Tag: family sagas

Northern Reads featuring Patricia M. Osborne

I’m pleased to welcome back Patricia M. Osborne to Northern Read again, this time discussing her new release, The Coal Miner’s Son.

Hi Kellie, thank you for inviting me back to ‘Northern Reads’, this time, to talk about The Coal Miner’s Son.  

The Coal Miner’s Son is a riches to rags story and the second book in family saga ‘House of Grace’ trilogy. It opens in 1962 and is set in a two-up and two-down terrace in Wintermore, a fictional coal mining village on the outskirts of Wigan in Lancashire.

            I was born in Liverpool and moved to Bolton in 1962. The experience of growing up in a two-up and two-down terrace with an outside toilet and bathing in a tin bath in front of the fire not only influenced my writing in The Coal Miner’s Son but was fabulous material to use.

After tragedy hits the small coal mining village of Wintermore, nine-year-old miner’s son, George, is sent to Granville Hall to live with his titled grandparents.

Caught up in a web of treachery and deceit, George grows up believing his mother sold him. He’s determined to make her pay, but at what cost? Is he strong enough to rebel?

Will George ever learn to forgive?

Step back into the 60s and follow George as he struggles with bereavement, rejection and a kidnapping that changes his life forever. Resistance is George’s only hope.

About Patricia:

Patricia M Osborne is married with grown-up children and grandchildren. She was born in Liverpool but now lives in West Sussex. In 2019 she graduated with an MA in Creative Writing (University of Brighton).

Patricia writes novels, poetry and short fiction, and has been published in various literary magazines and anthologies. Her first poetry pamphlet ‘Taxus Baccata’ is to be published by Hedgehog Poetry Press in Spring 2020.

Patricia has a successful blog at Patriciamosbornewriter.com where she features other writers and poets. When she isn’t working on her own writing, she enjoys sharing her knowledge, acting as a mentor to fellow writers and as an online poetry tutor with Writers’ Bureau.

Her debut novel, House of Grace, was published March 2017 and The Coal Miner’s Son, the second book in the ‘House of Grace’ trilogy was released 9th March 2020.

You can find Patricia on social media or the web here:

Facebook:

Twitter:

Instagram:

Website:

Email: patricia.m.osbornewriter@gmail.com

Patricia’s Books:

House of Grace

The Coal Miner’s Son

Contact for signed paperbacks direct  

Northern Reads featuring Mary Wood

Today I’m thrilled to welcome saga author Mary Wood (who also writes as Maggie Mason) to my blog as she discusses her Sangronian Trilogy series set in Blackpool by Maggie Mason. For those of you who have read my debut novel, you’ll know that Blackpool has a special place in Lydie’s heart. The Sangronian Trilogy Set in Blackpool by Maggie Mason.

Welcome, Mary! Tell us about how you chose Blackpool as your setting and how the north influenced your writing.

About the books – why I chose your setting – how the north influenced my writing.

The trilogy begins in the late 19th Century, in a Blackpool that is only just seeing its famous tower being built.

I have lived in, and around the outskirts of Blackpool for thirty-seven years. During my last ten years of my working life for The National Probation Service, I was posted in Blackpool, Fleetwood, Blackburn and Lancaster.

Working and living in the north has given my writing a depth, as even for my Mary Wood Books, which are set in many places from London – to France to Poland, I have always brought in a Northern Lass.

I love the north of England, for its down-to-earth people, its culture, its varying dialect and its beautiful countryside scenery.

Since living in Blackpool and surrounding area, I have come to discover that it is far more than the heart of its economy – The Golden Mile, its spectacular illuminations, and its accolade of being the most popular, British Holiday Destination.

It is home to a transient and cosmopolitan population.

And in its back streets and housing estates, the community spirit that was once the backbone of Great Britain, still thrives amongst the Sandgronians – those born in Blackpool, and the Blackpudlians – those who have made their home here, of which I proudly number myself.

Since beginning to set the books I write under a pen name of Maggie Mason in the town, I have also discovered that it has a fascinating history.

This trilogy spans a period of change both in Blackpool and the world as it takes us through life in the latter part of the 19th century through the 1920’s.

The Books, their availability and Blurb.

BOOK ONE:  BLACKPOOL’S ANGEL: Published by Sphere, 25th July 2019 available on kindle and to order in paperback from Waterstones, and all online stores

BOOK TWO: BLACKPOOL SISTERS: Published by Sphere, available on kindle now, and in paperback on June 25 2020 from Supermarkets, Waterstones, and online.

BOOK THREE: A BLACKPOOL CHRISTMAS Published by Sphere in all formats on November 12th 2020, available on kindle, Waterstones and Supermarkets as well as on all online outlets.

Tilly is a young wife and mother of six-year-old twin daughters, Beth and Babs. She is happy and very much in love with her husband, when suddenly tragedy strikes and she is left alone to care for her children, in a world where the only help is charity handouts.

A talented basket maker, Tilly collects willow and hedgerow material to craft her wares and trudges the streets of Blackpool and nearby St Anne’s on Sea trying to sell them. But she cannot keep the wolves from the door.

When she secures a job with the local greengrocer, she thinks her life will improve, but he wants more than help in the shop. A desperate Tilly gives into his demands sealing her fate of sending her life into a downward spiral and she loses everything.

Homeless and penniless, Tilly and her children are offered help by the local gypsies in exchange for her teaching them her craft.

Falling foul of the women, as her vibrant and voluptuous looks turn the eyes of their men, she is duped by them. One night they drug her. When she wakes in hospital, they and her twins have gone and she doesn’t know where to, or if she will ever see her children again.

The gypsies have introduced her to gin – loving the effects of drinking this fiery liquid, Tilly finds solace in the bottle setting off a series of events that leave her out of control of her life and in a deep pit of misery.

But friends she makes sustain and help her.

The twins grow up as gypsy girls, they love the couple who are now their parents, but never forget Tilly their real mother and yearn to be reunited with her.

They take different routes to try to achieve this, Babs, runs away when she is just fourteen years old, which leaves her vulnerable to predators and floundering alone, resulting in her losing her way.

Beth leaves much later, by which time she has learnt to manipulate the gypsy couple to get her own way in life.

As Tilly begins to prosper, having met a man who takes care of her and whom she adores and at last realizes her dreams to follow her talents – for both of her girls,The First World War is a turning point in their lives, bringing each a taste of happiness, and yet heartache as events unfold that change the course of their lives – through it all they always long to reunite with each other and with their true mother.

Will this ever happen? And if it does, will it bring the happiness all three desire? Or will hidden forces work against them making it impossible for them to live in harmony?

It is never easy to go back to a place in life you long for and yet, you are may be seeing through rose-tinted glasses.

  My bio

I am the author of 22 novels to date – as we go to press, four of those are in the pipeline. I write under my own name,

Mary Wood published by Pan Macmillan – Historical Saga Fiction

Maggie Mason published by Sphere, an implant of Little Brown Books and Hatchet –

Regional Sagas, set in Blackpool

Molly Kent – Self-published on kindle, writing Gangland Thrillers – to date, I have just one title – The Sweet Taste of Revenge on sale.

I like to think that my talent comes from my Great Grandmother, Dora Langlois, a late 19th century – early 20th century author, who in her day was not only known for her novels, but her informative books, her stage plays and as an actress, and also for her short stories in The People’s Friend. I am honoured to follow in her footsteps to be a contributor to that wonderful magazine – over a hundred years later.

Born the 13th child to a family of 15 children, life hasn’t always been easy, but I am lucky to say, it has been happy.

My education consisted of the four r’s – reading, writing, arithmetic, and religion, but I have since accumulated a wealth of knowledge from The University of Life.

I have a large family of my own now, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and during the summer, live with my adored husband of 57 years in a beautiful lodge in a small village on the outskirts of Blackpool. In the winter months we head south to Spain – this is my writing retreat months, which I love.

If you want to check out my books, or interact with me on social media, where you will be so welcome, here are some links to point you in the right direction.

Amazon page for Maggie Mason – links to all ‘Maggie’ books can be found here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Maggie-Mason/e/B07DCNXLNM/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Amazon page for Mary Wood – links to all ‘Mary’ books can be found here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mary-Wood/e/B005D4UMGU/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Amazon Link for Molly Kent – The Sweet Taste of Revenge

My web page: – https://www.authormarywood.com

Twitter: – @Authomary

Facebook: Books by Mary Wood and Maggie Mason https://facebook.com/HistoricalNovels

Fabulous, Mary! Thanks so much for stopping by! Tune in next week for another edition of Northern Reads.

Northern Reads featuring AnneMarie Brear

Today on the blog for this edition of Northern Reads we welcome Anne Marie Brear as she discusses her novel The Slum Angel which is set in York.

Welcome, AnneMarie. Please tell us about why you chose to set The Slum Angel it in York?

Although Australian born, my family are from Wakefield in West Yorkshire. I’ve lived in England and love the history. The Slum Angel is set in York, where several of my books are set. York is a great place and I only lived an hour’s drive from there so I could visit and walk the streets to help with my research. York has a fascinating history in all eras, and I thought to set a book there which highlighted the slum problems in the Victorian era.

That’s fascinating! My grandfather’s name was Wakefield. 🙂 He never got to see his namesake, though. What can readers expect from The Slum Angel?

Orphan Victoria Carlton is brought up by her uncle, a banker, to be a lady and make a good marriage. Yet, she is drawn to help the poor families in the slums, much to her family’s disgust. When her uncle dies suddenly, her cousins blame Victoria, and she is thrown out of the house with nothing.
Victoria flees to the poor side of York to start again in a world that is full of perils. To combat the heartache of being without her family, she befriends the destitute women and children in the slums, but such friendships come with the danger of disease, and increasing poverty, and the threat of a brutal man could cost her everything.
Can Victoria find the security she has lost? Will a certain doctor be the man she can give her heart to? Or will the ghosts of the past return to take away everything she has worked so hard for?

Sounds like a page-turner.

To Buy: http://www.annemarierbrear.com

About AnneMarie Brear:

Amazon UK bestseller and award winning Australian author, AnneMarie Brear has been a life-long reader and started writing in 1997 when her children were small. She has written 22 novels and several short stories. She has a love of history, of grand old English houses and a fascination of what might have happened beyond their walls. Her interests include reading, genealogy, watching movies, spending time with family and eating chocolate – not always in that order!

Where can readers find you on social media?

http://www.facebook.com/annemariebrear  

Twitter: @annemariebrear

Instagram: annemariebrear

Thanks so much for stopping by! Come back next week as we feature Wigan-born historical novelist John R. McKay.

Northern Reads featuring Patricia M. Osborne

It’s time for another edition of Northern Reads! Today on my blog we’re in Bolton as another family saga author, Patricia M. Osborne joins us today.

Hi Kellie, thank you for inviting me over to talk about how living in Bolton as a child has influenced my novel House of Grace.

House of Grace is a riches to rags story and the first book in a family saga trilogy. Book One is split into two parts and runs from 1950 to Christmas Eve in 1969. A bulk of Part I is set in Bolton, Greater Manchester. I chose this setting because, although I was born in Liverpool, when I was seven years old we moved to Bolton, then known as Bolton, Lancashire, rather than Greater Manchester. In Bolton, I lived in a two-up and two-down terrace with my Mum, Dad, two sisters and baby brother. We had no bathroom but bathed in a tin bath by the fire. Poor Mum had to drag it out to the backyard to empty once we’d finished. This memory was great material for a scene in House of Grace.

When I was eleven, we moved to Surrey as my dad had acquired a new job which was to be a fresh start for us all. Our new house had not only an indoor bathroom and toilet but a huge back garden.

My time in Bolton made a great impression on me and it crops up in my writing a lot. House of Grace was no exception.

When my protagonist, Grace Granville, visits Bolton for the first time to stay with her best friend Katy, she visits places that I myself had enjoyed. For instance, Bolton Museum with lion statues outside the town hall. My late sister and I spent numerous hours in the library, museum and aquarium. At the ages of six and seven we would walk from Daubhill into Bolton town centre and spend our day bobbing from the library, museum, to downstairs in the aquarium. We were fascinated by it all so much. The museum was eerie with mummies and old porcelain dolls. Those dolls had a hypnotic effect on me and stayed with me for years. On fine days we loved to play outside the museum around the town hall lions, stroking their manes. My protagonist, Grace is fascinated by the museum and lion statues too.

Bolton Town Hall and the lion sentinels

In 1990, I returned to Bolton with my eldest two children so they could see where I’d lived, went to school and of course visit the museum. I was disappointed to find that so much had been demolished. My home had gone, and the small church school, Emmanuel, had gone too.  Castle Hill in Tonge Moor was still standing but looked tiny, unlike my memory that it was a large school. My children loved the museum just like I had as a child, however I was disappointed because this huge space that I’d remembered seemed to have shrunk.

Emmanuel School and Bamber Street where I lived  

Samuel Crompton’s house was another old haunt of ours. A gang of us, including my two sisters, used to hike up to Hall i’ th’ Wood. The older kids would frighten we younger ones when stepping into Samuel Crompton’s house. They said if we rocked the cradle then the floor would open, we’d be swallowed up and the ghost would get us. At seven that was quite scary.

Samuel Crompton’s House

The Palais was the place where the young people liked to go dancing. Unfortunately, I wasn’t old enough as I was only eleven when we left Bolton but my elder sister used to go on a regular basis. This had an impression on me too as I made sure Katy took Grace to the Astoria Palais de Danse, and this is where she meets the love of her life, coal miner Jack Gilmore.

Palais Helen V James_o

Sketch by Helen A James, 2017

Because I never got to go to the palais, a Facebook memory group came to my aid and told me what the interior was like in 1950, and even how much it would have cost for a cup of coffee. Members of the Bolton Palais Facebook Group who read House of Grace said I had described the Palais just like they remembered it. What I didn’t know just after publishing my novel was the fight the people of Bolton had on their hands to save their beloved dance hall. Alas they lost their battle and this wonderful iconic building was demolished. However, The Palais de Danse lives on in House of Grace.

            ‘…large round building on the corner of Higher Bridge Street.

            I looked up at the sign. ‘Astoria Palais De-Danse.’

            ‘Yes,’ Katy answered, ‘only we Boltonians call it the Palais. Come on, let’s go in.’

Astoria Palais de Danse

Book two, ‘The Coal Miner’s Son’, will make its appearance in March 2020. Part I of this book runs alongside House of Grace but told in the point of view of Grace’s nine-year-old son, George. It opens in 1962 and ends in 1971, so the second part works as a sequel. Following this is ‘The Granville Legacy’, the final book in the trilogy. It begins in 1981 and as it is a work in progress, I’m not sure where it will finish yet. I then have the potential to produce more novels or novellas in the series with different characters’ stories. I am sure that Bolton will pop up in those too.

About House of Grace:

House of Grace kindle (2).jpg

All sixteen-year-old Grace Granville has ever wanted is to become a successful dress designer. She dreams of owning her own fashion house and spends her spare time sketching outfits. Her father, Lord Granville, sees this as a frivolous activity and arranges suitors for a marriage of his choosing.

Grace is about to leave Greenemere, a boarding school, in Brighton. Blissfully unaware of her father’s plans, she embarks on a new adventure. The quest includes a trip to Bolton’s Palais where she meets coal miner, Jack Gilmore. Grace’s life is never the same again.

Is Grace strong enough to defy Lord Granville’s wishes and find true love? Will she become a successful fashion designer? Where will she turn for help?

House of Grace is the first book in the historical fiction family saga trilogy.

If you like Mr Selfridge and House of Eliott then you’ll love this riches to rags 1950s/60s saga. Delve into House of Grace and follow Grace Granville as she struggles with family conflict, poverty and tragedy.

To buy:

http://mybook.to/HouseofGrace

For signed paperback copies direct: https://patriciamosbornewriter.com/contact/

About Patricia:

10505283_10153043681670803_135361036369394884_n (2)

Patricia M Osborne is married with grown-up children and grandchildren. She was born in Liverpool and now lives in West Sussex. In February 2019, Patricia graduated with an MA in Creative Writing (Merit) via the University of Brighton. She is a novelist, poet, and short story writer. When she isn’t working on her own writing, she enjoys sharing her knowledge, acting as a mentor to fellow writers and tutoring poetry online for the Writers’ Bureau.

Her poetry pamphlet, ‘Taxus Baccata’ was a winner with Hedgehog Poetry Press and will appear during 2020. Patricia has had many poems and short stories published in various literary magazines and anthologies Her debut novel, House of Grace, A Family Saga, set in the 1950s/60s, was released in March 2017.

In 2017 Patricia was Poet in Residence at a local Victorian Park in Crawley and her poetry was exhibited throughout the park. In 2019 her poetry was on display at Crawley Museum.

Patricia has a successful blog at Patriciamosbornewriter.com where she features other writers and poets.

Her hobbies include walking around her local park and lake, swimming, reading, photography, and playing the piano when time permits. All these activities offer inspiration to create new writing.

Find Patricia on Social Media:

Facebook: @triciaosbornewriter

Twitter: @PMOsborneWriter

Instagram: Patriciamosbornewriter

Website: Patriciamosbornewriter.com

Email: patricia.m.osbornewriter@gmail.com

Thanks so much for stopping by, Patricia, and  telling us about all of your memories of growing up in Bolton.  Best of luck with your new release!

Come back next week as we have a new lineup of authors in February for Northern Reads.

Northern Reads featuring Judith Barrow

It’s Friday, and that means another edition of Northern Reads! I’m chuffed to have fellow historical fiction and saga author Judith Barrow on the blog today with her fantastic Haworth family trilogy, featuring one book set in Lancashire.

Welcome, Judith! Tell us more about the Haworth Family Trilogy. 

The three books are historical family sagas, often described as gritty. Although they are a trilogy set around the same family, each book also stands alone. The first of the trilogy is Pattern of Shadows, set in Lancashire between 1944 and 1945. The story was inspired by Glen Mill, a disused cotton mill in Lancashire, which was the first German POW camp. Glen Mill brought back a personal memory of my childhood. My mother was a winder in a similar mill. I would often go to wait for her to finish work on my way home from school. I remember: the muffled boom of noise as I walked across the yard and the sudden clatter of so many different machines as I stepped through a small door cut into a great wooden gate;  the women singing and shouting above the noise, of them whistling for more bobbins; the colours of the cotton and cloth. Above all I remember the smell: of oil, grease – and in the storage area – the lovely smell of the new material stored in bales. And the sound of the siren, announcing the end of the shift.

When I thought of Glen Mill I wondered what kind of signal would have been used to separate parts of the day for all those men imprisoned there. I realised how different their days must have been from my memories of a mill. There would be no machinery, only vehicles coming and going; the only voices would be those of men, with a language and dialect so different. I imagined the subdued anger and resignation. There would be no riot of colour, just an overall drabness. And the tang of oil, grease, cotton fibres would be replaced by the reek of ‘living’ smells.

And I knew I wanted to write about that. But I also wanted there to be hope somewhere. I wanted to imagine that something good could have come out of the situation the men were in.

I changed the name of the prisoner of war camp to Granville, set in the fictional town of Ashford. The protagonist is Mary Howarth, a nurse in a hospital attached to the camp who holds her dysfunctional family together.

And tell us more about the series. Where does it go from there?

Pattern of Shadows: Mary is a nurse at a Lancashire prison camp for the housing and treatment of German POWs.  Life at work is difficult but fulfilling, life at home a constant round of arguments, until Frank Shuttleworth, a guard at the camp turns up. Mary agrees to walk out with him but he becomes a jealous and dangerous boyfriend when one of the POWs, Peter Schormann a doctor, is  allocated to treat the injured and ill prisoners in the hospital, and he and Mary become friends.

Changing Patterns is the sequel to Pattern of Shadows and begins in May 1950 when Britain is struggling with the hardships of rationing and the aftermath of the Second World War. In times of war the relationship between Mary Howarth and Peter Schormann was called fraternization. And fraternization was a dangerous and serious offence. After the war, it is looked on by many as equally unacceptable, especially by Mary’s troubled and fractious family. The war is over, but for Mary Howarth the danger isn’t; she is living in Wales with Peter, a German ex-POW and is a Matron of a small hospital. She believes her job will be jeopardised if they find out about Peter. Her best friend Jean is doing all she can to get Mary to leave Peter and return to Lancashire. Mary is sure this will never happen, but she has no idea of the secret Peter is keeping from her. And then one day, something happens that changes everything….

Blurb for Changing Patterns:

Peter Schormann, an ex-German POW, has left his home country to be with Mary Howarth. Reunited they plan to marry. But there are obstacles in their way: the controversy of Mary and Peter’s relationship, the condemnation of her family and the memory of Frank Shuttleworth, ex-boyfriend of Mary’s. Even worse, Peter holds a dangerous secret that could destroy them. When tragedy strikes, Mary hopes it will unite her family, but it is only when a child disappears that they pull together to save one of their own from a common enemy

Living in the Shadows is the last of the trilogy, and is set in 1969, a time of Mods and Rockers, the Beatles, flower power and free love. Although Mary is still the protagonist, this is the story of the next generation of the Howarth and Schormann families, forced to deal with the consequences of the past actions of their parents. Granville, the prisoner of war camp, is the backdrop of all three books even as it gradually falls into disrepair. In this last book it becomes the centre of an inevitable tragedy

Blurb for Living in the Shadows:

Mary Schormann is living quietly in Wales with her husband, Peter, and her teenage twins, Richard and Victoria. Her niece, Linda Booth, is a nurse – following in Mary’s footsteps – and works in the maternity ward of her local hospital in Lancashire. At the end of a long night shift, a bullying new father visits the maternity ward and brings back Linda’s darkest nightmares, her terror of being locked in. Who is this man, and why does he scare her so? There are secrets dating back to the war that still haunt the family, and finding out what lies at their root might be the only way Linda can escape their murderous consequences.

That’s right up my alley! Where can we get them them?

Purchase Judith’s books here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judith-Barrow/e/B0043RZJV6

https://www.honno.co.uk/authors/b/judith-barrow/

photo - book signing (1)

About me:

Judith Barrow, originally from Oldham has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for forty years but returns often to Lancashire. She has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen. BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University.

She is a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council and holds private one to one workshops on all genres.

Her last book, A Hundred Tiny Threads, is the prequel to the trilogy and is the story of Mary Howarth’s mother, Winifred, and father, Bill. Set between 1910 & 1924 it is a the time of the Suffragettes, WW1, the influenza epidemic and the infamous Black and Tans, sent to Ireland to quell the rebellion and fight for freedom from the UK. It is inevitable that what forms the lives, personalities and characters of Winifred and Bill eventually affects the lives of their children, Tom, Mary, Patrick and Ellen. And so the Pattern trilogy begins.

Judith’s books are published by Honno, a small independent women’s press. Her next book is due to be published in March 2020 and is entitled The Memory.

I have A Hundred Tiny Threads! It’s a fabulous book! Where can we find you on social media and the web?

Social media for Judith:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/judith.barrow.3

Twitter: https://twitter.com/judithbarrow77

 Website: https://www.judithbarrow-author.co.uk/

Reviewing Website : https://judithbarrow.blogspot.com/

Thanks so much for stopping by, Judith!

Come back next week as we travel to Manchester with our next author! Thanks so much for reading!

Black Friday Sale!

It’s #BlackFriday, and do I have a deal for you, book-lovers! All the ebooks in the Laurelhurst series are 99 cents each, AND the paperbacks are 25% off regular price! Yep, you read that right! I rarely place my paperbacks on sale, but for this weekend only,  all three books are on sale, exclusively on Amazon! Buy a copy for yourself, or give one to someone you love!

The Laurelhurst Series

 

It’s Time for Teaser Tuesday!

We’re two days from the release of The Broken Tree, and I’m happy to give you a final excerpt before it goes live! Today we’re meeting the third couple in The Broken Tree, Elliott and Kate. Enjoy!

The Broken Tree, copyright 2019 Kellie Butler. All rights reserved.

Elliott strolled down the hall and out onto the lush, green lawn that, even in early evening, was still teeming with people. He hadn’t expected such a crowd. Bank holidays usually meant to trips to the beach, but as he gauged the crowd, these were locals that had come out for a relaxing day or evening, and the last hurrah before it was time to return to work. It wasn’t long before he spotted Edward Cavert. He was chatting with families as he moved amongst the crowd with a mega-watt smile. Elliott studied him for a while before he moved on. By all appearances, he acted as owner instead of just a caretaker. He wondered how the Bainbridges felt about that. Hmm.

Elliott nodded at a few people as he ambled across the lawn. He hated this sort of thing more than nearly anything else, but he had to blend in. He was grateful for the tables and chairs placed in the formal garden and took a seat. He observed the crowd as the purple sky of twilight began to fade to indigo.

A little boy near him pulled on his mother’s skirt. “Mommy, are we going to miss the fireworks?”

“I hope not, son. The show is supposed to be more of a spectacle this year.”

The boy seemed placated, but he kept looking up at the ominous dark gray clouds that blanketed the area. Rain was imminent. As swift-moving as they were, perhaps they would empty their contents and move on. Elliott felt for the little boy. He too loved a good firework show when he was that age.

“Excuse me, little chap, would you care for a present?” Elliott asked the boy. The tyke eyed him cautiously and then turned to his mother. Elliott took out a pound and held it up for the boy to see. “See, it’s a pound. Would you like it?”

“Mummy, may I have it?” The boy looked towards his mother for guidance.

“Yes. Say thank you to the gentleman for being so generous.”

The tyke took the note from Elliott’s hand. “Thank you, sir.”

Elliott smiled. “Have you come to see the fireworks?” The boy nodded. “So have I, but I’m not from here. Tell me, when are they going to have it?”

“As soon as it gets dark. We brought our blanket to sit on and watch.” The boy held up a thin cotton blanket.

“And why not? Thank you, my boy. Have a lovely evening.”

Elliott smiled as the little boy stared at the note in his hand as he and his mother continued down the path with their blanket. As his eyes followed the pair, he heard a voice behind him. “Hello, darling. I wondered when you would get here.” He turned around and Kate stood there in a radiant orchid gown. What caught his surprise was the necklace she was wearing.

“My dear, what a unique bauble. Where did you find it?”

“Oh, something that Lydie gave me years ago.”

Elliott nearly choked but kept his calm. “Tell me, have you seen Lydia?”

“Oh, yes. She was with a group of her school friends. She’s getting awfully big. Granted, her dress hides it, but I’ve noticed she’s been a bit tired today.”

“So, you haven’t spoken to her or your brother today?”

“No, I’ve been waiting to see you.”

“Well, let’s go enjoy the fireworks. I’m sure we’ll create some of our own tonight.”

“Elliott, I’ve been thinking about something,” Kate bit her lip.

“Oh, what is that?”

“I rather wonder if we could delay mentioning that to them tonight.”

“My dear, are you ashamed of me?” He stepped back.

“No, of course not.”

“Then why wouldn’t you be happy if I announced our engagement?”

“I suppose with Lydia’s condition and everything, it might be hard.”

“What does that have to do with her pregnancy?”

“It’ll make Henry upset and then she’ll be upset. It won’t be good for the baby.”

“Well, I suppose I couldn’t. Actually, I’ve wanted to talk to you about something. I’ve been thinking that I might take on a nurse to help me and perhaps with you. She’s here at Laurelhurst now and we could take her back with us. Or I could just take her back with me.”

Kate grew pale. “What nurse?”

“Nurse Fielding, the one I told you about. Come dear. I told you I posted a job opening for a nurse and she called. Apparently, she wants to move on.”

Kate’s voice grew cold. “Because she isn’t wanted here anymore. She lashed Bobby and made passes at Henry so Lydie fired her. You do know that she and Edward dated for five years, or did she fail to mention that? Apparently, she thought Henry would be a better husband. All that peroxide has gone to her head.”

“You’re awfully defensive, Kate.”

“I’m not being defensive. I utterly can’t stand that woman. Any chit like that who would leave welts on a child’s chest shouldn’t be taking care of anyone. If you want a chit like her, I hope she gives you bruises after she milks you dry. You deserve what you get,” Kate rose up and walked off.

“Kate,” Elliott rose and went after her. “Don’t make a scene, my dear girl. People are staring at you. Do you think your brother-in-law or sister-in-law want their private affairs laid out in the open? Especially on a day they are inviting people to discover this beautiful place. You want to spare them pain? Then get a hold of yourself.”

Kate stopped and turned around. Elliott stood there, grasping his cane. “I’m sorry.”

“Thankfully only a few people heard you. Hopefully the firework show will make them forget what they heard.”

“They’ve put a lot of work into it. Lydie brought extra blankets. We could sit there.”

“No, let’s find somewhere far away from them. I gave my luggage to a footman. I’m not even sure where I’m staying tonight.”

“Upstairs on the second floor. I’m right across the hall from Henry and Lydie in the master suite. You should see it. It’s gorgeous.”

Elliott tried to not blush from the thought of Lydia reclining in bed. Thankfully the dark sky hid his true feelings. Moments later, the first starbursts of light lit the sky and people around them gazed in delight as colors exploded over the night sky and showered towards the ground. For fifteen minutes there was nothing but joy as the crowd was treated to a display they wouldn’t see again until Bonfire night.

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