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About the author:
I am married with two grown up children.
What inspired you to write your book?
I love to read historical romances. I also love Cornwall in England. The countryside is very inspirational, dramatic and romantic. I have always had the desire to write and I decided to combine my two passions and write a historical romance set in the county I love.
Here is a short sample from the book:
Miss Petherbridge gave the finishing touches to the accounts for the day and sat back in her chair to study them. Master James was due to return from Bath at the end of August following a stay with his friends and Lady Brockenshaw wished to give a party to celebrate his return. She would have to find another source to provide the extra milk, pork and duck required. She was not impressed by the standard of produce delivered last time by her usual supplier. It would do them good to know they had competition.
She looked around the room with satisfaction. No other member of the domestic staff had their own office, not even the butler, yet she had two. There was the housekeeper’s room, known as her parlour, where the upper servants would gather to take tea, and this room, her very own office. A smile touched her lips but rather than brightening her bony features it made her appear sly. She ran her hand along the wooden desk where she undertook all her administration tasks, such as ordering food supplies, sorting the wages, completing the inventory of linen requirements and other household supplies. This was the room she administered the wages to the staff, interviewed domestic servants and, on occasion, dismissed them for some misdemeanour. Her pride in her position of housekeeper was palpable. It showed in how she dressed, spoke and carried out her duties. She walked the corridors of the manor like a strutting peacock, her uniform and keys were her feathers. She had worked her way up from scullery maid, kitchen and parlour maid, until finally she had obtained a position as housekeeper in a small townhouse in Plymouth. She gained immeasurable experience there and ten years ago she had taken up position as housekeeper to Lord and Lady Brockenshaw, one of the richest families in Cornwall and employing one of the largest numbers of domestic staff – of which she was in charge. She had declined marriage and children in order to achieve her ambition and although she was immensely proud and satisfied with the way her life was, her appearance did not convey this. Her tall skinny frame, serious bitter face and tight lips gave the impression of resenting her life and everyone in it.
There was a knock on the door and Mary, one of the servants, popped her head around the door.
‘Miss, the girl applying for lady’s maid is here. Shall I take her up to the mistress?’ Miss Petherbridge sat up and rested her forearms on the table. She was well aware that the lady’s maid position was the only servant to report to and be hired by the mistress herself; however she felt, under the circumstances, she should meet the woman before taking her up to Lady Brockenshaw. She picked up the letter the applicant had written, scanned the beautiful script and, looking over the top of it, asked for Mary to send her in to her.
There were several striking things that Miss Petherbridge noticed when the girl entered the room. She was a girl, not a woman and therefore too youthful for such a position. She was very pretty with arresting green eyes. She was neatly presented, with a sense of fashion and what suited her but most importantly she represented everything she herself was not, causing her to instantly dislike the girl. She did not ask her to sit down.
‘Miss Janey Carhart, I presume,’ she said.
The girl nodded, ‘Yes, Miss.’
‘We received your letter. Your writing is beautiful but you appear too young for the position. I would not want you to get your hopes up.’
‘I had hoped that what I lacked in years would be made up for by my education,’ the girl replied. Miss Petherbridge looked at the writing and admitted she was curious about this girl.
‘Where did you learn to write so well?’ she asked, slowly waving her letter requesting an interview as if exhibiting evidence.
‘My father was the headmaster of Truro Boys School, Miss.’ This explanation did nothing to diminish the housekeeper’s curiosity and her expression must have showed this as the girl continued to explain further, ‘He believed education was important for everyone and taught me to a boy’s standard.’
‘Yet,’ Miss Petherbridge queried, ‘you entered domestic service at thirteen years old.’
‘When I was thirteen my father left the headmaster position,’ Miss Petherbidge lifted an eyebrow, ‘…and us,’ added the girl.
A smile touched the housekeeper’s lips.
‘And I suppose the house went with the job and your mother was forced into poverty?’ Janey looked down at her feet momentarily then lifted her chin and looked Miss Petherbridge in the eye.
Reluctantly the housekeeper admired her candour and told her so. ‘It cannot be easy for you to admit to that, but I admire your honesty, a quality that is important in a lady’s maid. She got up, ‘Follow me. I will take you up to Lady Brockenshaw.’
Miss Petherbridge led Janey along a passage towards the back stairs. As she passed the servant’s hall she glanced into the room and noted the unfamiliar bonnet and shawl hanging on the coat stand. Mary must have taken the Carhart girl in there upon her arrival, she thought, and, no doubt, asked her many questions about herself. Mary tended to chat too much and work too little, something she was meaning to address in the near future. They climbed the servant’s staircase, a narrow flight of stairs which led to the main entrance hall on the first floor where the family and their guests entered the building. Once in the main hall, and a matter of habit, she ran a finger along the ornate hall table to check for dust and nodded to herself in satisfaction. The flowers in the vase, however, needed to be changed; she must mention that to Lizzy later. The only sound was their foot falls and her keys and chain which jangled at her waist as she walked.
‘I hope you realise that a lady’s maid is a very different position to what you have held before now,’ she told her. ‘It can be a lonely existence. Due to the position’s unique intimacy with the Lady of the house, the lady’s maid is trusted by no one. The domestic staff will be concerned you will title tattle to the mistress and she in turn will be wary you will title tattle to the domestic staff. Are you prepared for that?’ Janey opened her mouth to reply but it appeared the housekeeper was not interested in her thoughts as she continued, ‘I have been in service since I was twelve. When I was twenty-nine I held such a position for ten years. I then took up a position as housekeeper as no Lady likes to have an old lady’s maid. Having said that,’ she looked pointedly at Janey, ‘No lady likes to have a maid too young either.’ She hesitated and looked like she was about to say something but changed her mind, adding abruptly, ‘Wait here.’ She disappeared inside the room they had arrived at and Janey was left outside waiting. She could hear talking inside and it wasn’t long before the door opened again. ‘Lady Brockenshaw will see you now,’ she said formally before leading Janey inside, introducing her to her mistress and leaving her alone with her prospective employer.