Today I’m delighted to be sharing an excerpt from Kellyn Roth’s new novel At her Fingertips as part of a blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club. At her Fingertips is the third book in Kellyn’s series The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy.
They had waited for hours, first in their carriage and later in the outer rooms, but at last it was almost time for Alice’s presentation at court. Aunt Lois passed her card and Alice’s as well as their official invitation to one of the stiff, uniformed attendants.
Anxiety wasn’t something Alice gave in to often. Or rather, she rarely termed any feeling she had as anxiety. Even when her stomach twisted and her breath came in short pants, she preferred to blame a worrisome menu item or an overly tight corset, regardless of the fact that her corset was never overly tight—her mother would never allow her to wear a poorly fitted clothing item. Not that she didn’t often worry about things, but that she didn’t want to say those worries gave her butterflies. She was far too serious to indulge in anything so frolicsome as that.
Yet today she was nervous. Nervous because this was the climax of her life up to this point, and if she stumbled, she would go down in history for it—or at least she imagined she would go down in history for it.
It had started early this morning with a bath, with her skin being rubbed until it practically glowed, with countless glances in the mirror for fear her face would break out or her eyes might have shadows under them from a near-sleepless night.
Or anything. Anything of the sort could go wrong. Alice was keenly aware of this fact—her mother even more so.
Mother had been absolutely manic this morning. A bit of a smile flickered across Alice’s face, serious though the moment was, at the memory. Of course, Alice didn’t blame her. She felt badly that her mother couldn’t be the one presenting her, honestly. She wished traditions weren’t as they were.
As it was, having not been presented at court herself, Mother wasn’t able to present Alice. Thank goodness for Aunt Lois or it might not have been possible, and Mother would have been so disappointed.
Though, Alice had a few connections. Her best friend, Cassie—also known as Lady Mary Cassidy O’Connell—was the daughter of the Earl and Countess of Auburn, and Alice imagined she might have been allowed to be presented alongside Cassie. Thankfully, though, that hadn’t been necessary.
Alice swallowed and adjusted her long train on her arm. It was a cumbersome thing, but six feet of white silk, satin, and tulle was a requirement, as was the elaborate headdress, topped with three large white feathers.
She felt a bit like a peacock, though with the color, a swan was more apt a description. Let me glide like a swan, not limp like a penguin, Lord. I only get to do this once.
Alice had practiced her walk, her bow, the sweeping movement that should be awkward but mustn’t be, which she would use to collect her long train in preparation to back out of the chamber. Practiced it until surely she couldn’t make a mistake. My family is already on the outskirts of society, at least in this crowd. What if …?
Aunt Lois turned to her, thankfully interrupting her anxious thoughts. “We’ve only a bit longer to wait, darling. Three girls ahead of you. Oh, don’t you look lovely!”
Her aunt had said that only three dozen times since she’d come to collect her in the early afternoon, but Alice still appreciated the reassurance. She ought to look lovely after all the effort her mother, her maid, and the dressmaker had put out. This was the loveliest Alice could be made to look. The gown was the height of fashion, made by the most popular modiste in Paris specifically for this occasion.
Likely the only time she’d ever wear it again would be for her wedding, though with a different bodice—probably one a bit higher. Strange how a lower neckline was acceptable for presentation at court but not in general. It almost made Alice wonder if the rules weren’t a bit arbitrary, without any real reason for their existence.
But thinking of dresses held not half the appeal of thinking of matrimony, and her thoughts quickly wandered away from that vein. Hopefully Alice’s wedding wouldn’t be too far away. Hopefully this appearance, combined with similar appearances that would surely follow, would allow her to secure a good match—soon.
Two more girls to go. Aunt Lois squeezed Alice’s hand. Unlike Mother, Aunt Lois’s anxiety wasn’t quite so covered by bluster—she showed her fears, but never seemed to linger on them long. There was more excitement in Aunt Lois for Alice than there ever would be in Mother. Mother saw the possibilities of disaster—Aunt Lois saw a great deal more fun.
Alice didn’t find it fun, but her nerves were not quite as tightly strung as her mother’s, either. She felt it was important, but she also wasn’t particularly interested in the society parade that was the Season. Yet she would do it, because she had been raised to believe it was as vital as breathing—and just as natural, too.
Then it was time, and Alice glided forward with her train and veil trailing behind her. She turned her brain off and moved forward, one leg placed gently in front of the other, her eyes slightly downcast but not so downcast as to render her incapable of seeing where she was walking.
The throne room was practically a wide hall lined with various courtesans and noblemen and women here to observe the latest debutantes. Alice caught sight of banners and crests out of the corners of her eyes, but she just knew she’d fall flat on her face if she tried to observe everything, so she resisted.
When it came to her day-to-day opinions, Alice was as unimpressed by the queen as she had been by every hereditary monarch in every kingdom throughout every era of the world. However, today, awe filled Alice as she approached the throne placed in the grand receiving chamber.
‘Throne’ seemed so ancient a word for the modern-day world. Yet here Alice was in a throne room, and it all felt very strange and foreign.
As if living out a dream, she caught the eye of Queen Victoria, who looked both serious and bored at the same time. The queen wasn’t a particularly beautiful woman, nor particularly intimidating, nor dressed in the grandest fashion with her typical dark ensemble lending a sober air to her entire countenance.
A moment or so, and Alice looked down again, as if some invisible force compelled her. She approached, took the offered hand and kissed it, and bowed until her knee almost but not quite touched the floor.
Then she rose, every muscle in her body straining for that seamless, effortless motion, and gathered her train over her arm.
It was over.
She’s willing to do anything to follow her plan.
Debutante Alice Knight is ready for her first social season in London. She’s determined to impress society and her mother with an affluent match, at last escaping her past and embracing a future of her own making.
Peter Strauss, an American reporter visiting England, isn’t exactly what Alice had in mind. However, his friendship proves invaluable as Alice faces the challenges of her debut. Almost immediately, she attracts the attention of a well-born gentleman—perfect save for the simple fact that he’s not a Christian.
The life she longs for is finally at her fingertips, but between her own heart and the convictions of her faith, she isn’t sure she ought to grasp it.
At Her Fingertips, a romantic women’s fiction novel, is the third novel in Kellyn Roth’s Christian family saga, The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy.
Kellyn Roth is a Christian historical women’s fiction & romance author from North-Eastern Oregon who has independently published multiple novels, the most notable being The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy series. You should definitely call her Kell.
Kell lives on family-owned property outside an unmemorable but historical town with her parents, two little brothers, precious border collies, a dozen cows, and lots of chickens. She also possesses a classic, vintage aesthetic which does not at all speak to her country girl side, but such is life.
When not writing, Kell likes to blog, work as a virtual assistant for authors and other small business owners, and spend lavish amounts of money on Dairy Queen french fries. She also likes to talk about her books (and occasionally Keira Knightley) way too much. You’ve been warned.
Book Title: At Her Fingertips
Series: The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy, Book 3
Author: Kellyn Roth Publication
Date: 17th July 2021
Publisher: Wild Blue Wonder Press
Page Length: 300 pages
Genre: Christian Historical Romance