A bit of background to the Peninsular War? Or maybe a visit to a Turkish yali [seaside mansion] and a peep into a harem. The Basingstoke Canal - or taking the waters at Bath. Or a wander round Jane Austen's garden at Chawton, seen in the picture below.
A scrapbook of facts and details about the Regency period that I use in my stories.
Saturday, 27 April 2013
A Taste of Eastern Splendour
APRIL AND MAY
Caught in a compromising
situation with Tom, Rose is whisked away in disgrace and hastily married off.
Four years later, widowed but still heartsore that Tom abandoned her without a
struggle, she is horrified to encounter him again - and in Constantinople
of all places. Worse, she has to work with him on a secret document for the
Sultan. Kerim Pasha, the powerful and
handsome minister, is entranced by Rose's English beauty and immediately spirits
her off into his home.
Tom has never forgotten
Rose but even now, the misunderstandings continue. In addition, Rose is
determined to maintain her hard-won independence. But back in London, she soon finds that not only Tom, but
Kerim Pasha also, has arrived and
neither has given up hope of winning her.
Published by Robert Hale ISBN 9780709090427
READ AN EXCERPT
This is from Chapter 2, when Tom and Rose come face to face so unexpectedly, after a long gap, in Constantinople.
Tom gulped and frowned at the empty glass.
Just what had Mehmet put in the hoshaf? To his annoyance, a large blot was
spreading over his sketch. With a sigh he set his pen down and looked up again
reluctantly. Apparently it was not an illusion. The three dark shapes were
Not for the
first time he found himself wishing that he knew just what he was looking at.
Some ladies wore only the lightest of silken veils and you could more or less
look them in the eye. These three were completely hidden. He scowled. How dare
they invade his office at such a time.
them he spotted Sebastian Welland, making frantic gestures to him to stand.
With a sigh, Tom rose to his full six foot three. There was a rustle as three
heads shifted upwards beneath their wraps. From behind one of the veils came a
sudden sharp intake of breath. Then silence. Tom’s thick brows drew down as he
glared from one to the other, waiting. Normally women did not appear in public
offices, especially Turkish women. Was it some kind of plot to disrupt these
now reappeared, together with Mehmet, carrying chairs. As he placed the seats
for the visitors the young man stammered: ‘Ladies, this is our special envoy,
Mr Hawkesleigh.’ Turning to Tom he quailed at the glare he received but
persevered in his explanation. ‘I know you said you were not to be disturbed…
but…but the Ambassador’s guest is still here…’
glared again at his unwelcome visitors. ‘I regret I cannot spare any time at
At this, the
smallest one put back her veil with an impatient gesture. Tom saw that she was
fair skinned and haired. She looked to be in her late forties and had a keen,
Emily Westacote,’ she said briskly, ‘and these are my two nieces.’
echoed Tom. ‘Sir Philip Westacote, the antiquarian…?’
Westacote nodded. ‘Just so. I am his wife. And we are in need of help.’
what way ma’am?’ Tom knew his tone was less than cordial. She probably wanted permits
to excavate some godforsaken ruin in a remote and bandit-infested area of the Levant. Surely it could wait half an hour. His frustrated
gaze turned to the other two females. They had not removed their veils.
Westacote followed his gaze. ‘Girls!’ she said reprovingly. At this the figure
on her left raised her arms and put back the heavy veil to reveal a lovely face
with huge pansy brown eyes and shining dark hair. Tom’s eyebrows lifted a
little and Sebastian gaped in frank admiration. Then their heads all turned
expectantly towards the last veiled figure. There was a pause then very slowly
she raised her arms. Tom could sense the reluctance with which she folded back
her veil. Then he drew in his breath sharply. His brows met across his
formidable nose in a deep frown.
young lady met Tom’s eyes. Her oval face was pale and mask-like. Her hair was
the colour of ripe wheat, just as he remembered. Tom felt a kind of pressure on
his heart. Of all the impossible coincidences. What could bring Rose Graham
me to present Mrs Rosalind Charteris,’ Lady Westacote indicated the fair haired
girl, ‘and her sister, Miss Helena Graham.’
So she was married now. Tom could feel the blood draining from his cheeks. He
kept his face impassive as he sketched a bow in the general direction of the
young ladies. The surge of emotion and anger swamped him. For a moment he could
not speak. Then he recovered enough to snap his fingers at Sebastian, who was
still gazing from one beauty to the other. The young man gulped, nodded and
disappeared, to return a few minutes later with Mehmet and the tray of glasses
and fruit juice.
While Mehmet poured drinks for the ladies,
Tom stole a look at Rose Charteris. She was every bit as lovely as his memory
of her. That glorious hair, so silky and thick, her creamy skin and that
provocative pink mouth. He clenched his jaw against the memory of their last
meeting. In spite of the years abroad, he had not forgotten the feel of her in
his arms. He instinctively knew how ill at ease she was. She had not expected
to find him here. She was gazing round the room, not looking in his direction.
His mouth twisted. So what! She had married another man. And why was he
surprised at that? She had never answered a single one of the many letters he
had sent her. (C) Beth Elliott