I am spotlighting Frances Evesham’s debut novel AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN which is released today.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Genre: Historical Mystery Romance (Victorian)
With nothing left from her childhood except a tiny portrait of a beautiful woman, some skill with a needle, and the knowledge of a dreadful secret, Philomena escapes her tormentor, Joseph, and the dank fogs of Victorian London, only for a train crash to interrupt her quest for independence and freedom.
Trapped between the upstairs and downstairs occupants of a great country house, Philomena hears whispers of the mysteries and lies that lurk in empty corridors and behind closed doors. Her rescuer, the dangerous, enigmatic Hugh, Lord Thatcham, wrestles with his own demons and makes Philomena’s heart race, but she must fight her passion for she can never marry.
Haunted by her past, Philomena’s only hope of happiness is to confront the evil forces that threaten to destroy her.
The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.com
A new light shone in the grey eyes as Lord Thatcham bent his head ever closer. She must move away. She begged her body to obey her. Instead, it leaned closer as though a magnet pulled the two together. She could not resist.
“Philomena,” Lord Thatcham murmured. “Is that name real? Who are you? What brought you here to make me—” He stopped abruptly and straightened a little, searching Philomena’s face. He lingered on the black curls, the blue eyes, and then his gaze slid down to rest on her mouth. His lips parted. “You are very beautiful.”
Philomena could not speak. Her body, responding to the hitherto unknown power of male magnetism, yearned for the first touch. Lord Thatcham’s breath escaped in a rough gasp. He surrounded her, his arms gentle, and eased her body forward until Philomena felt his heartbeat in time with her own. Her eyes were half closed. His lips brushed gently, soft and warm, over her mouth. For an endless moment, she stayed quite still, beguiled by the spicy sharp taste of his lips. A charge electrified her body.
Then her head cleared. She gasped. Was she mad? This was Lord Thatcham, and she was nothing but a penniless waif in his power. He meant to have his way with her, just as Joseph had tried to do.
She tore herself away from the embrace. “How dare you.” Her voice shook with fury. “How dare you treat me so?”
Lord Thatcham’s arms fell away. Blood drained from his countenance, leaving the dark eyes aglow in a white face. He said not a word.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I write, collect grandsons and Victorian trivia. I love to smell rosemary and garlic as I cook with a glass of wine in one hand and a bunch of chillies in the other.
I’ve visited the Arctic Circle and seen the Northern Lights. One day I’ll get to see the penguins at the South Pole.
A speech therapist, a professional communication fiend and a road sweeper in the past, I also work in the criminal courts to uphold fair questioning of people with special needs. I believe it’s possible to speak all known languages using nothing but gestures, pictures and signs.
Writing psychological thrillers, historical romances and books on communication leaves enough time to enjoy bad jokes and puns and wish I’d kept on with the piano lessons.
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THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
Frances is kindly giving away a digital copy of AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN for your Kindle (or other reader). Don’t worry if you don’t have a Kindle because Frances can provide a PDF copy instead. To be eligible for the Giveaway, just leave a comment and your email address.
The Giveaway will run for one week from June 11-18.
I was surprised how much I enjoyed Frances Evesham’s debut novel considering it is a clean romance and I’m sure you all know how I love plenty of heat in my romances. Perhaps I was just in the mood for this charming blend of mystery and romance.
How I imagine Philomena…
Orphaned Philomena had been raised by her guardian and employer, the kindly Samuel Tailor but, when he dies, she finds herself the object of the unwanted attentions of his vile son, Joseph. Desperate to escape from London and Joseph’s clutches, she disguises herself as a boy and boards a train for Bristol, determined to gain her independence and fulfil her dream of having a business of her own. However, fate steps in when the train she is travelling on crashes and she is rescued by the stern but fascinating Hugh Dainty, Lord Thatcham.
How I imagine Hugh...
Hugh is still living with the aftermath of his disastrous marriage to Beatrice and her death in a riding accident. He has sworn never to be fooled by a woman again. All his energy has been put into restoring the hall and his estates…a legacy to pass onto his son, John. When he rescues a young ‘boy’ from the wreckage of a nearby train crash, his life will change in ways he never anticipated.
I admire Hugh for his forward thinking. He understands that the world is changing and is keen to embrace new ideas and I could just picture him drawing his plans for new machinery. He also respects those who have worked hard and made something of themselves.
I enjoyed watching Philomena stand up to Hugh, something that he’s not used to. I also admired her for fulfilling her dream of setting up her own business and her resolve to stop running away and finally confront the demons of her past.
It was heart-warming to see how Philomema’s influence enables Hugh to build a warmer relationship with his son, John.
Love for his son welled up in Hugh’s heart. John beamed so proudly, his eyes so full of mischief: such a small, happy child. Raising the boy should be a pleasure. Why had Hugh never seen it like that before.
The romance between Philomena and Hugh is beset by various obstacles along the way…deceit, distrust, dark secrets and fiendish villains before true love finally conquers all. As previously mentioned, there are no explicit love scenes but Ms Evesham does create a lovely sense of intimacy, which fits perfectly with the mood of the story.
She was alone with this man. Lord Thatcham’s face, so close, made her pulses race. She had never known such desire. Her eyes travelled across every feature, as if she would learn it by heart. Strong, sharp planes angled below deep grey eyes. Lines ran from nose to mouth. Forbidding and frightening, Lord Thatcham fascinated her.
I took an instant dislike to Hugh’s snobbish, interfering mother, the Dowager Lady Thatcham and loved the scene where Hugh gives her an ultimatum.
You have overreached yourself for the last time. For the future, you will stay out of my affairs, or you will no longer be welcome at Thatcham Hall.” Hugh turned on his heel. The Dowager watched, speechless, as he left.
I soon warmed to Hugh’s high-spirited sister, Selena, because she becomes a true friend to Philomena. She cares nothing for rank unlike her mother. I adore Hugh’s son, John, and his mischievous antics raised quite a few chuckles…
“I should perhaps add, my lord, that Master John has broken three pudding basins and severely damaged a silver sugar bowl by swinging the sword in a dangerous manner.”
The mystery surrounding Philomena’s past adds another intriguing layer to the story and the villains are suitably venomous.
I appreciated the historical details that give the story an authentic Victorian feel and I was interested to read on Ms Evesham’s website that the train crash, which features in the book, is based on a real incident.
Overall, this is definitely a book which will appeal to those who enjoy a sweet, clean romance, likeable characters and a perplexing mystery to solve.
REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: KISSES
Read June 2014
I would like to thank Frances Evesham for kindly providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.
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