Be Warned: These are the scribblings of a writer unruly, unsupervised, and largely unrepentant

Be Warned: These are the scribblings of a writer unruly, unsupervised, and largely unrepentant

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Character Showcase - Miss Melinda Goodheart

In THE DANGER OF DESPERATE BONNETS (Book two of my Regency-era romantic comedy series, The Ladies Most Unlikely), it is Miss Melinda Goodheart's turn to take her bow. And she does so with a very dramatic flourish, as only she can.

The first thing Melinda Goodheart would want you to know about her is that she never, in the whole course of her life, planned to cause any trouble.
(Well, I suspect you can guess how that turns out.)
The second thing you should know is that this declaration was usually the opening line penned in any letter she wrote. Because any letter she sat down to write was either an explanation, an apology, or a confession. And decorated with a great many blots of ink between the misspelled words, where she was too eager to get her thoughts down and too impatient to mend her pen.

The third thing you must know is that despite an unfortunate arrangement of facial features, which, so it had been said, sometimes appeared "devious" and "conniving",  she was not the sort of girl who did anything in a deceitful way. If she disliked you, she made no effort to hide it, and if she liked you then she was the most loyal of friends.

 But this, alas, brings us full circle back to the first item in the list above. For due to that unwavering devotion to friends and causes, and an  indomitable sense of justice equaled only by her courage— which had politely been described as "undomesticated"— Melinda invariably found herself in the thick of that chaos she never planned. She was a girl who went along with the conspiracies of others, especially if she was convinced of a wrong to be righted, and that made her daring, dauntless spirit an invaluable tool to those friends who did plot and scheme.

 Too often ruled by her temper and driven by a desire for thrills and escapades, she might be mistaken for a stupid girl. Occasionally she even mistook herself for one.
But is there anyone amongst us who has never been a fool?
The Danger of Desperate Bonnets (Ladies Most Unlikely 2) coming this month.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sizzling Historical Romance Sale!

Aug 14-20th, 2016 - ROMANCE on sale!
I’m taking part in a giant Sale and Giveaway along with 35 other historical romance authors this week! From August 14-20, you can get our ebooks for $0.99! Check out the site at to see all the books and enter to win a Kindle Fire and 6 Classic Sizzling Historical Romances that captured our hearts and inspired us to write!

Click here to enter the contest

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Ransom Redeemed - OUT NOW!

Book four in The Deverells saga, follows True Deverell's eldest legitimate son as he wanders down a path he's never before known. What will he find at the end of it? And will he survive the journey?

            Ransom Deverell once got away with murder. So rumor has it.

            People say he has no heart and no conscience. Just like his infamous father, he's a cocksure, irreverent fellow of indeterminate pedigree or class. On the surface he appears indifferent, cold and merciless, while on the inside there are, according to gossip, unplumbed depths of sin and depravity.

            He even shot at his own father once, so who knows what he could be capable of next?

            Ransom Deverell is irredeemable. He's heard it so often it must be true.

            Oddly enough, his reputation does not keep women at bay. The lure of danger brings them into his life by the dozen, but he keeps his boots on, always ready to run swiftly away from promises and commitment.

            And he isn't always looking where he's going.

Not impressed...

            In her twenty six years, Miss Mary Ashford has been through enough ups and downs— mostly the latter. It doesn't matter that her sister calls her an old maid and every opportunity in life seems to have passed her by. These days she would rather experience adventures by safely reading about them within the pages of a book. Far less risk to one's heart and petticoats.

            So when this scapegrace collides with a lamp post and crashes into her quiet bookshop, Mary must keep her eminently sensible wits about her. Although Deverell stirs up the dust and tickles her sense of humor, she knows how to handle habitual flirts and artful charmers.

            And she knows this menace to womanhood is accustomed to getting his own way. Well, he won't get it with her.

Not in love...

            He says he's entirely unlovable. She says she's far too practical to believe in love. Everybody knows love only happens to  weak-chinned imbeciles and silly girls in novels.

            But when these two opposites meet, they soon realize that not everything is quite as it seems. Including them.  

            And it could be that they met just in the nick of time.

            Falling in love is every bit as painful as it sounds, but when disaster strikes, it just might save them both.



Friday, July 29, 2016

A Wicked Sale!

The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne is on sale for a few days across all online retailers, so grab your copy if you haven't yet!

Catch me if you can! - E.V.

By night Ellie Vyne fleeces unsuspecting aristocrats as the dashing Count de Bonneville. By day she avoids her sisters' matchmaking schemes and dreams up torments for her childhood nemesis—the arrogant, far-too-handsome-for-his-own-good James Hartley. Her latest prank: "winning" the Hardey diamonds in a card game from James's mistress.
James finally has a lead on the thieving Count de Bonneville, tracking him to a disreputable inn. He bursts in on none other than the brazen, irritating, nearly naked Ellie Vyne. Convinced she is the count's mistress, James decides it's best to keep his enemies close. Very close. He must get those diamonds back, and seducing Ellie will be the perfect bait.


For more about this story and "Grieves", James Hartley's cunning valet read my post here !

As always, I love hearing from my readers, so don't hesitate to contact me via this blog or my Facebook Author Page


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Character Showcase - Miss Mary Ashford, A Moderately Sensible Woman.

            Readers of The Deverells series first met Mary as the heroine's loyal and beloved friend in CHASING RAVEN, and they will get to know her much better in RANSOM REDEEMED.

             The Ashfords were once a family of wealth and circumstance, but all that changed after a series of misfortunes— some brought about by fate and others by the stubborn, narrow-minded pride of her male relatives. Men, of course, rule the roost in Victorian England. Even with a woman on the throne, it remains very much a man's world. Most decisions are left up to the men, whether those decisions are good or bad and the women have no voice. As a consequence Mary has lost all her relatives to war, prejudice, scandal and a rigid inability to move with the times. Now she has only her sister left, and Mary is determined not to let standards fall. They may be poor now, reduced to living and working in a book shop, but that is no excuse to give in and give up. Her main interest is in seeing her younger sister well married and content, to put the sadness behind them and never think of it again.

"There was never anything to be achieved by dwelling on the past, or on what one didn't have. It was not a practical use of a person's energies, as she would remind her sister. One must look ahead, plow onward."

             But while Mary always looks where she's going, Ransom Deverell is less attentive. One morning, when hasty escape from an angry lover causes collision with a lamp post, it changes his course and puts him on a path he's never before encountered. Seeking shelter from his irate pursuer, he hides in Mary's dusty, cluttered book shop.

            And is eventually forced to buy books. Oh, the horror of it.

             "I thought, perhaps, you might like to buy a book. Or two.  While you're here."

          "How can I buy a book this morning? I'm quite without funds. As you observe, I do not even have a shirt on my back, Miss...what is it again?"

          "Ashford," she repeated steadily. "And we can send you the bill, if you find yourself currently insolvent." Mary did not believe for a minute that he was one of the poverty-stricken.  Even half dressed he exuded an unmistakable air of privilege, and his clothes— the pieces in existence— were well made of very fine material, perfectly fitted. A fact she had tried her hardest not to notice. "It is the least you could do, sir, considering I saved your life this morning."

          "Saved my life?"

          "Save me. Those were your words, sir. Since I'm not in a position to save your soul, I assume you referred to your life. Or, at the very least, some necessary parts of your anatomy."

          He exhaled a blustery sigh and folded his arms. Like a tall, slowly falling tree, he tipped to one side, resting a shoulder against the door. "But I don't need any books."

          To Mary, that was like saying one did not need air. "Everybody needs books," she exclaimed.

          "Had my fill of 'em in the schoolroom and at university." He shuddered and brushed dust from his sleeves. "Ugh. Quite put me off opening another dull tome as long as I live."

          "Then you're missing out and I pity you. But I suppose not every man wishes to enlarge his mind to fit the size of his head."

          The stranger's eyes sparked, spidery cracks in the ice of their practiced indifference suddenly letting the light through. "Just because you've got a ton of the blasted things you're trying to be rid of—"

          "And most men, in my experience, do not keep their promises, so I shouldn't be surprised that you now intend to renege on yours."

          "Well, I don't make promises, so if you heard one from me it was a mistake."

          "Mine or yours?"

          Still leaning against the door, he glowered at her for a long moment.

          "Fate can lead a fool to a bookshop," she added with a sigh, hands clasped before her, "but it cannot make him read."

          Eventually a low groan rumbled out of his bare chest. "Very well. I'll take some of these dratted books off your hands." But despite this weary tone, a cunning, wicked amusement had come into his eyes and stayed there, slowly thawing the ice. "I'll say this for you, you're determined. Don't give up easily, do you?"

          "It's a vexing quality that comes to women in advanced age."

           Although a long-time friend and confidant of Raven Deverell, Mary has never been introduced to any men in that notorious family. Having now met Raven's elder brother she begins to understand why her friend kept them apart.

            There was a time when arrogant, good-looking scoundrels like this one were two or three a penny in Mary's life. They were men who rose late and went to bed even later; they had a never ending supply of vitality and saw no cause to slow down. Back then she was an eligible debutante, someone with whom these men teased and tried to flirt. But that was before her brothers went away to war and never returned, and when the Ashford family still had an estate of their own. Before their fortunes were severely reduced and her bereaved father had to sell it all to settle his debts. Before her uncle died in prison, having confessed to murder by oyster fork. Before the Ashford name was, in the minds of a great many, utterly ruined.

          That naive, sheltered youth seemed so long ago now. Another era, a sunshine-glazed past that belonged to somebody else.

And as for Ransom Deverell, he is less assured in his ability to read character, and does not know what to make of her at first.
  Something had drawn him to her, and it wasn't great beauty or charm or any seductive quality. She did not gaze up at him with shy admiration or coy invitation. Her expression, in fact, was akin to that of a woman who had just turned in the street to see a large, muddy, wolf-hound galloping playfully toward her with its eager, slobbering tongue hanging out. She did not know whether to flee or brace herself.

          Of all the ways women had ever looked at him, that one was hitherto unknown.

            But, after years of being kept carefully apart by his sister, these two opposites suddenly find themselves colliding more often. And neither can figure out whether it's by chance, or due to their own fascination with something different. Is Mary Ashford really only interested in getting Ransom Deverell to read a novel? Is Ransom really what he claims to be— a man without a conscience or a heart, an irredeemable sinner?

            Are they merely a challenge to each other?

            At twenty six Mary feels as if she has seen and done everything— well, almost everything. She's not even perturbed when her sister calls her an old maid. There is something safe and comforting about being an unimportant player on the edge of somebody else's stage. Mary is content to be the quiet observer, rather than the character who has to make all the grand speeches. There are advantages to not being noticed.

            But there is something about Ransom Deverell and the way he notices her, that even a "moderately sensible woman" can't resist.

 * * * *

RANSOM REDEEMED (The Deverells Book Four) - Coming August 3rd, 2016

Catch up with The Deverells family saga here.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Deverells - Book one on sale!

For a limited time you can pick up your e-book copy of TRUE STORY for only 99 cents! If you haven't had a chance yet to start The Deverells series, this is the perfect time to dive in and meet the patriarch of this scandalous Victorian family.

Here's an excerpt -

Chapter One

The Offices of Chalke, Westcott & Chalke.
Three O'clock in the afternoon, Tuesday, March 12, 1832

            "Get out of my blasted way," the menacing, deeply disgruntled voice rumbled above her. "What are you doing, woman?"

            On her knees before him, head down, Olivia Westcott scrambled for the spilled papers that cascaded around his boots when the man bumped into her.

            "Some ruse to pick my pockets, eh?" he growled. "Where's your slick-fingered accomplice, or did you think to fleece me by yourself?"

            "Sir, I—"

            "Good God, must you wretched creatures lie in wait everywhere I turn?"

            It was fortunate for this stranger that while assisting in her father's office, Olivia had promised to be on her best behavior. She didn't want to be sent home to embroider yet another ugly fire screen or paint watery, depressing landscapes. So, rather than answer as she would in a Utopia of justice and equality, she bit her tongue, held her temper and said, "Sir, pardon me, but you're standing on the papers."

            Great Aunt Jane, always her most indomitable critic, would have been impressed.

            Still the towering monolith did not move. His contempt bore down upon her. "Bloody women! Always underfoot."

            With one knuckle she nudged her spectacles back up her nose and raised her improved gaze only as far as his knees, where the tip of a riding crop tapped smartly against his mud-splattered breeches. "I wouldn't be underfoot sir, if you hadn't bowled into me."

            "You shot out of nowhere. If I didn't have my wits about me, I could have trampled you into the floorboards."

            The last sheet was stuck under his heel. "Please move your foot, sir. No! The other one."    "I suppose you were wandering with your head in the clouds, daydreaming. Relying upon other folk to pay attention."

            "I can assure you I was not. Sir! Your foot!" Anyone would think he deliberately delayed getting off her paper.

            "Butter-fingers, is that not the expression?"

            "Better that than Butter-brained." It slipped out on a sly breath before she could restrain herself.

            "Tsk, tsk, you know what they say about women with sharp tongues."

            "No. Do tell. I am all agog to hear it." Oh dear, now more words came out that shouldn't, linked like scarves pulled from a conjurer's mouth. "And clearly you want to enlighten me."

            He replied coolly, "One day they find themselves surrounded by castrated men."

            "A tragedy, to be sure. For the men."

            At last she pulled the trampled paper free, although it was now decorated with a large, dirty shoe print. Before she could get up off her knees, the man lost his patience and, as if she was nothing more than a puddle in the street, he stepped over her.

            "Look where you're going in future, young woman."

            She recovered from the indignity just in time to witness his head contact briskly— and most satisfyingly— with the low lintel of the doorway.

            "Did the doorframe come out of nowhere too?" she inquired politely.

            He stopped with his back to her. "You think that was amusing."

            "Well, it does have a certain piquancy, sir." Mimicking his previous tone of condescension, she added, "You know what they say about men who live in glasshouses."

            "Yes. They pay a very high window tax." He half turned his head, but not far enough to reveal more than a little cheek and some dark side-whiskers above the tall collar of his greatcoat. No longer quite so terse and angry, his voice warmed with a hint of self-deprecating humor. "And, as I have found, they ought to keep their clothes on unless they have a fancy to exhibit for their neighbors."       

            He didn't turn to see her blush. In the next moment he was gone and the walls around her seemed to exhale a collective sigh of wanton languor.

            "Are you alright, my dear?" Her father had come to find his papers.

            "Was that a client of yours?" she asked with as much nonchalance as she could muster.

            "That was... a gentleman currently embroiled in a divorce being handled by Mr. Chalke," he replied gravely, taking the documents from her. "Best stay out of his path, Olivia."

            "Why?" Her heart was beating too fast, too hard.

            "Must you always question, my dear? Now where is the tea?"

            She had forgotten it. Vowing to remedy the oversight at once, Olivia waited with her hands meekly behind her back, until her father had retreated inside his office. Then she hurried to the window.

            There he was— Mr. Incivility—already down the stairs and emerging into the street. He put on his hat, nodded briskly to the boy who held his horse and tossed the lad some coins. Olivia willed him to look up, so she might see his face, but he didn't.

            Glancing at the clock on the mantle, she noted it was just after three. It was a habit of hers to mark the exact time at certain important moments in her life. She stored them all in her brain like ledgers on a dusty shelf. Her stepbrother thought that very odd and mocked her for it, as he did about most things.

            But what made this moment so important that it deserved commemoration?

            As soon as her father mentioned the man's purpose there she realized who he was. Divorce was rare, almost unheard of, and those few who attempted it became infamous. Anyone who read a newspaper knew his name. Consequently, Olivia also knew why her father advised her to stay out of his path. A properly raised young woman of good family should avoid the company of that gentleman. In fact, many people refused to call him a gentleman at all. No one seemed to know where he came from, although there was a general consensus as to where he'd end up.

            "Self-made, indeed," she'd once heard Great Aunt Jane exclaim in a huff. "Gentlemen are not made. They are born."

            Olivia considered that a rather snobbish view, especially coming from a lady who was only a few steps away from debtor's prison for most of her adult life and relied upon the charity of relatives to keep a roof over her head.

            She thought back to a conversation several years ago when that same lady, having remarked upon Olivia's misfortune in losing her mother at such a young age— as if it was a tragedy somehow due to the little girl's own carelessness—went on to criticize her complexion, her lack of social graces and her posture.         

            "Straighten your spine, girl! You will develop a most unbecoming slouch if my nephew doesn't put you in a backboard immediately. Who will you ever find to marry, child, if you don't improve your posture, take up some feminine pursuits and learn to hold a sensible conversation?
What gentleman of any worth would look at such a sulky, sullen, willful creature with a fascination for wicked pranks? You won't be fit for polite society."

            This lecture came about because Olivia had sculpted a piece of parsnip to look like a finger, coated the end of it in raspberry jam, and then placed it on the pianoforte keys, to be discovered when the instrument was opened.

            "You are a horrid, unseemly child with a dark and devious imagination, Olivia Westcott. I cannot think what will become of you."

            To which she replied, "I shall marry Mr. True Deverell, shan't I? People say he's not fit for polite society either. But he's rich as Croesus and I hear he knows his way under a woman's petticoats."

            This bold declaration had shocked everyone present into silence. These things — and men—weren't meant for drawing room conversation in mixed company, and the adults were probably wondering where she'd even heard his name. But Olivia was not the sort of girl who listened quietly and contentedly to sweet fairy tales. "Once upon a time" made her want to spit nails. Once upon what time? When? What on earth did that even mean, for pity's sake? How could anyone take such a feeble, flimsy narrative seriously?

            No indeed, Olivia preferred darkly gothic yarns and bloodthirsty horror stories not meant for the ears of little girls. Should that mean eavesdropping at keyholes to get her entertainment, so be it. Even if she didn't fully understand what she heard.

            In any case, on that long-ago occasion, the mention of his name had got her sent up to bed immediately, saving her from a very dull evening. As she ascended the stairs, she overheard the adults discussing her.

            "One must make allowances for the poor child, growing up motherless."

            "Allowances? Where would we be if we made allowances for bad behavior? Another sliding of standards! No, no, that girl was impertinent long before she lost her mother, who was herself a stubborn creature with a distressingly romantic view of life and her head in the clouds. What my nephew saw in her I'll never know. A difficult woman."

            Was she? Olivia had known her living mother for eight years and, at the time of this conversation, been without her for two, yet already shards of memory were breaking away and leaving her, like pieces of a shattered mirror that glittered brightly as they spun into darkness. She tried holding on to the broken glass even when it hurt her small hands and made her cry, but tears were something she had to hide from her father, who never wept himself and had no patience for those who did. He was, of course, cut from the same cloth as Great Aunt Jane, who placed extreme importance on the immovability of one's upper lip, which should remain as constant as one's temper and the heat of one's blood. A passionate display of any kind was anathema in their family. Surrounded by these strong, rather formidable characters, Olivia struggled to follow their example and keep her real thoughts and feelings to herself. Especially those she secretly nurtured about dangerous men.

            By the age of eighteen she thought she had those feelings fairly well under control. Fairly.

            Peering down through the window again, she watched Mr. Incivility ride away down the busy thoroughfare. The brim of that tall hat still hid his face, but her gaze followed him until her breath clouded the view.

            So there he went. The notorious True Deverell. He who must not be mentioned.

            She really couldn't see what all the fuss was about.

            A storm in a teacup.
Want to read more about The Deverells? Find them here....
Amazon UK

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Long Weekend (and how I won't be spending it.)

So here we are on the crest of a lovely long, spring weekend. In the US, it's Memorial Day weekend, and in England it's a Bank Holiday weekend. No matter how you take your tea, and whether you eat biscuits or cookies with it, that means you get an extra day to relax, put your feet up and -- theoretically - do nothing.
Of course, there are always strings attached, right?
Because, as humans, we are obliged to spend that bonus free time interacting with other humans (chaos waiting to happen, if you ask me!), and we are equally obliged to "have fun" or else! The feeling that we need to get out and do something (anything) with our extra time off is so deeply ingrained that we tend to feel like failures if we don't fill every moment of these three days with every conceivable "fun" there is to be had.
When I was first married, it seemed particularly urgent that we not be seen to do nothing with our time off. Oh, the pressure! Surely other young couples were surfing on the Nile, eating pasta by a Roman fountain, or cavorting through a flower-strung meadow in slow motion. So, even if we were tired and wanted to spend our precious free time alone together, sitting in our newly purchased house and watching TV with our feet up was simply not acceptable.
On one such Memorial Day weekend, this attempt to be doing "something",  included going camping with another couple. Sounds innocent enough, I hear you say. Well, forget it. Perhaps I should state, here and now, that I'm not much of an outdoorsy person. Oh, I love nature - don't get me wrong. I love scenery, animals and the countryside. I just don't need to sleep in a tent and watch fish being arbitrarily murdered to get to know it all. So, anyway, I'm not sure whose bright idea it was to go, but we had to borrow a tent . Yes, folks, that's how little we knew about camping as adults -- we didn't have that most basic of equipment to call our own. It was so cold at night that I slept in fifty layers, on the hard ground, with a torch pointed at the tent peak to watch for spiders -- those hairy-legged sort that seek the heat of human breath at night. (Well, that's my theory).
 And as I lay there, stiff as a board, my nose glowing like Rudolph's, I thought the entire time, about how I was "sleeping" on that cold ground while paying a mortgage on a house I wasn't using for three nights. Not to mention taxes to the damn government. Then, on top of that, they wanted us to pay again to sleep in the "State" park. Plus, when an axe murderer came out of the woods and finished off at least one of our party before he was apprehended, we'd have to pay to keep him in prison for the rest of his life. Oh, yes, every grievance came to the fore as I aimed my slowly dying torch at a crouched spider, waiting for it to spring directly into the wide open mouth of my snoring husband beside me.
Being so ill-prepared for the camping experience, that borrowed tent was just about all we'd brought with us, while the other couple had every single item you can buy from LL Bean, or wherever else it is you can buy outdoor lanterns, fish hooks and foldable chairs. I felt very small and rather stupid as I huddled over their little stove and realized I was about to spend a hungry three days in the wilderness because I was a vegetarian and that bag of marshmallows wasn't going to last.
That was the first and only time I went camping as an adult, but, hey, at least I can say I went out and did "something" that holiday weekend. At least I was saved the humiliation of going back to work on Tuesday, being asked what I did with my time off and replying "laundry".
The need to fit in with everybody else's idea of fun, is something that I have battled against for years, and I believe its something a lot of writers go through. We're anti-social for the most part. I'm told that I'm a stubborn wench, but really I just like peace and quiet on my terms.
I'm older now, of course, and wiser. If I don't have the proper equipment, I stay home. But whenever a long weekend approaches with all its grandeur (yikes, a WHOLE extra day off!)and I hear people discussing how they plan to machete every precious moment into oblivion as if its a competition, I always think of how happy I'll be typing away at my computer. Doing the same thing I do every day. And I shan't feel even a tiny bit bad about it. Now that is my idea of fun.
Yesterday I went for a run in the early evening, and whenever I take this particular route I pass a house where there is always an argument going on. Or it seems that way -- maybe they just have naturally loud, angry voices. Usually its the man and wife outside yelling across the yard at each other about something one of them has done or neglected to do. Yesterday it was father and son who seemed to be preparing a family RV in readiness, I assume, for their Memorial day shenanigans. Already they were stressed, red-faced, veins popping, sweat-stains spreading under their armpits, shouting bloody-murder at each other. I smiled quietly and sympathetically as I jogged by, because all I could think was, those poor souls are in for a truly "long" weekend, crammed into an RV together. They probably feel as if they have to do "something".

I hope, whether you're doing something or nothing this weekend, that you get to enjoy it. But don't feel obliged to. It's your time off so do whatever you want -- however much or however little you really feel like doing.

That's exactly what I'll be doing.