Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Downstairs Maid

Just popped in to tell you about my new book.
The Downstairs Maid/ Rosie Clarke is a big saga for Ebury Publishing.  It is published on 22. May 2014

The story of a young girl growing up on her father's smallholding, happy despite being poor until she is told she must go to work at the Manor as a skivvy.  Can Emily find happiness and rise far beyond her dreamds/


Emily could hear the row going on downstairs and she stuck her fingers in her ears, burying her head under the pillows to shut out the angry words. It was warm in her bed, because she had two wool blankets and a thick eiderdown filled with duck feathers, and the sheets smelled of lavender. At night when it was cold out, she liked to burrow right down into her soft mattress, pull the covers over her head and disappear into her own world. In Emily’s secret world she could be whatever she wanted to be – a princess living in a castle with jelly and cake for tea every day. Or a lady in a fine house with a big diamond ring like Miss Concenii had – or…there Emily’s imagination ran out, because she knew so little of the world. The Vicar spoke of foreign lands sometimes, but the stories he told didn’t seem real but more like the fairytales in the old books Pa sometimes brought home for her to read. Pa was always bringing some treasure home for Emily. Usually, the bits of glass and china were chipped or cracked.

‘I can’t sell them like that, Em’ lass,’ he would tell her, taking her on his knee to explain that the latest find was Derby or Coalport or Worcester porcelain and the glass cranberry or Bristol Blue or perhaps a very early Georgian wineglass with a spiral stem. ‘If they were perfect they would be worth money – this scent bottle has a silver top, see – look at the hallmarks; that little lion means it’s proper English silver and the leopard’s head means it was made in London and that one is the date letter. See those four letters; they’re the maker’s marks but they’re a bit worn and I can’t see, but there’s a feel to this piece. That was made by a good silversmith that was and I’m not going to scrap it even if it would bring in a couple of bob. If this was perfect it would be worth at least two pounds, perhaps more – but the cap is dented, the stopper is broken and the glass is chipped. I wouldn’t get more than a shilling.’

‘I don’t mind,’ Emily said and hugged him. ‘I love it, because it is pretty and I don’t care that it’s damaged.’

She thought she would like to learn all the silver hallmarks but Pa didn’t know them all. He needed a reference book, so he’d told her. Emily decided that one day, when she had lots of money, she would buy him one, to say thank you for all he gave her

Pa nodded and kissed the top of her head. ‘That’s right, lass. Always remember when you buy something to buy quality. If it’s damaged it will come cheap and that way you can afford things you’d never otherwise be able to own.’

In Emily’s eyes the fact that her father had given her the treasure and took the time to explain what it was, where it was made and what it was for, meant more than the item itself. She liked to be close to Pa, to smell his own particular smell and feel safe in his arms. Emily knew her father loved her. She wasn’t sure if her mother even liked her, though sometimes she would smile and tell her to fetch out the biscuits or cakes, though she more often received a smack on the legs than a kiss.

The row seemed to go on for longer than usual that night. Driven at last by a kind of desperate curiosity, she crept down the uncarpeted wooden stairs, avoiding the one that creaked, to stand behind the door that closed the stairs off from the kitchen. Because it wasn’t shut properly, Emily could hear what her parents were saying.

‘But you’re his only relative,’ Ma said and she sounded almost tearful. ‘It isn’t fair that he should leave everything to that woman.’

Pa’s tone was calm and reasonable, the same as always. ‘Miss Concenii has been with him for years and nursed him devotedly this last year. The lawyer said he changed his will two months ago. I was the main beneficiary in the first one – most of the money and the house and contents…but then he changed it.’

‘And we know who’s behind that, don’t we?’ Ma said in a sullen tone. ‘She must have guided his hand. I told you to go and see him. I would have had him here and looked after him myself if you’d bothered to do something about it - but you're always the same. You just leave things and now we’ve been cheated out of a fortune.’

‘You don’t know that,’ Pa said. ‘He probably thought she deserved the house and money for putting up with him all those years.’

‘She guided his hand that’s what she did. You should go to court and get your share.’

‘He left me fifty pounds, a set of chessmen in ivory and ebony, a mantel clock and a Bible – and he left Em a ring. I’ve got it in my pocket…’

‘She can’t have that, it’s too valuable,’ Ma said. ‘Give it to me. I’ll look after it for her until she’s older.’

Emily wanted to call out that the ring was hers. She was frightened her mother would take it and sell it, but her father was speaking again.

‘I’ll just keep it for her. Albert left you this, Stella…’

Emily heard her mother give a squeak of pleasure. Obviously, the bequest had pleased her. Emily craned forward to peep round the door and look. She could see something on the kitchen table. It flashed in the light and she thought it must be diamonds, though there were blue stones too.

‘That’s sapphire and diamond that is,’ Pa said. ‘It’s a brooch, Stella – and worth a few bob.’

‘I can see that but it’s not worth as much as a house – and three hundred pounds. Think what we could have done with all that, Joe. You’ve been cheated of your fortune but you haven’t the sense to see it.’

‘Even if I have there’s no proof,’ Pa said. ‘She made sure of that – the doctor signed to say Albert was in his right mind when he made his last will…’

‘And what did he get out of it I wonder!’

Ma was in a right temper. Emily turned and went back up to her bedroom. She ran across the stained boards and jumped into bed. Her feet had turned cold standing on the stairs listening to her parents and her mind was full of pictures that troubled her. What had Miss Concenii done to poor Uncle Albert to make him sign his house and most of his money and possessions over to her?

Emily’s eyes stung with tears that trickled down her cheeks. She didn’t mind much that they wouldn’t be rich. Fifty pounds sounded a lot to her and she was curious about the ring Pa was keeping for her – but she hoped Uncle Albert hadn’t been made unhappy when he was ill. She felt sad for him having his hand guided and she felt sad for her father, because he’d lost his fortune.

Joe Carter worked hard from early in the morning to late at night, mucking out the horses and the cows, milking and watering and feeding the stock. His was only a small farm and he eked out a scarce living from his pigs, cows, ducks and chickens. He had one ten acre field put down to arable, which he alternated between barley, rye, wheat and potatoes, with a patch for vegetables for the house. He worked alone most of the time, though there was a lad of sixteen who came to help with the jobs he couldn’t manage alone. Bert was a little slow in his head but strong and a good worker. No one else would employ him, because he couldn’t be left to do a job alone, but Pa gave him a shilling now and then and he was always hanging around the yard, grinning at nothing in particular and eager to help. Because he was harmless and would do anything, Ma tolerated him and if there was nothing else for him to do she asked him to chop the logs for her.

When Pa had nothing much to do on the land he went out buying the things other people threw away. He had a barn filled almost to the rafters with old furniture. Ma said it was all junk, but Emily had seen some things she thought looked nice.

Pa had shown her some chairs with turned legs and a wide carved splat at the back, which he said were Georgian. He’d told her they were quality when new, but he’d only got five of a set of six and two of them had broken legs. One day he hoped to mend the legs but he was always looking for a single chair that would match the set – because a set of six was worth a lot more than five.

Best of all Emily liked the selection of silver bits, china and glass that Pa kept in a cabinet in the barn. She liked the delicate silver jug with a shaped foot Pa said was Georgian, the little enamelled snuff or pill boxes with pictures on the lids – and the silver box that opened to reveal a singing bird. That was lovely and Emily would have loved to own it, but Pa had to sell his nice things because there wasn’t enough money coming in from the land. He’d talked of having a shop in Ely one day, but Ma told him he was daft because he could never afford to pay the rent.

If Pa had got Uncle Albert’s house and money he could have bought a shop. Perhaps then Ma and Emily wouldn’t have had to hide from the tallyman ever again.

Hope you enjoy this post.
Love from Rosie

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Cover Reveal for Night Music, a Promise Me Short Story

Night Music, the popular ultra-romantic short story from the Promise Me Universe, will be launched as its own novella later this month as part of Melange Books' new Imprint, Satin Romance!

At his request, I allowed the vampire Devlin Dalcon to be the one to introduce Night Music. --TFH

LOVE NOTES by Devlin Dalcon

The first sweet notes rise in the air. Anticipation blossoms into pure satisfaction. Everything you have ever hoped for, everything you ever longed for cascades over you, washing away all that was, replacing it with new possibilities of a new beginning. There is nothing but this moment, where everything is deliciously right, everything is faultless. All you ever wanted and needed lies in the crystal clear notes breaking over you, enfolding you in sweet perfection. This is truth, this is pure emotion, beyond what any words could ever convey. You are captive, motionless under its sway until the last echoing notes fade away and are lost to silence. 
Is it any wonder that music is often used to woo the reluctant partner, or seduce the innocent lover-to-be? Not to me, who has used them for centuries, along with my many other wiles. But I am as much captive as captor in my love for music. It is emotion in its purest form. The closest parallel is the act of love itself, that joining of imperfect flesh that creates its own perfect music. Sadly, the act of serenading a lover has fallen to the wayside in this new age of Internet and email. So I penned this short entreaty to draw your attention to a short tale of romance, aptly titled Night Music. It is a true story, a recounting of one of my acquaintances, a fellow vampire by the name of David, and the woman he discovered quite by accident, when he stopped for the night on his way to pay his respects to me.
The lovely Krystin was in perfect condition to be seduced. She had come to a romantic park on vacation, hoping that memories of her past would inspire her life in a new direction. She found that and more, when she awoke in the night to the strains of haunting music echoing though the night air, caressing her bare skin like a lover. It was a given she would seek out David, who had no idea she had heard his late night practice session. Their attraction when they met was immediate, their chemistry undeniable. Yet in his modesty and veracity, David did not press his advantage—foolish, in my opinion. He denied the music was his at all. Lucky for him, Krystin was a woman very capable of pursuing him, and did so, cornering him, and forcing him to open up to her about not just his music, but himself. Ah, I should have loved to watch them consummate their budding love that night, to hear those soft sighs of pleasure found, and smell the enticing scent of lovemaking. The symphony they played together was undoubtedly original, and moving. Alas, that I was not there to join in…alas.
Krystin was no fool; she put two and two together, and concluded that David was a vampire. That he planned to tell her was certain, to my conclusion. He likely was just trying to find a way to do it that didn’t sound crazy. But before he could, another acquaintance came looking for David, and instead discovered Krystin. 
I’ll say no more, lest I spoil the climax of the story, and leave you with a soft nudge to discover its delights for yourself. Thank you for your time, my beloved devotees. I hope to see you again very soon, perhaps in your dreams. 

Blurb for Night Music 

Grieving Krys Markman has come to lose herself in family memories at Letchworth State Park, and try to figure out her next step. Yet the unearthly beautiful music she hears each night stirs her soul to romance. Can its creator, the attractive vampire David Helm, heal her broken heart?


Krys walked slowly toward the low stone wall, the roaring of the falls capturing all her attention as she rested her hands on the cold rock slabs. The view was as magnificent as ever; the towering waterfall spanning the wide river, the trails beside it framed with stone and concrete walls more than fifty feet below. The early spring afternoon felt more like late summer, the air balmy and comfortable, even in her T-shirt and jeans. 
Letchworth State Park. The place was exactly the same, but everything was different. Her parents were gone, and now her brother was, too. They’d come here as a foursome every summer and stayed for a week, renting a rough built cabin. It had been bare bones, lacking heat, water, or even a private outhouse. But it had always been a good time to her and Bill: fishing, hiking, playing games, and encountering the wildlife. Each summer, her parents always treated Krys and her brother to one special adventure. For Krys, that had been the whitewater rafting outfit that operated below the lower falls. For her brother, Bill, that had been either horseback riding or a ride over the river via hot air balloon. 
They’d had such good times here…
Pretending to brush back her hair, Krys brushed away a tear, conscious of the many tourists still snapping pictures of the falls. Why had she come here? What had she hoped to find? 
“Excuse me,” an old woman said, tapping her elbow. “But we’d like to get a picture together. Would you take one of us, please?”
Krys nodded, then snapped a few pictures as the couple posed in front of the falls. Handing back the camera, she hurried inside the Glen Iris Inn, calling herself an idiot. Ringing the bell, she waited.
A desk clerk came in quickly. “Can I help you?”
“Krys Markman,” she said. “I’m checking in. I’m staying in Caroline’s Cottage.”
“Please fill this out.” The woman handed her a form. “And I need a credit card to make an imprint.”
Krys handed over her credit card, then took it back a few minutes later, handing in the filled out form.
“Staying with us all week?”
And probably going to rue it, Krys thought miserably. “Yes.”
“Have you stayed with us before?”
“Yes,” Krys said quickly. “I’ll just need one key.”
The woman began reciting the checkout times and other rules, all of which Krys knew by heart. She fidgeted, then grabbed the key, not replying to the startled clerk as she ran outside. A couple jumped back as she nearly banged in to them.
“Hey!” the man said, throwing an arm in front of his wife to shield her. “Watch where you’re going—”
“Sorry,” Krys stammered, flushing.
The couple gave her another dirty look, then walked upstairs hand in hand. Krys sat down in an empty wrought iron chair, rubbing her eyes.
Enough already. This was her vacation, a long break to recoup before embarking on a new chapter in her life. Relaxing was the first step. Walking was out; the lamps scattered around the Glen Iris Inn were coming on. So it would have to be alcohol instead. 
* * * *
Krys sipped her wine flight, while looking around at her setting, marveling that so much was still the same, and still so beautiful. She’d been in these same surroundings so many times, yet they were still magical to her, even as their familiarity soothed her…
“Will you want dinner?” her waiter asked delicately. “Or would you like to try one of the wines you sampled?”
Where had the time gone? Krys had finished all three samples already. While another flight and more reminiscing sounded wonderful, it was better not to tempt fate, not when she had a hell of a climb in the dark to reach her rented house. “Yes.” She chose an entrée at random from the menu, then one of the wines she’d sampled. 
As the waiter walked away, Krys noticed a tall man sitting by himself off in the corner. He was writing something by the light of the table candle. What was compelling was he was doing it in longhand in a small paper book instead of via electronic device. The act was so uncommon that she stared at him. Within a few seconds, the man raised his eyes and caught her staring, his dark eyes meeting hers. Krys immediately looked down, flushing. By the time she gathered enough courage to look up again, the man was gone, his seat empty.
The waiter came back, her wine on a tray. “We’re all out of the salmon, Ma’am,” he said apologetically. “Would you like to choose something else?”
The only craving Krys had was to find out who that handsome man had been. Food could wait. “There was a man sitting out here. Do you know who he was?”
The waiter shifted uneasily. “We’re not allowed to give out information on guests, Ma’am. Sorry.”
“So he is staying here?” Krys said hopefully. “Will he be here a few more days?”
The waited leaned down slightly, his expression secretive. “Aren’t you staying for a few days in Caroline’s Cottage?”
“Yes,” she answered conspiratorially.
“They I’d advise you to get to know your neighbor during your stay,” the waiter said meaningfully. 
Krys looked at him in puzzlement. “What?”
The waiter straightened, then set down her glass of wine. “Will you have another entrée, Ma’am?”
Comprehension dawned. “No,” Krys said, hastily grabbing her purse. “Put my drinks on my bill.”

* * * *

Links for Tara Fox Hall: 
Email: tarafoxhallATgmailDOTcom

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Bio: Tara Fox Hall’s writing credits include nonfiction, erotica, horror, suspense, action-adventure, children’s stories, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She is the author of the paranormal fantasy Lash series and the paranormal romantic drama Promise Me series. Tara divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice. All of her published children’s stories to date are free reads on

Links for Letchworth State Park: 
Glen Iris Inn:
Caroline’s Cottage:
Friends of Letchworth State Park: