Friday, March 27, 2015

Broken Hero

I really enjoyed writing this story. I hope readers enjoy it too.

Blurb:
Audrey Pearson's life changed dramatically when WWII broke out and her large home, Twelve Pines on the East Yorkshire coast, became a convalescence home for wounded soldiers. Her life is no longer lavish with entertainment, beautiful clothes and surrounded by a loving family. Soldiers, physically and mentally wounded now fill her home. The smell of disinfectant replaces her mother's perfume and gone are the friends and acquaintances - instead nurses roam the hallways. 
Captain Jake Harding, a doctor training in psychiatry arrives at Twelve Pines. Audrey immediately finds herself attracted to the Captain, but he is remote towards her. Puzzled by his cold behaviour, Audrey tries to learn more about the handsome Captain. He reveals that he's lost a wife and baby in childbirth and refuses to ever remarry. 
However, despite this, Audrey believes she can change his mind and make him aware he doesn't have to spend his life alone.The ice around Jake's heart begins to melt. For years he has rejected the possibility of finding love again because of the pain it caused him before, but the beautiful Audrey shows him her love and she needs someone to love her in return. 
Could he honestly walk away from her, from the love that could be his? 


Can be bought for Kindle on amazon, here.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

To Take Her Pride only £2.99!

I love all my novels, but one of my favourites is To Take Her Pride and it's currently on Amazon Kindle at £2.99!

Back blurb:
Aurora Pettigrew has it all, a loving family, a nice home, a comfortable life. She’s waiting for the right man to offer her marriage, and the man for her is Reid Sinclair, heir to the Sinclair fortune and the love of her life.
But, Reid’s mother, Julia, is against the match and her ruthlessness unearths a family secret that will tear Aurora’s world apart.
Unwilling to bring shame on her family and needing answers to the allegations brought to light by Reid’s mother, Aurora begins a long journey away from home. She leaves behind all that is familiar and safe to enter a world of mean streets and poor working class.
Living in the tenements of York, surrounded by people of a class she’d never mixed with before, Aurora struggles to come to terms with the way her life has changed. By chance, she reconnects with a man from her past and before he leaves with the army to war in South Africa, he offers her security through marriage.
Aurora knows she should be happy, but the memory of her love for Reid threatens her future.
When tragedy strikes, can Aurora find the strength to accept her life and forget the past?
You can view it here. To Take Her Pride


Monday, January 19, 2015

Medieval Curses and More - Lindsay Townsend

Medieval people believed in magic, both good and bad. Spells and charms cast with evil intent were called curses and several have survived from that time. The Anglo-Saxons believed in both charms and curses, including a curse chanted against a wen or boil. The little wen is told to go away, to become smaller and vanish into nothing (Her ne scealt thu timbrien, it says - “Here not build your timbered house.”)

The Vikings also believed in the power of words and words for magic and curses. In one saga a witch called Busla issues a curse against King Hring, who has captured and threatened to kill Busla’s foster son. The curse is chanted at night (a good time for such dark matters) and Busla’s magical threats are made manifest.  In lines of poetry, the witch claims that her curse will cause Hring to go deaf, make his eyes to the leave their sockets,  make his bed like burning straw and make him impotent. In addition, any horse he rode would take him to trolls– and more.
“Shall trolls and elves and tricking witches,
shall dwarfs and etins (giants) burn down thy mead-hall…”
 The king is still reluctant and  Busla chants the strongest part of her curse, magic so dark that she does not utter it at night but which will cause Hring to be torn into pieces and flung into hell.  Faced with these gruesome outcomes, the king swears an oath to release his captives. The witch then stops the curse.

Curses could be used both as items to propel malice and as a curious form of protection. Curses were often attached to medieval and Anglo-Saxon wills, mostly to ensure the last wishes were observed, or for more day to day purposes.  The will of Siflaed (composed between 1066-68, soon after  the Norman conquest of England, which may explain the strength of the curse)  states “Whoever alters this, may God turn his face away from him on the day of judgment.”   The Will of Wulfgyth, dated 1046, promises that anyone who detracts from his will shall be denied all human comfort and joy and be delivered into hell “and there suffer with God’s adversaries without end and never trouble my heirs.”  

This form of invoking God by means of a curse to protect others remained popular throughout the Middle Ages.  In 1407, the Will of Thomas of Tyldeslegh gives a hundred shillings of silver to a John Boys to make him an apprentice in a trade and “If anyone hinder this, may God’s curse be upon him.”
                                                 
Curses could be used by medieval people everywhere and in all circumstances. When a monk  in 1420 discovered that the monastery cat had peed  on the manuscript he had been copying, the monk cursed the cat and recorded his curse—with a small drawing, showing pointing hands toward the cat pee—

Hic non defectus est, sed cattus minxit desuper nocte quadam. Confundatur pessimus cattus qui minxit super librum istum in nocte Daventrie, et consimiliter omnes alii propter illum. Et cavendum valde ne permittantur libri aperti per noctem ubi cattie venire possunt.

Which translates as:

Here is nothing missing, but a cat urinated on this during a certain night. Cursed be the pesty cat that urinated over this book during the night in Deventer and because of it many others [other cats] too. And beware well not to leave open books at night where cats can come.


Curses as medieval swear words can be found in this article here:

The ultimate curse could be considered to be excommunication, where a person and a person’s soul is cut off from God and the comforts and body of the church. This was feared as a terrible punishment but was not seen as being permanent, since a person could make amends and have the excommunication lifted.  Bishops and popes used excommunication as a political weapon and means of control.

 Objects could also be used in a malicious way. An amulet containing such vile materials as human waste, a splinter of wood from a gibbet or menstrual blood might be hidden under a bed to cause anything from impotence to sickness. Corpses of dead animals, such as black mice, were sometimes wrapped in cloth and buried under a threshold to create trouble for the inhabitants. Sympathetic magic, where a witch would ‘milk’ a knife stuck in the wall of her cottage, would enable her to steal milk from a cow. In Lucerne in 1486 2 women were accused of making hail by pouring well water over their heads. In Coventry in the 14th century a sorcerer created a wax figure of his neighbor, then drove a spike into the figure’s head and then heart. The neighbor died. In the 1130s the Jews of Trier were accused of making a wax figure of the archbishop and melting it in a fire to cause his death.

Some people were believed to have the power in themselves of cursing others, particularly if members of their family had been accused of sorcery. In 1454 at Lucerne a woman called Dorothea  was widely believed to be an ill-wisher—her mother had been burned as a witch and Dorothea, being unpopular, was accused in her turn.

Certain things were considered to be inherently cursed or evil in the Middle Ages. The wood of the elder tree was believed to be unlucky (it was said Judas had hung himself from an elder tree)and it was also thought to be a witches’ tree. Elder wood can easily splinter, so strictures against its use were in some ways sensible.  Juniper was another plant with a mixed reputation. Although a sprig of juniper was believed to protect the wearer from curses, to dream of juniper was said to foretell bad luck or a death.

What could protect against curses? Rowan was said to be a strong protector. The rowan tree, taken from the Norse “runa” meaning charm, was often planted close to houses to protect the household  against evil. Around Easter time medieval people would make small crosses from rowan wood to give further safety to the house.

Illness, famine, flood, plague and all manner of misfortunes in the Middle Ages were believed to be either due to God’s anger (as with the Black Death) or the result of a curse. Given the state of knowledge about the natural world at that time, the idea of deliberate evil by a person (or in some cases an animal) makes a strange kind of sense. Moreover people were comforted when they could use prayers, amulets, witch bottles and, in extreme cases, the law to protect themselves against the occult forces.

Belief in magic was strong in the Middle Ages. I write about curses and have characters use, or fight against them, in Dark Maiden, The Snow Bride and A Summer Bewitchment . I touch on the idea of God's anger and the Black Death in To Touch the Knight and belief in magical creatures in The Virgin, the Knight and the Unicorn 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Magical Attributes of Amber

Amber lifts the heart, delights the eye, and excites our imagination. We think of amber as a precious stone but unlike most jewels it is not a mineral. Like pearls, diamonds and jet, amber is of organic origin, coming from the petrified resin of ancient forests. The Baltic region produces the best amber as this is from the prehistoric Pinites succinifer tree, which is at least 50 million years old and now extinct.

As the sticky resin ran from these ancient trees, leaves, twigs, fungus gnats, dragonflies and other insects could be caught up and become an inclusion in the amber. These add to the value and reveals priceless information about the flora and fauna of the ancient world. A moment in time frozen forever.

Neolithic tribes believed that amber was a piece of the sun fallen to earth and sunk into the sea. Greek myths claimed that amber represented the tears of Apollo’s daughters, Apollo being the God of the Sun. Priestesses wore amber beads for the magical energy stored in these beautiful stones. Ladies of the court of Rome thought that touching and stroking amber would create in them a youthful appearance, cool their hands in the summer heat and enhance fertility. As amber was said to bring good luck to the wearer, gladiators stitched pieces of amber into their clothing before a fight. Native American amber is said to represent the east wind of grandfather sun, Amber is still seen by many to be a sacred symbol of the sun. It is often called Tears of the Sun, Gold of the North, Hardened Honey, or Captured Sunshine.

Amber has long been considered to have therapeutic value which will improve health and mental clarity, fight depression and promote healing, particularly for children. A belief that continues to this day as baby teethers, beaded amber necklaces, amulets of amber hearts or crosses, and bracelets, are still a traditional gift for a child. Amber oil is also believed to be effective for rheumatic diseases. Rubbed into the skin it improves blood circulation and eases muscle pains.

Best of all the attributes of amber is its pure beauty and the hundreds of glorious shades, generally from white through yellow, honey, butterscotch to a reddish brown. The darker the colour, the older the amber.

Amber workshop Catherine Palace

One of the world's most valuable art treasures, the Amber Room in Catherine Palace was made entirely out of amber. When the palace had to be evacuated during World War Two the panels were covered up, but tragically lost, or rather stolen, by the invading Nazis. But it has since been rebuilt, a perfect replica of the original which has taken at least twenty years to achieve. We visited when on our Baltic cruise, which sparked off the idea for The Amber Keeper.

Photography is not allowed in the room, so I’m afraid I have no pictures, but we also enjoyed visiting the workshop.

If you own some amber, then keep it in a sealed plastic bag away from heat. Amber is soft and a tiny drop of olive oil will help deal with any scratch. It will always look beautiful and very special, in addition to all its magical properties.


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. 

 

Excerpt from The Amber Keeper 

 Prologue 1933 


My snow-boots were worn through so that I walked on the ice that coated the rough mountain path, the soles of my feet numb with cold. Gasps of breath formed frozen crystals on those parts of my nose and cheeks not protected by scarf and fur hat. I had long since lost my small pony, the poor animal having bolted home in terror when the guns started, although whether she’d ever arrived is doubtful.

Home, if that is what you can call the house in which I had resided for so many years, no longer existed. It was but a shell of its former glory. I remembered how the darkness of the night seemed to press in upon me, almost as if I were back within those prison walls. I had closed my mind to the horrors I’d left behind, attempted to set aside my fears about those loved ones dear to my heart who had vanished from my life. Instead I’d fixed my weary gaze on the heels of my guide trudging ahead of me, knowing that if I was to survive, I must stay focused. This was my last chance to get out of Russia.

We walked for days, through ice, snow and blizzard, sustaining ourselves with hunks of none too clean stale bread, and with nothing to wet our palates but sucking on icicles. When, hours later, we staggered into a cave my knees gave way and I fell to the ground, weak with gratitude. I remember feeling a huge relief that at least I could rest for a while, thankful to be out of the bitter wind. The last two nights - or was it three -we’d slept in the open, not even daring to light a fire in case the Bolsheviks should spot it and come searching. Curling myself thankfully into a corner, rubbing my hands and feet in an effort to stave off frost-bite, I pulled up my collar, tucked my knapsack beside me and told myself firmly that I must not fall asleep. I was afraid I might never wake again, due to the fierce cold.

But despite my best efforts I must have fallen asleep instantly out of sheer exhaustion, for I knew nothing more till I was woken by a shaft of daylight filtering into the cave at dawn, and some strange sound that had alerted me. I sat up abruptly, looking around for my guide. He was nowhere to be seen. The man to whom I’d paid an exorbitant sum, every last kopek I possessed, had deserted me. I was quite alone. But as the sound of horses’ hooves clattering over rocks penetrated my befuddled brain, I realised I was about to experience some unwelcome company.

Amazon UK

Amazon US

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Twitter: @fredalightfoot

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

New Release: Woodland Daughter

Woodland Daughter is set in Yorkshire in 1902, Queen Victoria has died and the new century has brought in many changes, including another Boer War in South Africa, which features a little in this story.


Blurb
A new century brings change to the carefully ordered world Eden Harris maintains, change that threatens all she holds dear. Despite years of devoted service to the Bradburys, the leading family of the community, Eden hides a secret that would affect them all. When an enemy returns, her world is shattered and her secret exposed. Torn and provoked, she strains to protect her family until a devastating accident leaves her alone and frightened. As the threat against her grows, Eden takes her precious daughters and flees from the only place she's called home, to live amongst masses in York. Her attempt to start anew is not so simple as the past haunts her, and the one man she thought lost to her so many years before, returns to claim what has always been his. Eden must gather her strength and look into her heart to accept what the future offers. Can she find the happiness she longs for?

Excerpt.
Joel rested his body against the ship’s rail, bracing himself for the slightest pain in his shoulder. With one arm in a sling tucked beneath his uniform jacket, he was careful to keep out of the way of people. The slightest touch could have him sweating in pain. The sea breeze lifted the hair on his forehead and neck, cooling him slightly. He needed a haircut, but he’d wait until he’d reach England before attending to that.
Below him on the deck, he watched the crowds scurrying about like ants. Soldiers, nurses, travellers, ship crew, dock workers all hurried back and forth. Behind him, from within the ship, came the noise of eager travellers settling in for their ocean journey.
He stared out into the distance, where Table Mountain dominated the view. He was sad to be leaving Africa. He’d come to think of it as home in a way. The sights and sounds, the heat and people were familiar now. Of course nothing competed against Bradbury Hall, but he’d been in Africa for seven years. It was a long time. The army had replaced his family. He’d learnt to rely on his fellow officers to ease the loneliness, and at first it had worked well. The adventure and excitement kept his mind from thinking of home. But lately, for the last year and a half, a yearning to return home had claimed him and not let go.  
The ships funnels belched smoke and the boarding siren wailed. Under his feet he felt the deck shudder as the enormous engines surged with power. Anticipation welled. He was going home. Despite the ache in his shoulder, he smiled. Time to start a new phase of his life. Time to reaffirm the links with his family, the estate, old friends, and… Eden.
He was conscious of the changes awaiting him back home. Much had happened in his absence. Not long after he joined the regiment, his mother died. That had been a blow, but on the whole he had managed to keep the family and home intact in his mind. When he’d left England, his father had been alive, Charlie well, Annabella cheeky, pretty, naive and Eden… Eden had been beautiful, a free spirit of the woodland where she lived.
What awaited him now?
The ship eased from its berth and glided out into the harbour. The breeze sharpened and Joel turned away from the rail. He glanced at a crippled solider standing near the door leading into one of the saloons. The soldier swayed on his crutches, one leg gone in battle.
“Major Bradbury?”
Joel checked his step and hurried over to steady the man with his good arm.
“Thanks, Sir.” The solider smiled.
“Stevens, isn’t it?” Joel mused, helping the man to lean against a wall and out of the way of other passengers.
“Stevenson, Sir, Corporal Dave Stevenson.” He leaned against the support and breathed out slowly. “I still haven’t got the hang of these things yet.” He held up the crutches.  
Joel grinned. “I think it might be an art that takes practice, Corporal.”
Dave took of his hat and wiped the seat off from his forehead, his fair hair stuck to his head. “Do you mind, Sir, if I sit down? This leg isn’t used to holding all the weight and gets a bit shaky, like.”
“Of course, man, sit.” Joel again aided Stevenson in lowering to the deck. There were no chairs about and after a moment’s hesitation, Joel join him and gently eased his backside down, careful not to jar his shoulder. “We should have gone inside, it would be more comfortable.”
“Sorry, Sir, but I’m no sailor. Once inside my stomach has a mind of its own. I’m better out here.”
“Well, I’ll keep you company for a while until dinner is announced. My stomach is the opposite of yours. Once on the ocean I’m always ravenous. I do nothing but eat.”
“You might struggle with a knife and fork, using only one hand.”
Joel chuckled. “Yes, true. So far I’ve had only soup and sandwiches.”
Stevenson laid his crutches beside his good leg and gazed out through the iron rail. “So, we’re going back home to England. I’ve been away three years. I should be happy to be going back, but I’m not as excited as I should be, I don’t think.”
“It affects men in different ways.”
“If you don’t mind me asking, Sir, how do you feel? Was your clipped wing the reason for you to go home?”
“Yes. My shoulder stopped a bullet.” He glanced down at his padded and bandaged left shoulder. “Normally they’d take it out and I’d be back in the mix of things, but this Boer bullet went in at an angle and wedge itself deep. The surgeon managed to get it out, but he wasn’t sure what damaged had been done. Only once the swelling has gone down and the soreness gone, will I know what strength remains in the arm.”
“Does your family know about it yet?”
“No, not yet. It didn’t seem worth writing when I was going home anyway. What about your family?”
“Oh aye, they know. I’ve been in hospital a while, long enough for letters to go back and forth.” Stevenson bent up his leg and rested his elbow on it. “They say they don’t care if I come home missing a leg, as long as I’m coming home to them. I’m an only child see, and I used to help my father run our grocers shop.”
“Will you do that again?”
“I guess so. Funny how things change, isn’t it. I hated working in that shop as a lad. All my friends would be out playing football or cricket and I’d be stuck behind a counter. The first opportunity I got to leave I took, and that was the army.” He tapped the toe of his boot on the deck. “Now, I can’t wait to get back there. I miss me mam and dad, and me gran, who lives with us. My mam makes the best jam roly-poly you’ve ever tasted. Dad brews his own beer in the back shed and Gran used to be my partner in cards.”
“There’s nothing better in this world than returning home to a family that loves you.” A picture came into Joel’s mind of the estate in autumn, the tall graceful trees, their leaves turning gold and amber, the squirrels scurrying around in the wood, collecting the last of their booty, harvest time and bringing in the hay, the smell of open fires as the gardeners raked up and burnt the fallen leaves.
He leaned his head back and smiled in remembrance. “I long to go riding with my brother. We used to ride for miles. Sometimes we’d stop at a pub and have an ale and a hot pie smothered in gravy.”
“Me mam has written of a neighbour’s daughter, Vera, who she hopes I’ll one day marry. I’m not so sure what Vera has to say about it though. We got along all right before I went away, but…well, I’m not as I once was.”
“If this Vera is a decent woman, she’ll not mind.”
“Maybe.” Stevenson lifted his face to the breeze. “Will you have a girl waiting for you at home, Sir?”
Joel’s stomach clenched. “Perhaps. I’m ready for a family. However, I’ve been away longer than you, and I’m not sure what to expect when I arrive home.”
“None of us are, Sir, none of us are.”   
A group of children ran by, the shoes thundering on the timber deck. One cheeky boy paused and waved to Joel and Stevenson before scampering off again. A harassed nanny tried to catch up as she wheeled a pram after them. Joel watched until they turned a corner at the bow of the ship and were out of sight. His heart constricted, thinking of the boy’s lively face. A son. He wanted a son so badly it hurt. A boy to teach all the things his father taught him, to hunt, to fish, to ride, to play sports. He thought of Charlie. Two sons perhaps. Two fine boys to grow up together like he and Charlie did.
Emotion clogged his throat and he coughed to clear it.  He’d been away from home too long…

Buy in ebook or paperback from all online retailers such Amazon USA and Amazon UK, iBooks, Nook, etc. 

I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Launch-The Rebel's Daughter by Anita Seymour


The Rebel’s Daughter


Released by Books We Love on Amazon 
Helena Woulfe, the daughter of a wealthy Exeter nobleman leads a privileged life, however, when rebellion sweeps the West Country, her family is caught in its grip. After Monmouth’s bloody defeat in battle at Sedgemoor, Helena sets off for Somerset to find the three missing members of her family.
 
With the Woulfe estate confiscated by the crown, Helena and her younger brother Henry hope the anonymity of the capital city will be more forgiving to the children of a convicted rebel. However, Helena finds her search for security and respectability in London are threatened by someone who wishes harm to a traitor's daughter.
Review by Diane Scott Lewis - Anita Seymour writes with a sure hand; her knowledge of the seventeenth-century, battles and customs, sweeps you into the era. Helena is a strong, yet vulnerable character you will be intrigued to spend time with.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Duke's Mysterious Lady by Maggi Andersen

I've finally decided to tackle publishing my backlist. The first is a Regency novel, THE DUKE'S MYSTERIOUS LADY. 
(A reissue of Rules of Conduct)

AMAZON BUY LINK
SMASHWORDS

Viola, so named by her benefactor, Hugh, Duke of Vale, has lost her memory, along with her respectability, after being found unconscious near his estate dressed in a male servant’s clothes. She is a mystery unto herself, with her knowledge of books and Latin, and her skill at the pianoforte.
Thanks to the duke’s kindness, Viola has found a temporary home with his nanny in a cottage on his estate, while danger lurks in the shadows and darkens her dreams. She must leave beautiful Vale Park before Hugh marries Lady Felicity Beresford, the neighbor’s daughter; their marriage arranged when they were children. And before Viola and Hugh succumb to an impossible passion.

As the announcement of Hugh’s engagement draws near, he tries to accept the inevitable, he must marry a woman he doesn’t love. He is intrigued by Viola. Who is she and what has driven her to such an act? As the Bow Street Runners work to find the answers, Hugh grows more deeply and dangerous drawn to the mysterious lady. 


 Review of the original book:


"This is one of those stories that you just can't help but like...The characters were memorable and the plot solid. I totally enjoyed every page and found the ending well worth the journey. It was one that I can see re-reading many times before /if I get tired of it.
 Ms Andersen has done a great job in creating a wonderful tale that kept me interested and involved. I look forward to reading more from this author." Seriously Reviewed.

 Excerpt:
 
Viola opened her eyes and wriggled her toes, luxuriating in the comfort and warmth of the feather bed. Dawn light filtered through the lace curtain of the attic window. For a brief moment, she felt cocooned, safe from the world, but then the worry of her lost memory niggled at her. It was as if a veil had been draped over her mind, hiding the past from view, and she was helpless to do anything but wait for it to lift. She tensed, was something portentous hiding beneath the veil? When it did lift what would she discover?
            She couldn’t bear lying there worrying about it. The cock crowed in the home farm. It was still very early. The faint voices of the farm hands reached her, herding the cows in for milking.
            Curious to see more of her temporary home, she climbed from the bed and poured icy water into a bowl from the pitcher on the table. She splashed her face and shuddered. Wide-awake now, she quickly dressed. Opening her door, she hesitated. Was it wise to walk about the grounds alone? She pushed commonsense aside, eager to see more of Vale Park. Ignoring the inadequacy of her house slippers and the thin gown, she wrapped the shawl Nanny had given her around her shoulders, crept down the stairs, and out into the brisk air.
            She followed a meandering path that led around the cottage down through a meadow of bright yellow buttercups, to a river. The wide stretch of water flowed swiftly away through the meadows, its far side rimmed by forest.
            Flocks of birds swooped overhead. The peace and beauty of her surroundings revived her and she bent to pick a wild rose. The pink flower had a delicate perfume, a surprise in such a hardy, prickly plant. She stood, pressing its petals to her nose, the scent a wistful hint from her past that unsettled her. Somewhere, she had seen these flowers before. Her attempts to remember brought such anguish, she almost cried out.
            She swung round at the sound of hoof beats, as a horse galloped around a copse of trees. The rider pulled on the reins and cursed as the horse reared. Viola stepped back off the path and lost her footing, falling hard onto her bottom in a patch of dewy grass. Two hounds bolted out of the bushes. One was upon her in an instant, nuzzling and licking her face.
            “Oh, don’t,” she cried with a laugh, attempting to push it away.
            “Down, Henry!” His Grace growled from atop the tall bay, and the dog returned to his master’s side.
            “What the devil are you doing out so early?” The duke leapt down. “Are you hurt?”
            “Only my dignity, I’m afraid.”
            He grasped her arm and pulled her to her feet as if she weighed no more than the fluffy head of a dandelion. His hands lingered on her back as if to steady her, but it seemed to have the reverse affect and she almost stumbled. Aware her face was probably as pink as the rose Viola held, she threw the flower away and tried to brush down her skirt.
             The duke’s gaze took in her sodden slippers and shabby dress with the damp patch where she’d fallen onto the ground. He brought with him the bitter truth of her predicament, leaving her feeling grubby and foolish, her brief delight in the morning ruined.
            “I apologize for startling you. I never meet a soul on this path. What are you doing wandering around so early?”
            “I thought it lovely, with the sleeping world awaking to a new day.” How lame her words sounded.
            “Have you remembered anything?”
            “No, nothing.” No doubt, he thought her foolish; perhaps he hoped this madwoman would disappear back to where she came from. Viola wrapped the shawl around herself more closely.
            “Come, I’ll walk back with you.” He led his horse along the lane and in a short while, the cottage appeared through the trees. “I assume you’re feeling better?”
            “Yes, thank you. Nanny’s been wonderful. She is well versed in herbs. Nanny gave me something that made me sleep like a baby!”
             “Ah, yes. I well remember her potions. I’ll never forget some of the foul brews I was made to swallow as a child.”
            He looked down at her with a devastating grin. “I’m sorry you had to endure them.”
            Viola couldn’t help responding to that grin. “You don’t look at all sorry, Your Grace.”
            The duke laughed. “I’m sure they are beneficial.” He turned back to the path. “We must make you well quickly, Miss Viola. There may be a family which is worried about you.”
            His words tumbled her back into reality. She trembled with frustration. If only she could remember. How long would it be before she outlived her welcome?
            They arrived at the cottage gate.
            “I’ll leave you to Nanny.” Mounting his horse, he raised his hat. “Do take care of yourself. You don’t want to be laid up too long with Nanny in attendance.”
            Viola certainly did not. He rode off with his dogs running behind him, and she turned to walk along the garden path where roses, delphiniums, and hollyhocks waved tall heads above the rhubarb and the cabbages. Her feet were so cold that she could hardly feel her toes.




Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kitty McKenzie's Land re-release

After a bit of a delay, I've managed to get the sequel to my novel, Kitty McKenzie, re-released.
Titled, Kitty McKenzie's Land, the story continues of Kitty's new life in Australia after leaving England to follow the man she loves. But not all goes to plan.

This story was previously published in 2006, so it's been a while since it's original 15 minutes of fame. I'm hoping this time around, the story reaches new audiences and readers enjoy the two books about Kitty and her extraordinary life.


Blurb
1866

Kitty McKenzie's path has taken her from the slums of York to the inhospitable bush of colonial Australia. Yet, when she believes her dreams will never be attained, she is shown that sometimes life can be even better than what you wish for.

Kitty McKenzie is gifted land in the far north of New South Wales. Life at the northern property is full of hardships as she learns how to become a successful landowner.

However, Kitty’s strength of will and belief in herself gives her the courage most women of her time never realize they have. A decided thorn in her side is the arrogant and patronizing Miles Grayson, owner of the adjourning run. He wants her gone so he can have her land, but he wants her even more.

Available 0.99c as an ebook in several formats.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

‘Perdita’ - Fashion icon.

Mary Robinson - portrait by Hoppner



Mary Robinson would never have been seen out and about looking anything but at her most elegant, although her style, at least in her early years, was less flamboyant than most. On her first visit to Ranelagh she wore a simple Quaker gown which ensured that she was noticed. It was of light brown lustring with close round cuffs. She left her auburn curls unpowdered, upon which she pinned a plain round cap and white chip hat, without any ornament.


Later, when she became famous as mistress to the Prince of Wales, she set tongues wagging by entertaining lavishly, and sending female hearts beating with envy. Every new gown she wore, the very latest Paris had to offer, was imitated and emulated to the smallest degree. And ever the actress, she loved to drive about Hyde Park in her new blue and silver phaeton, drawn by milk white ponies, playing to the crowds. Sometimes she would be very simply attired wearing a straw hat tied at the back of her head in the style of a paysanne, at others painted, powdered, patched and rouged to perfection as any fashionable leader of the ton should be.

Charles James Fox and Mary

A courtesan, demi-rep, or member of the Cyprian corps, as they were sometimes known, was expected to dress at the height of fashion, own at least two carriages, and live in the most fashionable part of town. In the eighteenth century they were rather looked upon as celebrities. But this hedonistic lifestyle required high finance, supplied by a man of considerable wealth in return for her exclusive attention.

Unfortunately, Mary Robinson never did succeed in finding a man rich enough to afford her, and as a consequence of her love of spending she quickly fell into debt. Not that her concerns over lack of money ever taught her prudence. She considered her high living standards as necessary for her status. The £5,000 that she managed to squeeze out of the young Prince George after their brief affair ended, helped a little. She believed this allowance to be well deserved as she had given up her career on the stage for him. And of course credit was easily available in anticipation of more from the Prince once he came of age.

Money sometimes came her way if her husband had a win at cards at Brooks’s. And famous artists such as Hoppner, Sir Joshua Reynolds and George Romney would paint portraits of her without charging a fee as they could sell print copies to the masses because of her beauty and status as a fashion icon.

Banistre Tarleton - portrait by Reynolds




A new love came into her life and Mary and Tarleton were very much the celebrity couple. Banistre Tarleton, a hero of the American War of Independence, with his famously cropped hair, looked exceedingly handsome in his hussar uniform of blue jacket, waistcoat and leather boots that fitted as tight as silk stockings. Mary was proclaimed as a fashion icon by Lady’s Magazine, who even named a hat after her. ‘The Perdita’, as it became known, was a chip hat with a bow tied under the chin and pink ribbons puffed around the crown. It proved to be immensely popular.





On her return from France in January 1782, Mary wore one of her Paris gowns of white satin with purple breast-bows for the opera. Her head-dress was a cap composed of white and purple feathers entwined with flowers and festooned with diamond pins. According to the Herald she looked supremely beautiful, so lovely that the audience lingered to watch as she stayed to select a box to rent following the performance. Later, her decoration of the box caused a flurry of gossip in the newssheets as she upholstered the chairs in pink satin, and lined the walls with mirrors.

Mary Robinson- portrait by Romney

Mary became famous for her gold clocked stockings and a cataract muff. This was also French with long-hairs that hung down like a waterfall. And then there were her gold-clocked stockings for which she was dubbed ‘Lark-heeled Perdita’. She caused a sensation by wearing the Chemise de la Reine to the opera. This was a simple muslin gown adapted from that worn by Marie-Antoinette. It had three-quarter length puffed sleeves and frills around the neck. Falling simply and gracefully it clung deliciously to the figure without hindrance of hoops or pads. It soon became all the rage among aristocratic ladies, not just with the Cyprian Corps, including Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. It did, however, result in some criticism from the press, as it made it much more difficult to judge a lady’s status by her appearance.

Despite the fact that Mary considered herself to be intellectually superior to most courtesans, and infinitely more sensitive, she was considered to be very much the leader of the Cyprian corps. But no one, not courtesan nor aristocrat could rival her beauty or style. Her life might have been considered utterly scandalous, but in her prime she remained very much the centre of attention.

The story of Mary Robinson, also known as Perdita

Available from Amazon

Or on special offer from Sainsburys