Natter and Review would like to welcome author Rosemary Morris today. Rosemary is a Historical Romance and Regency Romance novelist. She hales from Britain and lives in Hertfordshire.
Here is a brief biography of our guest.
Rosemary Morris was born in 1940 in Sidcup, Kent. As a child, when she was not making up stories, her head was ‘always in a book.’ While working in a travel agency, Rosemary met her Indian husband. He encouraged her to continue her education at Westminster College. In 1961 Rosemary and her husband, now a barrister, moved to his birthplace, Kenya, where she lived from 1961 until 1982. After an attempted coup d’état, she and four of her children lived in an ashram in France.
Back in England, Rosemary wrote historical fiction. She is now a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Historical Novel Society, and Watford Writers. Her novel, Tangled Love, was short listed at the 2012 Festival of Romance for the best e-romance of the year.
Apart from writing, Rosemary enjoys classical Indian literature, reading, visiting places of historical interest, vegetarian cooking, growing organic fruit, herbs and vegetables and creative crafts.
Time spent with her five children and their families—most of whom live near her—is precious.
N&R: Hi Rosemary. Welcome to Natter and review. It’s great to have you here.
RM: Thank you for the invitation.
N&R: I have to ask because I see this event in your biography. What do you remember happening during the coup in Kenya? That sounds like it might have been a pretty frightening event.
RM: The first we knew of it was early in the morning when our twin sons came into our bedroom and told us they could hear guns firing. “Don’t be silly,” we said, “go back to bed, it’s too early to get up.”
All too soon, we found out there was an attempted coup d’etat and my imagination ran riot. Fortunately, the area I lived in was not affected. However, there were stories of looting and much worse. From then on, for my childrens’ safety and against my husband’s wishes I was determined to leave Kenya.
N&R: That sounds as if it must have been pretty scary. I think I would have headed for home as well.
Living in an ashram in France must have been very interesting. Is that where you developed a love of Indian Cooking?
RM: Yes, it was very interesting, and during my time in the ashram I developed a love of classical Indian literature such as The Bhagavad-gita As It Is, or Gita Govinda, the Song of God, by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, The Mahabharat and The Ramayan amongst other famous translations.
I developed a taste for Indian Cooking while living with my in-laws in Nairobi. However, although I regularly make Indian dishes such as spinach and paneer (Indian cheese) curry, the recipe for which can be found in Far Beyond Rubies, I have an international collection of recipes. For example, my grandchildren will phone asking me to make risotto, lasagna made with spinach, ricotta cheese and pine nuts, apple or rhubarb pies and crumbles, as well as other food they particularly enjoy.
One of the reasons my family and friends enjoy the meals I cook is that I grow my own herbs, fruit and vegetables. Ingredients picked fresh from the garden taste superior to those bought from the shops. However, I am not 100% self-sufficient so I buy organic produce whenever possible.
N&R: Your dishes sound superb. I must admit I have a love of Indian cooking as well. I was pleased to see you had included a recipe at the end of Far Beyond Rubies. It was a great idea. And a nice dish as well.
Your books explore the era of the Napoleonic Wars and your male heroes and villains are often connected in some way to the military or the war of that period. You outline the atrocities very effectively and the various formalities of the era. When did this particular interest develop for you? And what kinds of things do you feel are important to note during this period of history.
RM: The French Revolution and the aftermath destroyed the old order. Britain was determined to preserve the Rule of Law, including Habeas Corpus, which means no one can be held indefinitely without appearing before a judge.
When my hero and his best friend return to England, almost at the end of the long struggle in the Iberian Peninsula, it is a relief to be in a country not devastated by the depredations of brutal French soldiers. (Wellington did not tolerate looters, rapists etc. He had them hung.)
If the Duke of Wellington and Blucher had not defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, the history of Europe would have been quite different.
N&R: I think I better read a little more about this period in history—especially if I want to continue as your editor. LOL. I find it really fascinating. Most of us study these kinds of things in school but we rarely pursue the topics later on in our lives.
I love the descriptions of the women’s clothing in all of your books. Some are absolutely breathtaking. Has women’s clothing been a favourite for you as a rule, or is it just this era that interests you the most?
RM: Thank you for the compliment. In my novels I try to recreate times past and part of that past is fashion, which even dictated how people moved. Can you imagine how restricted your movements would be when wearing whale-boned stays? In each era in which my novels are set, I try to paint verbal pictures of my characters that include their appearance.
N&R: I think you have succeeded very well in that endeavor. And no, I cannot even dare to think how women could breathe, let alone move, in the kinds of things they were forced to wear in the past. I am very happy I live in this era.
How does one begin to research the kind of background knowledge required for creating a work such as Sunday’s Child?
RM: I have always been interested in history. Since childhood I have read voraciously, so there are many facts and anecdotes floating around in my mind. Over the years I have collected non-fiction about the Regency and other eras.
I have begun Monday’s Child, the sequel to Sunday’s Child, and decided the hero and his best friend will be hussar officers at the Battle of Waterloo. On Sunday I shall visit Apsley House, the residence of the Duke of Wellington, in search of more information. At the moment my bedside table is crammed with books about the Regency. As I read, I use post it notes on items of particular interest.
N&R: It must really help when you are writing these books to be able to go to the places where some of your stories have been set. That is wonderful. I live in British Columbia right now and it is a very young province whose history is certainly nothing like what you have available at your fingertips. You are very lucky.
MuseItUp Publishing has released four of your books now: Tangled Love, Sunday’s Child, False Pretences and Far Beyond Rubies, and we are just getting down to business with your latest, The Captain and The Countess. Can you tell our readers where the inspiration comes for these great stories? Let’s start with Tangled Love. Was it your first book? Where did the idea for the plot come from?
RM: As I stated above, I read historical non-fiction for pleasure. While seeking a period which is less often chosen to set historical fiction in, I read about James II. Although many of them did not like the man, his politics or his religion (Roman Catholic), the peers of the realm swore an oath of allegiance to him. Eventually, he was forced to flee to France. Subsequently, he was succeeded first by his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange, and then by his daughter, Anne.
Some peers of the realm felt they could not swear oaths of allegiance to either Mary and William, or Anne while James lived, and followed James to France. What, I asked myself, would be the position of the children of such peers? A story formed in my mind so I wrote Tangled Love, a tale of riches to rags to riches set in Queen Anne Stuart’s reign, 1702 – 1714,
The theme of Sunday’s Child is that of two people, who, as the result of war, could—in today’s terms—have become dysfunctional.
False Pretences, set in the Regency era, is the story of a young woman still at boarding school whose only wish is to find out who her parents are. There are many twists and turns in the tale before the surprising truth is revealed with the help of a charismatic gentleman she meets when she runs away.
In Far Beyond Rubies, set in Queen Anne Stuart’s reign, my heroine must prove she is the rightful heiress to a great estate and that she and her sister are not bastards. It was an era of political and religious controversy and intolerance. The hero adds to the heroine’s confusion when she doubts his political and religious affiliations.
My new novel, The Captain and The Countess, to be published in February, 2014, explores the possible relationship between an outstandingly beautiful, wealthy widow and a captain in Queen Anne’s navy. The captain, who is also an artist, is the only gentleman to realize profound sorrow is buried deep in the alluring countess nick-named Fatal Widow.
N&R: I have to add that when I first became your editor, I wasn’t particularly fond of romances, never have been, but you changed my mind on that one. Your romances are full of excitement, adventure, graphic description that makes the era come to life, and historical reference. You also keep the dialogue fairly lodged in the period and not more modern as many authors prefer. I have learned a lot of interesting words from the time.
As you were saying, you are working on sequels to Sunday’s Child. What are these books about and was there a specific catalyst for the original story?
RM: Yes, as I have stated above, I am now working on Monday’s Child, the second in a series of seven novels named for the days of the week. In each novel, I introduce a character who will be the hero or heroine of the next book.
The catalyst for the first tale was my speculation about the effects of war in an era in which there was no counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder. My hero is an honorable officer, who returns to England at the end of the war in the Iberian Peninsula, tortured from a tragic event. My heroine is an eighteen year old young lady, who once wanted to marry an army officer. However, after the deaths of her beloved father and brothers due to war, she no longer wants to marry a ‘military gentleman’ for fear he would be killed in battle. So, the reader will ask, how can the captain and the major’s daughter find peace and happiness?
N&R: Sunday’s Child was our first book together. It kept me intrigued right to the end. Our last one, Far Beyond Rubies is a beautiful story and has a bit of a paranormal theme running through it concerning reincarnation. I personally believe in the concept and so was quite happy to see a reference to it in what I consider more mainstream fiction. How important do you think it is to bring an author’s personal beliefs or interests into their work?
RM: I think an author can explore personal beliefs, such as reincarnation, in fiction, so long as they are in keeping with the characters. In other words, the reader should find them interesting, and the author should not attempt to foist her beliefs on the reader.
N&R: That sounds like a good rule of thumb.
Let’s share some blurbs and excerpts from your work.
Here’s the blurb from Tangled Love followed by a brief excerpt.
The throne has been usurped by James II’s daughter and son-in-law, Mary and William of Orange. In 1693, loyal to his oath of allegiance, ten year old Richelda’s father must follow James to France.
Before her father leaves, he gives her a ruby ring she will treasure and wear on a chain round her neck. In return Richelda swears an oath to try to regain their ancestral home, Field House.
By the age of eighteen, Richelda’s beloved parents are dead. She believes her privileged life is over. At home in dilapidated Belmont House, her only companions are her mother’s old nurse and her devoted dog, Puck. Clad in old clothes she dreams of elegant dresses and trusts her childhood friend Dudley, a poor parson’s son, who promised to marry her.
Richelda’s wealthy aunt takes her to London and arranges her marriage to Viscount Chesney, the new owner of Field House. Richelda is torn between love for Dudley and her oath to regain Field House, where it is rumored there is treasure. If she finds it, Richelda hopes to ease their lives. But, while trying to find it, will her life be at risk or will she find true love?
Nine year-old Richelda Shaw sat on the floor in her nursery. She pulled a quilt over her head to block out the thunder pealing outside the ancient manor house while an even fiercer storm raged deep within. Eyes closed, she remained as motionless as a marble statue.
Elsie, her mother’s personal maid, removed the quilt from her head. “Stand up child, there’s nothing to be frightened of. Come, your father’s waiting for you.”
Richelda trembled. Until now Father’s short visits from France meant gifts and laughter. This one made Mother cry while servants spoke in hushed tones.
Followed by Elsie, Richelda hurried down broad oak stairs. For a moment, she paused to admire lilies of the valley in a Delft bowl. Only yesterday, she picked the
flowers to welcome Father home and then arranged them with tender care. Now, the bowl stood on a chest, which stood beneath a pair of crossed broadswords hanging on the wall.
Elsie opened the massive door of the great hall where Father stood to one side of an enormous hearth. Richelda hesitated. Her eyes searched for her mother before she walked across the floor, spread her skirts wide, and knelt before him.
Father placed his right hand on her bent head. “Bless you, daughter, may God keep you safe.” He smiled. “Stand up, child. Upon my word, sweetheart, your hair reminds me of a golden rose. How glad I am to see roses bloom in these troubled times.”
Richelda stood but dared not speak for she did not know him well.
Putting an arm round her waist, he drew her to him. “Come, do not be nervous of your father, child. Tell me if you know King James II holds court in France while his daughter, Mary, and William, his son-in-law, rule after seizing his throne?”
“Yes, Mother told me we are well rid of King James and his Papist wife,” she piped up, proud of her knowledge.
With a sigh, Father lifted her onto his knee. “Richelda, I must follow His Majesty for I swore an oath of allegiance to him. Tell me, child, while King James lives, how can I with honour swear allegiance to his disloyal daughter and her husband?”
Unable to think of a reply, she lowered her head, breathing in his spicy perfume.
Father held her closer. “Your mother pleads with me to declare myself for William and Mary. She begs me not to return to France, but I am obliged to serve King James. Do you understand?”
As she nodded her cheek brushed against his velvet coat. “Yes, I understand, my tutor told me why many gentlemen will not serve the new king and queen.”
“If you remain in England, you will be safe. Bellemont is part of your mother’s dowry so I doubt it will be confiscated.”
If she remained in England! Startled, she stared at him.
Smiling, he popped her onto her feet. “We shall ride. I have something to show you.”
Before long, they drew rein on the brow of a hill. Father pointed at a manor house in the valley. “Look at our ancestral home, Field House. The Roundheads confiscated it soon after the first King Charles’ execution. Richelda, I promised my father to do all in my power to regain the property.” Grey-faced, he pressed his hand to his chest. “Alas, I have failed to keep my oath,” He wheezed.
Richelda not only yearned to help him keep his promise to her grandfather, she also yearned to find the gold and jewels legend said her buccaneer ancestor, Sir Nicholas, hid.
She waited for her father to breathe easy before she spoke. “If we found the treasure trove you could buy Field House.”
“Ah, you believe Sir Nicholas did not give all his plunder to Good Queen Bess,” he teased.
“Elsie told me legend says he hid some of his booty in Field House.” The thought of it excited her. “In his old age, when Sir Nicholas retired from seafaring, is it true that he put his ship’s figurehead, Lady Luck, in the great hall?”
“Yes, for all I know she is still above a mighty fireplace carved with pomegranates, our family’s device.”
“I would like to see it.”
“One day, perhaps you will. Now, tell me if you know our family motto.”
“Fortune favours the brave.”
“Are you brave, my little lady? Will you swear on the Bible to do all in your power to regain Field House?”
To please him, and excited by the possibility of discovering treasure, she nodded.
Here’s the blurb and excerpt from Sunday’s Child.
Georgianne Whitley’s happy life ends after the death of her beloved father and brothers.
In Sunday’s Child, Georgianne Whitley, must cope with her widowed mother in order to secure her happiness and that of her two younger sisters.
When Rupert, Major Tarrant returns to England from Spain in 1813, his family expect him to marry and father an heir, but although Tarrant wants to please his relations he has compelling reasons for not wanting to have a child.
A rich, elderly suitor desperate for a male heir seeks Georgianne’s hand in marriage. Although the titled man’s offer would improve her situation she hesitates to accept his proposal.
Georgianne, who has known Tarrant since she was in the nursery, turns to him for help. She knows he is quixotic and that he will never fail her. Yet, even in order to help her sisters she is not sure as to whether or not she wants to accept his solution to her problems.
Tarrant admires dainty Georgianne and wants to protect her, but if he expects her to conform to Regency conventions and manners he will be surprised. Sunday’s child is ‘fair of face’ but she is not a ‘bread and butter Miss’.
Neither Tarrant nor Georgianne can guess what the future holds.
Tarrant stood in quiet contemplation by the drawing room window framed by faded velvet green curtains.
Adrian Langely stared at him.“What are you looking at?”
“The wind whipping the leaves from the trees. Oh, what does the weather matter? We have campaigned in worse conditions.”
His friend’s smile made him look younger than his twenty-seven years. It transformed the deep lines of his square soldier’s face and softened his dark eyes. “Am I correct in thinking you favour the beautiful Miss Whitley?”
Tarrant shrugged. “I have known Miss Whitley since her infancy, and admit to a certain fondness for her.”
Langley grinned. “Be careful, my friend, before you know it, you will become a tenant for life.”
Tarrant turned away from the window. “I have not considered marriage for a long time, however, my father wants me to tie the knot and, in biblical terms, beget an heir.” As he spoke, his mind crowded with memories of ladies suffering in the hands of French soldiers, compatriots of those who had cheered each time a head rolled during the French Revolution.
At Langley’s mention of the lady to whom Tarrant was previously betrothed, Tarrant’s face contorted.
“I beg your pardon. I should not have mentioned her.” Langley cleared his throat. “You never told me why you broke it off. If you still love her is there no hope of making her your wife?”
“We did not break if off.” His shoulders slumped. “At the time I could not bear to speak of the matter. She was repeatedly raped by French soldiers. She died in childbirth.”
“My God! I did not know, I never guessed!” Langley exclaimed, jerked out of his usual calm.
Every muscle in Tarrant’s body contracted. He was present at the time of Dolores’s death. Even now, her screams, as she struggled to give birth, rang in his ears. He shuddered at the memory of his horror as those piercing cries faded to faint groans when Dolores delivered a stillborn baby. Overcome by grief he had made an impulsive vow never to be responsible for such suffering. He sighed. Since his elder brother’s death, he needed to fulfill his duty to father an heir, yet…
Tarrant clenched his teeth. Despite his avowal of undying love and his assurance that he would marry her after the baby’s birth, he doubted Dolores had wanted to live. Most likely, she had welcomed death.
He crossed the room and stared out of the window into the night. “I must see to my horse,” he said, his voice husky.
On the way to the stable, he paused to look up. Dark, silver-edged clouds raced across the full, lemon-yellow moon. He bent to rub his right leg. Although it had healed, it ached sometimes.
I am feverish, he thought, when he imagined Georgianne and Dolores’s faces merging. Usually, he tried not to think of gentle Dolores, in whose admiration he once basked. He sighed and entered the stable. Corunna, his grey, whickered a welcome. He stroked the horse’s neck, considering past events. After witnessing the consequences of the brutality of Boney’s officers and common soldiers toward the fair sex, like Langley, and many other gentlemen, he believed a nation’s civilisation should be judged by how it treated women. He despised men like Pennington, who thought their rank entitled them to grab anything they wanted without mercy.
Oh, he did not claim or wish to claim the virtues mouthed by men like Wilfred Stanton. Before his betrothal to Dolores, he had always enjoyed the petticoat company whom he treated with respect. At the same time, he had always taken care not to disgrace either his family or his regiment.
Here’s the blurb and an excerpt from False Pretences.
Five-year-old Annabelle arrived at boarding school fluent in French and English. Separated from her nurse, a dismal shadow blights Annabelle’s life because she does not know who her parents are.
Although high-spirited, Annabelle is financially dependent on her unknown guardian. She refuses to marry a French baron more than twice her age.
Her life in danger, Annabelle is saved by a gentleman, who says he will help her to discover her identity. Yet, from then on nothing is as it seems, and she is forced to run away for the second time to protect her rescuer.
Even more determined to discover her parents’ identity, in spite of many false pretences, Annabelle must learn who to trust. Her attempts to unravel the mystery of her birth, lead to further danger, despair, unbearable heartache and even more false pretences until the only person who has ever wanted to cherish her, reveals the startling truth, and all’s well that ends well.
The chaise came to a halt no more than two yards from Annabelle and Dan.
Annabelle swallowed the bitter bile, which rushed into her throat in response to her brush with near death from horse’s hooves and deadly wheels, and all her limbs trembled.
A groom alighted from the back of the chaise and opened the door nearest to her.
“Why the devil have we stopped?” a crisp male voice demanded.
The groom scrambled down from his seat next to the coachman, lowered the steps, and mumbled something before a tall gentleman descended.
Annabelle glanced at the coat of arms on the chaise and assumed they must be those of her would-be-bridegroom, for who else would travel along this short-cut to The Beeches so early in the morning? Besides, her mind was too preoccupied with Dan to consider other alternatives. “Monsieur le Baron de Beauchamp, I presume. Your arrival is more than welcome, monsieur.” She pointed at Dan, who lay limp on the road. “We need help. A footpad held us up. You cannot imagine a dirtier, scruffier, more impertinent person…”
“Indeed,” the gentleman murmured, his eyebrows lowered.
She stared up at Monsieur le Baron. Some six feet tall, dressed in a beautifully cut dark green coat, cream-coloured unmentionables almost moulded to his powerful legs, a dark grey coat with as many as twelve capes and a snow white, intricately tied cravat at his throat, her artist’s eyes approved of him. Her eyes also approved of his short black hair which curled at the ends, a pair of large brown eyes with golden depths, and a well-shaped, clearly defined mouth that had deep, endearing dimples on either side of it, softening the effect of his square jaw and cleft chin.
The baron picked up her hat, dusted it with gloved fingers, and inclined his head. “I regret I have no comb in hand for you to tidy your curls.”
She sighed, well able to imagine the small, unruly curls that often escaped and clustered round her face, despite her best efforts to subdue them.
“You are trembling. Allow me to help you to stand and I shall return your hat to you,” he said, his eyes troubled and his expression thoughtful.
She stood without his help and he handed the hat to her. “Thank you.” Made ill-at-ease by his scrutiny, she tried to smooth those annoying little curls before she replaced her hat. “Monsieur, a footpad took my saddlebags, knocked Dan down, and stole my mare.”
“Good God! Did he harm you?” The gentleman stepped forward to clasp her hands.
His touch sent fire up her arms. She pulled herself free from him, and then tried to shake the dirt from her skirts. “I am uninjured but, as you see, poor Dan is unconscious.” She knelt next to the stable boy. “He is so pale.”
“So would you be if you had been knocked senseless. Do stand up again. Rest assured that I will not leave the lad here. My groom shall put him on the floor of the chaise. That will not leave much room for our feet but we shall contrive until we reach the next village.”
Annabelle hesitated. She was not ignorant of the ways of the world, and knew she should not travel in his chaise without a chaperone, but realised she had no choice. It would be folly to reject his offer and either wait for help or walk to the inn, prey to any other footpad lurking in the woods. She stood and pointed in the opposite direction to the one from which the chaise had approached. “Dan said there is an inn not far from here.”
The baron beckoned to his groom. “Put the lad in the chaise,” he ordered.
When the muscular groom picked Dan up without the slightest difficulty, Dan did not stir.
“Gently,” the baron ordered and watched his groom settle the young man inside the chaise. The baron nodded at his coachman. “Turn the chaise round.” He turned to Annabelle and offered her his arm. Without pause for prudent hesitation, she put her hand on his smooth broadcloth sleeve, surprised by the sudden tingling in her fingertips.
Annabelle permitted him to lead her far enough down the road to make way for the chaise to turn.
“Good, you have stopped trembling.” The baron smiled. His dimples deepened. Her heart lurched and continued to when the baron scrutinised her face as they waited to get into the chaise. “May I ask how you know my name, Miss—?”
She removed her hand from his arm and looked down at the tips of her dusty riding boots. “I am Miss Allan. We were expecting you. That is, Miss Chalfont told me, oh dear, this is so awkward, monsieur. I am sorry to disappoint you, but I must be honest. Nothing would persuade me to marry you, for although your eyes do not bulge like a frog’s and you are handsome, you are too old for me.” Nervous, she moistened her lips with the tip of her tongue.
“Thank you for your compliment, I am relieved to hear my looks do not displease you,” the gentleman said dryly.
“Don’t try to persuade me to change my mind.” Her cheeks burned. She should not have been outspoken and rude. Yet she ran away because she did not want to marry at her guardian’s command, and she still believed she had no other choice despite Monsieur le Baron’s handsome appearance and charm. She peered up at him before resuming her contemplation of the tips of her boots.
Le monsieur’s mouth twitched. His eyes laughed at her. “Please be good enough to tell me why you are here with an unconscious ragamuffin.”
“I like to ride early in the morning.”
“Ah.” His eyes still laughed at her, their golden flecks deepening. “As soon as we reach the inn, I will send someone to notify the authorities of the crime.”
“Do you think my mare will be recovered?” She looked up at the seemingly harmless man whom Fanny had described as one overly fond of women. Thank God he was not ogling her. Even Miss Chalfont could not have objected to his manners. She
looked away from his expressive eyes, fringed with sooty black lashes, long enough to make any young lady envious.
Oh, she understood his success with the fair sex. Not only did he possess an attractive personality but he had broad shoulders and a slim waist, and those muscular thighs beneath the tight fitting unmentionables she had already noticed.
And finally, Far Beyond Rubies, the latest Rosemary Morris publication from MuseItUp Publishing.
Set in 1706 in England during Queen Anne Stuart’s reign, Far Beyond Rubies begins when William, Baron Kemp, Juliana’s half-brother, claims she and her young sister, Henrietta, are bastards. Spirited Juliana is determined to prove the allegation is false, and that she is the rightful heiress to Riverside, a great estate.
On his way to deliver a letter to William, Gervaise Seymour sees Juliana for the first time on the grounds of her family home. The sight of her draws him back to India. When “her form changed to one he knew intimately—but not in this lifetime,” Gervaise knows he would do everything in his power to protect her.
Although Juliana and Gervaise are attracted to each other, they have not been formally introduced and assume they will never meet again. However, when Juliana flees from home, and is on her way to London, she encounters quixotic Gervaise at an inn. Circumstances force Juliana to accept his kind help. After Juliana’s life becomes irrevocably tangled with his, she discovers all is not as it seems. Yet, she cannot believe ill of him for, despite his exotic background, he behaves with scrupulous propriety, while trying to help her find evidence to prove she and her sister are legitimate.
“Bastards, Juliana! You and your sister are bastards.”
Aghast, Juliana stared at William, her older half-brother, although, not for a moment did she believe his shocking allegation.
It hurt her to confront William without their father at her side. At the beginning of April, she and Father were as comfortable as ever in his London house. Now, a month later, upon her return to her childhood home, Riverside House, set amongst the rolling landscape of Hertfordshire, his body already lay entombed in the family crypt next to her mother’s remains. Would there ever be a day when she did not mourn him? A day when she did not weep over his loss?
A cold light burned in the depths of William’s pebble-hard eyes.
Juliana straightened her neck. She would not bow her head, thus giving him the satisfaction of revealing her inner turmoil.
William cleared his throat. His eyes gleamed. “Did you not know you and your sister were born on the wrong side of the blanket?”
Anger welled up in her. “You lie. How dare you make such a claim?”
Hands clasped on his plump knees, William ignored her protestation. “You now know the truth about your whore of a mother,” he gloated.
Well, she knew what William claimed, but did not believe him. “You are wicked to speak thus. My mother always treated you kindly.”
“As ever, you are a haughty piece.” William’s broad nostrils flared. Anger sparked in his eyes. “My dear sister, remember the adage: Pride goeth before a fall, however, do not look so worried. I shall not cast you out without the means to support yourself.”
William rang the silver handbell. When a lackey clad in blue and gold livery answered its summons, he ordered the man to pour a glass of wine.
Juliana watched William raise the crystal glass to his lips. What did he mean? How could she maintain herself and her sister? She had not been brought up to earn a living.
She looked away from her half-brother to glance around the closet, the small, elegantly furnished room in which she kept her valuables and conducted her private correspondence before her father’s death.
Now it seemed, William, the seventh Baron Kemp, and his wife, Sophia, had sought to obliterate every trace of her by refurbishing the closet. Where were her books and her embroidery frame? Where was Mother’s portrait? Rage burned in the pit of her stomach while she looked around her former domain. Juliana wanted to claw William’s fat cheeks. It would please her to hurt him as he was hurting her. No, that wish was both childish and unchristian. She must use her intelligence to defeat him.
At least her family portrait—in which her late mother sat in front of Father, and she and William, dressed in their finest clothes, stood on either side of Mother—remained in place. One of her father’s hands rested on her pretty mother’s shoulder, the other on the back of the chair. A handsome man, she thought—while admiring his relaxed posture and frank expression, both of which depicted a man at his ease.
At the age of five, she already had resembled Mother when Godfrey Kneller painted her family in 1693. They both had large dark eyes and a riot of black curls, as well as fair complexions tinged with the colour of wild roses on their cheeks. She touched her narrow, finely sculpted nose. Judging by the portraits, she inherited her straight nose, oval face, and determined jaw from Father.
Her hands trembled. After Father died, she knew life would never be the same again. Yet nothing had prepared her for what would follow.
Today, when she first stepped into the spacious hall, it seemed as though she had also stepped over an invisible threshold. From being a beloved daughter of the house, she had become her half-brother’s pensioner. Knowing William and Sophia’s miserly natures, she doubted they would deal kindly with her. Yet she could not have anticipated William’s appalling accusation of illegitimacy, and his arrangement—whatever it might be—for her to earn her living.
The lackey served William with another glass of wine.
William jerked his head at the man. “Go.”
Her head still held high, Juliana looked at tall, fleshy William. She liked him no more than he liked her. Indeed, who would not dislike a man so parsimonious that he neither offered his half-sister the common courtesy of either a seat or a glass of wine? Infuriated by his gall, she clasped her hands tighter, trying to contain her anger and keep her face impassive.
She shivered. Today, when she alighted from the coach, rain soaked her clothes. On such a wet, grey day, why did no fire blaze in the hearth? Here, in the closet, it was scarcely warmer than outdoors. She clenched her hands to stop them trembling and imagined the heart of the house had died with Father.
“You shall put your fine education, which our father boasted of, to good use,” William gloated. “You shall be a teacher at a school in Bath.”
Fury flooded Juliana’s chilled body. “Shall I?”
“Yes. Our father saw fit for you to have an education far beyond your needs. You are more than qualified to teach young ladies.”
“Beyond my needs? Father admired Good Queen Bess and other learned ladies of her reign. He deplored Queen Anne’s lack of education. Our father decided no daughter of his would be as ignorant as Her Majesty and her late sister, Queen Mary.”
The purple-red colour of William’s cheeks deepened. “Enough! I despise over-educated women.”
She stared at him. Undoubtedly his mean-minded wife had influenced him. Sophia was jealous because her own schooling comprised of only simple figuring, reading, and writing learned at her mother’s knee, whereas Juliana benefited both from the tutors her tolerant father, the sixth baron, had engaged, and her father’s personal tuition.
William interrupted her thoughts. “You have no claim on me.”
N&R: That is an amazing collection of work. I have read and reread them all and still could do it again. I encourage all my readers to purchase copies through MuseItUp Publishing. These are very intricate stories with adventure for both sexes. Is there one of your books in particular which you like more than the others?
RM: I like all of my novels equally, but am particularly pleased that Far Beyond Rubies has been published because it gave me the opportunity to develop various themes, such as reincarnation, which I have mentioned.
N&R: Can you tell us a bit about the novel you are working on right now without giving away too much of the plot?
RM: Monday’s Child begins in Brussels shortly after Napoleon has escaped from Elba. The hero and heroine are characters introduced in Monday’s Child. They assumed they would marry, but unforeseen events will intervene.
Here are my author’s notes and my draft of the first, very short chapter.
Monday’s child is fair of face.
First line of Monday’s child poem
* * * *
After the collapse of Napoleonic France a new country, called The United Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed. It incorporated the former Austrian Netherlands (Belgium), and the Dutch provinces. The United Kingdom of the Netherlands formed a buffer state between France—the throne of which Louis XVIII, the Bourbon king, had ascended—and land-hungry Prussia. To strengthen the borders, British troops were stationed in the country which the Duke of Wellington visited on his way to Vienna for the peace conference.
The defeat of Napoleon and the restoration of the rule of the House of Orange resulted in debt ridden English people flocking to Brussels where they could reduce their expenses.
* * * *
Helen Whitley frowned as she regarded her reflection in the full-length mirror of her luxurious bedchamber, in the house which her brother-in-law, Rupert, Major Tarrant, and her older sister, Georgianne, had rented on the Rue Royale.
“If you will permit me to say so, you look beautiful, Miss,” her middle-aged dresser said, smiling shyly while she bent to tweak one of the six frills at the hem of the new, cream silk gown into place.
Helen sighed at the sight of the soft folds of the gown which flowed from beneath her breasts. “Thank you, Mabey,” she said, in a flat tone of voice.
She scrutinised the low-cut bodice, ornamented with tiny seed pearls, and her pearl necklace and earrings. Although, in her own opinion she was too tall for beauty, she was the epitome of a well-dressed young lady, about to attend a ball.
The expression in the green eyes gazing at her from the mirror softened. Soon Viscount Langley, Rupert’s comrade in arms, would arrive in Brussels and propose marriage to her. Afterward, she would insist they loved each other so dearly that there was no reason to delay their wedding, and then she would be free from Georgianne and Rupert’s charity.
Another long drawn out sigh escaped her as she coaxed a brown, pomaded curl into place on her forehead. She was an ungrateful wretch. Through marriage to Rupert, their cousin-in-law, Georgianne had saved her from a life of unhappiness.
Subsequently, Langley’s tender consideration and kind words had made it obvious that he loved her.
“Miss?” Mabey held out a pair of elbow-length white kid gloves.
Helen put them on, her head filled with thoughts of Langley, and then allowed Mabey to enfold her in a rose-pink velvet cloak which would keep her warm on her way to the ball with Georgianne and Cousin Rupert. Once, she had looked forward to making her debut in society. Now that she was part of it, her enjoyment was diminished by Langley’s absence. The evening would be perfect if he were at the ball. Oh, how she longed for the day when they would be man and wife. © 2013 Rosemary Morris
N&R: I’m looking forward to that one coming across my desk.
Is there anything you would like to share with up and coming historical fiction writers?
RM: It is embarrassing to admit I wrote for many years without securing an agent or a publisher. Fortunately, my late husband encouraged me to continue. He said that one day all my novels would be published. He was right, after much revision some of them have been. Along the path to publication I studied books on how to write, attended some workshops, and joined one to one and online critique groups. This helped me to polish my novels. However, from time to time I was advised to write something different—e.g. cosy crime, contemporary novels—because historical fiction is not as popular as it used to be. I did not agree with this well meant advice and continued to write historical fiction.
In my opinion, up and coming historical fiction writers should make sure they are not writing about 21st century characters plunked in the past. They should ensure that their characters are of their time and place, which means authors should not skimp on meticulous research.
N&R: Very good advice.
Well thank you for visiting and we wish you well in all your future literary endeavors.
RM: Thank you very much.
N&R: For our readers, the following links will connect you to Rosemary’s website, blogs and locations to purchase her work. Please support this very talented writer. I really look forward to working with her more in the future as an editor; it certainly offers me a great opportunity to be one of the first to read her genuinely well-crafted stories.