I am very excited to post my first ever blog on Embracing Romance today as a fully-fledged member of this amazing group of writers. Having followed E.R. diligently, the idea of writing something equally compelling is a tad daunting. As introduction, my name is Scarlett Cole, and I write contemporary romantic suspense. My debut, The Strongest Steel, book one of The Second Circle series, was released on July 7th by St. Martin’s Press.
I live in Manchester, England, and have a love affair with history. I often get asked which periods do I love most, and it is such a difficult thing to narrow down. I love many of them. Medieval, the Reformation and Restoration, the Industrial Revolution and Victorian. Bringing that together seemed impossible, until I filled out my passport renewal form. Place of Birth? I was born in Wigan, a town that has played a part in British history for nearly two thousand years.
Wigan belonged to the Brigantes, an ancient Celtic tribe, who were subjugated by Gnaeus Julius Agricola, a Gallo-Roman general who led much of the Roman conquest of Britain. In 77AD, a town called Coccium was established, and Wigan was officially born. The redevelopment of Wigan between 2000 and 2010 revealed large roman sites of historical importance, including a bathhouse covering nearly seven thousand square feet. The bathouse contained nine rooms, three with under-floor heating (hypocausts).
Many of the place names in Wigan still point to activities in the 10th century when an influx of Scandinavians arrived in the area. Modern-day Scholes got it’s name from the Scandinavian word skali meaning hut.
In 1100, Wigan was officially recognized by King Henry I and granted a Charter of Incorporation. This made Wigan the oldest borough in Lancashire, and started a long connection to the monarchy of England.
In 1245 Wigan was granted the right to hold a weekly market (Mondays) and a six-day annual fair. A huge deal during the period, and a sign of Wigan’s on-going growth.
Charters would continue from monarch to monarch, with King Henry III in 1246, and Edward II in 1314. Edward II visited Wigan in response to the Banastre Rebellion in 1315. A group of knights led an uprising against the Earl of Lancaster. It ended as many such uprisings did, with beheadings for some and escape to Wales for others.
Because of the geographic location, Wigan would remain central to many large uprisings and battles. On August 25th, 1651, during the Civil War, the Battle of Wigan Lane led to damning losses for the Royalists. Despite the losses, Wigan stayed loyal to the King and was rewarded with a ceremonial sword. The illustration shows one of the two letters written by Parliament forces in Wigan, the evening after the battle. The letters were sent to London, and printed, taking five days to reach their intended audience.
Wigan’s true growth came during the Industrial Revolution. Construction of the 127-mile Leeds-Liverpool canal started in 1770 and lasted over fifty years. Built to grow trade of coal and textiles between Leeds/Bradford and the docks of Liverpool, it was routed through Wigan, the epicenter of the Lancashire Coalfield. By the late 1800s, there were over 1,000 pit shafts within a five mile radius of Wigan’s centre. In 1818, William Woods introduced the first power looms into Wigan’s cotton mills. By 1829, Wigan had grown to such an extent that the first railway station was built.
The photograph shows the Leeds-Liverpool canal circa 1830. The building on the left is Wigan Pier (it is a surprise to many that it isn’t a jetty into the ocean). The building with the tower in the background is Trencherfield Mill, a textiles factory where my grandmother worked.
So there you have it, how Wigan evolved during some of my favorite periods in history. Most people have heard of Wigan in a very impoverished light through George Orwell’s depressing tome The Road To Wigan Pier. To me, it’s the place I grew up, it’s where much of my family still live, and it’s rich in a history I love.
“I know what you’re up to,” she said.
“And what would that be?” he asked with a devious smirk.
“Is it working?”
She looked over her shoulder to where he was still reclining against the wall, watching her patiently. All the reasons she’d vowed to stay alone, to remain uninvolved, fled as he grinned at her.
Harper Connelly never expected to find herself outside of a tattoo parlor at one in the morning. The scars that decorate her back are just one more reminder of things she’d rather forget, the past she wants to leave far behind her, but before she can move on she needs him.
Trent Andrews has his own reasons for specializing in inking over scars. And there’s no way in hell he’s going to turn Harper away. Not when a swirling mix of tenderness and desire slams into him every time her sees her. Being with Harper is like going 10 rounds in the ring-exhilarating, powerful, and dangerous. She stirs feeling in him he thought were long gone… if he can only get past her carefully constructed defenses.
Running was the only thing that saved Harper last time, but each session at Second Circle Tattoos brings her closer and closer to Trent. His lingering touches seduce her, making her believe in a life without fear, where she can be happy, whole, in love. But when cryptic messages start appearing on Harper’s phone, strange deliveries arrive at her door, and Second Circle is vandalized, Harper is convinced that her ex-boyfriend has tracked her down, and worse, that he knows about Trent. She ran from her past once before, this time will she have the strength to fight back?
“This book gave me so many feels! Angst, passion, and love all set in Miami, my favorite city. I can’t wait for more from this author and I can’t recommend this book enough.” – Sidney Halston,USA Today bestselling author of Against the Cage