The fault, dear Brutus ….

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May everything you touch wither to dust.’ Cursed? Or just unlucky? Shehanne Moore

    ‘The question is this. I cursed you. I cursed you and your brothers –” 

   “One of whom—” 

   “Blew his brains out at midnight. Do you seriously think I didn’t trouble myself to find out?”

     “Oh, I’m sure-“
 

     “May everything you touch, turn to dust.”’ 

   Cursed? Or just unlucky? Nice to think it’s the latter but legends of curses permeate practically every culture in history. from entire families to items—jewels especially—but places too. It would be good to say we just like someone to blame misfortune on but then again, some folks don’t seem to have a lot of good fortune, do they? 

   Let’s take my new heroine, Destiny who is the victim of just such a curse…

   “But the fact was that curse uttered for nothing had killed Ennis, as surely as if Divers O’Roarke had pushed his carriage down that ravine that night.” 

   It’s very convenient to believe that all the loss and tragedy that follows Destiny about like a bad smell is the result of that curse, when it was probably on the cards anyway. Also, at the time she was cruising for the proverbial bruising, causing besotted men to shoot each other, this could just have been a wind change in her life, a what-goes-round-comes-round time. But then again, the loss of a mother, father, brother, husband and more in the space of two years, not to mention another brother becoming an alcoholic, does seem the kind of misfortune that would give the Kennedy family a run for their money in the cursed stakes. 

     And I think that is where curses have their power—superstitious–but even so. Would you really want to flout a curse by wearing the Hope diamond for example? Or indeed by then touching someone who was cursed? 

   From Land’s End to Launceston people avoided her like she had the plague. In fact it was probably from Land’s End to John O’Groats. She couldn’t get another husband even if she wanted to.” 

     Whether it is balderdash or not, if something goes wrong after you flout a curse, well, you are probably going to blame the curse and wish you hadn’t done it, even if curses may, or may not exist. The Rhodes family aren’t alone in being cursed. Other famous families, in addition to the Kennedys, include the Hapsburgs, the Grimaldis, the Hemingways. I guess the Romanovs weren’t exactly what you might call lucky either.

     Of course big families like that, in terms of being newsworthy, of having wealth etc., are always going to find their bones being picked over by the ‘lesser mortals.’ And the Rhodes family have that local standing.

     ‘She was a Rhodes and Rhodes were all about living life to the hilt.’

     Big old house, family tree going back centuries, suggestions of links to pirates, definite links to smugglers. Legends surround them, like Raven’s Passage, said to stretch from their family seat, Doom Bar Hall, all the way to the beach, a fabulous place stuffed with golden treasures.

 

 It’s easy to say that some of these real families were cursed when you can point to the actual curse itself, how it came to be uttered and who was responsible. Rasputin, of course gets held responsible for cursing the Romanovs but as a family they had plenty of misfortune before that. Nicholas II’s father and grandfather didn’t exactly fare brilliantly either and Rasputin never cursed them. But then the times they were living in were pretty explosive. No pun intended actually. Just pointing out the possible carnage/ill heath rate which brings me to the Brontës, another family that might be construed as cursed. Equally fame eventually touched them, so we know of their lives. But their deaths were the lot of entire families especially given the unsanitary conditions of the time. 

     The thing about curses? I honestly think you pay your money you take your chances…NOW go open the voddie and do Cossack dances.

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 “He cursed you, me, Chancery. You most of all. Think how different your life would now be if he hadn’t uttered these damnable words. When Chancery loved Rose. Wanted to marry her, for God’s sake. That Divers O’Roarke didn’t know is no damned excuse.”

     “I am thinking. And I’m thinking we are the life we live. Its graces and its pain. And while we may not always have any control over it, we can control what we do about it. But if you want to believe in a load of old gypsy mutterings and superstition and hold it responsible for the fact you can’t walk past a drink, without feeling obliged to down and then drown in it, that’s your choice. This is mine.’

O’Roarke’s Destiny Shehanne Moore.

Catherine Cavendish and a dark veil…

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Hellens – Heart, History and Hauntings

 

Helens – Heart, History and Hauntings  BY CATHEINE CAVENDISH

Helens – Heart, History and Hauntings  BY CATHEINE CAVENDISH

I spent the first two years of my life in a little village, some 16 miles from Hereford, called Much Marcle. These days Marcle is best known for the incredible success story that is Westons Cider, but back in the twelfth century, the foundations were laid for a house that, over the centuries, has seen more than its fair share of history. Not bad for a manor house in a sleepy little backwater of rural Herefordshire.

Hellens (said to be named after the de Helyon family who were early owners of the property) has changed hands many times over the centuries. Early inhabitants were witnesses to the signing of the Magna Carta. Much later, in the sixteenth century, owner Richard Walwyn was knighted by Mary Tudor. She dubbed him (for reasons probably best left to her) Knight of the Carpet. Elizabeth I forgave him when she came to the throne. Sadly this didn’t stop him from dying bankrupt and, by 1619, Hellens was reported to be in ruins.

 

Over the next century, Hellens enjoyed mixed fortune and not a little tragedy. During the Civil War, the Walwyns fought on the King’s side. The opposing Parliamentarian forces stormed Hellens, where the family priest was acting as caretaker. They found his hiding place, dragged him out and stabbed him repeatedly with their halberds, until the poor man resembled a porcupine. He died in the room where Mary Tudor is supposed to have stayed – Bloody Mary’s Chamber. When I was there, a woman on the same tour reported feeling a distinct cold spot near the fireplace and many unwitting tourists have reported being chased out of there by a figure resembling a Catholic monk.

 

Also, at this time, a body was allegedly buried under the floorboards, where it remains to this day. The corpse is that of Sir Henry Lingen, killed in battle at Ledbury (three miles way). Does Sir Henry walk the house at dead of night? And where, precisely, is his body? No one – as yet – knows because it has never been found.

But the hapless priest certainly isn’t the only ghost to wander the rooms of Hellens. Around 1700, someone scratched a message on a window pane in a room now known as ‘Hetty’s Room’. It reads: ‘It is a part of virtue to abstain from what we love if it should prove our bane.’ This sorrowful little homily was etched using a diamond ring, but who did it?

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Hetty Walwyn, daughter of the house, eloped with a local lad called John Piercel, but he abandoned her and, with nowhere else to go, she was forced to return home and throw herself on the mercy of her family. But there was little mercy for Hetty. Her mother marched her up to her bedroom and locked her in. Poor Hetty was to be denied human companionship for the next 30 years, until she died, still incarcerated in that one room. The only way she could communicate was by pulling a cord which rang a solitary bell. Visitors can still do this – and a more mournful, lonely sound you could hardly imagine. Needless to say, there was no way anyone could reply to her. Interestingly, her faithless lover may have repented, for high on the outside of the window, his name – John Piercel – is scratched, along with the date – 1702. Poor Hetty haunts the room to this day. If you visit, maybe you’ll hear her weeping…softly…just behind you.

Over the next 200 years, ownership of the house changed frequently until Hilda Pennington Mellor, became its new chatelaine in 1945. She married the philanthropist and scientist, Axel Munthe who was physician to the Queen of Sweden. Axel Munthe is most famous for writing bestselling book, The Story of San Michele, about his adventures in restoring a house on Capri, which had been built on the foundations of Emperor Tiberias’s villa. Professionally, he worked tirelessly through outbreaks of cholera and typhus – not to mention earthquakes – tending to the sick, during the years he worked in Italy. He refused to take any money for his services from the poor and even established a hospice for elderly, destitute people in a castle outside Rome.

Today, the descendants of Hilda and Axel still call Hellens home, and the house plays a major role in village life in a variety of ways. This carries on a long tradition. My mother remembered attending the Coronation Ball there in 1953. Much Marcle, Hellens and cider are so inextricably entwined that it was decided that, at midnight, the fountain in the forecourt would flow, not with water, but with cider. Unfortunately, no one thought to warn the family spaniel whose habit it was to drink from that fountain. Not only that, the celebrations started rather earlier than anticipated. As a result, the poor dog was intoxicated by four that afternoon!

This was only the beginning of a chapter of disasters that threatened to scupper the entire event and which are hilariously recounted in Malcolm Munthe’s enthralling book, Hellens – The Story of a Herefordshire Manor. Somehow, the guests – my mother included – did get their cider, the health of the new Queen was drunk and everyone talked about the wonderful masque for months to come.

Hellens is full of atmosphere – and all the better for being a little faded, a little worn and not a little frayed around the edges. It hasn’t been ‘tarted’ up for the tourists. It’s an honest house – a family home, with a big heart, that has been around for nearly a thousand years. Parts of it bear the scars of battle – relics of the Civil War and a World War II bomb, carelessly discarded following an enemy raid on Birmingham.

As you walk its creaking corridors, descend the steep, narrow staircase and marvel at the faded elegance of its rooms, you get a real sense of presence, of a home well loved and well lived in. And, as such, this has to be one of my favourite haunts (in all senses of the word).

Have a look at their website, by clicking HERE

We are the Thirteen and we are one

 4 Yarborough Drive looked like any other late 19th century English townhouse. Alice Lorrimer feels safe and welcomed there, but soon discovers all is not as it appears to be. One of her housemates flees the house in terror. Another disappears and never returns. Then there are the sounds of a woman wailing, strange shadows and mists, and the appearance of the long-dead Josiah Underwood who founded a coven there many years earlier. The house is infested with his evil, and Alice and her friends are about to discover who the Thirteen really are.

When death’s darkest veil draws over you, then shall shadows weep

 

The Darkest Veil is available from:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

 

About The Author

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. In addition to The Darkest Veil, Cat’s novels include The Haunting of Henderson Close, the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine.

Her novellas include Linden Manor, Cold Revenge, Miss Abigail’s Room, The Demons of Cambian Street, Dark Avenging Angel, The Devil Inside Her, and The Second Wife

She lives by the sea in Southport, England with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat called Serafina who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue.

You can connect with Cat here:

Catherine Cavendish

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MeWe

The Darkest Veil by Catherine Cavendish.

Five hamsters.

That there was something welcoming about the house is quickly dispelled in Catherine Cavendish’s latest book–a novella that yet feels and reads like so much more and in fact  shows that Ms Cavendish is every bit a master of the shorter genre as she is of a full blown novel. As ever, the time settings are carefully observed and evoked, moving seamlessly from the 1970s to the present day. The ordinariness of bedsit land and life is a perfect foil for the depth and scale of lurking horror in Yarborough Drive. It is often said that the evil men do live after them and it was never truer than of this house. In fact as Alice Lorrimer and her new friends soon find out it’s never left. But will it be to their cost or not? Can they save more than themselves in this gripping, page-turning chiller? The race is certainly on as they start unravelling the past. And the reader is led skilfully down paths where sighs of relief are breathed. But let’s not forget one vital thing. This is Catherine Cavendish’s world  and  a scary one it is. A must for Halloween.

 

 

The Gowns of Destiny.

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O’Roarke’s Destiny – by Shehanne Moore

A REBLOG OF ARTGOWNS, DESTINY GOWNS AND A REVIEW FROM RESA BY RESA

Is the line between love and hate so fine you can’t see it? If you can’t see it, can you cross it?

Some women are attracted to bad boys. Are some men attracted to bad girls? What if a good boy became a bad boy? What if a bad girl became a good girl, even when she was bad?

That’s just part of the passion play in O’Roarke’s Destiny. The intrigue, mystery and small matter of an effective curse cast by Diver’s O’Roarke is the story’s action.

It’s 1801, Cornwall; a time when women needed men, more than men needed women. Or, so society knew. 1801, Cornwall; Destiny Rhodes needs no one, nor anything: save Doom Bar Hall, its servants, Aunt Modesty’s porcelain, Lord Tredwynne’s antique armour, Grandfather Austell’s stuffed parrots, garlands in the hall at Christmas, her garden and all the embroidered pillows sewn up mended.  At least that’s what Destiny was thinking. 

However, it all seems somewhat moot after Divers O’Roarke wins Doom Bar Hall, from Destiny’s drunkard brother, Orwell.

It’s a world of smugglers, pirates, excisemen and extreme danger, yet, Destiny needs only her instincts. She’s in over her head, but owns a drive to do what has to be done to get to the bottom of what is going on, and retain a position to remain at Doom Bar Hall.

Still, Lyons busted her illegal casks of spirits. Who tipped him off?  Mostly, why did Divers O”Roarke take the fall for her?

💥 BREAKING NEWS! 💥

There’s gowns in the story.

Tragically, Destiny’s dear husband Ennis, while in his carriage, had cascaded to his death into a ravine.(credit to the curse) Now, Destiny is in an eternal mourning in black. On top of it all, she has pined away her body’s curves, and chopped off her luscious long black hair.

Divers O’Roarke wants her, but black is for widows. He has won Doom Bar Hall … fair & square? So, her gowns are his, to sell at his pleasure. Yet, his pleasure is far from the few bits of coin he could get for the gowns. What he wants is to see Destiny, in any gown other than widow’s black.

Eventually, Destiny must wear a gown for him. She dons her least sexy gown, which is in Egyptian blue. (I don’t have that colour in my caddy, but I came up with an eau de nil). This colour is not her best, possibly her worst, definitely her most disliked.

Yet, what Divers O’Roarke wants is to see her in her most vibrant and glorious red gown. Will she wear it?

1. How did the idea of a curse come up? Are you superstitious, dabble in say; Tarot or Astrology? How/why did the curse entail everything turning to dust? Why not turn to toads, a lowly insect or even a hamster? (a little cheek)

Oh, now there was  a time I  did some work for a psychic  journalist. I did once say what haven’t I done writing wise and other way wise when it comes to earning a crust. And yes I also did some Tarot work for her too as part of that. So I did learn the cards.  At that time I also could do card readings from  playing cards. I had a great aunt who could do the tea leafs.  That totally fascinated me growing up. I think much as we may mock it, we do want to know a bit about what’s ahead, that HOPEFULY there’s a corner that will be turned or some good luck coming. As for the  curse idea? Well, the book started about a house that the heroine had lost. And that idea came from us having to sell up our family home and me jokingly saying to a friend, I should just have flung myself in with it as a housekeeper. Then I thought BINGO idea for a book here. And it started out as fun and frothy but there were things on the table that weren’t right. Like why didn’t the hero just put her out? How can he be so besotted with this family when they were horrible to him as a child? Was light and frothy going to sustain a book? Then for some reason I saw their pasts and how and why he had cursed her and how everything had then gone wrong in her life since. Everyone she cared about has died. So she gets this name locally that way. Now if only I had thought beyond the box though, you are right. He should have said may everything you touch turn into a hamster dude. But then she’d have been overrun.  That might have been a worse curse.  2. Your use of humour helps in feeling the underlying intense emotional states of Destiny and O’Roarke.  With Destiny it’s the simple practical day to day things she plans to do the next day. With O’Roarke, it’s what to dig his grave with. Did you intend these character’s personal thoughts to be a humorous relief? Or did it just turn out that way?

No. Firstly I always like to use humour of thoughts. We all have them, let’s be clear. Maybe not about graves and what to dig them with etc., but we do have little idiosyncrasies and of course we are not always aware of them either.  And I also know my readers expect to have a few giggles. So I couldn’t not. My characters always have some kind of wee saying or attitude. One heroine had sliding scales of things. Another would sooner swallow a crocodile than do whatever and as the book went on, that list grew and grew. One hero–my most impatient one–had Christ on various things.  I did feel this book would be a bit dark if I didn’t have these bits. They are neither of them in the best place emotionally.  However I then have the prob of her being a widow and I did NOT want to tackle it by having her thinking well, she was widow, thank God, because she had every reason not to have loved her husband. I felt that was a get out.  So I thought if I had her, having been hit so hard that her way through is to line up  tasks and tick the boxes, that that actually could prove quite humorous, especially if she’s so busy lining up these tasks, while people keep ‘getting in her face’  she doesn’t see how deep the waters are getting. It was like a wee you may think wink to my readers  she’s going to be incandescent with rage the way my other ladies would be, but you are in for a surprise here. She’s too busy thinking she has that cushion cover to sew and that stool to mend. In a way these are the things that also need to be prised loose from her fingertips. 

 3. I’m fascinated by “Doom Bar Hall”. How did you come up with that name? Had you considered calling it “Rhodes Hall”?

Doom Bar Hall was called after Doom Bar sandbar in Cornwall. Given I wanted to write of curses and smuggling, and not such great emotional states, I wanted something dark sounding and it is quite a fearsome sandbar I gather, responsible for hundreds of ship wrecks down the years. Originally before I went from frothy to dark, from Hampshire to Cornwall geographically,  the house was called Lavistock and the book title was the Lady of Lavistock. Divers wasn’t called Divers O’Roarke either at that point. I just felt all round this was stronger. I do like to create a pervading mood and landscape for each book. This became the one here.

Resa, I want to thank you not just for inviting me here today, but your wonderful friendship AND the talent and readiness to use it to create gowns, for all those you create gowns for AND that includes my ladies. They and I salute you. 

Here’ s the first drawing I did of Destiny. I was trying too, hard with the chopped off hair look. Yet, I still like it, because she looks like a pirate courtesan, with hair for an eye patch.  Yet, perhaps this is a more correct visual introduction to Destiny.

Shehanne Moore is a native of Scotland, Dundonian by birth. She is the author of many Romance novels.

Having read 3 (almost 4) of her books, I can say her attention to the details of an era puts one in a different time and place. You don’t question it. You are there.

As for the flame of love she burns with her words, I suggest you read a book to see the fire!

Click on the pic below, to buy O’Roarke’s Destiny on Amazon!

A cover for one’s book can be as daunting as writing it. After a great search, Shehanne found the image below. The colours were wrong, but they were made right.

Eye’d like to thank all who took the time to read this post. Love you all!

“Destiny” As a Resa one eye

NOW ALL ABOUT RESA

My name is Resa McConaghy. I’m a Costume Designer for film and television.

“Art Gowns” is a creative project that has sprung from my old Blog,  Queen’s end.

As “Art Gowns” continues on,  I will Post other creative clothing ideas with the “Art Gowns” branding.

All of these ideas, of course, will revolve around the “Art of Glamorous Fantasy”. I’m thinking things like Poetry Shirts, DIY Gowns and DIY Crystaline Accessories.

This is all new to me, and should develop with time.

https://artgowns.com/

Sandy Barker and a Santorini Summer

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SANDY.

It is true. I was born and raised here, although I am also British and have lived in the UK and the US.

SANDY. I don’t, but I am tossing up between getting a pet kangaroo or a pet koala.

 

SANDY

I love Italy – perhaps I was Italian in a former life. I love the scenery, the history, the people, the language, the goof, the art, the culture. I would live there.

 

Sandy.

I think that because setting is almost another character in my books – I write travel romcoms – that I need to write what I know. That way I can truly evoke what it is like to go to those places. But I do research before I start writing. I will go back to my photos, travel journals, and blog posts, and I will fill in any gaps in my memory with Google.
.I think it is important to provide a real glimpse into the places my books are set – all through the eyes of the main character, so my descriptions don’t come across as ‘travel guide-ish’ and therefore pull the reader out of the story.

Sandy
I was an indie author with two books out in the world and a third on the way when my first book was picked up for publication by Avon Books, an imprint of HarperCollins UK. I’d been concurrently querying while building my author profile and writing and editing.
That meant, I had three complete manuscripts when I started working with HarperCollins, which has positioned me well to meet deadlines while working fulltime.
SANDY
Keep writing, keep editing, learn as much as you can about the craft and the business – both are equally important. Treat your writing like any other career. Make the time. Even now, I get up at 5am every weekday to get a couple of hours of author work (writing, editing, marketing) before work. If you are truly passionate, never stop working towards that goal.

SANDY

I am about to handover edits for my second book, which is a follow-up to One Summer in Santorini. Then I will go back to the Christmas book I am writing for Christmas 2020. Although, I may take a week or two off in between.
BLURB.

After a humiliating break up, Sarah decides it’s time to fall back in love with her first true love—travel. She books the perfect trip to revive her humdrum heartbroken life—ten days sailing the Greek islands on a yacht.

The last thing she wants is to meet someone new, but Sarah soon finds herself flirting with the cute American, Josh, and considering something more serious with the sexy silver fox, James.

Will Sarah dive into a holiday fling, embark on a relationship, or stick to her plan – steer clear of men, continue her love affair with feta, and find her own way after all?

Ten days, two men, one boat, and one big decision.

 

Buy links:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/One-Summer-Santorini-Sandy-Barker/dp/0008354340

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/one-summer-in-santorini

Also available on iBooks

 

Contact links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sandybarker

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sandybarkerauthor

Website: https://sandybarker.com/

Three bridesmaids and a bride are we …

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12 years in the making OR every picture tells a story.

I’m choosing that title, in case you’re wondering, just as I’m sure you must be wondering re the song choice for a wedding day and the answer is it’s just as apt. It is twelve years now since my wee girl, first sold her husband a lunchtime roll in the local Spar shop–a shop my big girl also met her husband in. Must be the little shop of romance that one.  That was then, this is now. Now she is a lawyer for those who need one most,  and he has his own successful joinery business. I like to think life brings its own rewards.

I say that because when you  see the 12 years you may  be thinking that’s a long time to be together before making this official. There are many marriages that don’t last a quarter as long. Or maybe, given the average cost of a wedding these days, is that how long it took to save up? But the title says in the making and that’s what it’s been. Quite a number of those twelve years were spent apart, some of them in dark places.  I’m not choosing to show these pictures and share a few stories of the day to say, ‘yes, do look at how wonderful and perfect we all are, as a family and there’s them in that grand venue with their little boy and all,’  I’m choosing them to say, ‘here’s where we are on the journey.’ Every step on a journey has to be lived after all and when you get to certain bits…well.. yeah you celebrate what you cherish. I say in my new book, ‘We are the life we lead, its graces and its pain,’ and that is true.

Every picture tells a story. So this one…

It’s the years they took to get here. But they are here. And yep… special moment– the reading? The reading was from Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights… If all else perished. (Okay I knew about that bit, I ‘fess up, she ran three possibilities past me and I said it has to Bronte, there’s a cathedral in these towering words, especially when you think of her life and the book she produced for the time she wrote in.)

“He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.”

That first pic  at the top of the blog. Well? That’s all the bride and bridesmaids getting in the swing after  the older girl had spent the morning lying in a chair with a sick bucket and we all made jokes about carting her down the aisle like that, saying to folks, ‘Braw night we had last night…’ and one of the other girls who does not do hair and makeup but was quite taken with how good she looked, shimmied down  behind in her   Jurassic Park jammies. The older girl had a sickness bug bto and did not manage much of the reception. But still she managed this…..

As you can see from the second pic up there, these girls turned round and were all swans…

This one here…

 

Totally belies the absolute high jinks and laughter, to the extent the handymen preferred to put a ladder up  outside and climb up to open a painted shut window, rather than take their chances with us ladies…    But they had to eventually–poor things. They were quick enough to come back for more ribbing though, bringing big fans to cool the ailing matron of honour. Oh and the ladder left up and the fact we could all be heard right where the guests were arriving—above the piper too, which is saying something –led to a ton of jokes about the bride doing a runner in her trainers…

Of course our special wee grandie best man had to get in on the action.

The other side to this picture…? When I brought him in, to see his Sheshe Bear he looked all round  going she is not here and his wee face all fell… only because he did not recognize her.

So? My special moments? All of these. Hearing the saxophonist who played at my other girl’s drinks reception bit, play again.  Seeing the bridal party come up the aisle and stand while Alice Marra who has the voice of an angel  sung and I could see the registrar’s face going from that is not a wedding song to…oh my……  Clocking my new son in law, mouthing.. wow, she is beautiful… to me as Sheeshe Bear  stood beside him.  Dancing every dance. Being with those who were there.  Both my wee grandies. Enjoying the most beautiful sunshine and warmth outside. Watching the grandie who was the page boy at my older girl’s wedding building lego with the flower girl from that one as opposed to trying to impress her with his dancing skills.

Which truth to tell are now  so no bad  the band played specially for him at one point, off the cuff. But above it all was his speech, five years old. It was seeing him have the ability to stand there at the table and tell everyone his daddy was his best friend, his mummy was beautiful but he loved it best when she gave him cuddles.

It may have been 12 years in the making but it has been worth every minute of waiting. Pictures do tell stories indeed. Friday was a day of life’s graces.

P.S. I reckon the story on the pic above is that having made a bold failed attempt on the butterflies on the hat, this babba grandie now considers her chances with the necklace…. Also foiled.  Never mind, cuz, said the wee best man, you can’t have it all.  ‘least you tried, kid. At least you tried….

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The dudes meet Destiny.

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Destiny Rhodes – Seriously? And I’ve nothing better to do than sit  chewing the fat with a lot of moaning skunks?

 

Destiny Rhodes- Looking at you? Well, maybe that’s cos there’s sod all else to eat in the God-forsaken place now Divers O’Roarke is running the show.  Mind you, him and that sidekick, that Gil Wryson, have never had hamsters on the menu. Yet anyhow. Otherwise you can it as read, the ceiling is a lot more interesting.

Destiny Rhodes- Won’t I what? Sorry, I wasn’t listening there. Give tips? What on? Something I don’t have? I mean you see me sat here, with a smile pasted to me face and all? Ask yourselves, why don’t you, would I be able to do that if I had what you say?

Destiny Rhodes– of course I can. And I can get on with all me tasks too. Right now these in order include, mending the bedroom footstool, sewing the dining room cushions, getting the wassail bowl out of the attic, it’s not THAT long till Christmas after all, and hopefully not having Divers O’Roarke, that Wryson man–don’t get me started on how fanatical he is–me brother, or please call me John, that Lyon creep, getting in me face. So that then I can go lie down and dream of my husband, Ennis. Anything less makes me a bad person. And while I don’t mind being thought of as that locally,  I’m sure you can appreciate that I don’t want to think of myself that way where he is concerned. But doing all that in the day, you can see how much I need that rest? And when I don’t get it, well my thoughts retreat.  My head feels panned in.

 

Destiny –When they are my life, the things I cling to in order to cling to something and assure myself that my world is set? Maybe. I don’t know. Life is an unknown journey after all. But I tell you it won’t be for want of the times Divers O’Roarke gets in my face. Breaking the best china, insulting me Grandfather Austell’s stuffed parrots, throwing out Sir Tredwynne. Oh   and other things. All manner of things actually. Messes I got myself in.

Destiny Rhodes – Damaged goods with a death wish  that one. And such a man of mystery. Do you know that’s why I’m here today without him. He’s not allowed to be interviewed because you wouldn’t know what to interview him as.  And there’s games not going to be given away here. But thank you for having me and now, if you don’t mind I’ve a new shortbread recipe to write down.  May I just say that looking at you lot has quite fired me imagination that way….  Made me feel a bit more like my old self….

Destiny Rhodes– Me? Dance? Not since my Ennis died…. That ship has sailed. Nah. I’m thinking how tasty that recipe might be….

Extract.

“Well, I’d ask you in—properly, that is–but I’m afraid, as things stand, I wouldn’t know which parts of the house are mine to ask you in to.”

”And why is that?”

“You mean Divers O’Roarke hasn’t told you?”

“He hasn’t.”

”Yes. And pigs fly all over Cornwall. High in the sky. When we all know he probably has. And if he hasn’t–got to you yet that is–he’s probably on his way as we speak. It will be to tell you what a liar I am and how he’s split the house because of it.  Obviously I didn’t come to Penvellyn sooner because I had to wait for me opportunity to do so. Anything more would have aroused his suspicions when he caught me talking to you earlier.”

“You are going on rather a lot about Divers O’Roarke, Miss Rhodes.”

“Only because he is a skunk.”

She set her coat on a chair, smoothed her hair back from her face. Actually she wasn’t going on about him half as much as she could.

“But you did have something to tell me? It’s why I’m here,” Lyon said.

Did she? When what she really wanted was to go upstairs and look out her recipe for lavender shortcake too. Maybe find some way of lighting the fire when her nose was pinched by the cold. The distance was there, spread like a long road in front of her.  But really, she wasn’t getting much chance to go it. Not with the kitchen probably barred to her now the house had been sawn in half.  In fact the way this was going, that recipe was about as much as she was going to get.

“Tell me something I don’t know.”

“I hope so.”

Right. Well, she didn’t. Did he have a point though? Was she perhaps going on about Divers O’Roarke instead of applying herself to what was important, like finding that recipe? She’d given him his chance. And very good of her it was too, even if she wasn’t sure what she’d have done if he’d taken it.  Some might say she’d never have gotten Doom Bar Hall for a start. And she was inclined to agree. Maybe for that matter Divers O’Roarke had banned her from half the house in order to spark a reaction in her?  In which case she’d be failing in her duty not to give him one, now she’d gone to the wire and he wouldn’t come off the fence? Lyon hadn’t come all this way to leave empty handed. Had he? He wasn’t here for a cup of tea either. And it was time to deal with that fact. Whatever she’d determined earlier, living or dying required a roof over her head. She passed her tongue over her lip.

 

 

 

Friday 13th, high functioning depressives, release day and a review

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I don’t usually do this.

Only because Jane Hunt can’t get her reviews on Amazon. Thank you. Now do we want the Cleanser here, or not…

And as Destiny, my high functioning depressive heroine says

“Really? And I’m the Man in the Moon. I go out at night and I fly up into the sky in a pair of silver breeches and shine me light on the world.”

Indeed it is Friday the 13th, not the best day in the world to release a new book on BUT then again, it is about a curse. It is also a book about two emotionally bereft people and features a heroine who is what is called a high functioning depressive.  She will be along next week to talk more about that.  

I made the decision many years ago that I didn’t want to write about people–hamsters either before you interrupt–whose lives were perfect.

Which of us, in reality, has that kind of life? But, as today approached and after the many hair tearing moments I had on this book, especially trying to get in humour that was respectful to an emotional state…well… humour  I know my readers expect, let’s just say there were plenty times I thought sometimes the path less chosen is indeed less chosen for a purpose.

That is why it was wonderful this morning to step online to a DM Facebook message from Jane Hunt, an author and reviewer who had an ARC rough copy and who does not shrink from pulling her punches.   I want to thank her for that message AND also her review.  This is my seventh book and my day, unlike when I released my first two, was to be spent getting on with my present WIP, the household tasks etc. But now I AM going to at least treat myself to a wee pre-Fri evening drink with my Mr. Oh obvi by pre I mean pre Friday nite meal with wine back here. But  special days should be celebrated. I think Jane’s review has encouraged me…

…because I felt she got my leads AND after what I said the other week about this being the shortest  on secondaries book I have written, she still felt the story was inclusive, the world of the two leads.  So yep, I am sharing this review AND the post I wrote for her about the things that inspired  Destiny  You can look away now if you don’t want to know the score.

https://bit.ly/2kIobYd

‘Cornwall in 1801 rife with smugglers and excise men trying to catch them is the setting for this clever, passionate and witty novel. Destiny Rhodes is cursed, everything she touches turns to dust. All she has left is Doom Bar Hall, her ancestral home, and now even this is in jeopardy.

Divers O’Roarke is a man with an agenda and so many secrets. He left Cornwall in the wake of tragedy, but not before he’d cursed the young woman he thought responsible. Now he’s back, the victor, but what he finds is not what he expected. What he feels is not what he thought, but he has a mission, and being turned to ashes by a cursed woman is not part of it.

The setting for this story is atmospheric and authentic. The subtle use of historical detail, lets you visualise nineteenth-century Cornwall. The sinister smugglers, the close-knit community, the rugged beauty of the coast, and the ethos of danger and suspicion, Amidst the roaring sea and windswept coastline, the story of two people, both emotionally bereft, and driven unfolds.

The dialogue is sharp and amusing, and the internal musings even more so. You spend a lot of time in Destiny and O’Roake’s minds, and they are both full of confusion and conniving.

The plot is pacy and twisty. Just trying to work out who O’Roarke is, keeps you guessing. Then there’s the exciseman Lyon, who becomes increasingly sinister. This story is inclusive, you feel part of the deadly game Destiny and Divers are playing, experience their anger, bewilderment, fear, and the passion they cannot hide. The intriguing plot comes to an intense conclusion, revealing who Destiny and Divers O’Roake are in more ways than you can imagine.

O’Roarke’s Destiny’, is historical romance for the twenty-first century. Complex mind games, passionate, sensual romance, and a fast-paced riveting plot that rides the waves of time. I’m looking forward to meeting the next ‘Cornish Rogue.’

Guest Post – Shehanne Moore – Inspiring Destiny

Firstly Jane, thank you so much for inviting me here today to your wonderful book review blog, which is such a help to authors and for your continued support.  Always appreciated.

I actually got the idea for O’Roarke’s Destiny the night we sold our house back in 2014. Yep, a while ago and I actually started it when I finished the Viking and The Courtesan in 2015 and put it aside because other scheduled books got in the way. I’d lived in this particular house for almost 30 years and it was a hard house to leave for many reasons, nor was this necessarily a chosen thing.  Although looking back now I don’t know what I was worrying about.  Anyway, the first night the house was on sale, the second viewer arrived—the dad of one of my pupils who lived along the road. I thought they’d come about something to do with the lessons. Anyway, he soon dashed that hope when he said, ‘I will make you a good offer tomorrow morning first thing. I have already put my house on sale in the hope and prayer of this one. But I know this must be upsetting for you, so don’t show me round, I  was burned on the house sale three doors along a few months ago, so you don’t have to.’   And he was as good as every word. Well, as I joked to a friend a few days later, I should have said, ‘And I come with this house. I just need a room.’ Then I thought … bingo, idea for a book there.

Ideas, mind you, are nothing like what ends up on paper.  This book started as a frothy battle over a house that only starts a few years later when the hero brings home another woman, a fiancée and the heroine housekeeper doesn’t like this and she discovers her own feelings for the hero. While this had its merits, another idea—a stronger one–formed, that was to start the book at the point where the house has been lost in a card game to a man where there’s past history.  But, this seemed a little contrived, given this man has been sort of lost to the world for years. What was he even doing back in the neighbourhood?  So I suppose my next piece of inspiration was in the books of Daphne DuMaurier, the smuggling, piratey books I’ve long loved. Having tackled, pirates, Highlanders, Vikings, I’d wanted to do a book about smugglers. Where better to do that than in Cornwall? Why not make that world the backdrop to the story.

Books aren’t just nothing like the idea that you start with—well mine never are, alas–they are about keeping the story going. There’s only so many times two people can argue about the choice of dining room wallpaper for example or the fact that that’s the best antique dishes sitting out at the bin, so while this starts out as a battle over a house, that is only a first layer, with lids to be lifted on a couple who are slogging it out over so much more within themselves and where they are in their lives when the story opens.  And that’s not actually the house at all.

Now you dudes can go open the voddie and git the dancing shoes on.

Interview With the Cleanser.

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“Some say the Cleanser is an exciseman gone to the bad…..”

 

The Cleanser – That would be telling.

The Cleanser – That would be telling.

The Cleanser – That would be telling.

The Cleanser – That would be telling. Now, before I get back out there and prove even more terrifying and elusive, as I menace my way through Cornwall on dark and stormy nights, you have one more question. Do try and  make it count and not waste it on fripperies such as am I really that fearsome, am I one of the five,  or does Lyon eat hamsters? Who said what, and didn’t, how fair, or otherwise not, it is? And please do not interrupt. Have you any idea what happens to hamsters who interrupt, especially with more questions?

The Cleanser–Who, amongst you,  will be brave enough to ask this question?

The Cleanser. They are not amongst you. YOU are amongst you. Now ask or face the consequences.

The Cleanser – Dear, little hamsters, why else but to spread a bit of butter on you and have as toast.

 

But I will add that in a world of secrets and smugglers and did I mention unsavoury–not looking at anyone here, although you hamsters do smell a bit-

– wreckers, Shey rather liked the idea of  upping the anti. Who can, for example, resist having a tale of smuggling without the various ingredients? Don’t answer. You are not the ones being interviewed here.

So secret passages, treasure that is the stuff of legend, stormy nights, old houses, ghosts  and of course mythological  figures are all part of that tapestry. Shey thought about how in  Jamaica Inn the heroine does not know who the head of the wreckers is but obviously if her uncle is scared of him, then he must be fearsome because her uncle is that and more–although she used someone who is also the stuff of legend differently.

Things had begun to change for smugglers in the period O’Roarke’s Destiny is set, shall we say? 

Tom Berryman had behaved as if the devil had crossed his path and this one looked to have horns.

 

And let’s remember in this book nothing is what it seems. A little mystery does no harm sometimes.  As a figure the Cleanser does not drive the plot. There’s no need to when everything the leads do arises from the three magic writing words, where they and only they, are concerned, goal, motivation conflict.

Does the Cleanser really exist?  If they do are they one of the O’Roarke five and if so which one? That’s for me to know and you to find now. Now, if you don’t mind I believe I have some vodka to drink and a Cossack dance to  do before I get back to terrorising the locals? Oh and one last thing… my eyes are not flamingos, what they have is a flaming glow….

Releases Friday 13th…it is a book about a curse after all…..

 

 

Secondary characters? How many do you need?

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SHEY : Dearest Silv, may I say how very kind of you it is to ask me here today  to my blog. I just can’t get over it. The great honour it is. To answer your question about Lizzie I wrote her out because she had no further use …

SHEY. Yes, Lizzie-alas–was adding nothing to the plot.

Nor did I need her after chapter one for the main reason I use a secondary character, that is to hold a mirror to a lead in some way, their personality, their actions, perhaps show them as I did with Dainty and Mitchell Killgower in The Writer and The Rake, in a better light and also I suppose not to make the whole thing too claustrophobic –as I also partly used Susan for in The Unraveling of Lady Fury, and give Fury a sort of confidant.  Lizzie was not going to fulfil any of these things and letting her stay was going to change how I saw this book. So why have her?  There’s also a one scene appearance by a few children, but while they are contributing to the story there, they’re what you might term decorative extras. Spear-carriers in theatrical terms.

Overall I don’t work with a huge cast of speaking characters but I do generally work with more throughout.

Shey. Indeed I think we got that. The world of Doom Bar Hall itself, despite being smack bang in smuggling and wrecking country, is a tight world. Destiny is a loner, probably a high functioning depressive who bashes through her daily routine and set of tasks with tunnel vision. She’s not one for friends—she’d never been what you might call popular, except with the men she drove to distraction years previously–and she confides in nobody, the family were larger than life that way locally. She’s a product of that family.  So to have put in a single scene where she does would have been wrong for her as a character and unbalanced the book.  Divers may swagger  into that world full of confidence and control,  underneath he’s a man on the edge, holding it together and no more. I won’t give away too much of the plot by saying why he’s at this stage when the book opens. He has a sidekick, Gil,  to show there’s another side to him and to mirror some of this ‘disintegration’ but that’s it re Gil being there.

 And because he could be trusted. A hard thing to come by, not just in this world but the world he inhabited. That dancing, dark and shady place of gnarled shadows and twisted paths, haunted by the need to keep one step ahead where nothing could ever be as it seemed. Not even himself.”

  

There’s reasons for Orwell–Destiny’s brother

 face as long as a six fiddle cases, and twenty four rainy days,

and as for Lyon?

.

Shey. He has  quite an appetite.

You knew everything but nothing of what he was really thinking. Hand him a farthing out the goodness of your heart and he’d still need to know where both came from. The farthing and the goodness. Probably your heart too.

Shey I think it’ s important when you are creating a world for a book and I try with each book to create a world, to think of the things that help show it.  And for me in this book it wasn’t the wider smuggling picture which is actually central to the story, but the putting of this hero and heroine and what unfolds in this world between them, centre stage. I felt that could only happen with a small playing ensemble, so even the servants had to go.  I think it’s sometimes something to consider in terms of cementing  a setting, depending on what that setting is. This one was not the world of ball gowns and dance cards and it’s not a pretty one of smuggling either.  And now before you open the voddie and do the Cossack dance… a book trailer.

 

Once he’d have died to possess her, now he just might…

Beautiful, headstrong young widow Destiny Rhodes was every Cornish man’s dream. Until Divers O’Roarke cursed her with ruin and walked out of Cornwall without a backwards glance. Now he’s not only back, he’s just won the only thing that hasn’t fallen down about her head—her ancestral home. The home, pride demands she throw herself in with, safe in the knowledge of one thing. Everything she touches withers to dust.

He’d cursed her with ruin.

Now she’d have him live with the spoils of her misfortune.

Though well versed in his dealings with smugglers and dead men, handsome rogue Divers O’Roarke is far from sure of his standing with Destiny Rhodes. He had no desire to win her, doesn’t want her in his house, but while he’s bent on the future, is there one when a passionate and deadly game of bluff ensues with the woman he once cursed? A game where no-one and nothing are what they seem. Him most of all.

And when everything she touches turns to dust, what will be his fate as passion erupts? Will laying past ghosts come at the highest price of all?

September 13th 2019 Black Wolf Books.

‘I know I have not won Doom Bar Hall from you.’ O’Roarke’s Destiny Chapter 1

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I know I have not won Doom Bar Hall from you………

      CHAPTER ONE

 

   Cornwall 1801–For every smuggler, there is an exciseman who will hunt him down …

Destiny Rhodes was used to losing everything in one stroke. She’d just never thought it would be this stroke.

“A Gull Wrysen, here, you say?”

“I does, ma-am.” Lizzie’s voice tolled as befitted someone who was in the running to win the grand prize in the looking most like your surname competition at Penvellyn Fair.  So, Here Lies Lizzie Tooms, Loyal Servant of the Rhodes, Now Gone as Them, Probably unto Hell, could have been etched into her forehead.

Ignoring the rattle of the chimney pots crashing onto the lawn outside, Destiny stared harder at her reflection in the mirror above the fireplace.

“And?”

“And quoth  I, seein’ as you be a’ askin’ and me havin’ spoken to him, far worse bells could be a’tollin’ for them what are cursed.”

“Do you know, I’m very glad you think so, Lizzie? After all, here was me thinking it could well be the man who did the cursing. So why don’t we all just look on the bright side and say a prayer of joy and thankfulness? I mean, it’s not like we haven’t got anything better to do, now is it? Where’s the captain by the way?”

“Busy.”

“Lying drunk on the stable floor, you mean? Having managed to get here on his sodding horse but not off it properly? Oh, that’s busy, I suppose, if you can call such things busy.” She clasped the mantelshelf tighter in her mittened fingers, the image of Orwell meandering home beneath frozen stars, flickering through the flames. If only she was such a frozen star, instead of standing here, staring as the straw end of this place disappeared down a dark rabbit hole. Doom Bar Hall. The only thing in her life still standing. The bricks and mortar she’d poured herself into. Every flower, painting, tuck on every cushion, even her pine cone garlands that made this room a work of art at Christmas. Gone. On the turn of a card.  “Yes, a fine thing to be as busy as that.”

“I can only reports what t’es my sacred duty to report, ma-am.”

“Well, it’s something of a pity you felt it was your sacred duty to come in here and report this.”

Maybe she should just fall down now on the fender and be done with it? Then at least she might be buried along with her garlands.

“Anyways, I be sure your brother’s done his sacred best.”

“You know, for once you and I couldn’t agree more. His level best, or should that be epic, to get drunk? His very best to lose this place. As for everything in it–?”

Yet, despite what she’d thought a moment ago, was this really so unexpected when Orwell inhabited the drinks cabinet the way fish did the ocean and would be sure to win the empty cider barrel in the drinking it dry competition at Penvellyn Fair.  In fact, there was no might about it. The miracle was it had taken him this long. As for what she could do about it? Apart from winning first prize in the breaking her hand by punching a wall competition?

“Ma-am, I be sure that despite everythin’, he has this in hand.”

“Really? Well? That’s a first. A second first, I must say. You thinking and him having this in hand.”

“If he does not have it in hand, the Lord shall. You watch this. He will be our salvation, ma-am.”

“Oh, please do spare me. Truly. Unless you think a sermon to match the one on the Mount, is something I can stand tonight? Wait around for the Lord being me salvation, and first prize in the look at all them moldering bones competition is what I’ll win.”

“Then what do you require, ma-am?”

“Right now? Apart from a sodding great dose of arsenic, you mean?”

The strength to deal with this but that didn’t look like it was coming unless that sodding, great albatross that had just careered inside her velvet gown–a triple-weighted blind one at that—found some other gown to career into. Finally, ashes existed she couldn’t rise from, despite everyone always saying she should have been named Phoenix. Imagine that, when Lizzie was sure to have it broadcast all over Penvellyn by this time tomorrow, if not before, how Destiny had collapsed in the library fireplace and lain there, cursed, like all who’d passed down the long, dusty road to the charnel house before her, too?

“Ma-am, I know we have had our differences—“

“You can say that again.”

Mostly on the subject of accents. Destiny sounded like her mother who had come from up north. Yorkshire somewhere.  And Lizzie only took instructions from those who didn’t, which made it even more ridiculous she took them from Orwell who was more refined than a glass of malt whiskey. Orwell who probably reeked worse than one right now and was in no fit state to open his mouth, let alone let an order fall out of it.

As for Lizzie’s pity? Another lecture on the Lord? Lizzie producing a bible from her apron pocket in another minute or so, in all probability, and asking Destiny to read from it? Well, Destiny wouldn’t want first prize for making the heavens fall down. Now, would she? Especially not when she’d already won the one for having her head panned in with the meat mallet. After all, it was vital she at least try to raise her chin, though what she was lifting it for she’d no idea.

“No. Don’t.” Lizzie parted her lips and Destiny hurried on. “Once is quite enough. Look, just send in this … this man. Me brother may be lying on the stable floor too drunk to deal with him. I’m not. Go on.”

Yes. Let those who thrived on the pantomime of her life, say her black heart dripped something so common as blood? Over her burned and beaten body. That would be death, not this, even if all of it was death now. How could Orwell do this?

“If it is yore wish and yore command, ma’am?”

“I’d hardly put it that strongly. But what else can I do?  Still, fear not Lizzie,”  she lowered her gaze from the mirror as Lizzie nodded. “Whatever happens, I’m sure the servants’ places will be guaranteed. After all, in my humble experience, everyone needs servants. Even a death knell one like you.”

Well? Everybody did. How very lucky to be one. Suppose she said she was? Found a mob cap, claimed to be the housekeeper? Bit an arsenal of bullets, swallowed them too, suffered the laughter, the snide remarks, the fact Orwell  wasn’t the only one to drag the family through the gutter?  Endure the servants too? The ones who had so  recently been hers?

How far a falling from a heaven too high.

What? Have it round the county that she qualified for entering the best servants competition because she cleaned boots and changed beds for her new master, fetched him his pipe and slippers, dusted his ornamental vases?

No. She’d sooner starve. After all, she wasn’t exactly likely to win it.

My God, if only Chancery had lived. Actually, if everyone who had ever touched her sorry life had damn well lived, she’d not be in this mess. But Chancery’s death, over that sodding Rose O’Roarke had started an endless procession to the charnel house. All beneath the winding sheet of one certainty. The hollow toll of another death would shortly follow.

Until the moment Chancery took up with Rose O’Roarke, he’d been heir to Doom Bar Hall, not sodding Orwell and sodding Orwell’s brandy bottles. Captain Rhodes, if you pleased, seeing as he, and them, commanded the local militia. Then the curse uttered by Rose’s grey-eyed brother, Divers O’Roarke, across her marble-veined corpse had come true. They were all rotting in hell. Destiny most of all.

Her shoulders sagged. She glanced back in the gilt framed mirror, wreathed in ornamental cherubs on their way to heaven—lucky them–the mirror she’d found in the attic and spent weeks cleaning, mending and wiping dead flies off. Gull sodding Wrysen’s mirror now. Well?

Unless?

Unless she took it down, of course. Took it with her. It was heavy as an elephant. That much was obvious the second she reached forward to wrench it free. Not that she’d ever won any prizes for wrenching an elephant. No. There weren’t exactly many of them about in Cornwall. And any there were, were hardly likely to be nailed to the wall, the half of which she’d be trying to get out of the door next if any more plaster showered onto her fingers. And where would she put that?

No. This was over. Over. Over. The words ticked like the grandfather clock in the hall outside. All she could do was go with her head held high. Let the locals have their farthing’s worth. Well?

Unless?

She fingered her throat. It was an idea. Even if she wasn’t quite sure where it came from.

“Dstny … ”

The French doors banged open in the gale howling over the cliff face. Orwell, staggering in here with wet boots and slurred apologies for losing her pine cone garlands, was the last thing she needed. Certainly, if she was really considering that idea.  She slipped her gaze from her—actually, some might say, edifying as a dead viper’s–reflection.  And they would be right.  Some things had to be faced when it came to ideas.

“Goodness me. Orwell. Sit down, why don’t you? Preferably not in here, before  your wet feet take first prize for ruining the rug, when it’s no longer ours to ruin either. At least I hope that’s from your wet feet.”

The spindle chair nearly went over beneath his backside as he collapsed into it. She braced for the crash. It  would certainly be one thing less for Gull Wrysen to claim if it smashed.

Unless?

Orwell sank his head with its untidy chestnut quiff on his chest and tried pulling his coat-tails from beneath his backside. “I say, old gril, l mean girl … I’ll need … that is, I’ll nleed to … I’ll need ver’ much to …  to … ”

“What? Sober up? Stop drinking? Get Doom Bar Hall back? Likely as a chocolate doily surviving in hell that is, if you must know.”

“Mulst know? Well, I… I sullpose, I sullpose I do. I mean … Do you know, it’s the damndest thing … but I don’t knlow what I mean …”

“Oh, I think we can all see that, Orwell. Maybe we should hang a sign in Truro, saying, ‘This is Orwell Rhodes. He doesn’t know what he means but one thing’s for certain, he has lost Doom Bar Hall. Throw him a farthing someone, so he can maybe buy it back.'”

Unless?

Hearing footsteps marching along the hall, she raised her chin.

“Yes Lizzie, what is it?”

“Milord Wrysen, ma’am.” Lizzie’s bobbed curtsy was probably the lowest the man towering in the doorway had ever seen. It was certainly the lowest Destiny had ever seen it. Start as you mean to go on her father had always said. Lizzie was starting well. Destiny should take a leaf out of that book.

“Should I fetch tea, ma-am?”

A good question. But no amount of tea in the best china cups Destiny had found moldering in the stables would sort this.

Unless?

She flicked her gaze over the man opposite. About thirty? Black haired—not her preferred color–a dusting of stubble on his chin.  Eyes like gleaming black bullets. A plain, if not inelegant greatcoat, and leather boots, flecked with mud. No wedding ring. It didn’t mean he wasn’t married.

In that moment she decided.

“No. I am sure His Grace here would prefer something stronger, Lizzie.”

Like herself.

She pinched her cheeks, although this Gull Wrysen could take her as she was. So long as he did take her.

It could be worse. Orwell could have lost the wager to Divers O’Roarke. Then she’d really be in trouble. It was common knowledge he regularly gambled the fortune he’d amassed designing houses and gardens in London.

Hadn’t the sun’s rays shone on him since he’d sworn that oath? Shone to the extent his chestnut hair must be burnt black while she looked more of a corpse than his sister, Rose.

This was the hand she’d been dealt. This was the hand she’d play though.

Smiles were beyond her. Gull Wrysen would see what he was getting and what he was getting was someone young enough at twenty five, to be thought attractive, despite her cropped hair and–all right–the fact she’d give a dead viper a run for its money in the looks’ stakes. But really, some might say, that was all.

As for what she was getting? Well? Doom Bar Hall was what she was getting. Very nice it was too. When nothing else mattered, she wouldn’t be the first, or last, to  manage a few ecstatic moans where required.

Only think of the fuel for the fires of all these little effigies the locals liked to make of her. The fires that had been dying of malnutrition lately.

She settled her gaze on his face.

“Well, Your Grace? Do allow me.”

She meant a drink. Orwell was sitting there, after all. Besides Gull Wrysen was standing as if she was Medusa and he’d been turned to stone. But hopefully this was purely temporary.

“Thank you, Lizzie,” she added, seeing that only Lizzie’s jaw had moved and that was in the direction of the floor. “Yes. As you can see, I will deal with this. And please shut your mouth while you’re about it. It’s wholly bad enough you look like a tombstone. We don’t want you adding trout to the mix. Not when Mr. Wrysen and I have things to discuss, regarding the house.”

She waited for Lizzie to win every prize going in the collecting her jaw and sailing like a doom-ridden ship away competition, before setting out two glasses. Gold rimmed ones from the set that added perfection to her Christmas Eve when she  finally sat before the fire in the cavernous, leather armchair and treated herself to a measure of port. Glasses she’d be keeping now if this went her way. Why shouldn’t it? She was cursed, not incapable.

Yes. This man wasn’t so bad. Fair hair would have reminded her of Ennis, who some might say, was probably birling ten times in his coffin. Not the man to think of and face this one standing in the candlelit shadows in his mud-spattered boots and greatcoat, holding his hat beneath his arm as if he’d no idea what to do with it.

Well, she knew, she knew exactly. She slipped the top off the decanter, inhaled the rich ruby scent. If it came right down to it here, she could cook and dust, if need be. If he wanted to bring in a woman, if need be, she’d say nothing. After all, there would be nothing to say anything about on her part. No jealousy. Nothing. She wouldn’t insult Ennis’s memory with that kind of thing that betrayed low moral fiber.

“But perhaps I am being presumptuous with your drink and your servants, now Doom Bar Hall has fallen to you, Lord … Lord …?”

“Me?” He shifted uncertainly, the ghost of a smile hanging to his lips. Totally unnerved. No bad sign. “Oh, good God, no. Miss … Miss Rhodes, isn’t it?”

“Well, it’s not the devil incarnate, though there’s plenty round here certainly say so.”

“Good .. I mean … No, I mean I think there’s been some kind of mistake.”

She nearly clattered the decanter top onto the sideboard. Some kind of mistake?  My God.  Damn Orwell. And yet, Lord love him. A mistake. It was all a mistake.  Thank God she’d had enough moral fiber not to open her mouth.

“I mean … You mean you’re not Gull Wrysen? And you’re not here to take Doom Bar Hall from me? Well, I never.” Especially given how close she’d been to offering herself. ”You know, I just can’t believe how I—well, never mind, have the drink anyway.”

“Gull?” Gull Wrysen lips twitched as he reached for the glass. “I’m not Gull Wrysen. Not that I know of anyway, unless I’ve been re-christened. I’m not Wrysen either. My name, so far as I know my name anyway, is Gil. Gil Wryson. And I’m not a gentleman either. Well … again… Not that I know of.”

“I see.”

Damn Lizzie. As ever, she won first prize in the being spat on by the Fates competition. After they fell about the floor laughing at her first. Why hadn’t she known no man would be called Gull? And Wrysen was a Cornish pronounciation? Still, she could surely weather a blob or two of spittle seeing as this was all a mistake?

“Although that’s not the mistake,” he added.

Damn the Fates to hell. Still, one mercy in a drought dropping from the heavens? She hadn’t danced  about the floor waving her drawers in the air.  Whether he was a gentleman or not, was neither here, nor there, when it came to getting him to agree to this. And she would, so long as her own name was Destiny Rhodes, she would. Now. She’d have to. Just swallow what rose in her throat, forget about the fact that when everything she touched turned to dust, the pity was he didn’t drop at her feet, and do it.

“Then … let’s get straight to the point. I’ve always been a frank talking kind of girl.”

“The point, Miss Rhodes?”

“Doom Bar Hall is not just my home, as well as my brother, Orwell’s, it has been  my whole life since my husband, Ennis, died. You look surprised?”

“Only in that—”

“I seem young to be a widow? Well, I was and I am, I suppose. Of course I could have lived at Pangbury, the family home but we were guests there ourselves, him having a younger brother with family. So I put the money he left me into Doom Bar Hall, because it has been in the Rhodes family for generations. I returned to my maiden name too. I think you’ll find I’m quite a woman of the world, however.”

It was the most tactful way to put what she was about to propose, which was why she turned away. Not before she saw Gil Wryson’s gleaming black eyes were searching her face in bemusement. But perhaps he simply couldn’t believe his luck? She knew she couldn’t. Believe her luck that was. Certainly at having got this far.

“I suppose what I am trying to say to you, is that I am in this house,” she added. “Yes. It is in me even though you may have won it from my brother, Orwell.”

“I think you’re mistaken there, Miss Rhodes.”

“Really? Well I don’t. You did win it. I’m not going to argue about that, or how easy it probably was, knowing Orwell’s drinking habits, to diddle him of his left pinkie. His thumb too.”

“Perhaps. But it … ”

Must he keep interrupting her when she was doing her level best here to get up from the pit, soar to the sky and secure the roof above her head? And the desperation he might refuse, lay like a lather on her bones? She glided forward then turned to face him.

“Doom Bar Hall is too precious to me. As you will see when I show you around, I am in every scrap of this place. In fact you might even say I am this place. That is why you should also know something.”

“What?”

“I come with it.”

Start as you mean to go on. Finish too. The blank cut-out she was inside meant it was nothing for her to stand here and offer herself like this. Once. Perhaps. But now? Given the alternative? Although equally, some might say, she had risen to this with a surprising fervor.

“I’m sorry?”

“Oh, I am too, Mr. Wryson, but I honestly have no choice.”

He blinked, as if he hadn’t known what was coming, or didn’t want her, although he did have the good manners to smile. “Am I to understand?  Are you … are you suggesting … ”

Orwell’s boots scraped on the scuffed floorboards.

“Dstny. Dsny, old girl, thart’s what … you see … it’s like this … I relemmber now. …”

“Oh please, Orwell, do be quiet for once in your sorry life. Let’s just agree I’ll handle this, shall we? You can go to the devil for all I care. In fact, shall we say Truro marketplace if you don’t button up?”

Yes. Gil Wryson wasn’t the devil and he wasn’t Divers O’Roarke–not that the devil troubled her, if she’d to narrow that list down. Divers O’Roarke now? Exactly how likely was he to be here in Cornwall?

Ignoring the wind banging the shutters, the batter of incessant rain cutting a silver stream down the moonlit glass, she continued,

“Now then, Mr. Wryson, these are the terms I place honorably on the table before you. They are very simple. Doom Bar Hall is my life. I will not be separated from it. So if you take Doom Bar Hall, you take me, to do what you will with. I’ll be your queen, your housekeeper, I’ll be your whatever you desire, because no-one knows this place like me. If you can’t do that, if you have some other agenda, some other woman, for that matter, whatever you have, walk away now.  I know I have not won Doom Bar Hall from you, that in a million years I may not have done that, but then again I never lost it in a devil’s hand of cards, played against a man too drunk to know his own name, let alone the family one he’s thrown away. These are my terms. I’m not leaving here, unless it is in a box. Do you understand?”

“Miss … Lady … ?”

Ignoring him, she lifted the glass to her lips. Courage flowed into her veins, all the way to her pounding temples.  It always did when she made up her mind.

“In the circumstances, you may call me, Destiny.”

Orwell tried again to struggle to his feet. “Dstiny. Don’t. You … you don’t know … “

“Orwell, I asked you to stay out of this. What you do is up to you just as this is up to me. I am doing this. I am keeping our home.”

Her shell would anyway. What followed behind, a pallbearer at an unspeakable funeral might wince. She waited, a prisoner of the silence, the one existing in her soul, for Gil Wryson to speak. His lips cinched uncertainly, as if he didn’t know how to approach this. Gentlemanly of him, but not the point.

“Destiny?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I … I’m sure I can call you that, Miss … Miss Rhodes, if that’s acceptable … ”

“Why shouldn’t it be? We’re going to be things to each other, after all. Let’s drink a toast to it.”

“But what I was trying to explain, maybe not terribly well, that is true, and perhaps your brother—“

“Oh, him? He doesn’t count for anything where this is concerned.”

“– is too, is that I didn’t actually win the game. So really … ”

Her heart beat in such hope it almost felled her, although hope was something that had lived in the dark for the last two years. Doom Bar Hall wasn’t lost at all.

Relief washed like an ocean, ambushing her as she stood there encased in tortuous, threadbare velvet. Her cheeks pulsed. To think she’d abased herself for nothing. But what did that matter? She downed the drink in one, wiped a mittened hand across her mouth.

“Then … if you didn’t win …?”

“No. I suppose that’s what I meant when I said I wasn’t a gentleman.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Wryson, you will think me thick as a sea mist—“

“Not at all.”

“–but the truth is I really don’t understand what you being, or not being a gentleman, has to do—“

“I’m acting on behalf of my employer.”

“Your employer?”

So it was true? She’d lost Doom Bar Hall. Still, she’d made that decision before this man walked in here.  How he looked, how old he was, who he was, had made no difference then. Why should it now?

“He thought there would be difficulties, you see.”

“Apart from me brother lying drunk I can’t imagine how.”

“Well he did. And that was why he asked me to spy out the lie of the land, if you will. After all, this is quite a house to lose–”

“Do you think I don’t know that? That is why my offer is the same because I don’t intend to lose it–”

Especially when there’s past associations.”

Past associations.” She resisted the urge to finger her throat, which prickled as if a moth’s wing was stuck in it somewhat of a sudden. “What do you mean?”

“I mean my employer once lived—not in the house itself—but on the estate, and is known to you.”

“Known?”

She swallowed the astonishment sitting cold as marble in her mouth. There was only one man she could think of who’d done that but of that one man, she didn’t want to think. Not when the blood drained from her face, the floor loomed so perilously close she struggled to stand in her black slippers and Orwell staggered to his feet.

“Dstny … I triled to tell you. But you … you … Anyway, you’re nlot seris … ”

“Unless the name Divers O’Roarke is unfamiliar to you, Miss Rhodes?” Gil Wryson’s voice was oiled velvet.

“Divers O’Roarke?”

How did she say the name as if it was nothing to her, the name of the man who had cursed them, cursed her loudest of all?

Because she must.

“No. I believe I have vague memories of him.”

“Good, because he is waiting outside. I will be sure to pass the details of your offer to him if you still desire it.”

Before she could think whether she did or not, whether some might say this was putting it rather strongly, or she should change her mind, a footfall sounded in the doorway behind her.

“Good evening, Destiny,” clanged the sounding bell of hell and a voice she sort of recognized from there. “I see you haven’t changed.”

BLURB

Once he’d have died to possess her, now he just might…

Beautiful, headstrong young widow Destiny Rhodes was every Cornish man’s dream. Until Divers O’Roarke cursed her with ruin and walked out of Cornwall without a backwards glance. Now he’s not only back, he’s just won the only thing that hasn’t fallen down about her head—her ancestral home. The home, pride demands she throw herself in with, safe in the knowledge of one thing. Everything she touches withers to dust.

He’d cursed her with ruin.

Now she’d have him live with the spoils of her misfortune.

Though well versed in his dealings with smugglers and dead men, handsome rogue Divers O’Roarke is far from sure of his standing with Destiny Rhodes. He had no desire to win her, doesn’t want her in his house, but while he’s bent on the future, is there one when a passionate and deadly game of bluff ensues with the woman he once cursed? A game where no-one and nothing are what they seem. Him most of all.

And when everything she touches turns to dust, what will be his fate as passion erupts? Will laying past ghosts come at the highest price of all?

 

Releasing Friday September 2019 .. It is about a curse after all …Paperback and Ebook. E book can be pre-ordered here.