I grew up with the smell of oil paint. When not absorbed at her easel, my artist mother spent her leisure time reading Georgette Heyer novels. I picked one up and from that day on, became a life-long fan of Heyer’s charming stories written in peerless prose. Mother and I read our way through every Heyer book in the small seaside library near our house, and we continued to re-read them through the years. They have never been out of print.
I spent every summer holiday lying on the sand with my nose in a book.
Attributed to Russavia, Wikipedia Commons
Northern Beaches, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Heyer’s Regency world was undisturbed by political intrigue, war or violence. The West End and Mayfair sparkled, home to the aristocracy and the gentry. Her heroes were urbane, witty, well-dressed alpha males, sporty and athletic. Her heroines were never the simpering women of her contemporaries. They held strong opinions, which were not the norm in 1921, when she wrote her first novel, The Black Moth, where women were seen as the weaker sex. Although Heyer often wrote Cinderella stories, her heroines were never afraid to embark on an adventure, or masquerade in boy’s clothes, and they never needed rescuing.
Heyer’s books stirred me to write and some attempts followed which have – rightfully – never seen the light of day. My belief was not shaken, however, one day I would publish a novel inspired by the Regency era Heyer paints so vividly. After raising my children and studying for two university degrees, my first book was published. I’m so grateful that my mother was able to read and approve of my story in the weeks before she passed away.
I draw inspiration from many things, snippets of historical and social customs, beliefs, art, architecture, interiors, fashion, gardens, nature, and the seasons. I’ve since written in other genres, including young adult fantasy and crime.
My newest release is a Regency Romantic Suspense, Taming a Gentleman Spy – The Spies of Mayfair Series.
Here’s an excerpt:
Beneath glistening chandeliers, the dancers spun to the strains of a Handel waltz. Strathairn smiled down at his partner, her slim waist beneath his hand as they danced. Lady Sibella Winborne looked like a delicate flower in a gauzy pale gown covered in amber blossom. White ostrich feather plumes adorned her luxuriant dark locks. He enjoyed looking at her. Her serene oval face lifted and she smiled at him, her mouth wide and full. Too wide for beauty some might say, but made for kissing. She had inherited her mother’s famous eyes, a delectable mix of blue and green, but her nature was quieter, lacking the vivacity of her mother in her youth, who was said to have had men falling at her feet. He admired Sibella’s calm beauty, but she was oh, so much more: practical, poised and intelligent. Yet still unmarried, which surprised him.
“You arrived late tonight. I wasn’t sure you’d come,” she said.
“I was tied up with business.”
She tilted her head. “Your horses, then?”
He grinned at her blatant curiosity. “No.”
“You won’t tell me.”
Sibella laughed with good humor. “Very well. Might I find you riding in Hyde Park tomorrow?”
“I hope to.”
Her delicate brows rose. “If business doesn’t keep you.”
He laughed. “Precisely.”
The music faded away. Strathairn escorted her back to her chair where her mother, the Dowager Marchioness of Brandreth, sat fanning herself among the other dowagers. He bowed, planning to slip into the rooms set aside for gambling. As much as he might wish to dance with Sibella again, it would place them under scrutiny, and faro was an effective release from the tension he always carried with him.
“Don’t rush off, Strathairn,” her sharp-eyed mother said. “We have seen little of you of late. You rarely frequent these affairs.” She waved her fan in an arc to encompass the ballroom. “Where have you been hiding?”
“Not hiding, my lady, merely visiting my estates.”
Lady Brandreth adjusted the silk shawl over her shoulders. “Did you include that pile of yours in Yorkshire? I enjoyed the hunt ball, but it’s cold as charity in winter up in those parts.”
“Not this time, but I miss it. There’s a wild beauty to the dales in winter, quite unlike southern England.”
“I daresay.” Her purple turban wobbled as she nodded. “You are a fine figure of a man, Strathairn. What are you now? Six and thirty? You should marry. You should be setting up your nursery.” She gestured toward her daughter sitting beside her. “Sibella will bear you healthy children. The Brandreths come of good stock, and the Wederells even better.”
“Mama, please!” He caught Sibella’s apologetic gaze and suppressed a wry smile. Her plea would have little effect; the marchioness was known to be one of the most colorful and outspoken members of the ton.
The dowager batted her daughter’s protest away with her fan. “I am merely speaking the truth, Sibella.”
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