Jenny Kane: Coffee, cupcakes, chocolate and contemporary fiction / Jennifer Ash: Medieval crime with hints of Ellis Peters and Robin Hood

Category: Historical fiction Page 1 of 23

10 years of Romancing Robin Hood!

Unbelievably, it is 10 YEARS, since the first edition of my part contemporary romance / part medieval crime novel, Romancing Robin Hood was published!

Since that time, it has been through two incarnations, with two different publishers.

At first it looked like this…

At the moment, it looks like this!

Will the cover change again? Quite possibly, for my previous publisher has retired from the business, and I’m on the hunt for a new one…so who knows! In the meantime, Romancing Robin Hood, is available – with the above cover – as a self published tale.

Here’s the Blurb:

When you’re in love with a man of legend, how can anyone else match up?

Dr Grace Harper has loved the stories of Robin Hood ever since she first saw them on TV as a teenager. Now, with her fortieth birthday just around the corner, she’s a successful academic in Medieval History—but Grace is stuck in a rut.

Grace is supposed to be writing a textbook on a real-life medieval criminal gang—the Folvilles—but instead she is captivated by a novel she’s secretly writing. A medieval mystery which entwines the story of Folvilles with her long-time love of Robin Hood—and a feisty young woman named Mathilda of Twyford.

Just as she is trying to work out how Mathilda can survive being kidnapped by the Folvilles, Grace’s best friend Daisy announces she is getting married. After a whirlwind romance with a man she loves as much as the creatures in her animal shelter, Daisy has press-ganged Grace into being her bridesmaid.

Witnessing Daisy’s new-found happiness, Grace starts to re-evaluate her own life. Is her devotion to a man who may or may not have lived hundreds of years ago really a substitute for a real-life hero of her own? Grace’s life doesn’t get any easier when she meets Dr Robert Franks—a rival academic who she is determined to dislike but finds herself being increasingly drawn to… If only he didn’t know quite so much about Robin Hood.

Suddenly, spending more time living in the past than the present doesn’t seem such a good idea..

Available from all good retailers, including : Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Romancing Robin Hood is a contemporary romance about history lecturer Dr Grace Harper, who is passionate about Robin Hood and the historical outlaws that may have inspired him. Not only does this novel tell the story of Grace’s fight to find time for romance in her busy work filled life, it also contains a secondary story about the fourteenth century criminal gang Grace is researching- the Folvilles. This family, based in Ashby-Folville in Leicestershire, were a group I researched in-depth as a student many moons ago.

In the novella she is writing, Grace’s fourteenth century protagonist Mathilda is getting to know the Folville family rather better than she would have liked. As well as living with them, she suddenly finds herself under a very frightening type of suspicion. I rather enjoyed weaving this sub plot around the main romance of the modern part of Romancing Robin Hood. This was the first time I’d ever written any sort of crime, and I’d had no idea killing someone off could be so much fun!! It was rather like doing a jigsaw from in the inside out, while having no idea where the corners are! I loved it so much, that it led to me writing all four of the #FolvilleChronicle novels.

In fact, the writing of Romancing Robin Hood has led me on many an adventure; none of which I saw coming. It was this novel that inspired Barnaby Eaton-Jones to invite me to the Hooded Man event in 2016 to sell my books – this celebration of all things Robin of Sherwood,  changed my life forever. After the success of my sales and the wonderful feedback from the guests there,  I was invited to have a go at writing audio books and novels for the ongoing series; a series which just happened to be my favourite of all time.

Now, 8 years later, here we are celebrating the show’s 40th anniversary, and I’m still writing scripts and books for the fans to enjoy. And I love it!!!

Not only that, but my many visits to Robin Hood events and conventions have led me to begin a brand new series of #cosycrime novels- the first being Manuscript Mysteries at The Robin Hood Club.

Manuscript Mysteries at the Robin Hood Club

I had no idea, when I wrote Romancing Robin Hood, that it would take me so far from being a romcom writer. While I still love writing romcoms and romances, I am now also a crime writer, a cosy crime writer, and audio script writer and more…

Best of all – I’m a happy writer.

Thank you to everyone for their ongoing support!!

Jenny xx

Opening Lines with May Ellis: Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls

I’m delighted to welcome May Ellis, a.k.a Alison Knight, to my place today to share the #openinglines from her brand new novel, Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls.

Over to you May…

Hello Jenny,

Thanks so much for inviting me to share the opening lines of my new historical saga, Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls. This is the second in my Clarks series, but it was actually the first one I wrote! I’d been asked by my publishers, Boldwood Books, to write about the Clarks shoe factory in the First World War and I actually decided to start it a little way into the conflict because the Clark family were pacifists and influenced many people in Street, Somerset, where their headquarters are still based. By 1915, the government were hinting that conscription would be brought in if not enough men enlisted voluntarily. My editor loved this book, but wanted me to write a prequel, showing the story prior to 1915. Thus, The Clarks Factory Girls at War became the first book in the series and Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls is the second. I’ve just finished writing book three and am starting on book four, so watch out for more stories about Louisa, Kate and Jeannie in the future.

I hope you enjoy the opening lines of Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls.

With love,  May Ellis

BLURB for Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls by May Ellis

1915: As war continues to rage across the Channel, the families of the Somerset village of Street can no longer avoid its long shadow.

Workers in the Clarks shoe factory, at the heart of the village, have left for the army in droves, and news from the Front seems to grow darker by the day.

When life-long friends Louisa, Jeannie and Kate receive the news they had been fearing, all hope seems lost. And Louisa’s world will be rocked further when she makes another discovery, one that will see her cast out by her family, changing her life forever.

Kate and Jeannie are determined to be strong for their friend, but each of them has their own problems to bear, and when Jeannie’s beloved brother Lucas enlists, she fears history is about to repeat itself.

Can the Clarks factory girls help each other through the darkest days and keep hope alive?

The second in the heartwarming and gripping new saga series perfect for fans of Elaine Everest and Rosie Clarke.

***

First 500 words…

September 1915

Louisa smiled as she ran a loving hand over the crisp cotton bedsheets that she had just placed in her bottom drawer. In the weeks since her sweetheart Mattie had been away fighting in France, she had been working hard, adding to her collection of household items so that when he came home they would be ready to start married life together.

Her smile turned to a grin as she remembered him teasing her about the first things she’d bought. ‘I’ve got a nice tea set, some pillowcases and a tin-opener so far,’ she’d told him.

Mattie had burst out laughing.

‘What’s so funny?’ she had asked.

He had shaken his head, still chuckling. ‘Nothing at all, love. I’m just thinking that at least we can have a cuppa, open a tin of sardines and then have somewhere to rest our heads. I can’t wait to use them.’

‘Oh, you,’ she had giggled, poking him in the ribs. ‘My ma always said you need to be able to feed and water your man, then he’ll need his rest.’

‘Sensible woman, your ma.’

Now she had sheets and blankets as well as the pillowcases. She felt her blood warm as she imagined them lying together in their marriage bed.

‘Oh, Mattie,’ she sighed. ‘I miss you so, my love. I wish this awful war would end.’

She tucked his latest letter into the beribboned bundle she kept in the drawer with their treasures. He had kept his promise, writing to her most days, even though it sometimes took a while for them to reach her. His letters were full of love and their plans for the future, interspersed with funny stories about army life. She knew he was playing down the hardships of life in the trenches, not wanting her to worry – although how could she not? She suspected that making things seem amusing helped him to cope with the harsh realities of war as well.

Her own responses to him were written in the same vein – silly stories about life working at the Clarks shoe factory and outings with her friends, Kate and Jeannie. She tried not to mention her parents and their disapproval of her relationship with Mattie on account of their different religions. She was still convinced that it was her Anglican father’s influence that had persuaded Mattie, a Quaker, to enlist. It still made her stomach churn when she thought of it.

She took a calming breath and closed the drawer. It was nearly time for church. She would pray to God to keep Mattie safe and bring him and all the other lads home soon.

As she left her room and walked downstairs, there was a knock at the front door.

‘Whoever can that be at this time on a Sunday morning?’ muttered her mother as she went to open it.

As Louisa reached the hall, she recognised the voice of Peg Searle – Kate’s sister.

‘Good morning, Mrs Clements,’ she said. ‘Would it be …

***

You can buy May’s latest novel from all good book and ebook retailers, including:  https://mybook.to/thefactorygirlssocial

BIO

May Ellis lives in a road named after a Clarks shoe on the site of a former shoe factory, so it was inevitable that this writer would want to write about the people who worked for Clarks in days gone by.

Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls is the second in a series of stories about Louisa, Jeannie and Kate, who work together at Clarks during the First World War, the first being The Clarks Factory Girls at War.

May Ellis is published by Boldwood Books. She also writes as Alison Knight and is a co-founder of Imagine Creative Writing with fellow author Jenny Kane.

https://www.facebook.com/alison.knight.942

Many thanks May.

Happy reading everyone.

Jenny x

Opening Lines with May Ellis: The Clarks Factory Girls at War

This week, I’m delighted to welcome May Ellis, to share the #openinglines of her massively successful saga, The Clarks Factory Girls at War.

Blurb

Can love blossom in times of trouble?

Life-long friends Louisa, Jeannie and Kate are following in the footsteps of their families, working at the Clarks shoe factory.

But when Britain declares war on Germany, the Somerset village of Street is shaken to its core. The Clarks factory is at the heart of life in the village, but the Clark family are Quakers and pacifists. Before long, there are fierce debates amongst the workers and tensions between those who oppose the war and those who believe the village men should go to fight.

Each of the girls must decide her own position but as brothers and sweethearts leave for France, Louisa is relieved that her sweetheart Mattie, a Quaker, who won’t be signing up. But she’ll soon find that they face fierce opposition at home as well as across the Channel.

Will the girls’ friendship be enough to keep them together, as everything around them falls apart?

A heartwarming and gripping new saga series perfect for fans of Elaine Everest and Rosie Clarke.

 *** 

Most of us have worn a pair of Clarks shoes at some point in our lives. Welcome to the village of Street in Somerset where friends Kate, Louisa and Jeannie work together in the Machine Room at the Clarks boot and shoe factory. The Clark family are major employers in the area, providing jobs for over four thousand workers. As Quakers, the Clarks live by the ethos of service and peace, and the local community benefits from their employers’ philanthropy.

Life is about to change drastically for the Clarks factory girls. The story starts on the day after war has been declared.

First 500 words of The Clarks Factory Girls at War by May Ellis.

August 1914

‘I can’t believe we’ve been at Clarks for two years already,’ said Louisa. ‘Do you remember our first day? We thought we were so grown up, didn’t we?’ She laughed. ‘We were so wet behind the ears. We’ve learned a lot since then.’

Her friends Jeannie and Kate laughed with her as the three of them climbed the stone steps to the Machine Room where they worked on the third floor of the main factory building. Above and below them was a steady stream of women and girls, all heading in the same direction. The three of them linked arms, their heads close together so they could hear each other above the noise of boots on the steps and the women’s chatter, as they’d done every day for the past two years since they started work together on this very day.

‘Oh, my word, I was so scared,’ said Kate. ‘I was so glad you two were with me, or I’m sure I’d have turned tail and run.’

That surprised Louisa, because Kate always seemed so fearless. She was the first to argue, the last to back down and she had the loudest laugh of the three of them. ‘Why were you scared?’ she asked.

Kate shrugged. ‘I stood in the doorway, looking around that huge room. It was noisy and smelly and… I don’t know… overwhelming, I suppose.’

‘I know what you mean,’ said Jeannie. She was the quietest of the trio, brought up in a Quaker family, generations of whom had worked for Clarks and worshipped alongside the family who owned the factory. She had a calm and thoughtfulness that Louisa appreciated and didn’t often find amongst her other acquaintances.

‘I always knew a lot of women worked in here,’ Kate went on, ‘including my sister Peg until she got married, but seeing all three hundred of them in the one big room was a shock.’

Jeannie nodded. ‘The smell of the machine oil and the leather made me feel sick. I was sure I’d skewer my hands on the machines the first time I used them, and the foreman scared me to death.’

The industrial sewing machines on which the girls were trained to stitch shoe linings were big and fierce, as was Mr Briars, the foreman. It had taken some getting used to, and many a week had passed before they got the hang of the machines and didn’t lose a good portion of their wages by being charged for wasted thread when they made mistakes and had to unpick their pieces.

‘I’m glad we started together,’ said Louisa, remembering her own nervousness on her first day at work.

‘So am I,’ said Jeannie. ‘Being with you both, my best friends from school, made it more exciting than frightening. And it was lucky Mr Briars used the same system as our teachers of putting girls in alphabetical order, so we got to stay together – Jeannie, Kate and Louisa – J. K. L.’

Louisa squeezed her arm. ‘I …

***

If you’d like to buy a copy of May’s latest novel, you can buy it here:

https://mybook.to/clarksfactorysocial

Author Bio

Readers may have come across May Ellis under her other pen name of Alison Knight. She has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between. She founded Imagine Creative Writing with Jenny Kane with whom she organises regular writing retreats.

In her mid-forties she went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time.

She signed her first three-book publishing contract with Accent Press a year after she completed her master’s degree. Three further books were published by Darkstroke books in 2020-21. The Clarks Factory Girls at War, written as May Ellis and published by Boldwood Books, is her seventh novel and the first in a five-book series.

This new May Ellis saga series with Boldwood Books focusses on three friends, Kate, Louisa and Jeannie, who work at the Clarks shoe factory in Somerset in the First World War.

Social Media Links

https://www.facebook.com/alison.knight.942

https://www.alisonroseknight.com/

Many thanks to May, for sharing her opening lines.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 

Opening Lines with Anna Legat: The Queen’s Avenger

It’s #openinglines time, and today I’m delighted to be welcoming Anna Legat to my blog to talk about her brand new novel, The Queen’s Avenger.

Over to you Anna…

A few years ago, I read a biography of Mary Stewart, Mary Queen of Scots: A Study in Failure. The book was a scathing assessment of the tragic monarch. The author, a modern-day historian, critically analysed Mary’s reign and concluded her a failure. But there was something missing. It was Mary herself. She had been lost in the paperwork. I set out on a mission to find her.

I read many other biographies. Some were much more forgiving, even favourable; others not so. The accounts of key events from Mary’s short life, and their interpretations, varied widely. After all, Mary Queen of Scots is one of history’s most hotly debated figures. Her contemporaries were unkind, if not openly hostile, towards her. Much evidence of her alleged wrongdoings was fabricated by her enemies. Posthumously, she was firstly vilified as an adulteress and regicide, then romanticised as a tragic heroine who ruled solely with her heart. She was neither.

Having travelled across Scotland in her footsteps, I immersed myself in her word and tried to explore it through her eyes. An image formed in my mind of Mary as a queen as well as woman. The outcome is The Queen’s Avenger, Mary’s story told from the perspective of her devoted guardian and confessor, Father Ninian Winzet, who having failed to protect her, embarks on a mission to avenge her.

Blurb

1592.
The Reformation has engulfed the Holy Roman Empire. The power of Catholic church is not what it was.
   At St James’s Monastery in Ratisbon, its Scottish Abbot, Ninian Winzet, dies.
   Brother Gunther, a young Bavarian monk, discovers a hidden vault in Winzet’s scriptorium containing Winzet’s deathbed confessions.
   The revelations are shocking. If made public, they could not only ruin the late Abbot’s reputation but also harm the monastery and the whole Benedictine Order.
   Winzet, a Scot by birth, tells a tragic story of Mary Stewart, a catholic queen in protestant Scotland, hounded to death by opponents both within and outside her kingdom.
   Having sworn to protect her and failing to deliver on his pledge, Winzet dedicates his life to exposing her enemies. But they are influential and practised at concealing their crimes. They are also unscrupulous and will stop at nothing.
   When Mary’s husband, King Henry, is assassinated, she is framed for his murder, imprisoned and forced to abdicate. She flees to England – only to be imprisoned by her cousin, the Queen Elizabeth.
   Winzet’s dogged investigation leads him to the real killers and their paymasters. But what recourse is there for justice?
   Thwarted in his efforts, the Abbot embarks on a mission of bloody revenge to exact his own version of justice on the men who destroyed his queen.
   Gunther is resolved to keep Winzet’s confessions secret, but he discovers that is not the only person who knows of their existence.

On his deathbed, he writes his confessions. A young Bavarian monk discovers them.

FIRST 500 WORDS…

29th September 1592, Ratisbon, Bavaria

Brother Gunther’s attention was straying. He forced his gaze up to the apsis to seek inspiration for his night prayer, but none came. The scene of the Crucifixion at the high altar – the Lord’s earthly form prostrate on the Cross, his spirit departed –­­­ served only to remind Gunther of the passing of Abbot Ninian. His thoughts drifted further to the scrolls hidden behind the wall panel in his scriptorium. Gunther was eager to get back to them.

He had uncovered them accidentally after Mass this morning. He had been assigned the task of cleaning the late Abbot’s chambers by Father Archibald who was to succeed Ninian. The office was yet to be conferred upon him by His Holiness in Rome, but that was a mere formality. Father Archibald was desirous to take residence in the elevated tower apartment as soon as possible.

Never before had Gunther been granted access to the Abbot’s lodgings. He had found his bedchamber basic in comforts, befitting the Benedictine vow of poverty and abstention: a simple bed, an enamel washbasin, a prie-dieu with a cushion to kneel upon in prayer and a wood carving of Holy Mary, her robes painted pale blue, trimmed with gold. A scourge whip with nails set in leather straps lay beside a lantern and a Holy Book on a small sideboard. A Cross of rosewood hung dominant above the door.

Abbot Ninian had been an avid advocate of ascetism. In his teachings, he would often warn the brothers against material and carnal temptations. It appeared he had lived by what he had preached.

The late Abbot’s scriptorium however painted a very different picture of his character. Gunther would have no words to describe the pandemonium he had walked into as he stepped over the threshold of the airless chamber, small as it already were, and made even smaller by the accumulation of clutter. The desk, central to the room, was grunting under the weight of heavy volumes, parchments, quills broken and spent, papers crumpled by a frustrated hand, discarded and forgotten, inkwells with the tar of dry ink hardened inside, a knife for sharpening quills, a double candlestick caked in yellow beeswax, two oil lamps, one chipped, with a missing handle, the other new, its belly glistening. The walls were draped with pine shelves heaving under the weight they carried, darkened with age, cramped with books written principally in Latin, but also a few in German, French and Italian, as well as copious pamphlets and ledgers, some bound in leather, some in wood. The smell in the scriptorium was that of mould and decay, and something sour that Brother Gunther associated with death.

He had cleared the desk and scrubbed it, spots of hard-set wax peeling off the surface like old skin from a snake. He had refilled the inkwells and sealed them with stoppers. He had gone about washing the wood-panelled walls and wiping layers of dust from the skirting boards when his eyes became drawn to an ill-fitting…

Mary Queen of Scots

Buy The Queen’s Avenger  https://mybook.to/TheQueensAvenger

Bio

Although she writes in a wide range of genres, Anna Legat is best known for her DI Gillian Marsh detective series and The Shires, her cosy murder mysteries. Anna is also the author of the historical thriller, Buried in the Past. She lives near Bath.

Join Anna Legat on Twitter @LegatWriter, FB @AnnaLegatAuthor and Instagram at @LegatAuthor

***

Many thanks, Anna.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

Opening Lines with Rachel Brimble: Dressing the Countess

It’s #openinglines time!

I’m delighted to be welcoming the brilliant Rachel Brimble back to my blog, to talk about her latest novel – published this very day!

Over to you, Rachel…

Hi Jenny!

Thank you so much for having me back on your blog and the opportunity to share the first 500 words of my brand new novel Dressing the Countess, which comes out today!

Blurb 

Fans of Kristy Cambron and Mimi Matthews will adore this Victorian romance from historical fiction dynamo, Rachel Brimble.

Seamstress Rose Watson cannot believe her good fortune when she’s plucked from obscurity to work for Lady Christina, the Countess of Bath. Despite her parents’ distrust that the position will come with conditions, Rose accepts the unexpected offer. 

When she arrives at the royal residence of Henlow House, a strange sense of destiny whispers through her, and Rose cannot wait for this new adventure to begin. Although, she has Henry Ward to deal with, the handsome, risk-taking and—though she is loath to admit it—exciting royal saddler and horse trainer, who both fascinates and frustrates her in equal measure. 

Rose and Henry could not be more different…with the exception of their hunger for more.

But as they begin to trust one another, and their bond flourishes, Rose’s connection with Henry could cause her to lose her position at Henlow House, which would destroy her. Will she be forced to choose between love and ambition? Either choice will change her life irrevocably.

A captivating escape that will touch your heart and keep you turning pages with impatient hope for Rose… 

This is an historical romance set in the fictional court of the Earl and Countess of Bath and revolves around the lives and developing romance of royal seamstress Rose Watson and master saddler, Henry Ward.

The opening snippet I am sharing is the lead up to the most pivotal moment of Rose’s life. Enjoy!

Here’s the first 500 words, exactly…

Regent Street, London, March 1866

Rose Watson tightened her hold on her sketchbook and walked in a slow circle around the mannequin in front of her, her head tilted and eyes narrowed. A dart of hazy sunshine streaming through the shop window lit her work in a delicate glow, heartening Rose’s hope that the lady’s dresser—Mrs. Hayworth, who had ordered the dress—would be delighted with it. Despite her trepidation, the longer Rose stared at her creation, the more persistently a smile pulled at her lips. There could be no denying it. The dress was a triumph. Her best yet.

She lightly ran her hand over the emerald-green velvet of the embroidered bodice, her fingertips tracing the whorls and swirls of intertwined vines and the shimmering silver thread edging the butterflies’ wings as they frolicked from waist to décolletage. The jet beading on the sash, as well as trimming the cuffs and hem glinted, the delicate black overlay falling perfectly over the skirt, making the stiffness and aches Rose had suffered in her knuckles and back during the stitching worth every uncomfortable minute.

Oh, how desperate she was to know the identity of the woman who would wear it! Mrs. Hayworth had been so reticent, so discreet about her mistress, it was impossible to guess. Whoever she might be, her dimensions proved her fortunate enough to possess a perfectly proportioned figure and, although unusually tall, Rose had no doubt the woman’s height would only make her more striking. Mrs. Hayworth had shared with Rose’s father that her mistress had light-brown hair, blue eyes, an olive complexion, and a deep love of nature, especially of the world’s creatures. All details Rose had kept at the forefront of her mind while designing and making the dress.

She glanced at the wall clock and drew in a long, calming breath. Mrs. Hayworth was due at any moment for a final viewing and—fingers crossed—a concluding endorsement. If she approved…Rose closed her eyes. Please let her approve. Only then would Rose carefully remove the dress from its mannequin and prepare it for delivery.

“Oh, Rose. It’s marvelous.” Florence Davis, Rose’s friend and fellow seamstress, entered the shop from the back room and slid her arm around Rose’s waist, hugging her close. “Whoever this dress belongs to owes you a hundred thank-yous.”

Rare nerves took flight in Rose’s stomach as her confidence faltered. “Do you really believe it will meet her expectations?”

Florence laughed. “How could it not? It’s beautiful.”

“I am certainly proud of it, but…” Rose eased out of her friend’s embrace and circled the mannequin again, the heels of her shoes tapping the floorboards. “It doesn’t matter how much I believe this dress is my finest work. Not knowing who will wear it makes me uneasy. She could be anyone. Her taste a million miles from mine. Mrs. Hayworth was so very vague with her brief, leaving all to me and my imagination.”

“Which is a good sign. You have…

You can buy Dressing the Countess from all good retailers: https://geni.us/B3SPq

Bio:

Rachel lives with her husband in a small town near Bath, England.

She is the author of 30 novels and has been published by Harlequin Mills & Boon, Kensington Books and others. Her most popular series include the Ladies of Carson Street trilogy and the Shop Girl series, both published with Aria Fiction. Her latest novel, Dressing the Countess is her debut novel with Harpeth Road Press.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Female Entrepreneur Association and has thousands of social media followers all over the world. She is also studying for a history degree with the Open University.

To sign up for her newsletter (a guaranteed giveaway every month!), click here: https://bit.ly/3zyH7dt

Website: https://bit.ly/3wH7HQs

Twitter: https://bit.ly/3AQvK0A

Facebook: https://bit.ly/3i49GZ3

Instagram: https://bit.ly/3lTQZbF

BookBub: https://shorturl.at/nrxFJ 

Many thanks for your fabulous opening lines, Rachel.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Nothing’s Forgotten: Thank you Mr Carpenter

It never ceases to amaze me how the small things in life ultimately have the ability to have such a massive impact on us later. Often we don’t even notice it happening until we suddenly look back and see that if “this hadn’t happened, then that wouldn’t have happened….” and on the chain goes, link after link, until you find yourself where you are right now.

For me the chain began with a single link forty-ish years ago, thanks to an incredible writer: Mr Richard ‘Kip’ Carpenter. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

(With apologises to thos eof you who’ve heard this story before…)  I was a very shy teenager- self-conscious- awkward- the stereotypical wall flower. (Part of me still is!!) When I was fourteen I became ill- nothing life threatening, but exhausting. As a consequence I was unable to go to school for several months. My parents- to whom I will always be grateful- went to the nearest Radio Rentals and hired one of those new fangled video recorders so I could watch television whenever I liked during the day.

The very day they signed that rental agreement, an episode of Robin of Sherwood aired on ITV (an HTV and Goldcrest production). That episode was called Adam Bell, and was the ninth episode of the third series- I watched it over and over again.

For the first time in my life I had fallen in love.

RH books 2

Not with any of the cast as such- I fell for the legend.  It truly wasn’t the tight tights that had captured my heart – it was the story. The whole story. All of it. I wanted to know everything- EVERYTHING- that could possibly be known about Robin Hood. No film, book (nonfiction or fiction), was safe from me.

My walls disappeared under posters of RH- any posters- from Errol Flynn, to Richard Greene, to the statue up in Nottingham, to the gorgeous Ray Winstone who played Will Scarlet (Okay- you have me there- I had – still do- have a soft spot for Ray Winstone- there is such a twinkle in those eyes!!!)

The interest became an obsession (In RH not Ray Winstone). When I was better my parents took me to Sherwood- I learnt archery, I read medieval political poems and ballads- I wanted to know the truth- did he exist or didn’t he?

I did a project on RH for my A’ level History. Then I went to university and did a specialist course in Medieval Castle and Ecclesiastical Architecture…I was a medieval junky!! It seemed only natural to do a PhD on the subject- and that is exactly what I did! And all because I’d watched an episode of Robin of Sherwood.

The power of the writing, acting (and therefore casting), not to mention directing of this one show, had a massive impact on my life back then. Of course, I had no way of knowing then, how long that impact would last.

Robin Hood Statue- Nottingham

By this time (in my early twenties), I was pretty certain why the Robin Hood legend had begun- but I wanted to know who had influenced it into the form we know today, and how the real recorded crimes and daily life of the thirteenth and fourteenth century had effected those stories…

It was my PhD that taught me to write- (a tome of epic proportions that is still knocking around my old Uni library gathering dust, while e-versions of it are scattered around many American Universities, and for the really keen, an online PDF version is available…).

Rather than finish off my love of Robin Hood, my PhD polished it to perfection!!

I guess it was only a matter of time before I decided to write a novel about a Robin Hood obsessed historian. (Romancing Robin Hood) And it was all thanks to one man, Richard Carpenter, writing a television show that was so powerful, it never left my mind – and never will.

So, fast forward, 40 (ish) years on from watching that initial episode and – as many of you know – I’m now the show’s chief writer (audio scripts and novels). I have no idea how that happened – well, I do , but I can’t quite believe it!!

One thing I do believe in however, is the importance of saying thank you.

Long before I’d met anyone to do with the creating of the show – past and present – I had wanted to thank the cast, crew, and writers of Robin of Sherwood. They set me on a course that has taken me from a shy child to an adult who has learnt how to handle that shyness, and given me a career I love. It’s difficult to do this without coming across like a crazed fan or some sort of hyper fan-girl (I’m neither- just a regular fan!)- but now I have that chance.

Thank you all.

Cast and crew of Robin of Sherwood – and me! (@Kim Jones)

Sadly, I wasn’t lucky enough to meet Richard Carpenter, for he passed away sometime before I began to write – but I will always be grateful to him. His skill, his depth of character creations, his vision for what he wanted to see on the screen, have taught me so much – not to mention how much joy he brought to so many with his work. (Robin of Sherwood was just one production – Mr Carpenter did so much more; Dick Turpin, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Borrowers…. and more.)

As my time writing for Robin of Sherwood draws to an end (the 40th anniversary year is the right time to stop, so I don’t start to dilute the brand) – I am turning to a new adventure. Again, one very much inspired by my writing hero. This time, it is cosy crime – and a series of books, which will go by the subtitle of #TheRobinHoodClub.

Book One: Manuscript Mysteries at The Robin Hood Club, will be published on 28th April – the day of Robin of Sherwood’s 40th birthday.

The new enterprise is dedicated to Mr Carpenter. After all, I owe him so much.
RH- RoS 2
“Nothing’s Forgotten. Nothing is ever forgotten.”

Jenny

xxx

 

The Clarks Factory Girls at War: Blog Tour

I’m delighted to be hosting one leg of May Ellis’s #blogtour for her brand new #saga ,

The Clarks Factory Girls at War.

BLURB: The Clarks Factory Girls at War

Can love blossom in times of trouble?

Life-long friends Louisa, Jeannie and Kate are following in the footsteps of their families, working at the Clarks shoe factory.

But when Britain declares war on Germany, the Somerset village of Street is shaken to its core. The Clarks factory is at the heart of life in the village, but the Clark family are Quakers and pacifists. Before long, there are fierce debates amongst the workers and tensions between those who oppose the war and those who believe the village men should go to fight.

Each of the girls must decide her own position but as brothers and sweethearts leave for France, Louisa is relieved that her sweetheart Mattie, a Quaker, who won’t be signing up. But she’ll soon find that they face fierce opposition at home as well as across the Channel.

Will the girls’ friendship be enough to keep them together, as everything around them falls apart?

A heartwarming and gripping new saga series perfect for fans of Elaine Everest and Rosie Clarke.

My Review

This is the first novel in a new series of sagas, written by May Ellis, for Boldwood Books.

Set in and around the Clarks shoe making factory in Street, Somerset, England, the reader is quickly drawn into the world of three young women – Louisa, Jeannie and Kate. It is 1914, and war has just been declared.

Wartime brings new challenges as the friends face abrupt changes in their home and working lives. With their private dreams of romance and fun in jeopardy, the girls are fearful for the countries future, the fate of their brothers, other family members, and friends who are heading off to fight. A situation made even more uncertain by their employers, the Clarks family, who, as Quakers, are vehemently against the hostilities.

Will the Clark’s men by arrested if they refuse to fight? Will the Clarks family welcome back those factory men who chose to go and fight, once the war is over and they come home again? If, they come home.

At a time when it was the norm for women to give their wages to their fathers rather than keep their hard earned money themselves; when they were raised with no other expectation than to find husbands and have families of their own, The Clarks Factory Girls at War takes Lousia, Jeannie and Kate on a three separate, but interconnected, journeys from girlhood to womanhood. We learn how they cope – or struggle to cope – with what life throws at them and their families, friends and factory colleagues.

This is a lovely story of hope, friendship, and the joy and heartbreak of romantic aspirations…

Purchase Link – https://mybook.to/clarksfactorysocial

Author Bio –

May Ellis is an historical saga author published by Boldwood Books. She lives in a house on a road named after a Clarks shoe, on the site of a former boot and shoe factory, so it was inevitable that this writer would want to write about the people who worked for Clarks in days gone by. The first in her series, The Clarks Factory Girls at War, is available from 9th March 2024.

She also writes gritty dramas set in the 1960s and 70s as Alison Knight, which are published by Darkstroke Books.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alison.knight.942

(This blog forms part of a Rachel’s Random Resources #blogtour.)

Opening Lines: Her Scandalous Suitor by Rachel Brimble

I’m welcoming my friend and fellow author, Rachel Brimble, back to my website today with the #openinglines from her brand new novel.

Thanks for hosting me today, Jenny!

I am thrilled to be here to share the Opening Lines of my latest historical romance, HER SCANDALOUS SUITOR (previously The Seduction of Emily). The novel is set in the beautiful city of Bath and follows Emily Darson and confidence trickster Will Samson as they are unexpectedly thrown together only to embark on an adventure filled with drama, intrigue & romance. Let the fun & games begin…

BLURB

Emily Darson assumed her future of propriety and privilege amid a loveless marriage was set in stone. At least, she did until confidence trickster Will Samson came into her life…

Then everything changed.

With each revelation about her fiancé and herself that Will uncovers, he also reveals a little more of who he is, what he has suffered, and the volatile vengeance that burns in his heart.

Can Emily really risk security for scandal? Loyalty for love? Only time will tell…

FIRST 500 WORDS

Will Samson stood at the back of the auction house, watching and waiting. Over two hundred people stood around him. Rather than part with their hard-earned cash, he suspected they were there hoping to catch a glimpse of one man in particular. The same man he waited for.

Mr. Nicholas Milne. One of Bath’s most eligible bachelors. Milne was a celebrity. A man written about and either admired…or feared. Will curled his hands into fists.

He was a rapist. A woman-beater. A dead man walking.

Today, Will was coming for Milne, ready or not. He lifted his hat and pushed the hair back from his face. The tension in his neck and shoulders grew worse as each second passed, and the ache in his temples throbbed mercilessly.

He turned his gaze once again to the open double doors at the back of the room. “Come on, you bastard. Where are you?”

The furor surrounding the sale of the day’s most prestigious lot, a diamond, ruby, and pearl necklace known as the Heart of Kingston, had escalated to fever pitch over the last few weeks. The auction house had taken full advantage of the waiting crowd by dragging out the suspense. What better way to heighten the nerves and hunger of bidders than to have them think the real prize—Milne—might not materialize after all?

Replacing his hat, Will slid out of sight behind a marble pillar. Discretion was key. Although confident the people of Bath were unaware of his real occupation, he daren’t run the risk of his carefully prepared disguise as a middle-class gentleman being exposed. When was a confidence trickster ever welcome at a high-class auction?

He closed his eyes and leaned back against the wall, planting the sole of his boot against the white alabaster. His mother’s beautiful face appeared behind his closed lids. She’d asked him countless times not to avenge the beating Milne had inflicted on her two years before, but the fire inside Will would not be extinguished until Milne was nothing but ashes.

Resentment and hatred swirled in his gut. The same emotions had long ago burned and scarred any love he was once capable of feeling for another. So many months of tracking Milne down, so many weeks of wanting to get his hands around his neck had left Will a shadow of his former self. Maybe once Milne was dead or behind bars, Will could start living again. He opened his eyes. But, in the meantime, he would make the man’s life a living hell until he decided how to ruin him completely. The only promise Will would keep to his mother was he wouldn’t hang by the neck for his endeavors. When the fever took her into God’s arms, Will’s heart and soul filled with the heinous intention to wreak vengeance on Milne. God only knew how many more women Milne had hurt in the months it took Will to track him from Bristol to Bath…

***

You can buy Her Scandalous Suitor from all good retailers, including: https://geni.us/yA4XqFR

BIO:

Rachel lives with her husband, two adult daughters and beloved Labrador in a small town near Bath, England. She is the author of 30 novels and has been published by Harlequin Mills & Boon, Kensington Books and others. Her latest series includes the Ladies of Carson Street trilogy and the Shop Girl series, both published with Aria Fiction. She also has several single titles with The Wild Rose Press. Her debut novel with Harpeth Road Press, Dressing The Countess, will be released in May 2024.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Female Entrepreneur Association and has thousands of social media followers all over the world. She is also studying for a history degree with the Open University in her spare time…

To sign up for her newsletter (a guaranteed giveaway every month!), click here: https://bit.ly/3zyH7dt

Website: https://bit.ly/3wH7HQs

Twitter: https://bit.ly/3AQvK0A

Facebook: https://bit.ly/3i49GZ3

Instagram: https://bit.ly/3lTQZbF

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Happy Valentine’s Day: Robin Hood Style

Valentines

To celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share a little of Romancing Robin Hood– my part romance/part medieval mystery novel- with you.

Romancing Robin Hood is a contemporary romance is based on the life of Dr Grace Harper, a medieval history lecturer with a major Robin Hood obsession. So much so, that instead of writing a textbook on medieval life, Grace is secretly writing a novella about a fourteenth century girl called Mathilda, who gets mixed up with a real outlaw family of the day, the Folvilles. As you read Grace’s story, you can read the medieval mystery she is writing alongside!

The problem is, Grace is so embroiled in her work and passion for outlaws, that real life is passing her by.

RH- E Flynn

With her wedding approaching fast, Grace’s best friend Daisy can’t help wishing a similar happiness to her own for her Robin Hood loving friend…

Extract

…Daisy hadn’t grown up picturing herself floating down the aisle in an over-sequinned ivory frock, nor as a doting parent, looking after triplets and walking a black Labrador. So when, on an out-of-hours trip to the local vet’s surgery she’d met Marcus and discovered that love at first sight wasn’t a myth, it had knocked her for six.

She’d been on a late-night emergency dash to the surgery with an owl a neighbour had found injured in the road. Its wing had required a splint, and it was too big a job for only one pair of hands. Daisy had been more than a bit surprised when the locum vet had stirred some long-suppressed feeling of interest in her, and even more amazed when that feeling had been reciprocated.

It was all luck, sheer luck. Daisy had always believed that anyone meeting anybody was down to two people meeting at exactly the right place, at exactly the right time, while both feeling precisely the right amount of chemistry. The fact that any couples existed at all seemed to Daisy to be one of the greatest miracles of humanity.

She pictured Grace, tucked away in her mad little office only living in the twenty-first century on a part-time basis. Daisy had long since got used to the fact that her closest friend’s mind was more often than not placed firmly in the 1300s. Daisy wished Grace would finish her book. It had become such a part of her. Such an exclusive aim that nothing else seemed to matter very much. Even the job she used to love seemed to be a burden to her now, and Daisy sensed that Grace was beginning to resent the hours it took her away from her life’s work. Maybe if she could get her book over with – get it out of her system – then Grace would stop living in the wrong timeframe.

Daisy knew Grace appreciated that she never advised her to find a bloke, settle down, and live ‘happily ever after,’ and she was equally grateful Grace had never once suggested anything similar to her. Now she had Marcus, however, Daisy had begun to want the same contentment for her friend, and had to bite her tongue whenever they spoke on the phone; something that happened less and less these days.

Grace’s emails were getting shorter too. The long paragraphs detailing the woes of teaching students with an ever-decreasing intelligence had blunted down to, ‘You ok? I’m good. Writing sparse. See you soon. Bye G x’

The book. That in itself was a problem. Grace’s publishers and colleagues, Daisy knew, were expecting an academic tome. A textbook for future medievalists to ponder over in the university libraries of the world. And, in time, that was exactly what they were going to get, but not yet, for Grace had confided to Daisy that this wasn’t the only thing she was working on, and her textbook was coming a poor third place to work and the other book she couldn’t seem to stop herself from writing.

‘Why,’ Grace had forcefully expounded on their last meeting, ‘should I slog my guts out writing a book only a handful of bored students and obsessive freaks like myself will ever pick up, let alone read?’

As a result, Grace was writing a novel, ‘A semi-factual novel,’ she’d said, ‘a story which will tell any student what they need to know about the Folville family and their criminal activities – which bear a tremendous resemblance to the stories of a certain famous literary outlaw! – and hopefully promote interest in the subject for those who aren’t that into history without boring them to death.’

It sounded like a good idea to Daisy, but she also knew, as Grace did, that it was precisely the sort of book academics frowned upon, and she was worried about Grace’s determination to finish it. Daisy thought it would be more sensible to concentrate on one manuscript at a time, and get the dry epic that everyone was expecting out of the way first. Perhaps it would have been completed by now if Grace could focus on one project at a time, rather than it currently being a year in the preparation without a final result in sight. Daisy suspected Grace’s boss had no idea what she was really up to. After all, she was using the same lifetime of research for both manuscripts. She also had an underlying suspicion that subconsciously Grace didn’t want to finish either the textbook or the novel; that her friend was afraid to finish them. After all, what would she fill her hours with once they were done?

Daisy’s mobile began to play a tinny version of Nellie the Elephant. She hastily plopped a small black guinea pig, which she’d temporarily called Charcoal, into a run with his numerous friends, and fished her phone from her dungarees pocket.

‘Hi, Marcus.’

‘Hi honey, you OK?’

‘Just delivering the tribe to their outside quarters, then I’m off to face the horror that is dress shopping.’

Her future husband laughed, ‘You’ll be fine. You’re just a bit rusty, that’s all.’

‘Rusty! I haven’t owned a dress since I went to parties as a small child. Thirty-odd years ago!’

‘I don’t understand why you don’t go with Grace at the weekend. It would be easier together wouldn’t it?’

Daisy sighed, ‘I’d love to go with her, but I’ll never get her away from her work more than once this month, and I’ve yet to arrange a date for her to buy a bridesmaid outfit.’

‘Well, good luck, babe. I’m off to rob some bulls of their manhood.’

Daisy giggled, ‘Have fun. Oh, why did you call by the way?’

‘Just wanted to hear your voice, nothing else.’

‘Oh cute – ta.’

‘Idiot! Enjoy shopping.’

As she clicked her battered blue mobile shut and slid it back into her working clothes, Daisy thought of Grace again. Perhaps she should accidentally invite loads of single men to the wedding to tempt her friend with. The trouble was, unless they wore Lincoln Green, and carried a bow and quiver of arrows, Daisy very much doubted whether Grace would even notice they were there…

If that extract has whetted your appetite for more, Romancing Robin Hood is available in paperback, and e-formats from all good retailers- including…

Kindle –
(Available via KDP for those who subscribe)
Paperback-

 

Happy Valentine’s Day,

Jenny x

 

Tiny Taster: Outlaw Justice

Continuing the story of potter’s daughter, Mathilda of Twyford, Outlaw Justice, opens in winter 1331.

All appears to be calm, but it is soon clear that a storm is coming – in the shape of Sir Richard de Willoughby.

Outlaw Justice

Blurb

England, 1331: Corrupt official, Sir Richard de Willoughby, has been appointed Justice of the Peace, with powers to hunt – and kill – those who oppose him. First on his list? The notorious Coterel brothers and their associates – the Folvilles…

The Folvilles must decide whether to flee into outlawry or take the law into their own hands – but is killing de Willoughby really the answer?

Robert de Folville is keen to dispose of the justice, but Robert’s ingenious wife, Mathilda, has a plan… one that could potentially rid them of Willoughby and yet see them escape the hangman’s noose. But these are tumultuous times and Mathilda must first put herself at great personal risk. Could the tale of a missing noblewoman, overheard by chance, be the key to solving a problem of life or death?

A gripping tale of real-life Robin Hoods, Outlaw Justice is the latest in the critically acclaimed ‘The Folville Chronicles’ series by Jennifer Ash.

Ever since she first came to the attention of the Folville family – as a kidnap victim – Mathilda of Twyford – has been learning that justice for the people of England comes at a high price. The harshest lesson of all, being that, it is often those who purport to uphold the law, that break it the most.

Here’s a tiny taster from Outlaw Justice…

Prologue

30th November 1331

‘Lady Isabel is safe, my Lord?’

‘I’ve seen her escorted to her mother in Lincolnshire by trusted friends. Her ravings these past few months have become intolerable. It’s not good for the children. I increasingly fear for her sanity.’

Keeping his countenance neutral, Bennett removed his master’s cloak. ‘May I be of assistance, my Lord? A drink after your journey perhaps?’

‘You may be of assistance by saying nothing of this to anyone. If King Edward were to hear of my wife’s shameful state, he might deem me unworthy of the office he so recently bestowed upon me.’

Bennett dipped his head respectfully and withdrew into the kitchen. He’d worked for Sir Richard de Willoughby long enough to know when to keep his mouth shut.

Damping down the kitchen fire for the night, absorbed in thought, the steward headed towards Lady Willoughby’s chamber. He’d seen no signs of mental instability. He’d heard no ravings. He had, however, heard a row between her and her husband earlier that day. The one and only time in her whole miserable marriage she’d stood up to her lord.

Pushing his mistress’s door open, Bennett surveyed the scene. Lady Isabel’s travelling cloak hung over the back of a chair by the window. Her hairbrush sat on her side table, and her riding boots waited patiently by the door.

A furrow formed on the steward’s forehead as he closed the chamber door, locking it securely behind him…

If you’d like to find out what happens next, Outlaw Justice it is available as both an ebook and paperback. It can be read as a standalone novel, or as part of #TheFolvilleChronicles

The Outlaw’s Ransom – mybook.to/theoutlawsransom

The Winter Outlaw- mybook.to/thewinteroutlaw

Edward’s Outlaw – mybook.to/EdwardsOutlaw

Outlaw Justice – mybook.to/OutlawJustice

Happy reading everyone,

Jennifer x

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