Title: The Social Season
Category and Genre: Adult Speculative Fiction
Word Count: 110,000
The forty-fourth Social Season isn’t optional for Natalie James. She’s being forced to participate, a stipulation from her trial for treason back when she was a child. While she’d been spared, her mother wasn’t so lucky. And she’d be damned if she let that death be in vain.
Instead, Natalie begins scheming to use the system to her advantage. Her plan is to go unnoticed through the various events, meant to showcase the qualities that would make her a good wife, mistress or servant to a member of the elite.
If she succeeds, she’ll be able to marry her best friend, a man who isn’t determined to control her and will help her take down the tyrannical government controlling their lives.
There’s just one problem. While searching for weaknesses in the government, she’s caught trespassing by one of the most powerful men in the city: Nicholas Olsen, future lord of Dolfian.
Nicholas finds himself intrigued by someone who doesn’t want to obey orders. And he’s determined to make her his wife, a task that will please both his family and his city.
Most girls would be delighted by his proclamation. But Natalie isn’t most girls, and she has no plans to let Nicholas Olsen take over her life and mark her as his legal property.
The Season quickly becomes a battle of will and power, as Natalie works to circumvent an oppressive system and Nicholas bends the rules of the same system to take what he so desperately wants.
First 250 words:
I was pacing anxiously in my father’s office, searching for an escape route from this horrid conversation. He was not easily evaded, however, and he’d been adept at bringing me to his office immediately following my arrival. He’d doubtless spent many hours crafting this particular speech. The conversation had been lingering at the edge of our meetings for months now.
As I continued to pace, he spoke. “Son, it’s time for you to choose. I’m not saying it has to be this season. I’ll give you…let’s say…three seasons. But you will attend each one until you’ve claimed a mate. Do you understand?”
He was just barely speaking, his voice a bit louder than a whisper. He didn’t need to yell, anyway. I’d spent enough time with him to know when to argue. But I’d no interest in a wife; I didn’t need a woman following me around, groveling at my feet.
“Father,” I said. “I’m only twenty-five. I’ve been training under you for five years now. I shadowed you for a long time before that. Don’t you think I should be able to relax for just a bit before I take on a wife? And if I’m going to be the next Lord of Dolfian, do you really think I should be distracted? Why don’t I go through a season looking for a servant or a mistr-“
I broke off quickly, seeing his face grow dangerously cold. I’d gone too far in my desperation. But I wouldn’t apologize.