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Honey and Steel

by eilisBK


The summer night was warm. A comfortable breeze danced through the boughs of trees, nudging the wind chimes into song. Golden lights hung from the branches, drooping from tree to tree, illuminating the garden like fireflies in stasis, lighting the faces of revelers with a delicate glow. Small groups of men and women mingled at the edge of the gravel path, nattering drunkenly to one another in hushed voices. Wrapped in silks of ruby, sapphire and emerald, weighed down by glistening jewels, they clutched their crystal glasses and brought them to their wine stained lips. The partygoers stood around the towering oaks that bordered the path that led to the estate, candlelight streaming from the windows and lively music drifting through the open doors.

“Do you have an invitation, m’lady?” A man in green velvet tails stood before me. His cheeks were sunken in and the hand he stretched out to me was dappled in liver spots, and yet his black eyes were sharp.

“Yes, I do.” My hands slipped beneath the folds of my dress and produced the invitation. I remembered how excited I had been when it had first arrived. My fingers trembled when I broke the red wax seal and saw the delicate, swooping handwriting inviting me to a ball. Not just any ball, mind you, but an engagement ball. The engagement ball of my Prince Charming. Charles Hearst was my paramour--my one and only--and by the end of the night he would be my fiancé. Ever since the invitation had made its way into my possession my heart had been beating against my chest like a bird beating its wings against the bars of its cage, longing to be free. Ever since our courtship began nearly five months ago, Charles had insisted we be inconspicuous and keep our relationship a secret. Of course it seemed awfully exciting at the time; taking walks through his gardens unchaperoned, intertwining our fingers secretly at social events and stealing kisses behind statues. He was a few years older than me and well respected within society, so I was terribly surprised when he started making subtle passes at me. Eventually I tired of the secrecy and begged dear Charles if we could tell our families. I was shut down at once. When the invitation arrived I could hardly contain my joy when I realised we were to be engaged. Maybe this was his way of apologising, although it did seem rather soon.

I passed the invitation to the maitre d’ and smiled knowingly.

“Ah, Miss Avery.” He shot me a look. “Shall I let Sir know you are here?” I chuckled.

“No, I’d rather like to surprise him today. Maybe just let him know I’ll be by his side soon.” The man didn’t seem to fully understand what I meant, but he nodded anyway.

“Very well, Miss.” He bowed slightly and crunched up the path back to the house. Now alone under the starry night I glanced up at the large manor. Tall, white marble columns stretched into the sky, glass glinting cooly. It all seemed rather imposing and uninviting. My eyes darted around the garden, looking for an escape. I had two options: either face the manor and my love while clearly nervous or slip off into the private hedged gardens to calm my pre-engagement jitters. I chose the latter, the hem of my dress rustling the neatly kept lawn. Ten minutes later and I was well and truly lost among the sprawling hedges. While I had wandered the vast grounds of the Hearst estate, I rarely paid attention to where I was going as my focus was always stuck to dear Charlie, listening to him talk about his friends, asking questions about his day. Somehow I found myself standing before a koi pond that I had never seen before.

Beams of moonlight bounced off the crystal clear water, dappling the flowers and myself in a silvery, ethereal glow. The pond itself attracted me, like a magnet, to its edge. When I looked down, I was disappointed with who was looking back at me. Gone was the carefree girl who had cared not if her strawberry blonde waves whipped in the wind. Gone were the forget-me-not eyes that had looked upon the world with awe. Gone were the intricate gauzy gowns that let her run through the meadows behind her home. Instead, a woman looked back at me. The soft curls had been ironed flat, the loose gauze replaced with constricting corsets and silk. The forget-me-not eyes were no longer full of life but instead more resembled the pressed flowers that hung in the drawing room. Charlie loved her though, so I suppose I had to learn to love her too. When we first met I had been so immature and uncouth, yet Charlie saw the potential of who I could be. He helped me become a lady worthy of taking his name.

“Party boring you too?” called a voice behind me. I jumped in fright as the question broke through my thoughts. Half ensconced in shadows stood a man. As he emerged from the darkness, the moonlight lit up his figure. He was rather tall, a little taller than Charles, and had honey golden eyes. His dark hair was a little ruffled, and instead of wearing a tunic like the other male guests, he wore a simple white shirt with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows, along with black trousers. I could tell by the way he held himself that he was of high standing, but from the way he was dressed he looked more like a gardener that worked for the estate.

“No,” I snipped, smoothing the layers of my dress. In the dim light of the garden the blue silk appeared almost black. “I’ve only just arrived.”

“And you haven’t gone inside to greet the happy couple? Doesn’t seem very polite of you.” His tone indicated he couldn’t care less about manners and whether or not I was being polite.

“What do you mean ‘greet the happy couple’?” A lump had formed in the pit of my stomach, less to do with nerves and more to do with dread. The man shrugged.

“Shouldn’t you thank them for the invitation before they make the announcement? That’s what I was told to do, at least.”

“But why would Charles make the announcement without me present?” The words sounded very breathless, as if I was having difficulty breathing. The man shot me a funny look.

“Who are you, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“Avery Donahue, why?”

“Donahue… Donahue…” He stared at the ground, brows furrowed in concentration. When he glanced up at me there was recognition glinting in his golden eyes. “Yes, I’ve heard of you. You are… close with Charlie, no?”

“Yes, I suppose you could say that.” I smiled slightly, debating whether to tell him just how close we were.

“No, I mean… very close. Closer than friends,” he pushed. I threw him a puzzled look; he couldn’t possibly know could he? “Um… it’s a little uncomfortable to ask but, you had a… a secret flirtation with Charlie, right?” It was as if I had received a slap to the face. How did he know about this? I was sworn to secrecy about our relationship, surely Charlie wouldn’t go back on his word.

“H- how would you know?”

“He spoke of you a few times in passing. Well… it sounded more like boasting if you ask me.” His voice was barely more than a growl. “So… you are her, right?”

“Yes… I suppose I am.” His honey eyes glowed with an inner fire as he scowled at the ground.

“Maybe you should go before you make a fool of yourself.” The words were quiet, yet strained.

“No, I don’t think I will.” I spat.

“Avery,” The tenor of his voice as he spoke my name sent shivers down my spine. “Trust me, it is in your best interest to leave now.” I stared at the man with a mixture of shock and rage. How dare he dictate whether I leave my special day?!

“Do you know how foolish you sound? Why on earth would Charle’s invite me here if it wasn’t us getting engaged?!” I cried, my voice slightly louder than intended.

“It’s because he’s cruel! He’s like a cat, playing with his food!” The man yelled back.

“You’re wrong.” My voice was barely a whisper, so at odds with the screech I had emitted only moments earlier.

“Charlie isn’t as nice as you think he is.” he sneered.

“And how would you know?” I snapped back.

“I grew up with the man, I’m his cousin. Roman Kline, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” He threw me a rather attractive half smile as he extended a hand, yet I made no attempt to shake it. It was tempting to place my hand in his, but I restrained myself. Now that I had a name to put with the face, there was something familiar about Roman. No doubt I had seen him at one of Charlie’s parties. How they were cousins, though, was a mystery to me. While Charlie was all straight lines and sophistication, Roman was a little more rough around the edges and seemed more suited to the life of a country bumpkin. No doubt Charlie would agree with me. “The look on your face speaks volumes.” Even though he was grinning, my cheeks began to burn. I hadn’t realised I’d been staring.

“Sorry, it’s just… you look very different from Charlie.” At that he laughed, an unrestrained laugh. His real laugh. Charlie had a polite chuckle that resembled more of a cough that he would use in social situations. I don’t think I had ever heard his real laugh.

“We’re distantly related, and thank God too. Any closer on the family tree and I’m fairly certain I’d have a stick up my ass like my dear cousin.” I wanted to be offended at the way he spoke of my future husband, but he had a point. A giggle escaped my lips. I was quick to regather myself.

“Sorry.” I mumbled.

“Don’t be sorry for laughing.” There was something genial about him. He liked to have fun, and didn’t mind others knowing it.

“Yes, but it’s impolite to do so. Especially at another’s expense.”

“You have me there,” he chuckled. “I guess we shouldn’t be laughing at Charlie’s uptight nature. But you seem so against laughing in general, why?”

“Like I said, it’s impolite to do so.” Roman scoffed, hands folding underneath his armpits.

“What? Did Charlie tell you that?”

“Perhaps,” I mused. Roman gave me a look; there was something so hypnotising about his eyes. “Alright, yes. He did.” Roman let out a sigh and shook his head.

“Just because he doesn’t know what happiness is, doesn’t mean he can prevent others from expressing theirs.” Now that I thought about it, I don’t think I had ever seen Charlie express any positive emotions ever. During the social season he was typically stony faced and callous. When we were alone together he was a little less cold, yet whenever I tried to engage in conversation it still felt like I was talking to a handsome piece of marble.

“Well,” I said. “I should probably go and see Charlie before the announcement. He must be wondering where I am.” Roman looked like he wanted to say something, but thought better of it. “Would you like to walk back with me?” His black locks shone in the moonlight as he shook his head.

“Thank you for the offer, but I need to scrounge up something to drink other than that wine they are serving up at the house. I need something stronger to steel me for the announcement, lest I die of boredom.” He smiled at me and I smiled back, giggling. This time I didn’t stop myself. With a polite farewell we walked off in opposite directions, Roman slinking back into the shadows and me walking back to the front of the house, albeit much more reluctantly than before.

After my chat with Roman my nerves had settled somewhat. While I was no longer nervous, I couldn’t stop thinking about what Roman had said. ‘Greet the happy couple.’ Roman had known who I was, yet didn’t recognise me as Charle’s finaceé. He made it sound like Charles was with someone else inside the manor. With thoughts racing through my head and doubts weighing upon my shoulders, the pit of dread in my stomach grew heavier and heavier.

“Come now, Avery. Pull yourself together,” I muttered to myself. The front garden of the house where the maitre d’ had asked for my invitation was now much emptier than it had been when I had arrived. Most of the guests had filed back inside and only a few more drunken men and women occupied the lawns. I lifted the skirts of my gown and hurried up the gravel path to the house. My shoes tapped against the stone staircase that led to the front doors. I nodded politely to a few women that I had met at that year’s social season. Their names escaped my mind as I’m sure mine did theirs.

The inside of the house was much louder than I had thought. Music danced along the walls accompanied by the din of conversations. I walked through the halls, past paintings and empty vases on side tables, following the music that drifted through the house. The inside of the manor was decorated in dark cherry wood and red carpets, yet there was something very clinical about the house that I had failed to notice before. There were very few trinkets that marked the house as a home. On my way to the ballroom I passed no signs that anyone lived there other than a large family portrait that adorned the wall above the ballroom doors. I didn’t give myself time to consider what would await me inside when I turned the golden handle and pushed the door open. Orchestral music filled the room, competing against the din of conversation amongst the guests.

Almost immediately my eyes landed on Charles and my heart plummeted to my feet.

Linking his arm, all cozy, was another woman. Delia Abbott. Her chocolate brown hair was braided into a crown and her pointed features formed a sneering smile as she spoke with another couple. Perhaps my staring was noticeable, for Charles looked away from the conversation and locked eyes with me. I thought he would shoot me a pleading look, a look that cried “This isn’t my choice, you must believe me!”, but he sneered and firmly planted his hand on her hip. My eyes pricked and I blinked away the forming tears. I turned to walk back out the front door and leave, but an arm linked mine and led me right past and around the other side of the room, away from Charles and Delia.

“Don’t let him see you cry.” Roman murmured, bringing us to a halt near a refreshments table.

“Trust me, I don’t intend to,” I fired back. Thankfully I sounded much stronger than I felt. Seeing a friendly face calmed me, but that calm was quickly squashed by anger. “Did you know about him and Delia!” I hissed, careful not to draw attention from the nearby groups.

“Yes, I did.” Roman said regretfully. “And I wanted to tell you, but I didn’t think you would believe me!” He added when I opened my mouth to argue. My arm fell from his and I walked away. “Come now, don’t be like that.” He took my hand and walked over to me.

“I would like to be left alone right now.” I sniffed.

“You can’t leave now! They are about to make the announcement.” Roman hissed. I glowered up at him.

“If you’re trying to make me feel better, you’re failing miserably.” Roman apologised and leant close, whispering in my ear.

“You have to get through the next few minutes. It will hurt, but you have to listen to the announcement and congratulate them. Don’t let Charles see just how much he’s hurt you. Don’t let him win. Trust me when I say I’ve made that mistake far too often.” I looked up at him, but his face was blurry. He ran his thumb gently across my cheek, brushing away the tears I hadn’t even realised I’d shed. When my vision cleared he was smiling. “Ready?” he asked.

“Ready.”

We made our way to the front of the gathering crowd at the centre of the ballroom. Charles and Delia were standing at the centre of the circle that had formed. Charles looked dashing under the candlelight from the many chandeliers that hung from the ceiling. His blonde locks were combed back, not a hair out of place. His skin was almost porcelain under the warm light and, like most --other than Roman--, he wore a black suit. His pocket square was of purple satin, and looked like it had been cut from the same cloth that made Delia’s dress. It hurt seeing her up there with him, standing in my place. But it wasn’t my place, was it? No. It never had been. I had been the secret shame, the mistress, all while he had been courting and preparing to marry her!

“Lady Delia and I would like to make an announcement. An announcement I’m sure will come as no surprise to any of you.” As Charles spoke, his steely eyes sought me out in the crowd and cut into me. If not for Roman’s reassuring presence beside me, I would have broken down in front of everyone. “Lady Delia and I are engaged to be wed.” The news was met with cheers from the assembled crowd. I stayed silent, and maybe it was out of solidarity for me that Roman stayed silent too.

“The ceremony will take place next spring before the beginning of the social season.” Delia said. She didn’t smile when she said it, but she didn’t look unhappy either. In fact, she was acting quite like Charles, cold and indifferent.

“Now that the news has been made public, please enjoy the rest of your evening.” Charles drawled before escorting Delia over to a pillar. The orchestra picked up again, but this time couples made their way to the dance floor and began to waltz. Every few minutes, a few people would make their way over to Charles and Delia and congratulate them on their engagement.

“Would you like to dance?” Roman asked me. I jumped having forgotten that he was still linking my arm. It felt strangely natural having him near me; like he was another limb.

“No thank you. I don’t find much enjoyment in waltzes.” I said. “Unless you do of course, then I will gladly accept your invitation.” I added in a rush, glancing up at him awkwardly.

“Don’t worry, I was only asking to be polite.” He laughed, smiling down at me. “I much prefer participating in the line dances during the village festivals.” I smiled back at him.

“Me too.” We stood against a wall near the doors out of the room, content to bask in each other's silence. Roman watched the dancers, lost in thought. My head rested against his arm as I stared at the twinkling lights, my mind blissfully empty. Time passed at a confusing pace. It only felt like minutes that we were standing there, but when Roman jerked me out of my thoughts, the room was significantly dimmer as the candles burned lower.

“What is it?” I mumbled. Had I drifted off?

“Are you tired?” he asked soothingly, brushing a lock of hair behind my ear. I was happy to see that the straightness to my hair was falling out and the soft curls returning to it.

“Maybe a little.” I yawned.

“Let’s go congratulate my cousin and Miss Abbott and bid them farewell. I’ll take you home afterwards, ok?” I nodded sleepily, but blinked away the bleariness from my eyes as we made our way over to Charles and his fianceé.

“Mister Kline, Miss Donahue.” Charles greeted us curtly. Once his voice had sounded like black silk, smoothe and undulating, but now it reminded me of the drone of a fly.

“Hello, cousin,” Roman said, matching Charles’s energy, disdain dripping with each word. The tension was palpable, uncomfortably constricting. I glanced at Delia who was regarding me with narrowed brows and pursed lips. She didn’t look like she was going to do anything about the hostility, so I swooped in.

“I believe some congratulations are in order!” I beamed. Charles’s eyebrow quirked in surprise. “Delia, you must be incredibly excited.”

“Of course. I am thrilled to be engaged to Charles,” Delia drawled. She didn’t look excited in the slightest. “Forgive me for not exuding such frivolity as you seem incapable of doing; I do not wish to be seen as immature.” I bit my lip, embarrassed, and looked down at the floor.

“I find Avery’s excitement charming. When she’s excited she smiles, and she has a truly wonderful smile,” remarked Roman. I looked up at him and smiled; he squeezed my hand in response. Throughout the exchange Charles’s eyes kept darting between Roman and me, glaring daggers at us both. Was he, perhaps, jealous?

“Tell me, Miss Donahue,” Charles droned, his gaze of disdain fixed upon Roman and me. “How is it that you acquainted yourself with Mr Kline?” I didn’t like the way he was looking at me, looking at me like I belonged to him. I chuckled.

“I met him in the garden when I first arrived,” I replied. “A lucky thing too as I’ve never been in more pleasant company.” Roman’s thumb ran soothing circles over the back of my hand as I threw a tight lipped smile at Charles. Outwardly Charles remained unphased by my comment, but a slight blush blooming on his ears gave away his irritation.

“You should be wary, Avery.” Even hearing my name in his mouth made me feel ill. “If, in your naivety, you see yourself having some sort of amorous entanglement with Mr Kline here, you should know he’s never been one to hold a woman down.” He smirked over at his cousin. I didn’t have to look at Roman to know he was white with fury. His body hummed beside me with rage and… embarrassment?

“I’m not entirely sure what you’re referring to, Charles, but I’m not worried. It’s taken me time, but I’ve learned not to trust the song of a blue jay.” My words seemed to have a similar effect on Charles as his had on Roman. Delia, throughout the entire, venomous altercation had remained thin lipped and silent. While she made no attempt to redeem her betrothed, she too seethed in anger. From the moment of claustrophobic silence that followed, I got the sense we had overstayed our welcome and caught Roman’s eye, subtly indicating the door.

“Anyway,” said Roman, bowing his head slightly, trying not to grin too wide. “Thank you for the, er… entertaining party, but Avery and I must be getting on our way.”

“You’re leaving together.” Charles seethed. It was less of a question and more of a statement.

“That’s what I just said, cousin.” sighed Roman, glaring down at him. Surprisingly, Charles looked at me as if waiting for me to tell him that Roman was lying. I would give him no such satisfaction.

“Yes,” I smiled at him. “Together. Roman and I are going to have a nightcap together at mine before he heads home.”

“I am?” Roman looked at me, surprised. His golden eyes showed bemusement but a smile played at his lips.

“Yes. Only if you want to, of course.”

“I’d love to.” He grinned. Charles looked like he wanted to say something but Delia put out her hand to stop him. Roman and I nodded at them both before sweeping out of the ballroom, the new couple gaping and glowering behind us.

Back outside of the manor we made our way down the gravel path, under the firefly lights and out the front gate in comfortable silence. A handful of carriages were lined up just outside, the drivers most likely inside the manor, spending time with the estate’s staff. We passed by a carriage with black lace curtains drawn on the window. I caught a look at my reflection and was pleasantly surprised. My hair had recovered it’s kinks and waves and my forget-me-not eyes no longer looked wilted and lifeless. I was beginning to look like myself again. Roman caught the pleased expression on my face in the glass and smiled down at me. It was a different smile, a secret smile. A smile you give someone when they aren’t looking at you. I extracted my arm from his, to which he gave me a concerned look. Instead, I smiled up at him and tangled my fingers in his, resting my head against his arm again. Together, hand in hand, we walked away from the uninviting manor and into the darkness.


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99 Reviews


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Fri Aug 13, 2021 2:38 pm
MaybeAndrew wrote a review...



Andrew here for my first review in a long time! I'm a bit outa practice, so I hope i can still be of some use (;
Overall, I enjoyed it, but there were spots for improvement.
There are many qualities that make a story great, and this one possesses one the most important, a gravity! I didn't want to stop reading it, from the getgo I was curious where our characters would end up, and what was going on with them. In fact, my reading was interrupted multiple times by customers (I am currently sitting inside of an ice cream shop where I work) and I was vaguely annoyed at them for it. The writing was easy, and flowed into my mind naturally. Some stories, even great stories, have a tendency to drawl or waste words, but your story did no such thing. That being said, the writing was a little immature, sometimes feeling a bit unedited and childish. I admit this could be intentional since our narrator does not seem to be a full-grown adult, but it still brought me out of the story here and there. I will point out particular instances later.
The characters will well built, if a bit flat. But in a short story, there are only so many avenues to explore, my biggest problem with the story overall is the main charecter, she just doesn't make sense to me. The way she reacts to things fell unnatural, she felt a little helpless and unwise at some moments, bubilly and girly at others, and fiery and brash in a few. They didn't flow into each other or seem like natrual consequences of what was going on.
But like I said, I in general liked her, and was concerned for where she had to go, and what would happen to her.
But into specifics!


The summer night was warm. A comfortable breeze danced through the boughs of trees, nudging the wind chimes into song. Golden lights hung from the branches, drooping from tree to tree, illuminating the garden like fireflies in stasis, lighting the faces of revelers with a delicate glow. Small groups of men and women mingled at the edge of the gravel path, nattering drunkenly to one another in hushed voices. Wrapped in silks of ruby, sapphire and emerald, weighed down by glistening jewels, they clutched their crystal glasses and brought them to their wine stained lips. The partygoers stood around the towering oaks that bordered the path that led to the estate, candlelight streaming from the windows and lively music ​drifting through the open doors.

This opening sets the mood very nicely, and is very vivid! I strive for descriptions like this, and some of my favorite parts of writing and reading is falling into vibrant spaces.
Not just any ball, mind you, but an engagement ball.

Okay, maybe I'm just dumb, but I don't know how an engagement ball works. is this on an official party, that says "engagement ball" on the letter? If not, how was it communicated? I as an audience member would like that cleared up, but maybe that is some just glaring hole in my knowledge of royal balls.



called a voice behind me. I jumped in fright as the question broke through my thoughts. Half ensconced in shadows stood a man. As he emerged from the darkness, the moonlight lit up his figure. He was rather tall, a little taller than Charles, and had honey golden eyes.

Here the writing feels a bit unnatural, you never mention her turning around or anything, so by the description, this man could be unconnected to the voice, or somehow she is seeing him through the back of her head.


Okay, as I mentioned, the largest flaw in the story for me was the main character's inconsistency. I could see you trying to go for a person who is flitting between different moods and emotions, because they are wrapped up in a bunch of different feelings
“Ah, Miss Avery.” He shot me a look. “Shall I let Sir know you are here?” I chuckled.

That chuckle makes her seem like she is sure of herself and regal
My eyes darted around the garden, looking for an escape. I had two options: either face the manor and my love while clearly nervous or slip off into the private hedged gardens to calm my pre-engagement jitters

Suddenly, she becomes unsure of herself and childish

“No,” I snipped, smoothing the layers of my dress. In the dim light of the garden the blue silk appeared almost black. “I’ve only just arrived.”

Now she's acting grumpy and superior

“But why would Charles make the announcement without me present?” The words sounded very breathless, as if I was having difficulty breathing. The man shot me a funny look.

Now, it's almost like she was deep down expecting it, she has so quickly caught onto what he was saying.

“No, I don’t think I will.” I spat.

Now suporir and rude again

“Do you know how foolish you sound? Why on earth would Charle’s invite me here if it wasn’t us getting engaged?!” I cried, my voice slightly louder than intended.

Once again she seems insecure and like she was almost expecting it. Like she's covering up for something she deep down already feared.


“We’re distantly related, and thank God too. Any closer on the family tree and I’m fairly certain I’d have a stick up my ass like my dear cousin.” I wanted to be offended at the way he spoke of my future husband, but he had a point. A giggle escaped my lips. I was quick to regather myself.

Childish and girly and once again sure she will be married

“Well,” I said. “I should probably go and see Charlie before the announcement. He must be wondering where I am.” Roman looked like he wanted to say something, but thought better of it. “Would you like to walk back with me?” His black locks shone in the moonlight as he shook his head.

Now so polite to roman, and once again so sure she will be married, no longer flusstred

“Thank you for the offer, but I need to scrounge up something to drink other than that wine they are serving up at the house. I need something stronger to steel me for the announcement, lest I die of boredom.” He smiled at me and I smiled back, giggling.

Childish and girly. Also, roman is acting like this whole affair is boring, which goes against his seeming empathy and concern for our main character.

“What do you mean ‘greet the happy couple’?” A lump had formed in the pit of my stomach, less to do with nerves and more to do with dread. The man shrugged.

Dread? A very easily nervous girl or one who expected it.


Gone was the carefree girl who had cared not if her strawberry blonde waves whipped in the wind. Gone were the forget-me-not eyes that had looked upon the world with awe. Gone were the intricate gauzy gowns that let her run through the meadows behind her home. Instead, a woman looked back at me. The soft curls had been ironed flat, the loose gauze replaced with constricting corsets and silk. The forget-me-not eyes were no longer full of life but instead more resembled the pressed flowers that hung in the drawing room. Charlie loved her though, so I suppose I had to learn to love her too. When we first met I had been so immature and uncouth, yet Charlie saw the potential of who I could be. He helped me become a lady worthy of taking his name.

I think this is the most interesting exploration into our character in the story, if I were you i'd lean into it. Make us feel that prim and proper lady, but a trapped on, and as the story goes on, we must break her free, but the only way to break her free, is first to break her heart. Honestly my favourite part of the story was the dramatic irony, where I as a reader could from the very beginning guess she was not the fiance, just from simple knowledge of stories, and I wanted to keep reading because I was really curious to see how she'd take it, and to feel that stomach-dropping sucker punch as she found out what was going on. I'd say drag that out, have her be confused, and then in denial, and then broken, and then fix her. I agree with WinnyWriter that Romans is a bit of a cleeshay, I see how you are trying to use him to fix her, I just think it worked to fast, to the point where it seems like she's almost weak that this man can just command her attention immeditly after her heart was broken. It's like she is being acted upon but not acting.

A few more examples:
“Come now, Avery. Pull yourself together,” I muttered to myself.

This shows a bit of the denial, I like it, but I feel it should be more consistent, and we should be inside her head more with the twisting and turning fear and realization and denail.


“No thank you. I don’t find much enjoyment in waltzes.” I said. “Unless you do of course, then I will gladly accept your invitation.” I added in a rush, glancing up at him awkwardly.

So quickly ready to please, it feels girly and weak after she was sucker-punched so hard by the denial of her previous love.

“I believe some congratulations are in order!” I beamed. Charles’s eyebrow quirked in surprise. “Delia, you must be incredibly excited.”

Now very put together and in control, even a bit spiteful.

“Yes,” I smiled at him. “Together. Roman and I are going to have a nightcap together at mine before he heads home.”

Wow, coming on strong fast. Now she seems fierce and independent. I think these switching can be handled, but you must make them flow into each other more naturally, and if I were you, I'd break her down, and then build her up. Using the process of denial and fear mentioned earlier.
But that's all just my two cents! Hope it helped!
In the end, I really liked the story, the emotion behind it was riveting, and actually, very relatable. It's funny how you fall in love with someone, and it takes them denying you to realize that you shouldn't have ever loved them to begin with.
Thanks, and keep writing,
-Andrew




MaybeAndrew says...


I had hoped to review this well it was still in the green room, but I took too long writing my review XD! Hope it's not a bore to read



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Thu Aug 12, 2021 8:02 pm
WinnyWriter wrote a review...



Hey there! I enjoyed reading this short story, and I think you've done a great job! I like how you've set it back in time, giving it a bit more of a more romanticized feel. And overall your punctuation, grammar, and spelling are really good. Also, the story is easy to follow and doesn't seem to have any awkward glitchy spots. Your wording and vocabulary has a nice hint of that older, romanticized, flowy quality, which really adds to the whole aesthetic.

That being said, I'd like to suggest some areas for improvement. There were not many, but these are basically the key ones. First of all, I wasn't sure that all of your wording was 100% in keeping with the time period/setting. One example is where you used the term "maitre'd." I would have to look further into this to be completely sure, but I think the proper term would be "butler." (You can look up the respective definitions of these two words to see what I mean.)

Anyway, another thing along this line is that one instance where Roman is expressing his relief that he's not more closely related to Charles' family, using some, well, select vocabulary to say it would make him stuffy and grumpy like his cousin. Given the time period, I'm not sure people would have been quite so free with words like that. Probably in this era, most polite and/or cultured people did not use it in that context.

Now let's take a moment to consider some overall features of your short story. I like the path you took it down, showing the main character come to face the reality of just how cold and undesirable her "fiance" truly was. However, I do think some things are a little cliche - like the rugged love interest and the stuffy, emotionally unavailable fiance. Even Delia seems a bit like the stereotypical snobby rich fiancee. While stereotypes and cliches in writing are tried and true, there's not necessarily anything to be lost by changing it up a bit. For the sake of the direction you took this story, it all works well together. But what if, for example, you'd had Roman be a total easygoing goofball instead of the typical smoldering rough-around-the-edges love interest? Or what if you'd had Delia be totally embarrassing and noisy and humiliatingly outgoing? Like I said, cliches can totally work, but it can be equally good to add a twist on things.

Well, I think that pretty much sums up my review. Once again, great work. You have an awesome writing skill, so keep it up!




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Tue Jul 27, 2021 9:19 am
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RandomTalks wrote a review...



Hey EilisBk! RandomTalks here for a short review!

This was quite a good piece and it took me back to an era where I could just imagine every scene playing out in front of my eyes. It also had this magical quality to it making it seem almost like a dream. I think a lot of this has something to do with how carefully you set up every scene. Your descriptions are very beautiful and you go all out with them. You include so much detail in your writings that it becomes a pleasure to read your stories.

Now on to this one!

Your introduction was beautiful. You perfectly set the atmosphere with your description of the scene. I especially liked this line: "Golden lights hung from the branches, drooping from tree to tree, illuminating the garden like fireflies in stasis, lighting the faces of revelers with a delicate glow." It added the aforementioned magical quality to the prose magical and it works well with the night you had in mind for the character.


"When I looked down, I was disappointed with who was looking back at me. Gone was the carefree girl who had cared not if her strawberry blonde waves whipped in the wind. Gone were the forget-me-not eyes that had looked upon the world with awe. Gone were the intricate gauzy gowns that let her run through the meadows behind her home. Instead, a woman looked back at me. The soft curls had been ironed flat, the loose gauze replaced with constricting corsets and silk. The forget-me-not eyes were no longer full of life but instead more resembled the pressed flowers that hung in the drawing room. Charlie loved her though, so I suppose I had to learn to love her too. "

At first, Avery felt like just any other guest at a grand party - naive, nervous, and a little oblivious. But this scene made me relate to her much more as a person. The added insecurities that adulthood brings can often change one into a completely new person if they are not careful. In this case, she wanted to be the person Charlie expected her to be, and although she was not happy with who she was with him, she was ready to change if it meant having his love. Her need for approval interests me, especially because much later in the night she goes through a complete transformation.

"While I was no longer nervous, I couldn’t stop thinking about what Roman had said. ‘Greet the happy couple.’ Roman had known who I was, yet didn’t recognise me as Charle’s finaceé. He made it sound like Charles was with someone else inside the manor. With thoughts racing through my head and doubts weighing upon my shoulders, the pit of dread in my stomach grew heavier and heavier."

From the conversation she had with Roman, it was clear what kind of relationship she shared with Charlie, and yet her disbelief and her refusal to accept the truth makes her appear more human in a sense.

' “You have to get through the next few minutes. It will hurt, but you have to listen to the announcement and congratulate them. Don’t let Charles see just how much he’s hurt you. Don’t let him win. Trust me when I say I’ve made that mistake far too often.” '

Now that increases the respect I had for Roman as a character. Right from his introduction it was clear what purpose he was going to serve in the story, but you developed his character in a way that not only made him likeable but also made the ending seem much more believable.

I also loved the interaction between the two of them and Charlie. It was satisfying and kind of amusing to see him make sense of the turn of events. Here he had been so sure of the game he had been playing and yet the dice snuck out from right under his nose and he was helpless.

"I caught a look at my reflection and was pleasantly surprised. My hair had recovered it’s kinks and waves and my forget-me-not eyes no longer looked wilted and lifeless. I was beginning to look like myself again."

This part stood out to me in bright contradiction to the beginning of the story when she was scared and nervous and pretending to be a different person for the sake of Charlie's 'supposed love'. But now she was leaving the night with someone who accepted her for who she was and didn't seem to mind the kinks in her hair or her constant excitement with the world. She was happy now and the fact that she herself recognized this highlights the growth in her character in the space of a single night.

I liked the ending and the literal new beginning it symbolized. Although, I felt it was a bit weird that she moved on so quickly from Charlie's betrayal when she was so much in love with him at the beginning that she was prepared to be engaged to him. I felt like it happened a little quickly, but I liked it all the same.

I found no grammatical mistakes to correct. Certain paragraphs were a bit too long and I would suggest breaking them down to make the text more appealing. I also noticed the title of the story, and I wondered if you used 'honey and steel' to highlight the contrast between Roman and Charlie. I could be wrong, of course.

So, that's it for today!

This was a pleasant read, and I can't wait to read more of your works. Happy writing!




eilisBK says...


Hey Random, thank you for such a wonderful review (especially considering how long my piece was). As to answer your question, the title is symbolic of the differences between Roman and Charles -- mainly their eyes.



RandomTalks says...


Well, you did say it's one of your best piece of writings. I had to read and review! %uD83D%uDE0A




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