Friday 27 January 2012

Rosemary Morris: 'Tangled Love'


Nine year-old Richelda Shaw sat on the floor in her nursery. She pulled a quilt pulled over her head to block out the thunder pealing outside the ancient manor house while an even fiercer storm raged deep within. Eyes closed, remained as motionless as a marble statue.

Elsie, her mother’s personal maid, removed the quilt from her head. ‘Stand up child, there’s nothing to be frightened of. Come, your father’s waiting for you.’

Richelda trembled. Until now Father’s short visits from France meant gifts and laughter. This one made Mother cry while servants spoke in hushed tones.

Followed by Elsie, Richelda hurried down broad oak stairs. For a moment, she paused to admire lilies of the valley in a Delft bowl. Only yesterday, she picked the flowers to welcome Father home then arranged them with tender care. Now, the bowl stood on a chest, which stood beneath a pair of crossed broadswords hanging on the wall.

Elsie opened the great massive door of the great hall where Father stood to one side of an enormous hearth. Richelda hesitated. Her eyes searched for her mother before she walked across the floor, spread her skirts wide and knelt before him.

Father placed his right hand on her bent head. ‘Bless you, daughter, may God keep you safe.’ He smiled. ‘Stand up, child. Upon my word, sweetheart, your hair reminds me of a golden rose. How glad I am to see roses bloom in these troubled times.’

Richelda stood but dared not speak for she did not know him well.

Putting an arm round her waist, he drew her to him. ‘Come, do not be nervous of your father, child. Tell me if you know King James II holds court in France while his daughter, Mary, and William, his son-in-law, rule after seizing his throne?’

‘Yes, Mother told me we are well rid of King James and his Papist wife,’ she piped up, proud of her knowledge.

With a sigh, Father lifted her onto his knee. ‘Richelda, I must follow His Majesty for I swore an oath of allegiance to him. Tell me, child, while King James lives how can I with honour swear allegiance to his disloyal daughter and her husband?’

Unable to think of a reply, she lowered her head breathing in his spicy perfume.

Father held her closer. ‘Your mother pleads with me to declare myself for William and Mary. She begs me not to return to France, but I am obliged to serve King James. Do you understand?’

As she nodded her cheek brushed against his velvet coat. ‘Yes, I understand, my tutor told me why many gentlemen will not serve the new king and queen.’

‘If you remain in England, you will be safe. Bellemont is part of your mother’s dowry so I doubt it will be confiscated.’

If she remained in England! Startled, she stared at him.

Smiling, he popped her onto her feet. ‘We shall ride. I have something to show you.’


Before long, they drew rein on the brow of a hill. Father pointed at a manor house in the valley. ‘Look at our ancestral home, Field House. The Roundheads confiscated it soon after the first King Charles’ execution. Richelda, I promised my father to do all in my power to regain the property.’ Grey-faced, he pressed his hand to his chest. ‘Alas, I have failed to keep my oath,’ he wheezed.

Richelda not only yearned to help him keep his promise to her grandfather, she also yearned to find the gold and jewels legend said her buccaneer ancestor, Sir Nicholas, hid.

She waited for her father to breathe easy before she spoke. ‘If we found the treasure trove you could buy Field House.’

‘Ah, you believe Sir Nicholas did not give all his plunder to Good Queen Bess,’ he teased.

‘Elsie told me legend says he hid some of his booty in Field House.’ The thought of it excited her. In his old age, when Sir Nicholas retired from seafaring, is it true that he put his ship’s figurehead, Lady Luck, in the great hall?’

‘Yes, for all I know she is still above a mighty fireplace carved with pomegranates, our family’s device.’

‘I would like to see it.’

‘One day, perhaps you will. Now, tell me if you know our family motto.’

‘Fortune favours the brave.’

‘Are you brave, my little lady? Will you swear on the Bible to do all in your power to regain Field House?’

To please him and excited by the possibility of discovering treasure she nodded.

About Rosemary Morris
Historical Novelist

From an early age Rosemary Morris wove stories. At school her favourite subjects were History and English Literature. Since leaving school and college she has immersed herself in reading historical novels and researching history.
 She has now reached the point at which she has so many novels and reference books crowding her house that if she wants to buy a new one she is forced to consider getting rid of one. However, her birthday present – a kindle – will help to solve the problem.

In between writing, Rosemary spends time with her family, who live nearby. She enjoys visiting places of historical interest such as St Albans Cathedral and Hatfield House. She also enjoys needlework and knitting as well as her organic garden, in which she grows fruit, herbs and vegetables that she puts to good use in her vegetarian cuisine. Time spent gardening and cooking provides time to plan her novels.

Rosemary's books are available from MuseItUp Bookstore, Amazon US (Kindle, Print) Kindle Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble, Bookstrand - Mainstream, Sony e-reader, Kobo and Smashwords.
Please visit Rosemary's website at and her blog at

Thursday 26 January 2012

Warm Up Your Winter II - 'The Snow Bride' now at Amazon

She is Beauty, but is he the Beast?

Elfrida, spirited, caring and beautiful, is also alone. She is the witch of the woods and no man dares to ask for her hand in marriage until a beast comes stalking brides and steals away her sister. Desperate, the lovely Elfrida offers herself as a sacrifice, as bridal bait, and she is seized by a man with fearful scars. Is he the beast?

In the depths of a frozen midwinter, in the heart of the woodland, Sir Magnus, battle-hardened knight of the Crusades, searches ceaselessly for three missing brides, pitting his wits and weapons against a nameless stalker of the snowy forest. Disfigured and hideously scarred, Magnus has finished with love, he thinks, until he rescues a fourth 'bride', the beautiful, red-haired Elfrida, whose innocent touch ignites in him a fierce passion that satisfies his deepest yearnings and darkest desires.

Now out at Bookstrand Publishing 2011
Order here.

Now out at Amazon, too!
Buy the ebook:

Amazon Kindle (US)
Amazon Kindle (UK)

Read Chapter One

Here is another new excerpt to tempt you:

Elfrida stirred sluggishly, unable to remember where she was. Her back ached, and the rest of her body burned. She opened her eyes and sat up with a jerk, thinking of Christina.

Her head felt to be bobbing like an acorn cup in a stream, and her vision swam. As she tried to swing her legs, her sense of dizzy falling increased, becoming worse as she closed her eyes. She lashed out in the darkness, her flailing hands and feet connecting with straw, dusty hay, and ancient pelts.

“Christina?” she hissed, listening intently and praying now that the monster had brought her to the same place it had taken her sister.

She heard nothing but her own breath, and when she held that, nothing at all.

“Christina?” Fearing to reach out in this blackness that was more than night and dreading what she might find, Elfrida forced herself to stretch her arms. She trailed her fingers out into the ghastly void, tracing the unseen world with trembling hands.

Her body shook more than her hands, but she ignored the shuddering of her limbs, closed her eyes like a blind man, and searched.

She lay on a pallet, she realized, full of crackling, dry grass. When she scented and tasted the air, there was no blood. She did not share the space with grisly corpses.

I am alone and unfettered. Now her heart had stopped thudding in her ears, she listened again, hearing no one else. Chanting a charm to see in the dark, she tried again to shift her feet.

Light spilled into her eyes like scalding milk as a door opened and a massive figure lurched across the threshold. Elfrida launched herself at freedom, hurling a fistful of straw at the looming beast and ducking out for the light.

She fell instead, her legs buckling, her last sight that of softly falling snow.

* * * *

Magnus gathered the woman before she pitched facedown into the snow, returning her swiftly to the rough bed within the hut. Her tiny, bird-boned form terrified him. Clutching her was like ripping a fragile wood anemone up from its roots.

And she had fought him, wind-flower or not. She had charged at him.

“I wish, lass, that you would listen to me. I am not the Forest Grendel, nor have wish to be, nor ever have been.”

Just as earlier, in the clearing where he had first come upon her, a brilliant shock of life and color in a white, dead world, the woman gave no sign of hearing. She was cold again, freezing, while in his arms she had steamed with fever. He tugged off his cloak and bundled her into it, then piled his firewood and kindling onto the bare hearth.

A few strikes of his flints and he had a fire. He set snow to melt in the helmet he was using as a cauldron. He swept more dusty hay up from the floor and, sneezing, packed it round the still little figure.

No beast on two or four legs would hunt tonight, so that was one worry less. Finding this lean-to hut in the forest had been a godsend, but it would be cold.

Magnus went back out into the snow and led his horse into the hut, spreading what feed he had brought with him. He kept the door shut with his saddle, rubbed the palfrey down with the bay’s own horse blanket, and looked about for a lantern.

There was none, just as there were no buckets, nor wooden bowls hanging from the eaves. But, abandoned as it surely had been, the place was well roofed, and no snow swirled in through the wood and wattle walls. Whistling, Magnus dug through his pack and found a flask of ale, some hard cheese, two wizened apples, and a chunk of dark rye bread. He spoke softly to his horse, then looked again at the woman.

She was breathing steadily now, and her lips and cheeks had more color. By the glittering, rising fire he saw her as he had first in the forest clearing, an elf-child of beauty and grace, a willing sacrifice to the monster. Kneeling beside her, he longed to stroke her vivid red hair and kiss the small dimple in her chin. In sleep she had the calm, flawless face of a Madonna of Outremer and the bright locks of a Magdalene.

He had guessed who she was—the witch of the three villages, the good witch driven to desperation. Coming upon her in that snowfield, tied between two trees like a crucified child of fairy, his temper had been a black storm against the villagers for sparing their skins by flaying hers. Then he had seen her face, recognized that wild, stark, sunken-cheeked grief, seen the loose bonds and the terrible “feast,” and had understood.

Another young woman has been taken by the beast, someone you love.

She—Elfrida, that was her name, he remembered it now—Elfrida was either very foolish or very powerful, to offer herself as bait.

Lindsay Townsend

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Review: Theodora Goss, 'The Thorn and the Blossom'

Theodora Goss
The Thorn and the Blossom: a Two-Sided Love Story
Quirk Books, 2012
ISBN: 978-1594745515

Reading The Thorn and the Blossom is an intriguingly different experience from the usual. The reader chooses whether to begin with Brendan's story, or to turn the book and begin with Evelyn.

I began with Brendan's story. My first delighted surprise was how the book itself behaved - it opened like an accordion. On one side you can read from one character's viewpoint, then you can turn the book over and read from the other protagonist's point of view. The whole book is beautifully produced, with heavy paper and lush illustrations, making reading it a very satisfying and tactile experience.

Each summer, Brendan works in his father's bookshop in the Cornish town of Clewes , a place he has lived all his life but one which no longer feels like home to him now that he is studying literature at Oxford . One day he encounters a striking, auburn-haired young woman in the shop and they introduce themselves - Brendan and Evelyn.

Brendan asks Evelyn to walk with him to a local circle of ancient standing stones called Gawan's Court - a place where, according to legend, the Arthurian knight Gawan and Cornish Queen Elowen had fought giants and fallen in love before being parted by a giantess's curse. While at the circle. Brendan sees Evelyn briefly as the tragic Queen Elowen. He dismisses the brief vision as unimportant, but is attracted to Evelyn and arranges to meet her again. This time they spend the week together and Brendan becomes convinced he is falling in love with the young American.

But there are obstacles. Evelyn will be leaving soon, returning to Boston , and there is a strange mystery about her. When Brendan kisses her, she reacts as if in horror and flees. She gives no explanation and Brendan is desolate.

Brendan puts his life back together. He completes his degree in medieval literature, finishes a translation of a long Cornish poem of 'The Tale of a Green Knight' - a Cornish version of Gawan and Elowen - and meets and marries another woman, Isabel.

Tragedy strikes again. Isabel is terribly injured in a riding accident and left in a deep coma. While she is still in this state in hospital, Evelyn reappears in Brendan's life when she applies for a college post where he also teaches.

They meet and resume a relationship, and this time it is consummated. Brendan makes a mistake, however, in not telling Evelyn about Isabel or her tragic condition. When Evelyn learns about Isabel and sees her in a coma, she flees again.

Will he win her back?

To learn if he does, I turned to the other half of the story, Evelyn's version.

Evelyn is fey. She sees the spirit world, including green men and fairies, and is deeply affected by it. Knowing this makes her behaviour more sympathetic and understandable, as it is suggested that she and Brendan are 'playing out' the love of Gawan and Elowen, only in a modern setting.

Both sides of the story end optimistically, with the hope that Brendan and Evelyn will defeat the curse that blighted Gawan and Elowen.

'The Thorn and the Blossom' is written in the style of a fable, with a lot of telling rather than showing. Despite this and despite feeling that the relationship between Brendan and his wife Isabel was rather under-developed, I found the story to be involving and rewarding - at times I almost felt to be inside the pages of a beautiful medieval manuscript.

It is a haunting, original read, if rather short, and I can certainly recommend it.

Lindsay Townsend

(Review of a copy sent unsolicited from the publisher.)

Tuesday 10 January 2012

To Gain What's Lost out now.

To Gain What's Lost is set in Victorian Yorkshire and is my latest release!

She thinks her life has changed for the better, her dark secrets hidden, but little does she know…
The daughter of a wealthy landowner in Yorkshire, England in 1864, Anna Thornton leads a privileged life. But she is not content. She wants her life to mean something and longs to be accepted for the free-thinking, independent woman she is. When the dashing, adventurer Matt Cowan sweeps her off her feet, she thinks she has finally met her soul mate. However, he’s not the man he seems to be. After he sails for South America, leaving her behind in England, Anna discovers she’s pregnant. Heartbroken she flees her family home, determined to keep her child’s illegitimacy a secret.

He has a few dark secrets of his own…
Brenton O’Mara is a strong, independent man who wants to make his own way without relying on his father’s wealth. He comes to Anna’s new home looking for work and convinces the reluctant woman to hire him. But Anna's wary of men, of love, and treats him as nothing more than the penniless laborer she believes him to be. Then, just when Anna seems to feel she is getting on with her new life, and Brenton believes he has a chance with her, the past rears up to confront them. Can Brenton and Anna learn to trust each other, or will they let yesterday destroy tomorrow?

Available in Kindle and paperback from various sources like

Thursday 5 January 2012

The Snow Bride - Two lovely reviews!

She is Beauty, but is he the Beast?

Read Chapter One

Read Reviews:

The Celtic Rose

Ms. Townsend's tale of these two lonely people joining forces to track him to his lair is non-stop, rich and lyrical. Her voice is distinctive, her writing style a delight, and the ending is both satisfying and promising in that a sequel would be possible. 4 Celtic Roses.

Sizzling Hot Book Reviews

The Snow Bride is and entertaining medieval love story, one of my favorite kinds. I enjoyed that Magnus is willing to woo Elfrida by treating her as an equal, no matter how hard it is for him to do. They have their ups and downs as they learn each other, leading to confusion and doubt on occasion. Both are well rounded, sometimes stubborn and proud characters, and willing to give and take to work together to rescue Elfrida’s sister. I enjoyed the glimpses of life at a noble’s castle, the look at the peasant’s and villages life styles. The banter between Magnus and Elfrida was entertaining, as was the growing love between The Snow Bride and Magnus. 4 Hearts.

Buy the ebook:


Lindsay Townsend

Monday 2 January 2012

2012 The Sad and The Good

One Year On

This time last year I was mourning the death of my mother at the age of one hundred. Although the last years of her life were impaired by macular vision and hearing loss, she remained mentally alert. When asked how she was, Mum always replied she was amongst life’s lucky ones because she had a lovely flat in a retirement home, good health compared to many others and sufficient money as well as a loving family. ‘Some people of my age,’ she said, ‘have no one and others have families who scarcely keep in touch.’

Mum’s last birthday was on Boxing Day, 2012. She enjoyed her party and took pleasure in her card from the Queen. On the night of the 28th she left her body in her sleep.

I still miss her very much but am not selfish enough to wish she had lived on suffering from ill health.

My nine year old grandson write this moving tribute to her, which the teacher did not dare to read to the class for fear she would cry.


Why do people have to die?
Why can’t they stay with us forever?

When Mum and Dad told me Great Grandma had died
It felt as though all the happiness had been sucked out of the world by a giant black hole.
My heart had completely deflated.
No one can describe death.

If me and my dad and all the people who came for my great grandma could build a ladder to get her down
We really truly would.
Nobody can describe death.

In the church at the funeral, sadness on everyone’s faces,
My heart was in my boots,
It was like despair had taken over.
It was like the world was black.
Tears filled my eyes as people said all the kind things my great grandma had done.
I fought hard to keep them back.
But hearing all the good things she had done my heart filled like a champion weight lifter pushing it up.
Nobody can describe death.

Death creates a big black hole in you but you can fill it up with happy memories of the person that died.
But still…Nobody can describe death.

When he read it to me over the phone, tears welled up in my eyes, but I restrained my grief, remembering a quotation from the translation of The Bhagavad-Gita As It Is by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. “As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death.

This year I have achieved so much that my mother would have been pleased with. Three of my novels will be published in 2012. I have had two articles, first Baroness Orczy, and then The Scarlet Pimpernel, and a third, Samuel Pepys, will also be published in 2012 by Vintage Press.

I’m fortunate to be able to have children and grandchildren who I love dearly, to write historical fiction and articles and to garden organically. As Mum advised me, I’m counting my blessings.

My garden’s been very productive this year. From the time the rhubarb was ready to eat to now, when I have herbs and vegetables – Swiss chard, New Zealand Spinach, parsnips, turnips, red and green kale, brussel sprouts, – in the garden - carrots, marrows and pumpkins stored in the garden shed, and home grown veggies and fruit in the freezer, I have been at least 60% self-sufficient. The only disaster was the fate of 40 kilos of home grown potatoes stored in Hessian sacks in the garden shed which mice nibbled. They even nibbled the sacks!

Hopefully, 2012 will be happy for all of us, and I wish you all a healthy and prosperous New Year in which all your dreams come true.

Rosemary Morris
Historical Novelist

New releases from MuseItUp.
Tangled Love 27th January 2012.

Sunday’s Child June, 2012.
False Pretences, October 2012