Upstairs, Downstairs and Between-Stairs with The Ladies of Lydiard


Margaret Beaufort. Barbara Villiers. Diana Spencer. All were ladies of Lydiard. Meet them in person in Frances Bevan’s beautiful new book, The Ladies of Lydiard. A fascinating compendium of wealthy brides, influential mistresses, unfaithful wives and aspiring ladies, this book is an un-putdownable set of stories supported by meticulous research. And they’ll surprise you – it wasn’t just the Lords of the Manor who were in charge!

The Ladies of Lydiard | An Exquisite Collection | Frances Bevan

Excerpt from The Art of Love | A.B. Michaels

Today, I’m delighted to feature an excerpt from A.B. Michaels’ fascinating novel about the California gold rush. I lived in San Francisco for several years, and found this part of the state’s history absolutely compelling. Do enjoy!

The Art of Love
(The Golden City, Book One)
By A.B. Michaels

Your Journey to The Golden City begins here…
FORTUNESACRIFICE…PASSION…and SECRETS
A tale of mystery, social morality and second chances during America’s Gilded Age, The Art of Love will take you on an unforgettable journey from the last frontier of the Yukon Territory to the new Sodom and Gomorrah of its time – the boomtown of San Francisco.
After digging a fortune from the frozen fields of the Klondike, August Wolff heads south to the “Golden City,” hoping to put the unsolved disappearance of his wife and daughter behind him. The turn of the twentieth century brings him even more success, but the distractions of a hedonistic mecca can’t fill the gaping hole in his life.
Amelia Starling is a wildly talented artist caught in the straightjacket of Old New York society. Making a heart-breaking decision, she moves to San Francisco to further her career, all the while living with the pain of a sacrifice no woman should ever have to make.
Brought together by the city’s flourishing art scene, Gus and Lia forge a rare connection. But the past, shrouded in mystery, prevents the two of them from moving forward as one. Unwilling to face society’s scorn, Lia leaves the city and vows to begin again in Europe.
The Golden City offers everything a man could wish for except the answers Gus is desperate to find. But find them he must, or he and Lia have no chance at all.

Buy Link | The Art of Love

Excerpt
New York, 1899

Over the next several days, under the guise of carrying artwork to and from school, Lia moved her most important belongings to the apartment Sandy had rented. She packed clothing, art supplies, her jewelry, and most important, the items that would remind her of the one real treasure she was giving up. Every evening she sat and watched Little Georgie, sketching him at play and at rest, trying to memorize every part of the precious child she had brought into the world. His tiny, exquisitely formed little ears; his soft cheeks (which someday, she imagined, would grow angular like his father’s); his mouth shaped like a cupid’s bow, rooting quietly as he slept.
She gave Polly and the housekeeper time away to visit their families and spent her last day at home with her son, sitting with him on the floor of the nursery as he built tall castles out of blocks and laughed delightedly when they fell. She held up the carved wooden cow and asked him what a cow says and he said “Moo.” The sheep? “Baa.” The horse? “Eee eee eee.”
“That’s my smart little man,” she whispered, tears running unchecked down her face.
“Mama,” he said, waddling over and patting the wetness of her cheeks.
“Yes, my darling boy,” she whispered. “Mama loves you. Mama will always love you.”
She put him to bed one more time and crooned his favorite lullaby. “Sleepyhead, close your eyes. Mother’s right here beside you. I’ll protect you from harm, you will wake in my … my … ” she couldn’t go on. He lay on his back looking up at her and smiled and reached for her. She leaned down and hugged him one last time and stayed with him until he fell asleep.
You can do this you can do this you can do this, she chanted to keep herself in one piece. She filled her small suitcase, donned her coat, and went downstairs to confront George. He was working in the library. The light in the room was dim except for the lamp on his desk. It lent an intimacy to the space. It was quiet; only the tic, tic, tic of the Ormolu clock marred the silence.
“George?” she called from the doorway.
“Yes, come in,” he replied, still engrossed in the report he was reading.
She checked the pendant watch he had given her on their first anniversary. Sandy would arrive to pick her up shortly; she had only to get through this last charade. She walked over to his desk.
“George, look at me.”
George looked up, a puzzled expression crossing his face as he saw that she was dressed to go out. He frowned. “Where are you going?”
“I’m leaving you for someone else.”
He leaned back in his chair, disbelieving. “What did you say?”
“I said I’m leaving you for someone else.”
“Lia, that’s not funny.”
“It’s not meant to be.” She leaned over his desk. “Do you understand? I’m leaving this marriage and I’m committing adultery to do it. Do. You. Understand?” She drew the words out as she held his eyes.
Comprehension cast a shadow over his features, and he slowly shook his head. “No, Lia. No. You don’t have to do this.”
She stood up straight and repeated the words she’d rehearsed many times. “I love someone else and I no longer love you. I’m moving in with my lover and I’m never coming back.”
“Wait. Who—”
“Sandy,” she said.
George rolled his eyes and snorted. “Ah, yes. The sodomite.”
Lia drilled him with her stare until he felt compelled to face her again. “Ask your mother and her friends about that … and thank you for the insult to one of the finest men I know. You are making this easier.”
George stood up as if to overpower her. “I’ll fight you on this.”
It was Lia’s turn to scoff. “Will you, George? Think long and hard about that. What will you gain? What will you lose?”
“What about your son?” he asked, frustration lacing his tone. “Our son. You’re just going to abandon him?”
You can do this you can do this you can do this. “My son will be loved,” she replied. “You talk to Emmaline about that.”
“Em? What does Em know about this?”
“Nothing. Only that she is a woman with so much to give who is ready to be loved … do you understand me, George?”
He stared at her, not speaking, and she could practically see the wheels turning in his head as he processed all that she was saying, all that she implied. His own eyes welled with tears as he realized what she was doing for him, for them. He reached for her. “Lia—”
She held out her arm to ward him off. “You must hate me until this is over, it is the only way,” she whispered. “Hate me to your parents, to your friends, to your lawyer, to everyone except Em and our son, and do not call Sandy a sodomite ever again. Do you understand me?” she repeated. She heard the near hysteria in her voice.
His eyes clear with comprehension, he nodded. “What will you do?”
“Lay low until the storm passes, then San Francisco, I think.” She smiled sadly. “So, you won’t have to pay that invoice from the Institute after all.”
“Lia?” Sandy stood in the doorway to the library, hat in hand. “I’m sorry. No one answered, so I let myself in. Are … are you ready to go?”
Lia continued to look at George. After a moment she inclined her head and saw George echo her, ever so slightly. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and opened them again, smiling through her tears.
“I will send you the address where your attorney can reach me,” she said. “Polly and Mrs. Rudd will be back tomorrow. If Little … Little Georgie wakes up—”
“I know,” he assured her gently. “Sing him the lullaby.”
“That’s right,” she said, her voice breaking. “Good night, George, and … and bless you.” Lia turned and took Sandy by the arm. They stepped into the cool of the evening and began walking down the street.
Sandy patted her hand. “How did it go?”
She sighed and put her head on his shoulder. Her voice hitched. “I think I know what it feels like to stab oneself in the heart.”
“You are quite a woman, Amelia. If I were someone else, I think I’d do anything to make you mine.”
“You are just who I need you to be, dear friend. Let’s see how it all plays out.”
“Yes, let’s,” he said as they continued on their way.

A native of California, A.B. Michaels holds masters’ degrees in history (UCLA) and broadcasting (San Francisco State University). After working for many years as a promotional writer and editor, she turned to writing fiction, which is the hardest thing she’s ever done besides raise two boys. She lives with her husband and two spoiled dogs in Boise, Idaho, where she is often distracted by playing darts and bocce and trying to hit a golf ball more than fifty yards. Reading, quilt-making and travel figure into the mix as well, leading her to hope that sometime soon, someone invents a 25+ hour day.

Social Media Links:
Website: www.abmichaels.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ABMichaelsBooks
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/A.B.MichaelsWriter/
Pinterest: pinterest.com/abmichaelsbooks
BookBub: bookbub.com/profile/a-b-michaels
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/A.-B.-Michaels/e/B00KFLJ2QW
Goodreads: goodreads.com/abmichaels

The Lydiard Archives: coming soon to a website near you

In just a few weeks, we will go live with The Lydiard Archives, an extraordinary digital collection of materials revealing the thousand-year history of Lydiard House, Lydiard Tregoz Parish and the families who lived there, from the Lords of the Manor to the children of the post-WWII housing in the Park. We are creating the most substantial and unique digital picture of an English Country House and its place in local history that exists in the UK, and it will be available to anyone who is interesting in browsing family and social history. More announcements coming soon, but here’s a glimpse of just one of hundreds of items…

New Release | Anna Belfrage | Excerpt: The Whirlpools of Time

I am so excited to share an excerpt from Anna Belfrage’s fabulous new time slip novel with you today. Let me just say, this was my first summer read, and it is perfect. So slip onto your chaise, pour yourself a chilled drink, slather on the suntan oil and travel with Duncan and Erin to the 18th Century…and maybe back again. My review is here.
The Whirlpools of Time
He hoped for a wife. He found a companion through time and beyond.
It is 1715 and for Duncan Melville something fundamental is missing from his life. Despite a flourishing legal practice and several close friends, he is lonely, even more so after the recent death of his father. He needs a wife—a companion through life, someone to hold and be held by. What he wasn’t expecting was to be torn away from everything he knew and find said woman in 2016…
Erin Barnes has a lot of stuff going on in her life. She doesn’t need the additional twist of a stranger in weird outdated clothes, but when he risks his life to save hers, she feels obligated to return the favour. Besides, whoever Duncan may be, she can’t exactly deny the immediate attraction.
The complications in Erin’s life explode. Events are set in motion and to Erin’s horror she and Duncan are thrown back to 1715. Not only does Erin have to cope with a different and intimidating world, soon enough she and Duncan are embroiled in a dangerous quest for Duncan’s uncle, a quest that may very well cost them their lives as they travel through a Scotland poised on the brink of rebellion.
Will they find Duncan’s uncle in time? And is the door to the future permanently closed, or will Erin find a way back?
 Universal Buy Link

Excerpt: In which Erin and Duncan meet for the first time
Thunder crackled through the night and Erin jumped, the car swerving slightly. Shit! More thunder, and if anything the rain intensified, a veritable deluge that had her slowing her speed to a crawl. A flash of lightning illuminated the landscape and a huge bundle lying right in the middle of the crossroads. Was that a man? An outflung arm? Erin stepped on the brake. Too late. There was a dull thump when her fender connected with the object. For some moments, she just sat there, her hands clenched so tight round the steering wheel they hurt. On the radio, someone was singing about perfection.
From outside came a loud howl. It made her jump. Definitely a human voice and with a deep sigh Erin concluded her day had just gone from bad to worse. She’d just hit some poor idiot, although to be fair, it was just as much his fault as hers. What sort of moron would just lie on the middle of the road? An injured one, her brain told her, one that is even more injured now that you’ve run him over.
There was a gun in the glove compartment, and she tucked it into the waist of her jeans before getting out. One never knew, this could be one of Steve’s more subtle attempts at getting his hands on her, but the moment she thought it she dismissed it as ridiculous. Steve had little finesse, was way more into brutal intimidation. She shivered, uncertain if it was the rain or the thought of Steve that chilled her to the bone. The pile on the road groaned.
A man, she concluded some moments later. Dark hair plastered to his forehead, something that resembled a linen shirt stuck to his torso and long legs encased in weird pants and knee-high boots. Erin rolled her eyes. One of those Renaissance Fair types, she thought, placing a careful hand on his back to make sure he was still breathing.
“Hey,” she said, wiping at her face. “Are you okay?” Stupid, stupid question. The man’s eyes fluttered open.
“Hi,” she said, trying out a little smile.
“Hi?” He scooted out of reach and sat up, groaning loudly. He looked at her. His eyes widened. He blinked and looked again.
“Can you stand?” she asked him, wondering if it would be totally uncharitable to help him to the side and then drive off.
“Aye.”
Aye? And what an odd accent. He sounded British, somehow.
The man lurched to his feet, took a step and promptly fell to his knees.
“Are you drunk?” she demanded. He clutched at his left leg and she was suffused with guilt. She’d broken his leg or something, and here she was accusing him of being drunk.
He looked at her. “I wish I was,” he said. “It would explain my hallucinations.”
“Hallucinations?”
“Aye.” His eyes narrowed. “Or are you real?” Once again, he stood, favouring his left leg. He was tall, well over six feet, and that shirt of his displayed an impressively broad chest. He was also bleeding from a gash on his forehead, his right sleeve was badly burned as was the forearm and hand, and he grimaced when he put weight on his left foot.
“Of course I’m real.” She grabbed hold of him when he swayed. He yelped and shied away, landing yet again on the ground.
“God’s fish!” he exclaimed. “You are real!”
What was the matter with him? She took a couple of steps away from him, uncomfortable by how he stared at her, as if she were some sort of apparition. Sort of rich, seeing as he was the one wearing weird clothes, not her.
“Where’s Lewis?” He filled his lungs. “Lewis!” he yelled. “Damn it man, where are you?”
“Not here,” Erin told him.
“But he was right behind me when…” He broke off, stared down at the crossroads and shuffled hastily to the side. “Where’s my horse?”
Erin shook her head. No horse. And who in their right mind would go riding in this weather? Some people took all that re-enactment stuff way too far.
“Who…” he began, but whatever he was about to say drowned in the sound of a large, revving engine. A huge van skidded to a stop and Erin hurled herself towards her car. Too late, and here came Steve, with that oaf Johnny and his dear cousin Marco. Johnny had hold of her before she reached the car. A twist, and he had her arm high up on her back, making her scream with pain.
“Let me go!” She kicked and fought.
Johnny just laughed. “Don’t think so. You’re coming with us.” He pulled her in the direction of the van.
“What, you thought we were done?” Steve asked. He glanced at the stranger, who was swaying on his feet. “Who’s he?”
“No idea. Let me go, you bastard!”
“Now, now: you know what we want. You give it to us and we’ll let you go. You don’t, and…” Whatever else Steve had planned on saying she’d never know—not that it took that much imagination to fill in the blanks. Instead, Steve was staggering back, staring at the stranger. An arm flew out, a fist connected with Steve’s face and he toppled backwards. The stranger turned her way.
“The lady said to let her go,” this oddly dressed apparition said. He pulled his sword as he advanced on Johnny.
“Seriously?” Johnny said with a sneer, pulling his gun. Erin took the opportunity offered, stomped down on his toes and pulled free, fumbling for her gun. Steve was back on his feet, stalking towards them.
“Watch out!” she yelled. The stranger swirled. His blade sliced through the air, Steve yelped. He wheeled again and his blade rapped down sharply on Johnny’s hand, sending the gun flying.
And then there was Marco, bringing down a cudgel on the stranger’s head. The stranger stumbled, regained his balance, ducked the next blow and punched Marco in the gut. With a growl, Johnny threw himself forward. Steve joined the fray. The stranger disappeared in a flurry of arms. Three against one was impossible odds—especially against someone like Johnny. But the stranger held his own for a while, giving as good as he got. At one point Steve screeched. The cudgel came whistling through the air and the stranger collapsed.
“Bastard!” Steve snarled, kicking at the poor man. “Who do you think you are, some sort of Zorro?”

About the author:
Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.
Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients. Her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk, has her returning to medieval times. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. Her most recent release, The Whirlpools of Time, is a time travel romance set against the backdrop of brewing rebellion in the Scottish highlands.
All of Anna’s books have been awarded the IndieBRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of various Reader’s Favorite medals as well as having won various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.
Find out more about Anna, her books and her eclectic historical blog on her website, www.annabelfrage.com or check out her Amazon page.
Follow Anna on twitter or on FB.
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Author Chat with Barbara Greig | Discovery

I was intrigued by Barbara’s new release Discovery, for it is an exceptionally interesting story set in a time and place we seldom see – 17thC Quebec. Join me as we chat about her writing inspiration, walking in the footsteps of her characters, and the challenges of writing about real historical characters (hint – did they really say that?!)

Discovery | An epic tale of love, loss and courage | Barbara Greig