Regency Belles & Beaux

Action and Adventure in a Regency World.



RegencyBellesandBeauxThis box set contains my three Regency novels:  Lady Alice’s Dilemma, Lord Philip’s Christmas, Miss Ridgeway’s Privateer.

The first two books are linked by their characters and by some of the events. The third is a stand-alone novel, based to a small extent on fact.


Lady Alice’s Dilemma:


In the middle of her first London season, Lady Alice Sutherland is shocked to encounter her renegade brother, Philip, at Lady Roche’s ball. Masquerading under another name and heavily disguised, why has Philip suddenly returned? If his true identity is discovered, Philip could hang for attempted murder. Alice finds herself caught up in a web of intrigue and violence as she helps her brother to fulfil his rescue mission. Standing in the shadows is her cousin, Edward, newly returned from the Peninsular War. Will Edward help or hinder her? Why should Alice care so much for his opinion?


Lord Philip’s Christmas:

Lord Philip Sutherland is unaware that, due to his father’s death, he has inherited the Earldom of Kirkmore. Philip’s youngest sister, Lady Alice, with her husband, Edward, and her companion, Grace Talbot, travel to Paris to find Philip and, if possible, to bring him home. All three are caught up in the turmoil which follows the Emperor Napoleon’s return from Elba. Accused of espionage, Philip escapes from France into Belgium where troops are gathering and where the battle of Waterloo is about to begin.

Miss Ridgeway’s Privateer:

Left destitute by her father’s death in the battle of Talavera, Lucy Ridgeway is sent to live with her grandmother in Ireland. Instead of her planned debut in London, her grandmother offers to present her at the Viceroy’s court in Dublin. These plans are interrupted when Lucy’s ship is captured by French privateers. One of her captors is the Irishman, Patrick O’Rourke, the ship’s surgeon, whom she has met before in unusual circumstances. Attraction is instant and mutual but … how can a well brought up girl fall in love with a pirate?


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Award winning author, Michele McGrath, was born on the beautiful Isle of Man in the middle of the Irish Sea. She has lived in California, Liverpool, France and Lancashire before returning home. Living in Paris and Grenoble taught her to make a mean ratatouille and she learned the hula in Hawaii.
Michele is a qualified swimming teacher and manager, writing self-help books on these subjects.
Although she writes in many genres, her real loves are historical romance and fantasy. She has won numerous writing competitions, had second places and been short-listed many times.
**Visit her blog at
**Follow Michele on Facebook at She loves to chat with readers.
**Follow her on Twitter at

Excerpt from Lady Alice’s Dilemma


Chapter One

June 1814


As the sweet sounds of the quadrille faded away, Lady Alice Sutherland walked off the dance floor, fanning herself vigorously. The weather was unseasonably hot for early spring, almost too hot for dancing, if such a thing was actually possible.

“Will you dance with me again, later on?” her partner asked.

“I’m sorry but my card is full,” she replied, without regret. Mr. Hardwick was an adequate dancer, but she was glad protocol forbade her from dancing with him again this evening. He was becoming far too particular in his attentions to her, despite her discouragement. He did not seem to be able to understand something as subtle as a hint.

“Then may I take you in to supper?” Mr. Hardwick persisted.

“Unfortunately no, I am already engaged with a family party,” she said, hoping that either her aunt or her cousin would come to her rescue. Otherwise she would have to hide from him until the meal was over.

“Then allow me to call on you tomorrow.”

“I would be pleased to see you.” Politeness dictated her reply, although, for an instant, she wished she might have responded differently. Mr. Hardwick possessed a monotonous voice and an interest in things that held no interest at all for her. A few minutes spent in his company made her long to scream with boredom. Alice was searching for a way to escape from him now when she was spared the trouble.

“Oh, there you are, I’ve been looking for you.” Miss Kitty Maitland came bouncing over to them.

“The dance has only just finished this moment. You are acquainted with Mr. Hardwick, aren’t you, Kitty?”

“Of course, how do you do, Mr. Hardwick? I’m delighted to meet you again.” Kitty gave him her hand. “Excuse me, but I really must steal Lady Alice away from you, it’s urgent.”

Perforce Mr. Hardwick bowed and stepped back. He looked rather shocked at Kitty’s bold manner and not very pleased. Kitty only smiled at him, linked arms with Alice and pulled her away.

“Whatever is so important? You were quite rude to Mr. Hardwick just then,” Alice asked.

“He will forgive me.” Kitty’s smile was an urchin’s grin. “Gentlemen always do.” Alice readily believed it.  Kitty was both lovely and blessed with a handsome fortune. Usually surrounded by admirers, it was rare for her to be alone and seeking the company of another female, even one of her bosom bows, as her cousin had become in the very short time they had been acquainted.

“I thought you looked as if you wanted to be rescued. Am I right?”

“Quite right, but no need to shock the poor man.”

“It will do him good. He needs to be shocked now and then. He’s far too prosy and concerned about his own dignity for someone his age. He’s an old man before his time. That’s why he prefers you to me, of course. You’re far more stately and dignified.”

“Am I? Alice enquired mildly. “I didn’t know it.” She was laughing inside and wondering what her audacious cousin would say to her next.

“To strangers and slight acquaintances, you are; with me, never.”

“No one could be dignified with you.”

“Forget Mr. Hardwick. If he had accompanied us, he would have been very much in the way, I assure you.”

“Where are we going?”

“Out into the garden. You will allow that I cannot go there unaccompanied. Think of what all the old tabbies would say about me if I did. After all, the moon is full, Lady Roche’s gardens are in shadow. Who knows what mischief I might get up to on my own?”

Alice laughed. “You rogue. You’ve dragged me away from the ball for some mad scheme of your own. You’ve never lacked for an escort before. Why do you need me all of a sudden?”

“I sent all my usual escorts away. Like Mr Hardwick, they would have been very much in the way. I can share my mischief with you; you know all my secrets.”

“Do I? Not quite all of them, I wager.”

Kitty giggled. “Perhaps not, but most of them anyway. This one you certainly do.”

“The gallant Captain Roper, by any chance?” Alice asked slyly, naming Kitty’s latest flirt. Her affections for him had lasted rather longer than those she had for the callow boys who usually surrounded her.

“How odd that you should say so. You know me far too well. I must cast myself on your mercy and beg you not to carry tales of me to Mama.”

“As if I would.”

“Then I will tell you that I saw Captain Roper go out onto the terrace a little while ago.”

“Kitty! You really can’t be suggesting that we run after him like a pair of hoydens?”

“How can you say such a terrible thing?” Kitty exclaimed, with a grin. “The night is so hot. Is it any wonder I prefer to walk in the gardens with my cousin, rather than dance in a stuffy ballroom?”

“Where we encounter the Captain, of course?”

“Quite by chance. A coincidence, no more. How could it be anything else?”

“You rogue!” Alice laughed. “Dragging me into one of your nefarious schemes!”

“What are cousins for? But you will be a dear and come with me, won’t you?” Kitty asked in her most wheedling tone.

“Don’t I always?” Alice said, abandoning her protests with a sigh. Being with Kitty was such fun. The only daughter and youngest child of the elderly Earl and Countess of Kirkmore, Alice had led a formal and lonely life, before she came to London. Older than the other debutantes in her year, Alice was delighted when her parents decided she was to make her come out at last. Her father’s younger sister, Lady Mary Maitland, Kitty’s mother, had written expressly to invite her.


Kitty is to be presented this season, now she has turned seventeen. If you let Alice come to me, they can make their debut together, which will be more comfortable for both of them. Alice must be nearly twenty by now. Time for her to be wed if she is not to dwindle into an old maid and become a burden to the family. Send her to me, dear brother, if you please, and I will do what I can to find her a suitable husband.


Alice had discovered Lady Mary was a kind and sensible woman, who enjoyed the frivolities of polite society without making them the reason for her existence. She was very different from Lord Kirkmore. Alice found it difficult at times to believe they were brother and sister. They were eldest and youngest of a large family, with many years between them, which she thought might explain the differences in their characters. Alice was astonished that her father had agreed to send her to his sister. Usually he ignored her, and his other children completely, living in a world of his own, surrounded by his books.

Lady Mary’s scheme had certainly proved a success. No longer under her mother’s watchful eye, Alice blossomed in the freer atmosphere of her aunt’s house. Kitty took an instant liking to her little-known cousin. Alice felt lucky to be welcomed into her circle of friends, a group intent on having as much fun as the season offered. They were totally unlike the rather prim and proper acquaintances Alice had made at home.

“There he is now.”

“Don’t point!” Alice pushed Kitty’s finger down, hoping it had not been seen. Alice often felt a tiny bit shocked at the freedom of her cousin’s behaviour, at odds with all she had ever been taught, but Kitty only giggled.

Two young men were sauntering towards them. The object of Kitty’s affections, seen in the flickering light of the torches that lined the paths, was the taller of the two. He wore the uniform of His Majesty’s Navy and his fair hair glinted gold. Alice had been told that he had commanded a sloop in the late wars and had now taken up a post at the Admiralty building in Whitehall. His actual task was a mystery. Whenever he was asked, he always changed the subject, which naturally made everyone agog with curiosity. Kitty had been teasing him to tell her, but he had resisted temptation so far. Alice imagined he was amused by the rumours circulating about his occupation.

“Who is his companion, do you know?” Alice murmured.

“No, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him before. Pretend to be nonchalant, they’re heading this way.”

As the two men came closer, Alice suddenly felt herself go rigid and she stumbled.

“What happened?” Kitty caught her arm and steadied her.

“Nothing. A stone turned under my shoe, that’s all,” Alice dissembled, staring hard at the stranger, imperfectly seen in the uncertain light. Less tall than his companion, he walked with a lithe swinging step that was familiar to her, very familiar. Memory stirred within her and she repressed a pang. Even after four years she still missed her favourite brother. It couldn’t be, of course, yet it looked so like him. How she wished it was him who was coming towards her, but even Philip would not do something so foolish as to return to England, surely? Her heart began to thump so wildly, she was sure everyone in the garden would hear it. The two young men halted and bowed to them.

“Lady Alice, Miss Maitland, what a delightful surprise,” Captain Roper said. “May I present to you my friend, the Baron de Vezey, who has just arrived in this country from France?  Louis, these are my friends, Lady Alice Sutherland and Miss Maitland.”

Enchanté, Mesdemoiselles.” The stranger bowed. For a second, Alice wondered. His voice sounded so French. Then he raised his eyes to hers and all doubts vanished. She recognised that look, none better. Doubt was replaced with fear for him and for herself, lest she inadvertently make a slip and betray him. In an instant her pleasant evening had changed. She fought hard to stop herself shaking. How foolhardy he was to walk into a situation like this!  She forced herself to say as indifferently as possible,

Monsieur le Baron.”

The Baron took Alice’s hand. Alice felt her fingers trembling and he gave them a little pinch, even as he kissed them. The slight pain brought her to her senses as he had no doubt intended.

“What a charming evening for a stroll in the gardens,” Captain Roper said, when the introductions had finished. “May we have the pleasure of escorting you?”

“If you please,” Kitty replied for them both, smiling up at him, and taking his arm.

“The pathway is not wide enough for four, Roper. You go ahead with Miss Maitland. Lady Alice and I will follow behind you,” the Baron said. He stood still with Alice beside him as they watched the two figures draw away from them.

“Philip?” Alice asked in a small voice.

“Wait a moment. Let them walk on a bit further.” His voice had changed from the strong French accent he had used during the introductions, to the voice she had known all her life. She forced back the tears that suddenly flooded into her eyes. She longed to fling her arms around him, but she could not do so here. Other people were strolling on the terrace and along the garden paths. She did not dare. Reminding herself that she must act as if he was the merest acquaintance, she took his arm and said softly,

“What are you doing here, Philip? I almost fainted when I recognised you.”

“I didn’t think you would be in London or I would have attempted to see you before, rather than meet you without any warning. Are Papa and Mama here with you?”

“No. Mama is not strong enough to present me at court, so I am staying with Aunt Maitland for the season.”

“Thank heavens for that.”

“No doubt Papa will come here post haste if he hears that you are in England again.”

“You won’t tell him?”

“I always kept your secrets when we were little, didn’t I? I haven’t changed.”

“Remember how you used to open a window for me when I came home late?” Philip grinned. “Provided, of course, I bribed you with bonbons or ribbons.”

Alice was suddenly transported back to one dark night when she struggled to unlatch a kitchen window to admit her soaking and dishevelled brother. They had both escaped censure that time, but they were no longer children and the consequences now were far greater than a beating if Philip was found in England.

“You took a great risk, coming into society again. Many people could recognise you and know who you really are.  It is as well Kitty has never seen you before. I would not rely on her discretion if she had.”

“I make you my compliments, my dear. Your own discretion is admirable.”

“It was sorely tried this evening. But why did you come here, masquerading under a false name?”

“Strangely enough, I am not masquerading under a false name. True, I am not using Philip Sutherland any more, but Louis is also one of my names, as you will remember. The title of Baron de Vezey was granted to me by the Emperor Napoleon.”

Aghast, Alice took a step away from him and pulled her hand from his arm. Only a scant few months ago, Britain had been at war with the French Empire. For an Englishman to serve the tyrant in any capacity was high treason.

“You fought for that monster against your own country?”

“Easy, little sister. No, I did not. I fought no one, except with words. Take my arm again. There are people on the next path who are looking at us.”

“Why did Boney give you a title then?” Alice asked as they continued their walk.

“The Emperor employed many people, not only soldiers. When I had to leave home, I went to France, to Mama’s family. They had come back from exile and settled on their land again. They did not know about my troubles. Mama had not written to them, no doubt thinking them still in Germany. So they welcomed me and did not ask awkward questions. They used to praise Napoleon because he allowed them to return and for some of the changes he has made in the country. Cousin Victor was working in Paris. It was through him that I met Caulaincourt, the Duc de Vicenze, one of the Emperor’s diplomats and chief aides. He’s an honourable man who found himself in a difficult position. It was useful for the Duke to have another person who spoke fluent English on his staff, so he appointed me as one of his ADCs. It was a perfect place for me to be. I enjoyed the work and I had some success, which resulted in the gift of my title. Caulaincourt wanted to make peace with England long ago. I tried to help him as best I could. Although he was unsuccessful, I am proud to have known him.”

“Why didn’t you stay safely in France, then, if you were doing so well?”

“I could have stayed, but I can’t serve the Bourbons. They’re fools and buffoons. They want to turn the clock back to 1789. I won’t be party to dismantling all the Empire has achieved in the years since then.”

“There are other countries you could have gone to rather than here…”

“Hush, Roper and Kitty are coming back. I need to talk with you and tell you my story because there is something I want you to do for me. I’ll call at Aunt’s house tomorrow.”

“No. That must be one of the most dangerous places for you in all of London. What if she recognises you?”

“She hasn’t seen me since I was a scrubby schoolboy of nine years old.”

“Servants have long memories, don’t forget. Several of them would have accompanied her when she visited us at Kirkmore.”

“You worry too much, little sister. I’ve faced far worse dangers in the last four years than a mere morning visit to a respectable house, even this one. Trust me.”


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Honourable Lies – Blog Tour

Blog Tour Honourable Lies #HistFic #BGSHF @franconnor

Honourable Lies

Historical Romance/Thriller


Fran Connor


Book Blurb

A passionate, thought-provoking tale of love and revenge set in Victorian England. Follow the progress of a poor, orphan girl elevated to High Society as a reward for saving the Queen from assassination.

Her aim is to marry a rich man, regardless of love, so she will never be poor again; instead, she falls in love with a handsome, young landowner with whom she can have it all; love, security, and wealth.

As fate would have it, there are obstacles to their romance: his estranged wife, an evil aristocrat, a beautiful gypsy, and Gallows Hill.

Author PhotoAuthor Bio

Fran moved to South West France in 2001 after his career in a UK police force. He may tell you he is in this idyllic region of ancient hilltop villages, vineyards and orchards because it stimulates his writing. The truth is probably that he likes the lifestyle, wine and food and it rains less than in England.

Together with some like-minded friends, he set up a theater group La Troupe d’Acteurs du Quercy putting on dual language traditional British pantomimes for the ex-pat community and the baffled French audience. He wrote the scripts, but his acting career failed to advance beyond the front end of the panto cow. Of course, that is infinitely better than being the rear end.

Having had the writing bug bite him, he took to writing novels. Six full-length novels and a series of nine novellas have been published to date with two more coming out in 2017. He writes in several genres, but Historical Romance/Thriller is where most of his work belongs. If you asked him why an English chap is writing Historical Romance, he would tell you it’s because he’s a Romantic at heart. If you asked him why he doesn’t write cop stories, he would tell you it is because he had too much of the real thing.

Fran’s protagonists are usually, but not always, female. He finds women make far more interesting characters as they have to think  their way out of trouble rather than bash through it. A throwback to his professional life is his refusal to portray gratuitous violence against women in his novels. That’s not to say he doesn’t put them in jeopardy.

In addition to writing novels and novellas, he also writes screenplays with two sold to date both waiting for the producers to get the finance to make them.

When he’s not writing, he can be found trying unsuccessfully to cultivate the too large garden and keep the old stone house watertight.

Fran lives with his wife, Vivienne, a caterer, whom he occasionally helps as a sous-chef/waiter/barman when required. He says she’s a good boss. Well, he wouldn’t dare say anything else.


Amazon link


Twitter   @liotliterary

 Facebook @liotliterary



Victoria had not drunk much champagne. She had taken several glasses of water. The tight corset eventually made it necessary for her to seek out the powder room. As was customary, all the ladies suddenly decided they needed to go too.

Though lots of effort had been put into making the marquee a grand venue for the ball, the powder-room facilities were, to say the least, basic and a good hundred yards’ walk. Victoria’s case was the most pressing, so she waited afterwards outside for the others. The atmosphere inside offended her nostrils. She had come a long way since her days of using the privy at the orphanage.

The facilities for the gentlemen were no better and separated from the ladies’ by a box hedge. At first, the voices on the far side of the divide were of no interest to Victoria, but then she recognised one. Lord de Mornay; and then the person he was talking to, Harry Ratcliffe.

‘So, Harry, you’ve given up on Victoria then?’

‘She’s obviously not interested in me.’

‘Call yourself an officer, a beau, a man of means, a rake? Have some backbone! Ask her for a dance again. Woo her. I’ve heard she’s a lively little filly between the sheets.’

‘Really? I thought she was a proper young lady.’

‘Listen, I know what I’m talking about. She’s just playing a game with you to make you think she’s hard to get. She ain’t. She’s been through most of the farmhands in her schoolroom, over the desk I understand. Ask her to dance, and by the end of the evening, you’ll have her drawers down. I guarantee it!’

‘This is hardly the place. I mean, where?’

‘The barn over there. Tell her you’d like to show her a sheep or a lamb from a rare breed, and she’ll be with you. One more thing, she likes it rough. She pretends not to want it, but she expects the man to be forceful and take her while she puts up a token resistance.’

‘Well in that case. Yes. She does have something about her that suggests locked up passion. I’ll give her a good tupping over in the hay bales. What ho!’

‘That’s right, my boy. Get in there. Fill your boots!’

Victoria contained her anger. Instead of going off like a rocket, she just stood in quiet fury. The other ladies made their way out of the powder room, and together they strolled back to their table. Victoria’s demeanor, quiet as a mouse, went unnoticed by her companions.

Victoria sipped a glass of champagne and watched as Harry Ratcliffe walked between the tables towards her. Her fury she still kept contained, but her knuckles turned white as she gripped the champagne flute.

‘Miss Victoria, may I have the pleasure of this dance.’ Harry Ratcliffe offered his hand.

Victoria stood up. Suddenly her pent up fury exploded. It shot down her right arm into her fist. She smashed Ratcliffe on the nose with a blow that would have felled a heavyweight champion; well, at least, a bantamweight like Ratcliffe.

He fell backwards, clutching his face to stop the blood pouring, without success. Jumping to his feet, he raised his fist. ‘You bitch!’

Smack! He went down again with a blow, this time from Richard.

‘I do not know what the hell is going on but do not dare raise a fist at a woman in my company,’ said Richard, standing over the prone Ratcliffe.

‘You’ll regret this de Mornay,’ whimpered Ratcliffe. ‘My father will see to it. You won’t get away with this. You’re welcome to your trollop!’

He grabbed Ratcliffe by the front of his scarlet tunic and propelled him out of the marquee, where he threw him to the ground again. Ratcliffe did not make to retaliate.

The rest of the company at the table sat dumbfounded. Richard strode back to his table. Everyone at the other tables watched his progress. The squire signaled to the quartet to play something, quickly.

Richard sat down, took a deep breath and raised an eyebrow at Victoria.

‘I overheard him discussing me with your father. Apparently, I am of easy virtue, and Ratcliffe was advised to . . . Well, you can imagine.’

‘Dear God! What are the young people coming to these days?’ said Lady Adele.

‘That’s a hell of a punch you pack, young lady,’ said Lord Peter.

‘I’m not sure that was part of your training, Victoria,’ said Bonnie with a frown.

‘Well I think he jolly well deserved it,’ said Penelope.

The rest of the guests in the marquee returned to their own conversations now the excitement was over.

Victoria wondered if she had ruined her standing. All her training and she had behaved like a guttersnipe. There was no way that Richard would want anything to do with her now, she thought. Her mind drifted off. She was far away when suddenly she heard, ‘May I have the pleasure of this dance?’ Richard’s voice. Oh, my!

Victoria’s heart skipped a beat. She looked up at Richard. He held Penelope’s chair and helped her to her feet. Her hopes crashed, but then she saw him hand Penelope to a young man of whom she had not been aware while her mind contemplated her social gaffe.

Richard then took hold of the back of Victoria’s chair, raised one eyebrow at her and smiled.

He held her tightly as they moved gracefully around the dance floor. Each time he moved his hand on her back it sent a tingle down her spine and legs. His lips were so close. She longed to kiss them.

Victoria looked into his eyes, and he looked back at her. There was no mistaking the signals they were sending. She could hardly believe it. He wanted her.

Blog Tour ~ The Yankee Years Books 1-3 #HistFic #WW2 @DianneAscroft

Yankee Years ebook cover Updated

The Yankee Years Books 1-3
Dianne Ascroft

After the Allied troops arrived in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland during the Second World War, life in the quiet, rural county would never be the same again.

The Shadow Ally

June 1941: When Ruth Corey finds a letter her journalist beau, Harry Coalter, has written, revealing details of the secret construction of an American flying-boat base, she fears it could destroy America’s neutrality and land him in serious trouble. The letter must not be posted. She enlists the help of attractive Italian-American civilian contractor Frank Long to help her stop Harry. Can Ruth safeguard this military secret and protect her beau?


Acts of Sabotage

December 1941: After the attack on Pearl Harbour, the new American flying-boat base must be ready when the first US troops arrive on Northern Ireland’s shores. But, despite Frank’s best efforts, religious conflict within the workforce and thefts on the construction site threaten to scupper the project. Frank confides his worries to Ruth and the pair devise a plan to catch the thieves. Can they stop these acts of sabotage and then what does the future hold for them?

Keeping Her Pledge

June 1942: Pearl Grainger’s life is much more exciting since the Allied troops arrived but she is unprepared for the harsh reality of war, and her RCAF boyfriend is determined to protect her from it. Can Pearl keep her pledge to do her bit for the war effort without losing the man she loves?

Links for Purchase
Amazon US
Amazon UK

About the author

DAscroft Promo Image1

Dianne Ascroft writes historical and contemporary fiction, often with an Irish connection. Her series The Yankee Years is a collection of Short Reads and novels set in World War II Northern Ireland. After the Allied troops arrived in this outlying part of Great Britain, life there would never be the same again. The series brings those heady, fleeting years to life again, in thrilling and romantic tales of the era.

Her other writing includes a ghost tale inspired by the famous Coonian ghost, An Unbidden Visitor; a short story collection, Dancing Shadows, Tramping Hooves, and an historical novel, Hitler and Mars Bars

Useful Links



Flag and lady liberty

It is not uncommon for people to ignore the pledge as though it is irrelevant, a static noise in their techno-driven, virtual reality.

Others take a more conscience approach to civil disobedience. During the nation’s anthem, Colin Kaepernick bends the knee, inspiring viral imitation.


In the wake of a divisive presidential election:

  • Supporters shout, “Make America Great Again.”
  • The hopeful whisper, Wait and see.”
  • Dissenters shout “Not My President.”

March for America

Post inauguration, women in droves march on Washington and assemble around the nation to send a message of concern and solidarity to the 45th President of the USA.



Meanwhile the administration tweets their reality; while disparaging and blaming the press for reporting theirs.


We learn in grade school, that the United States of America was forged on a belief in certain unalienable rights, a charge to protect and defend its citizenry, and a democratic form of government by and for the people. Since 1791, freedom of speech and a free press have been core to the preservation of our unique form of government.

Though the Bill of Rights has not always been extended to all, and the Constitution in its infancy excluded many from protection, today these rights and protections belong to every US citizen. It is as important as ever to graciously extend them to and vigorously defend them for all regardless of race, socioeconomic status, color, gender, religion, sexual orientation, politics or any other categorization that stands to divide us in our mutual humanity.

Agree to disagree if you will, but suspend the vitriol on all sides and recognize that each of us has a right to say what we think, to disagree with our government, to stand up and protest.

Dissenters by definition do not represent the popular view, but that does not make them wrong.

  • The colonists dissented against British rule.
  • Abolitionists dissented against the practice of slavery.
  • Civil rights activists dissented against segregation and racial discrimination.
  • Pacifists dissented against the Vietnam War.

Do not be fooled by voices that seek to demonize the free press and the power of free speech. History reminds us all too often that “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Today I celebrate dissenters and the right to dissent. It is as American as baseball and apple pie.

Right of Assembly

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it. That is the point at which . . . the end learns to justify the means.Lord Acton in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, April 5, 1887

Spotlight on Annette Creswell’s “Before the Darkness”

Book Tour ~ Before The Darkness #HistFic #BGSHF @annettecreswell

Before The Darkness
Annette Creswell


In pre-World War Two London, Penny works as a maternity nurse at the Royal Women’s Hospital. Happy in her work and with two really good friends and several doctor suitors, little does she realise how her life will be changed by a chance lunch-time encounter. Who is the ruggedly handsome man who helps her? And how will their lives entwine as the war clouds gather?

Book Extract
Read by Emma Calin

Links For Purchase
Amazon US
Amazon UK

About the author

Annette Creswell is the author of Before The Darkness, published 2015. Creswell loves to hear from readers and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

annette cover photo

Past Imperfect

We spend so much time glorifying the past, talking about the good old days, wanting to be great again, but we have selective memory. This is but one of several disturbing videos I have viewed lately depicting man’s propensity for injustices and atrocities. Slavery, Colonialism, Standing Rock, Aleppo. We don’t seem to learn from our past, but rather keep repeating it, while deliberately and deftly removing the worst of it from the official record. If my writing is too stark, then it is a mirror of humanity, capable of love and hate, tenderness and violence, reason and irrationality. The story of us.

A Note on Editing


Writing a book takes time and grit. Publishing a book takes courage and money. Marketing a book takes all four. If you don’t want to waste your time, your grit, your courage and your money, then put forth the best product you can. Edit.

Great stories exist in both traditional and indie works. A good blurb and a few pages are enough to capture my attention, but dialogue that is difficult to follow, poor grammar and typographical errors detract from the overall reading experience.

Too often, I have been disappointed to find poor editing in both traditional and independently published works. While I may have enjoyed the story, I am less inclined to write a review and put a stamp of approval on a work that is rife with errors.

If you are like me, a bit of a perfectionist, you may edit as you go. You read, rewrite, let it rest because it’s still not quite right, then go at it again and again and again. You may have excelled at language arts, achieving high marks for diagramming sentences and proofreading errant script and that experience may fuel your self-confidence. Your bookshelves may be lined with the best well-used references. You may even be blessed with beta readers, but does any of this substitute for a professional edit?

As an indie, I definitely get it. When it comes to publication, you count up the costs, but often editing falls through the cracks. There are different types of editing and the service isn’t cheap, but it is worth the investment. In my own experience, professional editors have helped me to enhance both my story and my writing.

It’s your baby. I get that too. Don’t be afraid to take the covers off and let some one else take a peek. Invest in a professional edit. At the end of the day, we want to sell books that readers enjoy and we want those readers to return for more.

The Moral of the Story

I was reminded this week why I wrote Sedahlia. More than a story, it is a call to examine our actions versus our beliefs. Do they line up? We are quick to look at others, but how often do we look at ourselves. As you read Sedahlia, ask some probing questions. It is easy to look back at history and think that was them, that was then, but if we are honest, we have our own issues, moral dilemmas and personal biases. Look at the past as a mirror to the present. What do you see?



I love to read and write historical fiction. I like looking back at a particular moment in time and wondering how people lived and why they did the things they did. Today I paused to look forward and wonder about those who one day will look back.

Every day we live, we make new history. Someday our present will be someone else’s past. They will look back on our lives with curiosity, wondering how we ever managed to live without their modern conveniences, why we valued one thing over another, why we had this law or that law and not another, what formed our moral compass. Our new will be their old. They will look back as we look back only they will be looking at us. What will they see?

Through a Different Lens

This weekend I saw Free State of Jones, a dramatic and thought-provoking depiction of one man’s little known contribution to the Civil War. A controversial figure even among his own kin and understandably so – to some Newton Knight is a hero and unheralded example of civil disobedience, a Robin Hood of sorts standing up for the rights of poor whites and blacks in a war and its aftermath that pitted neighbor against neighbor and fueled sentiments of personal and states rights to preserve a way of life that benefited the privileged few. To others Knight was a traitor to the South, an outlaw, a murderer, adulterer and thief. The movie depicted the former view, but a little research on Newton Knight and Jones County, Mississippi reveals that others held the latter view.

Newton Knight was a complex man – a deserter and rebel, husband to Serena Turner, lover and later husband to former slave Rachel, loving father to children by both women, leader of a rebellion to some, outlaw and assassin to others. The descendant of slave owners yet owning no slaves, Knight was incensed that he and others had to fight a war, while the privileged owners of 20 or more slaves could go home and that the poor were taxed to the point of starvation to support the South’s war effort. Knight led others in a rebellion that took Jones County from Confederate control and offered support to Union forces. After the war, Knight continued to rebel against southern political forces and moral conventions, helping in Reconstruction efforts, marrying Rachel, and even in death being buried by her side.

Regardless of where you stand, it is important to uncover these hidden stories and to know history is much more complex than condensed text and common lore would have us believe. I have a passion for reading, hearing and telling stories of how we got where we are today. I love when a story challenges my thinking. Free State of Jones made me view the Civil War through a different lens.

You can read more about Newton Knight here.