The inspiration behind my Victorian romances comes from my love of UK period dramas, historical biographies and novels...and the fact I am lucky enough to live near one of the most historical cities in the world –Bath, England.
My first full-length Victorian romance, The Arrival Of Lily Curtis was inspired by a house – a house steeped in English beauty and history. Today, Lucknam Park is a five star hotel and spa, boasting Michelin Star chefs and luxurious indulgence and I was thrilled when a friend treated me to afternoon tea there.
As soon as I sat in the astoundingly beautiful conservatory, I knew I had found my hero’s home. Writers and readers of Victorian romance have the uncanny knack of seeing beyond the modern changes, the dress of today’s visitors and nonchalant acceptance that these buildings exist all over the UK. They effortlessly travel back to a time when real people lived in these huge homes and rode their horses across their vast estates.
By the mid 1800s, the house had passed hands several times, but it was during this time that the magnificent columned portico and bow wings were added to the house as well as acres and acres of country land. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any pictures of the exterior of the house which weren’t under copyright but I strongly urge you to visit the house website to see just how romantic a house Lucknam Park is, www.lucknampark.co.uk and how easily it became my mission to make it come alive with my characters and plot.
With Bath in one direction, Blenheim Palace and the glorious Cotswolds in the other, I will continue to write Victorian romance as well as my contemporary novels. How could I not? J
Here’s the blurb and excerpt from The Arrival of Lily Curtis which is currently part of a boxset with The Wild Rose Press – enjoy!
At the mention of an arranged marriage, Elizabeth Caughley feels her life is over at the age of three and twenty….so she hatches an escape plan. She will reinvent herself as a housemaid. Overnight, Elizabeth becomes Lily.
Viscount Westrop wants nothing more than his legacy to be passed to his own son one day. Even though he feels insurmountable pity for the unborn child already, he knows how much pain a broken promise can cause and will do what is right. But with the arrival of his new housemaid, his plans are thrown into disarray. Lily is funny, feisty and the most beautiful creature on earth – Andrew is thunderstruck.
But if anyone suspects how much he wants to ravish her and endlessly love her, Andrew’s lineage will be in peril. And he cannot let that happen…
Lily lifted her head and met eyes as blue as a crisp winter sky. He said nothing as he continued to study her. His eyes hungrily brushed over her hair, her neck, her breasts. She flicked a glance left and right as her body traitorously heated beneath his gaze.
The other gentlemen were carefully watching the exchange. Their curious eyes darted back and forth between the two, undeniable amusement twitching their lips.
“Are you ready to be seated in the dining room, my lord?” Lily said, standing a little straighter.
“Your meal, sir?”
He blinked and the tension broke. He hastily threw a look at his friends before turning to meet her eyes once more. He straightened his spine and regally lifted his chin. Lily held his gaze, noticed that his eyes now burned with something she couldn’t quite decipher but whatever it was triggered her natural defenses to high alert.
The curiosity when he had looked at her not a moment before had vanished, only to be replaced with mischief.
His smile turned wolverine. “Oh, I’m more than ready to eat, Lily. I’m positively salivating.”
Lily smarted as his friends burst into a flurry of mocking laughter. She gritted her teeth but kept her eyes locked on his. The tone of his voice had disguised neither the implication nor his obvious enjoyment at her expense. A flame of indignation ignited inside of her.
Her smile was slow and intentionally provocative. “I am so pleased, sir. For I would hate for you to have to endure cold soup.” Her gaze lingered down to his crotch. “After all, you and your guests are quite obviously still chilled from an afternoon of riding.”
The gentlemen’s sniggers instantly halted and the lord’s smile dissolved. He looked from her face to his crotch and back again. His eyes widened.