View Full Version : Looking for Beta Read for YA Historical

10-24-2010, 08:25 PM
Okay so I have two YA historicals that I need beta readers for but I DO NOT EXPECT A PERSON TO SIGN ON FOR BOTH. I'm just going to list two stories so that a potential beta read can pick ONE of them. If you want to do both, that's fine too, but I know that a lot of people are busy.

A Constant Companion is set in Massachusetts during the Civil War. The story is a romance and follows Alice Morgan. This seventeen-year-old has been raised to be the perfect lady, and wants to be accepted by both her parents and by polite society. Yet, when her family falls on hard times, the young woman becomes the companion for the town's old spinster, Miss Montague. The spring of 1861 is certainly looking dismal indeed for Miss Morgan until she meets the handsome William Burbage. His mysterious past and good looks intrigue the young lady, and soon the two are involved in a scandal. Now Alice must decide between living a comfortable life as a lady, or following her heart and breaking the rules of society. (For Chapter One see post #2)

Untitled is set during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. The story follows seventeen year old Grace Fletcher who comes to Salem Village to work as an indentured servant. She is taken into the home of Thomas Putnam, a predominate member of the Puritan community, and meets his twelve year old daughter Anne. When Anne invites Grace to a meeting in town with the other local girls, Grace soon finds herself involved in a witch hysteria. When she is accused of the terrible crime herself Grace must decide to "confess" to witchcraft to save herself, or tell the truth and face the hangman's noose. (For Chapter One see post #3)

If interested in either please PM me or email me at ariesgal_91@comcast.net

10-24-2010, 08:28 PM
Chapter One

April, 1861

“I have heard that you are to become a companion, Miss Morgan?”

Alice Morgan glanced up at the sound of her name, a little repulsed when she saw the gray eyes of Charles Hampton gawking at her from above his champagne glass. The two were standing in the Townsend’s large ball room, watching as the dancers moved across the floor to the tune of a waltz. The smell of heavy perfume and champagne tingled Alice’s senses as she waved a fan across her face, already feeling a little light-headed from her constricting corset. Still, she managed to pin on a smile as she tried not to note how Mr. Hampton’s breath reeked of alcohol.

“Yes, I am to become the companion of Miss Montague,” Alice replied pleasantly.
“How terrible,” Charles said. He took another long gulp of his drink before setting the empty glass on the tray of a nearby waiter. “I would hate to work for that old hag. Is she here tonight?”

“No, she decided she needed some rest.” Alice adjusted the bodice of her cerulean gown, the black lace coming just off her shoulders to reveal perfectly pale flesh. At the time she had put on the dress Alice had felt decent enough, but standing next to Charles Hampton suddenly made her feel rather exposed. Feeling his eyes bearing into the back of her neck, she pulled the bodice further up her shoulders.

“You must feel fortunate that Miss Montague isn’t here,” Charles continued. “That way you don’t feel that you have to attend on her during the ball.”

Alice fought back the urge to roll her eyes. She wanted to tell him that she would much rather enjoy a conversation with the stuffy spinster than with him. She would also absolutely love to know how his wife felt about him flirting with other ladies. However, that would be unseemly conduct. Alice just glued her eyes to the dancing couples, pretending that she didn’t hear him. She only wished she had someone to share the evening with. Charles did not exactly make much of a romantic partner as he was obviously a little intoxicated, and, of course, married.

Alice glanced down at her dance card, her spirits falling even more when she saw that the next dance was the patty-cake polka, and Charles himself had signed on as her partner. When she looked back up at him he was smiling at her like a smug cat that had just caught a mouse. In fact, he almost did look like a cat with his dark blond hair slicked back, narrow gray eyes, pointed nose, and the slightest hint of a mustache starting to curl around his lips. She tried not to grimace as the next dance was called, knowing full-well that she had to accept his offer.

She took Mr. Hampton’s arm, allowing him to lead her to the center of the room where the rest of the couples were pairing up. Among them Alice spied Charles’s younger sister, Margaret Hampton, on the arm of Fredrick Townsend. Beside them the recently engaged Lucy Millington and Richard Townsend appeared bright and joyful as well-wishers flocked around them to congratulate the couple on the coming nuptials and, of course, take a look at the ring that Miss Millington now sported.

“Who is that gentlemen over there?” Charles asked as they lined up.

Alice glanced around the crowd of taffeta and silk-clad women and men in their black tails. She could spy all of the usual players that came out during the Devonshire season; the families from Boston escaping the city before the heat set in, the whaling heirs, and the middle class families trying to make a name for themselves. However, there was a new face tonight; a face that Alice did not recognize. The man in question was talking to Mr. Townsend, and Alice instantly noticed just how handsome he was. He was tall with broad shoulders and a perfectly sculpted face. His hair was blond and scraped the edges of his white collar, the bangs sweeping over his crystal blue eyes. Alice was completely mesmerized by him as she watched him line up for the dance, almost forgetting that she was supposed to be cordial to Charles.

“I don’t know who that is,” she said, finding herself unable to take her eyes off of him.

Before Charles had time to respond, the music struck up for the dance. Alice sank into a curtsy as Charles smiled at her in a way that made her want to grimace. He was saying something to her, but Alice was grateful for the fact that his words were inaudible over the music. She clapped hands and circled around him before skipping over to the left to join her next partner.

As she looked up to clap hands with the new dancer, she found herself staring into a pair of stunning blue eyes. Her heart seemed to stop a bit in her chest when she saw that she was dancing with the stranger she and Charles had been talking about. The young man was even more handsome up close, his eyes glittering in the dim candlelight like pale sapphires. With an easy smile he bowed as Alice sank into another curtsy. She could feel her cheeks turn red beneath his stare, somehow managing a small smile on her lips as his eyes continued to linger over her. For a second, Alice thought that he was admiring her, star-struck by her beauty. It was only when Lucy Millington and Richard rammed into her that Alice realized she had been standing there like a dolt while the other couples danced around them.

“Forgive me,” she whispered hoarsely as she finally clapped hands with him. “I seemed to have, um, I seemed to have-” She couldn’t think of an excuse for her absurd behavior and cursed herself silently for being so foolish. “I guess I just got carried away with the music.” She winced as the words came out of her mouth, instantly regretting them, knowing full well how ridiculous they sounded.

The stranger didn’t seem to mind and just laughed as they switched sides, the giant skirts of the ladies pressing against one another as they struggled to circle around. Alice took another look back at him, glad to see that he was still smiling at her, and she prayed that he didn’t think her to be some sort of fool. She had wanted to come up with something witty and clever about her rather awkward behavior, but her mind kept running blank. She was relieved when the dance ended, the stranger bowing over Alice as she sank into a deep curtsy, her blue skirts pooling around her like a puddle.

“Who will you be dancing with next, Miss?” the young man asked as he offered her his arm.

Alice hastily snatched up her dance card tied around her wrist. “It seems that the band will be taking an intermission now,” she informed him.

“Oh, thank God,” he breathed as they moved over to where the other guests were crowded. “I don’t know anyone at this ball.”

Alice giggled. “You’re new in town?” she asked like she didn’t know.

“Yes, my family arrived just a few days ago from New Hampshire. We are currently staying with the Townsends who insisted that we come to their party this evening. Oh, forgive me; I don’t believe I have introduced myself. I am William Burbage.”

“Alice Morgan, and it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. How long have you been staying with the Townsends? I have known Richard and Fredrick forever it seems.”

“My mother and I just arrived a few days ago,” William confessed. “I am afraid we haven’t really gotten settled in yet, but Mr. Townsend insisted that we come tonight for the ball. Oh, I’ve already mentioned that, haven’t I?” He smiled down apologetically at Alice who couldn’t help but find it amusing. Giggling she asked,

“And are you enjoying yourself, Mr. Burbage?”
His smile suddenly grew more confident, and there was a sharp glint of light in his eyes. “I think so.”

Alice blushed as she felt his gaze on her. “Have you ever been to Devonshire before? Forgive me, but I have never seen you here nor heard the Townsends mention you.” She winced at her poor choice of words and prayed that he didn’t notice.

“No, I haven’t been to Devonshire before. Actually, this is my first time in Massachusetts as I have never traveled outside of New Hampshire until now. I saw the ocean for the first time yesterday afternoon.”

10-24-2010, 08:34 PM
Chapter One

Fall, 1691

“I don’t know if I can do this.”

Grace Fletcher glanced up from her looking glass and over at her friend, Elizabeth Hobbs. The two young girls were sitting below decks of the Sea Nymph, straining to see in the dim light as the ship dipped between the waves. The vessel groaned and above them the girls could hear the tapping of heavy boots of the sailors. Men shouted at one another to fetch lines and used words that even after three months at sea Grace still could not understand.

“It will be fine,” she said. “Just remember to keep your wits about you,” She went back to brushing her brown hair, using one hand to hold the brush, the other to hold the mirror. She just wished that she had a third one to hold herself upright.

“What if…What if I get a cruel master?” Elizabeth asked fearfully, wiggling out of her skirt before pulling up a fresh one. She hardly seemed to care that there were other women-and men- moving through the lower decks of the ship, hastily searching for luggage and terms of indenture. After being on the ship for so long the passengers seemed to have abandoned any hope of privacy.

“I’m sure it will be fine,” Grace said. She frowned at a red blemish on her face. She could feel her hands trembling as she set down the mirror, one of the few possessions that she owned. “We must have faith.” She didn’t know whether she was trying to steady her own nerves or Elizabeth’s. She pulled her hair back into a bun, trying to ignore the nauseating feeling in her stomach. She placed a clean coif on top of her head and took out the looking glass one more time to examine herself. She knew vanity to be a mortal sin, but Grace was also worried about her looks after so much time spent in the humid lower decks of the ship. Holding up the mirror, she strained to see her reflection in the filthy glass. Grace wore just a simple brown bodice, a yellow skirt, and apron. It wasn’t much but it was the only thing that was clean, and Captain Philips had advised that everyone look their best for potential masters. She could even hear the old sot now as he demanded that his passengers get ready to dock.

“Do I look alright?” Grace asked Elizabeth.

“Aye,” Elizabeth said, her voice trembling. “But I fear I look as pale as a ghost.”

“We have not been out in the sunlight for a long time,” Grace reminded her.

“I will be most glad when we are rid of Captain Philips.” Grace began shuffling through her belongings. “He was a terrible captain, not to mention a drunkard and a flirt.”

Elizabeth only nodded. Grace could see, a look of panic on her face as she searched frantically through her things. Finally she let out a sigh of relief and pulled out her indentured contract, and clutched it tightly to her chest. “I thought I had lost this.”

“Well, thank God you didn’t. Then where would you be?”
Elizabeth shook her head. “I don’t even want to think about that. I will feel much better once we have reached land. Hopefully, I’ll have a good master and be happy.”

“I’ll be happy when my years of servitude is over and I can have my own land, and perhaps even money for a dowry,” Grace said. She didn’t know who she was reminding though; herself or her friend. She snatched up her own term of indenture, and took one last look around the cramped space to make sure that she hadn’t forgotten anything.

“Come along, Elizabeth. Make haste.”

“I’m coming, I’m coming,” the other girl said, her voice still trembling. “Are you sure I look alright, Grace? I don’t mean to sound vain, but I should I wear the green bodice?”

Before she could answer Grace heard Captain Philips yelling from above, demanding that everyone meet him at the top deck, threatening that if they did not he would ship them back to England.

“I don’t think there is any time,” Grace said.
Elizabeth nodded mutely and followed Grace through the throng of people and even a small herd of goats and sheep that had managed the voyage to Boston. They bleated fearfully as their masters tried to drag them up the steps to the upper deck, twisting and turning out of their hold, their tiny hoofs clattering against the wood.

The Sea Nymph lurched over a large wave. The sudden motion and the smell of animal waste and unwashed bodies, made Grace feel very dizzy and lightheaded. She tried to swallow down the feeling, but she could still hear her heart hammering in her chest. Her hands were shaking as she climbed the ladder.

The girls stepped onto the top deck, the bright sunlight blinding in their eyes which had grown accustom to the darkness below decks. The Sea Nymph was almost completely surrounded by the sparkling blue waters of the Atlantic which stretched on for thousands of miles, dipping past the horizon and back to England. In front of them, however, Grace could see land. She could make out the rocky coastline with the surf crashing around it. She could see houses and as the Sea Nymph edged closer she could make out even more with the smoke billowing from several chimneys twisting slowly up towards the clear heavens. Clouds of seagulls surfed along the wind, and several other tall ships were docked in the harbor, bobbing slightly as the waves rocked against them.

Once the Sea Nymph herself was close enough, the sailors began to cast over the anchors and prepare the rowboats to take the servants to shore. Grace could feel her stomach drop as she watched men, women, and even a couple of older children climb into the boats while others looked around wild-eyed, noting that they could not find their term of indenture or were missing an article of luggage.

“But my son and I!” one woman wailed to the captain. “We were supposed to serve together! If I cannot find my term-”

“There is nothing I can do if your terms have been lost, ma’am.”
Grace pressed her own terms tight to her chest. “Lost indeed,” she muttered.
“More like stolen.”

“Several people are missing theirs,” Elizabeth whispered to her. “Many have “lost” their luggage too.”

Grace shook her head as she climbed into a rowboat, Elizabeth settling in beside her. Once the vessel had been filled to its capacity, the signal was given for it to be lowered. With a lurch it began to move, slowly sinking into the churning waves. Once in the water, it was unhooked from the ship and a member of the crew steered it towards Boston. The waves caused the boat to dip and sway from side to side; making Grace fearful that she might become seasick all over again.

The sailors rowed the passengers over towards the mainland where the sights and sounds of the city awaited them. As Grace stumbled out of the rowboat, struggling to find her land-legs, she could smell fish from the docks, hear the rumbling of carts, and the clattering of hooves against the road. Seagulls cried over her head and all around her the people of Boston shouted their wares, called to neighbors, and one man stood on an overturned crate declaring that the end of days was upon them.

“I did not expect it to look so much like Southampton,” Elizabeth mused.

“But there will be more jobs here,” Grace said. They followed Captain Philips as he paraded the servants through the docks. Grace struggled to stay on her own two feet, feeling that she must look like a drunkard as she staggered about. One lad even laughed and pointed at her, calling her a rather foul name that Grace did her best to ignore.

“Alright, move along,” Captain Philips shouted. “There be men here to consider ya.”

“But my terms have been lost if not stolen!” one woman cried out from behind Grace. “If I can’t find them-”

“You said we could serve together!” The cry came from a woman several yards down the pier. She was beseeching a rather menacing looking fellow who glared down at her with his arms crossed over his chest.

“I’m sorry, but if ya lost your contract than I can’t help you,” he said.

When the passengers of the Sea Nymph finally reached their destination, they found that a group of men was already waiting for them, ready to inspect them over like cattle for market. The potential servants were treated like entrants at a horsefair. Grace felt like a pack-mule as she was poked and prodded, watching as the men expected her teeth and gums like she were some sort of beast. She was asked to walk about so that the potential buyers could see if she was lame or had some deformity. She questioned about past sicknesses, what her family’s trade had been in England, and why she had decided to come to the Bay Colony.

“And how old are you, girl?” one man asked Grace. He was tall, standing a good two feet above her, but his high-crowned hat made him appear much bigger. He stared at Grace with unfriendly gray eyes that seemed to pierce through her very soul.

“Well,” he barked when she didn’t speak. “Are you daft girl?”

“I am seventeen,” Grace said. All of her courage suddenly seemed to have drained out of her as she looked into those dark eyes. “And-and I am not daft, sir.”

“Can you read or write?”
“Only my name, sir.”

“Do you know how to farm? To sew and cook?”
“My father taught me how to use a blade in our farm in Hampshire, and my mother taught me how to cook, sew, and all other household chores.”

He nodded slowly as he looked her up and down. “Why did you come to Massachusetts?”

Grace bit her lip, instantly thinking of the mother and father who she had buried in England, of the drunkard brother who had left her alone without neither money nor prospects. Grace somehow managed to swallow down the surge of emotion, telling herself that she would just embarrass herself if she started to cry. She had to be brave-be brave and accept her fate. This was, after all, what she had signed on for.

Taking a deep breath she said, “My parents died, I have no money, and couldn’t find work in England. I was told that in the New World I could get land and start a new life in return for my servitude.”

He nodded slowly, scratching underneath his graying beard as he continued to study her.

“You aren’t a papist are you? You don’t support the Anglican Church?”

“I’m not a papist,” Grace said, knowing she should choose her words wisely. “And my parents did go to the English church in Hampshire…” She stopped herself before she ruined everything and was left on the dockside without contract. “I am a good God-fearing woman, sir, and will work hard for you.”

He muttered something before he turned on his heel and marched off, leaving Grace standing there alone, feeling the cool autumn wind as it swept over her skirts. She glanced over at the other servants, giving them a meek smile, but did not receive a friendly look in reply. They all kept their eyes dutifully focused ahead of them, standing there like soldiers, even though some of the younger ones had tears streaming down their cheeks. They were now completely at the mercy of someone else, and Grace knew how horrifying that could be. On the journey she had heard tales of wicked men in the New World who took advantage of their servants, and she prayed to the Lord that she would be contracted to righteous man.

10-24-2010, 10:21 PM
I sent an email about Constant Companion. Would love to swap beta's!

10-26-2010, 12:45 AM
Anyone else? The more the merrier.