Our Favourite Governesses – Ranked

by Elise Clarke

Elise Clarke, author of the upcoming delightful Regency read My Lady Governess that you NEED IN YOUR LIFE, looks at the top ten governesses, both real and imagined!

  1. Jane Eyre

    Who doesn’t love Jane Eyre? Sent away as an unloved orphan, Jane famously advertises to become governess to the turbulent Mr Rochester, and shows she is more than his match. “Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!”

  2. Charlotte Bronte (and Emily and Anne)

    All three Bronte sisters were sent to be governesses. All three of them hated it; one pupil threw a Bible at the pocket-sized Charlotte, who is thought to have used this humiliation in Jane Eyre.

  3. Becky Sharp, the protagonist of Vanity Fair


    A ruthless social climber who uses governessing to work her way up from nothing, Becky might not be sympathetic but she has a formidable brain.
  4. Marie Curie

    She worked as a governess to raise funds for her education. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person to win twice, and the only person to win in two different sciences for her pioneering work in radioactivity.

  5. Maria von Trapp

    The would-be nun who became governess to Captain von Trapp’s children, then married him, formed a singing troupe and escaped from Nazi Austria. Her story was immortalised in The Sound of Music.
  6. Selina Trimmer and Lady Elizabeth Foster

    They did not get on. Both governesses for the Duke and Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, although since Elizabeth was also the Duke’s mistress and later his wife, it was very awkward. (pic of Lady Elizabeth only, none of Miss Trimmer)

  7. Anna Leonowens

    In 1862, Leonowens, an educationalist, became governess to the King of Siam’s 82 children, a position she held for 6 years. She earned great respect and remained in correspondence with the next king for many years. Her experience was immortalised in the film The King and I.

  8. Agnes Grey

    Anne Bronte’s governess heroine. Anne was a governess for five years, and her portrayal of the position is dark, although after many tribulations Agnes finds her happy ending with Mr Weston.

  9. Madame de Maintenon

    She went to Versailles as governess of Louis XIV’s illeitimate daughter, where she spoke to Louis XIV as an equal, which he came to like, and grew to have great influence over him. In 1683, at 48, she married Louis in a secret ceremony; he referred to her simply as ‘Madame’.

  10. Mary Wollstonecraft

    Founding feminist who wrote Vindication of the Rights of Women. As a governess, she was said by one pupil to have ‘freed my mind from all superstitions’. Her daughter Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein.

32514One knight, one runaway heiress, one rollicking romance:  A breath of fresh air in Regency romance!

Proud and haughty, Lord de Waare is almost as medieval as his castle…until he accidentally abducts a governess, who turns out not to be a governess at all, and who shows this knight that his heart is not as armoured as he thought.

A girl with a dangerous past, Marina would happily disappear again, but since de Waare won’t let that happen, then the least he can do is help her clear her name. But moving back into society is dangerous for her and for the stern man she’s coming to love. She knows the rules of honour and society, and she won’t allow de Waare to compromise the principles that define him.

But de Waare didn’t become the Crusader by accepting defeat. Faint heart never won a fair lady, and de Waares always win.

My Lady Governess is available for pre-order now!

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The Romance Reader’s Survival Guide to the Apocalypse

by Annabelle McInnes

Congratulations! While you were tucked up in bed reading, you managed to survived the apocalypse. Nuclear war has wiped out humanity or maybe it was a resurgence of the bubonic plague. Ninety-five percent of the world’s population has been wiped out, infrastructure has collapsed, as well as any capable and cohesive government. Somewhere, somebody is trying to resurrect the world, but right now, that’s not your concern. Survival is.

You’re a romance reader, you know the deal, your dashing hero or heroine are on their way. But you’re also a woman of the modern age, so you don’t need anyone to save you. But your survivalist skills are a little rusty. How are you going to survive? Or more importantly, what are you going require from day one? I’ve provided a list of the top ten requirements for romance readers to survive the apocalypse.

  1. Water

Water is your number one priority; you won’t live long without it. It’s a nuclear wasteland out there and luckily for you, you’re immune to the radiation poisoning. You can’t drink the water and you’re thirsty from wandering degraded highways. You want a filtration system that is easy to use and lasts a long, long time. There are “straws” on the market that filter waterborne bacteria and protozoa from liquid. You might have to deal with skin irritation from the radiation burn, but at least you won’t have parasites.

  1. Keeping warm

Next you’re going to need to keep warm, until you can snuggle with your honey to share body heat. A tent is good, but heavy to carry and time consuming to put up. Staying warm is key, no matter what time of year it is. An emergency bivy, otherwise known as an ultra-light sleeping bag, reflects your body heat back towards you and will keep you toasty and warm. They can be rolled up into a compact bag, are waterproof, windproof and made to completely protect you from the elements.


Image source: https://www.massdrop.com/buy/sol-escape-lite-bivvy

  1. Food

So you have water, you’re warm, now you’re hungry. A gun might seem like the go-to weapon, but once ammunition begins to run dry with all the outlaw gangs hoarding it, you are going to need to think outside the box. But you don’t have the upper body strength to lug around a crowbar or an enormous cross bow like Daryl from the Walking Dead. A strategic scavenger hunt can get you a Sling Bow that is compact enough to fit into a hip bag. That’s right, a quick-fire Sling Bow that is small, mean and able to take out local wildlife for your dinner. You might be a hard-core mean survivalist of the apocalypse, but that does not mean you need to fall into clichés.


Image Source: http://slingbow.com/product/slingbow-hunting-package/

  1. Fire

You have caught a rabbit. You’re also a badass, so you have gutted and skinned it too. Now how are you going to cook it? You need a fire starter. The best thing about fire starters is that you don’t need to break the bank (as money is no longer required). All you will need to find is a rod and striker made from flint and you can have up to 25,000 strikes. That’s a lot of fire, and a lot of cooked rabbits.

  1. Protection

Just when you thought you had yourself sorted, everyone begins to rise from the dead. And you’ve only just cooked your rabbit! You don’t want to waste those precious rubber bands and “deathballs” that came with your Sling Bow to kill them. The solution needs to be lightweight, durable, easy to use in confined spaces, and effective. What about a multifunctional hatchet blade? Sounds impressive? It is. This baby can chop wood to keep you warm and has several other functions including a can opener, folding saw, glass breaker, strap cutter, pry bar, hammer, hex wrench, spanner and wire twist. Plus, it’s great at killing zombies. This thing is so handsome and versatile, who needs a lover in combat boots and dark fatigues when you can do it all yourself? In fact, you should probably get one for the home right now!

  1. Medical Kit

You have beaten off the zombie. High five! But you’re sprained your ankle from that Karate move you haven’t performed since primary school (it was really cool though). You need a first aid kit. There are a plethora of options out there, but what you want to look for when you’re raiding that pharmacy is a wound management module. These kits are ideal for high risk environments (zombie apocalypse anyone?) and focus on wounds and breaks. They’re compact, lightweight and relevant to your current circumstances.

  1. Entertainment

Look at you go! Only a few months ago you were spending your free time reading romance novels, now you’re hunting and killing your own food and fighting off zombies off like a pro. You’re so competent that you now have a bit of free time, and the lover of your story still hasn’t shown up yet (but will!). So what do you do to while away the time? You’ve hoarded a few paperbacks, but they’ve become repetitive. You will need a pack of cards. Snap might not be an option, but solitaire? Remember the hours you wasted in the early days of Microsoft? You can have that again! In physical form! You’re welcome.


Image Source: https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/514747432386045473/?lp=true

  1. Hygiene

Your true love is going to turn up any day now, you can feel it. You’re going to impress with your new skill set, naturally, and together, you’re going to be an awesome pair of survivalist. But, you still want your hair to be brushed, and maybe have clean teeth. Personal hygiene is an important element of staying alive. If you get an abscess in your mouth, it won’t matter how good you are at killing rabbits if you can’t eat them because of the pain. A toothbrush and comb set is an easy and light option to carry around.


  1. Backpack

You have all this stuff now, and you’re only going to have more. On your next food raid, you will find that elusive can of peaches, you just know it. You’ll need something to put it all in so a backpack will be essential. It needs to be water resistant with multiple compartments for keeping all your belongings separate in case of an emergency. You don’t want to mistake your hairbrush for your bladed hatchet when that zombie surprises you. It will also need an internal frame, a padded hip belt, shoulder straps and lumber support. Don’t be fooled by the big ones either (pun intended), loot a bag that is proportional to your body.

  1. Love

Your true love is here! And just as handsome as you imagined. Though you don’t need help (because you’re awesome) it’s nice to have company. Unsurprisingly, their intentions turn heated, and you have the same ideas. But before jump in your makeshift bed together, remember, don’t just fall for rugged good looks, chiselled abs and strong biceps. Your love interest has to respect you, care for you when you need it and be suitably awed at all of your amazing new skills. Don’t let them talk you down or push you around. That attitude was pre-plague.

You might be the last people on Earth, but doesn’t mean you have to settle.

That’s it! Remember to keep smiling and look after yourself out there!


  1. Lifestraw
  2. SOL Emergency Bivy
  3. Chief AJs Survival Fanny Pack
  4. Fire Starter
  5. Liltucker
  6. Major Wound Management Module
  7. Hygiene Kit
  8. How to Choose a Backpack: Expert Tips for Finding the Right Size, Fit, and Features

32434 (1)They thought they’d found a refuge, but the battle for survival has only just begun…

Surrounded by the destruction of the human race, Euan, Nick, and Kira find solace in one another, making their underground bunker a haven and a home. Sheltered under layers of steel and cement, they should be safe, but danger isn’t always kept outside — sometimes the enemy is within.

When their electronic warning system detects intruders, Euan and Nick must investigate. Outside, they discover the true terror that is approaching, and Euan must make a terrible decision: stay or go. To stay is to watch the only people he loves perish under the weight of pure evil. To leave is to face his certain death to protect them and potentially save humankind.

Despite all his preparation, skills, and strength, Euan knows that each decision carries the risk that he could destroy them all.

The second book in the Refuge Trilogy.

Fractured Refuge releases 12 November: iBooks, Booktopia, Google, Nook, Kobo, Amazon AU, Amazon UK, Amazon US

True Refuge is available now: iBooksBooktopiaGoogleNookKoboAmazon AUAmazon UKAmazon US

Exclusive Excerpt 2: By the Currawong’s Call


A small town, a new arrival, and a love that is as undeniable as it is unlawful…

‘You kissed her.’ Matthew was surprised to let the words out. They’d been searing little troughs of ugliness into his mind for at least the past hour, as time ticked longer into the evening, but he hadn’t planned on giving actual voice to them.

Jonah looked up at him as he removed his shirt and flung it on top of his jacket. ‘Well, technically,’ he said, ‘she kissed me.’ For a moment, it looked like he was about to grin, but the expression died before any of his features could commit to it.

Matthew swallowed and tried to keep his breathing calm. His memory flashed back to the kerfuffle in the main road that afternoon, how firmly Jonah took control of the situation, soothing the giant horse and catching Miss McMillan in his arms as she swooned. How obviously and understandably impressed she must have been with the gallant policeman who’d come to her aid. Of course she kissed him.

Jonah swore softly at his boots as he fumbled with them. He unbuckled his holster and laid the gun and baton on the table. Onto his trousers next, he swiftly unbuttoned them and slid them down his legs and off, letting them fall over the back of the chair with the rest of his uniform. He steadied himself against the table and lifted first one foot and then the other, removing his thick woollen socks and haphazardly stuffing them into the tops of his empty boots.

‘You were her dashing hero today,’ Matthew said softly, his words coming out on a shallow sigh. ‘Just like you were my dashing hero during the fire.’ He looked at Jonah standing before him in nothing but his union suit. ‘I of course understand her compulsion in wanting to kiss you for it.’ He tried to say it as dispassionately as he could muster.

Jonah squared his shoulders, standing his ground there beside the table as he took in Matthew’s words. ‘I hope you remember,’ he said, ‘when you kissed me in yer sacristy that day, how when you went to pull away, I grabbed at ya and dragged ya back in for more?’ Matthew stayed silent, so Jonah went on. ‘Just want you to know, alright? When she pulled away? I let her.’ And with that, Jonah turned his back and walked over to the washstand.

Beneath his crossed arms, Matthew’s heart banged a tremulous staccato, letting Jonah’s quietly defiant statement sink in. He watched, in the dim light, as Jonah bent at his washstand, brushing his teeth. Such a mundane act, yet it was an action Matthew had never before seen him perform. The casual intimacy of the moment, of the fact Matthew was sitting here in Jonah’s cottage, on Jonah’s bed, the knowledge that the two of them were actually about to sleep in the same room together for the entire night, even wake up in one another’s company – it all suddenly felt momentous.

‘I thought you might’ve slept with her,’ he said toward the fire.

‘I might’ve done,’ came the gruff response. ‘Hell, six months ago, I would’ve done. But with the way things are now…’

Marsland’s pen is playful but there are some serious questions asked. What is a hero? What does courage really look like? What are the shapes of true love? It’s refreshing, too, to read an erotically charged romance that’s not all about the sex.”
– Kim Kelly, Historical Fiction Author


By the Currawong’s Call is available for pre-order now and releases 20 November.

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Exclusive Excerpt 2: Exposed


Before you can heal, you must accept that you’ve been broken…

Eden dropped to the dew-dampened grass, tugging her long sleeves down to cover her frigid fingers.

Dan clicked away at the camera, the only sound disturbing the rural tranquillity. After a while, she forgot he was there, and she embraced the majesty of the view. When was the last time she’d simply sat and been mindful? Grateful that she hadn’t died that day, when others hadn’t been so fortunate? She pulled crisp, earthy air into her lungs, exhaling as she allowed her gaze to trace the jagged horizon, which was backlit by a sky streaked with orange and pink.

The movement of Dan repositioning the tripod for a different shot drew her back to a different kind of view, no less spectacular. Syrupy warmth spread through her veins, heating her limbs from the inside.

Lightweight cargo pants hugged his taut backside as he stooped over the tripod, and his wide shoulders bunched under his t-shirt as he lifted his hand to manually focus the lens. Who knew cameras like that still existed? The breeze lifted his hair, revealing the grey at his temples and the lines fanning out from the eye he scrunched closed while he concentrated.

He pressed a few buttons, turned a few dials and then joined her on the grass as the first rays of the day’s sun rose above the mountains.

She hesitated to break the silence she’d found. ‘Won’t you miss it?’ A whisper.

He shrugged, his eyes never leaving the display Mother Nature put on for them. ‘I don’t want to miss seeing it in person. He flashed her grin, ‘And I’ve set the automatic timer.’ He draped his arms over his bent knees, his hands clasped between them. ‘Shh, Archer. Just watch.’

She surprised herself by doing as she was told, although had it been an exam she’d have failed. For her, the splendour of the view was surpassed by the vision of Dan watching the sunrise with rapt attention. She couldn’t tear her eyes away.

Exposed is available for pre-order and releases October 4.

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Friday Five: Nicola E Sheridan

2212Author: Nicola E. Sheridan
First published with Escape: 2013
Favourite romance trope: Paranormal / Urban Fantasy
Ideal hero (in three words): Powerful, strong, and magical
Ideal heroine (in three words): Awkward, compassionate, funny
Latest book: A Warlord’s Lady
Next book: The Magician’s Keeper

What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?
I won a highly recommended ‘best first novel’ in a writing competition in 2009, and that made me think that perhaps I could try and get something published. So I gave it a go and was fortunate enough to be taken on. I write romance because I love the feeling romance provokes, it is what I call hopeful literature, which focuses on the good things in life.

What is your writing power-up?
Watching a good television series always inspires me, it’s something about how the protagonists interact, the feelings they evoke, good or bad, it just makes my imagination go wild and I feel inspired to write after watching a good series. Grimm is currently one of my favourites.

What kind of characters do you like reading about the most?
I like reading about characters whose connection is intense, but vaguely awkward. I need realism in my reading, I want to feel that the romance is real.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? Do you have one already?
My little mascot would be my dog Terry, he’s a rescue and I’ve never known an animal so utterly devoted to me, he follows me everywhere and will sit at my feet for hours.

Nicola E. Sheridan (2)

Where is your favourite place to write?
Even though I have an awesome book lined study in which to write, I much prefer writing at my dinner table in the middle of my house. I feel more connected there, and I can watch the world go by from the window.

Nicola E. Sheridan (1)

32437A brand new steamy paranormal romance about learning to love all of yourself.

In a world where people judge one another by exacting standards of size and style, being a big girl like Eudora Splat was never going to be easy.

Though trouble is brewing between magic folk and human purists who would see them all destroyed, Dora, a half-giant, tries to eke out a quiet, unnoticed life for herself, but it’s hard to be subtle when you’re over seven feet tall.

Losing her job as a gardener due to human complaints, Dora is recruited as a prison guard, where she’s enlisted to protect the magician Evander “Bear” Gordon from human purist attack. Bear encourages her to embrace her power and celebrate her heritage, introducing her to a world where she can be extraordinary and not just weird.

But after years of hiding and shying away, can Dora find the strength to grab onto a new life — and hold on to the man she’s falling in love with?

Pre-order now!

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Exclusive Excerpt 1: Exposed


Before you can heal, you must accept that you’ve been broken…

Look, Eden—’

Eden masked a sigh and pointed to the surname embroidered above the pocket of her sweatshirt. ‘I prefer Archer.’ She kept her gaze averted as she located the earphone jack and fumbled it into her phone, a tricky manoeuver hindered by her left hand being concealed within the sleeve of her sweater.

Dan shifted in his seat, turning to face her. ‘Since I’m not going to be your doctor, I thought we could get to know each other.’

She made eye contact, refusing to blink away the burn from the sincerity that shone from his open face.

His smile widened. ‘You know, as we live near each other and will be spending quite a bit of time together over the next month.’ He shrugged, a move that made him seem boyish for a split second. ‘We could train together, support each other …’

At last her silence infected him, halting his pleasant and reasonable speech, every word of which scored her eardrums until she contemplated hurling herself from the moving bus. She was tempted. After all, what he offered made sense, and the army had taught her team building played a massive part in the success of challenges such as the one they’d undertaken. If Dan had been less appealing, perhaps she’d have jumped at the chance. But the stirring of her attraction to him meant she couldn’t go there.

 ‘Thank you. But I’m happy to train alone. I’m afraid I’m not really good company these days.’ The words tasted poisonous. The familiar rush of shame washed through her, purging any residual chemistry she felt towards this man. It was for the best.

She wasn’t strong enough to make new friends. Didn’t dare contemplate anything beyond friends. And Dan, she could tell, embodied exactly the kind of man she’d once coveted. She ignored the slight droop of his warm friendly smile and the dulling of his eyes.

Okay.’ His gaze flitted to the window of the now moving minibus, and he took another sip of coffee. She’d just reached for the second earbud when he said, ‘So what prompted you to volunteer for the challenge?’

Clearly she’d have to be more direct. ‘I’m on sick leave from my post. I hate being idle, and this is a great way to rebuild my fitness. Look, I’m not great with superficial conversation. I’m really only doing this to complete the challenge and resume my career.’ A moment’s hesitation gripped her, paralysing her vocal cords. He was simply being polite, friendly.

But she was determined to keep her objective simple. Complete the challenge, take her certificate from Scale and resume active service as soon as possible.

No distractions.

No complications.

No sexy doctor friends.

Exposed is available for pre-order and releases October 4.

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Bi-Visibility: Highlighting Some Favourite Bi-Characters

by Welton B Marsland

(Editor’s Note: September 23, Bi-visibility Day, has been marked each year since 1999 to highlight biphobia and to help people find the bisexual community)

Writing my novel, By the Currawong’s Call, it was important to me that I show the character of Jonah Parks as quite obviously bisexual. Even after falling in love with a man, he continues to admire women and female sexuality – I was determined to avoid the bi-erasure that’s all too prevalent in popular culture. Often, the fluidity of human sexuality is ignored in favour of absolutes (television, in particular, seems most fearful of the simple little word “bi” and rarely brings itself to acknowledge it).

As September is Bi Visibility Month (with September 23rd Bi Visibility Day), I’d like to celebrate four unabashed bisexual characters from screens large and small.

Alec Scudder

Appears in: Merchant-Ivory’s adaptation of E.M. Forster’s classic novel Maurice


Played by: Rupert Graves

In both book and movie, Alec Scudder, a working class gamekeeper, is there long before we or Maurice notice him. He emerges from the narrative slowly and naturally, making us blink and wonder how we could possibly have missed him – Maurice must have felt the same way. Scudder is truly one of my favourite characters in all of literature, so brave and determined and self-accepting. The sacrifice he makes for love, for the possibility of “a happier year” is awe inspiring. D.H. Lawrence may have created a more famous gamekeeper over a decade later, but Forster’s is the one that makes my breath catch.

“First time I see’d you, I thought, I wish I had that one. And it is so.”


Appears in: Spartacus TV series


Played by: Ellen Hollman

Many TV shows over the years have used a bisexual female character to quickly and cleanly tick a diversity box. They just seem so much more palatable and non-threatening, don’t they? Wonderfully, there is nothing in the least bit “non-threatening” about Saxa, a slave from Germania freed by Spartacus’ growing army to become one of its most formidable warriors. Saxa approaches her love life with the same fearlessness she approaches a battlefield, and yet still retains her capacity for tender moments. She lives large, like most of the Germanic characters in Spartacus, never shrinking from anything.

“I rival any fucking man.”

the Earl of Rochester

Appears in: the movie Plunkett & Macleane


Played by: Alan Cumming

The real Earl of Rochester wrote bawdy verse and outraged Georgian society with his hedonistic lifestyle. This Rochester doesn’t pen any poetry, but quips and puns his way through this rollicking romp, holding his own amongst highwaymen and villains, and wishing he was holding someone else’s. With an eloquent smirk and an eye as sharp as his dress sense, this Rochester believes in justice and friendship and is prepared to draw his sword on a bad guy in order to save the day.

“I swing EVERY way.”


Appears in: long-running TV series Supernatural


Played by: Mark A. Sheppard

King of the crossroads, the Demon King of Hell, Crowley is a slippery character. What his true sexuality is might be anyone’s guess (do demons truly even have one?), but he’s certainly an equal-opportunity flirt and takes great delight in procuring those seal-the-deal kisses from desperate souls. One of the few Supernatural characters who seems to see everything that’s going on, even the unspoken and unacknowledged, and isn’t afraid to make a pointed remark about it. Friend? Foe? Fuckbuddy? Only Crowley himself could ever know for sure.

“Your choice. You can cling to six decades of deep-seated homophobia or, just give it up.”

32275A small town, a new arrival, and a love that is as undeniable as it is unlawful…

Victoria, Australia, 1891

Anglican priest Matthew Ottenshaw receives his first posting in tiny Dinbratten, two days’ ride from his Melbourne home. Determined to honour his calling as best he can, he throws himself into the footy mad, two-pub town, navigating the dusty streets, learning the gossip, and striking up a friendship with Jonah Parks, the resident police sergeant and local bona fide hero.

A police officer and a priest often find themselves needed at the same place, and Jonah and Matthew’s friendship deepens quickly, as they set about their business of protecting the bodies and souls of Dinbratten’s residents. When a bushfire threatens the town, and Matthew’s inexperience with fire endangers the church buildings, Jonah comes to the rescue, and a reckless kiss in the midst of the chaos takes their friendship to forbidden.

Neither Matthew nor Jonah can go back to the way things were before, but continuing their relationship puts everything at risk: their jobs, their friends, even their lives. In the outback town of Dinbratten where everyone knows everything about everyone else, how can they ever expect to keep a secret this explosive?

“Told with an old-fashioned, authentically Australian wink and a smile – including even a couple of laugh-out-loud japes – By the Currawong’s Call is also a tale with a very timely message: people in love will marry whether it’s legal or not.” – Kim Kelly

“By the Currawong’s Call is warm and sweet and sympathetic and respectful, with skilled and lovingly descriptive prose. A really satisfying read for a rainy day when you want to feel like there is love and hope even through trying times.” – Plain B, NetGalley

“Stars: five, Its a story to savour, a book to re-read later and had an epilogue I loved.” – Jeannie Z, Reviewer

“This was beautifully written and full of love and hope.” – Ashley B, NetGalley

By the Currawong’s Call is available for pre-order now.

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A Bullet and a Family Legend

by Renee Dahlia

Inspirations for stories come from many places, seemingly random connections between two unrelated events. In Pursuit of a Bluestocking is the second book in the series, and all through the first (To Charm a Bluestocking), Marie was engaged to Bertrand, boring, bland Bertrand. A story about him is uninspiring, and therefore the challenge was laid down. How could I craft a story that makes him not boring?

I delved into the family legends and plucked out the story of the bullet, gave the bullet to a much more illustrious person, the Duke of Nemour (who has the unfortunate place in history as the first general killed by a bullet). Throw in a few curve balls, a boxing champion hero, and a villain who manipulates everything, and Marie’s tale, In Pursuit of a Bluestocking, was born.

My family legend occurred one hundred and forty years ago, in 1877, at the Battle of Shipka Pass between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. One of the soldiers for the Russians was my great-great-great uncle Pavel who was a member of the Russian Imperial Guard. By 1863, aged 22, he was commander of a rifle battalion, and took part in the suppression of the Polish Uprising in 1863. This photo was taken in that year.


Concerned about the atrocities that the Turks were committing against Christians living in the regions of what is now Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro, Tsar Alexander II declared war on the Ottoman Empire on 24 April 1877. Pavel’s unit fought in the attack led by the Russian General Radetsky on 27 December, but unfortunately, he was shot in the leg during the battle. After the bullet was removed in an army hospital, Pavel returned home to St. Petersburg in January 1878. He recovered well enough to walk with a crutch, but in March, Pavel succumbed to infection and died aged 37. In a rather gothic decision, the bullet was made into a keepsake with a gold cage placed around it. The details of the battle were inscribed into the gold, and on the base, the family crest was engraved. Or at least, that’s what the family legend said.

Last year, when my father was researching the story, he rang his cousin, and asked, “should I include the story of the bullet? Is it real?” 

Of course, it is real. It is sitting on my desk in front of me.”

pavels bullet

The newspaper reports at the time are full of overt racism that many modern day readers ought to feel uncomfortable with, such as these excerpt from The Times on 19 July 1877:

There lay men who had been wounded or unwounded prisoners in the hands of the Turkish ‘gentlemen,’ who had foully murdered and mutilated them, showing thus that they are savages as cruel as any in Africa or India.

On the one side [Russia] civilization, rough if you will, but still civilization, based on the precepts of Christianity; on the other side [Turks] barbarism and the worse than bestial ferocity of cruel men.”

It is no wonder that when the British Empire fought the Ottoman Empire at Gallipoli less than 40 years later, during WWI, that they severely underestimated the ‘savage Turks’. The ANZAC tradition came from that battle, while the 1877 battle at Shipka Pass created a new country. The Ottoman Empire lost badly to the Russians, which enabled Bulgaria to be liberated and form their own country.

You can learn more about the battle here.

32236When he goes hunting a thief, he never expects to catch a bluestocking…

Marie had the perfect life plan: she would satisfy her father’s ambition by graduating as one of the first female doctors in Europe, and she would satisfy her mother’s ambition by marrying a very suitable fiancé in a grandiose society ceremony. Only weeks away from completing the former, Marie is mere days away from achieving the latter. But her whole life is thrown into chaos when her fiancé dies, mysteriously returns, and then is shot and killed, and Marie risks her own reputation to save the life of the man falsely accused of the murder.

Gordon, Lord Stanmore, finally tracks down the conman who stole from his estate, only to find himself embroiled in a murder plot. The woman he rescues offers to rescue him in return, by marrying him and providing an alibi. Gordon’s ready agreement to the scheme grows the more time he spends with his new wife. Her wit, her intelligence, her calm, her charm: Gordon finds himself more and more enchanted with this woman he met by mistake. But as the clues to the identity of the murderer start to align with the clues to the thief, they reveal a more elaborate scheme than he could have imagined, and though he might desire Marie, Gordon is unsure if he can trust her.

As their chase leads them out of Amsterdam and into the UK, both Gordon and Marie must adjust to the life that has been thrust upon them and decide if marriage came first, can love come after?

Pre-order In Pursuit of a Bluestocking now!

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Not caught up on the series? Grab book 1To Charm a Bluestocking!


Exclusive Excerpt 1: The Modern Woman’s Guide to Finding a Knight


All’s Faire in love and war…

I’m all right,’ she tried to reassure him, wishing her voice would stop sounding so tremulous. ‘You saved my life.’

I think I might have done. Thank god I decided to take Cleopatra out before the tourney.’ With his free hand, he tried to unclasp the visor that covered his face. ‘Dammit, it’s stuck again,’ he muttered, sounding slightly muffled through the visor of his full-face helmet.

They both looked downhill—the empty horse float’s rapid descent had come to a stop at the bottom of the hill with an enormous crash, but with no one in the way. Faire officials were running from the far side of the jousting lists to look at the horse float. Another group had run down from the top of the hill. Several of them were shouting and pointing at Connie and her rescuer. The knight waved and flashed them a thumb-up sign to indicate they were all right.

I probably better go,’ he said, jerking his gauntleted fist towards the understandably panicked faire staff. ‘They’ll need some help sorting this out. Some rank amateur must have been trying to park in the wrong place.’

Thank you so much,’ Connie said, barely taking in what was going on around her. Her heart was still hammering from the fright. ‘I looked up, and that thing was falling, and I couldn’t even think. I tripped over this bloody dress—too many damn petticoats—my boots caught. I feel like a total twit.’

The knight shook his head, as much as he was able to in the restrictive enclosed helmet. ‘Don’t. You aren’t. I don’t think that dress was made for making quick escapes from runaway vehicles in, lovely though it is.’

Seeing as I made it, I can tell you for a fact ‘quick escapes’ weren’t anything I thought about having to do while wearing this dress.’

You made it? That’s awesome—I mean,’ he amended, ‘my lady is most talented. And I’ve gone and ripped it like an uncouth knave.’

You saved my life, sir. I can fix the dress. My pride, however, is pretty badly bruised. Us damsels are expected to be self-rescuing these days.’

A laugh echoed inside the knight’s helm. ‘Don’t feel bad, my lady, we have a yearly quota of damsel saving we must meet, else they revoke our right to ride in the joust, and also our right to say ‘forsooth’ and ‘verily’. In truth, it is you who have helped me.’

The Modern Woman’s Guide to Finding a Knight is available for pre-order now, and will release 20 October 2017. One-click now!

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Exclusive Excerpt: In Pursuit of a Bluestocking


When he goes hunting a thief, he never expects to catch a bluestocking…

Spring 1888

Marie sat, head bowed, in the tiny red-brick church on the edge of the small village of Kleindorp. Her carefully constructed life plan lay in ruins. In only two days, the grandiose wedding ceremony that she’d spent two years helping her mother plan should have taken place. Instead, she sat at her fiancé’s funeral, unable to believe that Bertrand was dead. How could a simple accident take away all her dreams? Light shone at an angle through the side windows in the church, sending scattered streams across the aisle, creating shadows on the wooden pews. Dust motes danced in the light breeze that swirled in the empty space, much like the vacancy inside her. The Aanspreker droned on, and his voice echoed around the empty room. His words muffled in Marie’s ears against the clamour inside.

The final preparations for her extravagant wedding had been well underway when that fateful note had arrived from his sister, Loretta. Her dear Bertrand had been crushed by a wagon carrying fruit to market two days prior, and the funeral would be today. Guilt rose in her throat, and she rubbed her palm against her neck as she thought about how she’d spent more time with her mother on the wedding preparations than with him in the last week. Now the news of his demise seemed to appear out of nowhere. She’d left her mother and her two best friends—Josephine, now Lady St. George, and Claire—at her parent’s house in Amsterdam, surrounded by happy wedding clutter. Flowers and gowns and the like filled the room with the happy scent of love.

In Pursuit of a Bluestocking is available for pre-order now!

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