Friday 27 July 2012

Guest Post: Irina Shapiro

What would you do if suddenly confronted with something that undermines everything you believe about yourself and the world around you? Would you simply write it off or pursue it to the bitter end? A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, since it can change how we see ourselves and the people around us. Is it wiser to just ignore that little voice that tries to tell you that you’ve been here before or that the person you’ve never met seems strangely familiar? When faced with the choice, Cassandra allows her gut feeling to lead her down a strange path, one that changes her life forever.


When the skeletal remains of a young woman and her baby are found entombed behind the kitchen wall of a historic Tudor house Cassandra is overcome with grief. She seems to know who the young woman was, but not how she knows or how she came to be there. Cassandra becomes inexplicably drawn to the house and the mystery of the "Bones of Blackfriars." As she begins to learn the truth about the Thorne siblings who occupied the house during the reign of Elizabeth I, her own life takes an unexpected turn and she finds that her fate is linked to the Thornes in ways she never dreamed of.



Irina Shapiro was born in Moscow, Russia and for the next eleven years lived the life of an ordinary Soviet child, in then communist Russia, until her family’s emigration to the United States in 1982. Due to her love of reading Irina was able to pick up English very quickly and was an honor student throughout her school career. After graduating from Bernard M. Baruch College in 1992 with a Bachelor’s degree in International Business Irina worked in advertising for two years before realizing that long hours and low wages were not the life for her. She shifted her focus to Import/Export and worked her way up to the position of Import Manager in a large textile house before leaving the work force in 2007 to focus on her autistic son. It wasn’t until Irina had been at home for some time that she began to write. Eventually the characters began to take on a life of their own and have conversations in her head and once she started writing her musings down the stories came easily enough. Irina incorporated her love of history and travel into her writing to create a rich and detailed background for the characters. Since then Irina has written five novels. She is currently working on a sequel to “The Hands of Time.” Irina Shapiro lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children. 



Wednesday 25 July 2012

Smut by the Sea – Coming Soon!

I'm excited to announce that a seaside themed erotic and erotic romance anthology, Smut by the Sea, will be released soon. Edited by myself and my good friend Victoria Blisse, the anthology has several British seaside themed tales, as well as those from further afield. Here's the blurb:

Light hearted, sexy fun by the sea is the theme of this erotic anthology, edited by Victoria Blisse and Lucy Felthouse.
From the sun soaked bays of Australia to the rainy coastal towns of England, Smut by the Sea has it all. Whatever your interpretation of naughty seaside fun, there’s something nestling between the covers for you. Surfer boys, sea creatures, pirates and the fairground abound in this exciting collection of stories from erotica’s finest authors.

And here's a snippet from Dodging, my own contribution to the anthology:

The thrum of anticipation had been rushing through my body ever since we’d set off that morning. By the time we passed the sign welcoming us to Hunstanton and made our way into the long stay car park, I was almost delirious with excitement. The worst part was, I had to hide it from my friends. As far as Sophia and Chloe were concerned, we’d just come for a nice, fun, girly day out at the seaside. They had no idea about my ulterior motive. And I didn’t intend to tell them. Until afterwards, maybe. I didn’t want to risk them ruining my master plan, or trying to talk me out of it.
So far, it seemed like everything was on our side. The traffic had been light, we’d got a parking space with no trouble, and the sun was shining. It was a perfect day, and I had every intention of putting a cherry on top of all that perfection. A very sexy cherry.
Sophia parked the car, then hopped out to go and get a parking ticket. Chloe and I got out too, stretching our limbs after being cooped up in the car for a couple of hours.
“So,” I said, tilting my head back to catch the rays of the sun on my face, “what’s the plan then?”
“I dunno,” Chloe replied. “I’ve never been here before, you have. What do you suggest?”
“Well, there’s the beach, obviously. There are amusement arcades, mini-golf, the Sealife Centre, a few shops, the old village…”
I deliberately didn’t mention the funfair. That was my destination, and I wanted to go alone.
Sophia rejoined us and put the ticket in the windscreen of the car. “Got everything, girls?”
Chloe and I nodded, and she checked for valuables before locking the doors. “So, do we know what we’re doing yet? I guess we’ll be led by you, Abigail, since you’ve been here before. Did you say you’d visited with your parents, or something?”
I moved away from the car and started to walk down towards the seafront, though purposely leading the girls in the opposite direction to the funfair. They followed without question.
I nodded. “Yeah. We used to come here all the time for family holidays when I was younger, but now we mostly come on day trips. We last came a month or so ago. I was just telling Chloe what there is to do. There’s the beach, amusement arcades, mini-golf, the Sealife Centre, a few shops, the old village…”
“Ooh,” Sophia said, doing a little jump, “I love mini-golf! Do you fancy a game of that before it gets too hot, then we’ll go from there?”
Chloe nodded her agreement, and I said, “I’ll take you there, ladies, but I can’t play.”
“Why the hell not?” Sophia asked. “It doesn’t matter if you’re crap. I’m crap at it too, it’s just a laugh.”
“No, it’s got nothing to do with being crap, Soph. I have a bad back and swinging a club around and doing all that bending is just going to make it worse.”
It was a blatant lie of course. There wasn’t a thing wrong with my back, and I was actually a little gutted not to be having a go on the best mini-golf course I’d ever played on, but missing out was a necessary evil if I was to go through with my devious plan. If it came off, then the result would be a great deal more fun than a round of mini-golf, anyway.
Keep your eye on my website for release information and buy links.

In the meantime, why not add the anthology to your GoodReads to read list?

Also – there's a Smut by the Sea event coming next year. Check out the website for more details. The more, the merrier!

Monday 16 July 2012

Inspired by Britain by Grace Elliot

            Hello! My name is Grace Elliot and it seems appropriate visiting a blog titled "British Romance Fiction" to post about how British scenery provided the inspiration for my latest historical romance, "Hope's Betrayal."
            I love the Isle of Wight and it's a favourite bolt hole for me and my family. The irony is that I worked in Portsmouth for seven years, within sight of the island, and never once visited. It took moving to London and a dinosaur-mad son wanting to visit the newly opened Dinosaur World Museum in Sandown, IOW, for us to take our first holiday there, and now we go back at least once a year - but I digress!
            We stay on the coast near an area of notoriously treachorous shallows, where the beaches shelve for miles out to sea making navigation difficult at anything other than full high tide. It is only as the tide runs off that the hidden twisting channels are revealed, like silver-ribbons at twilight, and it is these hidden waterways that offered a passage for seasoned sailors over three hundred years ago. In the Britain of the late 1700's, the local fishermen knew these passages and it meant that if they turned to smuggling, they could run rings around the Revenue men who grounded their boats in pursuit.
            Even to this day, walking across the Duver out towards St Helens beach, you can still get a strong sense of the history of the place. It doesn’t take much imagination to walk along the causeway at nighttime with a torch and wonder at the skill and nerve of those fishermen who navigated the waterways in total darkness. And then there is the village green, with it's cluster of stone cottages where the fishermen of old used to live. If you are anything like me you can stare at them for hours, waiting for the stones to surrender their secrets.
            This wonderful setting comes with its own history and local folk lore - and that's where the inspiration for "Hope's Betrayal" came from. One local story is that a local girl, a fisherman's daughter, helped her father with his illicit smuggling. The Revenue men suspected him, but couldn’t prove anything so they stationed an undercover officer on the Island. But the story goes that the smuggler's daughter was so beautiful that the officer fell in love and when she was caught on a raid, he couldn’t bear to arrest her and let her go.
            The storyline to "Hope's Betrayal" was triggered by the idea of two people on opposite sides of the law falling for each other. The clash of morals would challenge and test their attraction, not to mention having a profound impact on their families and colleagues. The result is story about smuggling, human nature and…betrayal.

Book Blurb and buy links.

Hope's Betrayal (#2 The Huntley Trilogy.)

One wild, winter's night two worlds collide.

Known for his ruthless efficiency, Captain George Huntley is sent to stamp out smuggling on the south coast of England. On a night raid, the Captain captures a smuggler, but finds his troubles are just beginning when the lad turns out to be a lass, Hope Tyler.

With Hope as bait, the Captain sets a trap to catch the rest of the gang. But in a battle of wills, with his reputation at stake, George Huntley starts to respect feisty, independent Hope. Challenged by her sea-green eyes and stubborn loyalty Huntley now faces a new threat - his growing attraction to a sworn enemy. But a love where either Hope betrays her own kind, or Captain Huntley is court-marshaled, is not an easy destiny to follow.

Available from:

Amazon US

Amazon UK



Author Bio.

            Grace Elliot leads a double life as a veterinarian by day and author of historical romance by night. Grace believes intelligent people need to read romance as an antidote to the modern world. As an avid reader of historicals she turned to writing as a release from the emotionally draining side of veterinary work.
            Grace lives near London and is addicted to cats. The Elliot household consists of five cats, two teenage sons, one husband, a guinea pig - and the latest addition - a bearded dragon!

Social Links.
Grace Elliot (blog) "Fall in Love With History."

Grace Elliot website

Grace Elliot Facebook


Wednesday 11 July 2012

Barbara Elsborg: 'Girl Most Likely To'

I have a new book out today with Ellora's Cave - called Girl Most Likely To- it's an MMF menage. 

Wren doesn’t feel like the girl most likely to end up living happily ever after. Especially when Adam, aka THE BIG MISTAKE, comes back into her life. He wants a second chance but Wren’s afraid to risk another dent in her battered heart.

When Adam reconnects with Wren, he’s torn between wooing her and pursuing Tomas, the sexy guy in the flat next door. They both make his heart sing—how can he possibly choose? Or maybe he’s finally found a man and woman to give him the balance he craves.

Tomas knows better than to let his personal life interfere with his job as an undercover officer but he can’t get enough of Adam…or Wren. Or Adam and Wren, when they’re hot, naked and writhing together in his bed.

Suddenly Wren’s gone from the girl most likely to get ripped off to the girl most likely to get off. But it’s more than sex. She, Tomas and Adam have something special, something they’re determined to protect at all costs.

Sunday 8 July 2012

Reluctance by Jen Black

Blurb: Frances Bowes, the richest young widow in England, saves Jack Slade from drowning, but Jack, living in his own private hell after the death of his wife, isn’t at all grateful. Newcomer Holbrook dazzles the neighborhood in his glorious regimentals and Frances’s mother, match-making hat firmly in place, claims that he’s admirable husband material. Frances isn’t impressed, and when the newspaper publishes an ugly letter questioning her reputation, she realizes someone is trying to force her into something she definitely does not want.

 An absorbing tangle of emotions and a heart-rending denouement.



Jack could not breathe. A heavy weight pressed on his chest. A spasm clenched his body. He rolled to his side and vomited water onto the grass. Wheezing, he drew in a painful gulp of air, and got rid of more water. The pressure eased. He sprawled on his back.

“As if I am not wet enough,” a feminine voice remarked. “But I forgive you, for I thought you had left this world for a better place.”

Jack frowned. Who the blazes… Dizzy, half-conscious, he thought of Eleanor and opened his eyes. A blaze of sunlight made him close them again. Squinting, he made out a kneeling figure with a cloud of honey-coloured curls surrounding a pale face. His frown deepened. It was not Eleanor.

“Who are you?” he croaked. Lord, his throat was sore.

“How do you feel?”

Idiotic question, but he gave it thought. “Cold, bloody cold. My throat hurts. And my head aches. Who are you?”

The breeze struck the wet cloth of his shirt and plastered it against his skin. He shivered and saw his feet were in the river. He drew them back and found it took far more effort than he expected. No wonder he was cold. His shirt was naught but wet rags, his hair dripped water, and he suspected half of the river sloshed around inside his boots. He looked back at the young woman. The sun shone through her hair and gave her a halo of gold. He shivered again.

It was not Eleanor.

Pain hollowed his body as it always did when memory struck without warning. Struggling to hide his feelings and gain control of his muscles, he turned from the stranger and stared at the sky above the distant tree tops.

This was not London, but Streatham. He had come to the old house in the middle of May, and already a fortnight or more must have gone by. This morning he had set out to ride to Chopwell, and, lost in memories of his wife, had taken a wrong turn. He remembered riding like the devil. Something had unhorsed him.

“Where’s my horse?” He got an elbow beneath him and tried to rise.

Moving had been a mistake. The world whirled around him. When everything steadied, he glared at the dog, red and glossy as a conker, crouched beside him on the opposite side to the young lady. It whined and inched closer. “That damned dog unseated me.” He blocked its affectionate approach. “Stupid dog.”

“Stay, Gyp.” The dog looked at its mistress as if acknowledging her words, and then transferred its attention back to him. “Sir, have a little gratitude.” Her voice had turned frosty. “That noble creature helped save you from drowning.”

Jack glared at the dog. It was wet. Soaked, in fact. “It was your damned dog that put me in the water in the first place. It deserves all my displeasure and more. The animal is no more than a bloody nuisance. Get off!” He pushed away the beast’s probing muzzle.


The dog obeyed her with such a reproachful glance Jack might have laughed if he felt less like heaving his guts up again.

“Now, sir, tell me how you do.”

Her air of calm confidence rattled him. Jack contemplated the calm hazel eyes, pointed chin, and the swirling cloud of hair. An image of the long, slow, sinuous coils of honey falling from his breakfast spoon filled his mind.

He shook his head to clear it. Only Eleanor’s long black hair and laughing eyes would do for him.

She put out a swift hand to shield herself from cold water drops.

“Sorry,” he muttered. “God, I am soaked.” He plucked at the sodden tatters of his shirt and then gave up. It was beyond repair.

He smelled a faint flower perfume. It must come from her. Strong enough to survive the overpowering scents of grass, river water, and mud; it awoke memories of long, love-laden nights with Eleanor. Such things had ended with Eleanor’s death. He schooled his expression before looking up to meet the searching gaze of his companion. Her fichu had been knocked awry and a generous amount of bosom crowded into the neckline of her round gown. The kind of dress Eleanor favoured for a day at home when she expected no visitors; plain light cotton with double sleeves and silk ribbons, now wet and bedraggled, dangling from beneath her bosom.

Her voice broke in on his thoughts. “Sir, you must tell me how you feel.”

“As you might expect,” he snapped. “Cold, wet, and none too happy.”

She sat back on her heels. “There is no cause to be rude.”

“Your wretched dog was the reason for my upset.”

The woman raised one eyebrow. “Perhaps she did surprise your horse by leaping up the bank as she did, but really, sir, part of the blame must lie with you.”

“How the hell do you make that out?”

She smiled sweetly. “Because this is private land, and you should not be riding across it.”

Friday 6 July 2012

The Renaissance Betrothal

Popular since the Middle Ages, betrothal ceremonies frequently involved some sort of ceremony or symbolic act. This is believed to date back to the time of ancient Rome. In Anglo-Saxon England the joining of hands to seal the betrothal was common as we know from the term ‘handfasting’ to signify a betrothal. In fourteenth and fifteenth century Italy, the betrothal was sealed by a handshake between the parents, or at best the father of the bride and the prospective groom.

In sixteenth century France this ritual was known as les accords. There would be the giving of a ring, often a gimmel ring which was in two parts, one to be worn by the prospective groom, the other by the bride, the two joined together to form the wedding ring. Records indicate the drinking of wine to toast the agreement, or taking part in a sumptuous feast ‘in the name of marriage’, or simply be sealed with a kiss.

The betrothal ceremony confirmed that these two people promised to marry one another, an agreement which could be considered more legally binding than the marriage ceremony itself. Once betrothed, if a couple had sexual intercourse, then they were considered married. And a betrothal contract could only be broken if both parties agreed.

Not that the young woman concerned had much say in the matter. Marriage was less about love and more about wealth, position and power, which meant, as we romantic novelists know, plenty of opportunity for extra-curricular activity in the way of affairs. Henry IV is reputed to have enjoyed at least 60 mistresses with whom he sired numerous illegitimate children, and three or four maîtresse-en-titre.

Henriette d'Entragues

But with Henriette de’Entragues he perhaps took on more than he’d bargained for she had set her sights on nothing less than marriage, and with it a crown. She therefore insisted upon a promesse de matrimonio before agreeing to surrender her maidenhead, allegedly still intact, and becoming his mistress. In a weak moment of overwhelming desire, Henry agreed that if she could give him a son, then he would marry her. A decision which was to create untold problems in the years ahead, and leave Henriette fighting a battle for what she perceived as her rights, at whatever the cost.

Next came the fiançailles when the bans were published. The parents, bride and bridegroom would visit the curé together to attend to this important matter. Then came the Epousailles which of course took place in church. The bridegroom was not allowed to enter without giving a considerable sum in alms, and guests were chosen to attend the wedding breakfast with an eye to the money they’d be likely to give. A bowl was handed round at dinner into which donations for a ‘nest-egg’ for the couple could be dropped.

Henry left such traditions to the bourgeoisie, but provided well for all his children, whatever their status, and was a loving father. Those he had with Henriette shared the royal nursery with the legitimate heirs he had with his queen, Marie de Medici, much to that lady’s displeasure. But Henry loved to play with them, and it was so much more practical to keep them all together in one place. The people of Paris were highly entertained by the fact that his mistress and queen were often enceinte at the same time.

Henriette d’Entragues isn’t satisfied with simply being the mistress of Henry IV of France, she wants a crown too. Despite his promises to marry her, the King is obliged by political necessity to ally himself with Marie de Medici, an Italian princess who will bring riches to the treasury. But Henriette isn’t for giving up easily. She has a written promise of marriage which she intends to use to declare the royal marriage illegal. All she has to do to achieve her ambition is to give Henry a son, then whatever it takes through intrigue and conspiracy to set him on the throne.

The Queen and the Courtesan, published 29 June, can be found as a paperback or ebook here:

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Guest Blog: Romance and the Male Author By Simon Lipson

Thank you for asking me to be a guest blogger. I hope my wafflings are of some interest to you and your followers.

My first book, Losing It, was a somewhat po-faced and scary psychological thriller. Not much call for belly-laughs.  I think the book worked pretty well within the limitations of its genre, but I thought if I was ever inclined to write another book, I’d focus on what I’m (supposed to be) good at; comedy. I’ve been a stand-up and impressionist for 20 years, and written hundreds of sketches and scripts for live performance, radio and TV, so the funny stuff should come easily, I thought. But I also wanted to make the book about real people, real relationships, real families. And real romance. Which was when things got a bit more complex.

The early drafts were full of irrelevant quips and riffs that had no bearing on the story or the characters. It’s quite difficult to delete sure-fire laughs, but I’ve read too many books by people striving too hard and sacrificing forward propulsion to self-indulge, instead, at the altar of comedy, so I became quite fierce with myself. If the funny bit it didn’t sit comfortably with the scene or the character, out it came. Reviews to date have suggested that it’s still ‘laugh out loud funny’ but that the characters are rounded and the story plausible, so the early signs that I’ve struck the right balance are promising.

The trickier bit for me was pitching the romance element from a man’s perspective with authenticity. Now I like a good romcom as much as the next bloke (we all do, honestly; we just don’t like to admit it). High Fidelity, Starter For Ten and Charlotte Street are all written by men and feature a male protagonist. They all succeed in dealing with love from the male perspective but when it comes to writing about matters of the heart, women authors are rather more abundant. And I would venture to suggest that most of their books feature a female protagonist. So dipping my toe into what might be a less appreciated genre – manlit? - felt like a leap into the unknown.

Manlit. What a ridiculous term. Readers have described Song In The Wrong Key variously as ‘romcom, ‘women’s fiction’, ‘chicklit’ and ‘commercial fiction’ and, in the end, it hardly matters. My view is that love and romance are not exclusive to either gender. We all fall in love and we all enjoy courtship. Well most of us anyway. Why should a woman reader be any less entranced by a male protagonist’s romantic adventures (which, after all, involve his feelings towards a woman) than a male reader in those of a female protagonist’s? Maybe we could all benefit from some insights into the opposite sex’s romantic modus operandi!  

Surely the key is to write the best book you can, not worry about how others may classify it and leave the readers to decide if they like it. I have endeavoured to write a book for everyone. There’s nothing exclusive about my subject matter. It’s a story about a family man – hopefully a funny one – which deals with relationships, kids, career dilemmas and the quest for redemption, themes I hope we can all identify with.

Nevertheless, I recognise that I’m one of a small minority of writers spinning tales about the love lives of male protagonists. And, as a first timer in this area, I needed to work out how to talk about feelings, something we men are notoriously useless at. Men dissemble for a living. If my wife asks me if I love her, I tend to snort and bluster something like: ‘Yeah, course I do. God almighty. Where’s the remote?’ whereas she can emote without blinking an eye! But, actually, once I got down to writing the heartfelt stuff, it didn’t bother me at all. Mike Kenton is a version of me, and narrating the story through him allowed me express what was going on in his head. Men think and feel the same emotions as women. Honestly. They just don’t say them out loud unless, like me, they’re talking to their kids. When they’re very young. And asleep. 

Michael Kenton is a middle-aged man living in middle-class comfort with wife Lisa and daughters Millie and Katia. Drifting complacently towards retirement, Mike's world is turned upside-down when he is thrown unexpectedly onto the career scrapheap. 

While Lisa's career sky-rockets, Mike slobs around in his track suit playing guitar, rekindling his teenage love affair with pop music. Knowing Lisa wouldn't approve, he plots a secret 'comeback' at a grimy Crouch End bistro where music executive Ben, desperate and out of time, asks if he can enter one of Mike's songs into the Eurovision Song Contest. With nothing to lose, Mike focuses on Eurovision but quickly finds himself staring down the barrel of low level fame. His crumbling marriage now page five news, he must choose between his musical dream and mending his broken family, a task complicated by the re-appearance of ex-love of his life Faye. 

A laugh-out-loud comedy about love, family, friendship and Euro- tack by acclaimed stand-up and comedy writer Simon Lipson. 


Simon Lipson was born in London and took a law degree at the LSE. After a spell as a lawyer, he co-founded legal recruitment company Lipson Lloyd-Jones in 1987. In 1993, Simon took his first tentative steps onto the comedy circuit and has since become an in-demand stand-up and impressionist across the UK, as well as a regular TV and radio performer/writer. His broadcasting credits include Week Ending, Dead Ringers, Loose Ends and Fordham & Lipson (co-wrote and performed own 4 part sketch series) on Radio 4; Interesting...Very Interesting and Simon Lipson's Xmas Box on Radio 5 and And This Is Them on Radio 2. He is also an experienced voice artiste who has voiced hundreds of advertisements as well as cartoons and documentaries. His first novel, Losing It, a thriller, was published by Matador in 2008. Simon is a columnist for Gridlock Magazine ( His next novel, Standing Up, will be published by Lane & Hart in Autumn 2012. 

Twitter: @SimonLipson

Buy links – paperback and Kindle:

My show, The Accidental Impressionist, is on at the Camden Fringe 20 – 23 August @ 8pm. Everyone welcome! Details and tickets here:   

Monday 2 July 2012

Baroness Orczy author of the first blockbuster

Baroness Orczy

Best remembered for her hero, Percy Blakeney, the elusive scarlet pimpernel, Baroness Orczy was born in Tarna Ors, Hungary, on September twenty-third, eighteen hundred and sixty-five to Countess Emma Wass and her husband Baron Felix Orczy.  Her parents frequented the magnificent court of the Austrian Hungarian Empire where the baron was well known as a composer, conductor and friend of famous composers such as Liszt and Wagner.

Until the age of five, when a mob of peasants fired the barn, stables and fields destroying the crops, Emma Magdolna Rozália Mária Jozefa Borbála “Emmuska” Orczy, enjoyed every luxury in her father’s magnificent, ancestral chateaux, which she later described as a rambling farmhouse on the banks of the River Tarna.  The baron and his family lived there in magnificent ‘medieval style’.  Throughout her life; the exuberant parties, the dancing and the haunting gypsy music lived on in Emmuska’s memory.

After leaving Tarna Ors forever, the Orczys went to Budapest.   Subsequently, in fear of a national uprising, the baron moved his family from Hungary to Belgium.  Emmuska attended convent schools in Brussels and Paris until, in 1880, the baron settled his family in
Wimpole Street, London

 At fifteen years of age, Emmuska not only learned English within six months, but also won a special prize for doing so.  Later, she first attended the West London School of Art and then Heatherby’s School of Art, where she met her future husband, Montague Barstow, an illustrator.

Emmuska fell in love with England and regarded it as her spiritual birthplace, her true home.  When people referred to her as a foreigner, and said there was nothing English about her, she replied her love was all English, for she loved the country.

Baron Orczy tried hard to develop his daughter’s musical talent but Emmuska chose art, and had the satisfaction of her work being exhibited at The Royal Academy. 
Later, she turned to writing. 

In 1894 Emmuska married Montague and, in her own words, the marriage was ‘happy and joyful’. 

The newly weds enjoyed opera, art exhibitions, concerts and the theatre.  Emmuska’s bridegroom was supportive of her and encouraged her to write.  In 1895 her translations of Old Hungarian Fairy Tales: The Enchanted Cat, Fairyland’s Beauty and Uletka and The White Lizard, edited with Montague’s help, were published. 
Inspired by thrillers she watched on stage, Emmuska wrote mystery and detective stories. The first featured The Old Man in the Corner.  For the generous payment of sixty pounds the Royal Magazine published it in 1901.  Her stories were an instant hit.  Yet, although the public could not get enough of them, she remained dissatisfied.
In her autobiography Emmuska wrote: ‘I felt inside my heart a kind of stirring that the writing of sensational stuff for magazines would not and should not, be the end and aim of my ambition.  I wanted to do something more than that.  Something big.’
Montague and Emmuska spent 1900 in Paris that, in her ears, echoed with the violence of the French Revolution.  Surely she had found the setting for a magnificent hero to champion the victims of “The Terror”.     

Unexpectedly, after she and her husband returned to England, it was while waiting for the train that Emmuska saw her most famous hero, Sir Percival Blakeney, dressed in exquisite clothes.  She noted the monocle held up in his slender hand, heard both his lazy drawl and his quaint laugh.  Emmuska told her husband about the incident and within five weeks had written The Scarlet Pimpernel. Very often, although the first did not apply to Emmuska and Montague, it is as difficult to find true love as it is to get published. A dozen publishers or more rejected The Scarlet Pimpernel.  The publishing houses wanted modern, true-life novels. The Scarlet Pimpernel was rejected. Undeterred Emmuska and Montague turned the novel into a play.

The critics did not care for the play, which opened at the New Theatre, London in 1904, but the audiences loved it and it ran for 2,000 performances.  As a result, The Scarlet Pimpernel was published as a novel and became the blockbuster of its era making it possible for Emmuska and Montague to live in an estate in Kent, have a bustling London home and buy a luxurious villa in Monte Carlo.

During the next thirty-five years, Emmuska wrote not only sequels to The Scarlet Pimpernel such as, Lord Tony’s Wife, 1917, The League of The Scarlet Pimpernel 1919, but other historical and crime novels.  Her loyal fans repaid her by flocking to the first of several films about her gallant hero.  Released in 1935, it was produced by her compatriot, Alexander Korda, starred Lesley Howard as Percy, and Merle Oberon as Marguerite.

 Emmuska and Montague moved to Monte Carlo in the late 1910’s where they remained during Nazi occupation in the Second World War.

Montague died in 1943 leaving Emmuska bereft.  She lived with her only son and divided her time between London and Monte Carlo.  Her last novel Will-O’theWisp and her autobiography, Links in the Chain of Life were both published in 1947 shortly before her death at the age of eight-two on November the twelfth, in the same year.
A lasting tribute to the baroness is the enduring affection the public has for her brave, romantic hero, Sir Percival Blakeney, master of disguise.

First published Spring 2011
Volume 1Vintage Script
The writing magazine for all things vintage,