Fiction Fest: A glimpse into Carla Kelly’s ‘Miss Grimsley’s Oxford Career’

Miss Grimsley 2x3Award-winning romance novelist Carla Kelly’s newest book, “Miss Grimsley’s Oxford Career,” has been in bookstores since last month, but is officially part of our May releases.

Whether the book was released last month or this month is of little importance. What matters most is the fact that the charm and wit Kelly displays in her writing is available to readers once again.

Originally released as a Signet Regency in 1992, the re-issued “Miss Grimsley’s” is available on, and


All Ellen Grimsley wants to do is attend Oxford University, but women aren’t allowed. Her lazy brother Gordon, an Oxford student, has convinced her to disguise herself and sit in his place at a tutorial.

She held her breath and looked about her. The rain had turned the honey-colored stone a dismal gray. The trees were bare, the grass the faded tan of autumn. The only sound was the rain that rumbled through the gutters and gargoyles and spewed onto the ground. She sighed and clutched her gown about her. “University College,” she whispered, unmindful of the rain that pelted her. “Founded by Alfred the Great. Home of scholars these thousand years.”

With a laugh in her throat, Ellen ran across the quad toward the hall, remembering to keep her toes turned out. The steps to the second floor were worn and uneven. She mounted them, not so much fearful of her footing as mindful of the thousands who had trod them before her. She breathed deep of air that smelled of old wood, new ideas, candlewax, and somewhere, books in leather covers.

The room was empty, as Gordon had predicted.  Fire struggled in the grate. She spent a moment in front of it, warming her hands, then tugged the straight-backed chair into the shadow and away from the window, with its wavy panes of leaded glass that admitted little light anyway. She took out her pad and pencil and waited.

In a few minutes, she heard someone climbing the stairs slowly, as she had done, a step at a time. The steps down the hall were measured and sure, as if they had walked this way for centuries at least. She smiled to herself as the person stopped frequently, as though to peer into each room. Gordon had said that his don was forgetful. I wonder how many students he has misplaced over the years, she thought. I wonder, are they still waiting?

She saw a mental image of rows and rows of dusty skeletons waiting in each room, pencils still caught in bony fingers. She laughed out loud, then stopped when Gordon’s don crossed the threshold and stood there, peering at her.