Interview with the Earl. Take 1.


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Place the award logo or image within your blog post. Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog in your post.

 Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.

Nominate 10-20 people.

Ask your nominees 5 original questions of your choice.

Share 5 links to your best blog posts.

Notify each of your nominees by commenting on their blog.



Answer your nominator’s questions.



He tightened his finger on the trigger and focused his gaze on the exact spot he was going to hit, the spot he had the right to hit. Damn it all to hell. Never mind facing a murder charge for a boot-wrecking nincompoop, what if this wasn’t a boy?

He tilted his chin. A woman at a man’s chess tournament though? She’d be arrested for fraud.


He cocked his eyebrow. He had a clear shot, and he must take it. Now.

This damned jackanapes had made him look a complete fool, and not content with that, had proceeded to almost shoot off his toe. Indeed, the shot could have taken off anything.

A woman might very well fire off a shot like that, though. A complete bamboozler that might take a better shot down by chance. Yesterday’s visitor and this cousin had the same hair coloring, the same disconcerting habit of talking as if he was an idiot. They required patience to deal with too. Then there was the matter of the scent.

One more sadness at the bottom of a glass.

He had never shot a woman. What kind of man would?

Oh, for God’s sake, if the shirt outlined soft, swelling breasts, he’d stop, stop right now, stride from this field, and let this go.

It didn’t. What other choice did he have?

He narrowed his gaze, fully cocked the pistol, and taking a deep breath, squeezed the trigger.


Meet Esme, the woman who hunts recipes.


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loves to share her passion to cook, bake and experiment in the kitchen.

 This is her way of relaxing after a long and hard week in the office, and if you wish to call it her  ‘retail therapy’, please do .

Esme : Thank you for the compliment, although I was not involved in the decision making of naming myself, I accept the compliment on bahalf of my belated parents.  The rumor goes that it’s a name that Mom and Dad fancied and then named me as such, but later I found the following explanation for my name:-

Esmé is a French given name.

Esme may also refer to:

  • Esme, a town in Turkey
  • Esme(genus), a genus of damselfly
  • “Esmé”, a story by Saki
  • “Esme”, a song on the Joanna Newsom album Have One on Me, and its titular character


 Esmé or Esmée is a French given name, the past participle of French esmer “to esteem” (whence also English aim).Esmé came to be used in Scotland in the 16th century as the name of Esmé Stewart, 1st Duke of Lennox (1542–1583) and is now among the most popular baby names for girls in the UK.

Esme – BTW – Esmé is my call name, although I do have 3 Christian names which have no resemblance or connection to my call name, so you can see Mom and Dad loved the name Esmé so much that that’s what I go by, but for the records and family tradition I am Maria, Elizabeth, Magdalena.  Should you call me Maria, I will take a second or more to respond you.

Esme :  This is me:

My about page: Welcome page: well as a link to my Who, What, Where and Why?? page:

Link to my blog The Recipe Hunter (Cook and Enjoy):

Esme.  Yep.  I love to cook, experiment and share recipes and thus also need to “hunt” to find new recipes from other cultures and areas around the world to add to my collection and test whenever possible.

Esme  :  Unfortunately I do not personally have or had hamsters (sorry about that), but I did ‘hunt’ and found the following: hopefully you can ask Shey to prepare them for you.  Let me know what you think once tried and tested!

Esme :  WOW, that’s a loaded question!  Maybe I can answer in the reverse:  I do not like spicy and strong food, although it must be favorful.  I prefer to savor my food and prefer to have a good experience tasting each morsel I eat, without burning my mouth to cinders when eating.  I also do not like warm tomatoes, or escargot but pretty much everything else is a go for me. 

I leave you with Es’s family famous Chicken Pie recipe: The first link you will see being just a regular post of this awesome recipe (although I have to say to myself):

The second link featured in a magazine of a fellow Ex-South African FB group member, now residing in Texas, and Publisher of Neighbors of the Woodlands


 Recipes I have by the dozens, or thousands, so pleaes hop over and check out my blog: The Recipe Hunter @ I also provide you with a link on the blog, for recipes I personally tried and tested:   The last one I made (would like to do more, but time is always an issue with working full time and then running my FB Group and Blog and other social media outlets) but hope you will like this one: Es’s Chicken Scones ( )

Esme.  Bobby Bub, I am not gourmet chef, I am just a plain old mother, wife and regular cook that try her best to put something yummy and nice on the plate for her family and friends.  I am sure there are many many of my fellow bloggers and FB group friends that do a way better job at cooking and baking than me.


Yes, I did ask Shey to do a Guest Post, and I am so so happy and grateful for her G…uest #20: Cooking’n books

( ) sharing with us her Creme Bastarde recipe (another one on my 1,000 mile long list to test out.)

Esme : Whoop, whoop, yes, yes and once again yes, please share as many recipes as you like.  As you know I am The Recipe “Hunter” and this will make me the Happiest “Hunter” or should I say “Huntress” in the world.

Esme : A8 Share away ‘hamsters’, now you’re on the clock and I await each and every new recipe coming my way!!!

Social media links:

Please join our Facebook group: The Recipe Hunter

Follow me on Pinterest

Join me on Instagram  You can now also follow me on Twitter:  The Recipe Hunter –  @TRH_Cook

I joined the ranks of StumbleUpon

I am also a Proud member of the Top 100 food Blogs

When good feelings extend to rascals and poetry.


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I give myself very good advice …


Same picture, “take one!”

Two posts, just like twins.

Do you remember one of

Shehanne Moore’s themes

is attraction to scoundrels,

who underneath their rakish,

handsome appearance is a warm heart?

While I had Shehanne’s books here

in my apartment, somehow the

incredible rascals got in

through crack under

the door. . .

I bet these baby hamsters would

melt even a Viking or a Pirate’s

cold, cutthroat heart.

I reviewed the following books

by Shehanne Moore:

~ “The Viking and the Courtesan”

~ “The Unraveling of Lady Fury”

Should Shehanne be responsible

for progeny who developed

without her knowledge

nor her consent?

I’ve been circling back to

the summer book series,

meanwhile a new book has

been written and published by

a few of our fellow writing bloggers.

Here’s more of fascinating

Shehanne Moore’s


“Loving Lady Lazuli,”

(London Jewel Thieves, Book 1)


(London Jewel Thieves, Book 2)

“His Judas Bride”

“The Writer and the Rake”

Find Shehanne at:

So, do you know any solutions

for m Hamsters Invasion?

Same picture, “take two!” 😎

Many titillating scandals are

fully intended to lead to love.

Should shenanigans transpire. . .

Let the romance begin!

“Hamstahs” at Shehanne Moore’s

blog are fabulous, truly fashionable.

Have you seen their hats?

👒 🎓 ⛑ 🎩

I admire them, lest I turn my back

accidentally! You need to stay on your

toes with ’em rascals.

They may

decide as the famous singer so

aptly suggested to, “Get it on,” in

the glass box you purchased.


It was going to be a terrarium!

Succulent plants, not critter

babies were going to add

to my oxygen supply.

I think you’ll remember her

Lady Fury and Lady Malice

from your reading the books

I recommended this summer.

I’m hoping other strong,

demanding and exciting women

characters have inhabited your mind.

Shehanne’s books are already

part of your favorites. Of course,

the good feelings may extend

to men in those thrilling

and romantic novels.

Have you seen the way

Ms. Moore allows

her hamsters to




Interview with a ferret and a Miranda Sings award


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AWARD: The Miranda Sings Award – A chance to say I Love Me!

Here are the rules of the award...

  • Announce your win with a post, and link the blogger who nominated you.
  • Include the featured image on your blog post.
  • Nominate 10 bloggers (or as many as you can think of) and link your awardees in the post.
  • List 7 things you love about yourself. (This can be about your appearance, your personality, your achievements, etc.)


Don’t use negative connotation (i.e. Don’t say things like – “I’m prettier than an average person.” or “People have told me I’m smart.” You are pretty. You are smart.)


Mrs Ferret:    Beggin’ your pardon your  furryship creatures an’ meanin’ to give no affront. or that, but I thought it was seven things about me?


Mrs Ferret  : Well, I must say, again meanin’ no disrespect,  it’s not whot was agreed.

Mrs Ferret     :  You won’t be doin’ no Cossack dance, nor drinkin’ no vodka here.  Beggin’ your pardons and meanin’ no affront or that, not unless you wants ter meet with me broom handle and be swept out into the doostbin you won’t.  And you won’t be bullyin’ me like you did that artist hero of Shehanne’s whot came here and never got a word in yet. Now then . Three things about me that I like.

  1. Well, contrary to the many words what are spoke about me 

I’m secretly very soft hearted, soft-hearted as any can be whot has been left ter fend for themselves in a bitter,  hard, cruel world, one step away from the workhouse at sixteen with a sister and young brothers ter support. You can ask Splendor herself about me soft heart.  But I got a good nose for sniffin’ out whot people are inside. I can always recognise another servant and I will look out for them. I just won’t be taken a loan of is all. But if I see someone needin’ a helpin’ hand, well, I think I can be counted on.

2  I love that I like people, people whot are interesting. Them that might have secrets. But I aon’t no gossip.  The things I could have told Stillmore about his ‘wife’ and her friend–cos, meanin’ no affront but I reads the newspapers and I knows about that Sisterhood lot. But I never. As for the goings on of him at Catterton whenever he deigned to visit …..

  I was discreet. As for me figuring out they wasn’t really married, he must have thought I stitched up the back of me mob cap.

3 I know I may only be a servant but I am very good at me job, unlike some I could name whot drinks on the job, I see everything runs like clockwork whotever house I am in, Catterton,

or His Grace’s place in London.  That’s because I take pride in knowing whot people want. Of course, meanin’ no affront and provided anyone would have had me. it would have been nice to have had me family roundabout me and a man to love me, but families require keepin’ and it really isn’t easy for women of my social class that way, as I found out when my husband left me. 

Thank you very much for letting me come by and get  a word in.

 I am going to give  you with the names of some bloggers. It would be more but Sallly has already bestowed the award on many whot come here and might like doing this kind of thing. Not everyone accepts awards. Though if YOU would like doing this, please do feel free. Meaning no disrespect but that you’re not here is probably on account of Shehanne not having time to look all the links up.


Catherine Cavendish

Purva Narang.

Jean Lee  –

Explore Jean Lee’s World

Sarah Potter

Annika Perry

Leslie Noyez


Christy Birmingham

Extract…Mrs Ferret first raises her lovely head  

“This is Mrs. Ferret.”

So Splendor’s death hadn’t happened. Instead, the front door had swung open, because there weren’t any rugs on the flagstone floor to stop it. Splendor thought that was why the door didn’t just swing open, it almost removed itself from its hinges and careered across said floor. Before she was anywhere near it, which was not always the case. Penetrating cold blew out, not in. The sun hadn’t just gone behind a cloud on a nice day, Arctic winter had followed.

Ferret was an unfortunate name. The woman herself had the appearance of having dropped a guinea and found a farthing. Some people were so devoid of the desire to better themselves that they dressed in pinched black to match their expressions. Splendor’s desire was to show his majesty how unfazed she was by this rapid and unprovoked downturn in events. London and Babs Langley. She fixed a smile on her face. Her best.

“You will pardon me, Your Grace, openin’ door in advance of you ringin’.” Mrs. Ferret ignored the smile and her. “But Bates told me you was here. And had brought company. Young ladies.”

Was it a crime to be one? Splendor had never thought so before. But the look Mrs. Ferret failed to cast her said her education was sadly lacking that way.

“Yes.” Stillmore strode over the stone threshold into the pale white hall. “My wife and her friend.”

“Wife? Wife?” Mrs. Ferret’s voice rose. “Mr. Bates never said nothing about no wife.”

Stillmore stared at the ceiling. “Perhaps because he’s not married to her. Well. It happened, whether Bates said so or not. If I say she is, it should be good enough.”

Splendor swung her gaze around. “You mean, you take my getting out that cart as assent—?”

“Oh, sir, I never meant…” Mrs. Ferret interrupted. “Oh bless me no. I mean, I wouldn’t, bein’ mindful of me position here’n all, dream of offerin’ an affront. Excuse me, Your Grace.”

Mrs. Ferret touched a feeble hand to her breast, as if she wouldn’t take issue with him arriving on the doorstep with a two-headed hamster and saying he’d married it.

“Will I just show her downstairs, same as usual, Your Grace?”

“I will do that. Thank you.”

As usual? Splendor turned her gaze back, swallowed the hot tide that rose. Thank God in some ways. Remove this old bat from the equation and Catterton House might have her otherwise. From the outside it looked like a two-roomed cottage with a tower that stood like a sentinel. Inside though, it was a completely different fish. A whitewashed palace, with steps leading down to other levels that were set into the steeply dropping cliffside. It would be private here. The kind of place Topaz would be safe. The kind of place they could both hide.

Not if it was home to his women. Not when she’d thought London.

“But, of course, Your Lordship Grace.” Mrs. Ferret curtseyed so low it was a miracle she didn’t keel over on the flagstone floor. “And what about the other…lady, sir? Will she just be left sitting out there in the cart, while you…you know?”

“Yes. No. I… I mean…” Splendor burst out before she could stop herself.

“Not at all,” Stillmore said. “She will be coming in here. But would you have a problem with that, Mrs. Ferret?”

“No, Your Grace. All I were doing was asking.”

“Well, don’t.”

“Fine then I won’t. I’ll just go tell Bates to start peeling the vegetables for lunch. A light one will it be, Your Grace? Or do your guests require stuffing?”

The only thing he hates more than losing at chess is marriage…

 For Splendor, former servant to the London’s premiere jewel thieves, the Starkadder Sisterhoiod, pretending to be someone else is all in a day’s work. So when she learns of a chess tournament—a men’s chess tournament—with a ten thousand pound prize, pretending to be a man is the obvious move. The money will be enough to set her fiancé up in his own business so they can finally marry, and more importantly, it’ll pay off her bills and keep her out of debtor’s prison. But she doesn’t plan on her opponent, the rakish Kendall Winterborne, Earl Stillmore, being a sore loser—and a drunken one, at that. But before she can collect her prize, she finds herself facing the most merciless man in London across a pair of dueling pistols at dawn. Chess may be Splendor’s game, but she’s never fired a pistol. And dressed as a man with ill-fitting shoes on the slippery grass and borrowed glasses that make it hard to see, she’s certain she’s finally tipped her own king.

 Bitter divorcee Kendall Winterborne, Earl Stillmore, is the ton’s most ruthless heartbreaker. And he’s got three pet peeves: kitchen maids, marriage…and losing. So when he realizes the “man” opposite him has entered the chess tournament under false pretenses, he’s in the perfect position to extort the little chit. But that’s before the exasperating woman begins to slip beneath his skin, and soon all he can think about is slipping beneath her skirts. But the confounded woman is engaged to someone else, and worse—she’s nothing but a former kitchen maid, just like the one that lured his father into the marriage that ruined the family name. And his ex-wife taught him more than he cared to know about why marriage was the worst kind of checkmate of all…


The Bonnie Prince, the Edinburgh literary greats and some dudes.


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Interview with a Kleptomaniac


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Topaz…. Whot me? Why would I do that? I ain’t no bleedin’ thief. I’m a  kleptomaniac. 

Topaz…Someone whot steals pure’n simple, cos they can’t help it,  see?  

Topaz. Sez who? Course it ain’t.  I’ve sworn off nickin’. It’s just that nickin’ ain’t sworn off me. See it’s like Splendor’n shoppin’. I gets a thrill so I does it even when she tells me ter stop cos there’s posters up everywhere and it ain’t exactly her face whot’s on ’em either. I does it no matter whot. Topaz . To my shame, I admits, I even robbed Splen’s squeeze Kenny. Fine gentleman ‘e was an’ so koind, nuffin’ loike she said. Puttin me hand in ‘is pocket was a real thrill I tells yer. Wouldn’t ‘ave ‘alf moinded puttin’ it in more.  Then there was the brandy ‘e puts in ‘is mornin’ coffee. Figured I was doin’ ‘im a favour there. Wouldn’t loike ter see ‘im droppin’ down wif some disease cos ‘he stuffs ‘is face wif booze steadah food first thing in the mornin’ now, would yer? She went titz about it, cos he went titz wif her, but given that business of her runnin’ up debts ter keep me out of Newgate, I looked on it as my altruistic duty ter return the compliment.  

Topaz. That depends doan’ it? I means if I can steal ‘un now, get the ingredients an’ whot not. I might.

Topaz . Death.

Topaz. You ain’t pretty enough. Nah, the moon is whot I’m after.

Extract…….a sort or rapid downturn in Splendor’s fortunes extract.

“When all’s said and done, it beats old woman Hanney’s. Beats sittin’ in this wreck, now Gabe’s gone and left us flat. Unless you want me going back ter stealing? I mean I could, I suppose.”

As Topaz studied the rotting fence posts at the sides of the ditch, as if they were next for pocketing, Splendor fought to bite her tongue. Topaz had never stopped.

“I take it when you use that word wreck, yor meaning some other vehicle an’ not   Clitherow’s fine lookin’ trap.” O’Taggart clicked his tongue.

“Long as I ain’t meanin’ yer damned, bleedin’ trap, what does it bleedin’ matter?”

Splendor smothered a shriek as O’Taggart brought the whip down on the nag’s back as if he wished it were Topaz’s. The jolt sent them both flying upward, then down onto the wooden plank, straddling the cart.

“That’s it. That’s it, me old cuddy. Take yor time, me faithful nag, and you’ll soon get there.”

“It’s taken three hours to travel two miles,” Stillmore growled, nudging his black gelding closer. “Do you think you could possibly hurry it along? I should like to be at Catterton House sometime this week if that’s not a trouble to you.”

“You are not the only one, sor. But Clitherow will only do as Clitherow can do. She doesn’t take kindly to complaints.”

“That’s a pity when the list is ten yards long.”

“And Oih must say, Oih don’t either.”

“Then that makes two of us. Three if that blasted nag doesn’t fall down dead


“Pity ’e wouldn’t do the bleedin’ same.” Topaz smoothed her cape shut. “’Ow

rich would that make yer?”

“If I had married him. But I didn’t.”

“So ’ow the bleedin’ hell does he think ’e can get the divorce courts ter agree ter a divorce then? Commit ’igh treason?”

Somehow Splendor managed to cinch her lips.

If I agree, he’s going to say the parson was not ordained.”

“Thing is, I don’t know why yer agreed.”

She didn’t answer, and Topaz continued. “Look, we got ’is watch, we could pawn it. There’s plenty more where that come from.”

“And that’s the problem. If you’d left it where it came from…” She lowered her voice. Horses had ears. Their masters too.

“But it were pretty.”

Will you stop it?”

Pray God, Stillmore took her screech as one of agony as the cart lurched over another stone, almost catapulting her onto the floor. In truth, she felt like screeching, screeching to the high heavens. What was it Papa always said, especially during these first days in the Marshalsea? Nothing is ever so far beyond your reach, you should worry about it.

“And I still don’t see why yer agreed ter it,” Topaz whispered.

“I told you I never agreed straight off. All right?”

She was not going to tell Topaz about the business with Lady Kertouche. She’d sooner cut off her hand. Papa had said that too. Just tell people as much as they need to hear and will make you feel better. She sighed.

“But if you must know it was because I didn’t see how the bloody hell else I was to get you out of there with your picture all over the walls.”


The only thing he hates more than losing at chess is marriage…

 For Splendor, former servant to the London’s premiere jewel thieves, pretending to be someone else is all in a day’s work. So when she learns of a chess tournament—a men’s chess tournament—with a ten thousand pound prize, pretending to be a man is the obvious move. The money will be enough to set her fiancé up in his own business so they can finally marry, and more importantly, it’ll pay off her bills and keep her out of debtor’s prison. But she doesn’t plan on her opponent, the rakish Kendall Winterborne, Earl Stillmore, being a sore loser—and a drunken one, at that. But before she can collect her prize, she finds herself facing the most merciless man in London across a pair of dueling pistols at dawn. Chess may be Splendor’s game, but she’s never fired a pistol. And dressed as a man with ill-fitting shoes on the slippery grass and borrowed glasses that make it hard to see, she’s certain she’s finally tipped her own king.

 Bitter divorcee Kendall Winterborne, Earl Stillmore, is the ton’s most ruthless heartbreaker. And he’s got three pet peeves: kitchen maids, marriage…and losing. So when he realizes the “man” opposite him has entered the chess tournament under false pretenses, he’s in the perfect position to extort the little chit. But that’s before the exasperating woman begins to slip beneath his skin, and soon all he can think about is slipping beneath her skirts. But the confounded woman is engaged to someone else, and worse—she’s nothing but a former kitchen maid, just like the one that lured his father into the marriage that ruined the family name. And his ex-wife taught him more than he cared to know about why marriage was the worst kind of checkmate of all…



There’s Reviews and There’s even more of Robin’s Reviews.


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The photograph depicts a sense of

danger and intrigue, in that the

stereoview device is looking

like a weapon and the gold

gloves look ominous. The

positions are accurately

depicting the foreboding

sense one gets reading

about Lady Malice’s

business of meddling

into affairs of



When the case she

is requested to take on

involves breaking up her own

marriage: Watch out, folks!

This book I had the delight

and honor reading is called,

“The Viking and the Courtesan.”

Shehanne has done it again.

It is quite exciting and uniquely

plotted where a woman who has

a certain lifestyle stands a chance of

losing it all over another pretty

woman’s interest in her husband.

Lady Malice has her business to

carry her through destitute times,

where she is hired to bring in a

woman of the evening to besmirch

and defame the marriage of one

who needs “proof” of this to

get a divorce. Aptly named,

“Strictly Business” keeps

her in fashionable gowns

and Madame Faro’s shoes,

~ * Silver shoes with


buckles, perhaps? * ~

I won’t reveal immediately the

unseemly circumstances, but

must proceed to entreat you

to set aside your distate for

unfaithfulness and hope

for the best! Shoes are her

passion which isn’t at

all distasteful. One parlour

subject matter for women of

breeding and social standing

should help you to rally and

cheer on Lady Malice’s behalf.

A twist revealed on the book cover,

should appeal to adventurous readers

who wish they could travel back in time.

But. . . would you wish to visit or stay

in the ancient year of 898 A.D.?

Incredulously, such a plotline

is designed to transport you

there, becoming attracted

to Sinarr, whose nickname

appropriately is “Sin.”

Imagine a Thor-like

ruggedly handsome,

physically fit man.

He is the proud owner of two

Viking ships, the Raven

and the Reindeer.

Horrors, dear Malice

is found amongst nuns,

when rousing from a foggy

recollection of kissing her

husband, Cyril, in one time frame

only to find her becoming a “bed slave”

in another more rough, primitive time.

She is meant to become a “wedge”

between Sinarr’s betrothed,

“Snotra” and marriage.

Snotra has humiliated Sinarr,

having twice taken another man’s

name in marriage, only to be

finally available (deaths).  Sin

wants her to suffer and wait,

while he pretends to bed her,

taking advantage of Malice’s

1800’s knowledge of romance,

or practical lack of. . .

(A side note: don’t you love these

Viking, vividly rich character names?)

Will Malice once transported back

to correct period in time, miss

wild, passionate Sinarr?

Will she find her love in the

arms of her dear husband again?

There are many humorous situations

with nuns wishing to become

“bed slaves,” while one who

is heavy is called Gentle and

the head nun is Mother Bede.

Finally, Lady Malice finds herself

in not only a quandary about which

time and place she wants to exist in,

she also realizes she is in the ~

“Family Way.”

How embarassing and who

will she choose to be the father?

The story flows along with telltale

items and household details which

are distinctly recognizable for

each historical period.

Both pigs and bed slaves

in Viking cottages create

a funny and fume-filled setting.

The 19th century tea pots, cracked

windowpanes and rustling satin gowns

would hardly seem to be a contest

as to which would be preferable!

Shehanne Moore’s exciting,

romantic historical novel

has just the change of

pace style to keep you

reading as quickly as

you are able, to find out the

surprising and yet, satisfying ending

for Lady Malice Mallender.

Cyril’s story ends as quite modern

in its libertarian point of view.

Sinarr’s story concludes with as

much force and vigor as

Thor’s famous hammer

may thrust. . .

Or so, we hope!

This book is rated

five diamonds out

of five diamonds.


Photo is taken by reocochran,



Items depicting an era which

Lady Malice started her

adventures out in.

We used to call

postcard viewing device

a “stereoptican.” My

research found out we had

mislabeled this wooden antique.


“Well, I…I do want a divorce but only because…  I mean only so…”

“You can marry her for her money?”

“Malice…I am vexed you think so little of me that I would do that and set the law on you into the bargain…”

Her heart began to pound so loudly it drowned the strains of the Haydn minuet drifting through the open doors. After all these years. Years in which she had waited. Abandoned hope in. Lived like a drudge at times on a penurious income. She had him at a disadvantage. She reached inside her reticule.

“So you can live in a state you should like to become accustomed to? Ruining her as you have me?”

“Well, the thing is, the thing was, I had no choice regarding the law. That woman you sent to do whatever she was meant to do, she let you down badly.”


“I’m sure that your other ladies aren’t so workshy. Why, your business came highly recommended.”

She unfolded the square of gauze. His expression as she placed the square on her head then arranged it over her face was worth a king’s ransom.  “That woman was me.”

Every scrap of color drained from his face. Not that there had been a great deal to start with. There never was. It was one of his many attractions, what gave him that boyish look at the age of thirty.


“Yes Cyril.”

“Y-you mean… Well, Malice.” Give him his dues, his recovery was excellent. But then it had every reason to be.  “May I say how very—”

“You may say nothing. But I will say I think we will agree there will be no divorce. How can there be when we are so very happy, so joyous together?”

“I don’t—”

“That I am having your child?”


Was it any wonder his eyes widened? Widened so the wonder was they didn’t pop clean out his head and ping about the paving slabs? She tilted her chin. If there was ever a doubt she shouldn’t do this, that moment was past. What was he going to do? Have it all over London his wife ran a marriage wrecking business? That he was a cad who stole from the woman he had abandoned? Hardly. No, the man was a leech she would do well to stay married to. And one who would support her from now on.

“Yes, husband dearest. From that night, the one that was so special to both of us.”

“That’s a damned lie. That night you disappeared. Vanished right before my eyes. I shut them for a second. One second only and poof.” He snapped his fingers. Indeed, his face had contorted with such rage, the only wonder was  he didn’t snap more with his fingers, he didn’t snap her neck.  “If it was so damned special how come I don’t remember the first damned thing about it?”



Interview with a Shopaholic.


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 Stillmore  -Exist? You are looking at one.


Splendor. Don’t talk about yourself like that, darling.

Stillmore. I’m not talking about me.

Splendor. Well, I hope you are not  talking about me. But to answer your question, dear little dudes.

Oh. I never let the question of being able to afford something worry me. No No. And you know Shehanne loosely based part of the story on Cinderella. You would make the most marvelous mice.

How edifying for you all. Well, the thing is there is no such thing as a shopping addiction. It is all quite easily explained. Clothes, fans, stockings, petticoats are things I have a notion of when I am unhappy. Also they are unhappy too. Why should something that nice, that beautiful, be made to feel neglected? Well?


Splendor. Sorry? Yes. Yes, of course. Well I have to buy things  because if I hadn’t, for example bought  a lot of these items I bought  when I didn’t have the money to buy things,  my friend Topaz, who is a member of the Starkadder Sisterhood–thieves, in other words– would have stolen these things for me. She is a kleptomaniac.  Keeping her out of Newgate was of the utmost importance to me. It would have cost the state a fortune to hang or transport her. I saved them money.  Just think of the service you are doing for others every time  you treat yourself to something nice.

Splendor . Well, I did say  she’s a kleptomaniac and as you can see Stillmore wasn’t too troubled. Sort of not anyway. Unlike her, you need to think of what you resist. The three pairs of cherry-patterned stockings I bought on one occasion might seem excessive. But not when set against the fact I never bought the silk chemise. I wanted to but I didn’t.  It made me feel so much better that I had bought the stockings.

Splendor – and did I say it’s less to carry especially when you may feel you have over spent and your palms are sweating?

‘The white silk had been a necessity when he wanted her to accompany him to that supper party, the small, simple event given by some dear friend of Lady Kertouche’s.

Why he had insisted on attending when he never ate anything had not only been beyond her comprehension, it had been so far beyond her pocket that buckets of sweat glazed her palms just thinking about it.’

Splendor – Goodness yes. How many did we say? Well, I suppose Stillmore got a little excited about it on more than one occasion. My going out shopping that was.

Largely because HE didn’t understand that I was saving him money.

It is a principle I am sure many are familiar with.

Splendor . Well, not if he’s anything like Stillmore, although people will see you are trying to do something about it. You can also try buying things that are reduced because people don’t like the design, so these things you get for a snip. I got a very nice day dress that way once.  Again, what was I doing but giving a good home to something unloved? 

Now lastly? Lastly let’s say you have found yourself in the situation of spending over the odds, perhaps for three, of one thing. I mean serious odds here. Well you just go out and you buy another three of a far cheaper version. That way although your round total may be more……… per item it is less if you do the division and see the logic. So three hamsters at 30 pounds a piece would be 90 pounds. But if I then bought another three at 2 pounds each, bringing the total to 96–pounds, not hamsters– then divided the total  by 6,  well, that is only 16 pounds each, which is sure to be acceptable to everyone. And that is only 3 at two pounds, if you buy more at two pounds, you will bring the individual total down even more.

Now then hammies while it’s been very nice chewing the fat with you all. I really much dash. Madame Renare’s shuts at five you know and she has the most divine silk gloves in her window it would be a terrible crime to leave them there.

Extract ..after a certain night in a certain barn in a certain thunderstorm …..

Lady Kertouche’s velvet-gloved hand wavered in the direction of the he, looking even more diabolical than usual if that were possible, dark stubble dusting his jaw and upper lip, his eyes sunk so far beneath his brows she would need a team with pickaxes to excavate them. And she had thought he quite liked Lady Kertouche.

“If you mean the cat, do say so, Violetta,” he said.

“Oh, not at all, Kendall. I merely…well…”

Or was it because Babs Langley stood there? Babs Langley, who she would die rather than look stupid before. And he would too. It must be. Suddenly she saw it. He didn’t know what to do.

“Oh, it is not what it looks.”  In that second Splendor’s voice came to her. In fact, more than her voice came to her, breaking the awful morass holding her in slimy paws. “No, I do not know how you can think anything amiss.”

“Oh, my dear, I was not thinking—“

“His Grace and I eloped.”


Lady Kertouche’s exclamation was arrested by the tray dropping from the earl’s hand and clanging off the ground, along with Lady Kertouche’s dropping jaw.

“Yes.” Splendor could see what a mistake it was to continue, but there was also the matter of the parties, the balls and the outings. So she did it anyway. These would grind to an immediate halt if it was known she had spent the night with a man in a barn. Besides, he could thank her for her genius later, just as she had him to thank for the ten thousand pounds that would make her continuance in that glittering world possible. “We…well, you know how it is, I am sure. We just decided to avoid all the fuss and then… Then there was the storm. It was so awful, it forced us to stop for the night.”

If the expression darkening his features was anything to go by, being forced to stop wasn’t the only thing that was awful. The idea to take her by the throat and put a stop to her was plainly running through his disordered head. When she had dug him out of a hole? What was wrong with it for goodness’ sake? Give him a second or so, and he would surely see the value of her claim. How it would inflame Babs Langley.

Besides, they could deny it, couldn’t they, when all the fuss had died down, and they were all back in London? A joke, whatever. So there really was no need for him to appear quite so mummified.

“Eloped?” Lady Kertouche was so beside herself her eyes matched her mouth in the soup bowl stakes. “My stars. Kendall… You?”

He tilted his jaw. Sparks glinted in his eyes.

“But Kendall, you don’t like… I mean, since Marietta you have been a confirmed bachelor.”

“Well.” His smile was so saturnine, it would have skinned lemons at forty paces had there been any on that tray. “There is a first time for everything. Or so it seems.”





Fiona-Jane Brown, Aberdeen and a question of Hats


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FIona.  Hello, dear hamster dudes! Yes, I am indeed, I’ve been running tours for 6 years now! But no, I’ve not ever thought of doing a hidden hamster tour.

Well, sadly, so far I’ve not found any record of hamsters doing anything significant in Aberdeen!

But, I’m sure they did! Just because things are not written down, doesn’t mean to say they didn’t happen! There were loads of secret tunnels and cellars they could have hidden in and witnessed some local dramas over the centuries – although they’d have to be careful of cats!

BUT, sadly hamsters did not arrive in Britain until 1939! You’ll love this though – the name hamster comes from a Persian (Iranian) word meaning “oppressor”!

It all started because I lost my dream job in Portsmouth as Conan Doyle Projects Officer! The funding was never renewed, so I just had to come back home. I decided there and then to never ever work for a council again, cos every council job I’ve ever had I’ve been made redundant from!


Anyway, I kinda started it even before I went to the south of England, as early as the spring of 2010, when I took a group of photographer friends around Old Aberdeen, which is where our main university campus is and has the oldest buildings in the city. At that time I had a job as curator for Grampian Police, so I got to indulge my interest in crime history – I planned to write a tour going round the sites of famous murders in the city, and when I came back in 2011, folk were like, “When are you doing this murder tour?” I wrote it up, put an event page on Facebook and 25 people turned up.  It was scary! But folk liked it, so I kept doing it.  I have 18 different routes now with 4 new ones planned for next year already.  Basically, I take people around a set route and tell them stories about the different sites.  I also do three routes which are “ghost tours” – which means that they are street theatre walks involving local actors who are playing real people from the past.  That goes down very well.  Tours involve a lot of writing to start with, then a lot of walking and talking!


Because, sadly, almost all of our historic buildings have been demolished and the folk in charge don’t seem to care! I have always wanted to know “what was there before” and take people back in time, if only in their imaginations. Our city was founded as a royal burgh in 1176 AD, but there’s evidence going away back to Neolithic times, so people have lived in the area for thousands of years.

Loads of them! But my real favourites are Johnny Milne, Aberdeen’s last executioner who only got the job because the city needed a hangman and it was a better alternative to being transported to Australia which he would have been as he had been arrested for stealing beehives from his employer. He had a bossy wife who made sure he took the job! 

Fiona-Jane meets Johnny Milne

I also love all the street characters who sold food, goods and generally made a nuisance of themselves, e.g. “Blin’ Bob”, aka Duncan McGillivray, a hawker who would make up all sorts of nonsense to sell anything.  He once bought a stock of old newspapers at the time of the Crimean War, and sold them pretending they were current.  He was accused of being a liar, but he said, “Aa newspapers print lees, so I should be allowed tae sell lees an aa!” I have a huge cast of characters in my head most of the time when I’m on a tour.

They vary! Every Halloween since 2011 I have put on a street theatre performance at a specific place featuring tragic, horrible and scary stories, that’s what the ghost tours came out of. One year when we did “Ghosts & Ghouls of the Aultoun” which goes round the uni area I mentioned earlier, we had fifty people on the tour, it was mad! It was also downright freezing! But folk love being scared.  I think it’s because deep down they know it isn’t real, but they like the thrill of being scared in a safe way.  I don’t dabble with real spooks! .

Last year we had our first indoor performance at the old medical school in Marischal College, it was called “Burkers, Bodysnatchers & Bloody Surgeons” featuring true and semi-fictionalised stories from the time of Burke & Hare, only in Aberdeen, it was the students themselves who would go and dig up bodies to dissect. There was also a storyline about two girls who disguised themselves as boys to study medicine as no woman was allowed near a university until 1891 in Aberdeen.  It ends up with the two girls being found out and bumping off the lecturer who uncovers their secret – they are then helped to hide the body by the horrible, scary Sacrist Pirie, who already has his own trade in killing off Travelling people to sell to the surgeons! It was such hard work, but it was so impressive! To hear and see the cast bringing my work to life was fantastic, it’s the best compliment an author can have to see their work on stage exactly as they wrote it!

Oh I was writing about other things long before I wrote local history! I’ve actually been writing stories since I was about six years old! I got inspired by “The Little Match Girl” and after that I just seemed to come up with fantastical plots and characters.

Eventually I realised that it was easiest to write about things I knew, so the first novel I wrote was all about North-East fisher folk and it was published online in 2012.


Indeed, see above, I was employed as the project officer for the Lancelyn-Green Collection, one of the world’s biggest collections of books, artefacts and other ephemera about Arthur Conan Doyle. I’ve always liked Holmes since the Granada TV series and Jeremy Brett.  My Mum bought me the complete Holmes short stories years ago and I devoured them!  The reason that the collection was left to Portsmouth City Library is that ACD had his first medical practice in Southsea, which is the seaside bit of Portsmouth/Portsea Island (yes, it is an island, but joined to the mainland by a road now), and he got bored so he invented a detective based on his old tutor, Dr Joseph Bell, from Edinburgh who had taught him the skills of observation and deduction.  Bell was a nicer man than Holmes though, and was married!

I have written a play and a novella featuring the traditional Victorian Holmes & Watson, but I also wrote a piece of fan-fiction about the BBC Holmes, which was great fun. I have a half-written novella called “The Riddle of the Dancing Dragons” which is Holmes again in his Victorian days, and features him and Watson going to visit a relative of John’s who has been looking after her two nieces.  One of the girls is about to be married to a confectioner, but the younger sister can’t stand him.  The relative also has an “adopted” son who we would probably describe as autistic in modern language, but he’s different, he’s detached from ordinary folk and Holmes is the first person to be able to talk to him.  It promises to be a good one if I can ever get back in the right mindset for it!

Yup – my pen name is Janet Swan and I’ve self-published a novel “Of Fish & Folk”, a novella, which is a pastiche of Ian Rankin’s Rebus, but has a female police detective in Edinburgh called “All the Sinners Saints” and a poetry collection called “A Different Gunpowder Plot.

Hidden Aberdeen 2 – which would be my fourth history book with Black & White Publishing (if they accept it) and I’m in the middle of the sequel to “Of Fish & Folk” – also planning to write a new script for Halloween, and a special war-time performance set in a real concrete air raid shelter. I do hope you like your knitted hats – that’s one of my stress-busting hobbies, knitting! Love to you all and be kind to each other, thanks for inviting me onto the blog! Mwah! xxx


Connect with Fiona-Jane here

Find her on here.



On the beast of Ballachulish and not falling down too much


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Destiny fought the images of barrels that bobbed into her head, not to finger the back of her neck either.  Why did Lyon want to put her on the spot as if he knew damn fine who put these barrels there and that person was not Divers O’Roarke? She had thought there would be nothing to this. She had thought wrongly.  But if she swept out of here now, what if Lyon swept after her in order to sweep her to jail? She must be patient. Rome was not built in a day.  By God it would have been had she been a builder. She sat forward.

“Well, if you’re not going to listen, I should at least like it noted that I came here in good faith, to save my skin should you discover that at the end of the day Divers—”

“I would need proof, Miss Rhodes.”

Proof?” At least she hoped she was being patient.  “Isn’t the fact these barrels were found in my summerhouse proof enough that you can hang him at the Penvellyn crossroads, a warning to any who cross the law here?”

“And let the crows peck his bones eh?” Lyon chuckled. Despite the fact the sound was not unlike these same rattling bones, she nodded.

“Yes.  Why not if he broke the law and put these barrels there?”

“Oh, I’d like to hang the perpetrator, believe me.”

“Then why don’t you?”

“Well here’s the thing, Miss Rhodes. He said it was you.”