Caroline Warfield: Lady Charlotte’s Christmas Vigil

This beautiful cover for Caroline Warfield’s 2017 Christmas novella comes with the announcement that the book is available for pre-order from various retailers.

Love is the best medicine and the sweetest things in life are worth the wait, especially at Christmastime in Venice for a stranded English Lady and a dedicated doctor.

About Lady Charlotte’s Christmas Vigil

Lady Charlotte Tyree clings to one dream—to see the splendor of Rome before settling for life as the spinster sister of an earl. But now her feckless brother forces her to wait again, stranded in Venice when he falls ill, halfway to the place of her dreams. She finds the city damp, moldy, and riddled with disease.

As a physician, Salvatore Caresini well knows the danger of putrid fever. He lost his young wife to it, leaving him alone to care for their rambunctious children. He isn’t about to let the lovely English lady risk her life nursing her brother.

But Christmas is coming, that season of miracles, and with it, perhaps, lessons for two lonely people: that love heals the deepest wounds and sometimes the deepest dreams aren’t what we expect. Pre-order it here:



About the Author

Carol Roddy – Author

Traveler, poet, librarian, technology manager—award winning and Amazon best-selling author Caroline Warfield has been many things (even a nun), but above all she is a romantic. Having retired to the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania, she reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures while she nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart. She is enamored of history, owls, and gardens (but not the actual act of gardening). She is also a regular contributor to History Imagined, a blog at the intersection of history and fiction, and (on a much lighter note) The Teatime Tattler, a blog in the shape of a fictional nineteenth century gossip rag.

Her current series, Children of Empire, set in the late Georgian/early Victorian period, focuses on three cousins, driven apart by lies and deceit, who must find their way back from the distant reaches of the empire.

Click here to find out more.

Jude Knight: A Raging Madness (Giveaway)

Our improbable marriages

We Regency writers and readers do make sure our couples marry for love (or at least are in love by the end of the book); after all, ‘romance’ is the name on the box. One of the challenges we face is making a concept so unlikely for the times into something probable, even inevitable. Add the complication of marriage between the classes, as I have several times, and we raise the stakes considerably.

To be fair, people have always married for love, just not so much in the aristocracy or in other families where wealth and inheritance made marriage a matter of uniting families rather than joining husband and wife. With the growth of individualism in Northern Europe and Great Britain, this changed. By Regency times, arranged marriages were largely confined to royalty. However, this didn’t mean people selected their own marriage partners. Families had a huge say, at least in the upper and middle class. For both daughters and sons (particularly daughters), parents were likely to recommend suitors, and to exercise the power of veto.

But even if a young person’s family found the newly fashionable ideal of romantic love desirable, conventions around courtship made choosing a partner a bit of a crapshoot. While marrying for mutual affection was the ideal, the reality for many was a luke-warm attachment where one or both partners sought love elsewhere, however hot their initial attraction.

Marry in haste, repent at leisure

Several factors made a true love much less likely.

First, the available pool was limited: some 300 families in the aristocracy, and perhaps 27,000 in the broader class of gentry. This was further constrained by geography and social stratification. If you were wealthy, or the head of your family was titled, or both, you might attend the Season in London where you would mix exclusively with those like you. If you were from an untitled family or of modest means, your Season would probably consist of local Assemblies, where you would meet local people of your own class.

Second, courtship was constrained by the inability to get to know someone before proposing. The most important asset a gentlewoman had was her reputation, which families protected to the point that a would-be suitor would never be allowed a moment alone the object of his affection. Before he could even begin to court her, he would need to declare his desire to marry to the lady’s father and lady herself. Once the declaration was made, he could not, in all honour, cry off, but must hope that the lady would be kind enough to reject him, if the couple proved to be incompatible.

And that was the third problem. Men might be limited in their choices, but at least they could choose. A woman had to wait to be chosen. Her power was only to accept or reject, not to make a selection of her own.

Fourth, money came into it. A gentleman had few options for making ends meet, if he wanted to keep his social status. Landless younger sons could enter the clergy, the army or navy, or a limited number of other professions, or they could subsist on whatever allowance the head of the family allowed. Lack of money constrained their marital opportunities, and the eighteenth century saw a huge rise in the number of untitled men who never married.

The death toll in the Napoleonic wars further constrained the pool, leaving many woman spinsters.

You cannot marry beneath you!

People were strongly discouraged from ‘marrying down’. A son or daughter who married a middle-class or (heaven forbid) working class person risked being disinherited and even cut off entirely. Even if the family accepted the social descent, the rest of their acquaintances were unlikely to do so.

An aristocratic son taking a merchant wife might survive the social censure and even be received back into social favour, if her wealth was large and her manners good. A wife took her husband’s class, after all. She would need to learn to ignore the sneers and the none-too-subtle remarks about the smell of the shop, but her children would be accepted on the merits of their father.

But a wife took her husband’s class, so a gentlewoman who married a tradesman descended beneath the notice of her friends, family, and the rest of Society. Her children would be middle class, and only great wealth would redeem them and allow them to rise again (by marriage back into their maternal grandparents’ social status).

But all things are possible

For all of that, such marriages happened. Dukes did marry actresses, earls married courtesans, and younger sons married the daughters of carriage makers and mill owners. Indeed, by the Regency period, enterprising people had already begun schools and were writing books to teach the requisite manners to those who wished to rise in Society, and not to have their origins disclosed by using the wrong fork or the wrong form of address.

In my Golden Redepenning series, this generation of Redepennings are the grandchildren of the 6th Earl of Chirbury. Two of the grandsons fall in love with commoners, one in the novella Gingerbread Bride, and one in A Raging Madness, my latest novel. In both cases, the commoners refuse to believe it, and argue against the possibility. They have the support of their father, and the rest of the family is not at all ‘high in the instep’. But they still face challenges.

In each story, I show a little of the reaction of the ton, and this exchange between the two brothers more or less sums it up.

The next day was Monday, and Alex planned to visit Tattersalls to buy at least one carriage and team and keep his eyes open for decent bloodstock.

Rick declared himself keen to join the expedition, and the two set out to walk the couple of miles to the auction premises.

“Should we not take a carriage, Alex? To save your leg?” Rick asked.

“The leg is fine. Walking is good for it, though if I never had to have another carriage ride, I’d be happy. “I’d go everywhere by canal if possible, and when I get to Renwater Grange, there shall I stay for a good long while. If you want to see me, you’ll have to anchor off the Lincolnshire coast and hire an equipage to bring you up into the woods. Unless you want to row miles up the river I’m told the Grange is named for.”

“And will your lady wife be content marooned in the country?”

“Happier even than I, I suspect. She has not much taken to London, Rick.”

Rick snorted. “Nor did mine. But fashionable events and gossip are not the whole of London, Alex. Mary likes the bookshops, the art galleries, and the museums. And visiting friends. And even the balls and soirées can be fun with a husband or a wife to fend off the worst of the wolves and harpies.”

Undoubtedly true. Ella had seen only the least pleasant side of a London visit, and he’d like to show her some of the rest. “We might come up to Town from time to time. But for the moment, we have an estate to examine and to try and put on its feet.”

And here’s my hero arguing the point with my heroine.

“Don’t you see, Alex? I don’t belong in that company. I am still just little Eleanor Brownlie. Granddaughter of a tenant farmer and a country schoolteacher. My father was a charity scholar and only sat at the officers’ table out of courtesy. I reached well above my station to marry a baronet, Alex. I cannot mix comfortably with earls and countesses and goodness alone knows who else.”

“And I dare say Gervase, God rot him, reminded you of that every day of your life. Yes and those pernicious in-laws of yours, too. Ella, you are a most uncommon woman. The most uncommon woman I know and every inch a lady. You can hold your head high in any company. I will not make your choices for you—at least, I will try not to, and you shall correct me if I overstep—but I will not hear any disparagement of you, either. Not even from you.”

For a moment, Alex feared his vehemence would distress Ella still further, but she smiled.

“You have ever been my champion, Alex.”

Have I made it difficult for my heroes? Yes, but not harder than living without the woman they love.

So no apologies. Marrying for love? Of course. A commoner and an aristocrat? Why not.

A Raging Madness

Their marriage is a fiction. Their enemies are all too real.

Ella survived an abusive and philandering husband, in-laws who hate her, and public scorn. But she’s not sure she will survive love. It is too late to guard her heart from the man forced to pretend he has married such a disreputable widow, but at least she will not burden him with feelings he can never return.

Alex understands his supposed wife never wishes to remarry. And if she had chosen to wed, it would not have been to him. He should have wooed her when he was whole, when he could have had her love, not her pity. But it is too late now. She looks at him and sees a broken man. Perhaps she will learn to bear him.

In their masquerade of a marriage, Ella and Alex soon discover they are more well-matched than they expected. But then the couple’s blossoming trust is ripped apart by a malicious enemy. Two lost souls must together face the demons of their past to save their lives and give their love a future.

Jude Knight’s Shop

SmashwordsiBooksBarnes & Noble


Free ecopy of each of the other Redepenning stories to one random commenter: Candle’s Christmas Chair and Gingerbread Bride (novellas) and Farewell to Kindness.

Plus chance to enter Rafflecopter for made-to-order story. Click here for the Rafflecopter.


Fear pierced the fog, and drove Ella across the carriage way and into the shrubbery beyond. The soft rain of the past few days had left branches laden with moisture, and puddles and mud underfoot. Every part of her not covered by the woollen blanket was soon drenched, but the chill kept her awake, kept her from falling back into the false happiness of the dream.

Every stone and twig bruised her feet. Her soft slippers were not made for outside walking, and would be in shreds before she reached the village. At least it was not still raining.

The carriage way turned onto the village road. She kept to the side, ready to hide in the ditch if anyone came. Alone, in her shift, and still dazed from the drug? Being returned to the Braxtons would be the best she could expect from a casual passer-by, and the worst… She shuddered. She had travelled with the army, worked as her father’s assistant, been Gervase Melville’s wife. She knew the worst that could happen to a woman at the mercy of the merciless.

A soft whicker caught her attention. Falcon’s Storm. He was a lighter shape above the hedgerow, stretching his neck to reach his mistress.

“Storm, my sweet, my champion.” She stopped to fuss over him for a minute that stretched into a timeless pause, crooning nonsense about having no treats in her pocket for she lacked a pocket. He lipped at her shoulder and her hair, but showed no offence at being denied the expected lump of carrot or apple.

“I missed you, too,” she assured him. “If only you were old enough, dearest, you would carry me away, would you not?”

He was solidly built for a two-year old, but so was she, for a woman. She walked away with a deep sigh. He was the one thing in the world that was solidly, legally, beyond a doubt hers; her only legacy from the swine she had married, born of her mare, Hawk of May, and Gervase’s charger.

But if she took him, how would she feed him? And if they were hunting for a woman and a colt… No, she could not take him with her, and opening the gate to set him loose was also out of consideration. He would follow her, for sure.

She continued on her way, praying that the Braxtons would leave him to the care of old Jake, the groom, or sell him to someone who appreciated him for the future champion he was.

Storm followed her to the corner of his field, and called after her until she was out of sight. She was hobbling by then. Even though the cold numbed them, her feet shot pain at her from a thousand bruises and cuts.

Then the rain began again. She pulled an edge of the blanket over her head, which kept off the worst of it, but it still sluiced down her cheeks and brow, gathered on her eyebrows, dripped over her eyes, and streamed down either side of her nose.

She passed the first house in Henbury village, keeping to the shadows. Then a row of cottages. The smithy, silent in the dark night. Another row, this one with shops on the street face and living spaces above.

The inn was ahead, the only building showing lights. She paused in the shelter of the last of the cottages, hiding in the doorway while deciding what to do next. Despite the lateness of the hour, people still came and went from the public room; not many, but one would be enough to destroy her escape.

Above, lights showed in two rooms on the second floor. Surely Alex would not climb the stairs that high?

The best rooms were at the back. Alex… She had no idea of his circumstances now, but he was a lord’s son. Gervase had often complained to her about the privileges Alex expected as of right, because he was well born and wealthy. Jealous nonsense, of course. It was Gervase who wanted special treatment while all the other officers suffered with their men. But Alex was grandson to an earl; that was true enough.

She would follow her hunch and hope her confidence was not born of the laudanum.

About the Author

Jude Knight’s writing goal is to transport readers to another time, another place, where they can enjoy adventure and romance, thrill to trials and challenges, uncover secrets and solve mysteries, delight in a happy ending, and return from their virtual holiday refreshed and ready for anything.

She writes historical novels, novellas, and short stories, mostly set in the early 19th Century. She writes strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, villains you’ll love to loathe, and all with a leavening of humour.

Website & BlogFacebookTwitterPinterest

SmashwordsGoodreadsAmazon author page • Email

Patricia Kiyono: Three French Inns

Thank you, Susana, for inviting me back to your lovely blog! I’m so excited about the chance to share my newest Christmas novella, Three French Inns. This is the third book in a series of holiday regencies – The Partridge and the Peartree and Two Tutor Doves are the first two. I’ve had great fun working on these novellas. Several people have asked how I came up with the idea to base a series on a familiar Christmas carol, so I thought I’d explain how this came about.

I never really intended to write a series. The Partridge and the Peartree was my contribution to a call-out for regency novellas set in 1812. I’d never written a regency, but I wanted to try. Originally, the request was for stories to be included in a multi-author series to be titled The Twelve Dukes of Christmas. Having spent many years teaching elementary music, the series title immediately made me think of the words to the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. I wrote a story about Lady Amelia Partridge and Phillip Peartree, Duke of Bartlett.

Happily, the book did quite well, although a few reviewers took me to task for creating events that would not have happened in that time period. So three years later, when I got my rights back, I did a lot of editing and re-released what I hope is a more historically accurate story. And then, the ideas started coming. What would happen after Phillip and Amelia married? I decided that the duke’s valet Robert and Amelia’s maid Jeanne needed their own story, and Two Tutor Doves was written and released last year. Robert and Jeanne’s story provided new problems. Since neither Robert or Jeanne are nobles, they had to speak and behave in different ways than their employers. This second book ended with Jeanne vowing to look for her missing brother, so of course that brother Peter became the hero for the next story, Three French Inns.

Researching this third story was an even greater challenge. Most available information about this time period is about the gentry, specifically English gentry. Most of my characters are French, and they aren’t nobles – so I spent a lot of time searching for the details I needed. Fortunately, I was able to reach out to a few author friends – one is English, and had already done research for a regency era book set in France. Another fabulous resource I stumbled on was a very kind history professor at a nearby university. Between them, I was able to produce what I hope is a believable story.

Will I continue the series? Probably. I have a few ideas simmering for the next book. But I’m quite sure I won’t continue all the way to Twelve Lords a-Leaping!


About Three French Inns

Peter Brown joined His Majesty’s Army in the fight against Napoleon, but when he was wounded, a lovely French woman tended him. She was a recent widow, and they were on opposing sides of the war, so they went their separate ways. But he never forgot his “bel ange” — his beautiful angel.

Caroline Bouchard Duval marched with her husband in Napoleon’s army, eager to leave her sleepy village and see the world. But after being widowed, she returned to her childhood home in the French Alps. When a bloody traveler enters her father’s inn, she recognizes him immediately. Could this man give her another chance to fulfill her dreams?

Amazon • Barnes and Noble • Smashwords • All-Romance ebooks • Kobo


threefrenchinns-500x750-copyOn the long road out of Lyon, her wagon had broken a wheel, and she’d had to walk the rest of the way. Three years of traveling with the army had prepared her well, and she’d trudged along, eating berries and whatever she could find along the way.

She’d been traveling alone and was within a day’s journey to her home when she’d heard a weak cry for help. She’d found him in the bushes. The stranger had been wounded — not badly, but enough that he wasn’t able to walk. A musket ball had pierced his calf and had done a lot of damage, though it had missed the bone. She’d dragged him to a clearing so that she could see well enough to clean the wound, remove the musket ball, and wrap his leg.

She’d found a rusty wheelbarrow and taken him to an abandoned barn, where she’d stayed with him until she was sure he’d recover. For two days they’d talked, told stories, and learned a lot about each other. He’d sympathized about the loss of her husband. She’d expressed sadness that he had no family waiting for him at home.

They hadn’t exchanged family names or any other information. Both of them had known that their meeting was a special moment in time meant to be remembered fondly.

She’d continued on to Ambérieu, back to her life as an innkeeper’s daughter. When her mother died, she’d taken over as cook and maid. But she’d never forgotten the handsome stranger. The man who now lay in her father’s inn.

headshots16-7-copyAbout the Author

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level.

She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures.

website • blog • Facebook • Twitter • Instagram • Pinterest


CL Gaber’s Before the Holidays Giveaway Hop



Hosted by Teaser Addicts Book Blog


We have 20 stops giving you a great chance to win AMAZING PRIZES from some Amazing ‪#‎Authors‬ and ‪#‎Bloggers‬.

Each stop is a NEW chance to WIN something great.

Susana’s Giveaway


A print copy of A Twelfth Night Tale and two lovely ornaments from the UK.

Every stop is different and have different instructions to follow, BE SURE TO READ CAREFULLY SO THAT YOU ARE ENTERED CORRECTLY TO WIN.

✔Read the post below about the Bluestocking Belles’ Holiday Anthology, Holly and Hopeful Hearts and comment on the post. A random commenter will be chosen on December 13th to win the above prize. International participants welcome.

The next stop on the hop is Teaser’s Book Blog.

To enter their prize, jump to the next stop here – Teaser’s Book Blog.



8 novellas – 578 pages – $2.99

$0.99 through December!

Amazon US • Amazon UK • Amazon Australia • Amazon Canada

Smashwords • Kobo • Barnes & Noble • iBooks

A Suitable Husband, by Jude Knight

As the Duchess of Haverford’s companion, Cedrica Grenford is not treated as a poor relation and is encouraged to mingle with Her Grace’s guests. Surely she can find a suitable husband amongst the gentlemen gathered for the duchess’s house party. Above stairs or possibly below.

Valuing Vanessa, by Susana Ellis

Facing a dim future as a spinster under her mother’s thumb, Vanessa Sedgely makes a practical decision to attach an amiable gentleman who will not try to rule her life.

A Kiss for Charity, by Sherry Ewing

Young widow Grace, Lady de Courtenay, has no idea how a close encounter with a rake at a masquerade ball would make her yearn for love again. Can she learn to forgive Lord Nicholas Lacey and set aside their differences to let love into her heart?

Artemis, by Jessica Cale

Actress Charlotte Halfpenny is in trouble. Pregnant, abandoned by her lover, and out of a job, Charlotte faces eviction two weeks before Christmas. When the reclusive Earl of Somerton makes her an outrageous offer, she has no choice but to accept. Could he be the man of her dreams, or is the nightmare just beginning?

The Bluestocking and the Barbarian, by Jude Knight

James must marry to please his grandfather, the duke, and to win social acceptance for himself and his father’s other foreign-born children. But only Lady Sophia Belvoir makes his heart sing, and to win her he must invite himself to spend Christmas at the home of his father’s greatest enemy.

Christmas Kisses, by Nicole Zoltack

Louisa Wycliff, Dowager Countess of Exeter wants only for her darling daughter, Anna, to find a man she can love and marry. Appallingly, Anna has her sights on a scoundrel of a duke who chases after every skirt he sees. Anna truly thinks the dashing duke cares for her, but her mother has her doubts.

An Open Heart, by Caroline Warfield

Esther Baumann longs for a loving husband who will help her create a home where they will teach their children to value the traditions of their people, but she wants a man who is also open to new ideas and happy to make friends outside their narrow circle. Is it so unreasonable to ask for toe curling passion as well?

Dashing Through the Snow, by Amy Rose Bennett

Headstrong bluestocking, Miss Kate Woodville, never thought her Christmas would be spent racing across England with a viscount hell-bent on vengeance. She certainly never expected to find love…

About the Belles

bluestockingbelles_smallThe Bluestocking Belles, the “BellesInBlue”, are seven very different writers united by a love of history and a history of writing about love. From sweet to steamy, from light-hearted fun to dark tortured tales full of angst, from London ballrooms to country cottages to the sultan’s seraglio, one or more of us will have a tale to suit your tastes and mood. Come visit us at and kick up your bluestockinged heels!

Website & Blog (The Teatime Tattler)

FacebookTwitterPinterestAmazon Author Page

The Bluestocking Belles proudly support the Malala Fund charity. You can find out more on our website:

About Amy Rose Bennett

Amy Rose Bennett has always wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. An avid reader with a particular love for historical romance, it seemed only natural to write stories in her favorite genre. She has a passion for creating emotion-packed—and sometimes a little racy—stories set in the Georgian and Regency periods. Of course, her strong-willed heroines and rakish heroes always find their happily ever after.

Website and Blog • Facebook • Twitter • Pinterest

About Jessica Cale

Jessica Cale is the award-winning author of the historical romance series, The Southwark Saga. Originally from Minnesota, she lived in Wales for several years where she earned a BA in History and an MFA in Creative Writing while climbing castles and photographing mines for history magazines. She kidnapped (“married”) her very own British prince (close enough) and is enjoying her happily ever after with him in North Carolina. Visit her history blog at

Website • Facebook • Twitter • Pinterest

About Susana Ellis

Susana has always had stories in her head waiting to come out, especially when she learned to read and her imagination began to soar.

A former teacher, Susana lives in Toledo, Ohio in the summer and Florida in the winter. She is a member of the Central Florida Romance Writers and the Beau Monde chapters of RWA and Maumee Valley Romance Inc.

Website • Facebook • Twitter • Pinterest

About Sherry Ewing

Sherry Ewing picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical and time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time.

Website and Blog • Facebook • Twitter • Pinterest

About Jude Knight

Jude Knight writes stories to transport you to another time, another place, where you can enjoy adventure and romance, thrill to trials and challenges, uncover secrets and solve mysteries, and delight in a happy ending.

A late starter, she now has the wind in her sails and a head full of strong determined heroines, heroes with the sense to appreciate them, and villains you’ll love to loathe.

Website and Blog • Facebook • Twitter • Pinterest

About Caroline Warfield

Traveler, poet, librarian, technology manager—award winning author Caroline Warfield has been many things (even a nun), but above all she is a romantic. Having retired to the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania, she reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows while she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

Website and Blog • Facebook • Twitter • Pinterest

About Nicole Zoltack

Nicole Zoltack loves to write romances. When she’s not writing about gentlemen and their ladies, knights, or superheroes, she spends time with her growing family. She enjoys riding horses (pretending they’re unicorns, of course!) and visiting the PA Renaissance Faire. She’ll also read anything she can get her hands on.

Website and Blog • Facebook • Twitter • Pinterest

Christmas Romance Extravaganza

To celebrate the holiday season, I’ve teamed up with more than 150 fantastic romance authors to give away a huge collection of novels, PLUS over $1,000 in prizes!
You can download A Twelfth Night Tale for free, plus books from authors like LUCINDA BRANT and MARY JO PUTNEY.
Enter the giveaway by clicking here:

Christmas Special

The Bluestocking Belles

are offering our latest joint effort, Holly and Hopeful Hearts, for a bargain price of


for all of December. That’s $2 off the normal price!

Amazon US • Amazon UK • Amazon Australia • Amazon Canada

Smashwords • Kobo • Barnes & Noble • iBooks


The Teatime Tattler Companion to

Holly and Hopeful Hearts


Gossip and Scandal from the Teatime Tattler and other places

about the characters in Holly and Hopeful Hearts.

Download in epub • Download in mobi


Laurie Alice Eakes: My Enemy, My Heart

A Silly War

Well, maybe most or all war is silly, and the War of 1812 has to be among the silliest. Tiny little United States, with our 18 naval vessels, not all in commission, declared war on powerful Great Britain, with its 506 naval vessels in commission. Our Army was a joke, and half the country was against the war. Yet President Madison and Congress declared war on our old enemy to prove a point. In other words, England was messing with our sailors and our trade freedom, and we didn’t like it. In two and a half years, we got a treaty with everything we wanted. Why?

That why has fascinated me since I first learned of the war way back in the dark ages. The answer ends up being pretty simple: Money.

The USA didn’t have a Navy to speak of, but we still built great sailing vessels—fast and seaworthy. We also had experienced and tough sailors. This means we ended up with a fleet of independent privateers that took so many British merchantmen prizes, the men in England with the money, the merchants, cried “Uncle” and Great Britain promised to cease impressing our sailors and stopping us from trading with France.

That GB was embroiled with Napoleon didn’t hurt either.

Despite our prowess at sea, our land battles were embarrassing losses, yet we walked away with the Northwest Territory, which includes my home state of Michigan, probably one reason for my fascination with the time period.

But another time period with which I am forever fascinated is the Regency. Hmm. The two time periods coincide, yet one rarely ever hears a mention of fighting Americans from Regency authors. This, too, has piqued my interest and set off the “What if—“ factor. From these “What ifs–?” sprang My Enemy, My Heart.

How could I set the War of 1812 in England, when the war barely touched those hallowed—at least to a Regency reader—shores? More reading and research unearthed a place called Dartmoor Prison set—yes, of course—on Dartmoor in Devonshire.

Built in 1809, the walled enclosure was intended for French prisoners. By 1812, it was crowded with the French captured at sea. Then the new war began, and the British crammed American prisoners into the damp, cold, and filthy quarters. These were barracks-like structures and prison yards, plus a marketplace.

A What?

Yes, prisoners could buy and sell goods in a yard, where the public came and went to buy and sell.

Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me, thinking from the point of view of a British guard. And it was. Prisoners escaped fairly often.

Onto an island.

Getting off that island could prove rather difficult. If he was French, he gave himself away the minute he opened his mouth. By 1812, the same went for most Americans, who had been separated from England long enough to be forming very distinct accents.

But my heroine, raised on an American merchantman that is captured, insists she will free her crew from Dartmoor and get them to safety in France. The problem is, she has married an Englishman for her protection, and freeing her crew is treason. Yet they are her family. And so are the parents and sisters of her husband, not to mention how she is beginning to feel about him.

Writing about war is not fun, heart-wrenching, and exciting because of bloody battles, but because of the people and human nature. How far do we take loyalty? Is an American truly doing something wrong to free Americans from her country of origin just because she is married to an Englishman? Yet that Englishman took a great risk with his family to marry her and rescue her from a bad situation, so does she not owe him loyalty?

We often think of war as good guys and bad guys, and often this is true; however, sometimes the lines of demarcation blur. Exploring these harder to define areas and making everything come out happily ever after in the end is the absolutely most fun about writing novels.

Thank you for reading this post. I would love your feedback. I’m not doing a traditional give-away, but have a little gift for anyone who will send me a land address through the contact form on my web site. Below is a snippet of my book. You can read the first chapter on my web site as well.

About My Enemy, My Heart


The sea has always been Deirdre MacKenzie’s home, and the crew of her father’s Baltimore clipper is the only family she loves. She’s happier wearing breeches and climbing the rigging of the Maid of Alexandria than donning a dress and learning to curtsey. But, when the War of 1812 erupts, the ship is captured by a British privateer . With her father, the captain, dead, Deirdre sees her crew herded into the hold as prisoners-of-war. Their fate is the notorious Dartmoor prison in England. Her fate as a noncombatant prisoner is uncertain, but the one thing she knows—she must find a way to free her crew.

Kieran Ashford has caused his family one too many scandals. On his way to exile in America, he is waylaid by the declaration of war and a chance to turn privateer and make his own fortune. But he regrets his actions as soon as the rich prize is secured. Kieran figures his best chance at redeeming himself in the eyes of his family is to offer Deidre the protection of his name in marriage. He has no idea that secrets from his parents’ past and Deirdre’s determination to free her crew are on a disastrous collision course.

Love and loyalty clash, as Kieran begins to win Deirdre’s heart despite her plot to betray him and his family. While Kieran works to mend the relationship with his family, he begins to love his bride in spite of what lies between them.



From My Enemy, My Heart Chapter 12

England was cold. It was wet. It reeked of too many men packed in dark, dank quarters upon the half-dozen naval vessels anchored in Plymouth Harbor along with countless brigs, schooners, and single-masted pinnaces. Garbage floated on the murky water around which bung boats steered, selling wares ranging from fresh vegetables to doxies.

Though her only coat proved inadequate to the damp chill permeating to her bone marrow, Deirdre stood amidships in the tumbling rain and watched yet one more kind of boat draw away from the Maid of Alexandria—longboats. Rowed by men in the tarred hats, striped shirts, and white duck trousers of British sailors, the two craft carried her crew toward shore, toward prison.

Tears blending with the rain, icy on her face, she waved until the boats vanished around the looming hull of a seventy-four-gun ship-of-the-line. They couldn’t wave back. Their hands and feet were shackled. Neither did they look at her.

Not one of them had looked at her in the six weeks since she had gone ashore with Kieran Ashford at St. George’s and returned two days later with his ring on her finger. She had tried to talk to Ross once.

“I did it for your sakes.” She had pleaded for Ross’s understanding.

Ross spat into the sea. “You’re lying with the enemy.”

“I’m his wife. He has a right to me.”

“And you look like you hate every minute of it.” He had walked away from her without a glance back.

With that, and with every head turned away from her, her heart had torn and her resolve to free them had hardened. All but two of them had given up their chance to escape there on Bermuda in order to rescue her and Kieran from the harbor waters. They had saved her and Kieran’s lives. Freeing them was the least she could do. Once she was settled, once she knew the lay of the land, she would get her men out of prison if it killed her. If the English didn’t hang her for treason, now that she was wed to one of their own, her conscience might.

About the Author

alice-photo“Eakes has a charming way of making her novels come to life without being over the top,” writes Romantic times of bestselling, award-winning author Laurie Alice Eakes. Since she lay in bed as a child telling herself stories, she has fulfilled her dream of becoming a published author, with more than two dozen books in print and several award wins and nominations to her credit, including winning the National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency and being chosen as a 2016 RITA®

She has recently relocated to a cold climate because she is weird enough to like snow and icy lake water. When she isn’t basking in the glory of being cold, she likes to read, visit museums, and take long walks, preferably with her husband, though the cats make her feel guilty every time she leaves the house.


Cheryl Bolen: Ex-Spinster By Christmas (House of Haverstock, Book 4)

Interview with Cheryl Bolen

Susana: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Cheryl Bolen copyCheryl: When the nun who was my third grade teacher explained about paragraphs and asked us to make up one, I thought, “Wow! This is something I love to do!” I was one of those kids who spelled well and absorbed grammar and punctuation rules like some women collect shoes. Therefore, when I went to college, I decided to major in journalism so I could be paid for writing. (Until the Great Digital Disruption, it wasn’t easy to make it as a novelist in New York publishing.) I did major in journalism, with a double major in English. Then I got a master’s in education in case I ever wanted to teach. I worked for two decades as a journalist, and I also taught English for six years.

Susana: Tell us about getting The Call.

Cheryl: Sadly, I wrote seven complete novels before I got The Call 19 years ago from an editor at Harlequin Historical. I started in romantic suspense and won a lot of contests but never got a contract. Then I wrote a sweeping World War II love story which won even more contests but did not sell. It did, though, sort of get me in the back door at Harlequin because the editor judging the top three manuscripts in a contest in which it placed liked my writing and said if I wrote something that took place before 1900, she’d like to see it. The only historical genre I knew was Georgette Heyer. I’d read every one of her books; so, I sat down and began A Duke Deceived, entered the beginning in a few contests to see if it was good, and it placed in every contest I entered.  So I sent the first three chapters to that Harlequin editor, and she asked to see the complete manuscript. I sent it in and waited five months before I got The Call.

I was working as news editor of our community newspaper and came home for lunch, flipped on my answering machine, and there was a message to call the editor at Harlequin. I was shaking all over. I called my husband’s office to tell him, and he said, “Why in the heck are you calling me? Call her back.” I did, and she said they wanted to buy my book. “How does an advance of $5,000 sound to you?” she asked.  I was thrilled—and still shaking—but tried to calmly say, “That sounds fine.”

Susana: So how many books have you written now?

Cheryl: In August I received a pin from Romance Writers of America for writing 35 books. Since then, I’ve published two novellas. I’ve written for Harlequin, Kensington, Love Inspired Historical, and I’ve written one book for Montlake. It was a lighthearted, romantic contemporary mystery which I envisioned as the first book in the Stately Homes Murders, set in England. I began self-publishing in 2011 and have never been happier—and never made so much money! Of my 37 titles, all but five are Regency-set historicals.

Susana: What’s the heat level of your books?

Cheryl: My first ten years of publishing, I wrote to suit the New York publishers, and they wanted hot. Now that I’m my own boss, most of my books are sensuous with the bedroom door closed.

Susana: What’s next for you?

Cheryl: My next full-length novel will be the story of the third Birmingham brother—at readers’ request. The Birminghams, the richest bankers in England, were introduced in my Brazen Brides series. I haven’t started it and have zero plot ideas. This is a hybrid series, in that the first two (Counterfeit Countess and His Golden Ring) were written for Kensington in 2005, and I’m now continuing the series with my own imprint.


About Ex-Spinster By Christmas

“Delightful author, delightful characters, delightful stories.”—Austintatious

Ever pragmatic, Lady Caroline Ponsby has given up hope she’ll ever receive a proposal of marriage from Christopher Perry, the wealthy man she’s adored for almost two years. She is determined to be an ex-spinster by Christmas. To that end, she has invited a prospective suitor to spend Christmas with her family. She knows very well that Lord Brockton would love to get his hands on her dowry, and she’d love to be a married woman with a home and family of her own.

The very idea of his Lady Caroline throwing herself away on the likes of the vile Lord Brockton rankles Christopher Perry. A pity he cannot offer for her himself, but a duke’s daughter is too far above his touch, given his family’s humble origins. Nevertheless, Christopher attends the Duke of Aldridge’s Christmas house party with the intention of thwarting Lady Caroline’s grave misalliance with Brockton. If only he’s not too late…

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKobo


About Cheryl Bolen

Since being named Notable New Author for 1997, Cheryl Bolen has published more than 35 books with Kensington/Zebra, Harlequin, Love Inspired Historical, Montlake, and independently. She has broken into the top 5 on the New York Times and hit the USA Today bestseller list. Her 2005 One Golden Ring won Best Historical, Holt Medallion, and her 2011 My Lord Wicked was awarded Best Historical in the International Digital Awards, the same year her Christmas novella was chosen as Best Novella. Her books have been finalists for other awards, including the Daphne du Maurier, and have been translated into a dozen languages. She’s also been the number 1 bestselling historical romance author in Germany.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and English from the University of Texas and a master’s degree from the University of Houston. Her favorite pursuits are reading diaries of dead English women, traveling to England, and watching the Texas Longhorns play football and basketball. She and her recently retired professor husband are the parents of two sons. One is an attorney, the other a journalist.


Cover Reveal: Holly and Hopeful Hearts by the Bluestocking Belles


About Holly and Hopeful Hearts

When the Duchess of Haverford sends out invitations to a Yuletide house party and a New Year’s Eve ball at her country estate, Hollystone Hall, those who respond know that Her Grace intends to raise money for her favorite cause and promote whatever marriages she can. Eight assorted heroes and heroines set out with their pocketbooks firmly clutched and hearts in protective custody. Or are they?

A Suitable Husband, by Jude Knight

As the Duchess of Haverford’s companion, Cedrica Grenford is not treated as a poor relation and is encouraged to mingle with Her Grace’s guests. Surely she can find a suitable husband amongst the gentlemen gathered for the duchess’s house party. Above stairs or possibly below.

Valuing Vanessa, by Susana Ellis

Facing a dim future as a spinster under her mother’s thumb, Vanessa Sedgely makes a practical decision to attach an amiable gentleman who will not try to rule her life.

A Kiss for Charity, by Sherry Ewing

Young widow Grace, Lady de Courtenay, has no idea how a close encounter with a rake at a masquerade ball would make her yearn for love again. Can she learn to forgive Lord Nicholas Lacey and set aside their differences to let love into her heart?


Artemis, by Jessica Cale

Actress Charlotte Halfpenny is in trouble. Pregnant, abandoned by her lover, and out of a job, Charlotte faces eviction two weeks before Christmas. When the reclusive Earl of Somerton makes her an outrageous offer, she has no choice but to accept. Could he be the man of her dreams, or is the nightmare just beginning?


The Bluestocking and the Barbarian, by Jude Knight

James must marry to please his grandfather, the duke, and to win social acceptance for himself and his father’s other foreign-born children. But only Lady Sophia Belvoir makes his heart sing, and to win her he must invite himself to spend Christmas at the home of his father’s greatest enemy.


Christmas Kisses, by Nicole Zoltack

Louisa Wycliff, Dowager Countess of Exeter wants only for her darling daughter, Anna, to find a man she can love and marry. Appallingly, Anna has her sights on a scoundrel of a duke who chases after every skirt he sees. Anna truly thinks the dashing duke cares for her, but her mother has her doubts.


An Open Heart, by Caroline Warfield

Esther Baumann longs for a loving husband who will help her create a home where they will teach their children to value the traditions of their people, but she wants a man who is also open to new ideas and happy to make friends outside their narrow circle. Is it so unreasonable to ask for toe curling passion as well?


Dashing Through the Snow, by Amy Rose Bennett

Headstrong bluestocking, Miss Kate Woodville, never thought her Christmas would be spent racing across England with a viscount hell-bent on vengeance. She certainly never expected to find love…


Coming November 8.

Eight original stories, 578 pages of diverse characters,  complex relationships, and happily-ever-afters for $2.99.

Pre-order Now!

Amazon.comAmazon UKAmazon AustraliaAmazon Canada

Kobo Smashwords

Excerpt from Valuing Vanessa

“Are you certain it is not an imposition, Miss Sedgely? Because I shouldn’t mind showing the ladies around myself, in Mrs. Seavers’s absence.”

Vanessa’s chin rose as she directed a firm gaze at the institution’s housekeeper. “I assure you there is no imposition whatsoever, Mrs. Barnes. I shall be pleased to guide the ladies on their tour this morning, as Matron directed.”

Mrs. Barnes flushed. Obviously she considered the task her own prerogative, but Vanessa had not taken the trouble to get the hospital matron out of town just to be foiled by the housekeeper.

“But what about your class, Miss Sedgely? The children do so look forward to them! Why, they will be exceedingly disappointed to miss them today.” She leaned in closer, her eyes gleaming. “I hear that little Willie had prepared a special passage to read for you. He is quite partial to you, you know.”

Vanessa refused to allow herself to be diverted, in spite of the tiny twinge of guilt she felt deep inside. “My maid has agreed to take my classes for today. She has assisted me previously, you know, and thus is well-known to the children.”

She gave a curt nod to the housekeeper, who took it as the dismissal it was meant to be, and walked out of the room.

The Board of Governors were conducting a meeting in a quarter hour’s time, and Vanessa had taken great pains to find a reason to be lingering in the foyer as the gentlemen arrived. It was Mr. George Durand she wished to encounter, of course. During the week since the masquerade at Vauxhall, she had unearthed a great deal of information about the attractive gentleman.

George William Durand was the grandson of a viscount, his late father being the younger son, who had made law his profession. Durand’s cousin William had become the 4th Viscount Faringdon five years ago following his father’s death, and he had four healthy sons to follow him, which meant the title was unlikely to fall to George. George had followed his father into the law profession, although interestingly, he had briefly studied landscape gardening with one of Capability Brown’s former associates. That ended after his marriage, however, when young George set himself to becoming a successful solicitor like his father. His wife, Geneviève d’Aumale, was a French émigrée, the daughter of a comte who had lost his head on the Place de la Concorde at the hands of revolutionaries. She, her sister Juliette, and their mother the comtesse had lost their lives in a carriage accident which had arisen from an attack of highwaymen.

So dreadful. Life was so ephemeral. In a matter of minutes, three ladies’ lives had been snuffed out in such a horrific manner, leaving their husbands to bear the loss as best they could. And their adolescent daughters, of course. Both Durand and Lord Nicholas had daughters, approximately the same age. And perhaps not surprisingly, both had been residing with relatives since the tragedy. Men were notoriously helpless when it came to their maturing daughters. But in retrospect, Vanessa thought it rather pitiable that the girls had effectively lost both parents in that one disastrous moment.

One thing was certain, however. A well-off gentleman with a near-grown daughter was clearly in need of a wife. And Vanessa thought she might suit this one very well indeed.

Christina McKnight: The Thief Steals Her Earl (Giveaway)

Using History to Your Advantage

As a historical writer I am constantly researching interesting topics to include in my novels. This includes anything from obscure French history (Scorned Ever More, A Lady Forsaken Book Three) or rare wind instruments said to have been created by Greek gods (The Thief Steals Her Earl, Craven House Series Book One). My latest hero, Simon Montgomery, the Earl of Cartwright, lives his life according to math, statistics, and science. Due to his uncle’s betrayal, it is safer for Cart to surround himself with facts and historical objects as opposed to anyone who can hurt him again.

In The Thief Steals Her Earl, Cart is a subscriber to Silliman’s Journal, currently known as the American Journal of Science. Professor Benjamin Silliman started the publication in 1818 and focused primarily on the natural sciences and geology. My hero uses the knowledge from an article to explain the natural forces that make it impossible for my heroine and him to stay apart. He believed that there were unseen forces at work, things that modern science could not yet explain, but were there, nonetheless. This research added an entirely new level to the story, deepening my character’s motivations and beliefs.

(More information:


What interesting historical fact did you learn while reading a romance novel?  One commenter will win an e-copy of The Thief Steals Her Heart.

About The Thief Steals Her Earl

The_Thief_Steals_Her_Earl_600x900 copyFollowing the passing of his father and an unforgivable act by a family member ending in near ruin for his family, Simon Montgomery, the new Earl of Cartwright, is forced to return home without finishing his education. However, that doesn’t stop Cart from absorbing every morsel of knowledge he can.

Unfortunately, doing so and applying his every moment to restoring his family’s lost heirlooms while seeing to his sister’s upbringing and attempting to wrangle his mother’s frivolous spending habits has made him somewhat of a recluse, a man unsure of how to live life unless it’s focused around academia, order, and routine. But what happens when Cart is faced with a woman as intelligent as he but far more cunning?

Miss Judith Pengarden has lived her entire life under her eldest sister’s firm yet loving guidance. When she discovers her family is in jeopardy of losing their home, Jude decides to use her skills to help them pay off their unsettled debts. However, when Jude attempts to steal from the wrong house, she finds herself alone, locked in a dank room at the night watchman’s residence, and she vows to stop thinking so spontaneously and risking her family’s name to scandal. Unfortunately, there are some loose ends that need to be tied up before she can. Luckily for her, however, she may have just met the man who can help her family and also steal a piece of her heart.

When Jude meets Lord Cartwright at a London garden party, he seems the perfect man to solve all her problems—a recluse unfamiliar with London Society and studied in antiquities. A lord like none she has met, Jude soon realizes that Cart is more valuable to her than any painting, sculpture, or vase.  But when she’s caught in possession of Cart’s long-lost family heirloom, completely unaware of what it really means, can she convince him that things are far from what they seem? That despite the deceit and subterfuge, her heart is in the right place. With her family…and with him.

AmazoniBooksBarnes & NobleKobo



London, England

March 1818

Miss Judith Pengarden should be anywhere but edging down the darkened halls of Lord Gunther’s London townhouse, the chilled wall pressed to her back. Possibly having a late meal with her siblings or trying her hand at yet another card game her youngest sister insisted she learn. Or even attending the opera house. However, she was, indeed, sneaking through the drafty interior of a home long past needing a complete renovation. It was difficult to understand why her twin sister, Samantha, thought there was anything of value in this long-forgotten, ramshackle house.

In the hour Jude had scoured the musty second floor by candlelight, she’d discovered nothing but molding draperies, neglected family heirlooms, and unpolished wooden furniture. It was impossible to envision someone living within these walls, let alone storing a precious, ancient, and very valuable vase, carelessly placed on an end table.

“Oh, I should have known better than to trust you,” Jude mumbled, cursing her own inability to see past her twin’s many fables. It was more likely Sam hadn’t even met Lord Gunther, nor overheard him boasting about his prized vase.

She searched the all-but-abandoned townhouse with only the current wing left to explore. Making one final turn, Jude looked down the short, dim corridor, knowing this was her last hope of finding what she’d come for; what she’d risked her neck to procure.

Immediately, she noticed that this hall was better kept than the rest of the home; the floors were swept clean, if not polished to shine, the long draperies were held back by finely tied lengths of cord, and a small table sat just to the left of a set of double doors.

Jude had found the lord’s private chambers.


She grasped her long skirt in her hand and sprinted to the end of the hall, pausing before the table.

Nestled securely on it was what she’d risked all to find; its porcelain surface recently wiped clean, removing any dust that may have gathered to dull its fine colors and artfully crafted exterior.

Her breath left her as she admired the piece’s eternal beauty—only overshadowed by its worth.

It became increasingly difficult to draw air in as she lifted her fingers and gently touched the vase, feeling the slight ripples of the artist’s brushstrokes as he—or she—used delicate hands to paint the piece. Or so she imagined.

The thought of taking the artifact in her hands and descending the flight of stairs to scurry to her carriage, which was waiting several houses down the street and around the corner, terrified her.

Not that she—and Sam—hadn’t planned this ruse carefully, but never had Jude imagined herself breaking into another’s home to steal something of great import. Once she held the vase, removed it from Lord Gunther’s home, and traded it for enough pounds to settle her family’s debts and feed all of Craven House’s occupants for many years, a weight would be added to her shoulders. A line would be crossed and it wouldn’t be easy to step back over.

Jude pulled her hand back as if the vase had burned her.

Maybe she could tell Sam that she hadn’t found the piece, convince her it likely never existed, that their plan had been flawed from the start and they’d find another way to help their family. But she knew their options were limited and their time quickly running out.

Jude shook her head, casting out any lingering doubts. Her family needed help, and if she and Sam could provide their eldest sister with a fraction of financial security, then they owed her that.

And that safeguard, the answer to Craven House’s dilemma, sat before her—waiting to be taken…all but calling to Jude to remove it from this dusty, dilapidated house and transport it to a new owner who would worship its delicacy as was deserving.

The vase was practically begging her to take hold and liberate it from its cruel circumstances.

The intricately crafted piece belonged in a museum; a place where the public could admire its beauty and historical worth, not hidden away in this dusty old house.

That Jude would also gain something from the transaction was a bonus she could live with.

Not one to turn down the opportunity to give something a freedom formerly denied, Jude grabbed the vase, surprised at its weightlessness in her hands.

She wondered if she let the vase go if it would float to the floor, gliding like a feather.

When images of it shattering as it hit the ground flooded her mind, Jude tucked the piece under her arm securely and retraced her steps to the servants’ stairs.

Holding her breath once more, she descended the stairs two at a time before halting at the closed door that separated the stairwell from the hall that led from the front of the house to the kitchen.

Jude set her ear to the dull, cold door and listened.

Not a sound could be heard beyond.

No footsteps, no quiet whispers, no closing doors.

Not even a clock sounded anywhere in the house.

A shiver went through her. Her body was alert to the oddness of it all, but she pushed the door open and made her way to the room right off the main foyer. There, a window still stood ajar, waiting for her to crawl back through and lower herself to the shrubs below.

She was horrified at the exhilaration she felt as she moved through the abandoned house.

Jude only prayed she made it home safely—and that Marce, her eldest sister, appreciated all Jude did to help support everyone who sought refuge at Craven House. Not that Marce could ever know where the money came from, only that it appeared in her private chambers—as if from thin air.

The cool night breeze brushed across Jude’s face as she stared out the open window.

It was her last opportunity to turn around, return the vase to its rightful place, and depart with no one the wiser.

And her conscience clear of any wrongdoing.

With a deep breath, Jude made the only decision that made sense for her and her family’s future; she held the vase out of the window and released it, allowing it to fall.

…Directly into her twin sister’s waiting hands below.

Chapter One

London, England

May 1818

Jude plucked at the sturdy wool of her filth-streaked pinafore as she held her breath to keep the wretched smells at bay. The stink of unwashed bodies, moldy, forgotten food, and wet animal was overpowered only by the stench of a coppery odor she knew to be spilled blood. She’d certainly need to burn her current garment as soon as she was released and able to return to Craven House—if one of her siblings ever saw fit to collect her.

To do away with such a precious thing as a dress was not something she’d always had the liberty to do. For many years, she counted herself lucky to possess several dresses—even though she shared each with Samantha. The time she and her siblings had spent at Craven House should have prepared Jude for this night; men angered by too much drink, which turned into arguing, which led to fisticuffs and blood—the smell of which was something she’d never forget, though her family had tried to keep her far from it as much as possible.

A sliver of the rising sun outside the narrow window of her cell allowed a slice of light to penetrate her dank enclosure; though Jude would have been happy to remain ignorant of her despicable surroundings. Her dress, though made from a thick material, still snagged on the rough, splintering bench below her. But after hours of standing—and pacing—Jude had to rest her aching legs. It was either the sticky, grimy, wooden bench or the more intolerable hard-packed dirt floor littered with discarded food and a pail filled with what she was told was water but appeared murkier than the River Thames.

Actually, she’d prefer a swim in the Thames as opposed to her current predicament. She only hoped her elder brother, Garrett, didn’t ship her to the country for all the trouble she’d caused. The trouble she presumed herself in. A sojourn to the country would be preferable to what Marce, her imperious sister, would do to her if she found out about Jude’s escapades.

She’d seen herself as invincible; above being caught—so much so that Jude should be in a complete panic. But the surreal nature of her position hadn’t faded to allow in the stark actuality she faced.

It was supposed to be only once—the vase from Lord Gunther’s townhouse. They were to sell the piece, give the money to Marce, and be free to live with some semblance of peace knowing their home was safe. But the vase remained at Craven House and now their family’s future was in jeopardy. They should have known that a stolen vase would not go unnoticed and unreported in the post. They should not have been so delusional as to think they could take the vase and gain coin for it as easily as selling wares inside the marketplace.

As of now, she’d been left unaccompanied in this darkened room, the door securely locked, for hours. No one had come to inquire about her well-being; no offers of refreshment or fare, no blanket to ward off the night chill. She hadn’t heard another person since the constable had slammed the door shut on her with his sharp reprimand to not cause him further grievance or he’d make her sorry.

She was unsure how much longer she’d be locked in this room—her stomach let out a loud growl in protest at the thought—or even if her twin, Samantha, knew where she’d been taken.

One thing Jude was certain of; she didn’t relish spending another moment alone here. The window was too narrow for her to wiggle through and the door was bolted from the outside.

This led her to hours of pondering how she’d ended up here—what path she could have taken to deliver herself from such a wretched circumstance.

Her night had started off simple enough, with she and her twin devising a plan to remove fourteenth century Bible leaves from Lord Asherton’s townhouse—a far less notable and traceable antiquity than the vase from Lord Gunther, but almost as valuable. It should have been easy. Samantha was to meet the lord in question at a dinner party she was attending with friends while Jude slipped into his home, collected the ancient papers, and disappeared as if she’d never been there. They’d heard during a recent outing that the man’s house was light on servants as many had traveled to Lord Asherton’s country estate ahead of his scheduled departure on the morrow. The perfect time for their heist.

But little had gone as planned.

After searching a study on the ground floor, Jude had fled down a dark hallway when she’d heard voices coming from the kitchen, growing louder as she rushed in the opposite direction. It hadn’t been difficult to slip into an empty room, rush to a door, and flee—that was until her cap was ripped from her head as she bolted by a coat rack positioned inside what appeared to be a lady’s sitting room. Jude had quickly retrieved the cap, tugged it back into place to hide her red hair, and continued toward a door she hoped would open to a garden sitting area…and her freedom.

She was mere steps from the door when the alarm sounded behind her.

Not the shouts of an infuriated lord or the call to halt by a faithful servant, but rather the searing shriek of a child. Jude barely glanced over her shoulder to see her identifier before rushing through the door, along the side of the house, and around to the narrow lane behind the row of townhouses.

Several hours later, her ears still rung from the high-pitched screech.

She would never forget the rounded, frightened eyes of the young girl who’d peered at Jude from her seat on the lounge, a throw blanket lying haphazardly across her lap as she read a book. Her tousled hair fell around her shoulders, still crimped from her plaits. A pristine white night shift gathered at her throat in a bow.

Jude couldn’t accurately describe the girl beyond her long, dark hair and frightened look.

All she’d thought about at that moment was getting as far away from Lord Asherton’s home as possible, the valuable Bible leaves be damned.

Fleeing from the house and gaining a block’s distance hadn’t stopped an alarm being sounded. The night watchman was rushing around the corner, his lamp held high to illuminate his way.

The burly man, dressed in merchant’s trousers and coat, was only identifiable by the shiny tin star pinned to his jacket pocket. The swinging lamp sent light reflecting off the dinted piece of metal as they both stood stock-still, staring at one another. The pair was caught in the small circle of light given off by the uplighter. His expression was likely a mirror image of hers; fright.

She hadn’t expected to be caught and it was probable he had never apprehended a suspected criminal on his nightly watch.

She was an unchaperoned woman, dressed in a less than fashionable gown with a cap hiding her hair. It was reasonable for the constable to question her on principle alone, for what woman would be traversing the deserted London streets at close to midnight?

Maybe she should have run. Sam would have vouched for this course of action.

Certainly, she should not have agreed to the harebrained notion in the first place. Marce would have counseled against it.

The man wasn’t armed. Most night watchmen took to their route with nothing more than a billy club as protection.

And so, the standoff continued. Jude was analyzing the watchman’s size and strength; concluding he would easily outrun her on foot in a section of London she was unfamiliar with.

There’d been little else for her to do but employ her twin’s claimed talent for charming men. Unfortunately, her voice didn’t hold the sultry depth of Sam’s, nor was Jude adept at the coy behavior needed to lull a man into feeling secure enough to allow his guard to fall.

And so, she’d relented and allowed the watchman to lock her in this room—as any criminal would deserve.

Jude gave in to her exhaustion and leaned back against the grimy wall, needing to forget her many mistakes. She settled against the cold wall of her locked cell and drew her knees to her chest, allowing her dress to cover her chilled feet. As her head met the hard surface of the stone, she closed her eyes, begging her tears to stay where they belonged, unshed.

She would not cry. That right had been taken from her when she and her twin had decided to help bring extra income to Craven House—they’d known the risk they’d agreed to take with their actions.

She breathed deeply, allowing the stench of her surroundings to invade her nostrils and then expelled gradually, slowing her pulse. If she could calm herself, maybe sleep would take over and she’d wake to find it had all been an unpleasant nightmare. She’d awaken in her warm bed with Sam nestled in her matching one a few feet away, both tucked deeply under their soft, peach eyelet, down blankets. Jude would share her horrid dream with Sam. They’d laugh as they crawled from the warmth of their well-sprung beds and rang for their maid to help them prepare for their day of shopping and entertainments.

Except, Sam and Jude shared one bed, hadn’t the luxury of a maid, nor the spare funds for as much as even a new pair of gloves.

Marce reminded her younger sisters, daily, each time they offered their complaints, that many women were much less fortunate than they. At least they had a roof over their heads, food in their pantry, and some hope for a more fruitful future if they minded their behavior and attracted fine suitors.

And they had love.

They undoubtedly had an abundance of love.

But love would not keep the debt collectors at bay, nor garner additional food for their table.

And a new dress or two for them all would be appreciated, especially since Lady Haversham had been so kind as to sponsor their societal debut.

Jude huffed. It was a trivial, selfish thought, especially when she was perched on a splintered bench with her head leaning against a grime-covered wall in a room that hadn’t been properly swept in Lord knew how long.

From somewhere outside the cell, Jude heard loud, angry voices. They were muffled by the wall and door separating her from other parts of the building housing her, but the aggression in the dominant voice was unmistakable.

Jude would prefer a large hole open in the room and swallow her, as opposed to the force of nature currently headed her way. Only moments would pass before the ire presently unleashed on the night watchman who dared keep Miss Judith Pengarden locked in a room, would be refocused on Jude herself.

“I will not stand for this, Garrett,” Marce, Jude’s eldest sister and only motherly figure, bit out harshly as a key was slid into the lock. “I will have this door opened at once or I will bring the fires of Hades down on this establishment.” Marce’s emphasis on the word left no doubt in anyone’s mind what her family’s matriarch thought of the night watchman and his lodgings.

“Dear sister,” Garrett coaxed. “The man is only doing his job, earning a respectable salary while keeping the night streets free of vagabonds.”

“Judith is most certainly not a vagabond.” Marce’s voice rose three octaves until it was almost a shrill scream. “Now, release her at once or I will be forced to call on Lord Haversham or Lord Chastain. I am certain you know both the earl and the duke. They will quickly settle all this once and for all.”

Jude could picture her sister stamping her foot, her fury intensifying with each word.

No one dared defy Marce—not at Craven House or anywhere else she’d witnessed her sister in action.

“Ma’am,” the night watchman stammered, clearly resigned to following Marce’s orders. “My apologies for the mistake. The alarm was sounded and the butler in the household gave a description matching Miss Judith’s appearance.”

“And when you found nothing incriminating on her person, you decided the best course of action was to lock her up for hours in this flea-infested room? Most certainly not proper accommodations for a woman of her status.”

“Calm yourself, Marce.” Garrett attempted to soothe his sister’s wrath. “I know Mr. Newman would not purposely apprehend an innocent young woman.”

“I can assure you it was not—“ Newman tried unsuccessfully to interject.

“I will not calm down.” The door was wrenched open, its hinges groaning in protest at the swift movement. “If one hair on her head is harmed, I will have you drawn and quartered!”

Marce, her blonde hair falling down her back unrestrained and her coat buttoned down her front, stormed into the room with Garrett close on her heels. The night watchman remained outside, likely knowing it’s safer for him to stay out of Jude’s eldest sister’s reach.

“Again,” said Mr. Newman. “I was also worried about her being out late at night. She could have been set upon by any sort of unsavory character. She was without a chaperone and was unwilling to give me any information about herself beyond your direction, Lord Garrett.”

Jude would have laughed at the use of Garrett’s name spoken so formally, but that would draw Marce’s attention far sooner than Jude was prepared for.

Her sister may be vehemently protective of her siblings, but that in no way meant she coddled them.

“That will be all, Mr. Newman.” Retreating footsteps sounded as the poor man heeded Marce’s curt dismissal. But with his retreating steps, Marce’s concern also fled. “What exactly were you doing wandering London at midnight?”

Jude knew better than to speak. It was a rhetorical question meant to keep her silent, for Marce was in no way finished talking.

“I can tell you where you were not last night. You were not attending the Buckhams’ soiree with Lady Haversham and Mrs. Jakeston, as you should have been. You also did not arrive home with Samantha. I dare say you did not so much as depart with your twin at the start of your evening.” Marce’s brow rose, daring Jude to refute her. “What do you have to say for yourself, Judith Pengarden?”

Marce only used the siblings’ full names when trouble was afoot and she knew it could tarnish their family—as much as their scandal-ridden clan could be tarnished where they hung on the fringes of London’s proper ton.

“Is there something you’d like to hear from me?” Jude retorted, any calm she may have achieved disappearing.

It irked Jude to no end that Marce viewed her as a mere child—always the girl in plaits and kid boots—not a mature, educated woman, old enough by society’s standards to marry and start her own home and family. However, here Jude sat: in a dank room when any proper lady should be abed, accused of stealing into the home of a member of the beau monde.

And all because she was attempting to help her family.

Garrett stepped between his sisters. “I beg the both of you, finish this conversation in a less public,” he paused, looking at the filth overtaking the room, as if seeing it for the first time, “and certainly more hygienic, place. After Jude is allowed a hot—very hot—bath to cleanse this awful stink from her.”

Mockingly, he brought a loose tendril of her hair to his nose and sniffed, disgust masking his teasing nature.

She swatted at his hand and allowed her curl to fall from his grasp.

Jude looked to her sister, silently pleading for Marce to take Garrett’s suggestion.

Marce’s narrowed stare said she wasn’t convinced they need move their conversation. “I have a mind to leave you here.”

“Leave me here?” Jude gulped.

“Leave her here?” Garrett said at the same time.

“Why not?” Marce set her hand on her hip as she stepped around her younger brother to face Jude once more. “I am unsure what you—and likely Sam—are up to, but I will not allow you to run about London with no regard for the consequences. Both for you and our family as a whole.”

“I despise when you speak rationally.” Jude crossed her arms and stood, signaling her desire to depart. “It would be best to return home before we are spotted leaving a place of such ill repute.”

“Thank you for thinking of someone and something other than your own pleasures,” Marce said before turning on her heels and leaving the room with as much fanfare as she’d entered it. She left Garrett and Jude staring blankly at one another. “Come along, you two.”

The comment stung, but the truth in Marce’s words was undeniable. Her sister may not admit when she needed help, but Jude’s actions were risky and not as thought out as she’d hoped. It was highly likely Jude would never be adept at such things. Thankfully, she had no interest in repeating her actions. Not until their financial situation became increasingly dire, at least.

She vowed to refocus on being rid of the vase and not entangling herself in any more harrowing escapades about London.

“I have no doubt your reasoning for tarrying about after the midnight hour is very compelling, yet less than savory.” Garrett took Jude’s elbow and guided her from the dirty room, both of them squeezing through the doorway. “Sam’s note of warning did not find me abed either.” He winked with his words, letting Jude know he was concerned about her but would not pry—as he loathed his siblings prying into his affairs.

Jude turned rounded eyes on her elder brother—the lone wolf of a family full of females. She’d often wondered what occupied his many leisurely hours, but her need to respect his privacy outweighed her interest.

“Do not dally.” Marce’s call floated down the long corridor leading to the front of the establishment, her sure footsteps keeping time. “I have no qualms about leaving the pair of you to secure your own transport home.”

Jude allowed Garrett to walk her down the hall as she suppressed a sigh at her sister’s ire.

The situation seemed drastically less dreadful now that she was among the free again.

She and Garrett nodded to the watchman as they crossed the threshold into the cool morning air. A little bird chirped in the tree bordering the front walk.

“You will owe her answers when you arrive home,” Garrett confided.

“I am aware.”

“I hope you have thought up a plausible explanation in your hours spent locked down.”

“I have not,” Jude said.

Both remained quiet as a man came down the path before them. The stranger removed his hat and nodded to Marce in greeting. If her sister issued any response, it was too quiet for Jude to hear.

“Good morn,” the man greeted Jude and Garrett, a grim smile on his face as he looked away. His hair fell across his forehead at the movement, but he quickly brushed it aside. As he did, Jude noticed the youthfulness of his face.

She glanced over her shoulder as the man pushed his spectacles farther onto the bridge of his nose and strode into the night watchman’s home, his trousers and coat wrinkled as if he’d either slept in them or was against bothering his valet this early in the day.

“And to you, good sir,” Garrett called as the door closed behind the man, her brother’s shoulders lifting as he steered Jude toward their waiting carriage. It was very much like Garrett to puff his chest when faced with a gentleman of peerage, something he longed to be but had given up on years before—the forgotten younger son of a deceased lord.

Garrett’s horse stood tethered to a post nearby.

Jude’s heart sank. “You will not return to Craven House with us?”

“I fear not, mop,” he said, handing her up into the carriage where Marce was already arranging her skirts. “I have much to attend to.”

Marce chuckled softly from inside. “I’m certain he does.”

He turned a peeved look at their eldest sister inside the dim conveyance before continuing, “However, I will be round this afternoon to discuss…things.”

Jude hoped they could discuss “things” without her present, for she was certain she would be excluded from any and all talks of punishment due her.

“I shall be canceling my trip,” Marce said when Jude seated herself across from her. “There is something afoot and I will not let this family go to ruins in my absence.”

There was certainly something happening, but it was far more concerning than Sam’s and Jude’s antics.

“It is one week, Marce.” Garrett entered the carriage, his own transport forgotten as he motioned Jude to scoot over and allow him room to sit.

Their sister left her siblings for only one short week every year. Sometimes it was immediately following the holiday season, other times it was during the summer months, but she always returned a bit lighter in nature. They’d come to relish the short time Marce was gone, never asking her destination. But Payton—Jude’s youngest sister—had assumed for years that Marce traveled to Bath for several days of rest before returning to her obligations. Jude’s sisters envied Marce’s travels, thinking they were excluded from something enjoyable, but Jude could only imagine the weight on her sister’s shoulders. She cared for so many—receiving nothing in return. If she sought a few days to live a normal, carefree life then Jude could not blame her for taking it.

Many days, Jude wished she had the fortitude to do the same.

Take her life and future into her own hands, provide for herself instead of partaking in what Marce worked tirelessly to provide for them. Instead, she’d been told continually that at her tender age, she was still to be taken care of. Far too young and innocent to take on any further responsibilities.

And that had led to finding another way around Marce’s ban on Jude being anything more than a debutante—protected, sheltered, and treated as a delicate thing.

A way to help support their large household and push the debt collectors back. One time. That was to be the end of it, but when they’d been unable to sell the stolen vase, they’d had to alter their plans slightly, which included Jude taking the Bible leaves.

Another failure and setback for them.

“I can handle things at Craven House in your absence.”

Garrett’s declaration snapped Jude back to the present.

“That is not necessary,” Jude snapped. “We are of an age to care for ourselves.”

“In a fashion similar to last night?” Marce asked. “I think not.”

“Then it is settled—“ Garrett started.

“Nothing is settled,” Marce refuted, turning a sharp look on the pair. “I no more trust you to keep Craven House from burning to the ground than I trust the twins. It’s bloody insane, but I think Payton has a better handle on herself than the lot of you.”

“Payton?” Jude and Garrett said at the same time, once again.

“Do stop doing that,” Jude hissed at her brother. “People will think you and I are more closely related than Samantha and me.”

“Is that so awful?” he teased. “I am undoubtedly more attractive than she.”

“We look identical, you cad!” Jude felt her temper rising as it did on most occasions when she and Garrett were in the same place.

“Then I will be the pretty twin.” Garrett fluttered his eyes, his long lashes being one of his most notable features—if not as manly as he’d like. “I am certain to have many offers for my hand. Our dear eldest sister will be fighting off my hungry suitors!”

Jude swatted at him and he hurriedly scooted out of her reach on the bench seat, fluttering his hand as if fanning the heat from his face.

His actions were at odds with his purely masculine, deep chuckle at his lark.

It only took a moment for her annoyance to fade and a smile to appear.

He jested with Jude constantly. She should feel honored to have their only brother’s undivided attention so regularly when he rarely noticed Payton or Sam, but that also meant he kept better watch over her.

He loved his sisters, but Jude especially. Though he was a man about town, he never went long without visiting Craven House, no matter how often Marce insisted she did not need his concern over their well-being.

“You two will certainly send me to an early grave with your mischief,” Marce declared, her voice thin with exhaustion.

The trio settled into a companionable silence as their carriage traversed the bustling morning streets. A footman followed with Garrett’s mount. Each was lost to their own musings as the carriage found its way quickly home.

Mr. Curtis opened the carriage door with a flourish befitting a man half his age.

“M’lady.” He bowed to Marce as she exited, his back creaking with his effort. “This missive came for ye when ye was out.”

“Not another one,” Jude heard Marce mumble. “This has to stop.”

“You will rectify this shortly, will you not?” Garrett asked as he stepped down and turned to assist Jude. But she rebuffed his assistance and he turned back to Marce. “I do hope this is the last time.”

“For all of our futures, I certainly hope so.”

Jude hopped down from the carriage, snapping a quick glance at the letter before it disappeared into the folds of her sister’s gown. The envelope was labeled as clearly as the others Jude had seen: Notice: Delinquency—Funds Due!

She couldn’t help but feel she’d been privy to a conversation that was not meant for her ears.

In that instant, Jude regretted her decisions for the night, yet at the same time, knew the ends justified the means. She must remember she was, indeed, helping Marce and everyone who called Craven House their home. Though she needed to focus more on not getting caught if her great measures were to help and not hinder everything her family had worked so hard for.

About the Author

2015-09-18_11.22.55_pp-2 copyChristina McKnight is a book lover turned writer. From a young age, her mother encouraged her to tell her own stories. She’s been writing ever since.

Christina enjoys a quiet life in Northern California with her family, her wine, and lots of coffee. Oh, and her books…don’t forget her books! Most days she can be found writing, reading, or traveling the great state of California.


Sarah Waldock: The Advertised Bride

Lady L’s Outrage

“MATRIMONY – A lady of good birth and breeding, and without a stain on her character wishes, for reasons which will be revealed to any successful candidate to MARRY a young man of sufficient fortune and gentility to keep her in the state to which she is accustomed. His age should not exceed thirty years, and he should be of pleasant and amiable disposition. His income not to be less than two hundred guineas per annum. Reply post-paid only, to DC, care of the Landlord, ‘The Bell’, Saxmundham.”

“I ask you, what sort of woman of good birth and breeding writes a letter to the newspaper like that? Of course, once it came out that it was one of those shameless Brandon women, it became quite clear. Did you know the Brandons haven’t been free of scandal since the first Baron ran off with a nun in the fourteenth century? And recently there was that Crim. Con. case brought by the current baron, and his niece went off with one of the most notorious rakes in the land.

51OJbyOGLbL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_But I was telling you about how this shameless hussy somehow managed to entrap the most eligible bachelor of all, the Honourable Mr. Percival Braidwood, whose blond locks gleam like gold and who has the profile of a Greek god. Add that to his fortune, reputed to be a cool ten thousand a year, and that before he inherits the baronetcy, and you can see why it’s just not fair that this nobody second cousin or whatever she is should win him. It was a trick, of that I’m sure. How she got him to answer such an advertisement is beyond me, or maybe she just took advantage of him staying in an inn where she was perusing likely candidates. I am certain she must have managed to arrange for him to compromise her in some way, and he such a gentlemen he had no choice but to offer marriage!

Am I jealous? Of course I’m jealous! I spent the entire season trying to catch Mr. Braidwood’s attention, and I am beautiful and accomplished, and an excellent conversationalist, as well as being fashionably dark. We were a perfect foil, my raven locks and his golden ones. It goes to prove, doesn’t it, that he must have been trapped, because why else would he end up married to a blonde whose hair isn’t even dark enough in colour to call a proper blonde?

Oh, no, I don’t want to give my name; well, if you must, write it down as Lady L. Listen, if you breathe a word to the Honourable Mrs. Eldridge that I spoke about her brother’s bride, I shall find ways to make it very uncomfortable for you. What does she say? Oh, Isolde is putting a brave face on it and declaring it a love match. A love match? Why, she obviously doesn’t know that this chit Diana, or whatever her name is, placed an advertisement in two provincial newspapers, and I found out about it which is why I came to you with the full story. I even found one of her disappointed suitors, whose hand and heart she spurned for greater wealth, despite the poor man being a widower with young children. No of course I wouldn’t marry an impoverished rector with brats, what do you take me for?

There was no call to say that, fellow.”

The Advertised Bride

The Advertised Bride was written with much input from my mother, who died while I was writing it, and I want to dedicate it not only to her, but to all women who have escaped from abusive families.  As well as having escaped an abusive father, my mother helped set up a local women’s refuge.  I hope Dinah’s escape will be inspirational for other women who feel trapped.



“Dinah, such a long face! Surely you do not long for a husband to argue comparisons over?”

“No, and that’s the problem!” cried Dinah. “I am to be married after Christmas, and to a horrid old man who leered at me, and he has sweaty hands, and skin like mahogany, all wrinkled like a walnut, and Papa is not to be argued with over it. Indeed, I am afraid he will take me away, for Uncle Adam put him in a passion, criticising Marjorie’s husband.”

“Oh dear,” said Imogen. “Well, there is nothing else for it; you will have to get married before the end of the holidays. Have you any beaux?”

“No, I have never even been to a dance. I’m only sixteen and Mama said I should come out when I was seventeen. I shan’t be seventeen until April and that will be too late, and besides, Papa will say that coming out is unnecessary as he has found me a husband.”

“I can only see one course open to you, then, as I do not think you could manage to run away as I did without help,” said Imogen.

“You must think me very poor spirited,” said Dinah.

“No, my dear, I think you very much downtrodden, like a governess to horrible children, only your father is more childish than the most horrible child I have ever heard of,” said Imogen. “Fancy not being able to control his temper at his age!”

“I don’t think he ever had to,” said Dinah. “What idea did you have?”

“Why, insert an advertisement in the Ipswich Journal and the Norfolk Chronicle that you are looking for a husband, and then marry the one you like the most,” said Imogen. “I will help you to interview those who take your interest from their letters.”

“But Imogen, Papa might see the advertisement!” cried Dinah.

“Silly, you do not put it in your name,” said Imogen. “You write something like ‘Young lady seeks matrimony with a man of sufficient means and gentility to support a wife of breeding, no older than thirty. Send post-paid envelope to … oh, to some inn.”

 About the Author 

sarahwaldockSarah Waldock grew up in Suffolk and still resides there, in charge of a husband, and under the ownership of sundry cats. All Sarah’s cats are rescue cats and many of them have special needs. They like to help her write and may be found engaging in such helpful pastimes as turning the screen display upside-down, or typing random messages in kittycode into her computer.

Sarah claims to be an artist who writes. Her degree is in art, and she got her best marks writing essays for it. She writes largely historical novels, in order to retain some hold on sanity in an increasingly insane world. There are some writers who claim to write because they have some control over their fictional worlds, but Sarah admits to being thoroughly bullied by her characters who do their own thing and often refuse to comply with her ideas. It makes life more interesting, and she enjoys the surprises they spring on her. Her characters’ surprises are usually less messy [and much less noisy] than the surprises her cats spring.

Sarah has tried most of the crafts and avocations which she mentions in her books, on the principle that it is easier to write about what you know. She does not ride horses, since the Good Lord in his mercy saw fit to invent Gottleib Daimler to save her from that experience; and she has not tried blacksmithing. She would like to wave cheerily at anyone in any security services who wonder about middle aged women who read up about making gunpowder and poisonous plants.

Sarah’s History Place BlogSarah’s Cats Blog