Sunday, September 10, 2017

Edwardian Fashion

I really enjoy looking at historical fashion, especially from the Victorian and Edwardian eras which are the periods I set a lot of my novels.
Below are some pictures of Edwardian gowns that I can easily imagine my characters wearing. I like the simple, clean lines of the Edwardian fashion and the soft subtle colours and textiles. They capture the essence of style and femininity.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Main Characters of Forgotten Women

Charlotte McBain, daughter of a Scottish laird, spent a lonely, neglected childhood growing up in a fine castle in Kirkcudbrightshire and has no wish to be forced into marriage by her bully of a stepfather. She is passionate about art, stubborn, courageous and determined to find freedom and do something useful with her life. It is 1936 and Spain is on the brink of civil war. Across Europe, young men are enlisting in the International Brigade to free their Spanish brethren from the grip of Fascism, leaving sisters and lovers at home. But not all women are content to be left behind. Charlotte, who likes to be called Charlie, also has a desire to help people less fortunate than herself, not only the tenants on her father’s estate but also the people of Spain caught up in the Civil War. She and her dear friend, Libby Forbes, have a somewhat complex relationship, being from opposite sides of the class divide, but wish to do what they can to help.

Libby Forbes is a somewhat unsociable and self-opinionated girl who very much likes to be the centre of attention. She rarely reveals her true feelings about anything, particularly the fact she is passionate about Ray Dunmore, and fond of Laurence too. But her worry is they may both be more fascinated by her friend Charlotte, who is a beautiful and rich woman. She strives to remain friends with her, despite the jealousy she feels. When Libby’s brother goes missing in Spain in 1936, she is desperate to find him, no matter what the risk.

Rosita García Díaz, a young Spanish girl, is fiercely loyal to her family and country and having suffered badly from the war, she cannot stand by and do nothing. When Charlotte and Libby arrive, they become good friends. Three brave women, inspired by patriotism, idealism, love and even revenge, who dare to do battle against tradition and oppression.

Scotland 1986: Libby’s granddaughter Jo, is accused of displaying a forged picture in an exhibition. And finding a letter tucked into the back of it, realises she knows little about her grandmother’s life. Why has she kept silent? Feeling the need to find answers and recover from her own personal traumas, she goes to Spain to find the effect the Civil War had upon these three women’s lives, and why they are forgotten women. What she learns will change all of their lives forever.

Click here to download a sample: 

It is 1936 and Spain is on the brink of civil war. Across Europe, young men are enlisting in the International Brigade to free their Spanish brethren from the grip of Fascism, leaving sisters and lovers at home. But not all women are content to be left behind. In Britain, Charlotte McBain and Libby Forbes, friends from opposite sides of the class divide, are determined to do what they can; in Spain, Rosita García Díaz, fiercely loyal to her family and country, cannot stand by and watch. Three brave women, inspired by patriotism, idealism, love and even revenge, dare to go into battle against tradition and oppression. 

Tying them all together is Jo, Libby’s granddaughter. Five decades later she travels to Spain hoping to make sense of a troubling letter hidden among her grandmother’s possessions. What she learns will change all of their lives forever. Deceit, heartbreak, and a longstanding fear of reprisals must all be overcome if the deeds of the forgotten women are to be properly honoured. 

Amazon UK

Amazon US 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Catrina's Return - Victorian saga

I'm highlighting another one of my books, which I really enjoyed writing.
Catrina's Return is a story of a young woman who is brave and strong and a survivor.
In this story I deal with issues resulting from selfishness.
Phillip, Catrina's half brother is the cause of a lot of Catrina's problems, like many of the men of those times, he had wealthy and power and ultimately abused both. 
Travis, the man Catrina loves, was wonderful to write. Although a flawed hero, (and we all love those, don't we?) Travis is torn between the love of Catrina and the loyalty to his family.
Set in the beautiful countryside of Yorkshire, Catrina's Return is a story I hope you enjoy reading.

Catrina's Return

1899. A life altering event led Catrina Davies to hide from her family and society. Alone in The Highlands she exists in a lonely world cared for only by her saviour, a kind old gentleman. When she receives a surprise visitor, Travis Millard, the man she used to love, her head and heart are thrown into turmoil. 
Travis is determined to save her from this poor life and return her to her family where she belongs. No one is more surprised than he when she agrees to marry him. 
When Catrina arrives back at her family estate, Davmoor Court in Yorkshire, she is stunned to see the changes. While her father clings to life, Davmoor is nearly ruined by her brother's gambling obsession, and there is something strange about his new wife. 
As Catrina adjusts to her regained position in society and being with Travis, her marriage comes under attack from Travis's grandmother, who has her own secrets and reason for loathing the Davies family. 
When one of her brother's adversaries comes to stake his claim on the estate, the resulting chaos threatens not only Catrina's home, but the very lives of those she loves the most. 
Can she find the strength to fight once more for the right to be happy?

Catrina's Return is available now.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

"A Knight's Vow," Medieval Romance Novel. 99p/99cents

Here's the blurb and a new excerpt from my re-issued full length medieval historical romance novel, "A Knight's Vow." Just 99p or 99 cents.


A crusader, haunted by grief and guilt. A bride-to-be, struggling with old yearnings and desires. Can Sir Guillelm de la Rochelle and Lady Alyson of Olverton rediscover the innocent love they once had for each other? When Guillelm makes a fearful vow on their wedding night, is all lost forever between him and Alyson? And will the secret enemy who hates their marriage destroy them both?

“A Knight’s Vow” is a tale of romance and chivalry. In a time of knights and ladies, of tournaments and battles, of crusades, castles and magic.

(First published by Kensington Publishing, New York, in 2008.)

Amazon Co UK

Amazon Com

Amazon Canada

Amazon Australia

Excerpt. (Taken from a skirmish where the hero Guillelm is fighting and the heroine Alyson is desperate to save him.)

Alyson began to run again, to Guillelm, aware she only had seconds, instants before the enemy raised his helm and wound up his deadly crossbow.
He would shoot at Guillelm—
‘Down! Get down! Get away!’ Yelling warnings, she ran straight at Guillelm, her one thought to save him, her only wild plan that if she could not make him hear her warnings, she might spoil the aim of the enemy archer.      
Ignoring the growing pain of her heat-seared lungs and her fading, tiring limbs, she screamed again, ’Get down!’ and now Guillelm heard and saw her, shock and horror warring in his face, his mouth forming the question, ’How?’
‘Down!’ Alyson cried, but she was too late. She felt a punch slam into her shoulder, spinning her round so that she fell backwards, the breath knocked out of her. She tried to move, to reach Guillelm, shield him, but as she raised her head a jolt of agony drove through her body and she blacked out.

Guillelm reacted without conscious thought. He lowered the shocked, sobbing Prioress gently onto the ground and seized the quivering arrow shaft buried so sickeningly in Alyson’s shoulder, determined to draw it out before she came round from her faint.
Even as he worked, images flashed constantly before his eyes. Alyson running towards him, arms outstretched, making herself a target. Over and over, he saw the bolt thud into her slender body, saw her feet actually leave the ground as she was flung around by the force of the impact. She had been shot in the back and he had done nothing to save her; worse he had not even known she had joined the war-band. He had been so keen to lay sword against sword with Étienne the Bold, who, cur that he was, had turned tail the instant he saw him, riding through the smoke and soot of the burning convent.
‘Ah!’  Although he tried to be steady and careful and the crossbow bolt came out cleanly, the sharp decisive tug hurt her—Alyson came out of her swoon with a shriek of agony.
‘Sssh, sweetheart, it is done.’ Guillelm wanted to cradle her but dare not: he could not bear to hurt her again. Kneeling by her, he packed his cloak around her body, terrified at how cold she was. Her shoulder was bleeding freely and that must be good, for the ill-humours would be washed out.
What if the crossbow bolt was poisoned?
What if she died?
‘Live, Alyson,’ he whispered, too afraid to be angry at her. He should have known she would attempt something like this: she was never one to sit still when those she loved were under threat. Where was that sister of hers? The Flemings had herded the nuns into the courtyard while they torched the buildings. None had been harmed so where was she?
Blinking away tears, he raised his head and met the pasty faces of the squires. The lads had dismounted and gathered round, forming a shield with their horses. Too late, Guillelm thought bleakly.
‘My lord, we did not know…’
‘Truly we never suspected…’
‘She moved so swiftly, ran right amongst the horses…’
‘We could not stop her!’
Their excuses died away and they hung their heads.     
‘What can we do?’ asked one.
Guillelm raked them with furious eyes. His knights were still searching for survivors in the wrecked convent—friends or foe—but these useless, lumpen youths should be good for something. 
‘Get me that archer,’ he spat.
‘I will do so, my lord.’ Fulk stepped into the circle, glanced at Alyson’s still body, and then turned, shouting for his horse.
‘Sir —’
At first Guillelm thought it one of the squires, or the half-blind old militia-man he had led away to safety from the burning church.
‘Do not scold them, sir. I rode in disguise.’ The small, breathy voice was Alyson’s. She was looking at him, her eyes dark with pain and fear.
‘Peace!’ Guillelm took her icy hand in his, trying to will his own heat into her. ‘We shall have you home safe, soon enough.’
‘I am sorry to be so much trouble.’ Alyson tried to raise herself on her elbow, gasped and fell back.
‘Alyson!’ For a dreadful moment, he thought she had died, but then saw the quick rise of her chest and realized she had passed out again. He should lift her from this burnt, wrecked ground as soon as possible, but what way would be best? In his arms, on horseback? On a litter?
‘Give me your cloaks!’ he snapped at the hapless squires. ‘Cover her with them. You! Bring me the infirmarer! You! Make a fire here! You! Find Sir Thomas.’ He almost said Sir Fulk, his natural second-in-command, but Fulk was off on another necessary task and one he longed to accomplish himself, though revenge on the archer would not save Alyson.
Live, please live, he thought. It was a prayer and wish in one.
‘Where is that infirmarer?’ he bellowed, above the steady weeping of the Prioress. He was growing incensed with the lack of speed of everyone about him and exasperated with the cowering, wailing nuns who had trailed after him like ducklings following their mother as he carried the helpless, vacant-eyed head of their order away from her devastated convent. If  Alyson’s sister was in that drab company, why had she not come forward to be with her? Was she so withdrawn from the world that even the sight of her own flesh, broken and bleeding on the ground, stirred no passionate care? ’Is there no one?’
‘I am here, Guido.’ Calm as a rock in a sea of troubles, Sir Tom leaned down from his horse. ’What say I find something to use as a stretcher?’
‘Do it,’ Guillelm answered curtly, ’And tell your men to search the infirmary for potions and such.’ A late thought struck him, but he could not feel ashamed at it, not with Alyson injured beside him. ’See if any of our own men are hurt, and tend them.’
 ‘They will not be hurt. Men never are.’ A small, slim nun emerged from the smoke, her arms full of books and manuscripts.
‘I am Sister Ursula, who was once Matilda of Olverton Minor,’ she said, calm as glass. ‘I have been in our scriptorium, where our true treasures are stored. The mercenaries did not recognize them as such.’ Slow, careful, she laid the books on the ground and only then looked at Alyson.
‘Your infirmarer?’ Guillelm asked, as Sister Ursula’s lips moved in prayer. His hands itched to shake her out of her complacency: was this woman human? ’Your sister is still bleeding.’
‘The infirmarer is dead.’ Sister Ursula opened her eyes, fixing Guillelm with a stare of utter dislike, mingled with distaste. ’Our sister in Christ passed away eight days ago.’
‘Mother of God, have you no one who can help my wife?’
‘Do not blaspheme against the name of our blessed Lady of Heaven.’
Sister Ursula stared at a kneeling squire striking sparks off his knife to light a small, swiftly-gathered bundle of kindling until the youth shuffled out of her path. She knelt beside Alyson, facing Guillelm across her sister’s body. ‘I will pray.’
‘Please —’ Guillelm felt to be out of his depth dealing with this smooth, polished creature, he felt to be drowning in her piety. If it had been a man he would have appealed to honour, or come to blows. How did women deal with each other? He thought of his sister Juliana, but their relationship had been oddly formal, she being so much the elder and out of reach of sibling contests.
Rivalry. The answer came to him as he recalled the scrapes and scraps that he had seen and sometimes intervened in between brothers. It was a risk to employ it against women, but what other tactic could he use? Luck and recklessness were all he had left.
‘If she could speak, Alyson could tell us how to treat her,’ he remarked, adopting Sister Ursula’s calm tones while around him his squires and gathering knights held their breaths against the approaching storm. Gently: he had to do this right. ‘She is an excellent healer.’
Sister Ursula said nothing.
‘She told me you had no diligence in such matters,’ Guillelm went on, lying shamelessly and worse, feeling no guilt as he did so. ’That you love books more than people.’
‘She is wrong,’ said Sister Ursula.
 ‘You put your skill above hers, then? I have seen no other to match her, even in Outremer.’
With a small shake of her head remarkably like Alyson’s, Sister Ursula unclasped her palms.
 ‘I thought her judgment a little harsh, but I see that she was right. She said you lacked the healing touch.’
‘What nonsense.’ Sister Ursula rose to her feet. ’Build up that fire,’ she commanded. ’I must have more light.’ 

Lindsay Townsend

Friday, August 11, 2017

Primary Sources

Primary sources, I feel, are a writer's best friend, especially for a historical writer.

   I collected Victorian diaries and journals, written mainly by women who have arrived in Australia after leaving England, but also by women born in colonial Australia. These diaries give me an insight to how they lived and what was happening in the world around them at that time. From their personal entries, we can learn what was important to them, their daily routine, their views and opinions. They can also lift some of those myths we in the modern world tend to think as true.

   Diaries aren't the only primary source available to us. We have so many museums and art galleries. I love studying paintings of the different eras and visiting museums that have wonderful displays of every era.

  We should be visiting our local or state libraries for books, letters, newspapers and articles written in the eras we write. Naturally this is difficult for those writing in the ancient periods, but those of us who write about the last few hundred years have sources available and we need to use them.

   If you are writing about the area where you live, join your local historical society, where as a member, you can study maps, paintings and photos are that district. Also the local councils will have documents and maps going back years.

   It is not always possible to visit your chosen setting, but if you can visit, make sure you don't simply go to the main attractions, like a castle, etc, but find the time to visit the graveyard of the local church, sit in a pew and study the stain glass windows, lay by the river and absorb the surroundings, listen to the birds sing, the insect buzz and imagine what it would be like in your era, the smells, the sounds. Glance up at buildings, many have the dates of construction engraved at the top to give you an idea of how the street would looked. Walk the back streets of the village or town, find the oldest parts and touch the walls of the buildings and think of nothing but how your characters would have lived. Would their footsteps have walked where yours have?


The photo is taken from a sketch done of Lower George St, Sydney, Australia 1828. I used this as a guide for where my character, Nicola, goes in my book, Nicola’s Virtue, which is set in Sydney, Australia in the 1860s.

Sketches and paintings like these give us the artist's view of those times and from studying it we can see a little of what life was like then.

I found this photo in a book, but the internet has many websites with great antique photos and paintings, some even for sale.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Life in the Victorian Workhouse [Part One]

The Workhouse was built for the poor and needy, and intended to be so harsh and hostile that only the truly destitute would seek refuge there. It was hoped it would solve the problem of poverty as many rich people believed people were poor because they avoided work, but for many, this simply wasn’t the case. For example, a family could be surviving very well until the head of the house died suddenly possibly in a work-related instance such as a pit accident, some other injury or illness. The mother and children might well end up in the workhouse as there were too many mouths to feed and they couldn’t survive off the parish. Once there, the whole family would be kept apart from one another, sorted into the following categories.
  • Men infirm through age or illness
  • Women infirm through age or illness
  • Able-bodied men over 15 years
  • Able-bodied women over 15 years
  • Boys between 7 and 15
  • Girls between 7 and 15
  • Children under the age of 7
The idea behind this was so that people didn’t breed, even the elderly were segregated. Each section had its own exercise yard and there were separate boys and girls schools.
The buildings themselves were stark, foreboding places, undecorated and very much like prisons. High walls encompassed the workhouse cutting inmates off from the outside world.

Workhouses contained dormitories, washrooms, workrooms, a 'refractory ward' which was for solitary confinement, a mortuary, bake-house, receiving wards, dining halls and a chapel. Any sick or old person housed on the upper floors would be become a prisoner in the ward because he or she might not be able to manage the stairs.

Space was to a premium. Too many people were crammed into the smallest space possible: for example, eight beds could be put into a narrow dormitory only sixteen feet long; thirty-two men were put into a dormitory 20 feet long; ten children and their attendants were put into a room 10 feet by 15 feet.

The hospital ward took in all cases, so at any one time there may have been patients suffering from any variety of complaints ranging from dysentery to diphtheria, and let us not forget there were several outbreaks of cholera up and down the land during the Victorian era. But sometimes people were better off in the workhouse if they were ill than if they were outside of it as they may not be able to afford good medical care otherwise.

Furniture was basic: cheap wooden beds, flock-filled palliasses as mattresses, only two or three blankets would be provided and pillows considered a luxury, sheets were not provided. Most inmates shared beds. There were no comfy chairs just wooden benches, tables and stools. Seats were not upholstered. Walls were bare apart from lists of rules and regulations and various Bible passages were displayed.

The day began early at 5.00 am with the tolling of the bell. Prayers and breakfast were between 6.00 am and 7.00 am. The inmates were expected to work between 7.00 am and 6.00 pm but they were allowed an hour’s break for lunch between midday and 1.00 pm.  Prayers were said between 6 and 7.00 pm. Supper took place between 7 and 8.00 pm and then they were expected to go to bed and sleep, when the whole rota began again with the toll of the bell at 5.00 am the following morning.

The sort of work the men were expected to undertake was: bone crushing , stone breaking, oakum picking [which was untying threads from ropes used on ships etc’,] and sometimes working in the corn mill or on vegetable plots at the workhouse.

For women, it often involved domestic duties such as working in the laundry, scrubbing floors, blacking leading fire grates, etc.

On admission, the inmates own clothing was removed and sanitised. They were searched and washed and made to wear a uniform and their hair cropped to prevent infestation of head lice. Women wore a shapeless dress which reached ankle length, long stockings and knee length drawers and a poke bonnet. Men wore striped shirts and ill-fitting trousers that were made shorter by tying pieces of string at the knee, thick vest, woollen drawers and socks and a neckerchief  and, in wintertime, a coarse jacket.

Meals lacked nutrition for the inmates and often the Board of Guardians got to dine like kings and queens whilst the inmates made do with a thin watery gruel for breakfast, and at other times a thin vegetable soup and piece of bread. Sometimes they had meat but it was very sparse.

Children were sometimes educated inside the workhouse where there was a boys’ school and a girls’ school, so in that respect, workhouse children might be better educated than those who received no education at all in the community. When children got older they learned new skills and became apprenticed to learn crafts such as carpentry or midwifery. And some workhouses had industrial schools where children learned such skills.


Lynette's book, The Workhouse Waif is now available from Amazon 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Inspiration for Forgotten Women

We first had a village holiday home in Spain but in the late nineties bought an olive grove in a village in the mountains and built a house upon it. Here we enjoy a relaxed and reasonably stress-free lifestyle. We have space to breathe and enjoy the wonderful climate and a lovely outdoor life: walking, swimming, and working on the land. I generally spend an hour or two every afternoon gardening as a short break from writing. We do now spend our summers in the UK but happily spend each winter in Spain.

The subject of the Civil War is still not an issue the Spanish wish to talk about much. The horror stories we’ve heard from our village is that the priest was killed by being dropped down a well. Not a happy thought, but it was not an area that approved of Fascists and never entirely taken over by Franco. I’ve also heard stories about lost children, a dismissive attitude towards women and having lived there so long, I couldn’t resist doing some research on it.

The Spanish are delightfully friendly people, making ex-pats feel very much a part of the community and we love visiting different places in Spain. Ideas came to me when we visited the Salvador Dalí museum in Figueres, the Prado in Madrid, and the museum in Cartagena. La Colina de Arboledas is fictional, but all other places mentioned are real.

I read many books and articles on the Civil War. My favourites being: A Concise History of the Spanish Civil War, and Doves of War, both by Paul Preston. He is very much an expert on the subject. Other books included: Memories of ResistanceWomen’s Voices from the Spanish Civil War by Shirley Mangini; Malaga Burning by Gamel Woolsey; Homage to Caledonia by Daniel Gray; Tales of the Kirkcudbright Artists by Haig Gordon.

But I did not wish this novel to be too depressing, as war undoubtedly is, so chose to add a little mystery and intrigue by adding the story of Libby’s granddaughter and what she discovered. I do think a little light relief in this kind of historical fiction is a good thing. Nor was there a happy ending for the Civil War in Spain and I did want one for this book, plus a little romance.

Thanks also to Maria Dolores Castro, a Spanish friend who checked the Spanish language for me, and to my brother-in-law, Michael, who helped to check the historical facts.

I would also like to thank all my readers who follow me on my newsletter, Facebook: and Twitter: @fredalightfoot If you wish to sign up for my newsletter please visit my website: 

It is 1936 and Spain is on the brink of civil war. Across Europe, young men are enlisting in the International Brigade to free their Spanish brethren from the grip of Fascism, leaving sisters and lovers at home. But not all women are content to be left behind. In Britain, Charlotte McBain and Libby Forbes, friends from opposite sides of the class divide, are determined to do what they can; in Spain, Rosita García Díaz, fiercely loyal to her family and country, cannot stand by and watch. Three brave women, inspired by patriotism, idealism, love and even revenge, dare to go into battle against tradition and oppression. 

Tying them all together is Jo, Libby’s granddaughter. Five decades later she travels to Spain hoping to make sense of a troubling letter hidden among her grandmother’s possessions. What she learns will change all of their lives forever. Deceit, heartbreak, and a longstanding fear of reprisals must all be overcome if the deeds of the forgotten women are to be properly honoured.

Amazon US

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Woman's Courage - The French Revolution

In the later eighteenth century, the status-quo was ripped apart by the poor and middle class in France who demanded equal rights with the rich who were stifling them with high taxes. In 1789 the French Revolution was born with all its accompanying atrocities.
I didn’t wish to rehash the exact events—most of this novel takes place in England—but created a young woman, Lisbette “Bettina” Jonquiere, daughter of a count, who is dragged away by a trusted (she thinks) major domo to protect her from the dangers in Paris after her father’s sudden death.
Her life of luxury vanishes and she must learn to survive with only her wits and courage.

I didn’t write a fluff piece, but through thorough research, a story with all the grit and authenticity of the era. This portion takes place in my first novel, Escape the Revolution.

This blurb explains ESCAPE THE REVOLUTION (also titled The False Light and then Betrayed Countess):

Forced from France on the eve of the French Revolution, Countess Bettina Jonquiere must deliver an important package to further the royalist cause. In England, she discovers the package is full of blank papers, the address false and she’s penniless. Bettina toils in a bawdy tavern and falls in love with a man who may have murdered his wife. Tracked by ruthless revolutionaries, she must uncover the truth about her father’s murder—and her lover’s guilt—while her life is threatened.

The novel grew so huge, I had to cut the last third, beef up that part of the story, and generated a sequel. For those who enjoyed the first novel, but lamented there was no Happily Ever After, I hope you’ll read this dénouement to the story that showcases Bettina’s further trials and triumphs—and perhaps that happy ending.

Here’s the blurb for HOSTAGE TO THE REVOLUTION:

In 1796, ruined countess Bettina Jonquiere leaves England after the reported drowning of her lover, Everett.  In New Orleans she struggles to establish a new life for her children. Soon a ruthless Frenchman demands the money stolen by her father at the start of the French Revolution. Bettina is forced on a dangerous mission to France to recover the funds. She unravels dark family secrets, but will she find the man she lost as well?

I hope fans will enjoy both of these novels. I think readers will be satisfied with a trip through sultry New Orleans, and a France torn apart by war during the rise of Napoleon.

But most importantly, a young woman’s determination to forge a new life while reconciling with her past in a turbulent time.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Farm in West Yorkshire

Isabelle's Choice is set in West Yorkshire, in the area around Halifax, Hebden bridge and Heptonstall. This story was a favourite of mine to write, and after visiting the area I could really imagine Isabelle living there. The quaint village of Heptonstall, situated on top of a moor and over looking Hebden Bridge and the river below is the perfect setting for the run-down farm where Isabelle goes to live when she marries Farrell, a drunken waster. She thought him a better man than he was, and out of desperation for her and her brother's safety, she hopes marriage will give her a decent life after the trauma of being in the workhouse. Little does she know...

Halifax, 1876. On the death of her mother and sister, Isabelle Gibson is left to fend for herself and her brother in a privately-run workhouse. After the matron's son attempts to attack her, Isabelle decides to escape him and a life of drudgery by agreeing to marry a moorland farmer she has never met. But this man, Farrell, is a drunkard and a bully in constant feud with his landlord, Ethan Harrington. When Farrell bungles a robbery and deserts her, Isabelle and Ethan are thrown together as she struggles to save the farm. Both are married and must hide their growing love. But despite the secrecy, Isabelle draws strength from Ethan as faces from the past return to haunt her and a tragedy is set to strike that will change all of their lives forever.

Isabelle’s Choice is available now

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Historical places

Apart from the historical novels I have set in Australia, the rest of my historical stories are set in various areas around Yorkshire, England. I think I chose Yorkshire because my family and ancestors are from this region.
Yorkshire has some beautiful countryside, and it's worth visiting, but it also has quaint little villages and historic cities full of wonderful architecture. It has a rugged coastline and bleak moors, sweeping valleys and mountains.

The map below shows you its size and location within the UK.

Novels I have set in Yorkshire and where.

Kitty McKenzie - York
To Gain What's Lost - Leeds
Aurora's Pride - York
Broken Hero - near Bridlington
Isabelle's Choice - Heptonstall & Hebden Bridge
Eden's Conflict - Gargrave
Catrina's Return - York
Grace's Courage - Leeds
Where Dragonflies Hover - Wakefield

I have visited all of the above places, but because my stories are set in Victoria & Edwardian time, I've relied heavily on maps from those eras and non-fiction research books, paintings and so on. Luckily for me, the eras I write in are not that long ago, unlike say, Roman or medieval, therefor I can still see evidence of Victorian streets and buildings. Some villages have not been modernised for centuries and that helps me as an author to visualise my characters in those places.

Gargrave, and the river Nathan gets swept away in - Eden's Conflict.

The photos of York, featured in Kitty McKenzie and Aurora's Pride.
The farm is something similar I pictured for Isabelle at Heptonstall in Isabelle's Choice.

These are just a few examples of places and images to show where my books are set, or where my characters might have visited. I could go on for hours and fill the page with photos, and perhaps I'll do some more another day.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Baron's Wife by Maggi Andersen On Sale for a Limited Time.


A dark cloud hovers over Wolfram, the ancient abbey Laura calls her new home. Can she trust the mysterious man she married?
After a whirlwind courtship, Laura Parr marries Baron, Lord Nathaniel Lanyon, and he takes her to live in his ancient home in Southern England. Laura comes to Cornwall excited to begin life with the passionate man she has married. But secrets lurk in the shadows. The death of Nathaniel’s first wife has never been solved, and some of the villagers believe him responsible. Struggling to understand her new husband, Laura tries to uncover the truth. With each stone unturned, she comes closer to danger.
Lord Nathaniel Lanyon had decided never to marry again. But when he meets Miss Laura Parr, the daughter of Sir Edmund Parr, one rainy afternoon, he realizes almost immediately that he must have her in his life. And the only way he could was to marry her.
Nathaniel believes that his troubled past is behind him and he can offer Laura a good life at Wolfram, even though he can never offer her his heart. But as soon as they come to live in the ancient abbey, the past returns to haunt him, revealing secrets that he thought had been buried forever. As he tries to fight the forces threatening to overwhelm him, he realizes that feisty Laura will demand more from him than he can give.
“A Gothic romance in the classic style, the author is a master at creating ominous atmosphere and multilayered characters.”  Coffee Time Romance and More.
“The plot was interesting and the added mystery kept me riveted. The novel kept me wondering until the end.” The Romance Studios.
“It was hard to put the story down as the mystery kept just out of reach, drawing the reader in further to the storyline. [It] kept me up way too late into the night following the puzzle of Wolfram Abbey. I look forward to seeing more from Maggi Andersen.” Siren Book Reviews.

Enjoy an excerpt:

When Nathaniel sat opposite Laura and picked up the oars, Teg untied the mooring rope and pushed them away from the dock. Nathaniel began to row, steering the boat out into the bay. Within minutes, they had left Teg and the wharf behind.
The ocean churned in a wash around them.  Laura glanced in dismay at her best boots as the boat dipped, and spray splashed over the sides to pool in the bottom. What if they were swamped? She couldn’t swim. The prospect of her heavy suit and footwear dragging her down made her suck in deep breaths of briny air.
She refused to express her concerns and watched her new husband with reluctant admiration, both annoyed and impressed with how calm and capable he was. It was impossible to imagine anything untoward happening with him in control. He grew up here and was at home on the sea. There would be no nasty surprises, she repeated silently like a mantra. The wind picked up. She clung to her hat that must now resemble a limp, old cabbage leaf, grateful that it shielded her eyes from the surprisingly sharp glare off the water.
Nathaniel pulled hard on the oars. “Not far now.”
“The abbey is on an island?” she managed to say, dreading his reply.
“No, Wolfram joins the coast farther on, but the causeway is the quickest way to the village. If you’d agreed to wait for the tide to turn, your journey would have ended in a more comfortable fashion.”
“This is not unpleasant.” Laura chewed her lip on the lie. “I wouldn’t have asked you to row in your good clothes if you’d explained.”
“What do clothes matter? Isn’t this invigorating? We’ll be there soon.”
His voice held a rasp of excitement, like a boy on Christmas morning, she thought with a reluctant smile. The mist cleared and a narrow jetty appeared, where a small sloop rocked on the waves.
“Welcome to Wolfram,” Nathaniel said.
While he secured the boat to the jetty, Laura gazed up at the abbey. Its tower, as unyielding as a mountain peak, emerged from the fog as the sky began to clear. Nathaniel lifted her onto the wharf. There was a rambling garden filled with flowering trees and shrubs spilling over a stone wall. Laura’s heart leapt at the sight of something so ordinary and familiar as she followed him along the path.
Nathaniel whistled. A moment later, exuberant barking rent the air, and a pair of red setters raced down the hill. Glossy ears bounced and tongues lolled as they pounced on their master in delight. “Meet Orsino and Sebastian.”
Laura laughed. “From Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night?” Her husband constantly surprised her.
He grinned. “A favorite play.”
The dogs barely acknowledged Laura; their love for their master took all their attention. After he rubbed their ears and gave them a pat, she walked with him up the path, the dogs rushing ahead.
They entered through a wooden gate in the stone wall.
The garden of purple magnolia and white azaleas that had caught her eye grew among ancient gravestones, the scent of jasmine cloying. Laura was taken aback. It looked so… forbidding. “Your ancestors?”
Nathaniel turned away. “Yes.”
She silently cursed herself for her insensitivity. Of course, his late wife, Amanda, would be buried here.
He smiled and held out his hand to her. She clasped it, and they continued up the hill. Laura’s breath shortened as emotion and exhaustion took their toll on her depleted energy reserves. She chided herself for her weakness, but she was tired; so much had happened, and it had been a long trip.
Nathaniel pushed open an iron gate which led into a cobblestoned courtyard. The abbey appeared, sheer walls of granite darkened to black by the fog, the long, mullioned windows reflecting a leaden sky. Above a set of wide steps, the solid pair of arched oak doors were set within a square frame of ornamental stone molding, with a solid brass knocker in the shape of a lion’s head.
“Orsino, Sebastian, to the stables!” Nathaniel commanded. The two dogs whined in protest, but turned and loped off around the corner.
The door opened. A dark-haired young maid in a black dress, white apron and mobcap bobbed. “My lord.”
Nathaniel frowned. “Where is Rudge?”
“Gone into the village, Your Lordship.”
“This is Lady Lanyon, Dorcas.”
“Milady.” Dorcas dipped again.
Wondering why his butler’s absence annoyed him, Laura smiled at the maid. “Hello, Dorcas. What is the housekeeper’s name? I should like to meet her.”
“We have no housekeeper at present, milady,” Dorcas said.
“Have tea brought to the library,” Nathaniel ordered.
He ushered Laura into a grand hall that reminded her of a cold, fossilized forest. Solid columns of stone like the trunks of giant oaks formed graceful arches rising to a giddy height above. The carved wooden staircase decorated with branches, leaves and fruit led up into the shadowy floor overhead. A chill radiated up from the stone flags.
Their footsteps echoing, Laura followed Nathaniel along a passageway where massive tapestries decorated the walls. He opened a door and stood aside for her to enter beneath an ornamental arch into a magnificent room, its high, vaulted ceiling a series of decorative ribs. A splendid stained glass window dominated the far wall, which was set on fire by the lowering sun. The fog had drifted away.
“We have a smaller salon, which is cozier in the winter. But I prefer this room.”
“It’s breathtaking.” Laura was unable to suppress the relief in her voice at finding both beauty and comfort in the elegant room. Bookshelves filled with gilt and leather-bound books covered two of the oak-paneled walls. Glass cabinets held displays of delicate Chinese porcelain. The furniture was mostly antiques of a very fine quality, most particularly the round rosewood library table and the carved oak desk. A large globe rested on a stand nearby. The pair of brown leather chesterfields faced a baronial fireplace, a Canaletto landscape of the Thames hanging above. It was all undeniably tasteful, well suited to a man like Nathaniel, she thought, eyeing the leopard skin rug stretched out before the fire.
“Did you shoot that?” she asked with a smile.
He grinned. “I believe a great uncle did. I don’t care for safaris.”
Relieved, she made a note to have it stored in the attic. “You have an extensive collection of Chinese porcelain.”
“My mother was a collector. Sit down, sweetheart. I’ll have a drink with you, and then I must consult my overseer Hugh Pitney. I’ll introduce you to him tomorrow.”
Apart from the beautiful porcelain, Laura couldn’t see a sign of a woman’s influence anywhere. No likenesses in silver frames, no china ornaments, shawls or crocheted antimacassars. She sat on the chesterfield and swallowed her disappointment at him leaving her so soon. Although eager to see more of the house, she would have liked him to show it to her. But she knew he must supervise the running of his estate, especially after an absence.
Nathaniel seemed preoccupied since they arrived. As if Wolfram owned a large part of him. She shrugged at such a fanciful thought but couldn’t help another creeping in to replace it. Would Wolfram ever become home to her? She sat back and smoothed her heavy skirt that she couldn’t wait to change out of. While she wanted to learn more about Nathaniel’s life here, now was not the time to ask. “Tell me more about the history of the abbey.”
He poured himself a whiskey from a crystal decanter on the sideboard. “It was a monastery before it became an abbey. The estate has been in my family since the 16th century.” He stretched his long legs out and leaned back against the leather squab. “The Jacobites hid here in 1714. Their plan was to seize Exeter, Bristol and Plymouth in the hope that the other smaller towns would join the Stuart cause. But the militia quelled the uprising.”
“Your ancestors supported the Jacobites?”
“King James II was a Catholic, and King Charles II’s illegitimate son, the Duke of Monmouth, was popular in the Southwest. The first Baron Lanyon supported his claim to the throne. Not wisely as it turned out.”
Dorcas carried a tray with a solid silver tea service into the room, followed by another maid with golden-colored fruitcake, flat scones, thick cream and jam.
Laura had rejected any food on the train, and now her stomach rumbled. She took a bite of the fruitcake, finding it tasty. “What makes the cake this wonderful color?”
“Saffron. Traditional fare in these parts.”
Nathaniel put down his glass. He stood and bent to brush a kiss on her lips. “Dorcas will take care of your needs.”
Why no housekeeper? She had many questions, but he was gone before she could ask them. Laura poured another cup of tea, a smoky brew she didn’t recognize. The dainty teacup was Spode china with the family crest emblazoned on it in gold.
She’d finished her tea and was eating the last crumbs of the delicious fruit cake when Dorcas returned. “I’ll take you to your chamber, should you be ready, milady.”
Eager to see more of the abbey, Laura rose and followed her. They mounted the wide staircase and on the next floor walked along a corridor. A chambermaid waited with linen over her arm, her eyes downcast.
“How many on the staff, Dorcas?”
“A dozen servants in the house. There be many workers on the estate though. I have no idea of the number. You be in the Daffodil chamber, milady.”
“That sounds inviting,” Laura said, as Dorcas opened one of the thick, arched wooden doors.
Laura almost gasped out loud. Wolfram’s rooms were lofty and large, and this room was no exception. She gazed from the painted plaster ceiling a good twenty feet above, to the floor covered in a thick Oriental carpet. An entire family could sleep in comfort in the carved oak four-poster bed with gold brocade bed hangings. A massive armoire occupied a corner, with a washstand and basin, a vanity table and brocade stool against the other wall. A painting of a lady in green velvet from another age hung above the stone fireplace. Laura wondered who it was. At least it wasn’t Amanda, she thought, stifling a nervous giggle. Stepping into another woman’s shoes was rather daunting.
Laura crossed to the tall, narrow casement windows, catching sight of her pale face in a gilt mirror as she passed. She prodded her hair. Heavens, she looked like a scarecrow. Pulling aside the heavy brocade curtains woven in gold thread, she gazed at the view below.
A stiff breeze dispersed the last tendrils of fog and bared the causeway, a built-up carriageway, the receding tide lapping at its rocky foundations. There were the steps she and Nathaniel had climbed earlier, which led through terraced gardens down to the restless expanse of slate-colored sea. Craning her neck, Laura could just see the stable block next to a more modern building that would be the overseer’s office. The trap had arrived, and two men unloaded the luggage. Nathaniel wandered into view, imposing in his riding clothes, his crop resting on his shoulder, his dogs romping at his heels.
Aware that Dorcas waited behind her, Laura turned. “I shall be most comfortable here.”
Dorcas jerked her head. “His lordship be in the Fern chamber, milady.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“It’s the chamber next door, milady.”
“Oh. Of course, thank you.”
Laura pressed her lips, as a cold dismay gripped her.