Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 54 – A Completion of Sorts

The artwork is by Israel Dov Rosenbaum 1877 and is called Design for the Eastern wall. It made a very satisfactory jigsaw as there was so much detail. Unlike the earlier ones of acres of Scottish bog and blue sky with the odd cloud, these animals, birds and artifacts all offered a clue for the compiler.

A completion of sorts for these strange times. DH and I sat around the table in the front window with a glass before supper, for a couple of nights, and watched the world go by. Not quite a street café in Munich or Palermo, but a change in the current limited routine.

Enjoyed some fresh smoked haddock from the fish van.



Round robin – May 2020 – Edits

This month Rhobin has asked us to consider: All books go through multiple edits. What have
your learned are your problems, and what irks you about editing?


I overuse ‘that’ and I have the playwright’s inability to describe scenes and thoughts. Worse than both of those, I have the problem resolved by the end of chapter one.

Many writers have a word/s. Favourites are that, just, like, okay, anyway, Well..

I’m sure you pick up the idea. When the wonderful Judy Roth, my editor at MuseItUp pointed out to me how often I used ‘that’ I was horrified. It is, however, an easy issue to tackle. Whatever your word/s is/are a quick find search will show you where the devils are lurking and you can amend the text.

Withholding information was another issue I struggled with when I changed from writing drama to prose. Drama allows you to expect there will be input from an actor and a director. You don’t need, and in fact would be daft, to explain what the character is thinking. Expression is the actor’s job assisted by input from the director.

In prose, this is not the case. The reader needs a few clues. If the heroine is shredding her reticule with her fingers, the reader knows she’s agitated. If she’s sitting peacably at the side of the room, the reader has no clue she’s so worked up it was inevitable she would fire the gun…

It’s all very well to surprise your reader, but not to trick them.

However, that kind of editing is fine by me. I actually rather enjoy it. What causes me sleepless nights and endless re-writing is the structural stuff. It is my natural disposition to explain things to people. Useless for any kind of fiction. If the hero and heroine are in complete agreement about the perfidy of his mother by the end of chapter one then there is no point in writing the rest of the book. There is no rest of the book. It has taken me years to understand I do this.

What irks me about editing is missing things. I hate opening the finished file and finding a mistake on page three. How did that happen?

Capital Writer, Jane Riddell has written a book on the subject Go here to Words’worth.

Daisy’s Dilemma

My fellow scribes share their own pet peeves. Why not pop over and check them out?


Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/

Anne Stenhouse  https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1UN
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

Round Robin – April 2020

This month’s topic comes from regular contributor, Skye Taylor.

How easy or difficult do you find including
humour in your   writing and/or have you ever incorporated a true life
humorous event in your own life or the life of someone you know in a
book you were writing?

Well, not difficult at all. In fact my tagline is ‘dialogue rich Scottish Regency with a touch of humour’.

I love the touch of the ridiculous real life often throws at us and it isn’t hard to take a normal action and with a tiny twist turn it into something richer and funnier. In Mariah’s Marriage when Tobias needs to make an apology to Mariah, he sends her flowers. He sends her so many flowers that the house runs out of vases and everyone’s senses are overcome by the powerful scent. Why?

He does need to make an apology. A bunch of flowers is what anyone might do. Several bunches of flowers support his sincerity, his wealth and his acknowledgement that Mariah is different from the other women who may have been in his life. He is nonetheless nervous that Mariah may turn down his proposal. She has reason because he has been manipulative.

Because a work makes people laugh it doesn’t mean the work or the story are trite, light or sentimental. Making people laugh can be as thought provoking as any number of long paragraphs with long words and sinister underpinning.

On the other hand where a  story has necessitated a big emotional scene, juxtaposing it with something humorous relieves that tension and lets the reader breathe. It’s partly about pacing. Keeping the reader at knife-edge all the way through can be exhausting for them.

I do often include an older character with different world views to the central protagonists. This allows for a clash of sensibilities which, if handled well, allows the reader to laugh with the characters and not at the characters.

I can’t think of a humorous event in my own life or anyone else’s that I’ve included in my writing. Isolated conversations and the occasional good phrase or two, yes. Whole incidents, no.

Working in the sunshine

If this subject tickles your funny-bone you may wish to read about how my fellow robins handle it. Links are below.

There will be two instalments of the Lockdown Diary tomorrow.


Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1Tb
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Anne Stenhouse  https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Rhobin L Courtright https://www.rhobincourtright.com/

March round robin – what draws you into a story?

I haven’t written a post this month because I should have been away from base on an exciting holiday. Like so many other people, I’m not. Flights cancelled and a curious sort of half-life carrying on.

Not writing the post doesn’t mean I have no views on the issue. I have. As a short story judge for many years, people’s openings would drive me to distraction. I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW WHY IT ‘HAD BEEN A BAD DAY’.  As this statement was usually followed by a list of enticing snapshots (not), like the toothpaste sprayed all over his designer suit it slowed everything down and prevented the reader getting an immediate understanding of what this story is about.

My aspiration is to achieve as good an opening as Hugh Scott did in his Whitbread prize winning, Why Weeps the Brogan? I was deeply impressed by his reading of it and that feeling of dramatic excitement comes to mind when I try to get my openings right.

Courting the Countess

Melissa stood as still as her injuries allowed. Soapy water drained down her skin into the tin bath, making her shiver in the night air. A tiny breeze riffled through the steam and made her wonder if the bedroom door had opened?

“Allow me, ma’am. Your maid is unable to come to your assistance.”

The opening of my Scottish regency poses several questions a reader may find intriguing, if not in this book exciting and dramatic. How was Melissa injured? Whose is the voice? Why is her maid unable to come?

Others in the group have posted and you can find their rather more crafted thoughts here:

Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1RR
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

RNA – 60th Anniversary – Scottish Chapter

Romantic Novelists’ Association, Scottish Chapter

Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th February, the Scottish Chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association is hosting an event on Facebook to mark our contribution to the year long celebrations of this wonderful organisation.

The event is here

I warmly invite you to pop over and read the book extracts and a few wee personal details of their authors. I think you’ll find many of us began our publishing careers after submitting work through the unique New Writers’ Scheme of the RNA.

My Mariah’s Marriage was the fifth book I wrote in that scheme. Courting the Countess is my most recent e-published novel and there’s also Daisy’s Dilemma..

Mariah’s Marriage, Daisy’s Dilemma and Courting the Countess are also available in Ulverscroft, Linford Romance Library, editions.


Round Robin – January – Changes

How can contemporary fiction cope with the rapid changes of today’s world?

January’s question in the UK could hardly be more pertinent. As a writer of romance, I am grounded in its favourite tropes. Take ‘rags-to-riches’: think Cinderella.

Fast forward to 21st century and many publishing houses will welcome a rags-to-riches story with delight. Look at real life where, for example, two beautiful young women married into the House of Windsor. Neither were in rags, but both were commoners and they both got their prince.

And now the trope may have to have a twist because, for the younger prince at least, the Happy ending of the romance turned out to be a ‘Happy for Now’ ending. Apparently, he can’t have both the woman and the job. He’s chosen the woman.

In terms of romantic tropes, there have been other seismic shifts in recent years. The ‘Me-too’ movement has caused a lot of re-assessment. I find it particularly difficult to navigate as I like to write historic fiction. Is it acceptable any longer to write your story as you know it would have played out (from the many written sources available to us)? Do you have to create each new hero as a person with today’s sensibilities?

If we look at the theme in the scientific and technological fields, then there’s other coping to be done, too. My colleagues who write romantic suspense or straightforward detective fiction, can be heard muttering about mobile phones. How often can you have your heroine out of reception or battery charge, or both? Does DNA analysis remove all doubt over guilt? Well, no, as it turns out. Secondary transfer can creat doubt – at least enough for a competent lawyer to work with.

Personally, I think writers are about character and character is always there for us to describe, to use, to exploit. Regardless of how they do it, or did it, there will always be people whose will prevails and there will always be natural victims. There will always be people with minds open to persuasion and those whose minds are shut like a clam.

The writer does have to watch out for the detail. If it was possible to ask a female candidate whether she expected to have children in a 1950s job interview, it isn’t in today’s world. But then, detail always was the Devil.

Other views on this topic can be found by clicking on the links below.



Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1OK
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Anne Stenhouse  https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

Round Robin – December 2019 – and Last, but Not Least, a wee Christmassy Tale


“What do you mean? You’re not coming for Christmas.” Jess knew she was shrill. She knew it wasn’t cool to let her brother hear the need, but she was unable to stop herself. “I’ve ordered fillet steaks.”

“Look, Jess, I can’t…”

“Don’t you enjoy having Christmas with me? We hardly see each other for the rest of the year, but we always make Christmas.” She choked back a sob and heard Simon’s long intake of breath. It was just as well because it stopped her saying how they’d promised Mum they’d always look out for each other.

“We have done, but this year, I want to do something different. I’ve volunteered with a youth charity. I’m going to be in a yurt in Speyside,” Simon said in the matter of fact way he had when he’d rehearsed all the arguments and reached his decision. Jess remembered the tone well. He’d used it the night they put their dad out of the family home and advised him not to return.

“Really?” she asked. Where had this come from, she wondered. “You’re  a corporate lawyer not a social worker.”

“Very funny, not. I was hoping to let you know with a bit more time for you to do something different for yourself, but the firm sent me off to Delhi and with all the admin involved in that, I’m afraid I let it slip. My bad, Jess. Sorry.”

“Sorry,” she parroted, “Sorry. It’s Sunday night and my office is closed for two weeks, but you’re sorry. Well, that’s all right then. Conscience clear.”

“Don’t do this. I am sorry, but I’ve made the arrangements and there are people relying on me,” he said.

“I was relying on you and I thought you were relying on me, too.” Jess knew it was a mistake, but she couldn’t stem the flow.

“Enough, Jess. You’re an adult with a good job, a roof over your head and the gumption to get organised. I don’t need this emotional blackmail every year. Enjoy your break. I’ll be in touch in the New Year.”

Jess looked at the phone in her hand in bewilderment. Her brother had hung up. She tossed it onto the settee and sank to her knees in the rug. There was no point in phoning back. In this mood he’d block her calls until the New Year, and she really couldn’t cope with the reality of that.

When the central heating clicked on, Jess stared around her living room. Nothing had changed of course, but she hoped its familiarity might provide some comfort. Her legs ached and her back felt it might seize if she didn’t get up. Just as she reached her full height, the doorbell chimed.

Simon, she thought, he’s changed his mind and come over to tell me himself. She went into the hall and across to the intercom where the light was flashing. With shaky fingers, she threw the switch.

“Hullo, Jess, it’s Will here. Can I come up, please?”

“Will”, she said and Will, she thought. Will, who had a thing for her and was undeterred by her refusal of coffees, walks on Sundays, films and requests to sit in when his bridge group was short of a fourth. Will was here, today. “Why are you dressed like that?”

She watched Will on the tiny screen and saw his bewildered glance as it looked down over the chef’s tunic and stripey trousers he was wearing. Another corporate lawyer who’d taken up a secret life?

“Oh this.” She saw the hand wave around in the air as it so often did when she fixed her gaze on him. “Look, can I come up. I need to ask you something, please.”

Jess buzzed him in. Whatever it was, she’d get rid of him as soon as and return to whatever she was doing when he arrived. She caught sight of her tear-stained appearance and grabbed her bag to drag a comb hastily through her hair. The blotchy eyes would have to be unexplained. What she was doing when he arrived wasn’t clear in her mind. Simon wasn’t coming for Christmas.

“Thanks, Jess. Thank you so much,” Will blurted as he half-fell, half-loped into her hallway. “Look, it’s urgent. I volunteer at Crisis sometimes because getting back to Orkney has its probs, you know, weather…”

“Fog, you said last year,” Jess said and flushed a bright red to add to her blotches. Simon had suggested they could have asked Will to join them when he couldn’t get home to the islands, but she’d been horrified and refused.

“Yes, fog last year. This year my mum and my aunt are with me, but although Crisis starts tomorrow, the kitchen is offering a meal today, so I’m still able to offer them a shift.” He took a deep breath. “Sorry, I’ve been running and I’m not fit. Look, the team is three folk short because a car coming in from West Lothian has broken down. They will get into Edinburgh on a bus, but eventually. We need people to serve the food now. Could you possibly? It’s just round the corner.”

Jess stared at him in confusion. Could she go and serve food to a hall full of people she’d never met before. Moreover, the sort of people who needed charity at Christmas.

“Yes,” she heard herself say. “I could do that. Simon phoned. He’s delayed.”

Will looked as if he was about to say something else, but he changed his mind and smiled.

“Is this okay?” She waved a hand over her sweater and jeans. “Should I change?”

“Really, there’s no time. You look fine,” Will said and she heard the relief in his voice.

Jess sank into bed eight hours later and stared at the ceiling where lights from the street swirled around and made patterns in the dark. A bit like my head, she thought, as she tried to bring some order to the myriad impressions her afternoon had brought.

Bert, whose wife put him out three years ago because of his gambling. Davey whose stepdad put him out two weeks ago because he couldn’t cope with another male in the house. Tracey whose family moved away without telling her where.

Was her own father spending Christmas in a Crisis shelter somewhere, she wondered. Putting him out had seemed like the only solution when they did it. Now, she pondered. Just as sleep claimed her, she knew she’d need to try to find him. Mum was gone and he couldn’t hurt her any more.

Christmas Day broke slowly, and Arthur’s Seat was all but hidden in the fog until lunchtime. Jess went to the morning service in the local church where she was invited to stay on for coffee and mincemeat tarts. Will and two elderly ladies bore down on her as she sipped the hot liquid.

“Jess, my mum, Christina, and my aunty Meg. Happy Christmas,” Will said and kissed her lightly on the cheek.

“Happy Christmas,” she replied shyly.

“I was telling Mum and Aunty Meg how you stepped in yesterday. It was so good of you, Jess,” Will said, and Jess smiled again.

“Do you know, I think it’s made this year the best Christmas I’ve ever had,” she said.

“Really? Well, that’s quite a claim,” Will said.

“Simon phoned earlier. He’s helping a youth group in Speyside, he says.” She laughed. “I think there might be a lady, though.”

Will blushed and Jess realised he’d known. They weren’t in the same legal firm, but it was a comparatively small world.

“Now, Jess,” Mrs Stout was saying, “I do hope we can persuade you to have your denner with us.”

“Aye, indeed, lass,” Aunty Meg added. “There’s too much of this individualism stuff around in my opinion.”

“Oh, I couldn’t possibly,” Jess spluttered. “When there’s only three of you, there won’t be spare to accommodate an extra.”

“Don’t believe it,” Will said. “I laid in everything they have in Orkney and they brought down everything they would have had in Orkney.”

“Can’t be too careful,” Mrs Stout said. “We know where the animals have been.”

“Aye, indeed,” said Aunty Meg. “Grass-fed beef, cream and butter…”

“It’s not a farming commercial we need, Aunty Meg.” Will turned to Jess as his aunt choked a little on her coffee. “Please, Jess. After all your hard work yesterday, it would be my pleasure.”

She nodded. Just at that moment, words failed.


copyright Something Different Anne Stenhouse

Crisis Charity

Courting the Countess

I hope you enjoyed my little story and it may have whetted your appetite for some more quality fiction. Other Robins writing for you this year:

Connie Vines  http://mizging.blogspot.com

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1Ng
A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

Surprise Price Reduction

Courting the Countess was on offer from Endeavour Media at 99p Now available for £2.99

Lady Melissa Pateley is not having an easy time of it.

Her beloved husband Neville has died, and a fire at her London home has left her covered in scars.

If it wasn’t for a band of loyal servants, she’s not sure how she would survive.

Things take a turn for the worse when one day, Colonel Harry Gunn and his fellow soldier Zed break into her home, bundle her into a coach and kidnap her.

She is at a loss until she learns that Harry Gunn is the cousin of George Gunn, a man who has been stalking her for years, and that Harry’s Uncle John had warned him that as long as George is out there, Melissa is not safe.

Uncle John insists that Harry finds Melissa and keeps her safe.

But that very night George shows up at Harry’s home with Harry’s sister Lottie, who thinks Melissa and George would make a good match.

Perhaps Melissa would have been safer at home after all.

Yet even with her scars, she is certain that the handsome Colonel Gunn is attracted to her.

But of course, nothing is ever simple.

Startling revelations rip the family apart, causing everyone to question what they once held dear.

As Colonel Gunn goes in search of George and the truth, he has to wonder – had the keeping of secrets not marred more lives than the secrets would have destroyed?

Round Robin – Plotting

Rhobin’s topic for September is about plotting. She wonders what, in designing our plots, we rely on most: personal experience, imagination or research.

This is a really difficult question to answer because its list of choices belies the delicate meshing of these three aspects of writing. They intertwine in a seamless fashion in my practice.

INMAGINATION – probably takes the lead, if I have to choose, because if you weren’t imagining, how would you progress to story? Say you’re on the bus and have to listen to a drunk setting the world to rights, by their way of thinking. It’ll be garbled non-sense, but it will have grains of their experience buried in the damaged psyche. So my writer’s brain is already at work. Did he say his mother had no time for him because she was an actress? Did she say her father had no time for her because she was female? On and on, over and over till the essence of story is distilled. That probably leads on to:

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE – so, discounting the inciting incident, be it drunk on bus, toddler having tantrum, stray deer in garden, I will consider what my wider experience of life can bring to the fledgling idea. In particular, I am influenced by place. Ocasionally, I experience a wash of feeling that alerts me to a theme long buried in my subconscious. I can only compare it to the hormonal reactions we all have when confronted by some circumstances. There’s a story here and it wants/needs to break free. This scene in the nether regions of a country house underpinned quite a few stories:

The Laundry

I can almost smell bleach just looking at it now. And that brings me rather neatly to:

RESEARCH – because memory is notoriously faulty, research is needed. I write historical romance, but I do not make up the history. I write contemporary magazine fiction, but I don’t know everything about anything, really. One of the things I find about research, particularly when working in the historical genre, is that often I don’t know what I need to know when I start writing. I will have read a lot around and in the area, studied maps of the time, looked at fashion plates, but there comes that moment of uncertainty. When were scissors invented? What year was the window tax?

Another thought provoking topic from Rhobin. Thank you Ma’am. Other writers give their take and you can read them from the links below.

Capital Writers will have a bit of news shortly. Come back soon to find it out.


Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1IK
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Anne Stenhouse  https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

Round Robin – Travel or Holidays in Fiction

This month Rhobin has asked us to post an extract from one of our novels dealing with either travel or holidays. I have chosen the second book I wrote for MuseItUp, Bella’s Betrothal. It opens in the midst of a journey Lady Isabella Wormsley has had to undertake with only her maid and some retainers to accompany her. A lady travelling alone is vulnerable, but some of them are no pushover…

Blurb for Bella’s Betrothal:

While she is travelling north to find sanctuary from the malicious gossip of the Ton, Lady Isabella Wormsley’s room in a Dalkeith inn is invaded by handsome Scottish Laird, Charles Lindsay. Charles has uncovered a plot to kidnap her, but Bella wonders if he isn’t a more dangerous threat, at least to her heart, than the villainous Graham Direlton he wrests her from. Bella settles into the household of her Aunt Hatty Menzies in Edinburgh’s nineteenth century George Square where Charles is a regular visitor. She has been exiled to the north by her unfeeling mama, but feels more betrayed by her papa to whom she has been close. Bella hopes the delivery of her young cousin’s baby will eventually demonstrate her own innocence in the scandal that drove her from home. Bella’s presence disrupts the lives of everyone connected to her. Direlton makes another attempt to kidnap her and in rescuing her a second time, Charles is compromised. Only a betrothal will save his business and Bella’s reputation. Mayhem, murder and long suppressed family secrets raise confusion and seemingly endless difficulties. Will the growing but unacknowledged love between Bella and her Scottish architect survive the evil Direlton engineers?

The stableyard was a cold and unattractive place at seven on a September morning. There was a light drizzle and the clouds kept the smoke from the town’s fires low over the surrounding streets. Lindsay’s retainer watched in silence as Bella’s coachman and groom strapped the overnight luggage into place. She was surprised to see her men defer to him. They had found fault and irritation with ostlers and grooms and inn landlords all the way north, but Macdonald calmed them. “Where is Mr. Lindsay, Lachie?” Bella asked when he handed her onto the step of the carriage. “I thought he regarded it as imperative I did not stir a foot without his supervision.” “And nor do I, ma’am,” Lindsay said before his steward could speak. He walked two riding horses across the yard. They were serviceable enough, but not the kind of prime bloodstock Bella was used to. “I wanted to keep the horses moving and Lachie is more at ease with the tack of a travelling coach than I.” She looked over her shoulder and the sight of Charles Lindsay in fresh linen and a magnificent heather-coloured riding coat lifted her spirits. He was clean shaven and despite his night-time wanderings, radiated energy and authority. This was how her morning departures should have been, Bella thought. One of her brothers or her cousin, Humphrey Plumpton, should have been in the yards of the wretched inns having dealt with payment and new horses and all the myriad irritations a traveller faced. “Are you unwell, my lady?” Lindsay asked. “No sir. Let us get off.” Bella spoke crossly and regretted it when Lindsay’s expression showed his displeasure at her rudeness, but there was nothing she could
do to retrieve the moment. Pride would not let her admit her family had cast her off without an escort. The pain of that betrayal was like an open wound. She settled into the carriage beside Sophie and let the girl tuck a thick blanket around her. Lindsay had mounted and leaned down from his saddle to speak through the open window. “We checked on Direlton’s men earlier, gave them water. They should be discovered when the grave-diggers reach that corner of the kirkyard later this morning,” he said, and Bella’s eyes widened. “You are surprised, ma’am, but I do not want any bodies laid to my door.” “Nor I, on my behalf,” she said, although truthfully if Aubrey Daunton had died after her cousins horse-whipped him, she would not have been moved to pray for his soul. “Was this all necessary, Mr. Lindsay? Could you not simply have offered me your escort?” “We will not agree, Lady Isabella, so let us not spoil the final stage of your journey by revisiting my actions and decisions. I see you have dressed in robust clothing. Thank you for taking that care.” He leaned away and the carriage lurched forward towards the pend. Bella lifted the window glass and sat back with her eyes closed. The wheels beneath her began to roll rhythmically and she allowed a long breath to escape. It was foolish to cherish his words of praise for her behaviour in dressing as he had instructed, but the closeness of his person as he spoke made her pulse run faster. Smethwick, her coachman, yelled his displeasure at some unfortunate, and Bella felt a smile tease the corners of her mouth. Her parents may have sent her into the world with scant care, but Smethwick and Grimes had been her rocks. And Sophie. She sensed the girl was falling into sleep. They had had little enough last night. * * * *
Bella roused from a troubled doze when Grimes’s harsh accents rent the air. “It’s Mr. Menzies hisself, Smethwick. He must ’ave took care to get hisself ’ere before us, think you?” The other man grunted in assent and began to slow the horses to a walk. Uncle Mack, Bella thought, instantly awake and horrified by the tears welling and spilling. How good it was to reach Edinburgh’s environs at last and have someone waiting for her. Someone sweet and familiar who would not crossquestion her or criticise. “Quickly, Sophie, unwrap me from this rug so that I may greet my uncle.” She pulled the thick folds away from her skirts and sat impatiently while her maid tucked stray hair into place beneath her bonnet. The once elegant head gear was much battered by its journey north and the last hour or two of chance sleep had left it unsalvageable. The girl splashed lavender water onto a handkerchief and dabbed it behind Bella’s ears and onto her wrists. “Thank you, Sophie,” Bella said as the carriage lurched to a halt and Smethwick called to his team. Within a minute the door opened and her uncle stood there. Bella burst into sobs. Great sobs wracked her slight frame and she couldn’t speak. “Calmly now, my dear, calmly,” Uncle Mack said. He hauled the step down and clambered into the vehicle. His weight caused it to rock, but Bella didn’t care. Warmth and love enveloped her every bit as surely as her uncle’s ample personage. Why had she had to travel hundreds of miles to find comfort? “Uncle, I’m sorry. I am so very sorry to be such a watering pot,” she managed between the sobs that shook her shoulders. Her uncle nodded to Sophie and took the girl’s place beside her. His arms came around her, and he gathered her to him like the lost child she was. “Now, my dear, here is James, who you can see has grown beyond anything
since you met him two years ago,” Uncle Mack said, and his words brought a gangly youth forward. The reins of two horses trailed from his left hand. “Why, James,” Bella said as she recognised her uncle and aunt’s eldest son.”You are so tall.” She scrabbled to find a handkerchief and mopped up the tears on her pale skin. “But I would have known you.” “Cousin Bella,” the boy said. A fiery blush swept over his youthful features. “It is so good to have you with us again. Faither, will I ride back and lead your horse? My mither is anxious to have our cousin safely at home.” “Truth to tell, Bella, I prefer to share your carriage, if you think the team will manage up the slope off the toll road?” Uncle Mack asked, but clearly had no doubt because he waved James on as he spoke. Smethwick soon started up the team and the little procession moved off. She lay against her uncle, content to feel the rise and fall of his chest and the tapping of his fingers on her shoulder as he prattled.

Buy Bella’s Betrothal Here

The authors below are also contributing this month and you might go on over to their sites to see how their characters travel or holiday, too.


Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Marie Laval http://marielaval.blogspot.co.uk/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Anne Stenhouse  https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1GK
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com