A fugitive young mother, a desperate Viscount and a rough and tumble gold rush town. What could possibly go wrong? Find Barkerville Beginnings at your favourite online store HERE.
As a writer of historical romance, it’s my job to provide enough details of the setting to make my readers feel as if they are living in that particular time period. The romance is the main plot but events of the era I’m writing in give me secondary story lines. For example, I discovered smuggling was rampant in Cornwall during the 18th and 19th centuries so that became the background of the soon to be released Sophie's Choice, the story of Lady Sophie Harrington and Lord Bryce Langdon, set in Cornwall in 1805.
Research plays a part in anything I write which I absolutely love because I always discover interesting facts. Here are a few things I didn’t incorporate into the book:
- Not only tin and copper were mined. In the mid 1700s, China clay was discovered and the scars of long ago mines can be seen from space. The clay is used in the manufacture of paper and porcelain and unlike copper and tin, this industry is still a going concern today.
- I only mentioned fishing in passing but fishing was also a mainstay of the Cornish economy particularly pilchards which are a variety of small oily fish related to herrings. ‘Huers’ standing on cliff tops would direct fishing boats to giant shoals of pilchards. Many boats would hold onto a large net, creating a circle which closed to capture the fish. They were sold abroad to countries such as Italy and Spain and these exports were such an important part of the local economy, a ditty was sung about them: “Here’s to the health of the Pope and may he repent and lengthen six months the term of his Lent. It’s always declared betwixt the two poles, there’s nothing like pilchards for saving of souls.”
- The Cornish climate is warmer than much of the rest of the British Isles so agriculture also played an important part with crops such as corn, wheat, barley and oats. Also the raising of livestock such as cattle, milk cows, pigs, chickens and geese.
So concludes my study of Cornwall. For now. 😊
Stay tuned for Leah’s Surrender, the story of the middle Harrington daughter.
For more information on Cornwall's history, check out: www.cornwalls.co.uk/history/industrial
And here you have it, the final excerpt before my April release date. A gentle reminder, I’ve been posted excerpts of Sophie’s Choice here on the 25th of every month. Happy reading!
Sunbeams streamed into the morning room when Sophie entered. The pleasant, cheery space always brought a smile to her face, what with the starched white eyelet curtains, yellow and white checked table-cloth and painted blue ladderback chairs.
She helped herself to scrambled eggs, bread and ham before sitting down. Mama poured her tea and Sophie added cream and sugar, stirring until the liquid frothed.
Leah was already seated and flashed a sour look at Sophie. She returned the look with an innocent look of her own. Had Leah noticed Bryce’s glances towards Sophie last night while dining? Was that the reason for her sister’s foul mood?
Sophie raised her brows. “I swear you got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning,” she whispered.
Leah scowled but remained silent. She stabbed a piece of ham with her fork with such force her curls jostled.
“Leah,” warned Mama. “After our conversation this morning, I expect better conduct from you.”
Pointedly Leah ignored her sister which brought a small grin to Sophie’s lips. Leah needed a comeuppance every now and again and it appeared as if Mama had delivered. Her sister’s expression was, if not exactly chastened, peeved. It had nothing to do with Bryce’s glances at supper last evening. No one had noticed and Sophie hugged that thought to herself. That and the remembrance of dark eyes warm and admiring on her. Now she and Lord Langdon had two secrets to share – their stolen glances last night and their accidental meeting earlier in the day. Her hands trembled as she lifted the cup to her lips. When could she see him again?
Lady Harrington spoke then. “I am visiting Lord Langdon this afternoon. I had thought to bring Sophie.”
“Me?” Sophie swung about to look at her mother. She couldn’t believe her ears. No sooner had she wished for another encounter with Langdon and the fates delivered. She kept her expression neutral. No point in raising suspicion in her mother who already had her hands full with one daughter being altogether too familiar with the man. Her mother would surely swoon if she learned of the meeting at the beach yesterday.
“Yes, Sophie, you. The head mistress was most complimentary about your assistance in the school’s library so I suspect you have a very good idea of what needs to be done to organize Lord Langdon’s library.”
“Mama, please may I come? I’ve naught to do today,” said Leah.
Sophie raised her brows again and looked at her sister with a grudging admiration. She had to admit Leah had impudence. Or no sense whatsoever, to tread in forbidden territory so soon after her mother’s admonition. But then again, Leah desperately wanted to find a husband and apparently Lord Bryce Langdon was her target.
Evelyn’s lips tightened. “No, you may not. I’ll have no repeat of your embarrassing actions of last night. Your task for the day is to oversee the maids in the bedrooms. The mattresses are to be turned and the carpets taken outside to be pounded.”
“Yes, Mama,” Leah said, her voice small. Her shoulders slumped and she looked, for the moment anyway, defeated.
The act didn’t fool Sophie one bit. Leah, desperate for a suitor, would not give up that easily. Eligible bachelors did not come along all that often here in Cornwall, far from the London scene. Which suited Sophie eminently and brought her back to her mother’s conversation yesterday about the upcoming London season. Bryce’s words last evening of him being a prize had put her to thinking. Had he mentioned that as an indication of his interest in her? The thought brought a lightness to her chest, that a man and a handsome one at that, found her attractive. Perhaps she should set her sights on him thereby solving two problems with one solution – pleasing her mother by marrying without the drudgery of London’s social scene. Surely a barrister would be a suitable match and would satisfy her parents.
But would it put her at direct odds with her sister? Despite the odd argument and despite Leah’s unfortunate behaviour last night, the sisters got along well and Sophie was loathe to disturb that harmony. No, she decided. Leah was only eighteen and Papa had made it clear none of the girls were to marry young. So yes, perchance it was not totally outlandish for Sophie to consider Lord Bryce Langdon as a potential husband.
A shiver whisked down her spine at the thought of seeing him this afternoon. Would he be pleased to see her again?