Thursday, 12 September 2019

Negative Reviews - Archived article!

The post below is an archived article I wrote in 2011 for a fab site called Romantic Friday Writers. It was a general get-together writers community blog. It was a challenge blog, and believe it, members were put through their paces. A pic was posted as a Challenge, each participant had to create a story from that pic and stick to a word count - usually 400 or 600 words max. Believe me, it's not easy to create a begin, middle, and end in that word count. It taught us all the greatest thing,  how to make every word count, how to cut to the bone and yet thrill, tantalise, and best of all, we gained honest feedback! 

The themes were up to us, but pictures in general determined whether historical would fit or whether contemporary was the only option. The pic posted at any one time was the challenge.  So how would you set out to write a brief story about a rose and and a diamond/diamonte ensemble? I don't remember if we did this pic, but I do have loads of archived stories. 


Fear of a bad book review is something all published authors learn to live with, yet nonetheless dread them. In fact, some authors within our blogosphere have received the odd one or two since their books hit Amazon, and the bad reviews knocked them for six. Yeah, it’s not nice if a bad review pops up, but the best way is to ignore it and never respond by comment to the reviewer. If you do you fall into the trap of making that reviewer feel even more self-important, and said person will feed off the attention granted them.

Now let’s assess outcome of a bad review.

Can a bad review of a book be detrimental to sales of said book, more especially if the reviewer declares your book to be crap? The answer to that is NO. A bad review is likely to draw more attention to your book than dozens of good reviews. So don’t panic and don’t fret if a bad review surfaces. Books reviewed by professional reviewers, as in Sunday Newspaper supplements and magazines (as I did) will consist of overall summary and no spoilers. It’s rare in today’s newspaper or magazine review columns to see a bad review, yet in the 1960s and long before scathing reviews of books were quite common and some critics were infamous and dreaded by all authors.

With the coming of Amazon, Smashwords and Goodreads etc., has come the every “wo/man and their dog/cat” who thinks themselves a book reviewer. But, where a “professional book reviewer” now has a publisher remit of “just give a summary, no spoilers for God’s sake and don’t kick up a storm of protest to vile reviews” your average Amazon reviewer seems to have no concept of what a spoiler is (reveal of plot inclusive ending), and most reviews blow the gaff either as glowing or vile reviews.   

But a BAD review can up your book sales. Strange as it may seem, people are curious creatures and BAD draws out the GOOD in most of us and what do we do when a bad book review pops up, we want to know for ourselves how BAD it is and more often than not the book is stunning for all the right reasons, in that it likely make us stop and think! I would imagine Sara Craven (Mills & Boon) author who dared to push boundaries adopted elephant hide, because poor Sara had more than her fair share of stick from Amazon reviewers. First off she was slammed for having a rape scene, and for having a heroine whom fell in love with the rapist. And, ever since that book it seems some reviewers purposely go out of their way to criticise her and ridicule her plots. Yeah, it’s a tough call to carry on writing when knowing malicious anonymous persons are lying in wait for your next book.

Needless to say I laughed like crazy when my latest “Scandalous Whispers” received the following review:

  “The hero and heroine are apart because of her mother's desire for Christina to marry a mean rake earl. Why Christina doesn't tell her silly mother she wants to marry Robert instead of the creepy earl and tell what the creep tries to do to get her alone and force his intentions on her is ridiculous! I love romance stories but this one just really misses the mark”.

Now bear in mind this reviewer titled the review thus: “Insipid”.

Did this review upset me? No.

Why not? Answer: I don’t do “Insipid” and never have. If anything I write risque content!  

As RFWers you all know that to say I write “Insipid stories” would be like saying I have a penchant for wearing pink, have fluffy pom-pom slippers and have a rose-tinted view on romance and adore stereotypical characters and mushy plots. As if – when in real life I love the waft of horse sweat, and don’t take kindly to horse shit from swanky dudes. The latter, fortunately, in characterisation or caricature, if you prefer, is moi, who loves a bit of romancing whilst able to smell a rat at fifty-paces. On the other hand, my character Christina is a young lady of the Regency era, and well brought up young ladies at that time were swayed by parental influence and often faced with arranged marriages.

Damn it all a 21st century chick-lit female is more than likely to knee a jerk / rake in his jewels and deflate all the tyres on his Porsche if he came on too strong. While a Regency Miss is far more likely to conceal immoral advances from a rake she despises for fear her parents think the worst and, get her wed to him quick sharp. After all, parental intention in Regency England will be to prevent any scandal and save her from consequences out of wedlock despite protests that her chastity remains in tact. BTW: the latter is not my plot, there’s more to it than that simple equation. That said, there are 21st century women who can be pushy executives and high-flying businesswomen, yet become putty or simmering wrecks if a guy breaks through their defensive shield  and embeds a twisting screw! Same can be said of dude counterparts when temptation leads and things don't go his way!

Let’s be honest, here. Stand a 21st century young lady (or slut) alongside one from the early 1800s little comparison can be drawn between them, beyond that of pent up emotions, raging hormones and young love exposed along with despair when things go badly wrong. So, what I’m saying is that the above review is written by a 21st century female who has little or no knowledge of life in Jane Austen’s era or, chooses to ignore it.  And, the strange aspect to the above review is that the heroine doesn’t even know if the hero is interested in her when the rake makes immoral advances, so why in hell should she tell her mother she loves Robert? I’m fairly sure this reviewer hasn’t even read the book, and has set up her review on the basis of info from the blurb alone and from reading the sample pages.

So let’s take a look at the differences in social behaviour 21st century Vs 1800s. Most young ladies born to gentry in the 1800s had little chance to rebel, their allowances ad dowry were subject to parental hand out, and if a young lady chose to run away she would have forfeited her allowance and her dowry. Young ladies of rank in the 1800s were very much under the control of parental persuasions, and I doubt many ran away for how were they to raise funds? Good on them if they were marrying a rich man. That aspect I shall leave to your imaginations. And yes, some great story lines could come out of this kind of situation, but most would no doubt - in real-life 1800 mode - end in tragedy unlike the rosy-glow endings of your average historical romance novel. On the other hand a 21st century young woman has every opportunity for independent living, and to make something of herself no matter her background. Success boils down to good manners, self-confidence and go-getting what it is you want from life. Sitting on your arse criticising others because they’re getting on with success is pitiful.          

So, chins up, and if you ever get a bad review, look on it as having arrived on the book scene. Because hey, (a shout-out) someone other than a friend has gone out of their way to post up a shit review, which in itself says more about the reviewer than it ever does about your book. ;)

And so I say to my wonderful anonymous book reviewer (just in case you’re reading this): thanks for stopping by to post up your review. You did me a great service! Because, in essence, I was stuck for something to write about for this guest post and you provided the inspiration for a sufficiently long post to bore the pants off RFWers! :)

Have a lovely day

Francine X

Now what about this fun challenge I wrote in response to pic prompt: RFW

Sunday, 1 September 2019

New Release The Last Betrayal

Back cover blurb:

Versailles depicts the very essence of King Louis XIV, but amidst secret executions, abductions, and imprisonments, two men have served Louis’ every whim, never questioning the why of it, now one of those men has imprisoned the other at the king’s command. Has Lady Fate or the hand of God provided a chance escape to King Louis’ former Intelligencer, and can revenge ever be sweet for king or commoner? With the past revisited and finally laid to rest, love blossoms as a new life beckons, and the lovers pray they can cross the border to safety. With the revocation of the Edict of Nantes a tidal wave of fear has swept across France, thus a secret society formed by Huguenot merchants from within safe havens abroad assists those in need. In the meanwhile a secret society in England to dethrone James II brings the merchants together as a united force to uphold the Protestant faith under the royal standard of William of Orange. War is nigh, and can a Frenchman be trusted as William’s spy extraordinaire?

Amazon UK       Amazon US

So chuffed to receive the Historical Readers' Award for this novel.
The Award Editorial Review:
What a thrill-packed spicy fan fiction sequel this is.
The background setting is France during the reign of Louis XIV. Dare it be said the author has either delved deep into research of her subject or has an uncanny familiarity with this period in history. The plight of the Huguenots and the ghastly consequences after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes is laid bare in this stylish sequel to the TV series Versailles. Fervour for the series in my house was met with ‘oh no, is that it?’ when a cruel cliff-hanger scene left devotees of Fabien Marchal in limbo and in horror there was no more episodes to come. There is no absolute proof it is Fabien in this novel, or is there? If not, was Fabien Marchal his full name and who was his father. All these questions have answers, and more. In any case, the hero’s dark side we witnessed from the TV series matches this hero who is plagued with memories. He is effectively damned by who he is and all that was undertaken in the name of the king. It is a common enough phrase to say the love of a good woman will sort him out, and that may be true if a poignant past would cease to torment him (a tissue box advisable). Then, when a spirited young woman tends to the needs of his horse her verve is somewhat refreshing to the jaded hero. She is then set to become his torment of a different kind when trusted into his care, and he is bound by sworn promise to deliver her to the care of her older brother. While the road to freedom is paved with many perils two familiar figures from the TV series are found en route and needy of help, and our hero rides to the rescue of royal blood. And so it goes all the way through this engaging novel with wonderful cameos very much in the vein of the Three Musketeers as the hero and heroine make of life thrown their way. All the while historical facts are interlaced with fiction as the hero tells us of his past in vivid colour. Interestingly the timeline begins in 1685 in France and ends in 1688 with a happy conclusion after the coronation in England of William and Mary of Orange. The Last Betrayal was recommended for the Historical Readers’ Award and is hereby granted the gold award, and goes without saying it is well written.

What inspired this novel!

After watching the BBC TV series Versailles, its historical accuracy was a little thin on the ground at times and the characters never aged as the years and decades passed them by. But poetic licence is always granted with movies. Whilst I do think fictional characters can take on associated roles with named persons from history, to actually replace or imply the famous person didn't exist and yet inspired the creation of a character seems a bit pointless and can alienate historical buffs! 

Throughout the series the producers and scriptwriter never really "highlighted" the fundamentals of who Fabien Marchal was and what he did was sort of tacked on for dramatic effect, and yet he was based on a real person of the era who did have a heart beneath his cold calculating exterior. 

It is said Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie, Chief of all Police Forces, inspired the creation of Fabien Marchal. Gabriel was a visionary in  his own right, his profession was that of lawyer, judge, and not least the installing of street lights within Paris in great hopes it would deter criminals and assist in catching the devils. 

Why the scriptwriter simply chose to stomp on historical fact and instead fictionalised the character Fabien as a lone wolf, (more head of security at Versailles than Chief of Police), was a shame because Fabien never really played the role of chief and never called on The Guard of Paris or the soldiers of  Isle de France to fulfill duties to his command, as did Gabriel. Instead he rode occasionally in company of the King's Musketeers. So much more could have been achieved with Fabien, basically more substance to his character and who he was when off duty.

Tygh Runyan as Fabien Marchal

Whatever one may think Fabien clocked up a huge following of female fans, or should that be Tygh Runyan has a huge fan base. I really liked the character and felt he was never fully fleshed, that his fictional status rendered him only part whole. Whereas the majority of the cast barring secondary fictional characters were infamous with in depth historical backgrounds.    
In keeping with his fictional role I've created a plausible past to fit with his fictional persona. There is a tragic twist and accountable to an incident when he became a prisoner of the Spanish. After all, I kept asking myself what in his past made him so cold and detached in nature but nothing was forthcoming as the series Versailles progressed. Equally I kept puzzling what truly impacted on him to finally turn him against his king and the king against him (?) because the scene that determined his downfall didn't make sense on its own. The whole point about fictional characters set against the backdrop of a period, thus becoming a part of the series structure, is the golden opportunity to reveal the cause of a character's make-up. 

There always has to be an underlying what drives them factor, and what weakness if any can be touched by another. He had an Achilles Heel, but what was it? Thus I hope I have portrayed his inner self - the reason why his cold persona is his defensive shield. And of course, historical fact has a huge part to play in this sensual Romantic Swashbuckling novel. Inevitably the hero encounters love, true love along the way, but can he lay his past to rest?  

Don't forget you can expand the image by clicking it. 

In the novel the hero is masquerading as other than self, and for good reason, because he's on the run and is an escapee from custody. Equally, events in his youth are revealed and that's what sequel novels are for, the fleshing out of characters who were short-changed (scant on personal details) and letting them shine in their own right. 

Historically, King Louis' revengeful streak knew no bounds, for Huguenots were on the run where able, all fleeing from persecution and seeking peace in other countries. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes proved to be a disaster for Louis, but all that is revealed within the book. 

Admiral Abraham Duquesne, Marquis du Bouchet

As many authors and scriptwriters claim poetic licence in books and movies, so have I with the creation of the hero's blood father. At a time when men had a mistress or many in their lifetimes, it is not absurd from reading the biography of Admiral Abraham Duquesne, Marquis du Bouchet (1610-1688) that he probably had a mistress, in particular prior to the birth of the hero. The admiral's life within the time-frame of the story reveals a family torn apart by the King's persecution of Huguenots, and the admiral was a Huguenot and his family did go their separate ways, thus he died alone whilst in retirement within Paris.   

Out of interest here are some pics dated the 17th century or early 18th century. All the places are featured in the novel. Oh, and did you know, Paris could be traversed from the old southern city wall to the northern gate in twenty minutes on foot. And where the greater Paris of today stands, once deep forests surrounded the city, the Forest of Versailles, The Forest of Fontainebleau (Biere) and others.
The Louvre in Paris of Louis' reign

Chateau de Vincennes where the hero was imprisoned.
The Bastille at the time was a military garrison. That's why the Man in the Mask (velvet or Iron) was transferred to the Royal Fort on the Island of St Marguerite.    

Oostende (now Ostende)

Den Haag (The Hague)

And there are illustrations within the paperback version of houses featured in the novel.   

And just as an aside, this is the watch presented to King Louis at coming of age (so it is claimed)

Book Release day September 30th

Amazon UK       Amazon US

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

FREE Romantic Regency Murder Mystery.

Want a Free novel?
Why not, and I grant permission for you to share it with friends who equally love Regency novels with a bit of spice and adventure! 

To receive your Kindle download pop over to the side column and apply through the form provided.  I promise this is no ruse to acquire your email address and plague you with book sale ads or promos. This is a one-off offer! 

Book Premise:

The Reluctant Duchess is a Regency tale of romance, abduction, murder and mystery. The setting is Exmoor in Somerset, a place made famous by the novel Lorna Doone, of which the local inhabitants refer to as Doone Country.

Devon Howard, the Duke of Malchester, acquires a bride by dubious means. Well aware Liliana is a reluctant duchess, and although his new wife submits to his ardent advances on the wedding night, he cannot be sure, that even if given time, she will ever surrender her heart to him. While his past continues to damn him, he sets out to win Liliana by inciting jealousy and rivalry ‘twixt her and Serenity: a would-be mistress?

Likewise Liliana has a dilemma, for although she despises her circumstances and feigns disinterest in Devon, she cannot deny his desirability. Twice a widower, rumours abound. Devon has twice bedded and broken a wife. Liliana believes otherwise. Nonetheless, evil does exist within the walls of Calder Hall, and Liliana fears for her life when she’s brutally abducted from her coach whilst en route from Dorset to Exmoor. But it is Devon’s blood that is sought, and while revenge for one person proves bittersweet, for another it proves fatal.

This novel did acquire a Jane Austen Regency Award

Thus I proudly present their verdict - (copy-pasted from web page)

Howarth exudes English correctness with witty sharp dialogue and country dialect of a bygone age. She writes compelling narrative and dialogue, and the author's knowledge of the era and regional places are brought to life in vivid colour. While arranged marriage plots are somewhat of a cliché in the historical romance genre, there is a dark ominous sense of foreboding to this novel. Loose rumours the hero killed his first two wives is left hanging in the air, and the title *Reluctant Duchess* is paramount. The knowledge her husband has a mistress crushes sweet naive Liliana’s self-esteem. Her reaction is refusal to let him break through her protective shield. She locks her emotions away and rebels when personal loss strikes without warning. This event is the turning point which shakes her husband from stupendous belief she is immune to his presence. At the same time his closeted world is turned inside out. His inner court is less of his making while those of his train exert power and influence at his expense. Although the duke wields a strong personality it is obvious he has drifted and lost direction after the mysterious death of his second wife. To avoid plot spoilers it is vital to stop here, apart from saying his second wife’s death haunts the novel throughout and re-enters the story with a shocking tale of abduction, murder, and incest. Ms Howarth is hereby granted a Jane Austen Regency Award for this page-turning Regency murder mystery.

A Few Reviews snatched from Amazon Paperback

Amazon Customer: Brilliant Gothic Regency *****

This is a fantastic sweeping historical romance drama. It has heaps of dark mystery on Exmoor and a hero to swoon over. Loved the way he held liliana's hand in church, so sweet and romantic. I highly recommend this to lovers of Recency romance novels who like page-turning heroic adventure stories.

Linda Gilmore: Great Book and Worth the Read *****
Great book and worth the read. This is the third book I have read by Francine Howarth and each one was great.
Katie Kofiemug:  Groovy Gothic Regency Murder Mystery *****

The Duke of Malchester, Devon Howard, was thirty-two, twice a widower, shrouded in gossip and suspicion regarding the deaths of his previous wives, his treatment of servants and his libertine ways.  At seventeen, Liliana was literally auctioned off and married to the highest bidder. It was no wonder she was afraid to entrust her body, mind or heart to a man she met a month prior to the wedding.  The nuptial night, while exciting, wasn’t enough to convince her to lower her guard and so, Liliana clung to her dignity, residing at Calder Hall, a duchess in name only.  For three years, Devon roamed who knows where with an entourage that included his mistress.  His absences were long, his visits short and pleasant enough, so long as she kept her distance.

When her beloved grandfather dies, things come to the point between them.  Devon presses for her admission that they could be more than married in name only.  She agrees but only if he removes his mistress from their home and his life, permanently.  Surprisingly (not), his mistress objects to this and sets in motion a plan to ruin Devon and Liliana’s newborn happiness.  Secrets are thrust into the light of day; tragedy is dressed in silks and lies, while sorrow hides behind parties and titles, altogether creating a compelling tale that makes you shudder and gasp right along with the characters.

This was not a comfortable story but it was a most excellent read!  With the feel of a traditional gothic, written in a style well aware of the modern reader, the author never forgets the values and mores of the times. Neither can you.  Her atmospheric tone is perfect; lush and a bit bawdy, which suits the Duke very well indeed.  The dismal facts of family life that saw children living entirely separate from their parents until they could be of use, and the reality of arranged marriages seldom being more than tolerable, are facts historical readers and writers know yet are seldom willing to accept beyond the plot device or back story. 

Ms. Howarth doesn’t back up to these realities, she wields them with empathetic skill.  I swear I could hear her sighs in the dark corridors and possibly felt her restraining hand when I wanted to smack her hero for being a - well, an ass.  She doesn’t apologize for a hero that genuinely believes a woman wasn’t really his mistress so long as he didn’t penetrate her vagina.  Neither is she ashamed of a heroine that allows the past to be put aside because she wants a future that means something more than disdainful distance and loneliness.  That Devon and Liliana go from physical passion to emotional friendship while proclaiming love rang with realistic emphasis on the way things were, and sometimes still are.  As they spent time together without the entourage and distrust between them, you could see the happily ever after to be, and yes, the squabbles as well.

Foibles and imperfections are brutally exposed and though we cringe the characters do not even flinch. They’re bold and gritty, hopeful and yes, aware they’re not always at their best when all is said and done; however no one gives up or bemoans cruel fate (yippee!).  They resolve to make amends where possible and carry on, regardless.  The use of jealousy to arouse interest is seldom a maneuver I can tolerate.  _But_ … in this case, it suited both the characters and the situation.  When they began talking, sharing their thoughts without the affectations of pride, confessing loneliness and hurts, I let go of my long standing prejudice against the machination.  Whether another author could’ve managed that I am not sure, certainly none before has done so.

The secondary characters, both the living and dead, were as intriguing and reflective of the times, as coarse in their own way as the awakening couple.  The historical details were devastatingly accurate.  There is no glossy coating here, this is a mature man, thrice married, that lives as men of wealth and position did. Liliana is no fool, only young, and without familiar support or anyone to lean on but her maid, she does what women did; find a way to make things work.  Not only did the writing hold my interest but also my admiration for a convincing honesty weaving a wonderful historically gothic tale.  I am already squeezing my budget for more of Ms. Howarth’s books! 


David Wilkin: Romance Worth Reading ***** 

Francine Howarth again shows a slice of the Regency that imparts more understanding of the era. At first, one sees the adage that edit out the prestory is taken to extremes for I feel we learn of the Duke and Duchess of Malchester much as we uncover the secrets in Du Maurier's Rebecca. Much of where we are when we enter the story is based on many prior events we discover as the tale unfolds.

Even a key path of the plot is based on events that our heroine is told in part as we witness the telling, but also off the page. These events that we see and that we later find out impact the romance between our principals.

The question for a perspective reader is does Ms. Howarth make this all work, and indeed she does. This starts with a great deal of steam and mellows into a warm fire of love interests. The book has notes and tells how Ms Howarth thought of the plight of the infamous Georgiana (Perhaps the greatest beauty of the Regency Era) and her husband William Cavendish, the 5th Duke of Devonshire. The Devonshires were the fast set, and as the years continued the Duke housed his mistress in their house as part of their party always, and after Georgiana died, married the lady.

We do see similarities there, and for those who want to see exposure to that power couple, here is a place to find a glimpse of such a lifestyle. In other mores of the time, we can see thoughts about mounts, coaching Inns, households, friendships, charity, villainy and even a glimpse of the world war (The Napoleonic Wars were a world war).
All in all another delight from Ms. Howarth
There are, of course, the usual * 
nasty snipes amidst more ***** reviews!

One horrid long-winded diatribe Vine Reviewer used dialogue as references to bad grammar - What? 
And a few one-liners: 
Badly written and padded out with gratuitous sex. 
Not to be recommended. 
or simply TOSH 

Love it or hate it, Bin it or Share it. 
It's FREE. 

After all spreading  a little LUV makes everyone feel good!

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Daniel Defoe - Political Pamphleteer, Rebel Soldier, Novelist.

What could Daniel Defoe possibly have in common with the Duke of Monmouth?
Well, quite a lot!

If you didn’t know before reading this, then let me introduce you to the rebel soldier “Defoe”, who was a staunch supporter of Monmouth’s cause to topple James Stuart (James II) from his throne. Yes indeed, Defoe fought in Monmouth’s rebel army. 

Unlike Monmouth, Defoe evaded capture (contrary to many Wiki accounts of Defoe’s life and supposed Kingly pardon) and made safe escape first to the Scilly Isles and secondary escape to the Low Countries. There Defoe lived in exile for several months and made many friends in Flanders (family ties/origin Flanders) and with Hollanders, as had Monmouth. But, when William of Orange ousted his father-in-law from the English throne, the invasion thus notably referred to as The Glorious Revolution, Defoe had prior returned as a spy, his travels abroad bringing him home after the terrors inflicted by Judge Jeffrey upon Hampshire, Dorset, and Somerset.

In self accounts of his own life, Defoe is sparing on detail to do with the Monmouth rebellion, though did say: whilst hiding in a churchyard from royalist soldiers who were hunting runaways from the Battle of Sedgemoor, he read the inscription on a tombstone: "Robinson Crusoe" which later became the novel, apparently inspired as much by his escape from English shores to the Scilly Isles and shipwreck off the island. Was this poetic licence and showmanship on his part, perhaps not, given the seriousness of those who fled the battlefield at Sedgemoor. 

Defoe was a journalist of his time, noting and recording events and printing news sheets and pamphlets - a Pamphlateer who became a Musketeer in Monmouth's Rebel Army. 

Extra: Many of Monmouth’s supporters who evaded capture were known to the authorities but never found despite intense searches of houses by brutal means against existing occupants. Of those who escaped to the Scilly Isles and other island retreats and thought of themselves as safe and out of reach of the King’s hounds, were soon to learn the awful truth that the king’s vengeance had far from dissipated, even with the brutal finale of Monmouth’s decapitation. 

As naval ships were sighted on approach or anchored off-shore on those outlying islands so escapees were again forced into hiding or smuggled away in fishing boats to foreign shores. Defoe was in their number and with steel grit and determination he made it to the shores of Spain, took ship to  Oostende in Flanders (family ties/roots/origin) which was under Spanish rule, and slowly made his way to the Dutch held territories of the Low Countries.  

He returned to English shores as a spy for William Orange, and come the Glorious Revolution, Defoe rode to greet William ashore. He led a colourful life thereafter with literary merits, and as did so many more of his ilk he lived well, spent well, and died as near a pauper as man can when things go awry in financial matters. 

The most dreadful account of Judge Jeffreys enacting a despicable remit, was the sending of privates parts of notables "to the wives/mothers" of those who were hung drawn and quartered. A list of prisoners and their respective fates can be viewed here. 

Sunday, 30 June 2019

History is Infinitely Fascinating!

Taking the title of this post as guideline, how far can fiction tread on history and not impede or alter historical fact, and yet render history intriguing and thought provoking? 

I’m one of those authors who have it in mind historical detail (fact and rumour) is just as important for authors of Historical Romance as is it for hard-nosed authors of general Historical Fiction. If no authentic backdrop is apparent then how are readers to enjoy sense of time and place past? That's not to say huge sections of a book need be given to historical detail, that's the job of the characters who can reveal what they see, what they hear, and their knowledge of events as they unfold in their world. I also love it when author's provide family lineage, not as merely a family tree map, when again the characters themselves can afford greater depth aside from the main story. After all, what goes around can come around, and the past can reveal much about individual personalities and the outlook of elders and their respective influence on younger generations. Sometimes aspects of the past are shrouded until a key is found which will unlock elements that no one cared to talk about, or it was deemed no one would talk about after a particular event. The incident, whatever, may have been of little or greater consequence at the time, and over the years the telling can become distorted because a secret is never a secret if more than one person knows of that secret. And a dark secret is the underlying threat to the Dempsey family, because one man covets something the Duke of Leominster owns. Thus the crux at issue is what does a French marquis covet, the why of it, and why did he have an English duke assassinated (?) in book 1. 

Book 1

Amazon UK  ~  Amazon US 

In the novel “To Risk All for Love – The Dempsey Fortune” is where the demise of Louis Dempsey, Duke of Leominster heralds the beginning of a vendetta with roots as far back as three generations to King Louis XIV and the Grand Dauphin. Although the story revolves around the new young duke and his sister, and his sister is the leading light in the novel alongside her unusual hero, her brother unwittingly invites guests into their home who consist of French gamblers, and people masquerading as other than selves. The year is 1790 the era of the French revolution, and as events unfold mystery escalates, murders occur, and threat of death reaches a climax when all had thought the danger was at end and peace reigned once more until a letter dictates otherwise.

Book 2 

Amazon UK   ~ Amazon US 

Book 2 “To Tempt a Duke – The Dempsey Ring” the young duke is finally made aware of the Marquis de Chartre’s desired object which the French aristocrat believes will beget a greater object of desire. In the meanwhile the duke desires something that belongs to the marquis by absolute legal right, but there is no way they can strike a bargain and both gain their ultimate heart’s desire. Thus both plan counter moves to thwart the other’s ambitions, and whilst murders abound, and French spies are assisting the marquis in his endeavours, flames of romance burn hot, but who will concede defeat and win the day? There you have the baseline of the plot, but there’s so much more to the lineage of both men, and history itself came into its own as the tapestry of a tragic tale three generations past as the backdrop to the two books.

Grand Dauphin

In brief, the Grand Dauphin entered into a Morganatic marriage with Marie Émilie Thérèse de Joly, 'Mademoiselle de Choin' (2 August 1670 – 1732).
She was a French lady-in-waiting to King Louis XIV's morganatic wife, Madame de Maintenon. No children were, purportedly, born within the marriage of le Grand Dauphin and Marie Émilie, and yet there is evidence (Saint Simon chronicler) that Marie Émilie did give birth to one child, the rumour being the infant died shortly after birth, which was not unusual in the circumstance of (illegitimate royal infants) born to the French royal household by commoner wives.

Marie Émilie Thérèse de Joly, 'Mademoiselle de Choin'

There is no absolute proof a girl or boy was born and died, and no proof there were other infants born and removed. Much of the Dauphin and Marie Émilie's life together has been veiled and remains relatively vague whilst much speculation abounds. Despite rumour, all children born at Versailles to his once favoured mistresses, and the king's legitimate offspring were taken away and reared elsewhere. Many of the illegitimate children were farmed out to other households to cause no future embarrassment to the royal house of Bourbon, barring those of his most favoured mistress Madame de Montespan. On that basis of farming out infants I took poetic licence and created a link to the Dempsey family and the marquis based on rumours that became rife in the years of Louis XIV's court and the Grand Dauphin.

Louis XIV

And so I rest my case for fiction being fiction and letting fiction play with historical rumour, in that there was indeed a child or children begotten from the Dauphin and Marie’s Morganatic marriage, but King Louis being Louis probably removed any possible threat to less than pure royal blood standing in line for succession to the throne. The Grand Dauphin did on several occasions rebel in wilful manner but his father of a devious nature did thwart the younger except in the instance of the morganatic marriage. After all, Louis XIV had entered into same with Madame de Maintenon.

And then there are the aside factors in which houses to use as the fictional residences alongside known royal residences etc. The name les Muids equates to Hogs Head. Hogs head is a weight measure for wine = 300L (66 imp gal. 79 US gal). I therefore named the Dempsey's French residence as Château les Muids, and the inspiration for their château was a beautiful abandoned one.  Unloved but beautiful inside and out. 

This is my fictional Dempsey residence in France

In real terms there is a Château les Muids by that name and it is a hotel now, not merely a family residence and it was only built in 1790.  Which really reflects the later architectural influence of the late 1700s instead of 17th century architecture (1600s).

You can visit this hotel

What of ship parts etc in novels?  The taff rail surrounding the poop deck. 

Who would have thought how important research is even for 
Historical Romance novels?
But it all comes down to author pride and the constant learning curve, hence history is infinitely fascinating!