Tag Archives: The Heart That Lies

When Love Means Daring To Reveal Who You Really Are


The second book in the Regency Spies trilogy is now available. As you can see it has another wonderful cover by the talented Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics. If you didn’t already know that I write historical romance, Cathy’s design would tell you immediately.

The trilogy takes place between the summer of 1811 and the summer of 1815, with the final book concluding a few days after the Battle of Waterloo. The first book, The Heart That Lies, dealt with the earl of Meldon, a spy during the Napoleonic Wars, who is distracted from hunting down the killer of a colleague by the arrival into his house of a young woman who refuses to tell him her name. The second book is about the earl’s friend, the widower Edmund Finch.

This is the description on Amazon:

In the spring of 1812 Regency spy Edmund Finch returns to London after a failed mission on the Continent. Physical and mental exhaustion keep him away for society for some time, but when he returns to it he is introduced to a beautiful woman who steals his heart. Is she, however, a fit woman to be the mother of his young son? And what of Sophia, a young woman whose intelligence delights him, but who has attracted the attention of his closest friend’s nephew. Finch’s friends fear that he is not in a condition to make the right choice; Finch can only follow his heart, when he understands it.

It’s not necessary to have read The Heart That Lies to read and enjoy The Heart That Hides.

The trilogy will be completed by The Heart That Wins which I hope to have ready for the editor by the beginning of next year.


Leave a comment

Filed under The Books

The Proper Study of Man is… Alexander Pope

The Rape of the Lock

A couple of weeks ago I had lunch in the Phoenix Inn  in Twyford, near Winchester. The food and the beer were both good, neither of which is the point of this post. There was a notice on the wall behind me about Alexander Pope being expelled from the village’s prep school for writing inflammatory verses about one of the masters. I had made him the favourite poet of the Earl of Meldon in The Heart That Lies and I was intrigued by the relatively local connection. Since I didn’t know anything about his life, I thought I’d find out what I could and read a few more of his poems.

Pope wrote witty and satirical poetry. His most famous poem, The Rape of the Lock, is about the theft of a lock of hair by one of his friends from another friend. It’s a lot more than the bit of froth that I’ve made it sound. When I started looking into his life I was surprised to discover that he is more quoted than any other author save Shakespeare. The best known quotation is probably “The proper study of mankind is man”, which I’ve misquoted above. “A little learning is a dangerous thing” is one of his, as are “Hope springs eternal in the human breast”, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread” and “To err is human, to forgive divine”.

He was born in London in 1688, the year of the Glorious Revolution, when the Catholic James II was forced from the throne on the birth of his son due to fears of a Catholic monarchy. It was thought that this could cause a return to the anarchy of the Civil War and James’s Protestant son-in-law, William of Orange, was invited to take the throne with his wife, Mary.

Pope’s parents were Catholic and he received an indifferent education, partly at Twyford and partly at two illegal Catholic schools in London. Catholics were not so much second class subjects at the time as not subjects at all. They were not allowed to attend university or to teach, vote or hold public office. In addition to a poor education, Pope also suffered from a serious illness that left him disabled at twelve. As a result he was a short man, less than five foot, apparently. School of any kind was out of the question thereafter and he mostly educated himself.

His first works were published in 1709, although he claimed to have written them when he was 16. The Rape of the Lock was published in 1714 and made his reputation. Despite his physical condition, he was untiring and continued writing until his death. He was one of a very small number of poets to make his living entirely from writing poetry.

Pope translated The Iliad and The Odyssey. The former gained a large following.

In 1718 he moved to a villa in Twickenham, which became popular due to its grounds, which were his main interest.

The Essay on Man, from which I have misappropriated the title of this post, was published in 1733. It’s a positive affirmation of faith, stating that man really isn’t in a position to understand God and should accept this. Once someone acknowledges their place in “the Great Chain of Being” they can live as they should and be happy. Pope intended it to be part of a larger work, but died before he could complete it. Other works include An Essay on Criticism (1711), Eloisa to Abelard (1717) and The Dunciad (1728).

Like many people with sharp wit and a satirical bent, Pope made enemies. He was not assisted in this by his character, as he was vain, vindictive, unjust and sensitive to criticism. He lost many friends as a result.  Despite this, he was considered the greatest poet of his age by his contemporaries.

By the early nineteenth century Pope had largely fallen out of favour. Wordsworth found his style too decadent to represent the human condition truly. Byron, however, liked Pope’s work.

He died in 1744.


Filed under Regency

Gothic Heroine

Mysteries of Udolpho

Mrs Radcliffe was despised and revered in about equal measure at the beginning of the nineteenth century. She wrote some of the gothic novels referred to by Jane Austen in her own novels and was the most famous writer in that genre. For many, novels of any kind were considered frivolous and gothic novels were more frivolous than the rest. In this regard Mrs Radcliffe was not well-served by her fame, as she represented the gothic novel in the mind’s of most people and came in for a lot of criticism. Mrs Radcliffe’s novels are representative of the genre in that the plots are labyrinthine; they have casts of thousands and there is usually a strong supernatural element, although in her case this is always explained later. It’s probably due to her that the gothic novel survived as long as it did as a genre.

Mrs Radcliffe was born Ann Ward in 1764 in London and married William Radcliffe in 1787. He was the owner of a weekly newspaper. Her mother was 38 when she was born and it was her relationships with her parents and her mother-in-law that are believed to have had most influence on her as a writer, since these relationships were very fraught. Ann Ward grew up with an uncle, not with her parents, and Mrs Radcliffe senior was very difficult, demanding that money be sent to her for her support even though it would have been easier for everyone if she had moved in with Ann and William.

Ann Radcliffe was a Unitarian. This was a religion that did not have its first church in England until ten years after her birth. Since I had to look it up, I can share that Unitarians, at least in Mrs Radcliffe’s day, were theists who did not accept the Trinity, nor did they accept that Jesus was God. There were Unitarians in England from the middle of the seventeenth century, but it was only in 1774 that they became a formal denomination. This is of some importance to her readers, as the deity in her works is the Unitarian deity. She was very anti-Catholic, which is quite a feature of the Gothic genre.

Her first book The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne was published in 1789. It was, apparently, dreadful and attracted no attention. A Sicilian Romance was published in the following year and Sir Walter Scott said it was the finest English example of the poetical novel. Another year brought The Romance of the Forest, the book that Harriet Smith was so desperate to read in Emma.

The Romance of the Forest

Mrs Radcliffe’s most famous books were The Mysteries of Udolpho in 1794 and The Italian in 1797. The Mysteries of Udolpho is parodied in Northanger Abbey and there are those who see her influence in other books by Jane Austen. This rather implies that Jane Austen was a fan, both of Mrs Radcliffe and the gothic genre. She must have read and liked a number of such books in order to produce a good parody.

I have tried to reflect the way in which her novels were received in two of my own novels. In The Heart That Lies the earl of Meldon is a fan and has even tried to meet the woman whose writing he admires. His closest friend, Edmund Finch, is dismissive of her talents in The Heart That Hides and would rather have someone read a laundry list to him than one of her novels.

The reason that fans like Meldon didn’t meet their heroine was because she became a recluse in her later years. Very little was known about her and Christina Rossetti had to abandon her plan to write a biography due to the lack of material.

After producing five very popular novels, she stopped writing in 1797 at the age of 32. There is some suggestion that this was due to pressure from her husband, but there are also clues that she was not entirely stable mentally. She appears to have had a mental breakdown in 1812 and there were rumours that she died in a lunatic asylum. For some months after her breakdown it was believed that she was near to death, but she recovered and returned to London and her husband in 1815.

Mrs Radcliffe died in 1823 from some kind of respiratory problem. It’s not known if it was asthma, pneumonia or a chest infection; it seems each is equally possible.

Her contemporaries regarded her as a dramatic poet and it was the poetry that established her in the literary world. Women novelists were considered frivolous, but she rose above this. The poems in her novels aided her readers’ understanding of the story.

She was a strong influence on Sir Walter Scott and he acknowledged his debt to her.

Her novels are long and rambling for today’s tastes, but still worth investigating.


Filed under Regency

A New Guise for a Lying Heart


Although it was rather good, I’ve recently replaced the cover of The Heart that Lies. Now that I’ve finally finished the second book in the Regency Spies trilogy (almost a year later than planned), I decided to have a theme run through all three covers and I couldn’t achieve that with the cover that was already on the book.

Cathy Helms at Avalon Graphics has, once again, come up with something rather special.

Leave a comment

Filed under Regency

Why the Regency?

Just over two years I started writing a trilogy of novels set in the Regency period. This was partly because I had been reading some books set at that time and found myself enjoying the setting and partly because I read a review of a historical romance about Regency spies that suggested that something was impossible since it had never been accomplished in any book that the reviewer had read. I thought about it for a while and realised that it wasn’t impossible and it wasn’t even that difficult, so I started The Heart that Lies to demonstrate to myself that it was easy. Even before I finished it I knew that there would have to be a second book to tell the story of the earl’s friend and then it occurred to me that a trilogy would make more sense, because the story had to continue past the Battle of Waterloo.

Then I had to do the research; it turns out it’s not enough to have read the complete works of Jane Austen a couple (or more) times. It was the research that showed me that the Regency was a much more interesting time than all those TV adaptations of Austen’s works had led me to believe. It wasn’t just about girls in pretty gowns meeting young men with impeccable manners in elegant rooms. It was also about a constant fear of invasion or revolution, whichever came first; it was the beginning of the last hurrah of the landed aristocracy whose place was rapidly being taken by industrialists and capitalists; it was a very violent society where life was cheap; and it was a time when wealthy Britons, no longer able to travel on the continent, came to appreciate the beauty of their own countries.

Like the fourteenth century it was a time of uncertainty. No one knew how the seemingly never-ending war against Napoleon’s France was going to end and it often looked as if there was going to be a violent revolution in Britain before either side could declare victory anyway. There were frequent riots and the Luddites took actions against factories in the Midlands and the North that were, if not taking their jobs, changing the nature of them.

It was a time of change with the industrial revolution taking manufacturing out of the home and into the factory. On the one hand the variety of goods available for purchase increased and the cost of buying them decreased, so people started to own more things, many of which made their lives easier. On the other hand, labour moved from the home into factories and people who had been able to work at their own pace had to work at the pace of a machine.

As in our own time a much-loved monarch was ending a lengthy reign. The Prince of Wales was much less respected and the butt of salacious jokes and cartoons. Although many benefited from his society during his regency, few looked forward to his succession.

The Regency was a very short period of time from 1811 to 1820 and, until I started doing the research, it had always felt like an anomaly between the Georgian and Victorian eras. The people of the Georgian era have always seemed to me, wrongly, as very lumpen, bawdy, without a shred of sympathy for their fellow man and either drunk or recovering from being drunk. The Regency seemed like a sudden burst of elegance that was swept away by what seemed to be a century of mourning and quiet hysteria (if you were a woman) under Victoria.

It is the constant sense that anything might have happened that makes it such a good setting for romances. And the frocks are lovely.

Leave a comment

Filed under Regency