Giveaway Mariah’s Marriage from Story Teller Alley

London Girl

London Girl

Story Teller Alley knows avid readers love a free book.

Story Teller Alley is working hard to bring great books to your notice. From 26th March, Mariah’s Marriage will be featured on their home page.

AND on Saturday 28th March will be the Giveaway title in their prize draw.

All you need do is sign up once for their Newsletter here and you are included in all draws until you unsubscribe – why would you do that?


Comments on Mariah’s Marriage from Story Teller Alley

“I loved the intelligent, feisty heroine in this book. The story was full of tension and atmospheric of the time. A great villain.”

“I especially liked the feisty heroine of this novel . The plot offered plenty of twists, interesting and authentic characters , and vivid depiction of place. Highly recommended.”


Although I’m devoted to my Heroines (bright and articulate) and Heroes (handsome with a touch of arrogance), I enjoy the creation of a good and believable villain. The course of true love should be troubled until the last couple of pages, don’t you agree, and a strong antagonist is so helpful in achieving that.

did you win a free book from Story Teller Alley? Come back and let Novels Now know.

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Research Round Robin


This month Rhobin has asked us to say a little about what research we need to do to write our novels and what, if anything, annoys us about inaccuracies in fictional work.

Research is a necessity no matter how light and fluffy or serious and thought-provoking your work. As soon as you make any statement that can be viewed in another light, you need to know what you based your statement on.

I write in the early nineteenth century when the main mode of transport was one’s own feet, but for the slightly better off, the horse. I need to know how many horses pulled a carriage, mail-coach and curricle. I need to know how long it took to get from London to Richmond or Edinburgh or Bath. I need to know…

You get the point.

A lot is written about the period I’ve chosen and it is easily accessible in on-line and print sources. But there are other ways to do research.

I love being a life member of Historic Scotland and of the National Trust for Scotland. I adore wandering around their properties and studying the portraits of the ‘family’ aligned along the walls of the Gallery. Was there really a nose that distinctive and, oh, why didn’t the Fifth Earl have it, then? The ladies are particularly interesting because they are brought in to marry the heirs and one wonders what life was like for them.

At the same time, our wealthy heroes and heroines didn’t exist in a vacuum and some of my most precious inspiration has come from the outbuildings and below stairs premises. The wip began life as a result of visiting these laundries.

The Laundry

The Laundry

What takes me out of a story? Disregard for the social mores of the time written about. Writing historical fiction is not about dressing flip young things in long frocks or tail coats. Historical fiction needs to imbue the way of life the characters lived. If a girl could not leave home without her maid or other chaperon, then she lived a very different existence to her 21st century counterpart. The biographies of those who dared to defy their ‘friends’, as relatives were sometimes known, can be heart-breaking. Take the plot of Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, for example. Personal relationships needed great and enduring care. Rights were often clouded by law rather than protected.

I’m followed in this cycle by Helena Fairfax who can be found here: Helena Fairfax but the others blogging on research are all listed below. You may want to find out a little about how they tackle the issues involved in not getting egg on our faces.



Margaret Fieland
Beverley Bateman
Skye Taylor
Rachael Kosnski

Heidi M. Thomas

Marci Baun
Anne Stenhouse
Helena Fairfax
Connie Vines
Kay Sisk
Fiona McGier
A.J. Maguire
Judith Copek
Lynn Crain
Rhobin Courtright

Updating Stuff: Storyteller Alley


The very lovely Veronica at Storyteller Alley was in touch about my submission to appear on their great site. StorytellerAlley There was a list of questions to answer and a list of pictures to supply. It prompted me to look again at how I was presenting myself. So I’ve updated my author bio. It’s below. And while I’ve gone with my Facebook photo for now, here’s one taken by Scarlet Wilson, HM&B medical author extraordinaire, on Monday evening. I did take the camera case off before she snapped. My camera case is featured quite enough across the web. Might get a little big-headed, no?



Scottish writer Anne Stenhouse writes dialogue rich historical romance with humour and a touch of mystery in the plot. She lives in Edinburgh in the UK and gets the chance to walk the cobbled streets that appear in some of her fiction because they remain part of the city’s fabric. Anne enjoys wandering in cityscapes, visiting historic houses (particularly the below stairs and outhouses areas) and reading up on life in times past. She finds that place can be very stimulating to the imagination.

She wrote stage drama for many years and enjoyed seeing it performed at both amateur and professional level. Her non-fiction has appeared in Scottish Memories and the magazine of the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute among others and her short fiction in magazines and on-line at Shortbread.

Anne has a husband and dancing partner of over thirty years standing. Together they have created three gorgeous children and welcomed a lovely grandson.

The Canadian publisher, MuseItUp brought out two of Anne’s books in 2013 and are publishing a third, set in London 1822, this spring.

Although devoted to her Heroines (bright and articulate) and Heroes (handsome with a touch of arrogance), Anne enjoys the creation of a good and believable villain. The course of true love should be troubled until the last couple of pages, Anne feels, and a strong antagonist is so helpful in achieving that.

Amazon Author Page

Tweet to me at anne_stenhouse

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Clothe Your Characters


Clothe  your characters carefully because although Manners Maketh the Man, you are instantly attracted or repelled by the appearance of a new person and a lot of that effect is created by what they’re wearing.

early 2012 087

Elegant? Tarty? One of the greatest examples of how clothes matter is Eliza Doolittle from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion – better known to most as My Fair Lady. Eliza’s beauty cannot be hidden, but her acceptance depends on much more. She’s the focus of an experiment in speech, but she’s also dressed to fit in with the people the professor wants her to mingle with.

Pretty Lady is the same. Julia Roberts character is so transformed by the cocktail dress, her man doesn’t at first ‘see’ her on that bar stool.

The excerpt I chose for MuseItUp’s Sunday Musings today, is this from Mariah’s Marriage:

“Peter sketched a tiny bow and Mariah knew he was still smarting from his dismissal the previous afternoon. He straightened and looked past her to study the two ladies making such elegant splashes of colour in the home where visitors usually wore un-dyed woollen garments of no colour and no particular cut. Mariah saw a combative light flash into his pale eyes. No doubt he recognised the resemblance between the women and the family likeness to Mr. Longreach.”

Throughout the book there is a tension between the fashionable and the intelligentsia who might very well ignore the egg stains on their waistcoat fronts. I think it adds to characterisation, but what do you think? Can you see the person inside the packaging?

Mariah’s Marriage UK amazon

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Artisans, Design Education and the Luxury Trades in Scotland 1780 – 1914

This one, Thomas Pitts, London 1761

Professor Stana Nenadic gave an absorbing (I missed my bus!) and enticingly illustrated talk about Scottish artisans, design education and the luxury trades in Scotland last night under the auspices of the Old Edinburgh Club.

I joined the club with just this sort of little gift in mind. Like many another historical novelist, I tour stately homes, scale the ramparts of ruinous castles and haunt costume museums, but you don’t always get the words right and the cheery assistant doesn’t always get the function of a piece exactly right.

Professor Nenadic chose a glass epergne made in Edinburgh to mark the marriage of Queen Victoria as the main item to illustrate her theme. The epergne was already out of favour as a functional piece at that time and by the time the craftsman had finished making his one, it was already a museum candidate.

Design education was increasingly important for the apprentice artisan from the middle of the nineteenth century on. Many firms sent their boys to the major centres. I suspect many families have in their possession wonderful ‘prentice pieces created by some of these lads towards the end of their course.

And what was the function of an epergne? It sat in the middle of the dining room table and displayed food. It’s heyday was that time when the whole meal was sent to the table at once and before the kind of service we now experience.

Bella’s Betrothal

Mariah’s Marriage

George Square and, maybe, the Street where you live


The Menzieses' House No 20

The Menzieses’ House No 20

Bella’s Betrothal is set in George Square, Edinburgh. George Square is called after George Brown, the brother of the architect, and not after a Royal personage. It’s an historical romance so apologies to the contemporary occupants of No 20.

My friend has just alerted me to a google map produced by Edinburgh City Libraries.

It looks like a lot of fun although an awful lot of the blurbs contain young ladies found naked and dead. Bella’s Betrothal celebrates intelligent gifted women and is a lot more appropriate for an upbeat approach to International Woman’s Day, I think. Not that I believe the battle is won. Sadly, there’s a long way to go in winning hearts and minds.

Bella’s Betrothal

Back to that map. Bella’s Betrothal isn’t on it because at present the book is electronic medium only. You can buy, at a very reasonable price, from most reputable online stores. Here’s a few for starters:

amazon, amazon US omnilit Barnes & Noble Kobo


30 Interesting Facts about Books

Interesting Literature

30 fun facts about books, in honour of World Book Day 2015

SF writer Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) is the only author to have published a book in all ten Dewey library categories.

When asked what book he’d like to have with him on a desert island, G. K. Chesterton replied, ‘Thomas’s Guide to Practical Shipbuilding.’

Hugh Lofting, author of Dr Doolittle, thought books should have a ‘senile’ category to complement the ‘juvenile’ section.

Dickens’s house had a secret door in the form of a fake bookcase. The fake books included titles such as ‘The Life of a Cat’ in 9 volumes.

Playwright Joe Orton went to prison in 1962 for defacing library books. One of the cartoons he drew shows an elderly tattooed man in trunks.

Books BerlinThe first book bought on Amazon was called Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought.


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Another Reading Challenge

Passages to the Past is running a reading challenge for Historicals.


I failed miserably last year, but I’m having another go. Aiming low, Victorian Reader – five books. I’ve already read one, Marguerite Kaye’s Outrageous Confessions of Lady Deborah, and reviewed it here.

Wish me luck. What are you reading?

I’ve got loads of new publications to look forward to:

Gill-Marie Stewart – Music and Lies

Rosemary Gemmell – The Highland Lass

Tony Shephard – The Namestone

Bill Daly – Double Mortice

And of course, my very own DAISY’S DILEMMA which picks up the story of Lady Daisy from Mariah’s Marriage. Edits will soon be underway. The cover art is in process. Excitement is high in Stenhouse Towers.