My Friday Read this week takes us back to the past. A Good Man, written by Caitlyn Callery is a Regency Romance set at Christmas time in 1817. As well as writing great books, Caitlyn does a lot of charity work and once drove from the UK to Morocco to deliver wheelchairs. I bet there's a book in that!
Hope Fielding has been a lady’s maid to Mrs Greenhooke for the last three years. When Mrs Greenhooke’s nephew proposes marriage to her, she thinks her dreams have come true, only for them to turn to nightmares on her wedding night. Running from her depraved groom and his vicious valet, she accepts help from former dragoons officer, Harry Robinson.
Harry has a jaded view of women. As far as he is concerned, they don’t deserve a man’s consideration. Yet he finds himself helping the little lady’s maid who rescued him from attack in the London fog, and accepting her as that rarest of creatures – an honest female. But will he still think so when he learns her secrets? And will he be willing to stand up to her husband to protect her?
Read an extract
Deep shame filled him. He had been brought up to be better than that. True, Susannah’s duplicity had left him cynical, and the machinations of the ton had jaded his palate, but even so! He was a gentleman. When had he strayed so far from all that was expected of him that he could walk by and leave a woman in trouble to her fate? When had his honour shrivelled to nothingness, and his sense of right and wrong been lost? Self-disgust threatened to overwhelm him.
He heard a thud, a sleepy masculine groan, a small feminine cry. Perhaps there was still time for Harry to redeem himself.
He found her a few yards further along, kneeling, trying to push her spilled possessions back into the bag. Behind her, a man lay in a drunken stupor, his snores loud, the stench of cheap gin fouling the air around him. Harry stepped over him and crouched beside the woman.
“Are you all right?”
She did not look all right. Her bonnet was askew and long shanks of light coloured hair had escaped to flop over her shoulders. Her gloves and dress were ruined by the wet mud on the road and a smudge stained her cheek.
The woman shot Harry a venomous look, then tried to stand. Sodden skirts clung to her knees and lower legs, hindering her movement. He offered his hand. She did not take it.
Once upright, she took off the bonnet, shoved her hair high on her head and then placed the bonnet firmly over it, forcing it into place. She shut the bag and walked purposefully away.
Harry sighed. “Miss?”
She continued walking away.
“Wait.” With his long stride, he caught up with ease. “Let me escort you…”
“No, thank you.” The words were crisp and curt, her voice clear, educated. What the hell was she doing here?
“Miss, I don’t think…”
“No. That’s true. You don’t.” She whirled around to face him. Even in the misty night he saw the fury flash in her eyes. “I have no need for a…” She looked him up and down with contempt before spitting out the next word, “gentleman.”
“I am not what you are obviously looking for,” she said. “So leave me alone.” And she walked away.
“I am trying to apologise,” he told her.
She did not break stride.
“These streets are unsafe.”
The woman continued as if he had not spoken.
“At least let me see you to safety,” he called.
The fog turned her into a formless silhouette.
The woman did not want his help. She did not want anything to do with him. Harry could hardly blame her for that. He had behaved badly, made assumptions on the flimsiest of evidence, and the insult had obviously cut deep.
An hour ago, he would not have cared. He would have shrugged his shoulders and walked away, secure in his belief that this woman, like any woman, was a selfish, deceitful little baggage who would not only survive but thrive, and any man foolish enough to give her succour invited his own doom. It was the creed he had lived by since Susannah married a duke, and it had served him—and those friends he had enlightened along the way—well.
Why he felt differently about this woman, he could not say. Perhaps it was the honesty in her kiss, or the way she had refused his guinea, or the way she had swung that piece of wood in his defence and then looked so shocked afterwards.
Perhaps it was his shame. God knew, it should be.
Muttering a curse, he went after her again. He caught up to her as she reached a fork in the road and hesitated, looking first one way, then the other.
“Where is it you are wanting to go?” he asked. She looked over her shoulder at him. The meagre light of a street lamp made the fear on her face stark. Harry smiled and hoped he looked reassuring. “I can escort you.”
She turned her back to him, looked to the right, then seemed to make up her mind. She took two paces to the left.
“I don’t believe you want to go that way, Miss.”
There was a sharp hiss as she took in an angry breath. “Now you propose to know my destination.” The words were forced between gritted teeth.
Harry’s lips twitched and he fought the unhelpful urge to smile. “No, I don’t. But I know where you do not want to go. If you follow that road you will end up in St Giles, and even in daylight, that is not the sort of place in which a lady should be seen.”
The woman stopped. Her back was rigid, head held high. She took a deep breath, expelled it with a decisive nod, turned and headed the other way. Harry fell into step beside her, and she glared at him. “Please, leave me alone.”
“I’m afraid I cannot do that. It would be conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. I would not wish to be guilty of such a charge.”
“You already are, sir.” Angry boot heels rang on the hard packed road, underscoring her contempt.
Harry sighed and nodded. “I confess, I deserved that. But I have apologised.”
“Which in no way makes me feel better.”
“Nor me. At this moment, if you want to know the truth, I feel a thorough blackguard.”
“I should be horsewhipped.”
“Yes. You should.” The words were still curt but there was the merest hint of a smile in her voice.
Harry dared to hope.
Intrigued? Find out what happens next by purchasing the book here:
Meet the Author, Caitlyn Callery.
I was born in Coventry but have lived all my adult life in Sussex, between the Regency towns of Tunbridge Wells and Brighton. My grown up children all live nearby, and I enjoy a lot of time with them all. Over the years, I’ve had a variety of jobs, working in a bank and a call centre, driving lorries, working as a mechanic’s mate, waitressing. I am heavily involved with the charity, “World In Need”, which seeks to change attitudes in developing countries through education and development. I drove from the UK to Morocco for this charity, delivering wheelchairs, and I have also visited Kenya, where they run a school. Other interests include reading, crochet and knitting, and the theatre.
I asked Caitlyn to tell us a bit more about herself
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes, I have. When I was eight, I would rush through my schoolwork because, if you finished early, you were allowed to write stories until home time. My school report from that time says I was writing stories and original poetry.
Has any author inspired you?
There have been so many. I met Ken Follett once and he was very encouraging. He talked to me about my writing for some time and following that, I couldn’t wait to go home and put his advice into practice. Jonathan Gash, who wrote the Lovejoy books, was also encouraging. Willy Russell, who wrote “Blood Brothers,” spent some time with me on an Arvon course, helping me to see where I could be better. I also found inspiration in Lee Child, who became a writer after he lost his livelihood and turned what could have been a disaster into something positive. And of course, the great Georgette Heyer. She inspires me because she shows me how good the best can be, and makes me want to reach that standard.
What do you like writing most?
I love writing about people. I tend to think people are people, and they’re not so different to each other, whether they are in the UK or the wilds of Africa; living now, or in Regency times, or when Christ walked the earth. I enjoy what makes them tick, figuring out how they will react to certain situations. I love the drama of putting them into difficulty and watching them struggle to get out of it, and I relish watching them fall in love, against their own expectations.
I also love writing comedy. It’s the hardest thing to write, but knowing you’ve made me people laugh puts you on such a high, it’s worth every minute of blood, sweat and tears.
Do you have a special place for writing?
First draft, no. I write this by hand, so it can be anywhere – at the kitchen table, waiting in the car, sitting on the sofa, in hospital waiting rooms, wherever I have a spare few minutes.
I type it up, tweak it and edit it in my office. This used to be my son’s bedroom until he left home. If he ever decides to return, I am in trouble.
Are you a pantster or a plotter?
I am very much a plotter. Before I start writing the actual story, I have everything worked out, what will happen first, what it will lead to, etc. I know my characters as well as I know my friends. As I write, things may change, some ideas won’t work as well in the execution as they did on the plan, other things occur to me, and I change direction, but essentially, the destination stays the same and the route doesn’t deviate too much.
Is your writing ever inspired by your family or real life incidents?
It has been. I have a son who has Prader Willi syndrome and he was attacked by a group of thugs who thought they were big and clever. One of my reactions to that was the stage play, “Sammy”. I also wrote another play, “The Price of Firewood,” which was inspired by what was happening in Darfur.
When it comes to my Regency Romances, they are informed by real life in that I try to make my characters behave as real people would, although, as yet, none have been based on any true life incidents.
What are you writing at the moment?
The fifth book in my Regency Romance series, tentatively entitled, “Viscount in Hiding.”
What inspired you to write this book?
My brother had his card cloned. It set me thinking that identity theft is a very modern crime. Then I realised it probably isn’t. It’s just that people in the past would have gone about it differently, and for different reasons. That set me wondering, and there was no stopping me after that.
What time of the day do you write best?
In the mornings, up until lunchtime. After that, I will write, but I flag a bit and am nowhere near as productive.
What are your hobbies?
I enjoy knitting and crochet, watching football (soccer), reading and theatre. I also love spending time with my family, being at the beach and listening to music. At the moment, I have Nickelback playing, but I also love Richard Marx, Michel Sardou, Graham Kendrick and Roch Voisine.
What advice would you give to other writers?
Don’t give up. If you have a passion for writing, then go ahead, no matter what others may say. But be prepared to serve your apprenticeship, learn the craft and become the best you can be. If you can afford it, go to workshops or courses, especially ones taught by successful writers, such as the Arvon Courses in the UK. Learn all you can, listen to advice, and watch your writing grow.
Great advice, Caitlyn!
You can find out more about Caitlyn, here:
Website is http://www.hilarymackelden.com/novels-by-caitlyn-callery/.
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/Caitlyn-Callery-723717477751383/
Twitter handle: @hilarymackelden
Thanks for dropping by to talk to us, Caitlyn!