#BookReview #BlogTour THE LADY IN THE VEIL by ALLIE CRESSWELL @Alliescribbler

ABOUT THE BOOK

What secrets hide beneath the veil? When her mother departs for a tour of the continent, Georgina is sent from the rural backwaters to stay with her cousin, George Talbot, in London.

 The 1835 season is at its height, but Georgina is determined to attend neither balls nor plays, and to eschew Society. She hides her face beneath an impenetrable veil. Her extraordinary appearance only sets off gossip and speculation as to her identity. Who is the mysterious lady beneath the veil?

The Lady in the Veil continues the story of the Talbots in The House in the Hollow but stands equally well alone.

PURCHASE LINKS

AMAZON UK

AMAZON US

MY REVIEW

I have loved stepping back in time through the pages of this book, and following the story of Georgina, who is one of those characters that you find yourself immediately taken with and just wanting the best for her.

When her mother remarries, Georgina finds herself shipped off to a distant relative to start life over and find a husband.  But Georgina is far from appreciative of this new chapter in her life, especially as she’s been brought up to hide herself away, behind a veil, and living in fear of the reaction she will receive from others when they see her face.

And this mystery lies behind the bulk of the story and it was wholly encapsulating as you tried to put pieces together and discover the truth.  There are always family secrets to be revealed and that becomes much clearer when her veil is removed!  We watch as Georgina discovers this new life ahead of her, and the lessons she needs to learn to be part of this new society and to discover who will treat her with the kindness and respect she so clearly deserves.

The Lady in the Veil represents the third entry in Allie Cresswell’s Talbot Saga, filling the role of the sequel to The House in the Hollow, while serving as a prequel to Tall Chimneys, the final book in the chronology but is easily read as a standalone – and then you can have fun catching up on the back story later as you’ll be captivated by the characters and settings!

★★★★★

#GuestPost THE HOUSE IN THE HOLLOW by ALLIE CRESSWELL

A huge delight for me today to welcome Allie Cresswell to my Books and Me! blog, to share a guest post following the release of her latest publication, THE HOUSE IN THE HOLLOW.  I hope you’ll find her thoughts as  fascinating and thought provoking as I have, especially given the relevance of the topic!
Over to you Allie…..

Introducing Diversity

My latest novel, The House in the Hollow, is set during the Regency era, over the course of the Napoleonic War. This time-period is the setting of Jane Austen’s novels but my book is not related to hers other than that I have attempted to emulate some of her erudition of dialogue, as being appropriate to the age.

I was about a third of the way through writing it when a furore blew up in the Jane Austen Fan Fiction (JAFF) community—as everywhere else—about the issue of diversity.

I had become involved with Austenesque writers and readers because of my Highbury Trilogy, which is inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma. I had used the JAFF community to promote my books and to connect with other writers who are inspired to continue, vary or just re-visit Jane Austen’s stories. I’d had it in my mind to explore the hinted-at backstory of Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill since I first read Emma when I was at school, forty-odd years ago. I was amazed to find how many Jane Austen variations there were and how many writers, like me, had attempted to capture something of her wit and elegance.

What the majority of these books have in common, however, is their lack of diversity. It might be argued that Jane Austen’s books lacked it too; apart from Miss Lambe in Sanditon there are no characters specifically identified as BAME. My own Highbury Trilogy is no different although there is, in a throw-away line, a suggestion that newcomers to Highbury might be, “Mulattoes, children of a West Indian plantation owner, come to England for the first time.”

With the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter campaign, in common with people in every sector of our world, JAFF writers began to ask themselves whether this lack of diversity was in fact a fair and true reflection of the Regency era in Britain and whether, regardless of what seems to be the case in Jane Austen’s novels, we ought to try and show a much broader, more inclusive range of race and colour—and, for that matter, disability, age and sexual orientation—in our work. For me, a brilliant article by JAFF writer Bella Breen suggested to me that the overwhelmingly white population we see in TV and film adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels is far from being historically accurate. In the light of her informative and challenging article and after my own research into the question I reviewed my WIP (work in progress). I had no desire to jump on any bandwagons, nor to simply tick a box labelled ‘diversity’. If I was going to be more inclusive it had to be natural, seamless and realistic. As it happened The House in the Hollow has at its centre a gentleman whose wealth stems from his involvement with the East India Company and who has spent much of his youth in Bengal. This provided a natural and ready-made opportunity for me to introduce some Indian characters which I took advantage of, although with some trepidation: one would not wish to patronise, misrepresent, disrespect or—worse of all—be accused of tokenism. Later I also created a valet who is a person of colour to be the romantic interest for one of my secondary characters. It seemed to me to be a completely plausible situation.

What I hope I’ve produced is a story with historically accurate diversity; believable characters whose ethnicity is secondary to their impact on the plot and their interactions with others.

How successful have I been? You must be the judge.

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Talbots are wealthy. But their wealth is from ‘trade’. With neither ancient lineage nor title, they struggle for entrance into elite Regency society. Finally, aided by an impecunious viscount, they gain access to the drawing rooms of England’s most illustrious houses.

Once established in le bon ton, Mrs Talbot intends her daughter Jocelyn to marry well, to eliminate the stain of the family’s ignoble beginnings. But the young men Jocelyn meets are vacuous, seeing Jocelyn as merely a brood mare with a great deal of money. Only Lieutenant Barnaby Willow sees the real Jocelyn, but he must go to Europe to fight the French. The hypocrisy of fashionable society repulses Jocelyn—beneath the courtly manners and studied elegance she finds tittle-tattle, deceit, dissipation and vice.

Jocelyn stumbles upon and then is embroiled in a sordid scandal which will mean utter disgrace for the Talbot family. Humiliated and dishonoured, she is sent to a remote house hidden in a hollow of the Yorkshire moors. There, separated from family, friends and any hope of hearing about the lieutenant’s fate, she must build her own life—and her own social order—anew.

UK PURCHASE LINK

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#BlogTour The Other Miss Bates by Allie Cresswell #BookExtract @rararesources

Hugely delighted to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for THE OTHER MISS BATES by ALLIE CRESSWELL.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for letting me be part of it all!

I’ll be sharing an extract with you today to help give you a little taster of the book, and hopefully tempt you into adding it to your TBR pile! One more won’t hurt!!

About the book

Jane Bates has left Highbury to become the companion of the invalid widow Mrs Sealy in Brighton. Life in the new, fashionable seaside resort is exciting indeed. A wide circle of interesting acquaintance and a rich tapestry of new experiences – balls at the Assembly rooms, carriage rides and promenades on the Steyne – make her new life all Jane had hoped for.

While Jane’s sister Hetty can be a tiresome conversationalist she proves to be a surprisingly good correspondent and Jane is kept minutely up-to-date with developments in Highbury, particularly the tragic news from Donwell Abbey.

When handsome Lieutenant Weston returns to Brighton Jane expects their attachment to pick up where it left off in Highbury the previous Christmas, but the determined Miss Louisa Churchill, newly arrived with her brother and sister-in-law from Enscombe in Yorkshire, seems to have a different plan in mind.

Purchase Link

Amazon UK

About the Author

Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.

She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.

She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.

She has two grown-up children, two granddaughters, two grandsons and two cockapoos but just one husband – Tim. They live in Cumbria, NW England.

The Other Miss Bates is her eighth novel and the second in the Highbury series

Social Media Links

https://allie-cresswell.com/

https://www.facebook.com/alliescribbler/

EXTRACT

All we know of Jane Bates from Emma is that she married a man by the name of Fairfax, their marriage lasting only long enough to produce a daughter, Jane. I wanted this tragically short relationship to be happy. Having made Jane a young lady of intelligence and courage, and given that her first choice of husband, Captain Weston, would be denied her by canon, I wanted to provide her with a husband who would nurture and fulfill all her excellent qualities and ambitions. Thus I conceived Angus Fairfax. But nothing shows up a person’s merits quite like comparing them with their polar opposite, so I came up with Arthur Sealy as an arch villain and rival for Jane’s affection.

Here, she meets both for the first time out in Brighton with her patroness Mrs Sealy, an invalid widow.

‘Good day, Arthur. I was not aware you were in town.’

Mrs Sealy addressed an extremely tall, very broad-shouldered young man with a heavy brow beneath a beetling cliff of forehead and a thick mop of unruly hair. His frock-coat was finely cut, his stock tied very tight and high, a froth of lace fell from his cuff. Altogether he cut a handsome – even brilliant – figure but it was a brutal, rather frightening beauty. Jane did not think she had ever seen such a toweringly large man; his physical presence was quite oppressive – he threw their table into shadow – and the expression on his face by no means denoted a benign character. His face was hard, his eye proud and cold. Since Mrs Sealy did not offer her hand he lifted it from her lap and bowed over it, placing a kiss on a particularly large and brilliant stone on her finger. ‘I wished to surprise you, Mama. I hope you are pleasantly surprised.’

‘I am astonished, indeed,’ said Mrs Sealy, retrieving her hand. ‘I thought it understood between us that you would be on the continent for many months.’

‘It was my fixed intention to remain abroad, but it cannot be done without funds. Who is this charming young lady, Mama? Won’t you introduce me?’

‘This is my companion, Miss Bates,’ Mrs Sealy said reluctantly. ‘Miss Bates, this is the Admiral’s son by his first wife, Arthur Sealy.’

‘Good day to you Miss Bates,’ said Arthur Sealy with a predatory smile, ‘I am charmed to make your acquaintance. Do you attend the Assembly this evening? I would be honoured to engage you for the first dances.’

‘Miss Bates does not dance,’ Mrs Sealy said quickly.

‘She certainly ought to, then,’ Mr Sealy drawled, ‘she should not deprive a fellow of such a partner. I overheard you telling that gentleman that you are going to the Rookery. I think I will join you. It is a delightful afternoon for a stroll in the gardens is it not Mama? Oh, but I forget,’ with a cruel, mirthless laugh, ‘you can not stroll.’

‘I am afraid that won’t be possible,’ Mrs Sealy replied. ‘We are going as guests…’

‘Of Captain Bates. Yes, I heard. An excellent man and an old acquaintance. He will not mind my joining you.’

‘I will mind,’ Mrs Sealy said, ‘we have particular family reasons for meeting Captain Bates this afternoon and your presence would frustrate them. Arthur I pray you would leave us now. If you wish to call in the morning you may do so.’

‘Family reasons?’ Mr Sealy cried. ‘Since I am family I can think of no better reason for me to do myself the pleasure of joining your party. It will be a duty, indeed, if ‘family’ is at the crux of it. What do you plan to do behind my back, I wonder?’

Mrs Sealy summoned patience from a cache which was all-but dry. ‘Not our family, Arthur. Miss Bates’ family. You could make no contribution whatsoever.’

‘I think I will be the judge of that, Mama,’ the young man said with an unpleasant smirk. ‘Come, let me carry you to your carriage.’ He bent and made as though to scoop the defenceless Mrs Sealy up in his arms.

Jane leapt from her chair, gasping at the man’s audacity. She reached out, fully ready to fight for possession of Mrs Sealy if necessary, quite determined that he would not touch her, much less lift her from her seat. ‘Sir, I pray you will step away,’ she said. ‘You impose yourself.’

‘Gentlemen,’ said a soft-voiced man whom no one had remarked before but who had been hovering on the terrace for some moments awaiting an opportunity to approach Mrs Sealy’s table. He had red hair, a thin but perfectly proportioned face and wore wire spectacles. He was tall but slender, dwarfed by the bulk of Arthur Sealy. ‘The cricket match is to begin presently,’ he remarked mildly. ‘See how the spectators are gathering?’ He threw his arm out to indicate an assemblage of the great and the good of Brighton strolling quite within sight and probably within earshot of the fracas which had been about to occur on the terrace. ‘There is the Duke of Cumberland and Mr Pelham. Is that Lord Montesquieu? I can’t quite make out… My eyes, you know, are not keen… Can you see?’

Almost imperceptibly the man edged Arthur Sealy away from his step-mother and Miss Bates. Under guise of interesting him in the august company gathering to watch the cricket he also no doubt brought forcefully to the young man’s mind that a display of fisticuffs with such an audience would sink his reputation so low it would probably be beyond retrieval. With Mr Sealy’s attention distracted Mrs Sealy had herself quickly conveyed to her carriage. Jane gathered her mistress’ things and soon followed. They were almost ready to depart when the red-haired stranger stepped up.

‘You must do me the honour of knowing your name, sir. You have performed a heroic service,’ Mrs Sealy cried, grasping his hand. Her voice, full of gratitude, also betrayed that tears were near. She had been badly shaken by the encounter with Arthur Sealy.

‘It was nothing at all,’ he said, ‘I felt compelled to intervene.’ He looked at Jane. His eyes, behind their glass lenses, were intensely blue. He gave her a penetrating, searching look. ‘Such courage,’ he said. ‘Let me commend you, ma’am. You would have taken him on single handed. I doubt you needed me at all.’

Mrs Sealy’s coachman had taken up the reigns. The horses were restless, ready to be off.

‘Your name, sir?’ Mrs Sealy repeated.

‘Oh,’ said the young man, stepping down from the carriage. ‘I am Angus Fairfax.’

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Please check out the other stops on the Blog Tour and I hoped you’ve enjoyed the extract today as much as I have!