Monday, 24 April 2017

The Heavenly Horse

Heavenly Horse

Akhal-Teke horses are well-known for speed and endurance, intelligence, and for the distinctive metallic sheen of their coat. Natives of Turkmenistan, the bloom on the coat acts as camouflage in the shimmering desert heat. Prized for their beauty as well as their strength and skill, they are known as the Heavenly Horses. These horses are thought to be one of the oldest existing breeds in the world.
No wonder Arnaut de Montailhac is so proud of his Akhal-Teke, Zephyre. [in Scandalous Lady ]
… Olivia was still fascinated by the shimmering golden horse.
‘Mademoiselle,’ said the newcomer, ‘I am delighted to meet you at last. And I agree with you,’ he waved a hand expressively, ‘ My horse is the most beautiful creature you ever saw, n’est-ce pas?’
She was obliged to laugh. ‘Monsieur. Truly, he took my breath away. I have never seen such a proud animal and his coat is extraordinary – like metal.’
He wheeled round to ride beside her as they turned back towards the city. ‘This is Zephyre. He is an Akhal-Teke, a horse from the deserts of Turkmenistan,’ he explained as she shook her head in puzzlement. ‘He is fleet and strong, hey, my Zephyre?’ He leaned forward to pat the animal’s neck and the stallion tossed his head proudly.
The gentleman had a pronounced French accent but he spoke English without any hesitation. Olivia studied him from under her lashes as they rode on. She had noticed that Richard merely exchanged a nod with this gentleman. So they had met before. When? Why had he appeared now? She felt darkly suspicious but what could happen? They were merely riding back home after all. Soon she would be shut up inside four walls for another day of heartache. Her throat closed up as the misery surged up again. Don’t think ahead, enjoy the rest of this ride. At least for the moment she could admire this superb new horse.
She studied at the shining golden stallion as he trotted gracefully along. At once, her companion smiled and nodded. ‘I see you truly appreciate him. But these horses only accept one master.’
‘How splendid,’ she said wistfully, ‘He moves so beautifully.’
That was enough encouragement. The gentleman launched into a list of all Zephyre’s qualities. By the time he finally stopped for breath, Olivia had caught some of his enthusiasm. She managed a smile.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Regency author Vonnie Hughes is my guest

Hello Vonnie. Thank you for accepting my invitation to talk about your latest book.

Could you tell us something about the subjet?

DANGEROUS HOMECOMING was originally titled COMING HOME. It is a Regency historical and was aimed at the British market, but I have since discovered that the majority of my readers are American. Under the circumstances, when my U.K. publisher closed down, I retitled the novel, made some alterations and self-published it. The audio rights to the original are with another British publisher.
What led you to write about this theme?

Most of all I like the theme of redemption. The only fairy tales that called to me were ones where the hero or heroine attained redemption after struggling through great adversity and they were redeemed by the strength of their character(s).

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

It entailed the usual heavy research which is essential when writing in the historical genre. But as I come from the Antipodes and did not have information at my fingertips such as a British writer would, I had to make doubly sure that my facts were correct.

And what was the most enjoyable part?

Doing the editing! I love editing; writing the story not so much. But as you edit it all falls together and you can think, “I like this book.”

What motivated you to write about this period?

The Peninsular Wars are a favourite setting for me. After reading Georgette Heyer in my teens, I subsequently married a man with an antique arms collection which included various swords, duelling pistols and shotguns from the Regency era. Recently we travelled to Spain and saw a couple of the 1809-1812 battlefields for ourselves. 

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Our family owns many history books and that is where I start. Sure, there are great references online, but you have to remember that much of the information online is uploaded by people with an axe to grind. Whatever I read online I then verify from library books or more importantly, personal diaries.

How do you choose names for your characters?

Now I must admit that with the contemporary romantic suspenses I write, deciding on names is much easier! I can even invent one or two if I like. But when you write historicals you must use era-appropriate names and it is surprising how narrow the field is. There are only so many derivatives of Elizabeth and Mary and Henry. It can be a real challenge to name characters appropriately, particularly if one is perhaps the villain or anti-hero and needs a darker name.

What elements do you consider make a character believable?

I am not sure. Some authors have a gift for making the most improbable characters sound authentic. I’m referring to writers such as Sandra Brown (contemporary suspense) and Amanda Quick (historical romance). I think the depth of a character’s emotions make them believable more than anything else. A lacklustre characterisation makes for a light-weight hero or heroine.  

If you could go somewhere for a few months to write, where in the world would you go?

Italy, Italy and did I say – Italy?

Which authors do you choose to read for pleasure?

I re-read Georgette Heyer – not just her historicals but also her detective fiction. Other authors I love to re-read are Mary Stewart and Beverly Barton. Authors still writing whose work I enjoy and learn from are Tami Hoag, Lisa Gardner, Jayne Ann Krentz, Michael Connelly and J.D. Robb. Those are well-known writers. But I also number favourites among less known writers such as Maris Soule, K.M. Rockwood and Daniel Silva.  

What do you do when the inspiration falters?

Get angry with myself! I read and read and read and watch mindless T.V. And I people-watch. Eventually my faltering imagination fires up again.

 How do you make time for writing?

Lock out the world and put fingers on keys.

What are some ways in which you promote your work?  Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?

Oh, I hate, hate marketing. My blog site remains vacant for months at a time. But I belong to many online Yahoo groups and Facebook groups and I try to do a soft sell on those. I absolutely detest that “Hey, look at me!” stuff. Occasionally I get asked to do talks at one of the local libraries, and I quietly leave my personalised pens lying around on the shelves at bookshops or in libraries. I also belong to a lot of writing groups generally.

What projects are you working on at present?

Almost finished a romantic suspense (with the emphasis on suspense) for the Lobster Cove series at The Wild Rose Press. I also have a few bits and pieces of half written historicals and I’m going through them at the moment discarding some ideas and developing others.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Take your writing more seriously. You would have succeeded better if you’d not looked on it as a hobby but more of a career. Shove other distractions aside.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Depends on the book. Two Regency historicals (one named THE SECOND SON and a Regency novella called ENTANGLEMENT) took only four months each. But mainly my books take a good year to write.

Do you find Social media useful?

Useful? She grinds her teeth. Yes and no. It can waste your time, but it does help to get the word out there.

 Do you use elements from your day job in your plots?

Yes, definitely (in my contemporary suspenses I mean).

Thank you, Vonnie, for sharing your ideas and writing tips with us. Now let's look at the details of how to find your novel.

On April 2  I self-published a Regency re-release. It was originally called COMING HOME, but if you look at Amazon you will see that there is a plethora of books all with that name.  I altered some of the text to a more universal standard since the original publishers were British and upgraded the title to DANGEROUS HOMECOMING

It is available here:

They are both scarred by war; she because of the shattered men she nurses; he because of the loss of friends and the horrors he must endure daily.

Colwyn Hetherington has a chance to put it all behind him and return to England. Juliana Colebrook desperately wants to go to England to seek out her relatives. They take an almighty chance and travel together, setting in train a series of events that neither could have anticipated.

With only their love to sustain them, they clash head-on with the reality of England, 1813.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

At The Swan at Alresford

File:John Cordrey - A Gentleman with His Pair of Bays Harnessed to a Curricle - Google Art Project.jpg

Driving in Giles' curricle behind his splendid matched horses, Anna cannot help enjoying the ride. They stop in Alresford at The Swan, for a meal.  

Anna was impressed by the ease and speed with which Giles whisked her into a private parlour. She was even more impressed when a meal started to appear almost immediately. The drive had made her hungry. She removed her bonnet and came to survey the food on the table. The serving boy was hurrying in with a large dish of vegetables. Anna sniffed appreciatively. 'That smells delicious.'
            The young man looked up, gaped at her and set the dish down too close to the edge of the table. There was a mighty crash, which brought him back to his senses. 'Sorry, sorry, miss…sir…' He fled.
            Giles shook his head, his mouth thin with annoyance. Anna smiled uncertainly. 'That was a silly thing to do-' she began but stopped as the landlady bustled in and quickly cleared up the mess. She gave the floor a last wipe and straightened up. She glared at Anna then turned her fearsome gaze on Giles before sweeping out. The serving boy came back in, eyes lowered and bashfully set another dish of vegetables down carefully before scuttling out and closing the door behind him.
            Giles sighed as he carved the sirloin. 'I must remember not to come here again for some considerable time.'
            'Why ever is that?' Anna inspected all the dishes eagerly and helped herself to a generous portion of vegetables. 'Mmm, carrots, my favourite.' When there was no answer to her question, she eventually looked up. Giles was leaning back in his chair, watching her.
            'Are you not hungry?' she asked, eager to begin her meal but making herself wait until he had served himself.
            He shook his head slowly. There was a strange little smile on his face. 'Miss Lawrence, you are an education. I begin to perceive that I have taken on a new role in life. Perhaps it's doing me good.' He poured some lemonade into her glass. 'Behold me in the position of chaperon!'
            Anna frowned over this. 'Surely we are only two travellers, whose paths go together for a short while?' 

            He laughed. 'You just do not understand, do you? You have been too sheltered from the real world. You bewitched that poor mooncalf of a serving boy. And you're not aware of why, are you?' He set his glass down abruptly. 'And the landlady evidently thinks I'm running away with you.'

excerpt from The Rake's Challenge

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Another Rake, revisited

Today I'm a guest on Sherry Gloag's The Heart of Romance Blog.

On the theme of 'Books Revisited' I discuss my story of the summer holiday in Brighton that so nearly ended in disaster - but thanks to the Rake, all turned out well.

                                                                                                                                                                        File:King George IV when Prince Regent (1762-1830), by Henry Bone.jpg

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Blogger Beth Elliott said...
On a sunny day like today, it's easy to think of Giles driving Anna in his curricle along the leafy lanes of yesteryear...
Thank you so much, Sherry for hosting me and my characters.
15 March 2017 at 09:55
Blogger Jane Risdon said...
Fabulous reading this and getting into your head and finding out about Giles. I must read more glossies. Much success Beth, wonderful.
21 March 2017 at 15:57

Friday, 10 March 2017

First meeting

                         It all starts badly

Riding on a vital mission through the Pyrenees, Louise is pursued by Napoleon's agents. A mighty thunderstorm makes matters worse. Then, when she seeks shelter in a cavern, it seems that is the worst choice she could make. 

She was shivering more violently than ever as he reached them and held his lantern aloft, training it first on Joseph and then on her. She forced herself to sit straight, and stared into a dark, angry face with gleaming eyes that seemed to see through her disguise.
 Joseph said something in the local dialect. Louise made out only a few words, just enough to know that Joseph had not revealed she was a woman. He had merely asked for shelter. The man held the lantern closer. His almond eyes were suspicious.
 ‘How am I to know you're not a spy?’ he growled. At least he spoke French, not this dialect she could scarcely follow.
 A surge of dislike rushed through her at his hostility. ‘I am on an urgent mission,’ she croaked, through chattering teeth. ‘I must get to my rendezvous quickly. But someone is pursuing me and I need to escape them. If you are unwilling to give us shelter from this storm, we'll leave now before night falls.’ She tugged at her horse’s bridle but to her dismay, she swayed and nearly toppled from the saddle. The man looked more closely.
 ‘You’re just a boy,’ he exclaimed, putting a hand on her horse’s nose. The beast immediately stilled. ‘Very well. Get down. You can strip off and dry.’
 Oh heavens! He would discover her secret; and as she thought again of that woman’s moans, she feared he was not to be trusted. But Joseph had already dismounted and was holding her bridle. The flash of rage had faded, leaving her head spinning with fatigue. She slid off the horse and her knees buckled. The stranger caught hold of her.
 ‘Not a seasoned adventurer, are you?’ He laughed and slid an arm round her ribs to steady her. She felt his hand jerk as it encountered her breast.  Awareness snaked through her as he brought his head close, examining her face keenly.
 ‘No, leave me,’ she protested, ‘I can manage.’ Panicked, she pulled away but staggered and sank to her knees with a little sob. Immediately his strong arms were hauling her up. Then everything blurred. 

The book is available here :

and it will be on free offer between 14th - 18th March

Louise's cavern in the Pyrenees. She was so glad to get out of it !!

Monday, 27 February 2017

Turkish Delights and Gallic Fights



When they met in London in 1799, Rose Charteris and Tom Hawkesleigh fell instantly in love. But disapproving families and misunderstandings came between them, and the romance was over as quickly as it started. Five years later, Tom is working for the Turkish ambassador in Constantinople and he runs into Rose once again...will she succumb to her desires and give Tom back her heart?

1813. Napoleon is on the rampage through France. Louise Fauriel comes from a family of talented silversmiths. Using their art shop as a front, the family run messages between the Comte d’Artois and his brother, King Louis. But Napoleon’s Secret Police are patrolling the area, searching for any signs of a revolt and keen to intercept any messages that could harm their campaign...

Turkey, 1811. Olivia Hartford falls in love with the magical land of Turkey and meets a number of interesting people, like Lady Hester Stanhope, niece of the prime minister of England, and intrepid world traveller. And then there is the handsome Selim, cousin to the Sultan. Is Olivia destined to live a life of solitude and regret? Or will her past stay buried long enough for her to have her happy ending?

Friday, 3 February 2017

The Rake And His Honour

   This is the story of Arnaut, the second brother in the Montailhac family 
    and of his brave companion, Louise.


Together they travel between France and England, not always avoiding Napoleon's elite spies but determined to succeed in their mission.

                          to buy:

Street in Saint Lizier in the Pyrenees

Hartwell House, residence of the French king in exile, Louis XVIII

Image result for French king's fleur de lys