Sunday 18 May 2014

The Downstairs Maid

Hi, I just popped in to tell you about my new book from Ebury Publishing.

The Downstairs Maid/ Rosie Clarke

The story of a young girl growin up at the beginning of the twentieth centrury, happy on her father's smallholding despite being poor until she is sent to work at the Manor as a skivvy.  Can Emily rise above her situation and shoot for the stars?  She finds love as the First World War rages around her but can she take her happiness?


Emily could hear the row going on downstairs and she stuck her fingers in her ears, burying her head under the pillows to shut out the angry words. It was warm in her bed, because she had two wool blankets and a thick eiderdown filled with duck feathers, and the sheets smelled of lavender. At night when it was cold out, she liked to burrow right down into her soft mattress, pull the covers over her head and disappear into her own world. In Emily’s secret world she could be whatever she wanted to be – a princess living in a castle with jelly and cake for tea every day. Or a lady in a fine house with a big diamond ring like Miss Concenii had – or…there Emily’s imagination ran out, because she knew so little of the world. The Vicar spoke of foreign lands sometimes, but the stories he told didn’t seem real but more like the fairytales in the old books Pa sometimes brought home for her to read. Pa was always bringing some treasure home for Emily. Usually, the bits of glass and china were chipped or cracked.

‘I can’t sell them like that, Em’ lass,’ he would tell her, taking her on his knee to explain that the latest find was Derby or Coalport or Worcester porcelain and the glass cranberry or Bristol Blue or perhaps a very early Georgian wineglass with a spiral stem. ‘If they were perfect they would be worth money – this scent bottle has a silver top, see – look at the hallmarks; that little lion means it’s proper English silver and the leopard’s head means it was made in London and that one is the date letter. See those four letters; they’re the maker’s marks but they’re a bit worn and I can’t see, but there’s a feel to this piece. That was made by a good silversmith that was and I’m not going to scrap it even if it would bring in a couple of bob. If this was perfect it would be worth at least two pounds, perhaps more – but the cap is dented, the stopper is broken and the glass is chipped. I wouldn’t get more than a shilling.’

‘I don’t mind,’ Emily said and hugged him. ‘I love it, because it is pretty and I don’t care that it’s damaged.’

She thought she would like to learn all the silver hallmarks but Pa didn’t know them all. He needed a reference book, so he’d told her. Emily decided that one day, when she had lots of money, she would buy him one, to say thank you for all he gave her

Pa nodded and kissed the top of her head. ‘That’s right, lass. Always remember when you buy something to buy quality. If it’s damaged it will come cheap and that way you can afford things you’d never otherwise be able to own.’

In Emily’s eyes the fact that her father had given her the treasure and took the time to explain what it was, where it was made and what it was for, meant more than the item itself. She liked to be close to Pa, to smell his own particular smell and feel safe in his arms. Emily knew her father loved her. She wasn’t sure if her mother even liked her, though sometimes she would smile and tell her to fetch out the biscuits or cakes, though she more often received a smack on the legs than a kiss.

The row seemed to go on for longer than usual that night. Driven at last by a kind of desperate curiosity, she crept down the uncarpeted wooden stairs, avoiding the one that creaked, to stand behind the door that closed the stairs off from the kitchen. Because it wasn’t shut properly, Emily could hear what her parents were saying.

‘But you’re his only relative,’ Ma said and she sounded almost tearful. ‘It isn’t fair that he should leave everything to that woman.’

Pa’s tone was calm and reasonable, the same as always. ‘Miss Concenii has been with him for years and nursed him devotedly this last year. The lawyer said he changed his will two months ago. I was the main beneficiary in the first one – most of the money and the house and contents…but then he changed it.’

‘And we know who’s behind that, don’t we?’ Ma said in a sullen tone. ‘She must have guided his hand. I told you to go and see him. I would have had him here and looked after him myself if you’d bothered to do something about it - but you're always the same. You just leave things and now we’ve been cheated out of a fortune.’

‘You don’t know that,’ Pa said. ‘He probably thought she deserved the house and money for putting up with him all those years.’

‘She guided his hand that’s what she did. You should go to court and get your share.’

‘He left me fifty pounds, a set of chessmen in ivory and ebony, a mantel clock and a Bible – and he left Em a ring. I’ve got it in my pocket…’

‘She can’t have that, it’s too valuable,’ Ma said. ‘Give it to me. I’ll look after it for her until she’s older.’

Emily wanted to call out that the ring was hers. She was frightened her mother would take it and sell it, but her father was speaking again.

‘I’ll just keep it for her. Albert left you this, Stella…’

Emily heard her mother give a squeak of pleasure. Obviously, the bequest had pleased her. Emily craned forward to peep round the door and look. She could see something on the kitchen table. It flashed in the light and she thought it must be diamonds, though there were blue stones too.

‘That’s sapphire and diamond that is,’ Pa said. ‘It’s a brooch, Stella – and worth a few bob.’

‘I can see that but it’s not worth as much as a house – and three hundred pounds. Think what we could have done with all that, Joe. You’ve been cheated of your fortune but you haven’t the sense to see it.’

‘Even if I have there’s no proof,’ Pa said. ‘She made sure of that – the doctor signed to say Albert was in his right mind when he made his last will…’

‘And what did he get out of it I wonder!’

Ma was in a right temper. Emily turned and went back up to her bedroom. She ran across the stained boards and jumped into bed. Her feet had turned cold standing on the stairs listening to her parents and her mind was full of pictures that troubled her. What had Miss Concenii done to poor Uncle Albert to make him sign his house and most of his money and possessions over to her?

Emily’s eyes stung with tears that trickled down her cheeks. She didn’t mind much that they wouldn’t be rich. Fifty pounds sounded a lot to her and she was curious about the ring Pa was keeping for her – but she hoped Uncle Albert hadn’t been made unhappy when he was ill. She felt sad for him having his hand guided and she felt sad for her father, because he’d lost his fortune.

Joe Carter worked hard from early in the morning to late at night, mucking out the horses and the cows, milking and watering and feeding the stock. His was only a small farm and he eked out a scarce living from his pigs, cows, ducks and chickens. He had one ten acre field put down to arable, which he alternated between barley, rye, wheat and potatoes, with a patch for vegetables for the house. He worked alone most of the time, though there was a lad of sixteen who came to help with the jobs he couldn’t manage alone. Bert was a little slow in his head but strong and a good worker. No one else would employ him, because he couldn’t be left to do a job alone, but Pa gave him a shilling now and then and he was always hanging around the yard, grinning at nothing in particular and eager to help. Because he was harmless and would do anything, Ma tolerated him and if there was nothing else for him to do she asked him to chop the logs for her.

When Pa had nothing much to do on the land he went out buying the things other people threw away. He had a barn filled almost to the rafters with old furniture. Ma said it was all junk, but Emily had seen some things she thought looked nice.

Pa had shown her some chairs with turned legs and a wide carved splat at the back, which he said were Georgian. He’d told her they were quality when new, but he’d only got five of a set of six and two of them had broken legs. One day he hoped to mend the legs but he was always looking for a single chair that would match the set – because a set of six was worth a lot more than five.

Best of all Emily liked the selection of silver bits, china and glass that Pa kept in a cabinet in the barn. She liked the delicate silver jug with a shaped foot Pa said was Georgian, the little enamelled snuff or pill boxes with pictures on the lids – and the silver box that opened to reveal a singing bird. That was lovely and Emily would have loved to own it, but Pa had to sell his nice things because there wasn’t enough money coming in from the land. He’d talked of having a shop in Ely one day, but Ma told him he was daft because he could never afford to pay the rent.

If Pa had got Uncle Albert’s house and money he could have bought a shop. Perhaps then Ma and Emily wouldn’t have had to hide from the tallyman ever again.

Hope you enjoyed the excerpt!

Tuesday 12 November 2013

New Regency

A small taste of my new short Regency
A Bride  for the Wicked Earl/Linda Sole
On sale at kindle 97p

‘Damn him to hell!’ Julian, newly created Earl of Larchester on his father’s death, swore softly as he heard the terms of the late earl’s will. ‘It’s where he deserves to burn for eternity for this.’

The young woman sitting just behind him, in the large drawing room, drew her breath sharply, causing Julian to turn and look at her, a mocking gaze in his cool blue eyes. He was a handsome devil, spoiled from birth by his doting mother and accustomed to having his own way, his dark hair softly waving back from a patrician forehead, his mouth deceptively soft and generous, but above all sensuous.

‘Don’t worry, Cressy,’ he drawled. ‘I have no intention of bowing to this iniquitous document. It cannot be legal. I am heir to Larchester and all that it entails, and even my father cannot stop me inheriting both the title and the estate.’

The elderly lawyer cleared his throat and looked uncomfortable as he peered over his gold-framed spectacles. ‘Forgive me, my lord,’ he said in a voice that trembled slightly. ‘The terms of your late father’s will apply to his personal fortune – and that he is at liberty to withhold if you refuse his last request.’

Julian scowled at the lawyer, his mouth becoming a thin line of anger. ‘How can this be? Are you telling me that all the money was his personal fortune? His fortune must have come from the estate. He has no right to withhold it from his heir.’

‘Forgive me, my lord,’ Mr Bartlet said. ‘I begged him to reconsider what he was doing but he would not. He said that you had defied him in life but would not do so in death. His money came from…I hate having to disclose this to you, my lord – but your father invested heavily in…textile mills in the north of the country, and that is where he made his money…’

‘He must have used money from the estate to begin the business and thus in law, the mills must form part of the estate…’

‘No, my lord. Your father more than repaid to the estate any money he may have used to set up his business empire – but he told me that it came from the prize money he received when he left the army after your grandfather’s death. As you may know, the estate was then on the brink of collapse; it was your father’s hard work that rescued it and due entirely to his efforts that you still have…’ Mr Bartlet’s words died on his lips as the new earl gave him a slaying look. ‘Forgive me. I know this is hard to accept, but you must marry within six months or your father’s personal fortune goes to his ward, Miss Cressida Harding.’

‘What if I refuse to accept it, or choose to give it to Julian?’ Cressy asked from behind him.

‘If you refuse the bequest it passes to a distant cousin of the late earl. You cannot pass the money to Lord Julian…unless you become his wife within the six months, of course.’

Julian cursed, stood up and moved to look out of the window. Without turning his head, he said, ‘That isn’t going to happen. Cressy wouldn’t have me – it would be a match made in hell for both of us. This is iniquitous!’ He turned to glare at the unfortunate lawyer. ‘Is there no way this can be broken, sir?’

‘I regret, none.’

‘Damn him to hell!’

Julian sent one of his father’s favourite Chinese porcelain vases smashing to the floor in his rage. How dare his father make such an outrageous will? They had quarrelled frequently in the years before Julian had left home to take up a life in the army. The late earl had cancelled his allowance, forcing him to manage on his pay as an officer and the competence left to him by his maternal grandfather. The late Lord Henry Larchester had vowed that he would bring his heir to heel, after Julian’s scandalous affair with the young wife of the late earl’s friend.

He could recall the mocking look in his father’s eyes the day they had parted.

‘You will be sorry for the disrespectful way you have behaved to me, Julian. Lord Brock was my oldest and dearest friend. You knew that – and yet you seduced his wife and made him look a fool…’

‘He managed that all by himself,’ Julian had drawled in reply.

He had not even tried to tell his father of the young bride’s despair at being forced into marriage with a man old enough to be her grandfather…of the unkindness she’d received at her husband’s hands, or the way she had cast herself into his arms in tears. None of it would have mattered or been listened to by the man who thought himself so righteous that only his opinion was worth consideration. No, Julian would not bend to a man who had caused such misery to the mother he’d adored…the woman who had died when Julian was no more than ten of a broken heart. The late Lord Henry was a cold bitter man, and Julian would have none of him when he reached the age where his maternal grandfather’s legacy made him independent.

Casting aside the painful memories, Julian turned to look at the lawyer, who was shuffling his papers.

‘Forgive me, sir,’ he said in the cool polite tones the world expected of him. ‘I should not have inflicted my temper on you and the present company…’ His servants had melted away after hearing of their own small bequests, leaving only the three of them. ‘Cressy, my apologies.’

‘I do not blame you,’ she said, her soft brown eyes looking at him with sympathy. ‘I would give you the money if I could, Julian.’

‘No, why should you?’ he said, a wintry smile flitting across his face. ‘Would you mind leaving us alone for a while? I must discover just how I stand.’

‘Certainly. Will you come to me in the parlour later, Julian? I should like to speak to you too.’

‘Of course.’ He inclined his head, watching as she left the room, her rich silk gown swaying as she moved gracefully, her head held proudly. Cressy was no beauty, but he’d always liked her, thinking of her as the sister he’d never had. ‘Now, sir…’ Julian turned to Mr Bartlet. ‘Please explain to me how I stand exactly…’

‘The house and estate are both yours,’ the lawyer said. ‘Your father took out a mortgage of ten thousand pounds last year, but with interest it has accrued to nearer twelve. He made no attempt to either pay the interest or repay the loan…’

‘No doubt deliberately,’ Julian frowned. ‘Can I not reclaim that sum from his private fortune?’

‘I fear not, my lord. The loan was made to the estate – it was to buy some one thousand acres of land…’ Mr Bartlet cleared his throat. ‘It is not arable land, my lord, or indeed much use for grazing. It lies up north somewhere in the region of your father’s mills. I do not know what he planned for it. My investigations appear to show that it is a wasteland of gorse and unfit for anything as far as I can see. I cannot see what possessed him to borrow money to buy it…’

‘Can you not?’ Julian’s mouth hardened, his eyes like chips of ice. ‘I see his reasoning perfectly. ‘Had the estate not been encumbered by debt I might have easily managed to turn things around here, despite his deliberate neglect of the past ten years or more.’

‘My lord, I must protest…’ Mr Bartlet’s eyes fell under Julian’s angry stare. ‘If such a thing could be proved in law…deliberate malice against his own heir…what kind of man would do such a thing?’

‘My father,’ Julian said, a cool smile on his mouth. ‘He hated me, sir. My father thought me evil, a vain spendthrift who would waste his fortune – a hardened rake who seduces innocent young women…’

‘Surely, my lord…’ the lawyer could not meet his eyes. ‘I do not believe his lordship hated you.’

‘Do you not, sir?’ Julian laughed softly. ‘Have you not heard the stories? I am sure Society abounds with them. I am a gambler and a rake – and I break hearts. Come, surely you have heard the stories.’

‘Well, yes, my lord. I have heard them but I do not…I have never truly believed them, for I remembered you as a kind and generous young man.’

‘That was before I changed,’ Julian murmured. ‘Before I quarrelled with my father and understood just why he hated me so much…’

‘I do not understand, sir – why did your father hate you? What had you done that was so terrible?’

‘I was born,’ Julian drawled. ‘I think that was sin enough for my father.’

Turning away, Julian thought about that last quarrel with his father – the revelation that had made him vow never to set foot in this house until the late earl was dead. The dreadful words that had passed between them, the wicked accusation made about his mother, would never leave him, nor would the burning hatred those words had instilled in him be forgotten.

‘I hardly think…’ Mr Bartlet faltered unable to continue. ‘This is terrible for you, sir. I wish I might help you – but a rich bride is all I can suggest…’

‘Marry an innocent woman for her money, as my father did?’ Julian’s eyes flashed with temper. ‘Lord Henry took my mother’s inheritance and used it for this estate – and that is the only reason I want it, because her son is owed…if it were not for that I would let it be sold to the first buyer…’

‘Sir…it is usual for a woman’s fortune to pass to her husband…’

‘Be that as it may, for him to claim that his fortune was founded on prize money is a lie. I’ve known about the mills for years – my mother knew about them and she told me before she died that he had used most of her fortune to buy the first two, though after that he did indeed make his fortune. He has no right to deny to me what my mother’s fortune brought him. Had it not been so I should simply have walked away from this damned house and all it stands for…’

‘Can you prove this, sir?’

‘He made sure that I could not. All records of how her fortune was spent were destroyed long since. There is no proof – no, the money must go to Cressy, as the late earl’s will provides. I hope there is an income for her in the meantime?’

‘Yes, my lord. I mentioned that if you complied with the terms of the will, Miss Cressida will receive only the income from a trust fund, which is two thousand pounds a year.’

‘Had he no decency?’ Julian demanded. ‘A paltry two thousand a year after all she did for him! Had she not cared for him during his illness, he would surely have died in distress for left to the mercy of servants…’ He tossed his head. ‘The man was a fool and a wretch to dangle a fortune before her and then serve her such a turn. If the money were mine I should have made sure she lived in the comfort she is accustomed to.’

‘Could you not bring yourself to…?’ Mr Bartlet’s breath left him as he saw the storm in Julian’s eyes. ‘What will you do, sir?’

‘At the moment I have no idea,’ Julian confessed. ‘I must speak to the bank, inquire if they will allow the mortgage to run for a while…but how I am to repay it I have not thought as yet.’

‘I am certain the loan will be extended for at least the next six months,’ the lawyer said, ‘though after that…if you still refuse to accept…’

‘Yes, I see.’ Julian looked murderous. ‘No doubt they are acquainted with this iniquitous document. Well, I must try to bring my fortunes about somehow – perhaps this land in the north is not as worthless as you believe it. Could it be that my father had a purpose for it?’

‘None that I know of,’ Mr Bartlet said on a sigh. ‘It seems to me that it is good for nothing…yet perhaps it would fetch something, if not all that it cost.’

‘Cut my losses and move on?’ Julian frowned. ‘I should then spend years of my life paying off the mortgage – even if the bank was prepared to allow it. No, I think it must be all or nothing, sir. Indeed, I care little for this house or its heritage. Had I the choice, I would live within my means on the estate my maternal grandfather left me – and make a career of raising horses.’

‘Is that what you had hoped to do here?’

Julian looked at him thoughtfully. ‘I expected him to live a few years yet. I had considered selling my commission, buying more land and setting up a racing stable in Newmarket, which is where my own estate lies. This house holds memories of my mother, and, as I told you, her fortune went into restoring it to what it now is – for that reason alone I would keep it if I could. Yet there are memories here that I would prefer to forget.’

‘You might sell it all, my lord,’ the lawyer told him unexpectedly. ‘I had an offer for the estate only last week, after your father’s death was announced. You were away and did not return in time for the funeral – and I have not yet answered the gentleman’s inquiry.’

‘Would the price offered cover the mortgage?’

‘Yes, my lord. It was generous – and would give you a surplus of perhaps ten thousand pounds.’

‘Indeed?’ Julian frowned. ‘I should not have thought it worth so much. Who was the offer from?’

‘A gentleman who prefers to remain anonymous for the moment,’ Mr Bartlet replied. ‘I understand that he is a nabob, recently returned from India with a fortune made from trading. He wants to set up a home for his family here.’

‘I might wish him joy of it yet,’ Julian said. ‘Will you write to him, Mr Bartlet? Ask him to give me two months in which to make up my mind.’

‘Would you truly consider selling, my lord?’

‘In truth it means little to me personally,’ Julian said. He turned back to the window, looking out at the green lawns, beautifully kept borders and the fields stretching as far as the eye could see. ‘If it were not for the memories of my mother…’

A sigh left him, for he could almost see the lovely woman and the eager young boy he had been at her side, playing games on those immaculate lawns. He had been happy then, before his mother died…before he learned to hate the man who had taken all she had to give and destroyed her with his coldness.

‘I think I shall go to London in the morning,’ Julian said. ‘I have business to take care of – and then…then I shall journey north to see this land my father squandered his money on…’

‘I shall speak to the prospective buyer,’ Mr Bartlet replied. ‘I could make discreet inquiries, sir, for I dare say others might be interested in a house like this…especially with such a good acreage…’

‘Do whatever you think necessary,’ Julian said. ‘And now I should go and speak to Cressy before she gives up on me…’

Hope you enjoyed the excerpt. Several more short Regency stories available from kindle

Sunday 7 July 2013

new books

Captain Havers is the fourth in a series of Regency Romps, short books for a very small price on sale at amazon.  It has been in the top 100 for about 2 months and sold well.  I have now published the fifth in the series, Ash's Secret.

Here is a short excerpt.
Miranda was just thinking she might go upstairs now, for there was only one set of dances to come and she could be forgiven for not wishing to sit them out.

‘Not leaving us?’ a voice said at her elbow and she turned to see Lord Ashton. She was in that moment torn between anger that he had ignored her all evening and relief that he had at last approached her.

‘I had thought I might as well, for I have watched sufficient dances this evening, sir. I am not as fortunate as my sister in being universally popular.’

‘Do I detect a note of reproach?’ Ash asked as he took a firm grip on her arm and led her towards the groups forming for the last set of dances. ‘You think that I should have secured a dance earlier?’

‘I am sure it is not for me to say what you should do when a guest at a ball, where there are possibly more young ladies than gentlemen – at least youngish gentlemen.’ There were in fact two more gentlemen than ladies, but as some of the older ones did not dance, it meant that some ladies did not always find a partner.

‘But you would like to tell me I am rag-mannered, would you not, Miss Thurston?’ His eyes danced with amusement in a way that set off butterflies in her stomach. Miranda counted to five before she answered.


This image was purchased from Dreamstime.  I did the cover for Captain Havers myself with a photograph i took.  I think I  needed to make the title larger in both cases, but especially in Captain Havers.  Covers are fun to do but I am a mere amateur, though I think of the two I actually prefer CH.

I thoroughly enjoy writing the short Regencies but they are for fun.  At the moment I am writing what I hope will be the sequel to my Rosie Clarke saga for Ebury.  The first book will come out with them next year.

Love to my readers, Linda

Saturday 8 June 2013

Been watching the Voice

I think the show was excellent last night.  I agreed with all the choices except one so 7 out of 8 is pretty good.  I hope that whoever wins does well in his or her career afterwards.

Personally, I'm in a good place with my books.  I am working - nearly finished - the revisions for my big saga coming out with Ebury books next year.  This is so exciting for me, to be back in mainstream again and I feel both lucky and privileged, despite having worked hard for three years before producing a book that was good enough to be accepted.  One editor wanted to publish two big Medieval stories but her money team didn't go with her.  However, my readers can buy one of the books in digital at amazon - A King's Betrayal/Linda Sole.

My short Regencies have done very well, and Captain Havers & the Abandoned Bride is now at 16 in the top 100.  Mary's Sacrifice was in the top 100 for nearly two months.

Love to all my readers.

Tuesday 4 June 2013

A Link to the new Rosie Clarke Blog


This is the link to the new Rosie Clarke website, where you will find articles about various subjects, as well as news about the book.    I am very excited about this books, as I believe it is possibly the best I've written and it is going to be so exciting to be in mainstream again.

New Books

I popped in to tell my readers about the series of Regency Novellas I am writing.  I started with Happy Christmas Mr Jones, then Annabel's Christmas surprise. The next to be published was Mary's Sacrifice and now Captain Havers and the Abandoned Bride.  All the books did well, but Mary's Sacrifice was the first to go into the top one hundred.  It went up as far as 19, but Captain Havers has beaten it, coming in at 12 for a while this morning.  It will go up and down, as they all do but it is fun to watch the charts and very exciting.

These are just little fun books sold very cheaply but they are what readers like to take to bed for a pleasant read and my readers seem to enjoy them.  I would like to thank my readers for supporting me, not just now but since I began writing.

As well as these little fun books I have some wonderful news about my new saga.  People who know me will know that I've been working on a big book for a long time, trying to get my sagas back into mainstream.  Well, now I can say that I have been lucky.  Ebury has accepted my latest big saga and I am now working on some revisions.  I am thrilled to have been given this chance and will be announcing more on the Rosie Clarke blog.

More news soon.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

new books

This is my most recent book at Severn House. However, you can find several more at amzon in ebook. there are two short Regency Romps, one of which is on free Saturday 16 th December. I also have a new big medieval A King's Betrayal.