Wednesday 20 March 2019

The "Affair" series

The Gavington Affair by Jen Black

Melanie Grey endured a bitter marriage which ended in an accident that killed her aged husband and left her facially scarred. Unable to claim her dower rights, she travels north to Northumberland in hope of a quiet life as housekeeper to Lord Jarrow. She soon discovers he has secrets, and her curiosity grows. Unexplained night time activity, and a shooting that almost kills Jarrow - can Melanie deal successfully with these things and make a new life for herself in the country?

Available as both Amazon Kindle and paperback.
(Thoroughly re-edited and a new cover and title in honour of the paperback edition!) It also takes this story into the same "series" as the other three "Affair" titles. Some of them you might know:

The Matfen Affair ~ the bridesmaid and the ghost
The Gybford Affair ~ the heiress and the fortune-hunter
The Craigsmuir Affair  ~ the artist and the thief

Here are the links:

Here is a short excerpt from chapter 1: 

She mounted the shallow flight of steps to the front door, and hesitated. Perhaps prospective housekeepers would be expected to use the rear entrance? Before she could decide, the door opened, and a plump, grey-haired woman in a black gown and white apron greeted her.
“Ye’ll be Miss Grey?”
Melanie swiftly angled her head to the right. “Yes, indeed.”
“Come in, come in. The Master’s away today. Oh, no need to worry, pet,” the woman added, seeing Melanie’s alarm. “He’ll be back tomorrow.”
Melanie stepped onto the scrubbed flagstones of the hall, dropped her portmanteau and looked about her. A vast spray of blue delphiniums and pink roses, with the occasional lupin spiking the mix, perfumed the air. Not a fallen petal lay on the polished mahogany table beneath the vase.
Unthinkingly, she voiced her thought aloud. “The house is well kept.”
“Of course, it is.” The woman glared over her shoulder. “I’ve lavished sweat and tears on this house over the years, and mark my words, young lady, I’ll be back often enough to visit with Miss Penny. If everything is not up to scratch, I’ll be letting ye know.”
Startled by the sharpness of the outburst, Melanie realised the lady must be the resident housekeeper. “You assume I shall be taking the post,” she said mildly. “I have yet to meet or please your master.”
The woman crossed the hall and approached a wide flight of carpeted steps. Melanie followed, looking about her with interest. Several doors opened off the square entrance hall and the dome above fed natural light onto the floor tiles. On a sunny day, it would look magnificent. The housekeeper turned on the bottom stair.
“I’m sure ye’ll do—oh my.” One hand flew to her mouth. “What happened to your face?”
Melanie dipped her head and turned away. “An accident,” she muttered. “I do not like to talk about it.”
“Aye, well, if ye do a good job, the Master probably won’t even notice. It’s not that obvious,” the woman said kindly. “But Miss Penny will, that’s certain.”
With a sinking heart, Melanie forced the words out. “She is the daughter of the house?”
“Eight years old and bright as a button.” The housekeeper’s smile turned her face sweet as a rosy apple. “Come, I’ll show you to your room.”
Melanie followed her up the main flight, and then stopped. “Oh, dear. I’ve forgotten my portmanteau.” Her bag stood forlorn in the middle of the hall.
“Edith will bring it up later. This way, Miss Grey. My name is Rose Dawkins, and as soon as ye’re installed I can stop scrubbing and polishing and put my feet up on my daughter’s fender. Gertrude lives in the village, a little way off. She’s been after me to retire for years, but I couldn’t leave the Master. Not as he was.” She hesitated by a large door. “You didn’t think this was a place where you could order a multitude of servants to your bidding, did you?”
Mrs Dawkins now seemed unable to look Melanie straight in the eye, although a moment ago her gaze had been direct.
“The advertisement spoke of a small staff,” Melanie said. “I am under no illusions, Mrs Dawkins.”

It had been what attracted her to the post. That, and the remote position of the house. The fewer people she had to meet, the better she would like it.

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