– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Christmas at Hembry Castle’ blogtour, organized by The Coffee Pot Book Club.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About the Author :
Meredith Allard is the author of the bestselling paranormal historical Loving Husband Tril-ogy. Her sweet Victorian romance, When It Rained at Hembry Castle, was named a best historical novel by IndieReader. Her latest book, Painting the Past: A Guide for Writing Historical Fiction, was named a #1 new release in Authorship and Creativity Self-Help on Amazon. When she isn’t writing she’s teaching writing, and she has taught writing to stu-dents ages five to 75. She loves books, cats, and coffee, though not always in that order. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Book Title: Christmas at Hembry Castle
Series: Hembry Castle Chronicles
Author: Meredith Allard
Publication Date: 1st December 2020
Publisher: Copperfield Press
Page Length: 120 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Victorian/Holiday
You are cordially invited to Christmas at Hembry Castle.
An unlikely earl struggles with his new place. A young couple’s love is tested. What is a meddling ghost to do?
In the tradition of A Christmas Carol, travel back to Victorian England and enjoy a light-hearted, festive holiday celebration.
Edward walked at his usual brisk pace along Barking Creek and the town wharf, an inlet of the Thames. The fishing port was not as prosperous as it once had been, but it still flourished, a bit. This area of East London had been little more than a slum before the reign of Her Majesty the Queen but now it had its own railway connecting it to London proper. The area had lost its tenements and gained the London office workers seeking less expensive but still respectable accommodations in the neat rows of terraced cottages. And there, at the north end of North Street, were the red brick semi-detached houses. The Ellises of Barking lived in one such semi-detached house on the north side of the north end of North Street.
He arrived outside his family’s home and paused near the door, his hand extended toward the knocker, hanging midair. Normally, he would be happy to be there, eager to see his younger brother and sister, happy enough to see his mother, and not entirely displeased to see his father since, if nothing else, George Ellis had an affable nature. He nearly walked away, Edward, back toward the wharf, back to his flat on Fetter Lane, back to Staton House, even back to Hembry Castle. Anywhere, Edward thought. Anywhere but here.
“Perhaps Daphne and I should emigrate to Canada,” he said.
The door answered by way of swinging open and Edward saw his very own sister Kate—since who else’s sister would it be?—with her arms open. Even in her green cotton tea dress, with her chocolate brown hair swept back into a simple chignon, Kate Ellis bloomed. Her scalloped green collar matched her eyes, greener than her brother’s, and she smiled as if the sight of Edward was the greatest gift ever.
“Edward Augustus Ellis! You never said you were coming. Why are you standing outside? It’s going to pour rain on your head any moment now. For heaven’s sake, come in!”
Edward shivered, realizing indeed it had grown colder since he arrived. He shook the mist from his overcoat and hung it on the rack while glancing around the small but tidy sitting room. The house struck Edward as rather dark with its mustard colored walls and the green papered wainscoting, the heavy oak furnishings, the shelves covered in bric-a-brac, the red and mustard rugs, and the white damask curtains pulled to one side. It looked, Edward thought, rather ordinary, and he admonished himself immediately for the thought.
“They’re not here,” Kate said. “Neither is Nathan. They’ve gone visiting at the Brookings’ but they should be home any time now.”
Edward looked at his sister, the very spit of him, as so many said. When they were younger they were mistaken for twins. Sometimes, when they were in a mischievous mood, they insisted they were indeed twins, gaining the instant admiration of their friends. He grabbed his sister’s hands.
“Kate, I have something important to tell you.”
“Is it something good? Heaven knows we need some good news around here.”
Edward pulled back. “What has he done now?”
“I’m only interested in your news, which is indeed good news if I can judge by the smile on your face.”
“Of course you’re engaged. To Christina Chattaway. Have you finally set the date?”
Edward groaned loudly enough to wake the orange striped cat who had been sleeping soundly on the wide arm of the chaise lounge. The cat grumbled with displeasure and disappeared around the corner.
“Oh, dear,” Edward said. “I thought I told you. Christina and I are no longer engaged. We ended it some months ago.”
Kate eyed her brother through squinted lids. “What did you do?”
“What did I do?”
“Yes, Edward Ellis. What did you do? Did you displease her? Did she grow tired of waiting for you when you were always working? Did you scare her away?”
“Yes. I mean no. I mean I met someone else and I fell in love. I didn’t mean to, but I fell in love.”
Edward expected Kate to protest. At the very least he expected a fist waved in his direction. Instead, Kate sat in rapt attention, her hands clasped on her lap like a child listening to an adventurous bedtime story wondering whatever would happen next.
“I will always care about Christina,” Edward said, “but I didn’t love her, not the way I love Daphne. Daphne is special, Kate. She’s beautiful and smart and kind and…”
“The truth is, Neddie, I’m not surprised. I never understood what you saw in Christina. She’s so quiet you’d hardly remember she was sitting next to you. But didn’t her parents complain? They could have sued you. They could have ruined your reputation and career. You could have been the subject for every gossiping old biddy in England!”
“Fortunately, the Chattaways never pressed charges. Daphne’s father talked Mr. Chattaway out of making my breach of promise public knowledge.”
“How did he do that?”
“I’m sure a bribe had something to do with it.”
“You’re lucky your future father-in-law was willing to help.”
“I’m very lucky, Kate. More than I have any right to be.”
Kate leaned close to her brother and grinned. “Her Christian name is Daphne, then? Does Daphne have a family name?”
“So how did you meet Miss Daphne Meriwether?”
“Lady Daphne Meriwether.”
“Lady Daphne Meriwether? Oh, Neddie! Grandmother and Grandfather work for the Meriwethers. You didn’t.”
“She loves me too, Kate.”
The Magic of Wor(l)ds