Sunday, December 31, 2006

. . . and 2007 arrives!

We have some exciting new books coming out in 2007, so let us entertain you!

Here are some of the books you can look forward to, with US release dates in brackets if they differ from UK release dates.


FEB: A Wealthy Widow. This is the second of the Hellfire Trilogy, third book of which will be out in May.

APRIL: Counterfeit Earl (The next book in Anne's Steepwood Series, Volume five)


JAN: Perfidy and Perfection (F A Thorpe, L/P)
2007: The Restless Heart (Linford Romance, P/B)


JAN: Not Quite a Lady (Harlequin Mills and Boon. P/B)
APR (MAY): A Most Unconventional Courtship (Harlequin Mills and Boon. P/B)
JUNE (May): Desert Rake (Harlequin Historicals. P/B)
AUG: No PLace For A Lady (Harlequin Mills and Boon. P/B)


MARCH: Deceived (Harlequin Mills and Boon. P/B)


JAN: Stormcrow Castle (Robert Hale. H/B)
MARCH(FEB): Mr Darcy's Diary (Sourcebooks. P/B)
(Originally published in hb as Darcy's Diary)
JUN: Captain Wentworth's Diary (Robert Hale. H/B)


FEB: The Mesalliance (Robert Hale. H/B)
2007 tbc: Lord Thurston's Challenge (Robert Hale. H/B)
2007 tbc: The Country Mouse (D C Thomson MWSC. P/B)


FEB: The Social Outcast

Saturday, December 30, 2006

2006 departs . . .

What a year 2006 has been for us here at Historical Romance UK!

Wendy Soliman's first novel, Lady Hartley's Inheritance, was published by Robert Hale in May of this year and her second, Duty's Destiny, also published by Hale, came out in November. Both are Regency-set mystery-romances.

Melinda Hammond's Gentlemen in Question was the Editor's Choice for the Historical Novel Review.

Kate Allen's romantic comedy, Perfidy and Perfection, was published in April 2006. Fateful Deception, short-listed for the RNA New Writers
Award 2006, came out in ebook ( and large print editions.

Lynne Connolly's new Department 57 series debuted this year, to critical acclaim. Under the name Lynne Martin, she has two new trilogies coming out next year and a single title Regency. She finalled in the 2006 EPPIEs for Romantic Suspense and presented a class on the English Country House to the Beau Monde chapter of the RWA.

Fenella Jane Miller's novels A Suitable Husband and A Dissembler were published by Robert Hale, with A Suitable Husband being nominated for the Single Titles award. The Unconventional Miss Walters (published by Hale last year) came out in large print, whilst The Return of Lord Rivenhall came out in My Weekly Story Collection in December.

Amanda Grange's Mr Knightley's Diary came out in August.

Kate Tremayne's novel, The Loveday Loyalty came out in August, continuing the popular Loveday series - 'Guaranteed to appeal to those who have been entranced by Poldark' - which started with Adam Loveday.

Nicola Cornick's first single title Regency Historical, Deceived, came out in the US from HQN books in July. Her UK release "A Season for Suitors" made the
bestseller lists in November.

Anne Herries had Ransom Bride and Lord Ravensden's Marriage published as part of the Steepwood Scandals, and
also An Improper Companion as a stand-alone title.

Louise Allen had five releases this year: The Bride's Seduction (UK), The Viscount's Betrothal (UK), The Society Catch (N America), The Earl's Intended Wife (N America) and Moonlight & Mistletoe (N America)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Journal of a Regency Lady 11

May 21 1812

It has happened! I am in such a state for I swear I do not know what to do. I have not told Mama for I think she would scold me for not knowing my own mind. Indeed, I should know it but I confess that I am confused. If Harry – as he has asked me to call him – had asked me to marry him last Christmas I should have said yes without hesitation for I thought myself deeply in love. So much has happened since then and I am not as innocent as I once was. I like Harry and perhaps I feel something more but I have asked him for time to consider.

Was I wrong to make him wait? I do hope that I am not subconsciously punishing him for what he did to me when he left without speaking and I learned that he had asked Miss Chesterfield to marry him. I asked him why their engagement had been broken, and after some hesitation, he told me.

'Miss Chesterfield felt that I did not sincerely love her,' he said a little awkwardly. 'She believed that I was marrying her for two reasons: one was that our families expected it, which was true…' He looked straight at me then, 'Secondly, she had been told that I was marrying her for her money…'

'Was that true?' I asked, meeting his gaze steadily. 'I heard the rumour too…'

'Did you?' His eyes were intent, serious. 'And did you believe it?'

'I thought it might be true, because I had believed…' I faltered and blushed.

He nodded, looking serious. 'You thought that I was very attracted to you, Anne – and you were right. At first I just found you refreshing and charming, but then I began to realise that I was very attracted and I thought you might be also. It made me realise that I had behaved badly. I left quickly, hoping to limit the damage that had been done…'

'I was very hurt that you said nothing.'

'Yes, I understood that when we met again.' He reached out to touch my face. 'Will you forgive me? I did not think then that I could disappoint Miss Chesterfield and marry you, for two reasons – one was that I knew she expected an offer, and the second, though I am ashamed to admit it was that I knew I ought to marry an heiress…'

'Oh, I see…'

'Please do not censure me,' Harry begged. 'It sounds so cold and callous, but I have a mother and a sister to support and…my father died in debt. My sister had no chance of a good marriage without a dowry and I…had become accustomed to think that it would be a good thing…'

He looked ashamed and I was moved to touch his hand, 'It is not uncommon for gentlemen to think as you do, sir.'

'You are generous,' he replied with a sad smile, 'but after I proposed I began to see that it would not do, because…I did not feel as I ought towards her.'

'I think I understand…' I frowned. 'But did you not expect that you would inherit your uncle's title and fortune?'

'Since my cousin died I knew that the title would be mine one day, though my uncle seemed a fit man and I did not expect it for some years – but he and my father had quarrelled. He refused a request for help from my mother some years ago and I had not seen him for some time. I was surprised when I learned that apart from some personal bequests everything had come to me for the bulk of the estate was not entailed.'

'I see…' I nodded, understanding the predicament he had found himself in. 'Well, I cannot pretend that you did not behave badly, sir – towards both Miss Chesterfield and me. She must have been distressed when she discovered that your feelings towards her were not what she might have expected.'

'She was piqued,' he replied, 'but not truly hurt, because she liked someone else better. She too had felt that she ought to marry to oblige her family, but when she realised that I did not truly care for her she told me that she had discovered she could not marry me and broke off the engagement. I think she had realised where her own heart lay too late.' A flicker of wry amusement touched his mouth. 'I know that many will wonder why she would have done such a thing, for it was both serious and shaming – and I am sure that some may think me wicked, for why should she have done it if I were not?'
'Oh no!' I cried. 'Surely not?'

'Do you think I would be ungallant enough to deny that it was my fault?'

'No, I do not,' I said and smiled at him. 'I think you are a gentleman, sir – and I like you very well. I am just not sure that I wish to marry you. Nor am I certain that I do not. Would you think it very bad of me if I were to ask for time?'

'No, of course not,' he replied and kissed my hand. 'But I do not have much time for I must leave at the beginning of next week. If you wished for it we might have been married, but perhaps it would be best if we were to wait?'

'I shall give you my answer tomorrow,' I promised. 'Come to the house at eleven in the morning and I shall tell you then.'

But what, dear journal, shall I tell him? Do I wish to be Lady Belmond – or is there another I would rather wed? He has not asked me yet but I think he means to when he returns from the north…

Oh, what shall I do?

Well, readers, what should she do? Do you want her to marry him or her young soldier, Lieutenant Jones? Vote through the comments. Should the journal continue or end with a happy marriage? Or should it go on through a tangled marriage with lots of twists and turns and love gone awry?

Over on Anne's World of Romance I am downloading an unpublished Regency for my readers.
Anne Herries

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas Everyone!

We have all enjoyed writing our little bit of Christmas nonsense for you, and we hope our visitors have enjoyed reading it. I think perhaps we may do another one day and we would love to hear from our visitors - what do you think? Would you like to know what else Jack got up to while he was missing? And what about Hester's story - and a love affair for Jack or some of the other gallant gentlemen? The possibilities are endless - let us know what you think please. We like to make this site fun for you so tell us in the comments what you want from us.

The Journal of a Regency Lady will continue in 2007.
Anne Herries

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Christmas Story: part twelve
Twelve Drummers drumming.

If you think I'm afraid of you…' Lord Chadderton began in a harsh tone, but even as he spoke he saw that the militia had arrived.
Faced with inevitable capture, the Panther took to his heels, the militia following close behind.
'Well, that looks as if that is the end of him,' Penstable said with a giggle as shots were fired in the distance. 'Damn my eyes but it is cold out here, dear fellow. I think we should go back to the house and discover how poor Miss Kingston is doing…'

Charlotte recovered from her faint soon after reaching the house. She blushed with embarrassment when she realised that Ryder had carried her all the way back to the house and up the stairs to her room.
'Please, you must think me so stupid…'
'Not at all,' Ryder replied, understanding her embarrassment. 'I shall leave you now for I am sure you will wish to rest before the ball this evening. And there are things I must do…'
Charlotte made no reply for she could not think that Ryder would want anything more to do with her or her family after all the trouble Jack had caused, bringing the militia and causing the Panther to shoot poor Luke and threaten everyone else. Jack was innocent -–but who would believe it? Everyone would wonder if there was not some truth in the accusations made against him. Charlotte believed implicitly in her brother's innocence – but she knew that others might not be so trusting, and that could mean she would find herself less welcome in some of the best houses. Sighing, she turned away to change out of her wet clothes, because it would soon be time to dress for the ball. Ryder had been so gallant and kind to carry her home, but there was no denying that he had been in a hurry to leave – and who could blame him?

Some hours later, Charlotte was dressing for the evening. She had seen the doctor after he visited her brother, and he had told her that he felt there was nothing to worry about. However, she wanted to visit Jack before going down to the ball.
She knocked at Jack's door and was invited to enter, feeling surprised as she saw that he was fully dressed in evening clothes.
'Jack, the doctor told you to rest!'
'I am perfectly well, Charlotte. Please do not worry. Ryder lent me some things and I am determined to join you downstairs.' Jack grinned at her. 'You've made a conquest there, Lottie.'
Charlotte laughed huskily. 'Oh, Jack, you really shouldn't!' He was the only one who called her Lottie and it was so good to have him home. He hadn't fully explained what he had been up to yet, but that could wait for another time. 'I know he quite likes me but…well, I'm not a great heiress or anything so I daresay that is all it is.'
'I doubt if Ryder cares a fig for your fortune,' Jack said. 'If I know anything, the man is besotted.' He raised his brows at her. 'What answer will you give if he asks?'
'I am not sure,' Charlotte said a flush in her cheeks. 'We had better go down, Jack.'
She took his arm until they came to the top of the stairs, and then went down just ahead of him. As they entered the ballroom, she saw that everyone was gathered at the long French windows, which looked out on the front lawn. Charlotte could hear something and, looking out, she saw that some sort of military parade was taking place. First came the eleven pipers and following them came twelve drummers, banging their drums. They marched up and down on the lawn for a few minutes and then came to a halt in front of the ballroom when they all took off their hats and threw them into the air, shouting something.
It was a few minutes before Charlotte realised that they were calling for her brother.
'They seem to want you, Jack.'
Jack hesitated and then went to the windows. The drummers beat a drum roll and then a hush fell as a man stepped out from behind them. Charlotte stared as she saw that it was Ryder.
'Ladies and gentlemen,' he announced. 'I have received news that Lord Waverley has been arrested and charged with the crimes of murder, spying and smuggling.' A cheer went up but Ryder held up his hand for silence. 'Jack Kingston receives most of the credit for the downfall of this traitor and I have been told that he is to be honoured by the Regent, who will join us here tomorrow.'
Cries of 'Well done!' and 'Hurrah for Jack!' were heard on all sides as the drummers marched off across the lawn.
Charlotte moved away from the window. She stood alone for a few minutes as Jack was surrounded by people wanting to congratulate him.
'Why so pensive, Charlotte?'
She jumped as she heard the voice close behind her, turning to look at Ryder, a faint flush in her cheeks.
'Lord Winchester…'
'Will you not call me Ryder, Lottie?'
Charlotte's heart jerked as she saw the expression in his eyes. 'Thank you for what you did for Jack just now. How on earth did you arrange that so swiftly?'
'Prinny was expected here tomorrow,' Ryder said with a shrug. 'But once he knows of Jack's good work he will certainly wish to reward him with some honour.'
'You mean you will ask him to do so, don't you?'
'Well, I may prompt him a little.'
Charlotte's eyes opened wide. 'Why would you do that, Ryder?'
'Surely you know how much you mean to me?' he said huskily.
Charlotte's pulses raced as she looked deep into his eyes. Suddenly, she knew exactly where her heart lay and she smiled at him.
'I…was not sure…'
'I adore you,' Ryder said. 'This is neither the time nor the place to show you how I feel. Tomorrow I shall ask you to be my wife, but for now…will you dance, Lottie?'
Her love was in her eyes as she took his hand. 'The answer to both questions is yes, my dearest Ryder…'
Ryder grinned at her and swept her into the throng of dancers. 'I think you have just given me the best Christmas present that anyone ever gave me, my darling, darling Lottie…'

On the last day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Twelve drummers drumming
Eleven pipers piping
Ten lords a leaping
Nine ladies dancing
Eight maids a milking
Seven swans a swimming
Six geese a laying
Five gold rings
Four calling birds
Three French hens
Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree!
Anne Herries

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Story -Part Eleven- Eleven Pipers Piping

The panther sneered, turned his gun on Luke and pulled the trigger...and Luke dropped, like a corpse, to the floor. In the confusion the Panther stuffed his empty pistol into his pocket and slid backwards to vanish behind the bushes.

Hester's raised hand fell to her side and she swooned into the conveniently waiting arms of The Duke of Eaglesbane. Charlotte, made of sterner stuff, dropped to her knees to attend to the fallen man.
Ryder took command- someone had to- there were far too many lords cluttering up the place. 'Wakeham, Hawksmere -assist Jack into the house- he will freeze to death if we don't get him inside. Eaglesbane carry Miss Hester in.' He gestured at Chaderton and Ravensdeep.' Here- you two- don't stand there gawping - get over to the militia and tell them what's happened. They can apprehend the villain.'
The two lords took to their heels - they recognised the voice of authority.
This still left several lords milling about, getting in the way.
'Ryder, Luke is not badly hurt - the bullet grazed his head and has left him dazed but he is recovering his senses now.'
'Excellent, my dear.' Ryder bent down and offering his gloved hand to Charlotte pulled her to her feet.

'Here, you two, help Luke to his feet and take him to the house.' He froze, as a hideous noise echoed around the park. 'Good God! Someone is skinning a cat!'
Charlotte moved closer, revelling in the warmth of his embrace. The remaining group stared with rounded mouths as the wailing and screeching approached.
Charolotte started to giggle. 'Look, Ryder, i'ts pipers- and there are eleven of them- I remember Lady Heston telling me she had booked a group to play at the ball.'
'Pipers? That's all we need. We already have the militia and if I'm not mistaken there are a disreputable group of riflemen with them. All we need is for the excise men Jack spoke of to arrive and my day will be complete!'

Charlotte shivered violently; they had both forgotten, in the excitement, that her pelisse was soaked from assisting her brother from the lake. 'Charlotte, my dear, you are so pale, are you unwell?'
She tried to answer but his face was wavering strangely and his voice was indistinct and her words remained trapped inside her head as she collapsed into unconsciousness. Ryder swept her up and strode off towards the house.
Lord Chadderton sighed as he slipped his arm through that of his close friend Penstable.

'Oh dear! How many more fainting damsels are we to be witness to?'
Penstable replied.'I am far more interested in the pipers, my dear.'
The two, tulips of the ton, turned to go in when an uncouth voice halted them.
'Not so fast , my lords, you'll make a fine pair of hostages. I ain't giving up so easily....'

Fenella Miller

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas Story part 10 - 10 lords a leaping

Just then they heard a rifle shot, and turning their heads as one they saw a group of militia at the far side of the lake. Before anyone could think what was happening, a shrill cry was heard and there, running through the fast melting snow was Charlotte. Behind her came….

. . . a group of well-born gentlemen.
Despite the terror of the situation, Hester could not help her spirits lifting at the sight of so many English lords leaping to the rescue.
‘Ten of you?’ she gasped.
‘Do you think we really need so many?’ asked Ryder, with the lift of one eyebrow.
‘Where there is a damsel in distress, can there ever be too many?’ asked the foremost lord, Lord Wakeham, his arm resting protectively on Charlotte’s shoulder.
‘You’re wasting your time there,’ said Ryder, eyeing him coldly. ‘The lady already has two suitors whose names begin with a W. There is no room for a third.’
‘Whereas I . . . ‘ said Hester tantalisingly.
‘ . . . whereas you are the most charming young woman I have ever seen,’ said Lord Wakeham, slipping his arm from Charlotte’s shoulder and turning towards her.

‘Put the gun down, Waverley,’ said Lord Hawksmere, his eye on the present danger.
‘Never,’ said the panther, waving it at him menacingly. ‘Get out of here, all of you. This isn’t any of your business.’

‘Oh, but we intend to make it our business,’ said Lord Ravensdeep. ‘True, it may only be a walk-on part – or a leap-in part – in this story, but it could lead to bigger and better things. We could be the hero’s friend in the next story, or maybe the hero himself. My nephew has a particularly charming governess. That’s reason enough to give me my own book.’
‘And I need an heir,’ said Lord Chadderton.
‘Whilst I need an heiress,’ said Lord Penstable.
‘And I am a notorious rake in need of taming,’ said the tallest of the men, pushing Lord Wakeham aside and taking Hester’s hand. ‘I am the Duke of Eaglesbane,’ he said looking deeply into her eyes. ‘But you can call me . . . ‘
Hester felt her lips part.
‘Yes?’ she gasped.
‘. . . Your Grace,’ he said mockingly.
Hester had an urge to slap him, but if she did so, she suspected he would only catch her hand, drag her into his arms and kiss her, so . . . oh!. . . .
She lifted her hand . . .

‘So you see,’ said Lord Ravensdeep to the Panther. ‘You are outnumbered. And do not think you can fool us into thinking that Jack is a traitor. Luke here infiltrated the smugglers a month ago . . . ‘ A man with laughing blue eyes stepped forward ‘ . . . and he knows everything.’

The panther sneered, turned his gun on Luke and pulled the trigger . . .

Amanda Grange

Come back for part 11 of our Christmas round robin to see what happens next!

A Class for the Beau Monde

I've recently given a class for the English country house for the Beau Monde chapter of the RWA.

What a treat to be able to revisit some of these beautiful places! I did some pieces on how they lived, and the roles of the various servants in the house, and a "typical" day for the master and mistress, if they ever had a "typical" day!

I used to live near Chatsworth, and although the house is completely stunning, I was never entirely convinced it could be a home. But they managed it, and although they didn't use the grandest rooms every day, they had some lovely drawing rooms and parlours where they did live. People had their own suites, and if they wished, they never had to leave them, except for great occasions.

Such as Christmas. In the English country house, the Christmas period was marked by a lot of churchgoing and revelry. The church, denuded for Advent, would be decorated for the twelve days of Christmas, with evergreen boughs and the church regalia, the vessels used in communion and the cleric's clothes, would be similarly festive. The austere Advent clothes replaced by the colours of Christmas.

At the Big House, there might be a tenant's ball, where the master would have a ball for his tenants, and maybe revive the old custom of Saturnalia, where masters waited on servants, instead of the other way around. The servants would receive gifts on Boxing Day, December 26th, usually of something useful, like a length of cloth to make a serviceable gown from.

After January 6th, all the decorations came down and the family settled in to wait out the rest of the cold winter. With no central heating, I'd be tempted to live next to the fire, if I lived then!

Lynne Connolly w/a Lynne Martin

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Story Part 9 - Nine Ladies Dancing

Episode nine: Nine Ladies Dancing.

Charlotte stared up at the Panther, a feeling of humiliation mixed with anger sweeping through her. As he stood over her, offering his hand to help her rise, she pushed it away, struggling to her feet.
'I prefer to help myself,' she said, mustering what dignity she could as she turned away.
'What is wrong with you?' Lord Waverley took hold of her arm, forcing her to look at him. 'Why were you in such a panic?'
'Do you think I would tell you?' she replied coldly. 'I was looking for Lord Winchester. I can trust him!'

The Panther watched as she walked off her back straight and her head high. His eyes narrowed in suspicion as he wondered what had made her change towards him so suddenly. She had seemed to like him, but now it was clear that she could not even bear him to touch her! Some inner instinct told him that it could not be only that he had been dallying with the milkmaid. His keen mind worked quickly – Had that damned brother of hers managed to contact her?
It was his hope that Jack Kingston would be fool enough to come here that had made the Panther accept the invitation to what was by his standards a deadly dull affair. He was a man who lived on the edge of danger, his nefarious affairs ranging from smuggling to spying and…murder. He had thought that his efforts to inform on Jack as the leader of the smuggling gang, which he actually ran himself would get the fool off his back, but now it seemed that Jack had escaped the Revenue men and come here for help.

He felt a surge of anger that his plans had gone awry. He had long been working for the French government as a spy, paid in the French gold that helped to fund his lavish lifestyle. When he'd discovered that Jack was close to discovering his secrets, he had betrayed the men he had used as cover for his smuggling activities. Twenty men were now languishing in prison, and most of them would hang for the crimes he had committed…for he was their leader. They were but simple men of Devon, who had been swayed by his persuasive tongue into taking up the smuggling as a cover for the French agents that came and went. Without him they were lost, but not one of them knew his real name. Only one man knew that – Jack Kingston.
He must find some way to destroy the man. If Jack could somehow prove that he was not the leader of the smugglers it would be disastrous, for Kingston must realise who had set the Revenue men on him. The Panther knew that he must follow Miss Kingston, for she would lead him to his quarry, and then he would decide what to do for the best…he would not be safe until that fool Kingston was dead.

He began to follow after Charlotte as she walked swiftly away from him, stepping behind a tree as he saw that she had met with Lord Winchester. From the look on their faces, it was obvious that Winchester was horrified and had agreed to help her. Waverley stood for a moment in contemplation.
Winchester's involvement changed things. If he were seen his chance to murder Jack would be gone, and he would be unmasked as the rogue he was. His gaze flicked towards the house for a moment. The ladies seemed to be practising for the ball that night and through the long windows he could see several of them dancing. With one part of his mind, he noted that there were nine of them twirling and laughing, and the normality of it was in stark contrast to what was happening here. The Panther knew that his whole future lay in the balance, for Winchester was a magistrate and close to the Regent. If he believed Jack's tale, he would lose no time in setting the Runners on him! And he knew that he would hang as a spy and a murderer.

He must decide what to do quickly. He could cut and run now, take the first ship he could find to France or…

Unaware of the thoughts going through the Panther's mind, Ryder stared at Charlotte in concern as she spilled out her tale.
'If Jack fell into that icy water he could catch his death of cold,' he said. 'You must go up to the house, Charlotte. Rouse all the gentlemen you can find without upsetting the ladies and bring them to the boathouse.'
Charlotte sped off at once to do his bidding, and Ryder hurried down to the boathouse. He did not want anything to happen to Charlotte's brother, because he had every intention of asking her to be his wife. This was his chance to prove to her that he was a man of influence. As a magistrate, and well connected in royal circles, he would leave no stone unturned in the fight to save Jack's reputation and his life!
As he approached the boathouse, he saw Jack coming out of it, Hester supporting him as he swayed unsteadily. He went up to them, with a cry of relief.
'Charlotte feared you were badly hurt, Jack,' he said. 'Come, my dear fellow, take my coat. We must get you home in the warm.'
Ryder took off his coat, putting it around the other man's shoulders. As he did so he heard an ominous click behind him and whirled round, staring in disbelief as he saw that the Panther stood there, a pistol in his hand – and that pistol was pointing straight at Jack's heart.

'What do you think you are doing, Waverley?' he demanded. 'Put that stupid thing down and get out of the way.'
'I am arresting Jack Kingston for spying, smuggling and murder,' the Panther said. 'If he tries to escape I shall shoot…'
'Over my dead body,' Ryder retorted, standing in front of Jack. 'You may kill me before you take him!'
'And me,' Hester cried, surprising them all.

Just then they heard a rifle shot, and turning their heads as one they saw a group of militia at the far side of the lake. Before anyone could think what was happening, a shrill cry was heard and there, running through the fast melting snow was Charlotte. Behind her came….

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Happy Christmas

These delightful moving graphics were from yulelovit.

We hope you are enjoying our story. I just wanted to tell you that there are now four of our trailers up at Youtube. If you click here, you can watch all of them by clicking on See more of this user. They are fun to watch and tell you more about our authors. The list will grow as I gradually add trailers for individual writers.

Anne Herries

Friday, December 15, 2006


At last my first Regency for My Weekly Story Collection has been published. I'm not too keen on the cover as I think that it's rather dark.
I had to rummage about in the shelves to find any copies - they were shoved behind a pile of magazines. I moved them all to a prominent position at the front of the display - as one does!!
It's so long since I sold this book to MWSC that I'm going to have to read it myself-I had forgetten that the heroine was called Amelia.
But this was written in January 2005 and I've written and sold six more since then so perhaps I have an excuse.
I wish everyone a Happy and Peaceful Christmas.

Fenella Miller

Part Eight of the Christmas Story - Eight Maids a Milking

Charlotte's anxiety was increasing and she was unsure how much longer she could hold on to her unconscious brother. Desperation was lending her increased strength but his sodden clothing was adding to his weight and she simply could not drag his inert form clear of the water. Her only hope now was that someone had heard her scream and would come to her aid.

'Jack, can you hear me?' she cried, shaking his shoulder as she struggled to hold his head above the water, ignoring the protests from her rapidly weakening arms as she did so. 'You must wake up and help me. I cannot ...'

The door burst open and Charlotte's sister Hester, stood before her.
'I was walking in the garden and heard you scream, Charlotte. Are you all right?'
'Hester, thank God! Quick, there is not a moment to loose. Help me!'

Hester, asking no questions for once, knelt beside her sister and grasped Jack's other arm. Between them the girls managed, agonisingly slowly, to pull him to safety.

'He lives!' cried Charlotte in relief as Jack coughed up a quantity of water and blinked his eyes. 'And all thanks to you, Hester. A moment or two more and it would have been too late. He hit his head on a brick pier when he fell into the water and lost consciousness. I could never have pulled him free on my own.'
'Who is he?'
At that moment he moved his head and groaned: as did Hester.
'Jack?' she asked in disbelief. 'What, I ...'
'Hello, Hetty,' he said, convulsing with shivers but still managing to flash his sisters a reassuring grin.
'Quick, Hester,' said Charlotte, taking control again. 'Get some blankets from the boat and see if there is anything I can use to staunch this flow of blood.'
Hester was obviously bursting with curiosity but, surprisingly compliant, did as Charlotte requested.
'You must care for him whilst I run for help,' Charlotte told her sister. 'It is too dangerous for Jack to stay here now. Someone else might have heard my scream.'
'Let me go, Lottie.'
'No, better if I do it. I will keep a weather eye out for the excise men, never fear, Jack.'
'Excise men? Charlotte, what is our brother involved in?'
'I will explain all later. But now I must run to the house and find Lord Winchester.'
'He is not in the house. I saw him heading towards the stables just before you screamed.'
'Better still. No one will see me approach him there. Hester, take my place here, keep Jack's head in your lap and hold that compress on his wound.'
'Take care, Lottie,' cautioned Jack, speaking for the first time. 'And make sure to avoid Lord Waverley.'

Charlotte sped towards the stables as quickly as her heavy skirts would permit. Imaginging that she could hear the sound of tramping feet some distance away she felt dizzy with fear on her brother's behalf, praying it was not the excise men coming for him already. She followed fresh footprints in the snow, which led not to the stables but to the barn in which afternoon milking was underway; nine girls attending to the task with quiet efficiency. No, not nine. As she walked the length of the stalls she observed that the ninth stool was empty. There were only eight maids a-milking this afternoon.

Following the sound of a rumbling voice she turned a corner and was confronted by a broad male back. She also discovered the whereabouts of the ninth milk-maid, who was trapped against the wall, smiling saucily up at Ryder. Shocked that he could consider a dalliance with this girl when she had supposed him to be in love with her, but too preoccupied to dwell upon his disturbing lack of constancy, Charlotte cleared her throat and tapped him on the shoulder.
'Forgive the intrusion, Ryder, but I have urgent need of your assistance in the bo ...'

Even before the gentleman turned to face her, Charlotte had realised her mistake. He was clothed in a driving coat of many capes: too many capes for a gentleman of Lord Winchester's ilk. Only a recognised Corinthian could lay claim to such a garment.
'Miss Kingston.' With a sardonic smile playing about his lips Lord Waverley made her an exaggerated bow. 'I am, as always, entirely at your service.'

Fear tingling down her spine as she recalled Jack's dire warnings, Charlotte took an instinctive step backwards. Colliding with a pail of milk she let out a cry of alarm as she tumbled to the ground, landing in a puddle of cream at the panther's approaching feet.

Wendy Soliman

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

url for trailers

These are the urls for the trailers for our books at youtube.

If you'd like direct links you can view them by clicking here and here

Part Seven of the Christmas Story- Seven Swans a Swimming

'Jack, is that you after all this time?
The young man staggered forward his smile white in his gaunt face. 'Lottie- thank God it is you. I have been hiding in the orchard praying that you would come this way and not Hester.'
'Where have you been all these years and why are you so unkempt?' If there was one thing she abhorred it was an untidy gentleman.
'I am working for the Government but things have not gone according to plan and I am pursued by excise men. You have to hide me until the danger is past.'
Charlotte was tempted to refuse – were there not several formidable gentlemen staying at Henley Court who could take charge of this extraordinary matter far better than she?
'Oh, very well. I suppose you can secrete yourself in the boathouse- no one goes there in the winter.' She stepped forward offering her arm to support her brother.
'Thank you, Lottie, I can manage. I am exhausted from running the ten miles from the coast, but I am not incapable. Who is staying at Henley Court this year?' His voice was little more than a whisper and she noticed that he was constantly looking round to check they were not being followed.
She rather thought she was beginning to enjoy the adventure; it reminded her of the games of hide and go seek they had all played as children. 'Lord Winchester and Lord Waverley….'
'Devil take it! That villain- on no account speak to him about my presence. Winchester is a good fellow- ask him to come down here.'
Charlotte pointed to the long, low, brick building standing bedecked in snow by the frozen lake. 'Here we are, sit on the steps whilst I retrieve the key. It is always secreted behind a loose brick by the door.'
She gathered up her pelisse and skirt hem before attempting to descend the slippery stones. In seconds she had the key and the door was unlocked. Jack joined her and together they pushed open the wooden doors. She shivered. It was dark and cold inside and the water, slapping gently against the punt moored by the door, looked uninviting.
'Will this do, Jack? There are rugs and cushions in the boat and I am certain there is a tinderbox and lantern somewhere on board as well.'
'It is perfect, Lottie. I shall hole up here quite comfortably until the danger is past. But, I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to keep my visit here a secret. Absolute silence is essential.'
'I understand. Shall I ask Winchester to bring you down some food and wine when he comes?' She was stepping aside to allow him to climb in to the punt when she saw something move at the far end of the boat house. They were not alone in the darkness. Ghostly shapes were approaching rapidly. In her terror she forgot the necessity for silence and screamed, so startling her brother that he shot backwards, falling into the water to be attacked by the seven swans a swimming….

Fenella Miller

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas Story Part 6 - Six Geese A-Laying

Charlotte wandered through the house, a cloud of despondency settling around her. The news that the gentlemen had to arm themselves with a gold ring before they could invite anyone to dance was serious enough, but the thought that her suitors would both need five rings was disastrous – how would they ever find so many rings? Charlotte's anxiety for her brother Jack was an ever present sorrow, but she had hoped that the Christmas Ball would allow her to forget her troubles at least for a little while.
'You are supposing the gentlemen will have to find these rings on their own,' said Lady Armstrong, when Charlotte voiced her fears. 'There is no reason why they should not have a little help.'
Charlotte felt her spirits lift. Of course, she would go to the garden and look for the rings herself – whether she gave them to Lord Winchester or Lord Waverley was still a matter of debate, but she could make that decision later.

'A little hint,' continued Lady Armstrong, 'Remember that Lady Henley considers the orchard as part of her garden.'
Having thanked Lady Armstrong, Charlotte went off to collect her wrap, a mood of optimism replacing her previous gloom. When she reached the terrace she met Miss Brady.

'Oh my dear, do not go outside without an escort,' cried the old lady, clutching at Charlotte's arm. 'Beware the French soldiers.'
'Miss Brady, there is nothing to fear,' Charlotte assured her. 'We have searched the grounds, there are no soldiers here.'
'But the French hens….' 'Not hens' said Charlotte, 'Geese. Do you not remember? Lord Henley keeps geese in his orchard. We really must get you some new spectacles. Come along, I will show you again.' Miss Kingston led her old friend to the formal garden, where several gentlemen were wandering up and down, kicking away the snow from the paths, and on through the gate to the orchard. 'There you are – six geese a-laying.'

Even as the words left her mouth Charlotte's heart did a little skip, for the geese had disturbed the snow and exposed a number of gleaming rings. Miss Brady wandered away, muttering to herself and Charlotte began to gather up the little bands of gold. Within minutes she had sufficient for both Ryder and Lord Waverley. Clutching the rings in her hand she gave a little twirl, thinking of the glittering evening to come. She at least need have no shortage of partners! She danced between the trees but came to a sudden stop, her heart beating wildly as she recognised the dishevilled figure standing by the orchard wall.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Historical Holiday Traditions

If you enjoy discussing historical holiday traditions please join me this week on the eHarlequin site at to chat about everything from Christmas recipes to festive bell ringing!

Now back to the story! Can't wait for the next episode...


Sunday, December 10, 2006


A snowball fight! Lord Winchester cursed silently as he followed Lady Armstrong out of the house, yet a moment's reflection made him realize that perhaps the cold air was just what he needed to clear his head. The Kingston chit was damnably attractive, and he had come perilously close to a proposal.
'You see Lord Winchester,' Lady Armstrong was saying as she led him to the garden, 'I have persuaded another gentleman to join in.'
Ryder spotted Lord Waverley was prowling over the terrace like a big cat, a panther indeed! From the windows several of the ladies were watching, including Miss Kingston, and once the two most fashionable of Lord and Lady Henley's guests showed that they were willing to indulge in a little frosty sport, the other gentlemen came out to join them. The snow was crisp underfoot, and soon they were all engaged in a battle royal, with snowballs flying thick and fast through the frosty air. Ryder found that his main target was Lord Waverley, who responded with a will. While the shouts and laughter of the others echoed around them, the two lords pelted each other with a ferocity that belied the festive scene. Each ball of snow that found its target intensified their animosity. At last Lady Henley called them all indoors to refresh themselves with mulled ale. Ryder followed Waverley to the door, muttering under his breath.
Lord Waverley stopped and turned, his cat-like green eyes narrowing in suspicion.
'What was that you said?'
'If our hostess had not called a halt I should have had you begging for mercy,' repeated Ryder, brushing snow from his sleeve.
'Are you calling me a coward, sir?' hissed Waverley.
Ryder pulled himself upright, anger overcoming his natural caution.
'I suppose I am.'
'By heaven you will answer to me for that!' snarled the Panther, 'I-'
'Oh stop!' Charlotte ran onto the terrace, her eyes dark with alarm. 'I saw you from the window, you look so serious! Pray do not fight, sirs, I could not bear it.'
Lord Waverley turned to her.
'Miss Kingston, I would do nothing that would cause you distress,' he purred, 'but I think you must be aware that you are the cause of our rivalry. You could end it, you know.'
She looked up at him with those blue, blue eyes.
'I, I could?'
'Why, yes. All you have to do it to say which one of use holds your affections.'
Charlotte blushed. What should she say? It was very flattering to have gentlemen fighting over one, but how could she decide, when she was unsure of her own heart?'
'I, I....'
Miss Kingston ... Charlotte,' Ryder came forward and possessed himself of her hands. 'Remembering our earlier conversation, am I wrong to think that you favour me?'
She pulled herself free.
'I need a little time,' she managed to say.
She peeped up at the two gentlemen from under her lashes. Ryder was so tall and handsome, but then again, Lord Waverley moved with the sort of power and grace that set her pulses tingling.
'Perhaps you can give us your answer at the ball tomorrow,' suggested Lord Waverley.
It was Ryder's turn to snarl. Everyone knew that Waverley was a deuced good dancer: how was he to compete? Before he could voice his objection, Lady Henley appeared.
'My lords, what are you about, to be keeping Miss Kingston out here in the cold? Charlotte my dear, that gown is far too flimsy for out of doors: go in and warm yourself by the fire.' As Charlotte hurried away, Lady Henley cast a shrewd glance at the two gentlemen. 'No doubt you will both want to dance with Miss Kingston at the Christmas Ball tomorrow night. Perhaps you are not aware of the tradition here at Henley Court: at Christmas the dances can only be reserved by gentlemen presenting the partner of their choice with a gold ring. We hide a number of rings in the garden, you know, and the gentlemen must seek them out.'
Lord Winchester smiled.
'That is no obstacle,' he murmured, 'I have already found such a ring, when I was, ah, indisposed near the pear tree.'
Lady Henley's smile grew even wider.
'That is very fortunate, my lord, but as hostess it is my duty to tell you that there are four other young ladies with a prior claim upon your attention, so you see, to dance with Miss Kingston you will require five gold rings...'

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Great Cover Debate

I'm interrupting The Twelve Days of Christmas to bring you the great cover debate!

I've just received the new cover for the trade paperback of Darcy's Diary (now called Mr Darcy's Diary) and debate is raging as to which is the best cover, the hardback (left) or paperback (right).

Let me know which you prefer!

The trade paperback is now available to order from Amazon US (release date February 2007) by clicking here

It's available to pre-order from Amazon UK (release date March 2007) by clicking here

Amanda Grange

Friday, December 08, 2006

Christmas story part 4

Happy Christmas to you all. I hope you are enjoying our story Anne Herries (part four)

Christmas Story part four: four calling birds
'I fear I must say goodnight,' Charlotte said and fled back to the house, laughing inside.
Ryder stared after her for a moment and then smiled wryly. He had never been known for his patience and she was such a delicate, beautiful creature. He must not rush her.

It had been such a magical evening, with Lord Waverly and Lord Winchester vying for her favours! Charlotte had lain restless for some hours before she could sleep, but now it was morning again. She stood at the library window looking out at the enchanting scene. Snow had been falling steadily overnight; pristine and sparkling, it enticed her to open the long windows. She could hear the doves calling from the tall trees at the far end of the lawns, and, as she watched, someone came through them, startling the birds and sending them winging into the air. She counted them as they rose effortlessly into the blue sky, 'One, two, three, four…'
It dawned on her suddenly that she had just received the fourth gift from the song that she had sung that previous night, when Lord Winchester had been taken so dreadfully ill and then tried to conceal it from her. She smiled a little wistfully, because there was something she wanted so very much, but she did not see how it would ever be hers.
'What are you doing?'
She turned and saw Ryder standing just behind her, a whimsical expression in his eyes, and her heart raced madly. She was becoming more and more aware that she found him very exciting - but then, she liked Lord Waverly too despite his dreadful reputation.
'I was listening to the calling birds – and four of them just flew from those trees down there.'
Ryder nodded, thinking how perfect she was in every way, her mouth so soft and enticing, her body so tempting. He was aware of an overwhelming desire to make love to her…but then he realised that she was sad and in an instant the pulsing desire in his loins was stilled as he moved towards her.
'What is it – can't you tell me?'
'I was just thinking of Jack…'
'Jack?' Ryder was puzzled for a moment, then recalled hearing a tale somewhere. 'Are you speaking of your brother?'
'Yes…' Charlotte sighed. 'He disappeared when he was sixteen and I was but a year younger. He had taken me riding earlier that day and he kissed my cheek when I went to bed – but in the morning he had gone and I have never seen him since.'
'And you miss him terribly, don't you?'
'Yes,' Charlotte admitted. She smiled up at him then, feeling closer to him at that moment than she ever had. 'I was just wishing…' She shook her head. 'It is foolish to long for something you can never have…'
Ryder was conscious of an overwhelming need to comfort her. He had known that he loved her, wanted her, desired her – but until this moment he had not realised that she was becoming infinitely precious – so precious that if he did not win her, his life would be empty.
He reached out to touch her face with his fingertips, the longing so fierce that he could not resist taking her into his arms, pulling her close so that it was as if their hearts beat as one. His face was soft with desire as he lowered his head, his mouth taking possession of hers in a kiss so sweet that it left them both feeling weak and light headed.
'Ryder…' she breathed. 'I wish…I do wish…'
Ryder smiled down at her but said nothing. He believed he understood what she wanted so much. It was an impossible dream perhaps, because four years had passed since her brother had disappeared, but there was nothing to stop him making inquiries. Meanwhile, there was something he wished to tell her.
'Charlotte, I wanted to ask…'
Behind them the door opened and Lady Armstrong entered. 'Ah there you are Lord Winchester,' she said. 'You are just the gentleman I need. Please come immediately. We are going to organise a snow fight for it seems a pity to waste all this wonderful snow. Several gentlemen are refusing to entertain us, but I am persuaded you will not – and surely you can persuade some of the others?'
Ryder shot a rueful look at Charlotte. 'We shall speak of this later,' he whispered and turned to Lady Armstrong. 'Madam, I am all yours to command. You wish for a snowball fight and you shall have one…'
Charlotte watched as he followed the lady from the room, and then sighed. What had Ryder been about to ask her? Perhaps he would tell her later that evening…

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christmas competition 2006

Win a selection of new books by UK Regency Authors in our Christmas competition!

Entry via Regency Authors UK website.

The lucky winner will win copies of:

Moonlight and Mistletoe by Louise Allen
A Wealthy Widow by Anne Herries
Fateful Deception by Kate Allan
Wicked Intentions by Lynne Connolly (ebook)

Christmas Story part 3

Episode Three

As Charlotte felt the soft touch of Lord Waverley’s coat and the hard muscle underneath, she shivered.
‘Cold?’ he asked, with a wolfish smile.
‘A little,’ said Charlotte, knowing quite well that it was not the cold that had set her quivering.
‘Then I had better keep you warm,’ he said, drawing her arm more closely through his.

The brilliant candlelight beckoned them, but before they could reach the house an elderly woman ran round the corner, waving her arms in alarm.
‘Miss Brady!’ cried Charlotte in astonishment.
‘Oh, Charlotte my dear, it is too dreadful. Oh, Lord Waverley, thank goodness you are here. And Lord Winchester, too. We have been invaded.’
‘What?’ exclaimed Lord Waverley, loosing his hold on Charlotte’s arm.
‘What?’ echoed Ryder.
‘Yes, I have seen them just now, in the yard,’ gabbled Miss Brady.

‘Show me. Where?’ said Lord Winchester.
‘Through here . . . oh my! . . . ‘ said Miss Brady, leading the way into the farmyard. ‘Whatever shall we do?’
Charlotte looked around the yard in surprise.
‘I see nothing but three hens,’ she said.

French hens,’ Miss Brady hissed. ‘And where there are French hens, can French soldiers be far behind?’
‘Assuredly not,’ said Ryder coolly. ‘But never fear. Waverley is just the man to flush them out. He is not known as The Panther for nothing. Miss Kingston, you must not remain here any longer, it is far too dangerous. Allow me to escort you indoors,’ he said, offering her his arm.

Miss Brady pushed her pince-nez further up her nose.
‘Oh, yes, thank you, Lord Winchester, what a good idea. Charlotte, my dear, go with him.’ She turned to Lord Waverley. ‘If you will be so good, my lord, will you just check behind that tree? I am sure I saw a Frenchman lurking there.’

‘We will leave you to it, Waverley,’ said Ryder.
Then, pulling Charlotte’s arm through his, he led her across the frost-bedecked grass. But just as he was about to tell her that her eyes were brighter than the starlit rime . . .

To be continued . . .

Amanda Grange

Monday, December 04, 2006

Christmas story part two

I hope you'll forgive me being a day early. I have an appointment tomorrow, so I'm not sure I'll be available!

“You rushed off so suddenly,” Miss Kingston said. “I was… concerned.” Her brow furrowed. “What are you doing by that pear tree?”

"I - ah - I - " So this was what total humiliation felt like. How could the lady miss what he had just done?

"Mr. - Ryder, are you feeling all right?"

"Quite all right, Miss Kingston. Do let us go in, I'm afraid you'll take a chill in this weather."

She looked at him doubtfully, her heavenly eyes glinting in the moonlight. Had circumstances been different, had he not just disgraced himself, this would have been the perfect time to declare his interest, if not his love. He had no desire to scare her off, not this early in his decision to court her.

"What is going on here?" The strong, masculine voice made Ryder nearly bite his tongue. While Miss Kingston had announced her presence by cracking a few twigs under her feet, one of the other guests here, Lord Waverley, had crept as quietly as the damned panther society called him.

Whimsically called The Panther because of the creatures on his coat-of-arms, Waverley was one of the leaders of society, a Corinthian, his strong, tall body always dressed in the peak of fashion, his dark hair tousled in the latest style.

Ryder disliked him, though he had no idea why. It wasn't jealousy, since Waverley could only occupy one woman at a time, that meant there were plenty left for mere mortals like himself, but something about the man's cold arrogance rubbed him the wrong way. Less a panther, more an irritated moggy.

"Turtle doves is it?" Waverley's blue eyes twinkled in amusement, but as he drew closer he paused to sniff the air. "Is that - no matter. Shall I take you in, Miss Kingston? I fear this weather is far too cold for you to be out without a shawl."

He presented his arm and like a lamb to the slaughter, Miss Kingston took it.

Now Ryder knew. He was jealous, after all.

Lynne Connolly w/a Lynne Martin.

powered by performancing firefox

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Christmas story part 1

UK Regency Authors' Christmas round robin story
Episode One
By Kate Allan

“On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…”

Miss Charlotte Kingston’s voice rang out clear and true. She stood by the pianoforte as her sister Hester played. “… a partridge in a pear tree. On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…”

Ryder Myles, Lord Winchester, found himself regarding the smooth contours of her face, her neck, her shoulders; the way her chest rose and fell as she sang. It was dashed inconvenient being in love, but he’d known it as soon as he’d arrived at Lord and Lady Henley’s three days ago and first set eyes on her. How had he missed spotting her in London he did not know.
At least it was Christmas, a time for some merrymaking, and perhaps a little mischief.

Later, when the gentlemen joined the ladies in the drawing room following supper, Ryder sat down beside her. “Miss Kingston, I must complement you on your fine voice. You had me quite captivated.”

“Thank you, my lord.” She moved an inch away from him and rearranged her dress so that the hem completely covered her ankles and only a peep of slipper showed.

“I invite you to call me by my given name. Ryder.”

“Thank you, m… Ryder.”

“Thank you, Miss Kingston.”

She looked at him directly for the first time. Her eyes were prodigiously blue. Her lips had parted slightly. Well, he was a man, not a monk. No, certainly not a monk.

“You might call me Charlotte.” Her voice was soft.

Ryder coughed. It was hot in the drawing room. Too much coal on the fire. And his valet must have tied his cravat too tightly. It chaffed him. Love! Ah no, he had no belief in real love, true love. That he’d leave to romantics and lady novelists.

“Lord Winchester?… Ryder… are you feeling quite well?” Her eyes had narrowed.

“Overeaten I should think. The stuffed partridge was far too tempting.” He patted his stomach. “Would you excuse me?”

The French doors were, quite sensibly, locked but he found his way outside onto the unlit patio with the help of one of the footmen. He drew in deep breaths. The air was cold enough for snow. Yet the dark sky was full of stars, not clouds. It would not snow tonight.

The cold began to permeate through his clothing as the truth hit him: he really was going to be sick. He ran across the lawns, jumped over the low brick wall and into the welcoming darkness of Lord and Lady Henley’s orchard.

He stopped at the first tree, unable to prevent the inevitable. He drew deep, cold breaths and wiped his mouth with his handkerchief.

The sound of twigs snapping. Footsteps.

Ryder straightened up and turned around.

“You rushed off so suddenly,” Miss Kingston said. “I was… concerned.” Her brow furrowed. “What are you doing by that pear tree?”

*** To be continued... ***

Another UK Regency Author now has 48 hours to write the next installment! Come back on 5th December to read what happens next.

We're going to be doing something a little different this month on the blog - writing a round robin Christmas story. We have no idea where this story will go, so come with us and enjoy the ride!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Christmas in Regency Wiltshire

My novel, Perfidy and Perfection, is set immediately before and after Christmas in the middle of Wiltshire, near the town of Middleton (based on Devizes). Then in January to Eastbourne, Sussex for the delights of sea bathing. Yes, in January because the colder the sea, the more effective, apparently.

I shall post about sea bathing in January, but back to Christmas time in Wiltshire...

An excerpt from Perfidy and Perfection:

Immediately after Christmas, Ben, Lord Hart, goes to visit Sophy Grantchester.

Ben looked up at the squat parsonage, bent and flicked the small gate open, reached the front door in six steps. He raised his knuckles-

The door opened. Ben lowered his hand. She stood there before him, with gold flecks in her eyes that made him blink, and wearing… some brownish material. Well, it was a dress he supposed. And on her head, a frilly white spinster’s mob cap. It was hideous. ‘Miss Grantchester. What a pleasant surprise!’

‘How so? I do live here after all?’ She tucked a loose tendril of hair behind a soft-looking ear. ‘I suppose you are here to see my father? He is out at present. If you wish to wait-’

‘I am relieved to hear he is feeling better, but no.’


It was a very small word but it hung in the air like a travelling show’s largest puppet. Ben watched as her eyes narrowed and then widened. He wondered what she was thinking. If he had been on a doorstep somewhere in Mayfair he could have asked the girl to join him for a spin around Hyde Park on his high perch phaeton. Now that he was on a doorstep of a parsonage in Wiltshire he suddenly had no idea. ‘I’m very bad,’ he said. ‘At planning things, and I also suffer from a lack of imagination. However, there is something I wish to discuss with you. And I brought your books.’

Her face brightened as he handed her the basket he’d been holding behind his back. Ben swallowed. She had not looked so happy to see simply him.

She stared down into the basket and then rifled her slim hand down past the books piled therein. Said, ‘Was there nothing else? No… letters?’

‘Letters? No.’ Ben shook his head. ‘Were they important?’

‘Important? No.’ She turned and placed the basket down in the hallway behind her. ‘You’ll be wanting a cup of tea, I suppose?’

Not particularly, Ben thought. Said ‘Yes, please.’

Then, just as she had half turned and he was in the middle of taking a step forward to follow her into the cottage, he said, ‘Wait! Would you, by any chance, care for a stroll? It is cold, but not so very cold.’

‘Is there a history of insanity in your family?’ Her eyes had most definitely narrowed. ‘Or are you courting me? If the latter, I must certainly obtain my father’s permission.’

‘The very devil! What would you say if I slung you over my shoulder now and to hell with all the rest of it?’

She stared at him. Quite rightly, for he wasn’t entirely joking.

‘Well?’ Ben pressed.

‘I don’t know. I never considered the possibility would come about for a parson’s daughter.’

Kate Allan
More about Perfidy and Perfection