Welcoming Black Opal Author, Dan Barrett and the Release of “Can’t Sing or Dance” + a Giveaway


Today I welcome another Black Opal Books authordanb-200x300_200x300_cbresized: Daniel J. Barrett (Dan). 

Daniel J. Barrett was born in Rutland, Vermont, and lived his entire life in Troy, New York, ten miles north of Albany. He grew up in a blacktop construction company, working on construction during his teen years and then through college. What he learned about life came from these early years working in the summer heat with construction workers, who taught him that hard work paid off.

Dan is a graduate of both Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y. with a BS in Finance, and of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y, with an MBA in Management. He had a varied career, first as a commercial banker, then as the chief accountant and manager of financial and strategic planning for a large division of a major international corporation. He has had extensive international experience, traveling worldwide.

Dan also served as the first executive director for economic development for a county in New York State, and as the first lay director for a Catholic shrine in Massachusetts. For the last twenty-five years, he served as a financial, strategic planning, and educational consultant to corporations, non-profit organizations, colleges and universities, and government agencies.

Currently, he serves as a grant writing and development and strategic planning consultant for several non-profit organizations in the Capital Region of New York State. Dan continues to live in Troy with his wife of 45 years, Sandy. They have three children, Sean, Eileen, and Ryan, and four grandchildren, Shannon, Caden, Megan, and Declan.

An avid reader, and inspired by numerous authors, Dan has read over 1,500 books in the last several years in preparation to write his first novel, Conch Town Girl, published by Black Opal Books on November 1, 2014. He continues to work as a grant writer and s an education consultant, serving those most at risk in the Capital Region of New York State, while  working on his next novel.

As a new member of the International Thriller Writers (ITW) Debut Author Program, Mr. Barrett has his  book, Conch Town Girl, showcased in the ITW’s January 2015 Newsletter sent to over 24,000 authors and readers.

Dan’s books include: Conch Town Girl [released November 1, 2014 (Book 1)] and Can’t Sing or Dance [released May 2, 2015 (Book 2)]. Upcoming books in his series include:  Taking Care of Your Own [To be released fall 2015 Book 3]; Never Say Never [To be released spring 2016 Book 4]; and Death But No Taxes: Prequel [after Book 4].

Dan tells us something of his inspiration for writing…

For many years, I was fully involved with our children, sports, and coaching, working and everyday life. Seven years ago, I decided that I was tired of television, other than watching baseball, and I started reading books. I’ve read 1,700 books over that time period. I wanted to learn what made a great book fun to read. I’ve read over 450 different authors over a wide range of genres.

After reading so many books, I took the plunge and began writing novels in 2013. I’ve always learned the hard way, so I transferred writing grants to my desire to create fiction. After reading so many books, I thought I could write one. Just one. That one turned into five books in two tears and three months. I love series because a reader can pick up where he left off. He knows the characters and likes them. That’s why I started to write about Joe Traynor from Troy, New York. Julie Chapman quickly followed and became the basis for the Conch Town Girl series, named by Amazon, not me. I simply wanted to prove something to myself-that I could write a book. Writing wound up being a large part of my life. I love it! The marketing and sales portions of the equation, I don’t enjoy so much. At 67, I accomplished more than I ever thought I would and I am very happy about that. Where it takes me, I don’t know, but my expectations at 67 are a lot different from when I was 40. I am now along for the ride- not driving the bus.

What’s the craziest, bravest, or stupidest thing you’ve ever done?

I was cleaning my chimney for our fireplace when I was about 30. I was standing on the roof over the dormer from the second floor. My brother came by and I started talking to him. I forgot where I was and walked off the roof from the dormer. I started rolling off the side, hung on to the gutter and landed 15 feet later on my feet. I was okay but I had to excuse myself to head for the bathroom. I saw my father do the same thing 10 years earlier at his house. He was shoveling snow off the roof when he fell into an eight foot snow bank. Lucky. It must be heredity.

What do you write? You’re welcome to include your latest title (shameless plug).
I started a series starring a character named Joe Traynor. He was born in Vermont, raised in Troy, New York, and went to Catholic school. He received a full scholarship to MIT for math, but dropped out at the end of his first semester. He joined the Coast Guard and stayed 10 years. He met Julie Chapman when she was a 10 year old 5th grader in Key Largo. She became the second main character. I never sold the first book, Death But No Taxes, but now we are holding it back as a Prequel to the series. The book that came out first was Conch Town Girl and Amazon named the second book, Can’t Sing or Dance, Book 2 of the Conch Town Girl series. The next two books in the “Conch Town Girl Series”, Taking Care of Your Own and Never Say Never (to be released over 18 months) will be Books 3 and 4, followed by the Prequel. The series simply evolved. I had to keep track of everyone coming in and out of all 5 books, and there is a list of 175 characters over the 5 books. Once I started to write about Joe and Julie, the books simply evolved and followed their lives over time. I find that writing a series is easier than stand alone books that don’t tie into one another.

Tell us about your new release.
Can’t Sing or Dance, the second book in the series, follows Joe and Julie as they progress through their relationship with twists and turns due to Joe’s involvement in the Coast Guard as a Chief Warrant Officer and Julie as a teacher’s aide and writer with a Masters in Fine Arts from Brown University. What happened at the end of Conch Town Girl comes back full circle to haunt Julie, Tillie and Joe until Joe gets his Coastie buddies to help fix the problems created by Julie’s father.

What did you do with your earliest efforts? Did anyone read them? Do you still have them?

This appears to be a difficult question for many writers. Two of my author friends took 10 to 13 years before they were under contract by a national publisher. They are both relatively young writers who had and still have good support systems in place that allowed them the time, energy, and funding to become national well-known writers. I finished my first book one week before my 65th birthday, which was my goal. From there, I have written 5 books in two years and three months and placed all five under contract with Black Opal Books publishers. I am extremely fortunate to be connected to this national small press from Parkdale, Oregon. My friends have financial support and backing from their national publishers, but I have five books under contract in my later years. When I was 40, I never even imagined becoming a published writer.

Tell us something of the genre in which you choose to write. If you write in more than one genre is your approach different for each genre, in the manner you write, plot the book, or brainstorm ideas?
I read and write mysteries, suspense and thrillers. Hopefully my books convey a sense of loyalty among the characters. Love, friendship, faith and happiness seem to prevail throughout my writing. It is what I wish to convey. I never end a book with the reader wondering what happened. I do, however, end it knowing there will be a follow up book to the series.

What difficulties does writing this genre present?
Writing mysteries, suspense and thrillers means there has to be a thread flowing through the book so the reader knows what’s going on. There has to be twists and turns they may see or may not see, but become relevant as the story unfolds. One also needs more than one story to hold the reader’s attention. There are parallel stories in all my books that come together at the end. I have to keep track of the story and the characters so there are no mistakes in time or place or activity. That’s why I have my list of 175 names and where they fit into each story. It would be terrible to call someone “Joan” in Chapter 1 and “June” in Chapter 30. Spell check doesn’t fix this.

51j4YRRwH7L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Can’t Sing or Dance

Retired Chief Petty Officer Tom Jones was murdered in his apartment complex in Orlando in what appeared to be a “drug deal gone bad.” The police won’t even do an autopsy on a dead drug dealer. Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Joe Traynor is asked by Tom’s daughter to look into his death. His investigation ultimately leads to the largest meth case on the southeastern seaboard. In the meantime, the Russian Mafia, unhappy with being ripped off by Julie Chapman’s father, seek revenge. Her father’s death, once again, comes back to haunt her and her grandmother, Tillie, placing their lives—and Joe’s—in danger.

Excerpt from Can’t Sing or Dance (Book 2 of the Conch Town Girl Series)

Chapter 1

Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Joe Traynor walked into his office after lunch and was welcomed by the ringing of his phone. “Hello?”

“Hi, Joe. It’s Claire Murphy.”

“Hey, Claire. How are you?”

“I’ve got some bad news.”

“What is it?”

“My father’s dead,” she said, her voice breaking. “I just had a phone call from a detective from the Orlando Police Department, Violent Crime Section. The detective’s name is Jim Butler and he’s stationed at police headquarters on South Hughey Avenue, in downtown. He said my father was involved in a drug deal that had gone bad. He said Dad was a drug dealer and was knifed to death in his apartment. They found a lot of cash–a roll of large bills that reeked of cocaine residue–and a bag of methamphetamine pills in between his mattress and box spring. My father’s no drug dealer, Joe, and now he’s dead,” she sobbed. “That detective wants me to identify the body. Can you come up and go with me, please?”

Joe was stunned. “Slow down, Claire. I barely got the fact that Tom’s dead. Where are you now?”

“I’m home,” she said. “I didn’t know who else to call. I knew you and Tom were close, so you were the first one I thought of. I’ve got a list of his other friends and I was going to call the rest after I found out what happened. I don’t really know what happened and I don’t know what to ask. I’m sure Brian doesn’t either,” she said. “Joe, can you help me? Can you come up and talk to the police? Something is wrong. My father wouldn’t deal drugs but how do I prove that? Detective Butler was adamant and upset that he even had to deal with me. And that’s just not right.”

“I’ll need permission to go to Orlando from my assignment at Islamorada as head of investigations for south Florida and the Florida Keys,” Joe said. “It’s about 2:00 p.m. now, and I have to run to a meeting at the Islamorada facility. I’ll discuss the situation with Chief Warrant Officer, Jacob Cramer. I’ll contact Detective Butler and, if necessary, meet you in Orlando as soon as I get permission from my line of command.”
“Thanks, Joe. I really appreciate it. They aren’t releasing the body for a while. Orlando’s local morgue is backed up as it is. The detective said that with over 2,500 violent crimes a year in Orlando, Dad’s death can wait in line. They aren’t planning to do an in-depth autopsy for a dead drug dealer.”

After Claire had hung up, Joe took a deep breath and called Mark Silva, his best friend and fellow Coastie, still stationed in Fort Lauderdale. Joe had to leave a message on the answering machine. He didn’t expect to get Mark at home, and he didn’t want to bother him at his office. It was Mark’s day to be at the communications station headquarters, COMMSTA, in downtown Miami, for drug enforcement meetings with the feds and local law enforcement officers, up and down the Florida coast. Mark was one of the leaders of the task force.

“Mark, it’s Joe,” he told the answering machine. “Call me when you get a chance. It’s important. Thanks.”

Before his meeting with Jacob, Joe told Joan Talbot, his long-time friend and Jacob’s administrative assistant, about Tom’s death. She was horrified. She’d met Tom a few times after he retired when he’d visited the station with Joe.

“Joan, can you find out what Coast Guard facility is closest to Orlando because I want to be in on the potential investigation into Tom’s death, if possible,” Joe asked, hoping she could run interference for him on this. “I want to clear it through the chain of command.” He was in charge of all investigations for south Florida and the Keys, but not for the northern section above Palm Beach. “I don’t want to step on any toes, but I will if I have to.”

“I’ll look up the information right after the meeting,” Joan said.

They had five investigations going on at the present time and Joe was the lead in each case. It would be difficult to add an investigation that was six hours north in Orlando, but if Joe didn’t, no one else would.

Tom’s death and classification as a drug dealer, if true, would certainly give the Coast Guard a black eye and Joe wanted to fix this situation before they simply closed the file on Tom’s murder. Tom had retired from the Coast Guard in his early fifties, only a few years ago, and moved from Cape May to Orlando, to be near his daughter, Claire, and her family.
Joe thought about how to state his case to make it clear about the black eye. Police departments across the country were very reluctant to spend time and attention on investigating the death of a drug dealer. If Joe didn’t clear this up fast, the investigation would stall. Tom and his family would be tainted. And so would the Coast Guard. Joe didn’t believe Tom had anything to do with drugs. He also wanted to find out who killed him, and why. There had to be a reason. There was always a reason. Maybe not a good one, but something to point to the truth.

Joan walked down the hall to Joe’s office. “Joe, I got your information for you. We’ve several command sites up and down the coast that aren’t in our jurisdiction. However, all of those commands report directly to our own rear admiral here in Miami and then to the sector captain of the Jacksonville port. The chief warrant officer at Station Port Canaveral, Frank Cortez, reports directly to Jacksonville. I called the rear admiral’s office and explained the situation. He’ll meet with you at 0800 hours tomorrow morning. He’d just heard about the situation and he’s not pleased.”

“Thanks, Joan.”

Joe would probably be given all the time he needed because he was in charge of investigations, with a dual reporting system, first to the rear admiral in Miami and a dotted line to the Islamorada Chief Warrant Officer, Jacob Cramer. Joe went home to pack, not knowing how much time he’d need to at least clarify what had happened to Tom and what was needed from the Coast Guard, if anything.

Joe called Claire. “Hopefully, I’ll be in Orlando no later than 3:00 p.m. tomorrow.”

“Joe, don’t get a hotel. You can stay with us.”

“I wish I could do that, but until further notice, I have to remain neutral and take the investigation, if there’s to be one, where it needs to go to find the truth,” he said. “I’ll call you when I arrive and then we should go directly to Tom’s condo, if it isn’t still roped off by the police. Then we can go to the police headquarters to meet the detective in charge. Then we’ll go to the Medical Examiner’s office and identify Tom’s body if it’s not too late in the day.”

“Call me when you’re getting close and I’ll leave early from the Hollywood Studios office and pick up the kids at daycare,” Claire said.

Claire was younger than he was, Joe mused, and had a whole lot more responsibility. He didn’t know if he could’ve handled the responsibility of a family. It was something he needed to discus with his girlfriend, Julie, before long.


© 2015 by Daniel J. Barrett

William K. Sanford Town Library
Town of Colonie, New York (Capital Region New York State):

Interviewed by Joe Nash, Librarian, of Dan Barrett, Black Opal Books Author on how he got started writing at a late age, books read, and discussion of Conch Town Girl, first book of the Conch Town Girl series.

Purchase Links:

 Amazon: Conch Town Girl

Barnes & Noble: Conch Town Girl
Amazon: Can’t Sing or Dance

Barnes & Noble: Can’t Sing or Dance

Black Opal Books Web Page:

You may find Dan on his Website and Facebook
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS: Dan was very generous in answering a “ton” of questions for me. If you would like to know more of Dan Barrett, keep reading. 

What do you enjoy most in the writing process? What parts of it do you really dislike?

What I enjoy most is the writing not the selling of the book. I lose myself in the chapter. I look up after starting at noon and it’s now 5 PM and I had no idea where the time went. I look down and wrote 3,500 words over 15-20 pages. I shake my head and wonder how that happened.

How much time do you devote to writing each day?
I try to spend three to four hours a day when I’m writing. I am still a full time grant writer and education consultant. So, some days, I’ll write a chapter then answer 10 questions in my grant and go back and forth between the two. It’s impossible to drop my grant writing because a lot of people depend on me getting the grant in, winning the award to pay salaries that wouldn’t happened if not approved or even submitted. You are caught between a rock and a hard place. I’ll never be able to separate the two and just write novels. The funding of at-risk families means too much to me and those I serve to ever give it up.

Are you more of a plotter or a pantser, or does it change from book to book?
I don’t know if I’m either. It would be up to you to decide. Every day, I walk several miles for health reasons and as I walk, I formulate the book in my head and I always have two or three books outlined ahead. Like grants, I do a synopsis of where my characters are going. I write one line sentences that I want to explore, research or include. I list names that I’ve made up that I want to use in my books. I write them down. Then, I start writing Chapter 1. I try to write the ending. I try to write the middle. Then I take it from there. After a few chapters, I then start writing chapters separately after correcting the previous ones. I include the chapter before and the chapter after the one I am writing. In the chapter after the one I am now writing, I list where I am headed and who is in it and the research I did separately to include in that following chapter. So, every chapter, I know what was immediately before and what is to follow. I then see if it matches the middle and the end. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I know where I am headed. I just don’t know what I am going to write until I write it.

Is it your characters (a character-driven story) or your plot that influences you the most?
I think it’s a combination of both. My series is definitely driven by my characters as they evolve as persons. Also my locations are as important to me as the characters. I want the readers to feel like they are in Key Largo, Miami, Nashville, Orlando and Troy and Albany, New York. I point out the scenery, how far it is from here to there. How long it takes to get there. The interactions of the people as they go to the schools, the Coast Guard station, the Waffle House and St. Justin Martyr Church. These are all real places where I place my characters. I want everyone to feel what it’s like standing in front of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City on a sunny day. I think it gives the book a hometown feel so you can understand the characters better.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
Joe Traynor came directly from my background. The Traynor family came from Ireland to the United States in the late 1880s and went to Rutland, Vermont. That’s Joe’s background. I was born in Rutland and was raised in Troy, New York and went to the schools Joe attended (not MIT). My friend attended MIT on a full scholarship. My cousin was in the Coast Guard and I wanted to feature the Coast Guard because I have not read any mysteries that included them. You take from your own background, mix and match accordingly. In the International Thriller Writers Debut Author webpage, a question was asked how you pick names. We live in an area full of rich heritage from the Revolutionary War until this day. We have Irish cemeteries, Polish, Italian and any other ethnic background you can think of. My wife is Ukrainian. If I’m stuck for a name, I know where to go. 

How do you keep all your research information and plot ideas organized and accessible?
For each book, I keep a separate folder. I have used a Mac since 1990. In the folder, I have separate folders for list of names, narratives, separate chapters, contractions-yes there are 52 of them that you need to use, research, quotations, pictures, articles etc. I learned this from writing grant proposals. You have to be well organized to write a grant or a book. It is the same technical process, maybe not the same creative process.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) of your current project to write and why? 
My favorite section of Can’t Sing or Dance is toward the end when Joe decides to confront the Russians head-on . I enjoyed the planning process that he did. Joe has a photographic memory and is always a few steps ahead. He employs the latest technology available. When he confronted the head of the Miami Russian mafia at the Biltmore Hotel Sunday brunch, I was living the dream. I was there. I was standing next to Joe listening and hanging on every word. When I was done, I really thought I was with him. The dialogue, the answers were all mine through Joe. It was quite an experience.

How do you get past writer’s block or distractions like the Internet?
I don’t get writer’s block thankfully because I do my own distractions by writing grants in between chapters when I’m bored or don’t feel kike doing anything or have no idea where I’m going. It’s not a race with me. I’ll get there when I get there. I have to be on the internet and email doing grant research so I do all my writing on my computer. Some like to write it out longhand. That would drive me crazy. If I think of something, I’ll download the research facts and stick it into the chapter following the one I’m working on. It may not go there but it’s there when I need it. I may go back into previous chapters and clarify something with facts instead of the stuff I made up to fill in the space.

What was your favorite book from childhood?
I honestly never read as a child other than comic books. It was a different time. I was raised in a construction family. I knew more about blacktop equipment, trucks, rollers, rakes, shovels than anyone in my class. That’s why my SATs were never as high as they should have been. I didn’t know anything. In high school you read what you had to read to pass. It was not for pleasure. As I said, I read over q1,700 books in the last seven years making up for lost time.

Is there a book you know that you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just could not finish?
There are books written by writers that I know that I have a hard time reading because the books are not of the genre I like. I’ll read them because I feel obligated because of my relationships but it will be hard. I also will not read about serial killers, anyone who abuses children and young adults, murder for the sake of murder, too much violence and porn. Life is too short to waste your time. It is also a moral obligation that I feel strongly about.

Who has been the most difficult character for you to write?
I have a hard time writing about immoral people like the Russian Mafia, terrorists, drug pushers, unlikable people but they fill the pages of every book. I always wonder what has happened to those people over a life time, especially as children, that would make them the way they are.

Share a quirky fact from your research.
I like doing research for my books. It is very similar to reaching for grants. When I had to learn facts about DNA fingerprinting and how under new analysis you can tell about who a father is or mother because of the DNA in the fingerprint. I love reading about drones and how they can be programmed to do multiple functions unheard of before. A cute story came from the UCLA football coach who employed using drones on the field to pick up running and defensive lanes they never saw before. He said it would completely revolutionize football if only the coaches who were manipulating the drones would stop running them into the goalposts. It was quite costly in the beginning. It’s in the book.

What characters are lying on your “office floor”? Why didn’t they come to life on the page and do you think they ever will? Or why not?
I was going to write a book about the Irish in Vermont. Rutland, Vermont was the headquarters for the United States Air Force during World War II. Pilots were trained there before going overseas. As you may guess with as many Irish in Vermont as you may expect, there was also a very sizable IRA contingency there as well as throughout New York State and New England. During the war, I envisioned that there were several atomic bombs made, not just those that went to Japan. The plot consisted of one atomic bomb landing at the Rutland airport to head to Germany but the war had ended in Europe when it arrived. It stayed there uncovered for the last 70 years in an airplane hanger at the airport. The IRA, still in existence but now inactive in 2015, found about it. Then things happened. I had a hard time keeping all those Irish names straight and exactly what would happen. It may still get written eventually.

What is the best piece of writing advice you have ever received?
It was on a blog with Jenny Milchman a few months ago. It included John O’Connell and Lee Child. Mr. Child said he wasn’t always famous. He wasn’t popular until his 12th book became a best seller. He said just keep on writing. That’s what he did and eventually his 12th book became a bestseller. That’s what I will do regardless of books sold, fame, pressure or whatever.

How much time does it take you to write a book?
I am extremely quick once I get rolling. My books average 60 days for the actual writing and the same for the correcting before sending it off to Black Opal Books for their 2 rounds of edits and the final galley. I am now taking a break because I have written 5 books in 2 years and 3 months and that’s a lot. I’m thinking about doing a stand alone and I find that much harder and may take twice as long to complete only because of the newness of the plot, characters and setting.

What do you see as the challenges and successes of being traditionally published? Being self-published?
I would never try to self-publish because I don’t think you can get as far without the support and backing of a publisher, large or even small press. I was fortunate to get a small press interested early on and it has made all the difference. I write grants by myself because there is no one else to help with the process. It is a very lonely experience. You can only share the joy when you win. You have no one to talk to when things aren’t going well. I find I need that boost.

Any funny “researching your book stories” to share with readers?
Well at one point, I was scared to death on what popped up on my screen. I have to do a lot of research on gangs like the Mexican Mafia, the Columbians, the Russians, the Haitians etc. I was doing research on ISIS and terrorists in the US and a big disclaimer hit my screen warning me not to go any further or I would be in big trouble. I don’t think if the FBI landed at my door for doing research for my book it would hold any water. The moral: Be careful what you research!

What do you find is the hardest part of writing?
Contractions. I’ll be glad to pass along my list of 52 contractions. You need every one of them for dialogue. Without contractions you will not be received well. It will not read like dialogue. So, as soon as I do a chapter, I pop up the list and then go one by one for the entire chapter to get them right. It takes a lot of time but it is needed.

What will you be working on next?
See above. I’ll work on the 6th Book of the Conch Town Girl series, Mallory Square and a stand alone, You Don’t Know Jack. It’s also the fall 2015 and grants are nonstop for a while and I’ll have to balance the two. I am three books ahead of my editor at this point so I’ll start enjoying being 67 if I can. 

What other books (either fiction or nonfiction) could you recommend?
MY favorite book, after all these years, is still Richard Russo’s Straight Man. It is the funniest non-funny novel ever written. I have my list of 495 authors that I have read. There are about 35-40 of them that I will immediately read anything they write as soon as they release their next books. It is unfair to other authors to recommend a list. Just because I don’t like it, it is still published and there are only 30,000 published authors worldwide out of a few billion people. It takes a lot of energy and patience to write a book. So, I would never give a book a bad rating in public. It’s just the way I am. If someone feels a need to rate something badly, think twice before doing it. Think about the time, effort and logistics put in place to publish it. It depends on a lot of people. The writer is only one small part of the equation. You may not like it but don’t ever discourage someone else from reading it and making up their own mind.

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Anglo-Norman Literature: Ballads (Part 2)

Part 1 on Ballads may be found HERE. The earlier post covered the popular ballads of “Riddles Wisely Expounded,” “The Wife of Usher’s Well,” “Edward,” “Robin Hood and the Monk,” “Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne,” “Robin Hood’s Death,” “The Douglas Tragedy,” and “Sir Patrick Spens.”

In summary, let us say that, “A ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. Ballads derive from the medieval French chanson balladée or ballade, which were originally “dancing songs”. Ballads were particularly characteristic of the popular poetry and song of the British Isles from the later medieval period until the 19th century and used extensively across Europe and later the Americas, Australia and North Africa.

“The ballad derives its name from medieval French dance songs or “ballares” (L: ballare, to dance), from which ‘ballet’ is also derived, as did the alternative rival form that became the French ballade. As a narrative song, their theme and function may originate from Scandinavian and Germanic traditions of storytelling that can be seen in poems such as Beowulf. Musically they were influenced by the Minnesinger. The earliest example of a recognisable ballad in form in England is “Judas” in a 13th-century manuscript.

“Many ballads were written and sold as single sheet broadsides. The form was often used by poets and composers from the 18th century onwards to produce lyrical ballads. In the later 19th century the term took on the meaning of a slow form of popular love song and is now often used for any love song, particularly the pop or rock power ballad.”

Ballads belong to three classes: Historical (i.e., Robin Hood cycle); Romantic (i.e., Douglas Tragedy), and Supernatural (i.e., Wife of Usher’s Well).

Other popular ballads of the time include…

“The Three Ravens” is an English folk ballad first published in 1611, but likely is older. It was found in Thomas Ravenscroft’s song book Melismata. Francis James Child recorded several version in Child Ballads. This one is softer and more sentimental than those previously mentioned in Part 1. One of the crows tells a tale of a knight lying dead in the meadow. His body is being guarded by his loyal hawks and his hounds. A doe heavy with child sees him there. The doe is a metaphor for the knight’s lover, who is also heavy with child. The doe kisses his wounds before dragging him away to bury him. Symbolically, this represents the tragedy of true love. The ballad can sometimes be found with a similar story line but having only two ravens, “Twa Corbies.” 

There were three rauens sat on a tree,
downe a downe, hay downe, hay downe,
There were three rauens sat on a tree,

Arthur Rackham - Rackham, Arthur: “Some British Ballads” (1919) ~ Public Domain via Wikipedia

Arthur Rackham – Rackham, Arthur: “Some British Ballads” (1919) ~ Public Domain via Wikipedia

with a downe,
There were three rauens sat on a tree,
They were as blacke as they might be.
With a downe, derrie, derrie, derrie, downe, downe.
The one of them said to his mate,
Where shall we our breakfast take?
Downe in yonder greene field,
There lies a Knight slain under his shield,
His hounds they lie downe at his feete,
So well they can their Master keepe,
His Hawkes they flie so eagerly,
There’s no fowle dare him come nie
Downe there comes a fallow Doe,
As great with yong as she might goe,
She lift up his bloudy head,
And kist his wounds that were so red,
She got him up upon her backe,
And carried him to earthen lake,
She buried him before the prime,
She was dead her self ere euen-song time.
God send euery gentleman,
Such haukes, such hounds, and such a Leman (Bartleby)

The hero of “The Kemp Owyne” is likely Sir Ywain from the Arthurian legend,

Yvain unwittingly battles Gawain, from Chrétien's Yvain, the Knight of the Lion ~ Public Domain via Wikipedia

Yvain unwittingly battles Gawain, from Chrétien’s Yvain, the Knight of the Lion ~ Public Domain via Wikipedia

although this tale does not appear as part of the Anglo-Norman romances. In the tale, the stepmother, who is termed as “the worst woman in Christendom,” curses the heroine Isabel and casts Isabel into the sea. Isabel becomes a fire dragon. In some versions of the story, the stepmother turns Isabel into a worm (dragon). Some scholars associate this tale with “The Laidly Worm of Spindleston Heugh.” Joseph Jacobs collected the tale and included it in his collection, English Fairy Tales from the ballad “Kempion.” “The Laidly Worm…” is a localized version of the ballad of “Kemp Owyne,” which is a version of the Icelandic tale of Áslól and Hjálmtèr. 

Isabel will remain a dragon until the king’s son arrives and kisses her three times. Isabel offers the prince three gifts (a belt, a ring, and a sword) to kiss her. With the third kiss, Isabel returns to her human form.  Her breath was strong, her hair was long/but the knight stepped in to give her kisses one, two, three/And smilingly she came about/As fair a woman as fair could be. 

“Historical ballads date mainly from the period 1550–750, though a few, like ‘The Battle of Otterburn,’ celebrate events of an earlier date, in this case 1388. ‘The Hunting of the Cheviot,’ recorded about the same time and dealing with the same campaign, is better known in a late broadside version called ‘Chevy Chase.'” [Encyclopedia Britannica] In this tale we find the bold Percy [English] opposed to bold Douglas [Scottish]. The former wants to hunt deer in Cheviot and the latter means to prevent Percy’s doing so. Their armies fight and the English Percy and Scotch Douglas meet singly. A stray arrow kills Douglas, and Percy laments the death of his most brave rival. A Scottish knight kills Percy. 

“The border balls that styles itself ‘The Hunting of the Cheviot’ is preserved in a single copy only, in Bodleian Library MS Ashmole 48, col. 15v – 18 v. The MS is of about the 1560, but the ballad itself may be as much as a hundred years older, and was transmuted orally by minstrels for nearly a century. The extant text of it was provided by Richard Sheale (or Shayle), a minstrel of Tamworth who flourished in the time of Queen Elizabeth.” [English Studies, Volume 72, Issue 5]

In “Thomas Rymer and the Queen of Elfland,” “Thomas the Rhymer or ‘True Thomas’, was a legendary character said to be the author of many verses that predicted the future. The character is thought to be based on a real person -Thomas Rimor de Ercildoun or Thomas Learmonth. He was a 13th century Scottish laird and poet, born around 1220, near Ercildoune, now Earlston in Berwickshire.” (Myths and Legends) In the tale, True Thomas must ride off with a lady brisk and bold, the Queen of Elfland and there serve her for seven pleasant years. 

“The myth is essentially a ‘fairy story’ but one which seeks to explain how Thomas was able to predict some of the most important events in Scottish history. The ‘fairies’ gift’ changes his life and gives him extraordinary powers. Many years ago it would have been thought that such abilities must have a supernatural cause. Several different versions of the story exist but there are common threads running through every variation. Thomas is transported to Fairyland, where he serves the queen until she tells him to return with her. He returns with the ability to foretell the future. This may seem a strange explanation to many people today, but many years ago belief in the fairy kingdom was widespread. This is not the only tale of a fairy woman capturing a handsome man. It has many elements in common with the Arthurian legend of Morgan le Fay and Ogier Le Danois and another Scottish ‘Tom’ captured by the Faerie Queen in ‘Tam Lin.’ In both stories there is a beautiful fairy Queen, time is different in fairyland, and there are warnings about speech and behavior. (Myths and Legends)

(c) Laing Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation ~ BBC - Your Paintings - Johnny Armstrong (d.1530) www.bbc.co.uk

(c) Laing Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation ~
BBC – Your Paintings – Johnny Armstrong (d.1530)

“Johnnie Armstrong” tells the tale of the Scotttish folk-hero Johnnie Armstrong of Gilnockie, who King James V captured and hanged in 1530. In the tale, the king sends a letter to Johnnie demanding Armstrong’s presence at court. Thinking this is an honor, Johnnie and his men dress richly as befitting the court. Armstrong asks for a pardon, but the kind threatens to arrest him. Johnnie and his men, numbering eight score, take up arms against the king’s men. In the end, the Scots are all killed, with Armstrong being stabbed from behind. When word reaches Armstrong’s home, Johnnie’s young son swears revenge upon the king. 

“Sweet William’s Ghost” is an English Ballad and folk song which exists in many lyrical variations and musical arrangements. Early known printings of the song include Allan Ramsay’s The Tea-Table Miscellany in 1740 and Thomas Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry in 1765. Percy believed that the last two stanzas of the version he published were later additions, but that the details of the story they recounted (specifically the death of Margaret upon William’s grave) were original. [Wikipedia] In the tale, a ghost comes to Margret’s door. It was her lover William. The ghost asked Margret to release him from his promise to marry him. Margret insists she will hold him to the promise, but he says he cannot for he is dead. She insists upon a kiss, but William says a kiss would kill her. William says a hellhound will destroy him if Margret does not free him. In some versions, Margret follows William into the grave. In others, they find her dead upon his grave. O stay, my only true-love, stay!/The constant Margret cried. 

“Bonnie George Campbell” [aka “Bonnie James Campbell”] tells the tale of a man who rides out to fight his enemy, but only his horse returns. His wife and mother grieve for their loss.  

Hie upone Highlands,
and lay upon tay.
Bonnie George Campbell
rode out on a day.
He saddled, and bridled,
so gallant rode he.
And hame cam his guid horse,
but never cam he.
Out cam his mother dear,
greeting fu sair.
Out cam his bonnie bryde,
riving her hair.
“The meadow lies green,
and the corn is unshorn.
The barn, it is empty,
the baby unborn!”
Saddled and bridled
and booted rode he,
A plume in his helmet,
a sword at his knee.
But toom cam his saddle
all bloody to see.
Oh, hame cam his guid horse,
but never cam he.

“There are countless versions of Barbara Allen. aka Barb’ry Ellen and Barbara Ellen [Bonnie Barbara Allen]. It is over three centuries old. It’s origins are somewhere in the British Isles, Scotland and England both claim it. Versions are found as far afield as Italy and Scandanavia. And, of course, the U.S. According to one source, there are over 98 versions of the tune in Virginia alone…. Samuel Pepys refers to the “little Scottish tune” in his Diaries in 1666.” [Contemplator] In the tale, Sir John Graeme fell in love with Barbara Allen. He sends his servant for her, but when she arrives, Barbara finds him dying. Graeme once slighted Barbara and so she shows him no kindness. 

Encyclopedia.com tells us, “Barbara Allan” is a traditional ballad that originated in Scotland. The first written reference to it occurred in 1666 in The Diary of Samuel Pepys, where Pepys praises it after watching a stage performance sung by an actress. It appeared in a collection of popular songs compiled in 1740 by Allan Ramsay, the Tea-Table Miscellany, and then it was included in Thomas Percy’s Reliques of Ancient Poetry in 1765. But like most ballads, it probably existed in oral tradition long before Pepys’s reference or these eighteenth-century publications.

Mythopoeic Rambling: It was in and about the Martinmas time... mythopoeicrambling.blogspot.com Barbara Allen Kneeling in Sorrow by Edwin Austin Abbey

Mythopoeic Rambling: It was in and about the Martinmas time…
Barbara Allen Kneeling in Sorrow by Edwin Austin Abbey

“As are all traditional ballads, ‘Barbara Allan’ is a narrative song, or a song that tells a story. Ballads tell their stories directly, with an emphasis on climactic incidents, by stripping away those details that are not essential to the plot. In this case, the ballad tells of a woman who rejects her lover because he has ‘slighted’ her and hurt her feelings. As is typical, ‘Barbara Allan’ does not give many details about the background incident, but merely refers to it as the event that triggers the action. Barbara’s lover dies of a broken heart from her rejection of him, and after his death, she realizes her mistake. That realization results in her own death, also of a broken heart. Their tragic love seems to live on, though, in the symbolic intertwining of the rose and brier that grow from their graves.” 

It was in and about the Martinmas time,
When the green leaves were a falling,
That Sir John Græme, in the West Country,
Fell in love with Barbara Allan.

He sent his man down through the town, 
To the place where she was dwelling:
“O haste and come to my master dear,
Gin ye be Barbara Allan.”

O hooly, 1 hooly rose she up,
To the place where he was lying, 
And when she drew the curtain by,
“Young man, I think you’re dying.”

“O it’s I’m sick, and very, very sick,
And ’tis a’ for Barbara Allan:”
“O the better for me ye’s never be, 
Tho your heart’s blood were a spilling.

“O dinna ye mind, young man,” said she,
“When ye was in the tavern a drinking,
That ye made the healths gae round and round,
And slighted Barbara Allan?” 

He turned his face unto the wall,
And death was with him dealing:
“Adieu, adieu, my dear friends all,
And be kind to Barbara Allan.”

And slowly, slowly raise she up, 
And slowly, slowly left him,
And sighing said, she coud not stay,
Since death of life had reft him.

She had not gane a mile but twa,
When she heard the dead-bell ringing, 
And every jow that the dead-bell gied,
It cry’d, Woe to Barbara Allan!

“O mother, mother, make my bed!
O make it saft and narrow!
Since my love died for me to-day, 
I’ll die for him to-morrow.”

Posted in Anglo-Normans, ballads, British history, Great Britain | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK Underground: Chistlehurst Caves, the Setting for “A Touch of Emerald: The Conclusion of the Realm Series”

p.txtNear the railroad station in what is now Bromley (southeast of London), one finds the Chislehurst Caves, a well-developed tourist attraction for the area. These caves serve as the setting for much of the newest novel in my Realm series: A Touch of Emerald.

The name “caves” is a bit misleading. The caves are really man-made chalk and flint mines. They were first mentioned in “literature”/documents circa 1250. They were last believed to have been worked in the 1830s. Three separate work areas encompass some two and twenty miles of passages.

“The chalk layer is sandwiched between two harder layers of rock, which gives the passages their tops and bottoms. These days, the sections are called Saxons, Druids, and Romans, because of the age of the workings, and each set of workings has differently shaped passages.” (BBC)

In reality, antiquarian, Dr William Nicholls, gave the caves their names in the Journal of the British Archaeological Association (1903).p-1.txt The caves were first opened to the public in the early years of the 1900s. “…the landlord of the Bickley Arms, in whose grounds the entrance lay, installed coloured electric ‘glow lamps’ in what later became known as the Saxon Caves and charged a small admission fee.” (Teaching Times) Nowadays, some 50,000 visitors take the tour of the caves, which are located at the bottom of Old Hill, Chislehurst.p.txt The chalk was used by the English to make plaster and water paint (whitewash). Flint may have been used to make tools. It is assumed many of the flintlock rifles used at the Battle of Waterloo used flints mined at Chislehurst.

p-4.txt“The Druids section is the oldest and most complicated system in the caves. It may date from between 5000–8000 years ago. There is a theory that the Druids section may have been used for human sacrifice, and there appears to be an altar with a piece cut out to receive the sacrifice’s blood. Other theories suggest that the ‘altars’ were merely platforms left by miners to allow easy access to the roof! It was suggested that the deep well in the Druids section would have got in the way of such ceremonies. In the Druids section is a metal drum, which when banged, reverberates for miles. This might have been a very effective signaling or warning system.” (BBC)

The chalk tunnels range between 40 feet and 95 feet below ground. The caves were used during both World Wars. In WWI they served as an ammunition depot. The Woolwich Arsenal stored high explosives in the caves. “A narrow gauge railway was installed so that the boxes of TNT and Picric Acid could be taken underground by small trains pulled by battery powered electric locomotives. (Teaching Times)

With the shape of the caves the ammunition was relatively safe. Even if one area was breached or there was an accidental explosion, the remainder of the ammunition would remain intact. Carvings from that period can still be seen on the walls. Army personnel are said to have included a carving of Nurse Edith Cavell, who the Germans executed by firing squad on the morning of 12 October 1915 in Brussels, Belgium.p-5.txt In the years between the two great wars, as well as the years following WWII, the caves were used for mushroom growing.

“During the 1960s and 1970s, the caves were used for music, including skiffle, jazz, and later rock and roll. Because of the acoustics, as many as five different bands could be playing close together without interfering with each other. Bands and artists such as the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix used the caves as a venue. The caves have often been used by film and TV companies. A full-length Sci-fi film Inseminoid was made, and Jon Pertwee as Doctor Who came face to face with ‘The Mutants’ in the caves (Tour guides still point to the silver paint left on the walls of the cave from this show.).”

(BBC) The TV show Merlin has also filmed within the caves. p-3.txtFor a short history of Chislehurst Caves, check out Dr. Eric Inman’s book. To learn more of the rumors of The Ghosts of Chislehurst Caves have a look at the book by James Wilkinson, who interviewed many of the caves’ tour gp-2.txtuides. (The caves play a prominent role in the conclusion to my Realm series. Part of A Touch of Emerald takes places in Chislehurst Caves. So come back tomorrow for a closer look at A Touch of Emerald. Yes, there will be a giveaway. )

ATOE eBook Cover - Green Text

Meet the Author: Regina Jeffers is an award-winning author of 20+ novels, the majority of which are set in Regency England. She has a series of Jane Austen-inspired novels, including Darcy’s Passions, Darcy’s Temptation, Christmas at Pemberley, The Phantom of Pemberley, The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy, and The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin, as well as numerous Regency-based stories. Her highly popular Realm series (A Touch of Scandal, A Touch of Velvet, A Touch of Cashémere, A Touch of Grace, A Touch of Mercy, A Touch of Love, His American Heartsong, and A Touch of Honor) will know a conclusion with A Touch of Emerald starting today. In addition, the early part of the new year will see the release of Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep.

For news upon Jeffers’ latest releases, personal appearances, excerpts from her novels, etc., visit her website.

Images are from…
Best Places to Visit in Kent http://www.kentattractions.co.uk/index.php/chislehurst-caves.html
Stuff About London http://stuffaboutlondon.co.uk/chislehurst-caves/the-chislehurst-caves/
Curious Kat’s Adventure Club http://www.meetup.com/Curious-Kat-Adventure-Club/events/186121262/
Y Travel http://www.ytravelblog.com/subterranean-london/
Kent History Forum http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=8212.0

Remember: “The Kids Are Back in School, Time to Read” Sale is still going on until September 2, 2015. SEVENTEEN titles are on sale as eBooks for $2.50 or less. Titles are available on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo. The titles include: 

Austen-Inspired: Darcy’s Passions, Honor and Hope, Captain Frederick Wentworth’s Persuasion, Elizabeth Bennet’s Deception, and Mr. Darcy’s Fault

The REALM Series: A Touch of Scandal, A Touch of Velvet, A Touch of Cashémere, A Touch of Grace, A Touch of Mercy, A Touch of Love, A Touch of Honor, and A Touch of Emerald

Regency Romances: His American Heartsong (a companion to the Realm Series), His Irish Eve, The First Wives Club

Contemporary Romance: Second Chances: The Courtship Wars

Posted in architecture, British history, buildings and structures, Great Britain, real life tales, Regency era | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Winner of Genie Smith Bernstein’s “Act on the Heart” Giveaway

Congratulations goes out to TaNeshia Jones, who will receive an eBook copy of Genie Smith Bernstein‘s “Act on the Heart.” FullCover

Posted in giveaway | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Celebrating the Release of “A Touch of Emerald” with an Excerpt + a Giveaway

Although I dislike the idea of saying farewell to the characters from my Realm series [They have lived in my head for some four years.], the conclusion, A Touch of Emerald is now available for sale on Amazon, Kobo, Nook, and Kindle. In fact, I’m hosting a “Kids are Back to School Sale.” I have 17 titles available in eBook format [Kindle, Kobo, Nook] for $2.50 or less, including the entire Realm series, so if you have not had the opportunity to enjoy the men of the Realm and the women they adore, NOW is the time. 

The Realm is a specialized force serving the English Home Office during the Napoleonic Wars. The men of the Realm  are far from being without their flaws, but you love them even more for their fallibilities. You will also admire the strong-willed women who claim their hearts. The Realm returned to England to claim their titles and a bit of happiness, but a long time enemy, Shaheed Mir, swears one of them stole a fist-size emerald, and the Baloch warlord means to have it back. The series is made of up…

Jeffers-Scandal2A Touch of Scandal: Book 1 of the Realm Series
(aka The Scandal of Lady Eleanor) [James Kerrington, Viscount Worthing, and Lady Eleanor Fowler’s story]ATOV eBook Cover

A Touch of Velvet: Book 2 of the Realm Series [Brantley Fowler, the Duke of Thornhill, and Miss Velvet Aldridge’s story]


ATOCcrop2A Touch of Cashémere: Book 3 of the Realm Series [Marcus Wellston, the Earl of Berwick, and Miss Cashémere Aldridge’s story]ATOGraceCrop2

A Touch of Grace: Book 4 of the Realm Series [Gabriel Crowden, the Marquis of Godown, and Miss Grace Nelson’s story]



ATOMCrop3A Touch of Mercy: Book 5 of the Realm Series [Aidan Kimbolt, Viscount Lexford, and Miss Mercy Nelson’s story]ATOL4

A Touch of Love: Book 6 of the Realm Series [Sir Carter Lowery and Mrs. Lucinda Rightnour Warren’s story]



ATOHCrop2A Touch of Honor: Book 7 of the Realm Series [Baron John Swenton and Miss Lucinda Neville’s story]HAHS

His American Heartsong: A Companion Novel to the Realm Series [Lawrence Lowery, Lord Hellsman, and Miss Arabella Tilney’s story]


ATOE eBook Cover - Green TextA Touch of Emerald: The Conclusion to the Realm Series 
(Fiction/Historical; Historical Romance/Mystery/Adventure; Regency)

Four crazy Balochs. A Gypsy band. An Indian maiden. A cave with a maze of passages. A hero, not yet tested. And a missing emerald.

For nearly two decades, the Realm thwarted the efforts of all Shaheed Mir sent their way, but now the Baloch warlord is in England, and the tribal leader means to reclaim the fist-sized emerald he believes one of the Realm stole during their rescue of a girl upon whom Mir turned his men. Mir means to take his revenge on the Realm and the Indian girl’s child, Lady Sonalí Fowler.

Daniel Kerrington, Viscount Worthing, has loved Lady Sonalí since they were but children. Yet, when his father, the Earl of Linworth, objects to Sonalí’s bloodlines, Worthing thinks never to claim her. However, when danger arrives in the form of the Realm’s old enemy, Kerrington ignores all caution for the woman he loves.


Chapter One

London, May 1829

From beside the potted palm, Daniel Kerrington, Viscount Worthing, watched with his customary awareness as the girl’s suitors flocked to her side. Even from this distance, he could view how her face lit with delight from all the attentions she received as the Duke of Thornhill’s daughter.

“I understand Thornhill offered an outrageous dowry for the chit,” Daniel’s school acquaintance Olin Jansing murmured. “Makes a man wonder if the girl’s possesses some sort of malady the duke wishes her future husband to overlook.”

Lady Sonalí made her Come Out earlier in the Season, but Daniel avoided her until now because the Linworth household mourned for his grandfather, the previous earl.

“You mean beyond her dark complexion,” Charles Rivers, the future Baron Rivers, said in bemusement.

Daniel always found Rivers’ company less than appealing, but Jansing rarely went about Society without Charles Rivers at his side.

“I understand her mother was from India,” Rivers whispered sotto voce.
Daniel scowled his disapproval.

“There are many types of beauty, Rivers,” he said in a harsh chastisement. “The color of the lady’s skin does not make it less appealing to a man’s touch.”

He directed his next remarks to Jansing.

“I assure you the size of the girl’s dowry has more to do with the duke and duchess’s consequence than Lady Sonalí’s.”

“Sounds as if you know something we do not,” Rivers taunted.

Daniel offered the man a quelling glare.

“As my mother is the duke’s sister, Thornhill remains my family.”

Daniel’s response was not the full truth. In fact, he was eight before he spent more than a few days with his father, who deserted Daniel when the then Viscount Worthing lost his first wife in childbirth. Although his father spent the last fifteen years attempting to erase his absence in Daniel’s life, Daniel was sore to admit his father’s initial rejection still stung. Things bettered when James Kerrington married Lady Eleanor Fowler, a woman who did not once criticize a boy starving for his father’s affections. Even though she bore the current Earl of Linworth other children, the Countess of Linworth treated Daniel as her son. His stepmother’s kindness proved a balm to Daniel’s bruised soul.

Irritated with the company, he offered an abbreviated bow.

“If you will excuse me, my parents arrived, and I should make my addresses known to Thornhill and his duchess.”

Daniel left the pair standing gapped mouth as he crossed the dance floor to intercept his father. He held little patience for most young men his age. His stepmother often said

Daniel was of her nature: an old soul in a young person’s body. Whenever Ella made such statements, Daniel’s father inevitably frowned.

On balance, the Earl of Linworth was but a couple years short of his fiftieth birthday, while Eleanor Kerrington was but four and thirty. In truth, Daniel thought his time upon the Continent as part of his father’s staff as an ambassador to first Spain and later to Germany provided Daniel a different perspective. He learned more of the world than many of his former university chums.

“There you are, darling,” his mother said as she encircled his arm with her gloved fingers.

She was taller than many of the women of the ton, and Daniel celebrated the day he realized he was taller than she. Now, he stood four inches her superior.

“I was simply waiting for the beautiful Countess of Linworth before I made my official appearance,” he teased, bending to kiss the cheek his stepmother offered.

Daniel appreciated how Ella always accepted his gestures of affection.

“You will save me a dance, Ma’am?” he asked before winking at her.
His mother’s gaze narrowed.

“Are you not previously engaged? I would think a future earl would be in high demand among the mamas seeking a fine match.”

Daniel grinned mischievously.

“The very reason I prefer my mother’s skirt tails.”

His father’s lips held a staid smile.

“Have you claimed a dance upon Lady Sonalí’s dance card? The duke will expect you to make your bow.”

Although Daniel attempted to disguise the hitch in his breathing and the quickening of his pulse, he was certain Ella noted his apprehension.

“I am not accustomed to vying for a young girl’s favor,” Daniel said baldly.

“Nonsense,” his father declared. “Sonalí is not just any girl. Thornhill is Ella’s brother and the duchess her cousin, and that is discounting the years the duke and I served together during the war.”

Ella interrupted her husband’s lecture.

“Daniel knows his duty, Linworth. More than likely, neither Thornhill nor the duchess took note of Daniel’s absence from Sonalí’s dance card. Look at them, glorying in the deference sent their way. Just because we know their most personal secrets does not mean others of the aristocracy see them as anything less than a duke and duchess.”
Eleanor patted his father’s arm to quell any of the earl’s objections.

“Come along, Daniel. We will clear the way to the duke’s side.”

“Thank you,” he whispered as they crossed to where the duke and duchess stood upon the first step of a raised dais.

“Your father means well,” she said softly. “But so many years in public service has Linworth always questioning propriety.”

“I remember when Linworth ignored propriety at every turn,” Daniel said in harsh tones.

His mother smiled grimly.

“So do I. With our history, your father’s attempts to censure often surprise me. I suspect Linworth is struggling in accepting his role as the earl. I believe, despite your grandfather’s declining health, Linworth always thought his father would live forever. Martin Kerrington’s passing speaks to your father’s mortality. Linworth is built for protection, and he will not accept aging gracefully.”

“I will consider your estimation,” Daniel dutifully said.

They took their place before her brother, and Daniel braced Ella in a curtsy of respect.

“Duke. Duchess,” Daniel murmured as he bowed low. “Lady Sonalí.”

He refused to look at the girl for fear he could not withdraw his eyes afterwards. Daniel held no name for when his obsession with Sonalí Fowler began. He suspected it was upon that day long ago when his “Uncle Marcus,” the Earl of Berwick, another of the men who served with his father and Thornhill, taught Daniel and the girl to fish.

Berwick’s attentions upon that particular day were upon Cashémere Aldridge, the duchess’s sister and Sonalí’s aunt, and so the earl placed Sonalí’s hand into Daniel’s with instructions for Daniel to protect her. He considered Berwick’s words a solemn promise.

“Lord Worthing.” Daniel could hear the soft familiarity in her tone, and despite his best efforts, his eyes sought hers. In his opinion, Lady Sonalí was the most beautiful woman he ever beheld. Hair the color of midnight. Silky strains in which a man could lose his reason. A straight edged nose. Almond shaped chocolate eyes. Dark brows. Square chin. High cheek bones. Long black lashes resting upon her cheeks in a delightfully tempting manner. Delicately bronzed skin, which made Daniel’s fingers itch to touch her.

“Good to see you, boy,” the duke declared aristocratically. “Every day, you have more of the look of your father.”

Daniel knew those words an exaggeration. One of the reasons his father could not look upon the child he abandoned was because Daniel held his birth mother’s features.

“It would be an honor to be cut from the same cloth as my father, sir.” Daniel chose his words with care.

“If you mean to claim Sonalí’s hand for a dance, I fear you are too late,” the duchess noted.

In many ways Daniel’s heart fought against the disappointment; in others, he rejoiced at not being in the girl’s presence without the barrier of their parents. He did not trust the power Lady Sonalí possessed over him.

“There is the supper waltz,” Lady Sonalí suggested. “That is, if Papa holds no objections.”
Daniel thought he detected a bit of hope in her tone, but he would not place bets on Lady Sonalí’s returning his regard. More likely, the girl did not wish to dance with her father a second time.

Daniel looked on as the duke’s eyebrow rose in characteristic assessment.

“I suppose I could relinquish my daughter’s hand to another.”

“I would prefer your company, Thornhill, to that of Lord Sokoloft,” the duchess admitted.

“It is not as if Daniel is a stranger, Brantley,” Ella encouraged.

“I would not wish to deny the duke the honor of escorting his daughter through the supper waltz,” Daniel responded with appropriate politeness. “It is Lady Sonalí’s first Season and very much my fault in being tardy with paying my addresses.”

Daniel did not know whether he wished to win or to lose this particular battle.

“Standing upon propriety is not necessary among relations,” Lady Sonalí reasoned. “I would be pleased for Lord Worthing’s company; we have long since spent time in conversation. And it is not as if the duke shuns his duty: Papa will escort me through the opening set.”

A silence fell among their party as they awaited Thornhill’s decision.

“I suspect you should claim my daughter’s hand, Worthing, while I remain amenable,” Thornhill pronounced in the duke’s customary pomp.

Too polite to protest, Daniel felt an internal shrug of destiny’s hand when he accepted the card Lady Sonalí presented. How would it be to hold her in his arms throughout the set? Daniel scratched a line through Thornhill’s name before adding his initials and then returning the card to her.

“Thank you for the honor, Lady Sonalí.”

Daniel kept his eyes upon a spot just past her ear so as not to become lost in the pools of chocolate known as Sonalí’s eyes.

“I imagine our Sonalí would prefer to spend her time with the young people, Thornhill,” Daniel’s father observed.

“I am but one and forty,” the duke declared righteously.

Daniel’s mother soothed the egos of her husband and her brother, a task Daniel witnessed Lady Eleanor do on more than one occasion.

“Both you and Linworth are young for men of your station, Brantley; even so, time marches on without our permission. In truth, it pleases me no longer to claim the status of a debutant in English Society. I find aging is quite delightful. I never tolerated the strictures of Society well.”

Linworth nudged Ella closer to his side.

“That is because you and the duchess played foul with time. You two are more beautiful now than when the duke and I claimed your hands.”

Daniel would agree with his father regarding Eleanor, but he was not so certain time was kind to the Duchess of Thornhill. Lady Sonalí’s stepmother held the look of one who experimented with the ointments and compounds available to extend the softness of her skin. In Daniel’s opinion, the creams and salves did not enhance the duchess’s beauty; rather they made the woman appear pale and ghostlike, which was exceptional considering the Duchess of Thornhill was of darker tones and hair than was Eleanor, who was a golden blonde.

Before the banter could begin again, Daniel made his excuses and exited toward the card room. He did not intend to play, but it was a good excuse not to tarry in Sonalí Fowler’s presence. When the music began, he would ask several of the other ladies to dance in order to disguise the fact he only attended the Thornhill’s ball because it would be expected of him.

“If I pay my attentions only to one woman, it will set the gossips’ tongues wagging,” he reasoned privately.

Daniel paused outside the card room to glance to the dance floor filling with couples for the opening set. Quite of their own will, his eyes drifted to where Lady Sonalí stood up with Thornhill. Daniel’s breath came harder as he made himself look away.

“Dancing with a few ladies who cling to the wall and potted palms,” Daniel warned his foolish heart, “will provide the ladies recognition and me a means to pass the hours until I hold Lady Sonalí in my embrace.”

* * *

Daniel danced once with Miss Wilburn and once with Miss Blackstone, but other than those sets, he simply waited for the moment he would claim Lady Sonalí’s hand. The girl had yet to sit through a set, and Daniel watched her joy with each step and each compliment presented by the girl’s dance partners. Despite experiencing a bit of jealousy, he could not wipe the smile from his lips. Lady Sonalí was magnificent.

Once upon the plains in Spain, he saw a black butterfly, and the color of its wings had him thinking upon the inky shade of Lady Sonalí’s hair. He watched the butterfly as it flitted from flower to flower, and a peace claimed his heart. Daniel knew the same contentment now as his eyes traced her steps.

“You should be dancing, Worthing.” Daniel turned his head to observe the wry smile upon Sir Carter Lowery’s lips.

By routine, Daniel bowed.

“I prefer to watch.”

The baronet nestled closer to Daniel’s shoulder where they might speak privately.

“The duchess must be pleased. Her second ball of the Season is as great a crush as was Sonalí’s Come Out.”

Daniel’s eyes returned to the dance floor.

“I lost the feeling in my toes,” he said as a distraction. “I did not move as quickly as I should when Lady Bond cleared the way for her three daughters.”

“The woman should simply accept a rich Cit. It is not so unfashionable to align one’s family with a wealthy man of trade as it once was. Her daughters are not likely to claim an aristocratic match.”

Daniel nodded his agreement.

“Especially now that there are three out at the same time. The first has yet to know a proposal,” he remarked.

“You have the right of it.” The baronet’s gaze followed Daniel’s. “Lady Lowery and I mean to escort Sonalí and Simon to see Jerrold’s Black-Eyed Susan on Friday. Perhaps you would care to join us. We mean to see the play one more time before we retreat to Kent. I am certain Lady Sonalí would enjoy your company.”

Daniel fought the panic rising to his throat. Was he too obvious in his regard for the girl?

“I doubt either the lady or Mr. Warren would approve of my interference into their plans.”

The baronet lowered his voice.

“Sonalí and Simon are merely friends. My wife’s ward is two years junior to the duke’s daughter and not a candidate for the girl’s hand. Simon must first finish his schooling and then an apprenticeship before he thinks of marrying.”

Daniel heard the slight squeak in his protest.

“Do you think I hold an interest in Thornhill’s daughter?”

He attempted to appear incredulous when in truth, Daniel felt nothing but humiliation at being found out.

Sir Carter drawled in sardonic appreciation.

“You could do worse. Your family and hers would rejoice in the connection.”
Daniel gazed at the baronet in baffled wonder.

“Is this Linworth’s idea?”

Lowery had the grace to shake off Daniel’s question.

“As it happens, I doubt Linworth placed your interest, but I am recognized for my keen eye. Yet, if you tell me I erred, I will keep my observations to myself.”

Daniel fought to maintain a calm countenance.

“You are mistaken, Sir.”

The baronet studied Daniel speculatively, but at length, Sir Carter shrugged off his conjectures.

“Very well. That being said, I pray you will join us for the play. It is a fine farce.”

“I will consider it, Sir.” Daniel appreciated Lowery’s candor. “Now, if you will excuse me, I mean to claim Miss Poplin’s hand for the next set.”

* * *

At length, it was time for Daniel to escort Sonalí onto the dance floor.

“Lady Sonalí.”

Daniel bowed to her and the group of young bucks attempting to entertain her with their witty banter.

“I believe the next set is mine.”

“Certainly, my lord.”

Sonalí placed her gloved fingers in his outstretched palm.

“Please excuse me.”

She nodded her exit to the others as Daniel wrapped her hand about his elbow.

“Thank you for agreeing to replace Papa for the supper dance,” she whispered.

Despite Daniel’s best efforts, a hint of amusement colored his tone.

“You had no desire to dine with your father?”

Sonalí laughed lightly, a tinkling sound, which warmed Daniel’s heart.

“Fah. I dine with the duke and duchess every evening.”

“And I was a convenient alternative?”

Daniel prayed Sonalí would deny her manipulations.

Lady Sonalí’s chin rose in defiance, and her eyes met his. A flash of fire crossed her features.

“I did not realize you would feel put upon. There was a time we were friends.”

Daniel said with a sad smile.

“What date do you name for our friendship coming to an end?”

Daniel turned Sonalí so she nestled comfortably into his embrace. His fingers rested upon the small of her back, and he itched to permit his palm to slide over her hip and to nudge Sonalí closer. The music began, and they stepped into the pattern.

Although Daniel looked upon the other couples over Sonalí’s shoulder, he knew the exact moment when Sonalí’s regard settled upon his countenance. It was deuced annoying to feel her in every pore of his body.

“Explain to me why you quit writing to me,” Sonalí accused. “From the time you first traveled to the Continent with Linworth and Aunt Ella, we corresponded. Then suddenly, some two years past you no longer found me worthy of your recognition.”
Daniel earnestly studied her upturned face.

“I did write.”

It was true. Despite the fact they held no understanding, he did write to Sonalí. Her father and his stepmother were brother and sister, and so no one ever questioned why an unmarried couple corresponded. Daniel wrote her long, detailed letters in which he described his days as his father’s assistant, adding particular gems of political intrigue of which he thought Sonalí would enjoy; yet, Daniel never posted them for in 1827, he returned to England with the hope of securing a promise from her, only to discover Sonalí keeping company with two naval officers. He later discovered the two men were the brother and a cousin of Lady Arlene Walker, one of Sonalí’s schoolgirl chums. When Daniel was once more in diplomatic service, he did all he could to forget her.i 

“The posts from Germany are exceedingly undependable.”

He spun Sonalí around a corner of the dance floor, adding a dipping counterclockwise turn, which he hoped would drive away her questions. Daniel always regretted his cowardice in the matter, but his heart could not bear her rejection.

“Better to keep a private counsel than to know Sonalí’s rebuke,” he told his heart.

“I suppose what you say is possible.”

Sonalí was silent for several minutes, and Daniel simply enjoyed the heat of her body along his front. She tipped her head to the side and studied him with care.

“Then you still think fondly of me? I could not abide it, Worthing, if we were not of a like mind.”

“I doubt I could ever turn from you,” Daniel admitted. “We are as we always were, my lady.”

He certainly wished for more, but Daniel knew he could not settle for less. Some day, they would both marry others, but Sonalí would always hold his regard.

* * *

Daniel chose seats where Sonalí might chat with several of her stepmother’s guests. If Daniel had his preferences, they would dine upon the terrace where a cool night breeze would require Sonalí to snuggle into his side for warmth. Unfortunately, they attempted conversation in a too stuffy and too loud dining hall.

Sonalí conversed with Miss Gandy. Daniel, far enough from the girl to ignore the chit’s insipid remarks, instead entertained himself by watching the rise and fall of Sonalí’s breasts. Lady Sonalí filled out nicely since Daniel last spent any significant time with her. He realized he should know regret at seizing the opportunity to fantasize upon what delights rested beneath Sonalí’s very fashionable gown, but his body and his mind held two different senses of honor.

The faint scent of an exotic fragrance filled his nostrils as his eyes feasted at the swell of her breasts above the silver lace trimming her gown. Her skin appeared soft to the touch. Smooth as if bronzed. Firm and luminous. Daniel found himself swallowing hard and fisting his hands to keep from reaching for her. He shrugged internally. His obsession was quite hopeless.

“You spent many years upon the Continent?” Miss Gandy asked with a flirtatious dip of her lashes.

Daniel thought how poor the girl’s efforts were for Miss Gandy was but a far off dot of light in the night sky while Sonalí was the sun, which warmed Daniel’s heart.

“Yes. Some six years as part of my father’s ambassadorial staff; however, I am pleased to return to England.”

“Lady Sonalí says you knew each other for years,” the girl pressed.

Daniel shot a glance to Sonalí, who was smiling mischievously.

“I believe my lady was but five when I first took her acquaintance. Thornhill and my father are associates, and my mother is Lady Sonalí’s aunt.”

Daniel winked at Sonalí and was rewarded by a flush of her sun-kissed skin.

“When we were young, I taught Lady Sonalí to cast a line to fish and assisted her in gathering wild flowers to make a wreath for her head. At the time, my lady was quite into stories of princesses.”

“One of my most treasured memories,” she taunted, but Daniel heard the sincerity in her tone.

“And as for you, my lord…”

Sonalí pointed a finger at him in mock defiance.

“You should know, my Lord Worthing, that I possess tales of your childhood, which you might find equally embarrassing.”

Daniel leaned back in his chair.

“Do your worst, my lady. I fear you not.”

He enjoyed this playful Sonalí more than he did the social debutant.

Sonalí’s smile lit up her features.

“I warned you, my lord.”

Daniel wished with all his heart he were “her” lord.

“What of your interest in the healing arts?” Sonalí accused.

“I hold an interest in many subjects, and I possess no shame in wishing to discover a potion to extend my grandfather’s life,” Daniel observed dryly. “My mother once held a similar hope to save her mother. Thankfully, Linworth and the countess always encouraged my varied studies. Those upon the Continent are not so strict regarding class lines as are the English.”

“I surrender. You speak with uncompromised intelligence and graciousness.”

Sonalí bowed her head in a mocking taunt.

“I shall never be as accomplished as my Aunt Ella. I know you value the countess’s opinions above all others, and I fall short of knowing your respect.”

Daniel frowned deeply.

“Perhaps not above all others, but I am fortunate to possess an intelligent mother and a father who permits his wife her due.”

Before Lady Sonalí could respond, a loud commotion drew their attention. An inebriated Charles Rivers swayed in place.

“I will speak to my father of the bloody debts! Now remove your hand from my person,” Rivers growled in a voice that brought the noisy supper hall to a silent tableau.

The man who caught Rivers’ arm glanced about the room to judge the scene the future baron created. Viscount Gilbert, a man twice Rivers’ age, brought himself up tall.

“You have until week’s end,” Gilbert warned. “Then I will call upon your father.”

Gilbert released Rivers’ arm after giving it a hard shake. Daniel studied the scene with piqued interest as Gilbert turned to make his exit, but as the viscount came close to where Daniel and Sonalí sat at the table’s end, Rivers caught his empty glass in his fist and hurled it at the back of Gilbert’s head.

Daniel’s reflexes responded as he jumped up to deflect the glass with an outstretched hand.

“Demme you, Worthing!” Rivers declared as the glass flipped over, turning in the air above Gilbert’s head to crash against the wall.

The supper hall erupted in chaos as several of Thornhill’s servants subdued Rivers, while others rushed to Gilbert’s aid. Daniel turned immediately to Sonalí, who remained behind him throughout the short encounter, to discover her surprisingly pale for a woman of a darker complexion.

“Are you unwell?” Daniel asked anxiously as he knelt before her.

Tears filled Sonalí’s eyes as she opened her palm to display a cut across her upper wrist, just above her short gloves. Blood seeped from the wound.

“Bloody hell,” Daniel groaned as he caught the serviette from Sonalí’s lap to wrap it tightly about her arm. “Come with me,” he demanded as he assisted her to her feet.

With all the commotion, no one seemed to notice Daniel ushered Sonalí through the servants’ entrance. As the door closed behind him, he scooped Sonalí into his arms.

“I have you,” he said as soothingly as he could muster with his heart racing.

She held the cloth to her arm, and Sonalí leaned her head against his shoulder.

As Daniel was as familiar with Briar House as the Fowler family, he rushed along the narrow corridor before exiting at the hall’s end. Using his shoulder to open the door to the duke’s study, Daniel carried Sonalí to the leather covered chaise before placing her gently upon the loose pillows.

Kneeling beside her, Daniel caught Sonalí’s arm. The serviette displayed the wound’s continued bleeding.

“Permit me to examine the cut for glass.”

It bothered Daniel that Sonalí had yet to speak to him, but he had no time for questions.

“I am grieved,” Daniel said as he dabbed at the cut to wipe away the blood, “that my heroics brought this upon you.”

He could not look upon her. Sonalí’s tears would rip the soul from Daniel’s body.

His hands trembled as his finger traced the cut searching for shards of glass.

“We must clean the wound and stanch the flow of blood,” he assessed.

Daniel looked about the room for water. Finding an ewer, he filled a large tumbler with water and turned to look upon her. Sonalí kept her eyes averted from the wound, but they met his in open assessment.

“Please say you will forgive me,” Daniel pleaded; yet, before Sonalí could answer, he returned to her side.

He soaked his handkerchief in the water and gently dabbed at the cut, which was much deeper than Daniel first thought.

“Does Thornhill keep more handkerchiefs in his desk?”

“Top drawer on the right,” Sonalí whispered.

Daniel scrambled to find the duke’s monogrammed cloths.

“I should summon a physician.”

He rushed to Sonalí’s side to wrap the large square about her wrist.

“Forgive me. I must tie this tight.”

Daniel’s fingers were never so stiff, and he silently cursed his ineptitude.


He lifted his eyes to meet hers.


It was most inconvenient to feel his groin tighten, but that was the effect Sonalí’s closeness had on him.

“You were wonderfully masterful.”

The fingers of Sonalí’s free hand brushed an errant curl from Daniel’s forehead, and his breath caught in Daniel’s chest.

Forcibly clearing his throat, he spoke in irony.

“I brought tears to your eyes. I would not term such foolhardiness as masterful.”

“You prevented Lord Gilbert from knowing harm,” Sonalí argued.

“I would prefer the viscount injured than you,” Daniel admitted.

Her fingers brushed his cheek, and it was all Daniel could do to keep from catching her hand to plant a kiss upon her palm.

“You were my knight.” Sonalí’s gaze ran over him in what appeared to be a possessive manner. If only, Daniel thought.

His mind whirled with possibilities. What would Sonalí do if he claimed her lips in a declaration of his devotion? Uncertainty flickered over her features. Did Sonalí anticipate his intentions? Her lips parted in expectation, and Daniel felt himself leaning closer. He was within inches of heaven when a heavy tread outside the study had Daniel scrambling to his feet.

“My lord?” Thornhill’s most trusted footman eyed where Sonalí rested upon the chaise.

“Ah, Murray,” Daniel said with more enthusiasm than he felt. “I am pleased you came. Lady Sonalí knew an injury during the supper hall’s melee. Would you fetch Thornhill and Lady Linworth? Lady Sonalí’s maid should also be summoned, as well as the duke’s personal physician.”

The footman’s eyebrow rose in curiosity, but he nodded his agreement before rushing off to do Daniel’s bidding.

“Permit me to apply more pressure. I believe the blood slowed.”

Daniel returned to tending her wound.

Sonalí sat forward.

“Murray has abominable timing.”

Sonalí’s breath warmed Daniel’s ear, but he did not turn his head.

“It is for the best,” he said grudgingly.

“I suppose.”

A bit of what sounded of disappointment laced Sonalí’s tone.

“Daniel?” his mother’s voice called from the hall.

He shot a quick glance to Sonalí to make certain no tell tale signs of passion remained upon her countenance.

“In here!”

Daniel knew Eleanor Kerrington would see to Sonalí’s wound, but he was sore to release Sonalí’s hand.

Within seconds Daniel’s mother knelt by his side.

“Tell me what occurred.”

“The glass Rivers hurled at Gilbert broke against the wall behind Lady Sonalí. Somehow a fragment cut Sonalí’s arm,” Daniel explained.

His mother unwrapped the cloth to examine the wound.

“Did you wash it?”

“Only with water.”

Ella lightly touched Daniel’s arm.

“Ring for a servant to bring us warm water and some soap.”

She smiled in appreciation at him.

“You acted with foresight. I am proud of you.”

“I was no longer frightened once Daniel took control,” Sonalí noted.

His mother’s smile widened. Daniel had no doubt the countess knew of Daniel’s infatuation. Thankfully, Eleanor never questioned him on his behavior.

“My son engenders protection. Daniel is very much his father in that respect.”
In truth, Daniel thought Ella modeled the behavior he practiced, but he did not argue with his stepmother.

Instead, he rose to do as Ella bid. Daniel just reached for the cord when he heard Ella gasp. Spinning on his heels, his eyes followed his mother’s steady gaze. The patio door to Thornhill’s study stood ajar. A man with skin as darker than Sonalí’s stood in the shadows of the open door, and the countess pulled Sonalí to her feet and shoved the girl behind her. When Daniel meant to place himself between the women and the intruder, a flick of his mother’s wrist kept Daniel in place.

“What do you mean coming here on such a night?” Ella demanded frostily.

A wry smile graced the man’s lips.

“It has been too long, my lady. I believe the last time we met we tussled over Lord Lexford’s body.”

The stranger glanced about the room as if assessing the situation.

“In case you wondered,” he continued in a mocking tone, “I have a scar marking where you shot me.”

Daniel knew immediately the man was the infamous Murhad Jamot, a man who once hunted each of the Realm members.

Ella’s chin rose in defiance.

“You did not answer my question.”

The Baloch warrior shrugged away her challenge.

“Let us call this a bit of goodwill upon the entrance into Society of Ashmita’s daughter.”

The intruder’s gaze traveled over Sonalí’s body, and Daniel instinctively took several steps in the man’s direction before a slight shake of his mother’s head again stilled his steps.

“The girl has the look of her mother,” Jamot announced.

“You knew my mother?” Sonalí pleaded.

Daniel understood. Despite his deep regard for Eleanor Kerrington, he wished often to speak of his real mother. Daniel rarely encountered any of Elizabeth Morris’s family, and he felt deprived of a part of his history because of it. He would not be whole until he knew more of his Morris ancestry.

“Aye, Child,” the man said wistfully. “Long before you were born.”

Ella edged Sonalí further behind her.

“This is not a social call,” his stepmother declared. “State your business and be gone from this house.”

Dark eyebrows drew together in exasperation.

“Tell Thornhill, Lowery, and Linworth I am no longer the threat. Mir has come in person for the emerald, and the peace of the past decade will be no more.”

“Shaheed Mir?” Ella appeared paled, but no answer from the man was forthcoming.
As quickly as he appeared, the Baloch vanished into London’s darkness.

And now for the Giveaway. Leave a comment below to be in the mix for one of two copies of an eBook of of A Touch of Emerald. The giveaway ends at midnight, August 28, EDST. 

ATOE eBook Cover - Green Text

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Celebrating the Release of “A Touch of Emerald” with “The Kids Are Back in School, Time to Read” Sale

Beginning today, through Wednesday, September 2, SEVENTEEN of my titles are available in eBook format, each for $2.50 or less. The titles can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo. They include: 

The REALM Series:

ATOS eBook Cover ConceptA Touch of Scandal: Book 1 of the Realm SeriesATOV eBook Cover


A Touch of Velvet: Book 2 of the Realm Series




ATOCcrop2A Touch of Cashémere: Book 3 of the Realm Series

A Touch of Grace: Book 4 of the Realm Series



ATOMCrop3ATOL4A Touch of Mercy: Book 5 of the Realm Series


A Touch of Love: Book 6 of the Realm Series





A Touch of Honor: Book 7 of the Realm SeriesATOE eBook Cover - Green Text

A Touch of Emerald: The Conclusion of the Realm Series


Regency Romances:

HAHSUnknown-1His American Heartsong: A Companion Novel to the Realm Series

His Irish Eve






The First Wives’ Club 




Austen-Inspired Novels:CFWP Crop2

DPNewCoverDarcy’s Passion


Captain Frederick Wentworth’s Persuasion



UnknownUnknown-2Elizabeth’s Bennet’s Deception: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary

Mr. Darcy’s Fault: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary



Contemporary Romances:



Honor and Hope: A Contemporary Pride and Prejudice

Second Chances: The Courtship Wars 



Do Not Forget that The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery (published by Pegasus Books) is still available in eBook form for $4.99 on Kindle, Nook and Kobo. 

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The Film Adaptation of “Persuasion” [1971]

MV5BMjU0NDQ1OTMzOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjczODUyMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_AL_This adaptation of Persuasion was an ITV/Granada mini-series, directed and produced by Howard Baker, with a screenplay by Julian Mitchell. The cast included…
Anne Firbank……………..Anne Elliot
Bryan Marshall……………Captain Frederick Wentworth
Basil Dignam …………….Sir Walter Elliot
Valerie Gearon …………….Elizabeth Elliot
Marian Spencer……………Lady Russell
Georgine Anderson………Mrs. Croft
Richard Vernon …………..Admiral Croft
Morag Hood………………..Mary Elliot Musgrove
David Savile ……………….Mr. William Elliot
Mel Martin………………….Henrietta Musgrove
Zhivila Roche………………Louisa Musgrove

Unknown-3This version stayed very close to the original story line. “Dramatic license” is minimal. Ms. Firbank, who plays Anne Elliot, has had a long acting career, especially in television. Ann Firbank was born on January 9, 1933, in Secunderabad, Andhra, India. She is an actress, known for Anna and the King (1999), A Passage to India (1984) and The Servant (1963). (imdb) She was seen most recently in the 2014 version of The Crucible as Rebecca Nurse (along with the very handsome Richard Armitage). In this version of Austen’s novel, the viewer sees very little change in the “looks” of Miss Anne. Firbank is seen as the well dressed daughter of a baronet. Her dresses/gowns are more colorful while she is in Bath, but there is no view of Anne Elliot being in her decline. Nothing is done to show Anne Elliot with a loss of her “bloom.” We hear the Lady Russell character say “You were very attractive then,” in reference to when Anne turned down the proposal of Charles Musgrove. The thing with Firbank’s portrayal is there is little sympathy for Anne’s situation. The viewer does not experience the despair that Anne suffers for her poor choice. She is just “ho-hum” in the portrayal. 

imagesBryan Marshall is Captain Wentworth in this TV version. Marshall, too, has had a storied television career. Bryan studied drama at RADA and soon made an impression on TV in the footballing drama “United” and on film working for Hammer studios in “Quatermass And The Pit” and “The Witches.” Perhaps his most major film role is the duplicitous Councillor Harris in “The Long Good Friday.” (imdb)

The Costume Designer (Esther Dean) for this series dresses Marshall in Regency wear for a gentleman, but not in the garb of a captain in His Majesty’s Royal Navy. In fact, this adaptation dresses all the men very much the same. It makes no effort to delineate between the social classes of the Elliots, the Musgroves, the Harvilles, or Captain Benwick. Although Austen never tells the reader of Wentworth’s back story, we assume in the story that Wentworth had a “gentleman’s” education for his brother Edward is a curate, having studied to take his orders. But can we say the same of Harville and Benwick (who is a great reader)? Needless to say, Mr. Charles Musgrove (both elder and junior) are country squires [in the vein of Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice]. They are not of the same social class as Sir Walter Elliot [a baronet]. Moreover, Sir Walter would die of shame if he discovered Wentworth [a man he refused earlier for being unworthy] was equally as well dressed as he. One of the “joys” of Austen’s Persuasion is that we see more of the so-called lower gentry and the working class than we did in many of her previous tales.

-Persuasion-1971-persuasion-21454503-1024-768Another striking difference to the 1995 film is the treatment of the Musgroves. The elder couple [William Kendall and Noel Dyson] are shown to be jovial and kind. Their house is very orderly and spanky clean, as opposed to the one we see in the 1995 version. Even the Uppercross Cottage is well furnished, with elegant pieces displayed about the room. When Anne visits the Musgroves, Charles and a maid must carry off Charles and Mary’s two boys, which provides Mrs. Musgrove the opportunity to speak to Anne about Mary’s poor parenting skills. Earlier, Mary makes the same complaint to Anne about Charles spoiling his sons and how Mrs. Musgrove feeds the boys too many sweets [Sugar High, anyone?].  In the 1971 version, we do have a scene from the book but omitted from the 1995 film: That is the one where Captain Wentworth speaks to Mrs. Musgrove about the service of her rascal son, Richard “Dick” Musgrove. 

Morag Hood portrays Mary Musgrove quite differently from Sophie Thompson’s portrayal in 1995. Hood emphasizes the state of her health concerns, her complaints about her husband Charles’ inattention, and the elder Musgroves’ slights to her status as the Uppercross’s future mistress. All the while, Hood is well-dressed and slender and attractive, as opposed to Thompson’s rather dowdy look. 

Henrietta Musgrove (Mel Martin) is seen more in the vein of the novel in this adaptation: The girl cannot make her mind whether she prefers Charles Hayter or Captain Wentworth. The viewer sees Henrietta absent-mindedly leaving Hayter in mid sentence to rush to the window to view Wentworth’s approaching the manor house. Louisa Musgrove (Zhivilar Roche), on the other hand, is willful and impetuous, just as the book describes her, but she comes off as grating. Many find her so irritating that they wonder why Wentworth would even look twice at her as a possible mate.  David Savile portrays Mr. Elliot in striking contrast to Captain Wentworth. Elliot possesses a fine countenance and excellent manners. 

The 1971 version is similar in the way Wentworth overhears Anne speaking of whether men or women love longest. Afterwards, Wentworth encounters Anne on the street and she takes his arm. As they walk along they speak of the frustration of coming together again, their many misconstructions, jealousy, etc. He admits, “I never loved anyone but you, Anne.” The scene ends with their walking slowly across a lawn. 

A series of summary scenes end the adaptation. Anne tells Lady Russell that she loves Frederick. Elizabeth Elliot looks for Mrs. Clay only to learn from Colonel Wallis that Mr. Elliot and Mrs. Clay escaped in a waiting coach for London. The scene where Wentworth tells Anne that he will make an effort to forgive Lady Russell’s previous interference in their lives, and he assumes the blame for now returning to Anne sooner. Anne admits that if he had returned earlier, she would have left with him. They kiss slowly twice, but in contrast to the 1995 film, they are not on a public street when this happens. Wentworth’s last speech is… “I shave have to put up with being far happier than I deserve,” which is close to the actual speech in the novel. 001ctk85

JaneAusten.co.uk says of this television version, “Filmed in 1971, Persuasion was the first of the “old” BBC Austen films (though by no means the BBC’s first Austen adaptation, it is the first available on film.) The script, written by Julian Mitchell (Elizabeth R, Inspector Morse) is at times almost painfully true to the book, while at others, as in the case of “The Letter,” it deviates most jarringly. Directed by Howard Baker (The Return of Sherlock Holmes, 1986) it contains many scenes cut from the later version (Mrs. Smith’s account of Mr. Elliot’s perfidy, Mr. Elliot’s elopement, “Poor Dick”) and a few invented ones. With a run time of nearly four hours, this film certainly has the time to develop the story and characters that most modern adaptations lack.

“Persuasion1 (or P1 as it is known to fans) may be one of the most controversial films in Austen history. Those who love it do so unabashed- those who don’t are perhaps even more vocal. There are many reasons this film is disparaged. Many complain about the obviously ‘60’s inspired hairstyles(“…what is it about Anne’s hair?! It gives new meaning to the term “Big Hair!”*)Ann Firbank and costume color choices- a few of the orange and green combinations are quite distracting. (Has a period film ever been so dated?) Some find the characters personally irritating (“…don’t you wonder how ANYONE could even consider this Louisa Musgrove as a possible wife? She is by far the most annoying character I’ve come across in any Austen adaptation.*) One author even complained about the use of scenes where “Anne is forced to confide her secrets in Lady Russell . . . in order to make her feelings clear to the audience.” Most criticism, however, stems from how they handled the last few scenes. Interestingly Sony’s 1995 version repeated the same mistakes.”

See my analysis of Persuasion (1995), Part I [Main Characters] and Part II [Minor Characters].

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