Jo’s Journal: The Story Behind My Novel, Mr. Shipley’s Governess

Credit: Elaine Howlin

The Story Behind My Novel, Mr. Shipley’s Governess

by Joanne Troppello


Since my teenage years, I’ve been a fan of reading—first YA fiction and then romance novels. Who doesn’t like reading about a dreamy hero as he pursues the heroine of the story?


I began my foray into writing during my high school years. None of my manuscripts were published until many years later, but the dream was born in my heart during my senior year in English class. I had a very inspiring teacher who shared his love of writing and literature with our class—it was the first time that I thought hey, maybe someday I can become an author too.


It took me several years to write my inspirational romance novel, Mr. Shipley’s Governess because I had a full-time job while I wrote it. It’s exciting to bring my characters to readers’ lives for them to enjoy their story. I wanted to write a tale of love and inspiration with a romantic hero, and a heroine in need of “rescuing.”


Now, this is not a damsel-in-distress tale per see, like a knight in shining armor rescuing the imprisoned princess. However, this is more of a modern-day twist. The hero, Sebastian Shipley is a well-to-do businessman who has a daughter with an illness. She is in need of a live-in tutor.


Into the picture comes the heroine, Sophie Baird. So, what does she need rescuing from? A few months earlier, her parents had died in a car accident and she needs to escape the pain of their death and be rescued from her life.


One of my favorite authors is Jane Austen. I love her books, my favorites—Emma, Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice. I thought it would be neat to include some Austenesque elements into the book and my heroine is also a huge Austen fan.


I wanted to write the book with an old-world romance style but in a contemporary setting. My goal was to maintain a classic tone reminiscent of some of the treasured books I’d grown up reading. I hope readers love Sophie and Sebastian as much as I enjoyed creating them.

Excerpt from Mr. Shipley's Governess


Sebastian crossed his arms and leaned against the arched doorframe, amused that Sophie continued reading—oblivious to his intrusion. He watched as she scrunched up her face in consternation, seemingly engrossed in the eBook. “So, who do you like better, me or Mr. Knightley?” He heard her sharp intake of breath and she nearly dropped the e-reader as she turned to discover her intruder.


“Definitely, that would be Mr. Knightley. He doesn’t have the bad habit of sneaking up on me all the time.”


Sebastian spanned the room in several strides and sat in the chair opposite her. “Yes, he’s so charming. I hope to someday be like him.”


“Hey, don’t make fun.” She closed the leopard-print tablet cover with a thud. “He is the epitome of the perfect gentleman.”


“Actually, I’m serious.”


“What do you mean?”


“I’m reading the same book as you. It must be a coincidence.”


Sophie’s expression softened. “You’re only trying to get on my good side.”


He leaned forward in mock surprise. “Whatever do you mean, my dear? I thought I was on your good side.”


“That depends on my mood.”


“I see. You’re all about a woman’s prerogative.”


“Yes, I live by that rule.”


He played along and enjoyed the teasing. “Oh, so you’re one of those.”


“You’d better believe it. It’s my prerogative to change my mind whenever I want.”


He fluidly maneuvered to the ottoman where her feet rested and he sat down. “I hope you don’t change your mind about me.”


“Well, that all depends on you.”


“I’d better be on my best behavior then.”


Sophie got up quickly and before he realized it, she walked across the room to the bookshelf. “So, you actually read Emma, too. That’s still surprising and sweet.”


He followed after her. “You’re avoiding any serious conversation, young lady.”


She moved away, running her delicate fingers along the spines of the old leather-bound books. He kept following like a lion stalking his prey, backing her into a corner. Leaning her hands against the windowsill, she backed up as far as possible and laughed nervously. He smiled inside as she avoided his steady gaze. He had her exactly where he wanted her. She glanced up shyly. “So, tell me again why you interrupted me.”


“I did because I’ve wanted to do this for a long time now.” His hands trembled slightly as he cupped her soft cheeks. With his thumbs, he gently traced the outline of her rosy lips. Staring at her for an eternity, he slowly lowered his mouth to hers. Kissing her gently at first, soon his fervor took over. Even though his brain operated in a fog, he realized she must be enjoying the kiss, since she wrapped her arms around his neck and moved in closer to his chest. Nearly breathless, Sebastian pulled away. “I…I’m sorry.”


She caressed his cheek and for a moment he closed his eyes, relishing her touch. “Don’t be. I’ve wanted you to do that for a long time, too.”


Oh the sweet bliss of making the right-move at the right-time. He brought her hand to his lips for a kiss. “I should get back to work. David’s going to wonder what happened to me.”


Sophie giggled and batted her eyes. “Oh, I’m sure he knows.”


“Now try not to compare me too much to Mr. Knightley because there’s no contest.”


As he left the parlour, the warmth of her lips and the softness of her body in his arms still lingered—making it doubly hard for him to switch gears back into work mode. Taking a deep breath, he hurried down the hall in search of his brother and another inevitable lecture that awaited him for his tardiness. He couldn’t wait for his brother to find the right woman to love. Maybe then, David would realize why Sebastian had one foot on earth and the other in heaven like a love sick puppy.

About the Author


Joanne Troppello is a published author of 3 inspirational fiction novels and the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Mustard Seed Sentinel. She has experience as a freelance writer in topics such as marketing, retail marketing, health and wellness, SEO and social media, travel and lifestyle, website content, recommendations for apps, and content for blogs. Visit her Amazon Author Page for more information regarding her books. Connect on Twitter. Read more about Mustard Seed Sentinel here.


#BookFeature #MrShipleysGoverness #InspirationalRomance #ChristianFiction

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