Tuesday, September 30, 2008

All in the name of Research!

A couple of years ago, my sister treated me to a long weekend in Derbyshire. We don't do it very often, but it's always lovely to spend time together on our own. One of the fascinating places we visited was the Red House Stables Working Carriage Museum. It was in the middle of winter and as we were the only people there that afternoon, we were able to really explore the place and completely monopolise one of the lovely staff who told us all about the adventures they'd had working in lots of t.v. and film. I was especially interested to hear that some of the carriages had been used for the 1996 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. I loved the striped interior of the carriage below, which had been left in its original state. Can you just imagine being driven around whilst sitting on pink striped glazed chintz!

Jane Odiwe

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Bittersweet Proposal

I was pleased to see this review of A Bittersweet Proposal, which was forwarded to me by my publishers, Robert Hale.

Harriet Aston's family are poor, and need all the help they can get to make their orchard a success. But since the death of the old Earl of Broadstairs they are worried that the present Earl, the cold hearted Marcus Rothwell, may take their home from them. Marcus is on the prowl for a wife, and while visiting the Astons ends up spending the night with Harriet. Now she is compromised he offers marriage - but she only wants a man who loves her, and whom she loves in return.

Marcus is a tough nut to crack, and a chilly protagonist whose heart is going to need a lot of melting. Hariet makes a competent and engaging heroine, and there are various other things going on as well as romance. The beadle's attentions towards Mrs Aston for example, the sinister steward, a mysterious bequest and murderous attacks on Harriet all add up to an entertaining and nicely balanced romantic tale.

This review was posted by Rachel A Hyde and I'd like to take a look at the site where it was published in order to see what other books are being reviewed. Only problem is, Hale haven't told me where they came across this particular review. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Wendy Soliman

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Women living as Men

I read in the papers last weekend that a movie is to be made about the life of James Miranda Barry, a woman who successfully masqueraded as a man in order to qualify as a medical doctor in the early part of the nineteenth century, and then served as a surgeon in the British army, eventually rising to be the head of the army medical service. Her gender was not discovered until after she had died when, it is reported, she was found to have a perfect female form, but with stretch marks that suggested she had borne a child.

(You can read the report for yourself here. http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2008/sep/21/medicine.mcelhone. The stars are to be Natascha McElhone and James Purefoy.)

The film is not going to be as simple as a story of a brave woman triumphing over male prejudice in a career at which she excels. Apparently it will focus on her time in South Africa where she fell in love. Her lover, Lord Somerset, was initially concerned that he was falling in love with a man and would therefore be guilty of the heinous crime of homosexuality. If they were found together, the punishment could be death. When Barry let him into her secret, he decided that he could follow his heart after all. I find that illogical. (Though perhaps love is never logical?) He might know that their affair was heterosexual, but to anyone who discovered what was going on, it would still appear as a homosexual affair. If they were discovered, the only way to save their skins might have been to reveal that Barry was a woman and thus to ruin her.

The movie will, apparently, allow the male lover to make the heroic sacrifice. In order to protect Barry’s identity as a woman, he will be disgraced. She will go on to make a great career in military medicine. As a man.

I dealt with all these themes in His Cavalry Lady where my heroine, like Barry, has made a long military career serving as a man. My hero also worries about his apparent attraction to another man. Plotting the resolution of their dilemmas was quite a challenge, as you may imagine.

No doubt the film will spawn various fictionalised treatments of women successfully pretending to be men. There’s plenty of material. Barry and Nadezhda Durova, the real-life inspiration for my heroine, were not the only women who served in the military. At least I can say that I’m not climbing on to a post-movie bandwagon. My story is in the shops now. I got there first!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Writer's Block!

There has been discussion on another loop about "mid-book sag". This is the point at which the initial enthusiasm for your characters and plot evaporates and you wonder why you started in the first place. The end is tantalisingly out of reach -- somehow you have to revitalise the story and race for the conclusion.
There are several methods of overcoming this problem. You can either introduce a new character or kill off an old one! Another writer suggested putting the book to one side and starting another, in fact this particular author always has two books on the go at one time. My method is to plough on regardless and then go back and rewrite the bits that don't work on the second draft.
This, however, is rarely a problem for me. Since I started writing full-time four years ago I have completed twenty books, fourteen of which are sold and three under consideration with different publishers at the moment. The book I completed last week was sent to the publisher on Thursday; I then did the final proofs for my next book with Robert Hale, The Ghosts At Neddingfield Hall, which is due out in December.
I had promised myself I would have a break for a week or two before starting my next Regency but couldn't prevent a new set of characters tumbling out on to the page. Book twenty-one is underway, this will be my eighth book this year.
I suppose I have to admit I am an obsessive writer; my explanation is that some people spend all day doing do jigsaws, others knit, or read. My husband devotes hours to mathematical problems of one sort or another, what I do is write. I wonder how many other writers and readers are as compulsive as I am?
Best wishes
Fenella Miller

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Love Is Not Enough

I received copies of my audio book last month, when it came out but couldn't find it on the web. Then, recently, finding it on amazon I discovered that it was either temporarily out of stock or out of print. I am not sure whethere to be pleased that it has sold quickly or disappointed that not enough CDs were made. I should have liked to buy extra copies but the second book Love & War/Anne Herries /Severn House is also being done in audio so perhaps they will do a few more copies of that one?

The third book Forbidden Love comes out in December. Fingers crossed this also gets an audio - and that they all sell!

Trial By Fire came out in early September in ebook. This is a historical timeslip and was fun to write. I have just finished my latest HMB book and now await the final verdict.

I love the cover of the audio, what does everyone else think?
I may have some exciting news soon but it isn't certain yet.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Celebrating Autumn!

Today is the Autumn Equinox, the first official day of autumn. At the weekend I found a book by Mary Russell Mitford, which gives a series of portraits of life in rural England during the Regency and the reigns of George IV and Queen Victoria. I thought I would share some of her writing on autumn.

Mary Russell Mitford was the only child of George Mitford, a descendant of an ancient Northumberland family, and of Mary Russell, an heiress. George Mitford, who was ten years his wife's junior, had been educated for the medical profession and was a graduate of Edinburgh University. He was clever, selfish, unprincipled and extravagant, with a love of gambling, and an unfortunate lack of skill at whist. In his lifetime he squandered about £70,000 and, finally, became entirely dependent upon his daughter's literary earnings.

Mary was a very precocious child who could read before she was three years old. In 1797, she won a prize in the Irish Lottery worth £20,000. The child herself insisted on choosing the number, 2224, because its digits made up the sum of her age. On the strength of this, Dr. Mitford built a fashionable town house on the London Road in Reading before moving to 'Bertram House', a small country estate. Between 1798 and 1802, Mary was at school at 22 Hans Place, London, kept by Mrs. St. Quintin, a French refugee, where Lady Caroline Lamb had been an earlier pupil.

Dr. Mitford's extravagance reduced his family to the utmost poverty and it was necessary for Mary to turn to literature for their means of livelihood. Her series of country sketches, drawn from her own experiences at Three Mile Cross, entitled 'Our Village,' began to appear in 1819 in the 'Lady's Magazine,' a little-known periodical. She did a great deal to boost the circulation of the magazine!

This is her description of autumn and it is a very evocative picture of the countryside in the early nineteenth century.

"A delicious autumnal day... The harvest is nearly over, the fields are deserted, the silence may almost be felt. They are gathering in the apples. The great tree is bending with the weight of its golden-rennets and the children are creeping on hands and knees under the trees, picking up the fruits and depositing them in a great basket on the grass that is already almost full to overflowing with russeting apples... In the big pear-tree the eldest boy shakes the tree with a mighty swing that brings down a pelting shower of stony bergamots... Here and there the bank is wreathed with long patches of hazel overhanging the water and there are nuts on the bough. I doff my shawl, tuck up my flounces, turn my straw bonnet into a basket and begin gathering and scrambling - for manage it how you may, nutting is scrambling work, for those boughs, however tightly you grasp them by the young fragrant twigs and the bright green leaves, will recoil and burst away... A basket of nuts is the universal tribute of country gallantry; Harriet has had at least half a dozen this season."

You can imagine Harriet, the prettiest girl in the village, wondering what on earth to do with so many baskets full of nuts!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Henry Tilney's Diary

As I've mentioned before, when I'm writing the diaries I like to catch something of the hero's personality in the diary entries, so that the tone of the entries in Mr Darcy's Diary is very different to the tone in Edmund Bertram's Diary etc. In Henry Tilney's Diary I'm constantly aware that Henry is an ironic character and so I've tried to reflect this in his diary entries. I'm also aware of the strong elements of novelistic parody running through the book, as Jane Austen constantly pokes affectionate fun at the Gothic novel.

I wanted to have a house party in Henry Tilney's Diary because I wanted to explore the back story, introducing Eleanor's future husband, the man we only learn about right at the end of Northanger Abbey. I also wanted to show some of the family dynamics and to delve deeper into Fredeick's character.

I have had house parties in other novels but I have written them very differently.

In Mr Darcy's Diary I have this:

Monday 15th December

At last, they are here. Bingley and Jane were the first to arrive, bringing with them Caroline and Louisa.
‘Mrs Darcy,’ said Caroline, with an excess of civility. ‘How pleased I am to see you again.’ She smiled as though she and Elizabeth had always been the best of friends, then turned to me. ‘Mr Darcy, how well you look,’ she said. ‘And Georgiana. How you have grown! It must be this Derbyshire air. It is so invigorating.’
Louisa was less vocal but greeted us pleasantly. Mr Hurst merely grunted before retiring to the billiard room. Caroline and Louisa went upstairs, led there by Georgiana, and Elizabeth and I were free to talk to Jane and Bingley.

In Henry Tilney's Diary, the entry about the start of the house party is far more detached. It also plays on the theme of Gothic novels.


And so, the characters are assembled: Eleanor Tilney, heroine; General Tilney, loud and irascible, demanding and domineering, determined to marry his daughter to the highest bidder; Mrs Tilney, soft and sweet; Frederick Tilney, the son and heir, a rake and a wastrel; Henry Tilney, the younger son, an ironic creature with - perhaps - the soul of a romantic; Sir Charles Borson, maybe hero, maybe villain, a man of fortune who seeks to take the heroine off to his castle in the remote reaches of -shire; friends of Frederick Tilney, idle and extravagant; a collection of military gentlemen, friends of general Tilney; and a group of young ladies and gentlemen, friends of Miss and Mr Henry Tilney.

Of course, this is just an early draft. As I'm writing it, I'm constantly asking myself questions, for example:

1) Should I leave it as

And so, the characters are assembled

or should I expand it to:

And so, the scene is set, the characters are assembled.

2) Should I keep it simple with Eleanor Tilney, heroine; or should I expand it, giving her some of the attributes of Gothic heroines, like this:

Eleanor Tilney, sweet and innocent, beloved of everyone who knows her

And if I expand it, do I want to expand it in that way, or do I want something even more over the top - more pointedly Gothic, with a greater element of parody, such as

Eleanor Tilney, friend to small animals in distress, saviour of wilting rose bushes,with a voice like a lark in the glowing dawn of a summer's day

Or should I have something even longer and more over the top?

These are the sort of things that will change a dozen times or more as I write the novel. On some days I'll prefer the simpler option, on other days I'll prefer the more over the top version, and I will probably only decide which to use when the book is nearly ready to send off to the publishers, because then I'll know how much parody is in the rest of the book, so I will know if I need more, or less, here.

Henry Tilney's diary is proving great fun to write. It's a very different writing experience to my other diaries, and it promises to be a very different reading experience.

Amanda Grange

Friday, September 19, 2008

Joined Up Plotting

My latest project, which I’m thrilled about, is a Regency continuity for Mills & Boon consisting of eight books by six authors. I am lucky enough to be writing numbers one and seven and the series will be out in 2010.
My five co-authors are Annie Burrows, Julia Justiss, Margaret McPhee, Christine Merrill and Gayle Wilson, and it has been fascinating getting to know all of them. I had only met one of them briefly and three of us are scattered across the UK and three are in the US, so the opportunities for sitting down and discussing things over a nice cup of tea are limited!
It is too early to be able to give any details, but the overarching plot is full of mystery and scandal and working out all the details to make certain we can run the themes seamlessly through eight very different books is certainly a challenge – my desk is awash with family trees, spreadsheets and timelines.
I would love to know what people’s views are on continuities, either as readers or authors – all hints and tips gratefully received!
Louise Allen

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I love researching a new book. The trouble is that as well as finding out the things I need to know, I also discover other information that has no place in my story but is interesting in its own right. For example, I needed to find a mansion or palace in Paris in 1814 where my characters would live for a few months. I found one, but in doing so I became intrigued by another house on the rue du Faubourg St Honore. Built in the 1720 by the Charost family, it was bought in 1803 by Pauline Borghese, Napoleon's sister, who spent eleven years refurbishing it. After Napoleon had been exiled to Elba she too was forced into exile and put it up for sale. It was bought by the Duke of Wellington who, soon to take up his post as Ambassador, needed a residence and embassy. It is still the British embassy and over the years a fascinating number of people have lived or stayed there. Among them are Madame Recamier, whose father was reputed to have married her to secure her as his heir; Oscar Wilde, composer Franz Liszt who taught music there, and Somerset Maugham who was born in the house. Winston Churchill's parents were married there, and Nancy Mitford featured the house in her novels. There is lots more, but I have to be tough with myself and get back to my story.

Jane Jackson.

Fateful Deception, the comic

As the header of this blog states, we have hardbacks, paperbacks, large print, audio books and even ebooks, but I'm still waiting for the first historical romance graphic novel. I thought I'd try out some comic software I have been looking at for a while (Comic Life) and see what my novel Fateful Deception might look like as a graphic novel.

Here is the opening page:
(c) Kate Allan, 2005-8.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I think every author experiences a thrill when they hold a copy of their latest book for the first time. After more than a dozen books published with Robert Hale I still feel the same excitement when the postman brings me the very first copy, and I was especially delighted with the cover of this one! I had sent the artist some pictures of a young Emma Hamilton to give her some idea of what I was looking for, and I think she has captured my heroine perfectly. I do hope you agree - and although she looks very demure, my Lucasta is perfectly capable of dealing with crooks and scoundrels- and the odd Bow Street Runner - as she strives to reach her happy ending.

Lucasta Symonds did not enjoy her one, short London Season. She hated the Marriage Mart so she is happy to remain at home while her beautiful younger sister Camilla sets out to make an advantageous marriage. Viscount Kennington takes one look at the beautiful Camilla and is immediately smitten. He follows her to London, determined to make her his wife.

However, when events take a turn for the worse and he is accused of a cold-blooded murder, it is not Camilla who comes to his rescue but the less beautiful, much more practical Lucasta…...

Melinda Hammond

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Audio Release

The Loveday Secrets is now available in CD or tape format from Soundings. Seeing our novels in print is always a thrill but to hear an experienced actor reading the story is amazing.

When long lost cousin and ne'er-do-well Tristan Loveday returns to Cornwall, his presence sends shockwaves around the family. Tristan holds the key to more than one secret that could destroy everything the Lovedays hold dear. And he has a deadly score to settle with a member of the family whom he believes betrayed him.

It seems everyone has something to hide - even Adam Loveday's wife Senara. Now a respected member of the community, she fears a shadow from her past could bring about her downfall. Unless he overcomes his demons Adam's twin brother St John risks losing all he owns, and in London Georganna Loveday is hiding a scandalous secret.

As tensions rise and lies are uncovered, the cracks begin to show. And before the summer is over, lives will be irrevocably changed forever.

The Loveday Secrets is also out in hardback.

Kate Tremayne

Monday, September 15, 2008

A New Publication: Mrs Brandon's Invitation

I am really thrilled to be able to tell you that my second novel, Mrs Brandon's Invitation will be published by Sourcebooks next year. It will be coming out in September, which seems such a long time to wait to see it in print, but will fit so perfectly within the time frame of the book, that I will just have to learn to be more patient.
As the title suggests, Mrs Brandon's Invitation is a sequel to Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. The story principally centres around Marianne (nee Dashwood) who has been married to Colonel Brandon for three years and that of her younger sister Margaret, but most of the characters are there with a few new ones. I have so enjoyed writing this one, interweaving the stories of two heroines against the backdrops of Delaford in the Autumn, Lyme and London in winter. It was such fun to write the characters of Mrs Jennings and Lucy Ferrars, along with her sister Anne Steele. Colonel Brandon's sister, husband and son make an appearance at Whitwell and this is where the mischief starts. I am often inspired by a secondary character or mention of one in the original books and I decided to introduce the family. If you remember, Mrs Jennings refers to Colonel Brandon's sister as residing in Avignon at the time of Sense and Sensibility. With her son Henry coming home from university, it was time to bring the Lawrence family back to Whitwell.

Here is a little taster of what is to come.

No one is more delighted by the appearance of an eligible suitor for her sister Margaret Dashwood than Marianne Brandon, until it becomes clear that not only the happiness of the match, but also that of her own marriage are bound and ensnared by the secrets and lies that belong to the past. First attachments, false impressions, resentments and misconceptions, are the elements that conspire to jeopardise the happiness of the Brandon family at Delaford Park, along with the added predicament of Mrs Brandon's first love John Willoughby returning to the neighbourhood.

To learn more about Sourcebooks Inc. please click here

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Secondary Characters

Secondary characters
When you write a book, it’s inevitable that secondary characters emerge. Sometimes they threaten to take over a leading role, and the only way you can get them to behave is to promise them their own story.
But then you have to follow through. I write linked books in small series—trilogies, four books, maybe five. All except for the Richard and Rose books which are very different from anything else I write.  And you find characters, people who jump out of the pages at you.
The latest is Antonia. The second Secrets book, Alluring Secrets, is due out next month, and the hero, Severus, Earl of Swithland, has a sister. Lively, intelligent, she serves as a friend and a foil to the heroine, Penelope. But throughout the book, I had to force Antonia to keep to the background, and now I have a character in search of a hero.
Who should she have? Recently I had to give up on a book, when the heroine I wrote for Corin, the third son of the Triple Countess, didn’t work. The plot was fun, but the hero and heroine together just didn’t work. I put them through their paces and they behaved well enough, but—sigh. They just didn’t work. And if it’s hard for me to keep awake while I’m writing them, sure as sugar it’s going to be a book that dies on the shelves. Apart, they were sparkling, interesting characters. Together, they were something I can only describe as meh.
So I have Corin, and I have Antonia. Will they work? The only way I can find out is to try. But I have the feeling that Corin and Antonia will turn out to be the best of friends—and very little else.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Trilogy Number One Published At Last!

Last Friday, 5th September, His Cavalry Lady, the first of my trilogy, The Aikenhead Honours, was scheduled to be in the shops in the UK. I seem to have been waiting for months for this book to appear. I was so excited, I ended up going round all the shops looking for it, just to make sure it had actually happened. So if you recently saw a woman fingering all the copies of the latest Joanna Maitland, but not actually buying any, it will probably have been me.

For those who missed it, there was an extract in my blog here on 10th August. The story is set in Boulogne, London, and St Petersburg which was then capital of Russia. It's a fabulously beautiful city, as you can see here, especially on one of the rare days when the sun shines.

Some of you may have seen me in a TV spot on BBC WM regional news on 27th August. Sadly, His Cavalry Lady wasn’t mentioned by name, or shown, during the programme. Instead, a voice-over read out part of the back cover blurb while showing sexy covers of M&B Modern novels. Just my luck, eh?

The TV piece — shown around 6.45 pm in the West Midlands region only — was actually more about the Mills & Boon 100th Anniversary than about the individual authors involved (Sara Craven, Carole Mortimer, and me). It registered a degree of surprise that, nowadays, Mills & Boon novels can be quite sexy. That’s progress, in a way, since the received wisdom in the media still tends to be that Mills & Boon novels are about virginal heroines and powerful alpha-male heroes in the style of Barbara Cartland (who never, incidentally, wrote for Mills & Boon).

But all publicity is good publicity, after all, don't you think?



Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Reviews & Book Covers

Recently I received my complimentary copies of Lord Thurston's Challenge. I love the cover, especially the pink tulips along the top. The blurb on the back describes it as a "romantic suspense". I thought I wrote Regency romantic adventures, but will settle for that description!
A Debt of Honour, which came out in March this year, has just received its review in the Historical Novel Society booklet.
"This is another book in the Regency genre, although the only hint as to the era in which it is set is a reference to Constable staying in the area and the fact that the estate in question is in Dedham in Suffolk. It is clearly a romance overlaid with a large slice of melodrama and the final pages lack all credibility for the age in which the tale is set. Romantic novel it may be, but an historical one it definitely is not."
Did this person read the same book as my other reviewers?
Single Titles wrote:
"Supremely enjoyable, wonderfully told absolutely impossible to put down. A Debt of Honour is a wonderful historical romance featuring richly drawn characters, tender romance and nailbiting drama which will keep readers spellbound from first page to the very last!"
Romance Junkies wrote:
"A superbly romantic story with just the right touch of mystery and suspense. I couldn't put the book down until I knew how Eliza and Fletcher were going to solve all the problems they faced. I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a historical romance with a little bit of mystery and intrigue."
Myshelf wrote:
"Ms Miller is one of my favourite Regency authors, balancing the frothy light style with some real drama evoking atmosphere, manners and mores perfectly. Just the thing for Regency readers."
Guess which review is the one that I shall always remember? Why is it that we writers always think the bad reviews must be true and the good ones an exaggeration?
Fenella Miller

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Henry Tilney's Diary - Part 6: beginnings

I've been thinking a lot about beginnings lately as I'm at the beginning of Henry Tilney's Diary. In modern novels writers are often advised to begin the book at a moment of change and I thought about where Jane Austen's novels begin.

Pride and Prejudice - begins when Bingley and Darcy move to the area.
Sense and Sensibility - begins when Mr Dashwood dies.
Persuasion - begins when Wentworth returns to the area after a long absence
Mansfield Park - begins when Fanny arrives at Mansfield Park
Emma - begins with Mrs Weston's marriage
Northanger Abbey - begins with Catherine going to Bath.

In other words, they all start at a moment of change.
This is probably another reason why the books seem so modern and are still enjoyed today.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Shocking Lord Standon

The third of my Those Scandalous Ravenhursts series is out this month with the story of Gareth Morant, Earl of Standon, a most respectable gentleman –up to a point. Saving his childhood friend Lady Maude Templeton from having to marry him – something they both wish to avoid – Gareth sets out to become every father’s nightmare of a son-in-law by setting up a dashing, and very visible mistress. In this extract, Gareth is about to find her –

In sensation novels, the sort governesses are supposed never to read and in fact devour by the shelf full, the beleaguered yet valiant heroine can pick a dungeon lock in seconds as she escapes from the wicked duke’s evil clutches. Her hands shaking, cold sweat standing out all over her, Jessica could only conclude that either wicked dukes employed inferior locksmiths to brothel keepers or the authors of the Minerva Press were sadly misinformed.
After five minutes she stood up in an attempt to relieve her cramped knees. ‘Open, you beastly thing,’ she said, almost weeping with frustration, and fetched the lock a thump with her clenched fist. With a click it did just that.
Jessica was out into the corridor before she could think. Opposite her a shadowy figure moved. She gave a yelp of fear and realised that it was her own reflection in a full length mirror. And she was stark naked.
Behind her the door swung to, the catch snicked closed. She could not go back, that was where they would come for her. Clothes. That was the priority. Like this she had no hope, and she was finding it very hard to think clearly. One of these rooms, surely, must contain something she could wear.
She opened the first door that she came to and peered round the edge. Inside was a big bed and on it a welter of naked flesh. Gasping, Jessica made out six legs, two pairs of buttocks, a glimpse of hairy chest… How many people? Doing what? She shut the door, flattening herself instinctively into the recess. The participants in the orgy had appeared totally preoccupied, but even so, she did not think she had the courage to sneak in and steal clothing while that was going on.
It was ridiculous to feel even more alarmed and fearful than she was already – how much worse could her predicament possibly get? - but that glimpse into carnal matters beyond her comprehension had shocked her out of any delusion that this was a nightmare. There, for real, was what she risked becoming if she could not escape.
Jessica drew in a deep breath and forced herself to plan. To assume the worst was a self-fulfilling prophesy. Her fate was sealed if she panicked. Steadier, she surveyed the corridor in which she found herself. Opposite was the door she had just escaped through, behind her the room with the orgy in progress. On either side were two more doors and then in both directions, the passage turned. More cautious now, she applied an ear to each door in turn and from each came the sounds of gasps and sighs, and from one, the crack of a whip.
Which way to go? Her sense of direction had quite deserted her in the hectic few minutes when she had been bundled out of the carriage and up the stairs. Then, as she hesitated, her arms wrapped around her chilly ribs, the decision was made for her by the sound of a door opening and loud voices from out of sight to her right. Without hesitation Jessica fled around the other corner.
It might have been better, she realised in the second she thudded into a solid wall of male muscle, if she had been looking where she was going and not wildly back over her shoulder.
Her nose was buried in a shirt front, the crisp upper edge of a tailored waistcoat stuck into her chin and her shivering body was pressed against warm superfine and knitted silk. The immovable object stood quite still as the voices behind her grew louder.
Jessica tilted back her head and found she was squinting up past a chin that was already shadowed by an evening beard into amused grey eyes. One dark eyebrow rose. ‘Help,’ she whispered, her voice fled along with her hope. ‘Please help me.’

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

What if...........

Wouldn't it be nice to believe that an unhappy love affair could be resolved in some future life? This was my premise when writing Moonshadows, my new e-book out this week with Samhain Publishing.

I love stories about rakish heroes reformed by the love of a good woman - I've written quite a few myself, but I have always been troubled by "what if". What if my eighteenth century heroine could not disregard her strict upbringing, what if she could never bring herself to admit her love for the hero, and what if my hero and heroine could not find lasting happiness in one lifetime? I decided to explore this, but couldn't bring myself to end the story on an unhappy note, so I decided to give my hero and heroine a second chance, to let them "live again" in another time. So we have Richard, Lord Cordeaux: a typical Georgian rake who is used to getting his own way. He meets his match in Sarah Methven, the quiet, gentle daughter of a preacher. Sarah's strong principles lead her to resist all Richard's attempts to win her, despite her love for him.

It is difficult for many of us today to realise just how important religion was to our ancestors. Even in the "enlightened" eighteenth century, eternal damnation was a real fear for many and Sarah truly believes that Richard is in danger of losing his soul. She is convinced there can be no happy ending for them. By contrast, my modern day heroine, Jez Skelton is a typical career girl. She may not have the religious convictions of her distant relative but she has equally strong notions of what is right and wrong, and there is no place in her ordered life for the devastatingly attractive Piers Cordeaux.

The stories of these two couples are interwoven in Moonshadows. Can there be any sort of happy ending? Well, you'll just have to read it and see!

Melinda Hammond.

PS – there is still time to enter my competition to win an e-copy of Moonshadows!