Friday, June 24, 2016

Witchchild

The inspiration for my latest historical romance, Witchchild, came from the myths and legends of Robin-the-Devil, a Major Robert Philipson who was reputed to have ridden down the aisle of Kendal Parish Church seeking his enemy, Colonel Briggs. The pair had been in conflict for some time, and Briggs laid siege to Robin’s island home and even sacked his family church at Windermere during the civil war. A house still stands on Belle Isle on Lake Windermere but not the one of the legend.

Sir Walter Scott used this myth to write his poem – Rokeby.

When through the Gothic arch there sprung 
A horseman arm’d, at headlong speed 
Sable his cloak, his plume, his steed.

My research unearthed no real information about the feud and so my writer’s mind devised my own, making the story family and romance oriented. I have changed the names of all characters as they bear no relation to any family in the Lake District. Apart from the inclusion of some of these myths and legends, is entirely fictitious.

 
Lady Rowanna Blamire, the spirited and much-cherished daughter of a Royalist has lived for much of her life in Yorkshire because of a family feud, about which she knows little. But now her grandfather has died, her Parliamentarian uncle, Carus Blamire, has brought her home to Lakeland. His motive is to lay his hands on his niece’s fortune by marrying her to his stepson. When Rowanna refuses, he punishes her rebellious disobedience by auctioning her off for a month’s hard labour to the highest bidder. 

Sir Robert Pennington, a cavalier known as Robin-the-Devil, makes a bid and carries her off to his island home. Is he too seeking possession of her fortune, or simply wishes to bed her? She finds him irresistible, but with the outbreak of civil war hostilities erupt to a far more dangerous level, and the family feud becomes a mystery she needs to resolve. 

Extract:
WHO would buy her? Lady Rowanna’s fearful gaze focused desperately on the distant horizon, the glorious range of mountains bringing some ease to her troubled heart. She felt the June heat of the marketplace thicken as the throng of inquisitive farmers pressed suffocatingly close, making her heart beat all the faster. What was she doing here? What had brought her to this pretty pass? She really didn’t care to consider.

If she turned her head she could see the stocks beneath the ancient oak. It stood in a shady corner of Kendal’s main square where many a recalcitrant daughter or sharp-tongued wife had endured punishment. As she must endure hers. She supposed she should be grateful that her uncle had not subjected her to such pillory. Despite the stocks having been little used in this England of 1645, not since the last witch had been stoned there half a decade ago, Rowanna had feared she might be about to set a new precedent. She’d heard worrying talk lately of witch-finders stalking the land, tormenting innocent girls but none in Westmorland so far, praise be to God.

But what had possessed her uncle to flout family tradition of loyalty to the monarchy and embrace a brand of politics and religion that allowed such diabolical practices, and with such fervour? Could it be hysteria and superstition, or simply his desire for power?

Rowanna looked at the beads of moisture glittering upon his brow, the curl of disdain about his thin mouth, and the hardness in his narrowed eyes. Carus Blamire was lean and scrawny, a man who did not believe in excess, not even in his own flesh. He showed no loyalty or affection, not even towards family members, but believed utterly in his right to dictate and control. She shuddered to think how she was vulnerably in his hands now that her father was dead. Her uncle seemed stubbornly determined to marry her off to his stepson, her cousin by marriage. If he had his way they would be wed before the month was out, thereby giving him the pleasure of revenge on his dead brother. This alliance he planned struck a presentiment of dread in her heart. Nothing would induce her to agree.

Read more of an extract here: www.fredalightfoot.co.uk

 

Buy here:

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Apple


Friday, June 17, 2016

The Earliest of England's Castles: Motte & Bailey Castles by Regan Walker


In the course of doing research for my Medieval Warrior series, I learned much about 11th century castles in England. For the most part, the castles erected by William the Conqueror after 1066 were not the stone edifices we think of today, the monuments that remain. The castles the Normans first constructed, the ones built in mere days, weeks or months, were timbered structures erected upon a “motte,” or a mound of earth with a flat top, and surrounded by a deep ditch sometimes filled with water (a moat).

These timbered castles were enclosed with a “palisade”, a fence of wooden poles sharpened to a point at the top. The land inside this palisade would be the “bailey” and would house the outbuildings like the stables, smith and armory. The castle itself included a central tower, the donjon or “keep,” used as a lookout post and built on top of a summit. We call the structures “motte and bailey” castles.

At the end of William’s reign, over eighty such castles had been built throughout England. By 1100, it is believed 400 motte and bailey castles had been erected. To build his castles, William confiscated the land of English nobles and their heirs and gave it to his loyal barons. (By the end of William’s reign, a small group of his tenants had acquired about half of England’s landed wealth.) Typically, that land had a castle as its governing center.


Whenever William the Conqueror wanted to make a statement (or a threat) to the local population, he erected a castle. This happened following the Siege of Exeter and the Battle of York featured in book 1, The Red Wolf’s Prize.

Artist's depiction of the timber castle erected in York
Typically William would leave a garrison of his knights with orders to erect and hold a castle. He had 5,000 knights at his command who could put down rebellions and guard his fortifications. The king was making his point with the populace that he was there to stay and any hope of rebellion was futile.

In Rogue Knight, the Conqueror built two such castles in the city of York in the course of my story.

Building a motte was a skilled achievement. The large mounds of dirt were constructed layer upon layer, with a layer of soil capped by a layer of stones that was capped by another layer of soil. The stone layers were needed to strengthen the motte and to assist drainage.

The larger mottes took longer to build…months, not weeks. The motte at Hampstead Marshall contains 22,000 tons of soil and took fifty men eighty days to construct. The motte at Dover, constructed in eight days, would have required 500 men.

Often, the local people were conscripted into the work, which must have been humiliating for the defeated Anglo-Saxons. There were three phases of castle building under William’s reign, about 80% of which were the motte and bailey castles. Eventually, many of the wooden castles were fortified or replaced with stone structures.

Tamworth Castle
Tamworth Castle in Staffordshire overlooks the River Tame. Its sandstone and herringbone walls are all that survive of the “curtain wall” of the bailey. The first castle was a wooden structure, constructed by the Normans in 1070, but later, it was fortified with stone. Today, it is one of the best preserved Norman motte and bailey castles in England. 


In Rebel Warrior, book 3 in the series, the royal court of Scotland is in a tall stone tower, a fortified hillfort that was considered impregnable. You’ll have to read the book to experience it! 
                                                         
The Medieval Warriors Series:

  “This series captures the medieval era perfectly, creating the true sensation of traveling back in time to experience epic, riveting love stories that ignite the imagination. Beautifully written, perfectly paced and action-packed with passionate love affairs...
What more can you ask?”   —  The Book Review

The Medieval Warriors on Regan's website
On Amazon.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Researching the First World War

For some years I have had a fascination of what is known as the First World War, or the Great War. (World War I 1914 – 1918)
This was a time of enormous change in the world. For the first time countries banded together to fight a common enemy. I’ll not go into the politics of the time or the reasons why the war happened, that is for professional historians to determine, but the effects of the war were far reaching, particularly in Europe.
In Great Britain the changes impacted on all walks of life, from the wealthy to the poor. Women were asked to step into the space left behind by the men who went to war. Not only did they have to work the men’s jobs, but they also had to keep the home running as well. Not an easy task to a female population who was expected to simply marry and have children and keep a nice house. Women of that time were sheltered from the world, innocent. All that was soon to change.

In my book, Where Dragonflies Hover, modern woman, Lexi, finds a diary written by an Australian nurse, Allie.
Allie wrote about her time as a nurse in Great War, and of falling in love with Danny, an English officer. She wrote of her struggles to help injured and dying men who came to her straight from the battlefield, covered in mud and blood.


To write Allie’s story I had to do a lot of research about World War I. I enjoy researching, and because the Edwardian Era is one of my favourite eras, it was no hardship to spend hours reading sources from that time.  
I really wanted to make Allie’s story as real as it could be. One of my research sources was reading, The Other Anzacs by Peter Rees. A truly extraordinary book detailing the true stories of Australian nurses in WWI. A lot of my inspiration came from that book. What those nurses went through was simply remarkable.


Another book I read was The Roses of No Man’s Landby Lyn MacDonald. Another interesting account of what the allied nurses and VADs from other countries went through. These women went from the comfort and security of their homes to the heart of battle zones.  They had to learn new skills swiftly, for even dedicated career nurses had never experienced before the types injuries and wounds they encountered only miles from the front line. Those women had to sustain difficulties they never thought of, for example at times they were food shortages, hygiene hardships, danger from bombings, homesickness and many more problems. Yet, these women, some just young girls, dutifully headed into an alien world without the promise of survival.

It is, of course, impossible for me, or anyone, to know exactly how these women felt during this challenging time, we can only read about their experiences. However, simply reading about them is enough for me to give them my heartfelt gratitude and admiration for what they endured.
I hope I did justice to their stories, to what they gave up and for the sacrifices they made to help us win the war.


Where Dragonflies Hover blurb:

Sometimes a glimpse into the past can help make sense of the future …
Everyone thinks Lexi is crazy when she falls in love with Hollingsworth House – a crumbling old Georgian mansion in Yorkshire – and nobody more so than her husband, Dylan. But there’s something very special about the place, and Lexi can sense it. 
Whilst exploring the grounds she stumbles across an old diary and, within its pages, she meets Allie – an Australian nurse working in France during the First World War.
Lexi finally realises her dream of buying Hollingsworth but her obsession with the ho
use leaves her marriage in tatters. In the lonely nights that follow, Allie’s diary becomes Lexi’s companion, comforting her in moments of darkness and pain. And as Lexi reads, the nurse’s scandalous connection to the house is revealed …

Excerpt:
The late sunshine enveloped the house in a golden glow. Again, it seemed to call to her, begging for attention. A path on the left of the drive looked inviting as it meandered through a small strand of poplars. Lexi grabbed her keys, locked the car and took off to explore again. She had nothing to rush home to now, and if she got caught for trespassing, then so be it.
The overgrown pathway brought her out on the far side of the grounds near the end of a small lake. She gazed over the water towards the back of the house and noticed a paved terrace area. From there the lawn then sloped down to the water. She’d not been around the back before and fell even more in love with the property. She could imagine the serenity of sipping a cool drink on a hot summer’s day and looking out over the lake.
Lexi stepped out along the bank. A lone duck swam by, its movement serene on the glassy, dark surface. This side of the lake was in shadow from large pine trees, and she stumbled on fallen pinecones hidden in the long grass. On the opposite side of the water were some small buildings, a garage, fruit trees in early blossom, and an overgrown vegetable patch, complete with a broken, rejected-looking scarecrow.
She wandered over to a narrow shed on her left and peered through its sole, dirty window. Unable to make out much in the dimness, she walked around to the front and was surprised when she was able to pull the bolt back on the door. Why didn’t people lock things? A covered rowboat took up most of the space inside. She smiled, seeing herself rowing it on the lake. Growing more excited, Lexi edged around it to peer at the workbenches and the odd assortment of tools and useless things one found in abandoned sheds. It was like treasure hunting in an antique shop. She used to love doing that with her grandfather.
She glanced about and spied a dusty painting leaning against the wall. The scene was of a child and a brown dog. Behind the canvas were more paintings, some framed, some not. Lexi flicked through them. The ones that caught her attention she took out and set aside.
She looked for somewhere to sit and study the paintings. A small tin trunk wedged under a workbench seemed the only offering. Thinking it empty, she went to tug it out, but it remained fast.
Using both hands, she heaved it out and was showered in a puff of dust. Squatting down, she inspected the latch that was held tight with a small lock. ‘Why are you locked?’ she murmured. The shed was open to anyone passing by, yet this ugly little chest had a lock on it. The trunk was nothing special, plain and in parts rusted. No ornament or writing hinted at its use.
Intrigued, she grabbed a hammer from the workbench, but then hesitated. She had no right to open someone else’s property. Lexi closed her eyes momentarily.What was she thinking of breaking into the trunk? What am I doing? Never had she broken the law and here she was guilty of trespassing and breaking and entering! She looked around the rowboat as though expecting someone to jump out and arrest her.
Something inside urged her on. She knew she couldn’t stop now. Sucking in a deep breath, she bent and hit the lock hard. The ringing sound was loud in the quiet serenity of the garden. The metal dented and with another few solid whacks the lock gave.
Shivers of excitement tingled along her skin. Gently, she eased up the lid.

Buy links:
Also available in Apple ibooks, etc.


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   Twitter @annemariebrear.

Monday, May 30, 2016

A visit to a country house: Harewood House

Today I went to Harewood House, near Leeds, to attend the Good Food Festival, aside from the festival it was an opportunity to visit this lovely country house.

The gardens and surrounding parklands were designed by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. The lake was in the above photo was one of the creations. To prevent the lake leaking they drove cattle and sheep into the basin of it to stomp down the clay before the water filled it.
To learn more about Capabilty Brown visit this link http://www.capabilitybrown.org/



Details inside the house always fascinate me. Below stairs this bell system allows the staff to know which room needs attendance.


The terrace over looking the park and lake.

To learn more about Harewood House you can visit their website. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Longlisted for the HNS Indie Award

I'm happy to tell everyone that the Historical Novel Society reviewed my novel The Craigsmuir Affair and gave it an Editors Choice Award.  I'm still bouncing with pleasure over that, and you can read the review at: https://historicalnovelsociety.org/post_type=&s=craigsmuir+affair&submit=Search

Here's an excerpt to whet your appetite for an entertaining tale set in 1893 when young Daisy and Adam Grey fist meet....

Excerpt:

Clennell Castle, Northumberland, 1893


Daisy Charlton swept the sheaf of papers into her arms, cast a final, satisfied glance around the small room that had been her work place for the last week and then closed the door behind her with a triumphant flourish. She hurried along the gallery toward the stairs, swung one-handed around the newel post and scampered down the first steps into the main body of the library. Now she had time to relax and enjoy herself.
Someone below snapped a newspaper straight.
Diverted, she looked down. A gentleman’s sun-browned hands held a newspaper open. She could see nothing of him but legs clad in riding breeches and brown leather riding boots. Her feet tangled in the folds of her long skirt. Her stomach lurched; she stumbled, missed the shallow tread of the stair and turned her ankle on the edge of the next.
‘No-o-o!’
She grabbed for the banister, missed and pitched forward. Her precious papers sprang into the air and fluttered around her like a cloud of newly released doves. Her hip and shoulder collided painfully with the shallow riser and she yelped as she bounced and rolled down the stairs.
‘Good God!’ The sound of crushed newspaper followed the exclamation.
Daisy struck something hard. Dazed and breathless, she inhaled the mixed scents of smoky sandalwood, starched linen and something spicy like black pepper. She lay unmoving for a long moment and registered a steady, rhythmic thud against her ear. She opened her eyes and stared at the fawn moleskin and engraved silver buttons of a gentleman’s waistcoat. Her right hand clutched the rough tweed of his sleeve. Her left trailed on the parquet floor.

and for the UK -

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Gybford Affair ~ New Release from Jen Black

The quiet life of Frances, Lady Rathmere, is disrupted forever the day Jack, 4th Marquess of Streatham, arrives from London and almost rides her down. At the same time a stranger arrives in the locality, makes a play for her young cousin and scandalous letters accusing Frances of an illicit liaison appear in the national press. Is Jack their author? Frances is convinced he is, and has no idea the trouble those letters are going to bring in their wake.



EXCERPT:
“Gyp! No! You will be soaked!” Rolling to her knees, Frances stared across the grass. Too late. Gyp’s front paws were already in the water. “Gyp! No!
The faint sound of hooves distracted her. At the end of the meadow she saw a flicker of white against dark foliage. Her eyes narrowed. No gentleman of her acquaintance would ride without jacket, gloves and hat on Gybford land. Shirt sleeves were for the gypsy or the common field labourer.
Whoever he was, he turned his horse and hurtled across the ford in a shower of spray. Frances sank back on her heels, frowning. Ought she to be wary? Strangers were rare in the district, though vagrants and gypsies occasionally travelled the old route by the river. Frances opened her mouth to call her dog, and realised that would bring Gyp into the path of the horse.
The vibration from the great iron-shod hooves thudded up through the grass into her spine. Really, there was no need for such speed. One would think the snorting grey was in a race. The rider aimed for the gap between the river and the beech tree and gave no sign of having seen her.
Faster than she would have believed possible, the huge grey horse filled her vision.
Forgetting her dignity, Frances scrambled to her feet and lunged for safety behind the beech tree. She caught a glimpse of the wide-eyed rider gaping at her.
Gyp sprang up from the river bank like a red flame in the sunshine and loosed a loud bark beneath the horse’s nose. The horse veered sharply away from both dog and the river.
The rider flew out of the saddle, struck the bank with his shoulder and disappeared over the edge. Water droplets rose in a huge shower, sparkled for an instant and fell back into the stream.
Frances hesitated, one palm clasped to her mouth, suppressing a breathless urge to laugh. It served him right, really; but she ought not to laugh. One should not mock another’s misfortune.
The stallion snorted, wheeled and tore across the field, hooves flinging clods of grass high in its wake. Gyp followed, barking, but returned when Frances called her name. The horse was in no danger and would soon slow and stop of its own accord.
The rider, however, might need careful handling. She’d suffered similar falls as a child when she had not paid attention to her pony, and knew how foolish he would feel, which might mean an outburst of some kind.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Where Dragonflies Hover now released!

Where Dragonflies Hover is released today! Yay!
I really enjoyed writing this story. It's the first time I wrote a split-era novel (modern/1915).
I think having two strong heroines worked in this case. From the diary she finds, Lexi learns a lot of about life and love from Allie, the diarist.
WWI is an interest of mine. The first World War was a time of change in so many ways. Allie as a nurse experiences first hand the effects of what a tragic and perilous time it was. The biggest thing she learns, however, is that life is short, we never know when our time is up, so make the most of it. I totally agree with that lesson, and it is one that Lexi learns, too.

I hope you enjoy reading Where Dragonflies Hover as much as I did writing it.
AnneMarie Brear

 
 
Where Dragonflies Hover blurb:

Sometimes a glimpse into the past can help make sense of the future …

Everyone thinks Lexi is crazy when she falls in love with Hollingsworth House – a crumbling old Georgian mansion in Yorkshire – and nobody more so than her husband, Dylan. But there’s something very special about the place, and Lexi can sense it. 
Whilst exploring the grounds she stumbles across an old diary and, within its pages, she meets Allie – an Australian nurse working in France during the First World War.
Lexi finally realises her dream of buying Hollingsworth but her obsession with the house leaves her marriage in tatters. In the lonely nights that follow, Allie’s diary becomes Lexi’s companion, comforting her in moments of darkness and pain. And as Lexi reads, the nurse’s scandalous connection to the house is revealed …

 
Excerpt:

The late sunshine enveloped the house in a golden glow. Again, it seemed to call to her, begging for attention. A path on the left of the drive looked inviting as it meandered through a small strand of poplars. Lexi grabbed her keys, locked the car and took off to explore again. She had nothing to rush home to now, and if she got caught for trespassing, then so be it.
The overgrown pathway brought her out on the far side of the grounds near the end of a small lake. She gazed over the water towards the back of the house and noticed a paved terrace area. From there the lawn then sloped down to the water. She’d not been around the back before and fell even more in love with the property. She could imagine the serenity of sipping a cool drink on a hot summer’s day and looking out over the lake.
Lexi stepped out along the bank. A lone duck swam by, its movement serene on the glassy, dark surface. This side of the lake was in shadow from large pine trees, and she stumbled on fallen pinecones hidden in the long grass. On the opposite side of the water were some small buildings, a garage, fruit trees in early blossom, and an overgrown vegetable patch, complete with a broken, rejected-looking scarecrow.
She wandered over to a narrow shed on her left and peered through its sole, dirty window. Unable to make out much in the dimness, she walked around to the front and was surprised when she was able to pull the bolt back on the door. Why didn’t people lock things? A covered rowboat took up most of the space inside. She smiled, seeing herself rowing it on the lake. Growing more excited, Lexi edged around it to peer at the workbenches and the odd assortment of tools and useless things one found in abandoned sheds. It was like treasure hunting in an antique shop. She used to love doing that with her grandfather.
She glanced about and spied a dusty painting leaning against the wall. The scene was of a child and a brown dog. Behind the canvas were more paintings, some framed, some not. Lexi flicked through them. The ones that caught her attention she took out and set aside.
She looked for somewhere to sit and study the paintings. A small tin trunk wedged under a workbench seemed the only offering. Thinking it empty, she went to tug it out, but it remained fast.
Using both hands, she heaved it out and was showered in a puff of dust. Squatting down, she inspected the latch that was held tight with a small lock. ‘Why are you locked?’ she murmured. The shed was open to anyone passing by, yet this ugly little chest had a lock on it. The trunk was nothing special, plain and in parts rusted. No ornament or writing hinted at its use.
Intrigued, she grabbed a hammer from the workbench, but then hesitated. She had no right to open someone else’s property. Lexi closed her eyes momentarily. What was she thinking of breaking into the trunk? What am I doing? Never had she broken the law and here she was guilty of trespassing and breaking and entering! She looked around the rowboat as though expecting someone to jump out and arrest her.
Something inside urged her on. She knew she couldn’t stop now. Sucking in a deep breath, she bent and hit the lock hard. The ringing sound was loud in the quiet serenity of the garden. The metal dented and with another few solid whacks the lock gave.
Shivers of excitement tingled along her skin. Gently, she eased up the lid.

 Buy links:


Also available in Apple ibooks, etc.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Life as a British Governess in Russia

Hiring a British governess was quite fashionable among Russian aristocracy during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. They loved English style and wished their sons to turn into little Lord Fauntleroys. Being able to speak English was considered to be a necessary social accomplishment. French was also fashionable so employing an English governess who could speak the language was ideal. A tutor might also be hired to provide instruction in the Russian and history, and perhaps someone to teach the piano or violin. Lessons would take place in the mornings with the afternoons devoted to teaching drawing, painting and sewing for their daughters. Boys spent the afternoons taking part in field sports and fishing. Very much in the style of British aristocracy.

Books were hard to find. Those brought into the country were often assumed to be politically suspect and not allowed, a situation which worsened once the revolution started. Education was seen by the Bolsheviks as a snare which tended to make people unruly. Families who owned precious books learned to keep them hidden away.

Children were expected to take afternoon tea and dinner with their parents, and the governess must accompany them. This requirement differed very much from the situation in England where a governess was held in something of a limbo between servants and master. Millie was thankful that she’d learned about aristocratic etiquette from her former employer. The children, however, were quite capable of embarrassing her.

Discipline was an important part of a governess’s job. Not always easy with children who had led sheltered, spoiled lives. Some governesses lost patience and made them stand on a table, or put sticky paper over their mouth. Millie did not approve of such punishment.

A governess was also expected to attend church with the family most Sundays. The congregation would stand throughout the long service, even the Tsar and Tsarina, and all servants of the household must wear their best clothes. A fine hat was essential, the more flamboyant the better.

She could also visit the British and American Chapel in St. Petersburg on her day off, which Millie did, once she had convinced the Countess that she was entitled to some free time of her own. After the service the governesses would get together to chat as this wasn’t simply a place of worship, but also a social club. It provided evening classes, a library, chess club, choir, amateur dramatics and jolly picnics. It was the place to make friends, and hear of new jobs on the chapel grape-vine. Very much a home from home for ex-pats. It was here that Millie met the love of her life, but did he feel the same way about her?


Set against the backdrop of revolutionary Russia, The Amber Keeper is a sweeping tale of jealousy and revenge, reconciliation and forgiveness. English Lake District, 1960s: A young Abbie Myers returns home after learning of her mother’s death. Estranged from her turbulent family for many years, Abbie is heartbroken to hear that they blame her for the tragedy. 

Determined to uncover her mother’s past, Abbie approaches her beloved grandmother, Millie, in search of answers. As the old woman recounts her own past, Abbie is transported back to the grandeur of the Russian Empire in 1911 with tales of her grandmother’s life as a governess and the revolution that exploded around her. As Abbie struggles to reconcile with her family, and to support herself and her child, she realizes that those long-ago events created aftershocks that threaten to upset the fragile peace she longs to create.

Published by Lake Union Imprint.
Amazon

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Two novels free for 5 days!

Two of my historical novels are free: 5 days only! Enjoy the bargain!

The Day Embroidered & Woodland Daughter.

http://goo.gl/dDhjJc

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Where Dragonflies Hover

Although this is a contemporary, it also has another story within it that is set in World War One.
 
 
 
Where Dragonflies Hover blurb:

Sometimes a glimpse into the past can help make sense of the future …

Everyone thinks Lexi is crazy when she falls in love with Hollingsworth House – a crumbling old Georgian mansion in Yorkshire – and nobody more so than her husband, Dylan. But there’s something very special about the place, and Lexi can sense it. 

Whilst exploring the grounds she stumbles across an old diary and, within its pages, she meets Allie – an Australian nurse working in France during the First World War.

Lexi finally realises her dream of buying Hollingsworth but her obsession with the house leaves her marriage in tatters. In the lonely nights that follow, Allie’s diary becomes Lexi’s companion, comforting her in moments of darkness and pain. And as Lexi reads, the nurse’s scandalous connection to the house is revealed …

 
Excerpt:

The late sunshine enveloped the house in a golden glow. Again, it seemed to call to her, begging for attention. A path on the left of the drive looked inviting as it meandered through a small strand of poplars. Lexi grabbed her keys, locked the car and took off to explore again. She had nothing to rush home to now, and if she got caught for trespassing, then so be it.

The overgrown pathway brought her out on the far side of the grounds near the end of a small lake. She gazed over the water towards the back of the house and noticed a paved terrace area. From there the lawn then sloped down to the water. She’d not been around the back before and fell even more in love with the property. She could imagine the serenity of sipping a cool drink on a hot summer’s day and looking out over the lake.

Lexi stepped out along the bank. A lone duck swam by, its movement serene on the glassy, dark surface. This side of the lake was in shadow from large pine trees, and she stumbled on fallen pinecones hidden in the long grass. On the opposite side of the water were some small buildings, a garage, fruit trees in early blossom, and an overgrown vegetable patch, complete with a broken, rejected-looking scarecrow.

She wandered over to a narrow shed on her left and peered through its sole, dirty window. Unable to make out much in the dimness, she walked around to the front and was surprised when she was able to pull the bolt back on the door. Why didn’t people lock things? A covered rowboat took up most of the space inside. She smiled, seeing herself rowing it on the lake. Growing more excited, Lexi edged around it to peer at the workbenches and the odd assortment of tools and useless things one found in abandoned sheds. It was like treasure hunting in an antique shop. She used to love doing that with her grandfather.

She glanced about and spied a dusty painting leaning against the wall. The scene was of a child and a brown dog. Behind the canvas were more paintings, some framed, some not. Lexi flicked through them. The ones that caught her attention she took out and set aside.

She looked for somewhere to sit and study the paintings. A small tin trunk wedged under a workbench seemed the only offering. Thinking it empty, she went to tug it out, but it remained fast.

Using both hands, she heaved it out and was showered in a puff of dust. Squatting down, she inspected the latch that was held tight with a small lock. ‘Why are you locked?’ she murmured. The shed was open to anyone passing by, yet this ugly little chest had a lock on it. The trunk was nothing special, plain and in parts rusted. No ornament or writing hinted at its use.

Intrigued, she grabbed a hammer from the workbench, but then hesitated. She had no right to open someone else’s property. Lexi closed her eyes momentarily. What was she thinking of breaking into the trunk? What am I doing? Never had she broken the law and here she was guilty of trespassing and breaking and entering! She looked around the rowboat as though expecting someone to jump out and arrest her.

Something inside urged her on. She knew she couldn’t stop now. Sucking in a deep breath, she bent and hit the lock hard. The ringing sound was loud in the quiet serenity of the garden. The metal dented and with another few solid whacks the lock gave.

Shivers of excitement tingled along her skin. Gently, she eased up the lid.

 

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Countdown to release! 14 March! SEVEN NIGHTS OF SIN #HistoricalRomance Anthology!

SEVEN NIGHTS OF SIN  99cents


This is my contribution to the fabulous anthology!.


ONE SCANDALOUS NIGHT
 by Maggi Andersen
 
Can one night with a rake be enough for a lifetime?

Miss Bella Lacey desires to accomplish two things before settling into an unfulfilling marriage to the man her father has chosen. First, she intends to inveigle a goodly amount of money for her orphans from a man of means and, second, to have one night of passion to help her endure the dreary years ahead.

When Derrick, Lord Eaglestone, a wealthy viscount with a scandalous reputation, agrees to donate to Miss Lacey’s charity, he has only seduction in mind. Little does he suspect that Miss Lacey has already chosen him to debauch her before she weds another. The lady has virtually fallen into his lap, but much to his annoyance, he finds himself reluctant to oblige her.

Excerpt:

The champagne was delicious, and she drank thirstily. Holding the half-empty flute, she took in the trees in summer leaf and banks of bright flowers. It was quite perfect. At the thought of Lord Eaglestone attempting to seduce here on the blanket, her toes curled. It must happen during the night and would require perfect timing. She took a deep sip of champagne, thinking of what was hopefully to come.

Eaglestone showed little inclination to seduce her. He began to remove plates, silverware, and napkins from the hamper. Delectable foods followed.
She sipped the champagne while watching him pile her plate. “Oysters!”
He pinned her with his gaze. “You like oysters?”
“Yes, very much.”
He took a small penknife from his pocket, wiped it clean, and levered open a shell.

“Why then, the world’s mine oyster,
Which I with sword will open.”

Surprised, Bella laughed. It seemed incongruous for him to quote from Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor.
“You find that amusing?” A smile lifted the corners of his mouth. He was very appealing when he smiled.
The wine banished her nerves and loosened her tongue. “Most appropriate. I must confess I didn’t expect to hear Shakespeare quoted from someone who denounced verse so ruthlessly last night.”
“You are quite wrong. I only denounce my own paltry attempts.”
He leaned over and held the oyster shell to her lips. When she parted them, he tipped the oyster in. “Swallow it whole,” he said, his eyes on her mouth.
Her mouth filled with the smooth, salty taste. She closed her eyes as the oyster slipped down her throat. “Mmm, lovely.”
“You look very lovely eating it,” he said in his husky voice. He leaned forward and kissed her.
With the light touch of his lips, Bella’s breath caught. Her hand fluttered to his shoulder before common sense prevailed. “Sir!” Flushing, she drew back. He must first agree to her request.
“Merely a small kiss between business associates, Miss Lacey.” He lay back on his elbows on the rug like a sleepy panther, watching her.
Bella’s whole body tingled. The kiss, brief as it was, had turned her insides to honey. Was he laughing at her? She sensed he wasn’t as relaxed as he made out. Fighting to keep hold of her objective, she forked up a piece of chicken from her plate. “Do you often picnic in the park with a lady?”
“Not as a rule.” The sight of him biting a chicken leg with his strong white teeth made her feel hot, imagining him nibbling on her.
That he was here with her made her suspect she’d become part of an exclusive group of women who’d gained his attention. She couldn’t help but be flattered, although she wasn’t fooled into believing she was any more special to him than the rest. It hardly mattered. After one night, they would part. She drew in a breath; she really must stop her mind racing ahead to that night.

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