tall, dark, and appropriately handsome, is looking to replace his expensive kept lover, he has no romantic interest in the mousy, bespectacled Jamie. However, after Jamie demonstrates his quick wits in composing a letter of apology to Stephen’s wealthy great-aunt, Stephen hires him on the spot as his personal secretary.
Jamie meets the rest of the household, which he finds strangely disorganized. The staff is too small for an earl’s establishment, and some of the members are openly disrespectful of their master. Worse, the cook is slovenly and her food inedible. That night, awake late trying to deal with his smoking chimney, Jamie sees Stephen get dropped home from an evening out with a male friend, with whom he argues passionately--and then, to Jamie’s amazement, kisses just as passionately. Jamie isn’t sure how he feels about this revelation, but thinks that Stephen’s scandalous behavior quite probably explains the servant problem.
In the morning, Jamie breakfasts with CHARLES, Stephen’s valet. He learns more about the staff, who are mostly misfits, unable to hold positions in more respectable households, and more about Stephen as well. Stephen’s wealthy estates are tied up in trusts, which is just as well, because he squanders his generous allowance on gambling, drink, and pretty boys. Jamie resolves to do what he can to improve Stephen’s household, especially the earl’s finances, which due to his riotous living are in shocking disarray. Meanwhile, the valet Charles schemes with housemaid REBECCA to better Jamie’s appearance, hoping to entice Stephen away from his ruinously expensive lover.
Charles and Rebecca put their schemes in motion, beginning by ruining Jamie’s shirt at luncheon so that Charles has an excuse to make over some of Stephen’s castoff clothing for him. Rebecca gives Jamie a more attractive haircut. Meanwhile, Jamie has plans of his own. He decides to speak to MR. SYMMONS, the butler, about replacing the incompetent cook, and persuades Rebecca to take over cooking if he’s successful. When he approaches Mr. Symmons, he finds that the butler’s hostility toward Stephen is rooted in his grief over the deaths of the previous earl and family. Jamie gently works to improve Mr. Symmons’ attitude.
Jamie discusses taking some economical measures with Stephen, who isn’t much interested--but does find himself noticing Jamie’s entrancing dimple. Stephen agrees that after the first few glasses of his fine French brandy, he will switch to a cheaper brand, and that Jamie can replace some of the wax candles in the house with tallow. The fresh, out of season roses in every room are not negotiable, however, since they are a reward promised to his valet Charles for a particular favor he once did Stephen.
The household is coming along nicely, to Jamie’s satisfaction. Rebecca has proven to have a flair for cooking, and the attitudes of the others toward Stephen are improving. Jamie gets the idea that Stephen should build a greenhouse for Charles, since it would be cheaper to grow roses than buy them. Stephen discards his lover, and is persuaded by Charles to look in to the library on his way up to bed, in case Jamie has fallen asleep yet again at the desk. Stephen watches the sleeping Jamie, surprised to find that he is now very attracted to him. Jamie opens his eyes, and without the glasses Stephen sees that his eyes are an unusual shade of blue he has seen on only one other man: his very first lover. Sentimental and drunk, Stephen kisses Jamie, who tentatively responds before fleeing upstairs.
Jamie admits to Rebecca that Stephen kissed him--and that he kissed Stephen back. Rebecca is pleased, but less so when Jamie reveals why he can never be the plaything of a lord: that’s exactly what his mother was. Jamie’s mother was seduced and abandoned by a viscount. Cast out by her father when her pregnancy was revealed, she became another man’s mistress to survive. Her unhappiness, Jamie believes, caused her early death, and he is determined not to follow her example. Besides, he is very happy at Stephen’s house, by now considering the rest of the staff the family he never had, and knows that Stephen will discard him when he tires of Jamie. Jamie brings up the idea of the greenhouse to Stephen, but they agree the start-up cost is a problem. Stephen says he has a date with a prospective lover, and Jamie gets angry over the projected expense. Stephen admits that he’s never had to be responsible before, but still goes off on his date.
Stephen returns early, having found his date’s looks too obvious, his kisses too practiced. He admits to Charles that he wants Jamie, and asks what he thinks Jamie’s price would be. Charles, who knows the story of Jamie’s mother, warns Stephen that it is a bad idea to try to purchase Jamie. Without scaring Stephen off by using the word ‘love,’ Charles describes what he thinks would win Jamie: attention, regard, respect. Stephen dismisses this, and tells Charles to offer Jamie a rare book from his library that he knows the young man admires. Charles does so reluctantly, and isn’t surprised when Jamie refuses. Jamie admits to Charles that he’s never slept with anyone, and hopes that Stephen won’t persevere because he isn’t sure he can hold out. Later, Stephen offers Jamie a generous settlement to become his lover, and Jamie is furious that Stephen values his body more than the staggering amount of work he does for Stephen. Stephen begins to see that Charles’ idea of how to win Jamie is better than his own.
Jamie goes for a walk, and returns to find the other servants busy preparing his birthday dinner. Jamie realizes that the earl’s house has truly become home to him, and his attraction to Stephen jeopardizes that. Late that night, Stephen finds him again asleep in the library, and Jamie succumbs to temptation, kissing the earl passionately on the floor by the fire. It dawns on Jamie that he has fallen in love with Stephen, and Stephen unwisely chooses that moment to push a physical relationship. Jamie repeats that he can’t, still certain that Stephen will only use and discard him.
Jamie tries to keep his distance from Stephen, but Rebecca and Charles have other plans. By now certain that Jamie and Stephen are perfect for each other, they decide to throw the two men together as much as possible. Charles convinces Stephen to stay home several nights per week, putting the money he would have lost gambling into a fund for the greenhouse. Stephen finds his first night home very pleasant, playing cards with Charles while Jamie reads Byron’s poetry to them. Something Jamie reads sparks a memory of Stephen’s first lover, an older marquess named Jack. Stephen mentions that Jamie has Jack’s eyes exactly, and Charles, who knows that Jamie’s viscount father could well have been the son of a marquess, begins to wonder if there’s a connection.
Charles quizzes Stephen about his first lover, establishing that he could well be Jamie’s grandfather. Jamie joins Stephen and Charles for cards, but says he’s a much better chess player. Stephen stays home the next night to play chess with Jamie. They have an enjoyable evening, during which Jamie beats him handily. The next day Stephen calls on his AUNT MATILDA, who remembers the scandal involving Jamie’s mother, and confirms that Jamie is the grandson of Stephen’s first lover.
When Stephen and Jamie play chess again, Stephen persuades Jamie to drink a few glasses of brandy, and the two men share kisses and frank conversation about sex on the moonlit veranda. Jamie is greatly tempted to go to bed with the sensuous Stephen, but decides that in the absence of love, pleasure isn’t enough.
Jamie wishes to Rebecca that Stephen would fall in love with him. She encourages him, kissing his cheek with sisterly affection. Later, a young housemaid blurts out to Stephen that she saw Rebecca kiss Jamie, and he becomes jealous and incensed, deciding to seduce Jamie that very night to keep him from Rebecca.
That evening, Stephen persuades Jamie to play chess for kisses, and playing unpredictably, pulls off a win by which Jamie owes him five kisses. The kisses escalate, and the inexperienced Jamie is aroused to the point where he allows Stephen to make love to him, despite still having considerable reservations.
In the morning, Stephen insists that he wants to spoil Jamie with gifts, which makes Jamie feel like he is being purchased after all. After Stephen leaves to get dressed, Jamie tries to distract himself from his worries by opening the new book of Byron’s poetry he allowed Stephen to buy for him. The package instead contains the priceless book Stephen had previously offered in exchange for his body. The horrified Jamie, unaware that this is an error, packs his things and flees the house.
Stephen is frantic with worry over Jamie being out alone and penniless in London, but doesn’t have the resources to search for him. He decides to approach his wealthy first lover, JACK, whom he believes to be Jamie’s grandfather, for help finding Jamie. Jack agrees, tracks down Jamie, and convinces him to come home with Jack.
Jamie and Jack get to know and like each other during the several days before Jack will consent to see Stephen. He will not allow Stephen to see his grandson until Stephen agrees to a number of conditions: Stephen can only see Jamie three times per week, and the two must be properly chaperoned. Stephen is incredulous that Jack insists he court Jamie, but agrees. He stays and has tea with Jack and Jamie, and insists that the household Jamie worked so carefully to put into order is falling apart without him. Stephen is persuaded to take responsibility for his own servant problems.
Stephen’s household is anxious for news of Jamie, and although he feels strange discussing his private business with the staff, Stephen tells them about the conditions under which he can see Jamie. They offer advice. Later that week, Stephen goes to the opera with Jack and Jamie, and is stunned at how good Jamie looks in evening clothes. Under the watchful eye of Jamie’s grandfather, Stephen contents himself with holding hands with Jamie during the performance.
The courtship continues. Stephen takes Jamie to the British Museum to see the Elgin Marbles and the British Library. Jack and Jamie discuss Jamie’s father, who usually lives in Paris to avoid Jack. Jack and his son, named Johnnie, have not been close since the teenage Johnnie discovered his father’s preference for men. On a warm late autumn day, Stephen takes Jamie for a walk in Vauxhall Gardens, and kisses Jamie despite Jamie’s protests. That night, angry with both Jamie and himself, Stephen attempts an assignation with a more willing young man, but decides not to go through with it when he thinks of Jamie.
On the way to the opera again, Stephen apologizes to Jamie, who admits that he doesn’t dare indulge in passionate kissing with Stephen because he doesn’t trust himself to stop. Stephen takes the hint, and promises that if Jamie lets them kiss, he will be the responsible one and not let things get out of hand. Back home, Stephen discusses relationships with Charles and Rebecca, and the two give him advice based on their own experiences. Stephen resolves to work at interesting and keeping Jamie, even to the point of joining a local historical society.
While Stephen is becoming more serious about Jamie, Jamie is becoming more sexual with Stephen. Peeved to find that the lead actor in the play they are watching is Stephen’s most recent lover, Jamie uses his hand to pleasure Stephen surreptitiously during the performance. The next day, Stephen takes Jamie for a drive, and learns about ANTHONY, to whom Jack introduced Jamie after being disgruntled by Stephen’s behavior at Vauxhall. Anthony is handsome, discreet, intelligent--and in love with Jack, as it turns out. But Jack feels he is too old for Anthony, and pushes Jamie to see him, kiss him, even make love to him to find out if Jamie’s strong feelings for Stephen aren’t just based in his lack of experience with anyone else.
Jack maneuvers to leave Jamie and Anthony alone together for dinner. Jamie and Anthony discuss their respective loves, get drunk, and follow Jack’s advice to kiss. Jamie finds kissing Anthony pleasant, but nothing as intense as kissing Stephen. The next day, the hung-over Jamie is visited by Stephen, who becomes furious when Jamie admits he kissed Anthony. Stephen cools down over conversation with Charles and Rebecca, resolving to give it a few days before he sees Jamie again.
Stephen, on the advice of friends at the historical society he now attends, takes Jamie to see the eclectic collection of Sir John Soane. Jamie enjoys seeing the items, but is still angry that Stephen doesn’t trust him with Anthony. They fight in the coach on the way back to Jack’s, and Jamie jumps out into the snow to walk home. At Jack’s, he meets his father, Jack’s son JOHNNIE, for the first time. Johnnie denies he’s Jamie’s father, calls him a charlatan, and strikes him several times. Johnnie instructs his servants to throw Jamie into the river. One of Jack’s footmen fishes the unconscious Jamie from the freezing, filthy water.
Jamie comes to and asks for Stephen. Jack, who has now broken with his son Johnnie for good, is furious that Stephen allowed this to happen to Jamie, but is persuaded to send for Stephen. Stephen learns that Jamie has been injured, and gains support from several members of his staff, whom he realizes he has become close to.
Stephen rushes to Jamie’s side. He learns what happened with Jamie’s father, and that his fears about Anthony are groundless because Anthony and Jack have become a couple. Jamie is kept to his bed for a week to recover, and when he is allowed to get up, informs Jack that he wants to go home to Stephen. He is still not convinced that Stephen loves him the way he loves Stephen, but never wants to face death again without having known life with Stephen. Jack agrees to let Jamie go back to Stephen--provided Stephen can meet his conditions, of course.
Stephen comes to dine with Jamie and Jack, only to find that he and Jamie are left suspiciously alone. After dinner, a relaxed and happy Jamie asks Stephen if Stephen has any particular fantasies about him. Stephen admits he has a special fantasy about Jamie, but is reluctant to share it. Jamie shares his sexual fantasy with Stephen, who is then persuaded to tell his. Stephen’s fantasy is romantic, not sexual: he imagines waking up in the middle of the night, and finding Jamie is there. At last, he admits he loves Jamie, and begs him to come home. Stephen and Jamie make love, fulfilling Jamie’s fantasy.
In the morning, Stephen formally calls on Jack, asking that Jamie be allowed to return home with him. Jack details a number of conditions, including Jamie’s living quarters, the position he will hold in Stephen’s household, and the provision that not a penny of the generous allowance Jamie will receive from his grandfather is to be spent on Stephen’s bills. Stephen promises to meet the conditions, and do his best to make Jamie happy.
On Christmas Eve, Jamie returns home to Stephen’s house, with Jack and Anthony along to confirm that the required conditions have been met. Jamie is welcomed by Stephen’s staff, and finds his new rooms to his liking. Jack relinquishes Jamie to Stephen’s care. That night, Jamie wakes up happy beside Stephen. He surreptitiously rouses Stephen, so that Stephen wakes up, and finds Jamie there. Both their fantasies fulfilled, the two drift into contented sleep.
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