Feed Your Reader: Weddings and Kings!

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The Belshaw brothers are back in Balkissoch…

Bridie Porter is wearing her Vera Wang gown and veil in the back of her wedding limo when she receives a compromising text about her hotelier groom. Panicked, she tells the driver to keep going and she flees from Melbourne to the small town of Balkissoch in the Adelaide Hills.

It’s the perfect pit-stop to hide from her ex and the press and to earn enough cash to stay out of sight. Unfortunately, the admin job she gets is for a wedding photography business and she’s had her fill of weddings lately. But it’s slim pickings on the work front in a town so teeny. And her new boss is strangely compelling…

After the rush and adrenaline of his job as an LA paparazzo, the last place Cody Belshaw wants to be is back in the small town where he grew up. But thanks to a clause in his father’s will that amounts to blackmail, Cody and his two brothers are stuck running a wedding business for at least a month. If there’s one thing that he’s learned in LA, however, it’s to keep business and pleasure very, very separate. Which makes his new admin employee the definition of temptation.

Bridie is desperate to stay anonymous. Cody seeks out secrets for a living. As they delve into the world of brides, boutonnières and dogs-as-best-men, both Cody and Bridie will have to decide if this is a fling…or forever.

Available now


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From award-winning author Alison Stuart comes a stirring historical trilogy about soldiers, spies, and the strong women that love them.

By The Sword

England 1650. In the aftermath of the execution of the King, England totters once more on the brink of civil war.

Kate Ashley finds her loyalty to the Parliamentary cause tested when she inherits responsibility for the estate of the Royalist Thornton family.

Jonathan Thornton, exiled and hunted for his loyalty to the King’s cause now returns to England to garner support for the young King. Finding Kate in his family home, he sees in her a chance at a life he doesn’t deserve.

But love is fragile in the face of history. What hope can one soldier and one woman hold in times like these?

The King’s Man

London 1654: Kit Lovell is a disillusioned Royalist who passes his time cheating at cards, living off his wealthy and attractive mistress and plotting the death of Oliver Cromwell.

Penniless and friendless, Thamsine Granville has lost everything. Terrified, in pain and alone, she hurls a piece of brick at the coach of Oliver Cromwell and earns herself an immediate death sentence. Only the quick thinking of a stranger saves her.

Far from the bored, benevolent rescuer that he seems, Kit plunges Thamsine into his world of espionage and betrayal – a world that has no room for falling in love.

Torn between Thamsine and loyalty to his King, Kit’s carefully constructed web of lies begins to unravel. He must make one last desperate gamble – the cost of which might be his life.

Exile’s Return

England, 1659: Following the death of Cromwell, a new king is poised to ascend the throne of England.

Imprisoned, exiled and tortured, fugitive Daniel Lovell returns to England, determined to kill the man who murdered his father. But his plans for revenge must wait, as the King has one last mission for him.

Agnes Fletcher’s lover is dead, and when his two orphaned children are torn from her care by their scheming guardian, she embarks on a perilous journey to save them. She didn’t plan on meeting the infamous Daniel Lovell.

Thrown together with separate quests – and competing obligations – Daniel and Agnes make their way from London to the English countryside, danger at every turn. Will they find the peace they crave, or will their fledgling love be a final casualty of war?

Available Now

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Hallowe’en Series: Alison Stuart’s Soldier and Spy

by Alison Stuart

When you are next stuck in a traffic jam on Queens Road in Melbourne and find yourself looking at this old Victorian mansion (now part of a hotel), spare a thought for Albert whose restless spirit is still causing mayhem (by all accounts).

So, you ask, who is Albert? Settle down, pour yourself a stiff drink and listen to the sad tale of Netherby’s last resident.

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Netherby House c1999 The orderly room was to the right of the front door, officers mess to the left

 “Netherby” House, in Queens Road, Melbourne is one of the few remaining Victorian mansions that once lined that street. The building has a chequered history having been variously a private residence, a maternity hospital, ASIO headquarters and since the 1960s had been the home of the Australian Army’s Headquarters 3rd Training Group.  

When I was a young pay clerk (Army Reserve) at Headquarters 3rd Training Group in the early 1980s (don’t you love the uniform?) there were stories of boarded up cellars and secret rooms, reputedly a legacy of its use by ASIO (the Australian equivalent of the CIA).

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Alison in her days as pay clerk at Netherby – HQ 3 Trg Gp – 1981

Even while I was working there, staff posted to Netherby during those years complained of cold rooms and unexplained trips on the smooth linoleum floor.  I was just one of a group of youngsters and while we may have wasted time looking for the boarded up cellar and wondered why there was a room  (used as the Officers Mess wine cellar), secured with a safe locking mechanism that any bank would have been proud of, we never saw or experienced anything vaguely paranormal. 

In the mid 1980s a couple of members of the regular army staff, attending a late dinner in another part of the city, returned to retrieve a car one of them had left parked at the back of the building. To their surprise the hallway light was on and as they neared the building they saw a figure sitting near the window in the orderly room. The man wore what looked like a red checked shirt. Concerned about the security, the staff members unlocked the front door and, entering the orderly room, saw the PABX light on the phone in glowing red, as if the Commander was on the phone – unlikely as it was 1.30 in the morning. Thinking it had been left off the hook in his office, they went upstairs and found the phone in place on the hook. Back in the orderly room they noted the light still glowed red so they went back upstairs and this time found the phone off the hook. They replaced it, switched off the lights, locked the door and fled!

I had left Netherby in 1982 to do officer training (that’s another whole story – no ghosts!). In the early 1990s I returned as a student on a promotion course.  It had not changed at all, still the same linoleum floors and cold, dusty offices I remembered.  The chief clerk at the time was a mild mannered regular army Sergeant who in the latter part of his posting was quite often the only person in the building for days on end.  This is his story.

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Alison, seated front row middle, outside Netherby 1992

The sergeant lived quite a distance from Queens Road so he began the practice of sleeping overnight after the Wednesday night parade.  The first night he did this, he chose a small, quiet room at the rear of the building.  About 3.00 am he was woken with a start.  The room was icy cold, despite a heater that was still on.  Struggling to focus, he had the distinct impression of a figure at the foot of the bed staring down at him.  He leapt out of bed, switched on the light and with his heart in his mouth did a tour of the house.  The room and the building were deserted.  He never slept in that particular room again but chose instead another room affectionately called “Netherby Hilton Suite 69”.  

3 Training Group was in the throes of moving and this meant that during the day only one or two of the regular staff were present. One of the officers worked with him in the orderly room for company in the large empty building.  On one occasion the Major brought his dog to work.  The dog dozed contentedly in front of the heater.  Suddenly and without warning the dog leapt up, heckles raised and began barking and growling at one of the pillars which extended from the front verandah into the orderly room.  This continued for about 5 minutes before the dog returned to its slumbers in front of the heater.  Both men jokingly began referring to the third resident of Netherby as “Albert”.

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The massive front door to Netherby

Once the Major moved to the new headquarters building,  the sergeant was on his own during the day for the next twelve months and perhaps thinking the sergeant was lonely and in need of company, “Albert” began his haunting in earnest.  One fine spring morning while working in the orderly room (which was adjacent to the front door), the front door suddenly opened and slammed shut.  Footsteps were heard stomping up the rear service staircase to the area which would have been the old servants quarters.  Upstairs doors could be heard slamming shut and the footsteps descended the stairs again.  The front door, which I recall as being a large, heavy door (see picture), opened and slammed shut again.

Frozen to his desk during this visitation and wondering if he was suffering from an over active imagination, the sergeant went to investigate.  Upstairs he found three office doors which had been left open were now closed.  The front door, which was kept locked to deter salesmen, was still firmly locked and could not be opened without turning the handle.

One Saturday evening after a mess dinner at “Grosvenor” (55 Queens Road- also haunted), the sergeant and his wife retired to Netherby to save the long drive home to Frankston.  Alone in the empty building, they made a cup of coffee and sat on the bottom step of the back staircase drinking their coffee and talking.  His wife removed her high heels and left them with the coffee cups on the staircase as they both retired to the “Netherby Hilton” for the night.

During the night they were awoken by the sound of a door slamming, but dismissing it as just the noise of an old house, they went back to sleep.  When they awoke the next morning, they found the high heeled shoes neatly placed at the foot of the wife’s bed and the dirty coffee cups back beside the urn in the Officers Mess.  

Shortly after this incident “Albert” began to show himself.  The sergeant described him as a grey shadow with a lot of detail.  He appeared to be Caucasian and although his facial features were not easily distinguishable, he was about 175 -180 cm tall and wore a long coat of the style of the 50s and 60s.  I recall the sergeant speculating that he may have been a Romanian “diplomat” who died while being “questioned” by ASIO.  “Albert” was also seen by the sergeant’s young son who was visiting during the holidays.  Both sightings were at the foot of the service staircase, over the sealed trap door that allegedly led to the cellars.

“Albert” was not without a sense of humour and would occasionally play tricks.  One Tuesday evening the sergeant and another army reserve member were moving a filing cabinet.  The sergeant recalls that the office they were moving it from was icy cold on this particular evening.  The two men picked the empty cabinet up and as they carried it towards the door, the other man stumbled and fell.  When he recovered himself, he grumbled that it had felt like someone had tripped him.  When the sergeant looked out into the corridor, he had a fleeting glimpse of “Albert”.

The telephone system in Netherby was a “PABX Commander” system.  At about 4.00 a.m one morning after a parade night, when the sergeant was quite alone in the building, the phone in his bedroom rang.  Blearily he picked it up.  The voice on the line was more of a grunt than anything else, so dismissing it as a crank call, he hung up.  As he closed his eyes, he realised that the call was an internal call made from another extension in the building.  He shot out of bed, turned on all the lights and did a thorough search of the building.  It was just as he had left it, locked up and secure and quite deserted.

Convinced by now that “Albert” had singled him out for special attention, the sergeant began to acknowledge his existence, greeting him cheerily in the morning and bidding him good night in the evening.  He even invited Albert to accompany him when he had to go out during the day, although whether he ever did is a question for speculation.  I rather like the idea of the spectral “Albert” occupying the passenger seat of an Army vehicle on little excursions.  

Once Albert’s existence had been acknowledged the sergeant found that the hauntings ceased and the building became noticeably warmer.  Not long afterwards, the last elements of 3 Training Group moved out.  Netherby was locked up and left empty for many years before being bought by the hotel next door.

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Netherby today

Interestingly, the story of Albert reached the staff at the hotel and some years later, the sergeant and I were invited by the manager of the hotel to lunch and to view the restoration of the lovely old house. Albert, it seemed, had not taken kindly to the disturbance to his home. The builders complained about their tools being moved and unexplained cold spots in the house. One member of staff was on crutches having broken an ankle after being, in his words “tripped”. 

Many years have now passed but I still think of Albert when I pass by Netherby and wonder how he has taken to living in a hotel.


23545From award-winning author Alison Stuart comes a stirring historical trilogy about soldiers, spies, and the strong women that love them. 

England 1650. In the aftermath of the execution of the King, England totters once more on the brink of civil war. The country will be divided and lives lost as Charles II makes a last bid to regain his throne.

Kate Ashley finds her loyalty to the Parliamentary cause tested when she inherits responsibility for the estate of the Royalist Thornton family. To protect the people she cares about, she will need all her wits to restore its fortunes and fend off the ever-present threat of greedy neighbours.

Jonathan Thornton, exiled and hunted for his loyalty to the King’s cause now returns to England to garner support for the cause of the young King. Haunted by the demons of his past, Jonathan risks death at every turn and brings danger to those who love him. Finding Kate in his family home, he sees in her the hope for his future, and a chance at a life he doesn’t deserve.

In the aftermath of the Battle of Worcester, Jonathan must face his nemesis, and in turn, learn the secret that will change his life forever. But love is fragile in the face of history, and their lives are manipulated by events out of their control. What hope can one soldier and one woman hold in times like these?

 

My book setting: the small girl and the old house

by Alison Stuart

This is a love story… an enduring love story between a little girl and an old house…

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Once upon a time a little girl went to visit an old moated manor house in an obscure corner of Worcestershire, called Harvington Hall. The house creaked and groaned with a history dating back to the Middle Ages. Secret hiding places called Priest Holes dotted the house in strange corners.

The little girl had never seen anything so old… so mysterious… and she began to imagine a world of people who may have lived in this old house called the Thornton family.

Harvington 1The house became Seven Ways and the cast of imaginary inhabitants lived on with the little girl as she grew up. Over the years she scribbled stories, sketched illustrations, drew family trees, floor plans and breathed life into the imaginary world of the Thorntons and their home.

The story became lost in the bottom of the drawer and forgotten until one day she dislocated her shoulder in a skiing accident and left alone in a ski lodge all by herself she began to write… and in no time at all she had written A BOOK. The little girl had become a writer and the BOOK became By the Sword.

Many years passed and one day the writer mentioned it to her lovely publisher (Escape Publishing) and her publisher thought it was a good story and they had an idea to make three interwoven stories—the Guardians of the Crown series. The rest is history…

I have lived a somewhat peripatetic life. I was born in Kenya and have lived most of my life in Australia. Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself an Australian to my bones (Aussie Oi!), but I get the strangest sensation when I return to a particular corner of England—the Midlands and, more specifically, a band that runs along the southern edges of Birmingham from Worcestershire to Warwickshire. That is where my family origins are strongest and whenever I return there I know I am coming home.

Harvington Hall_Cynthia Todd_1938My grandfather lived in the little village of Clent in the north of Worcestershire and he knew and loved Worcestershire with a passion. So on one of those rare visits to England in 1969 he took me to Harvington Hall, which had always interested him (this painting by my step-grandmother done in 1938 hangs in my study). Harvington Hall’s history dates back to Saxon times but the house itself is largely a late middle ages construct. In Tudor times it was owned by the Packington family and in the 17th century it fell into the hands of the Throckmortons (Throckmorton = Thornton… stream of consciousness!). The Packingtons and Throckmortons appear to have retained Catholic sympathies. Hence the Priest Holes… My favourite is the one concealed behind a pivoting beam in ‘Dr Dodd’s Library’. In 1969 an exploring chid could actually go into it. It’s in this priest hole that Kate and Nell hide Giles in By the Sword.

I should add that while just about every old house in Worcestershire claims to have sheltered Charles II after the Battle of Worcester, there is no evidence he ever set foot in Harvington Hall—an oversight of history that I corrected in By the Sword.

Of course Seven Ways is not an exact replica of Harvington Hall, but it’s similar enough to be recognisable. These days it is well loved and, although not a National Trust property, it has an active group looking after it, so if you happen to find yourself passing through the village of Chaddesley Corbett on your way to Kidderminster… do drop in. It is worth a visit!


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From award-winning author Alison Stuart comes a stirring historical trilogy about soldiers, spies, and the strong women that love them. 

Return Home: Stranger in a Familiar Land

This week’s romance trope is Return Home. Kicking things off is Alison Stuart, who asks: Can you ever really go home?



A stench of animal and human waste and decomposing vegetable matter rose from the Thames and exuded in waves from the dark, narrow streets that led down to the dock. Standing at the rail of the ship, his hands gripping the weathered wood so hard that the knuckles showed white, Daniel breathed in the fetid London air as if it were the finest perfume he had ever smelled.

He had come home.

From Exile’s Return, by Alison Stuart

My husband maintains that in any given fictional story there are only two plots—‘stranger comes to town’ or ‘stranger goes on a journey’. The ‘return home’ trope is a subset of ‘stranger comes to town’, only in this case the stranger returns to a familiar world but finds they no longer fit in either because they have changed or their familiar world is no longer familiar.

It is a trope as old as literature itself. Think of Homer’s Odyssey—Odysseus returning to Ithaca after an absence of 20 years to find his home invaded by strangers, a son he no longer recognises and a wife who is on the point of giving him up for dead. Only his old, blind dog recognises him. In real life it is a common experience of soldiers returning after war, and you will see the trope used time and again in modern films such as Apocalypse Now or the Hurt Locker. Away from the military, think of My Fair Lady when Eliza decides to leave Henry Higgins and return to her old life.

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I did not begin writing Exile’s Return with the conscious thought that the story muddling around in my head conformed to any sort of trope—that’s not how I write. Only as I signed it off did it occur to me that it is a classic ‘return home’ story.

The reader first meets the hero of Exile’s Return in the first book of the series, By the Sword. Daniel Lovell is eighteen. He is young, angry, and, like any young man, perceives his much older brother, Kit, as having had all the fun. The English Civil War should have ended with the death of Charles I in 1649 but in 1651 his son makes one last bid to regain the throne and this is Daniel’s chance for honour and glory and to avenge the death of his father on the battlefield of Worcester. Despite Kit’s injunction against Daniel following him, the boy disobeys him.

‘This may be my last chance,’ the boy said eagerly.

sword‘Your last chance for what?’ Giles asked. ‘Getting yourself killed?’

‘Everyone else has had their chance. I’ve always missed out on the fun. I was too young,’ the boy said in a petulant tone as if he had been denied an outing…

‘We’ll fight for the King and for glory and honour,’ he continued, oblivious to the cynical silence of his audience.

Jonathan considered the boy for a moment, seeing himself in the youthful idealism, but wanting desperately to prevent the futile loss of another life.

‘Daniel, war has nothing to do with glory and honour,’ he said and leaned forward, fixing the boy with a hard gaze. ‘Have you ever smelt the stench of death? Have you ever seen a man with his guts hanging out and still living or a man with his face shot away? Have you watched a friend die of gangrene?’

The inevitable happens, the King’s forces are defeated and Daniel finds himself alone, wounded and a prisoner. He doesn’t know if his brother is alive or dead or what his fate will be.

Exile’s Return opens in the last months of 1659. Oliver Cromwell is dead and there is a glimmering of hope of a restoration of the monarchy.

No longer the callow youth who dreamed of glory and honour, Daniel Lovell steps off a boat onto English soil for the first time in eight years. Scarred physically and emotionally, all his frustration has been channelled into one cause—to kill the man he believes responsible for the woes of the Lovell family.

He has been told his beloved brother Kit is dead. He doesn’t know if his mother and sister are still alive or living in the ruins of the old family home. Nothing is as it should be. He is quite literally a stranger in a familiar land. The only thing grounding him is his quest for revenge.

This is where the trope can take you in two different directions…either the stranger must come to terms with the changes in his world or he must move on.

As to how Daniel makes sense of this now unfamiliar world, where nothing is quite as it should be, and reconciles himself to his past, is not for me to say…I am afraid you have to read the book to find that out!


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The breath-taking conclusion to Alison Stuart’s English Civil War trilogy introduces a heroine with nothing left to lose and a hero with everything to gain…

To mark the end of the Guardians of the Crown series, you can enter a contest to win some Guardians of the Crown swag. To enter just click HERE.

 

December Recipes – Chili Prawn Masala

by Alison Stuart

My family’s favourite ‘get together’ food are curry lunches with everyone contributing their favourite dish to the table.  I lived the early part of my life in Kenya where there was a large Indian population and one of my earliest memories is the smell of spices in the Indian ‘bazaar’.  In more recent years I lived for 3 years in Singapore where I expanded my repertoire of curry recipes through the teaching of a genial Indian lady, Kirti. This is one of Kirti’s recipes and now a firm family favourite.

While it is not exactly ‘seasonal’, I think it would do very nicely on a Christmas table. Apart from the essential ingredient being prawns, its tomato base gives it a gorgeous colour.

KIRTI’S CHILI PRAWN MASALA

(for 3-4 people – I always make double quantities)

Ingredients:

  • 500g unshelled green prawns
  • 2 large onions (cut lengthwise)
  • 2 medium tomatoes (cut into wedges)
  • 1 tsp of tomato paste
  • ½ tsp ginger paste
  • ½ tsp garlic paste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ¾ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ to 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • ¾ tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste
  • lime or lemon juice to taste
  • 1-2 tblsps coriander leaves (chopped)
  • 3 tblsps vegetable oil

Method:

  1. Deshell and clean prawns, leaving tails intact (I buy the frozen packets of green prawns and defrost them). Wash and pat dry. Marinate with salt and ¼ tsp of turmeric powder.
  2. In a heavy based pan, fry the onions in oil until they change colour. Add the garlic and ginger paste,  crushed garlic and the chilli powder.
  3. Add in the salt, turmeric powder, tomatoes and tomato paste and fry well. You may cover the pan and cook on a low flame for 5 mins so that the tomatoes will get soft.
  4. When the masala is aromatic and richly coloured, add in the prawns. Keep on stirring until the prawns are well coated with the onion and tomato mixture.
  5. If mixture is too dry, add water. Stir and then allow the dish to simmer by covering and cooking on a low heat. Cook for around 10 minutes. DO NOT OVERCOOK THE PRAWNS.
  6. Lastly stir in the garam masala powder and turn off flame. Sprinkle with lemon/lime juice and garnish with coriander leaves.
  7. Serve with rice or Indian bread.

25081

The second in a tantalising trilogy from award-winning author Alison Stuart, about warriors, the wounds they carry and the women that help them heal.

Feed Your Readers: September New Releases!

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A Cinderella story about mothers and movie stars, mud boots and Manolo Blahniks, and dreams that do come true.


25081 (1)

The second in a tantalising trilogy from award-winning author Alison Stuart, about warriors, the wounds they carry and the women that help them heal.


Available Now!

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An all-access pass to Sex, Love, and Rock ‘N Roll. Because what happens on tour doesn’t always stay on tour
KM Golland kicks off Secret Confessions: Backstage with a story about a guy having a bad day, a girl who can help him out, and the naughty things two fans can get up to in an isolated stairwell. 


Available 10 September

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An all-access pass to Sex, Love, and Rock ‘N Roll. Because what happens on tour doesn’t always stay on tour

Eden Summers explores just what one fan will do to get Backstage…

An Interview with an Anti-Hero…Kit Lovell from Alison’s Stuart THE KING’S MAN

You met him in By The Sword; you saw him fall at the Battle of Worcester. It is now 1654, three years since the fateful battle of Worcester. Let’s take a moment to have a chat with Kit Lovell, a friend of Jonathan Thornton’s, where he’s been for the last three years – and if he can ever forgive himself…

AS: It’s 1654, England has been under the rule of Oliver Cromwell for the last three years, and things are looking pretty grim for the supporters of the late Charles Stuart and his son, currently in exile in France. I have with me one of the King’s most loyal supporters, Christopher Lovell.

KL: Please call me Kit, everyone does.

AS: I believe things have been tough for your family since the defeat of the royalist cause, Kit?

KL: They certainly have, Alison. My father and I took the royalist side in the wars of 1642-1648. Father died in the defence of our home and I went into exile. Most of the estate has been sold off and my step mother and my sister live in the ruins of the family home. I send them what money I can make off gambling and …other means, whenever I can, but I’m afraid I’ve not been very much help to my family.

AS: What became of your brother, Daniel, who followed you to the Battle of Worcester?

KL: I don’t wish to talk about Daniel. He was lost at the battle of Worcester in September 1651. Stupid young fool thought he would follow in my footsteps. Not particularly worthy footsteps to follow in! My step mother blames me of course…

AS: So what have you been up to since the battle of Worcester?
KL: Oh, I spent an uncomfortable few months as a prisoner but managed to escape. Since then I’ve drifted between Paris and London, trying to make whatever money I can to keep body and soul together and a decent pair of boots on my feet.

AS: I hear you have something of a reputation with the ladies?
KL: Now don’t believe everything you hear, Alison. It’s true I have managed to land a wealthy widow as a mistress who keeps me in the manner to which I am accustomed and obligingly gives me the time I need for my other occupation.

AS: Which is?
KL: Cards and, oh yes, planning the overthrow of Cromwell’s regime and the restoration of the King.

AS: Any success?
KL: Well, I’m very good at cards but every plot to overthrow Cromwell is foiled by that master of spies, John Thurloe. Cromwell picked a wily man as his Secretary of State. Trouble is it’s hard to know who’s in Thurloe’s pay and who can be trusted these days! Even the most loyal of the King’s men may have good cause to turn coat. Let’s talk about women…that’s my favourite subject…


AS: You told us about your mistress, do you have any other women in your life?
KL: I take it you are referring to that infuriating music teacher, Thamsine Granville? I rue the day I ever saved her life!

AS: What happened?
KL: The stupid girl had just lobbed a piece of rock at the Cromwell’s coach. If she’d been caught…well I shudder to think what would have become of her.

AS: Why would she have done such a thing?
KL: Thamsine is like me, the flotsam of war. Her family also paid a price for supporting the King. In her case she found herself thrown out of her home and living off the streets of London. If I hadn’t saved her that day she would have been forced into prostitution just to keep herself alive. Now I’m stuck with her.

AS: What do you mean?
KL: Look, my life is… complicated. I’ve got a job to do and she’s a distraction I don’t need. I’ve got the girl some work at an inn, what more does she want?

AS: You, perhaps?
KL: I don’t want romantic attachments, Alison. Anyone who gets involved with me is just going to get hurt. I use people for my own ends and she may find she’s no different.

AS: What do you mean you “use people”?
KL: Is that the time? I really must get going. My friends are meeting at the Ship Inn and I’m expected. Perhaps I will see you there?


Read Kit and Thamsine’s story in The King’s Man by Alison Stuart. Available now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo and all good ebook stores (Click HERE for a complete listing)

To celebrate the release of The King’s Man, Alison is running a Rafflecopter contest with the prize of a Kindle e-reader.

To enter click this link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0d923dde5/?


25081The second in a tantalising trilogy from award-winning author Alison Stuart, about warriors, the wounds they carry and the women that help them heal.

London 1654: Kit Lovell is one of the King’s men, a disillusioned Royalist who passes his time cheating at cards, living off his wealthy and attractive mistress and plotting the death of Oliver Cromwell.

Penniless and friendless, Thamsine Granville has lost everything.  Terrified, in pain and alone, she hurls a piece of brick at the coach of Oliver Cromwell and earns herself an immediate death sentence. Only the quick thinking of a stranger saves her.

Far from the bored, benevolent rescuer that he seems, Kit plunges Thamsine into his world of espionage and betrayal – a world that has no room for falling in love.

Torn between Thamsine and loyalty to his master and King, Kit’s carefully constructed web of lies begins to unravel. He must make one last desperate gamble – the cost of which might be his life.

Try one of Escape’s Rising Stars of Romance – for Free!

Apple iBooks Australia is promoting the Rising Stars of Romance for the next two weeks, and many Escape Authors are featured. The best part? You can get the first book in one of their series for free!

Most of these titles are also free on Amazon AU. So check them out!

House on Burra Burra Lane – Jennie Jones

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Just ten days after her fresh start in the isolated Snowy Mountains, Samantha Walker trips over a three hundred pound pig and lands in the arms of Dr. Ethan Granger — and the firing line for gossip. It was hardly a ‘date’ but sparks of the sensual kind are difficult to smother in a community of only 87 people. Now there’s a bet running on how long she’ll stay and what she’ll get up to while she’s in town.

Ethan has his own issues — Sammy’s presence in his childhood home brings with it painful recollections of family scandals and a bad boy youth. When the gossip around them heightens, his life is suddenly a deck of cards spread on the table for all to see. Then Sammy’s past catches up with her… and it looks like all bets are off.

(iBooks)
(Amazon AU)


In Safe Hands – Lee Christine

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She thinks she needs him, but she doesn’t know the secrets he keeps…

Threatened with the publication of naked photographs taken in her law student days, defence attorney Allegra Greenwood enlists the help of former SAS Commander Luke Neilson, unaware of his involvement in her brother’s death in Afghanistan.

In a race to stop the photographs appearing on the Internet, Luke battles a hidden enemy, his growing feelings for Allegra, and his conscience, which demands he protect a fallen comrade’s sister. As the stakes increase and more sinister motives unfold, Luke not only has to fight to save her career, he has to fight to save her life.

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Treasured Secrets – Kendall Talbot

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From Romantic Book of the Year winner Kendall Talbot comes an adrenaline-fuelled new series with sexy characters, exotic locations, and action-packed adventure.

The last place Rosalina expected the clue to a 700-year-old mystery to lead is back into the arms of Archer, the one man who broke her heart. But neither can solve the puzzle without the other, so together they set off on a new adventure, weaving from Tuscany’s underbelly to Archer’s luxurious yacht in the Greek Islands, trying to ignore the sparks that still fly unhindered between them.

Archer desperately wants to salvage the relationship he shattered years before, but fighting for Rosalina’s love soon takes a back seat to fighting for their lives. They aren’t the only one on the trail for the treasure, and their competition isn’t bothered by ethics and morals to achieve their goals. With evil close on their trail, and Archer wrestling with the remnants of a childhood tragedy, Rosalina begins to wonder if perhaps there are some secrets that were never meant to be revealed.

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A Life Worth Living – Amanda Canham

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For lovers of Marion Lennox and Fiona Lowe comes a sweet, touching novel about secret desires and second chances, set in the intriguing world of sleep medicine.

Dr Cameron Lewis has been running from his past for a long time, so when a career opportunity opens up in his hometown of Brisbane, he takes it as a sign to move home and pick up the pieces of his life. But his vow to never have a child remains steadfast — it’s the one thing he can’t compromise on.

Nurse Stacey Carter has always craved a family of her own, and, following a bitter divorce and the death of her mother, she finally decides to make her dreams come true. She doesn’t need a man to help, but she can’t help thinking that the new doctor in the Sleep Medicine ward might be the ideal alternative…

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Bound By Her Ring – Nicole Flockton

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Luciano Morelli has perfected a plan to get revenge on his runaway wife; confronting her at the opening gala for her father’s hotel. What he didn’t plan on was the flaring of emotions the moment he sees her again.

Jasmine Anderson has no memories of her husband. Her only link to him is the wedding rings she wears. Luciano storms back into her life announcing he is her husband, demanding she join him on a business trip or see her father’s livelihood crumble.

Passion reignites as they rediscover what first drew them together. But more than just memories are lost. Can their bond be rebuilt or will secrets infect their already shattered trust?

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The Chieftain’s Curse – Frances Housden

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Nominated for the 2014 RITA Award for Best Historical Romance
Euan McArthur is a chieftain in need of an heir.

While still a young a warrior, Euan incites the fury of a witch. She retaliates with a curse that no wife will ever bear him an heir. As he buries his third wife and yet another bonnie stillborn son, Euan can no longer cast her words aside.

Morag Farquhar is a woman in need of sanctuary. With a young relative in tow, Morag flees the only home she has ever known to escape her brother, Baron of Wolfsdale, and find sanctuary in the MacArthur stronghold. Pronounced barren by a midwife, Morag is of little value to her family, but a Godsend to Euan, a lover he can’t kill by getting with child.

Years ago, chance drew them together, and tangled their lives in ways they could never have imagined. This time their destiny lies in their own hands, but it will take courage and strong hearts to see it through to the end.

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Insecure – Ainslie Paton

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The worst thing a man can do is not be with the woman he loves.

She could have him sacked quicker than licking her lips. He could ruin her reputation with an email.

Jacinta was the CEO in waiting. Mace was the geek from IT. She had an office suite on the top floor. He worked in cubicle hell.

She had power, influence, her life mapped out. He had big dreams, and an appetite for risk.

They had one hot night written all over them, except the city conspired to turn that night into a weekend of unexpected passion and deep connection.

Will love be enough when Jacinta’s star falls and Mace’s dream takes flight, or will ambition, expectation and insecurity pull them apart?

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By The Sword – Alison Stuart

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From award-winning author Alison Stuart comes a stirring historical trilogy about soldiers, spies, and the strong women that love them. 

England 1650. In the aftermath of the execution of the King, England totters once more on the brink of civil war. The country will be divided and lives lost as Charles II makes a last bid to regain his throne.

Kate Ashley finds her loyalty to the Parliamentary cause tested when she inherits responsibility for the estate of the Royalist Thornton family. To protect the people she cares about, she will need all her wits to restore its fortunes and fend off the ever-present threat of greedy neighbours.

Jonathan Thornton, exiled and hunted for his loyalty to the King’s cause now returns to England to garner support for the cause of the young King. Haunted by the demons of his past, Jonathan risks death at every turn and brings danger to those who love him. Finding Kate in his family home, he sees in her the hope for his future, and a chance at a life he doesn’t deserve.

In the aftermath of the Battle of Worcester, Jonathan must face his nemesis, and in turn, learn the secret that will change his life forever. But love is fragile in the face of history, and their lives are manipulated by events out of their control. What hope can one soldier and one woman hold in times like these?

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The Secret Diary of Lady Catherine Bexley – Viveka Portman

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In the vein of Portia Da Costa and Charlotte Featherstone, Regency England gets just a bit raunchy in this novella about a gently-raised lady who wants to feel like a woman…

“I have never seen fit in my life to divulge my secrets in a diary, yet now, after today’s proceedings, I do…”

Lady Catherine Bexley is new to marriage and the marriage bed, but surely there must be more to it than this? Her husband is proper and perfunctory — treating her with careful respect but leaving her aching for more.

When she witnesses a gentleman disciplining a maid at a house party, the ache explodes into ravenous desire. She finds herself no longer willing to wait for her husband’s stiff and passionless attentions — and soon develops a naughty plan to finally get what she wants.

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Words Once Spoken – Carly Drake

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YA meets high fantasy in this lush series debut about a girl who never quite fit in — and the reason why…

Evelyn might not love the confines of her village life, but she takes her small freedoms where she can get them. But everything changes when her parents decide it’s time for her to wed. Suddenly she loses her tunic and breeches, her bow, her horse, and gains rigid gowns, restrictive manners, and carriage rides.

The best way to escape is through her dreams, but as they become more and more real, Evelyn begins to worry that she is losing her grasp on reality. It is only when she makes two new friends that the truth is revealed: she is destined for far, far more than even she could imagine.

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King Hall – Scarlett Dawn

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A fresh, meaty, sink-your-teeth-in-and-hold-on-tight new adult fantasy series kicks off with King Hall…

King Hall — where the Mysticals go to learn their craft, get their degrees, and transition into adulthood. And where four new Rulers will rise and meet their destinies.

Lily Ruckler is adept at one thing: survival. Born a Mystical hybrid, her mere existence is forbidden, but her nightmare is only about to start. Fluke, happenstance, and a deep personal loss finds Lily deeply entrenched with those who would destroy her simply for existing — The Mystical Kings. Being named future Queen of the Shifters shoves Lily into the spotlight, making her one of the most visible Mysticals in the world. But with risk comes a certain solace — her burgeoning friendships with the other three Rulers: a wicked Vampire, a wild-child Mage, and a playboy Elemental. Backed by their faith and trust, Lily begins to relax into her new life.

Then chaos erupts as the fragile peace between Commoners and Mysticals is broken, and suddenly Lily realises the greatest threat was never from within, and her fear takes on a new name: the Revolution.

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Legend Beyond the Stars – SE Gilchrist

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Seeking redemption from a mission gone terribly wrong, Captain Alana Knight volunteers to aid a dangerous operation to transport colonists between Earth and alien traders. But on board the spaceship, she learns of a galactic war raging for power. A power that can be transformed into a terrible weapon.

When the colonists are betrayed and sold, Alana’s mission is re-defined. Nothing will stop her from keeping those in her care safe and finding a passage home. But her new captor is nothing like she expects…

Commander Tarak El Rajan is human, male and equally determined to retain his payload. With his race on the brink of extinction he is under strict orders to transport all females to the planet Isla for research purposes.

In a world of uncertainty, where the wrong decision could mean the death of an entire race, the last thing either of these two soldiers expects or needs is to fall in love.

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Out of Rhythm – Shona Husk

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They might be one of the hottest up-and-coming bands in Australia, but the members of Selling the Sun have a lot to learn about life, love, sex, and each other.

Coming off a successful Australian tour and prestigious industry award nominations, Gemma Field’s life should be perfect. Instead her parents want her to get a real job, the second album isn’t coming together, and her best friend, Kirsten wants nothing to do with her.

Falling for her best friend was never going to make life easy. After an almost accidental drunken kiss almost six months ago, they aren’t even talking. Gemma can’t even talk about it with anyone – not her family, not her bandmates, not even the one person she used to share everything with. Instead she lives in a space of indecision and pain, and it’s affecting all aspects of her life, including the band.

Kirsten Vincent missed Gemma like crazy, but did she miss her as a friend or as something more? She’s confused and Gemma is hurt, and the consequences of a bad decision will affect more than their personal lives. Will another kiss, a sober kiss, a kiss with intent, do more damage, or could it be the start of something more?

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The January Wish – Juliet Madison

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From Escape’s queen of ro-magic comedy comes a sweet, emotional contemporary romance about the pleasures of making a wish and seeing it come true.

When Dr Sylvia Greene makes an impromptu wish at the Tarrin’s Bay Wishing Festival, it’s the most out of character action she can think of. Hers is not a life of wishes. Hers is a controlled life of order, plans and preparation…of science and research and diagnosis and treatment. But her past has been weighing on her mind, and decisions made long ago have far-reaching consequences.

A week later, the daughter she secretly gave up for adoption at sixteen arrives in Sylvia’s small coastal town with secrets that can’t be shared. Between feelings of guilt, gossip, and a growing attraction to an emotionally unavailable colleague, Sylvia’s well-ordered life is soon thrown into chaos. She is no longer alone, and for the first time she feels as if her world is open to possibilities.

They say be careful what you wish for, but, for Sylvia, the unexpected consequences may be just what the doctor ordered.

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Children of the Mist – Jenny Brigalow

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An original paranormal YA about an unconventional girl, an unconventional boy, their extraordinary transformations, and the secrets of the Scottish Highlands.

When skater girl Morven Smith turns sixteen, she develops boobs, acute appendicitis…and a pair of pointy teeth. While she is stunned by her metamorphosis into vampire, her best mate, the enigmatic Zest, is not. For the young werewolf, Morven’s transformation is an answer to his lonely prayers.

But they are unable to celebrate their mutual paranormalcy for long — there are too many dangers, too much suspicion, and too many questions. It’s only in Scotland that Morven can learn the truth about her past. But she discovers more than she bargained for when she meets her birth family — an ancient feud between vampires and werewolves. They may both be Children of the Mist, but only one species can survive.

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Beckoning Blood – Daniel de Lorne

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A gripping,  blood-drenched saga about twin brothers, the men they love, and the enduring truth that true love never dies  — no matter how many times you kill it.

Thierry d’Arjou has but one escape from the daily misery of his work at a medieval abattoir — Etienne de Balthas. But keeping their love a secret triggers a bloody chain of events that condemns Thierry to a monstrous immortality. Thierry quickly learns that to survive his timeless exile, he must hide his sensitive heart from the man who both eases and ensures his loneliness…his twin brother.

Shaped by the fists of a brutal father, Olivier d’Arjou cares for only two things: his own pleasure and his twin. But their sadistic path through centuries is littered with old rivals and new foes, and Olivier must fight for what is rightfully his – Thierry, made immortal just for him.

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THE RED SILK CLOAK – A tale of Unrequited Love

by Alison Stuart

This is a sad story… and as you know, we like happy ever afters, but for the Honourable Orlando Bridgeman, that HEA was not to be…

I came across Orlando’s story in the Guards Museum in London (well worth a visit). With the National Army Museum being closed, the smaller museums around the UK were hosting different aspects of the Waterloo story and, of course, the Guards are inextricably tied up with the action at Hougemont Farm so there was quite a display about Waterloo. Tucked away in a glass case, and looking completely out of place in a military museum was a full length, woman’s red silk cloak and this is the story that accompanied it.

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Born in 1794, the third son of the Earl of Bradford, Orlando, as all third sons did, joined the Army and the age of 17 found himself as a young Ensign at the siege of Cadiz in Spain. Here young Orlando succumbed to a fever and was left behind by his regiment. Hurrying north to rejoin his regiment, he found himself caught up in action at the capture of Seville in August 1812. After the action he encountered a French Sergeant of Chasseurs who implored the honourable young man to help a wounded (and dying) French officer by the name of Marbet. Marbet, Orlando was told, had left his fiancee, Mademoiselle de Casteja, in Madrid and now with the English army moving north, Mlle de Casteja was alone and friendless in the midst of enemies. “Please,” Marbet begged, “Tell her of my fate and help her procure a pass through the British lines so she can return to Paris.” Orlando gave his word and as soon as he reached Madrid he sought out Mlle de Casteja.

Mlle de Casteja enchanted the young man and a ‘tendresse’ formed between the two. The safe pass was arranged and Mlle de Casteja left for Paris, leaving her red silk travelling cloak with Orlando as a keepsake, along with a request that he seek her out in Paris when the war was ended.

Three long years of war followed and with Napoleon’s return from Elba, the allies and French met once more at the decisive battle of Waterloo. Now Captain Orlando Bridgeman was there, as Aide de Camp to Sir Rowland Hill. Although wounded (not badly) he hastened with the allied forces to Paris, anxious to keep his promise to Mlle de Casteja only to find that not only had Marbet inconsiderately survived his wounds, he had been reunited with his love and married her.

It is said that Orlando had kept the red silk cloak with him for those three long years and had even worn it at Waterloo (the latter is dubious as not only was it impractical but showed little sign of having been in a battle of such magnitude).

Broken hearted, Orlando left the army and returned to England where, two years later he married an old friend, Lady Selina Needham. They had four children but sadly Orlando died at the age of 33.

Many of his letters survived and are contained in a book, A YOUNG GENTLEMAN AT WAR edited by Gareth Glover. For more about Orlando’s life, click here


20836 (1)Can the love of an honourable man save her from  the memory of a desolate marriage?

From the battlefield of Waterloo to the drawing rooms of Brantstone Hall, Sebastian Alder’s elevation from penniless army captain to Viscount Somerton is the stuff of dreams. But the cold reality of an inherited estate in wretched condition, and the suspicious circumstances surrounding his cousin’s death, provide Sebastian with no time for dreams — only a mystery to solve and a murderer to bring to justice.

Isabel, widow of the late Lord Somerton, is desperate to bury the memory of her unhappy marriage by founding the charity school she has always dreamed of. Except, her dreams are soon shattered from beyond the grave when she is not only left penniless, but once more bound to the whims of a Somerton.

But this Somerton is unlike any man she has met. Can the love of an honourable man heal her broken heart or will suspicion tear them apart?


Alison-web smallABOUT ALISON

Escape author, Alison Stuart is an award winning Australian writer of cross genre historical romances. Alison is a lapsed lawyer who has worked in the military and fire service, which may explain a predisposition to soldier heroes and men in uniform. If your taste is for duelling cavaliers, wayward ghosts, time travel and murder mysteries – sometimes all in the same book – Alison’s stories are for you. The second book in Alison’s GUARDIANS OF THE CROWN series for Escape, THE KING’S MAN will be released in September.