Rosie’s Avid Readers #RBRT The September Girls by Maureen Lee #Family #Drama

Rosie's Avid Readers

Rosie’s Avid readers are people who like reading and have a book to tell us about, they are the voice of a friend who says ” I just read this book….”


Avid Reader’s thoughts

A wonderful insight into life in the 1920’s – 1940’s , Based in Liverpool. Emotion, Drama, coping with all that life throws at you. Social history at its best.

Book Description.

In Liverpool, on a stormy September night in 1920, two women from very different backgrounds give birth to daughters in the same house. Enemies at first, they later become friends when separate troubles unite them. But friendship between their daughters, Cara and Sybil, is a different matter. Nineteen years later, at the beginning of the Second World War, Cara and Sybil find themselves thrown together when they enlist and are both stationed in Malta. It is a time of live-changing repercussions for them both while, back home in Liverpool, the bombs rain down on a defiant city. The September Girls is a compelling story of two families, their loves, secrets, and betrayals, and a powerful evocation of war-time Liverpool.

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Guest Author Jane Godman

Today our guest is Jane Godman author of yesterday’s book Legacy of Darkness. Here is a link to the post if you missed it.

Jane Godman

Let’s find out more about Jane.

1) Where is your home town?

I live in Birkenhead, which is on the Wirral Peninsula in North West England. It’s on the opposite side of the River Mersey to Liverpool and the iconic ‘ferry ‘cross the Mersey’ originates here.

2) How long have you been writing? How long have you been writing for Harlequin?

I’ve written for as long as I can remember. As a teenager, I lived in South Africa, and my best friend and I discovered the novels of Kathleen E Woodiwiss when we were thirteen. We used to spend our evenings writing books in the style of ‘The Wolf and the Dove’. I had a big birthday (let’s just say it had a zero at the end) two years ago and my friend gave me an amazing present. She had kept one of the books I wrote when I was fourteen! It’s a medieval romance, written in felt tip pen. I’m very proud of it and it gave me the push I needed to start submitting my work to publishers. My first book, The Rebel’s Promise, was published by Front Porch Romance in February 2013.

My first Harlequin book, Legacy of Darkness, was published in the January 2014 Shivers digital box set. My second (the sequel to Legacy of Darkness) is called Echoes in the Darkness and will be published in the next Shivers box set on 1st April 2014.


3) How does any author become a Harlequin / Mills and Boon writer?

I think there can be a misconception that there is a ‘magic formula’ to being a Harlequin/Mills and Boon author. When I wrote ‘Legacy of Darkness’ I had no idea that Harlequin were looking for Gothic romances as part of their Shivers line. I wrote the sort of book I wanted to read, in a genre I love. The book was nearly finished when I read an interview in which Malle Vallik, Harlequin’s Director of Editorial Digital Initiatives, said ‘send us your gothics’. So I did. And, just a week later, I got ‘the call’ to say the team at HarlequinE loved my book.

If I had tried to write the book to a perceived formula, I don’t think I would be a Harlequin author today. The old adage ‘write like a reader’ still holds true. If you write the stories you believe in, your passion will shine through and an editor, whether they are a Harlequin editor or in another company, will see that. It will jump off the page.

The other thing I would say to anyone trying to get published is ‘dare to be different’. There are a lot of books out there. There is a key element in Legacy (I won’t say what it is as it would spoil the story for anyone who hasn’t read it) that I thought might put an editor off. Instead, because it pushed the boundaries, it was actually one of the things that the Harlequin team loved. So my advice is ‘never play safe’!

4) Your book is written as a “Gothic” romance, can you briefly explain what Gothic means?

Gothic romances are mysteries, usually tinged with horror and the supernatural. Gothics are often set against dark backgrounds such as medieval ruins, mysterious houses or haunted castles. Traditional gothics had a spirited young heroine, peculiar supporting characters, precocious children and darkly handsome men with mysterious pasts. Authors included Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart and Daphne du Maurier.

Harlequin Shivers, the ‘new’ Gothics, have elements of the unexplained, but they are not paranormal romances. Generally, the heroine and heroine are human beings who may have paranormal experiences. Shivers have high levels of sensuality, but their strong gothic story line makes them much more than an erotic romance. They can be historical or contemporary.

So what can readers expect from a Jane Godman Shivers?

1.         A dark, gloomy and atmospheric setting.

2.         A feisty heroine who pushes the boundaries of her time.

3.         A hero you fall in love with…

4.         …And a villain you fall in love with (for very different reasons)

5.         Dark secrets, the past comes back to haunt the present.

6.         Erotic tension that builds alongside the story. The shivers in these stories don’t come just from the supernatural elements!

5) I briefly touched on the attractiveness of Uther in my review, can you describe him in more details to tantalise the readers?

Oh, Uther! My favourite character from ‘Legacy of Darkness’, perhaps

my favourite character ever, has to be Uther Jago. He is described on the back cover of ‘Legacy of Darkness’ as ‘Uther: a commanding, seductive presence whose leonine power radiates from his every word and gesture’.

Uther is everything a gothic character should be. Handsome, sexy, smouldering…He has dark secrets and innocent Lucy is utterly enthralled by him from the moment they meet. But can she trust him?

I think this excerpt gives the reader a little teaser of Uther’s character:

Unexpectedly, he grasped my hand and held it against the cold stone. “These walls have memories of their own. Feel them, Lucy,” his voice rippled through my mind. “Lords and ladies in their jewelled velvets…sunshine warming pennants and spears…shouts of the joust…the maiden meeting her forbidden love …”

I obediently closed my eyes and heard the rustle of skirts, the soft clandestine whispers of long-dead lovers, and the strains of a lute signalling reckless dance and wild romance. Uther’s low sound—somewhere between a growl and a purr—roused me from my trance. My eyelids fluttered.

“Your face—” his voice was a whispered caress, warm breath stroking my ear “—has the look a woman usually wears only once. When she first succumbs to orgasm.”

I stepped back in shock, the ready tinge of roses staining my face. He turned and walked away as if the searing words had never been spoken. I wondered if they had. Or had this new, brazen creature—the one I had just discovered within me—merely wished them spoken?

6) What was the actual family relationship between Lucy and the others?

Lucy and Tynan call each other ‘cousin’ and Demelza asks Lucy to call her ‘aunt’, but their actual relationships are more distant. Lucy’s mother was a second cousin to Uther and Demelza, so Lucy describes her own relationship to the Jago family as ‘tenuous at best’. Which, for Lucy’s sake is probably just as well! As one reviewer recently commented: ‘If ever there was family with skeletons in their closets it’s the Jago’s, who I might add can rival the Addams family in their creepiness and kookiness.

7) The plot had my mind spinning off in all sorts of directions when I read it, did it change much for you when you were writing it?

Yes! Without giving too much of the plot away to someone who hasn’t read it, Uther Jago was one of those characters who just would not conform to the plans I originally had for him. He dictated the pace of the story and I very much went along with it. My original plan for a classic gothic set in a Cornish castle still held true, but some of the plot twists and turns came out of the machinations of Uther Jago. And he definitely took charge when it came to some of the eroticism in the story, as well!

8) You had some fun using old Cornish words, which were your favourite?

I like to bring some authenticity to a story by having the characters use words and phrases that relate to their home and culture. When I researched the story, however, I was surprised to find that, even in 1837, just as Queen Victoria is ascending the throne, the Cornish language was dying out.

I wanted Tynan to use a Cornish endearment as a nickname for Lucy, something that was unique to them. The one that I liked the best was hweg which means ‘dearest’ or ‘darling’. But then I came across kegis hweg, which is celery. So for most of the book Lucy, who is very slender, thinks that Tynan is comparing her to a stick of celery rather than calling her ‘darling’.

9) I enjoyed reading about the trip to Tintagel, what is so special about Merlin’s cave?

Tintagel castle is the legendary birthplace of King Arthur and is believed by some to be the site of Camelot. Merlin’s Cave is situated on the sands below the ruined castle and was made famous by Tennyson who described waves carrying the infant Arthur to the shore. It is said that the wizard Merlin emerged from the cave and carried him to safety.

The cave is very atmospheric, and you can imagine Merlin approaching, with his staff held up to light up the darkness of the cave. It does feel like a place of magic and mystery, and those Arthurian legends come to life along that rugged stretch of Cornish coast.

10) What are you writing at the moment? Will it be another Harlequin romance?

I’m so pleased with the way the Shivers line is developing. HarlequinE has some amazing authors writing gothics and I am thrilled to be in such talented company. My next Shivers, Echoes in the Darkness (the sequel to Legacy in the Darkness), is part of the second Shivers box set which is released on 1st April 2014. It is set about thirty years after the end of Legacy of Darkness and features the next generation of dastardly Jagos.

The blurb for Echoes in the Darkness reads: Not betrothed, but beguiled.

In artistic circles she is the Divine Dita, Paris’ most sought-after nude model. But now she’s not so much posing as playing a role: fiancée to the next Earl of Athal. The charade is a favor to Dita’s friend, Eddie Jago, a dissolute painter…and the aforementioned heir. As deceptions go, it is innocent compared with what will come.

On the grim Cornish coast, from the ashes of a ruined castle rises the Jagos’ sumptuous new manor house. The fresh-hewn stone, however, cannot absorb the blood of centuries or quiet the echoes of past crimes. Dita struggles to decipher the family: the infirm Earl and his inscrutable wife; resentful Eddie; sheltered sister Eleanor. And Cad: the handsome second son whose reputation is spotless in business—scandalous everywhere else.

Drawn by friendship, ensnared by lust, Dita uncovers a sordid tangle of murder, desire and madness. It will lay her bare as no portraitist has done before.

I’m currently adding the finishing touches to the third, and final, book in the Jago series, which is entitled Darkness Unchained.

I also have two ‘stand alone’ Shivers titles due for release over the coming months. Both are set in the 1930s. One is located in a Welsh valley and the other story takes place on an isolated Italian island. I’m really excited about them both because they feature stronger elements of horror alongside the romance in the stories. The contrast really does increase the shivery element. I love writing gothics and, as long as readers want them and Harlequin will have me, I’ll keep writing Shivers!


Legacy of Darkness is currently available as part of The Shivers Line Box set from HarlequinE, released in January and available until the end of March. From April it will be available as an individual book. or


Purchase Links
Twitter @JaneGodman

Thank you Jane, and Good luck with all the writing.

Guest Author Rachel Florence Roberts

Today our guest is Rachel Roberts author of The Medea Complex which I reviewed yesterday on the blog. Here is the link to my review.


Let’s find out more about Rachel and her writing.

1) Where is your home town?
I was born in Liverpool, and grew up in Merseyside. I now live in Malta, EU.
2) How long have you been writing?
I’ve only been writing since my son was born, as he was the inspiration behind The Medea Complex. But I’ve been reading my whole life, and have wanted to write a book for much longer!
3) How long did it take to research the material for The Medea Complex?
Just under a year to gather the majority of it, and then further research as the book developed and came to life. All in all, about 18 months.
4) Can you tell readers the history of Bethlem Lunatic Asylum?
Bethlem Lunatic Asylum, or as we now refer to it “Bethlem Royal Hospital” is the worlds oldest, and most infamous psychiatric hospital. Records can be traced to its foundation in 1247 during the reign of Henry III, when it was first opened as a means of collecting alms to support the Crusader Church, and linking England with the Holy Land. Scholars argue that it’s first use as an insane asylum occurred as early as 1377. The word ‘Bedlam’ – meaning madness, actually comes from its earlier given nickname, assigned to the hospital sometime in the fourteenth century. From the end of the sixteenth century until the mid nineteenth century, people were able to pay to ‘poke sticks’ at the inmates, and ‘laugh at one knocking his head against a post’; both as a means of entertainment and as a cautionary tale to people against bad morals and vice.
It has been featured in many seventeenth  and eighteenth century plays and more recently, in books, television series, movies, and even ‘fly on the wall’ documentaries. People have long held a curiosity about those who hide behind it’s walls, even to this day.
5) Was Doctor George Savage considered a leader in psychiatry at the time?
This is of great debate. Dr George Savage was ‘ahead of his time’ in a way, and many of his opinions and research at the time was opposed by another alienist or two. Dr Savage was against the use of chemical restraint: ‘chemical cosh’, as he referred to it: dosing inmates on morphine and other drugs as a means of sedation. He preferred to use physical restraint when necessary, which was in direct opposition with both Dr Bucknill and Henry Maudeley’s opinions on the treatment of the insane. In fact, during my research, there are newspaper articles in the 19th century ‘Lancet’ where these doctors publically demean one another’s techniques! Dr Savage was knighted in 1912, so someone somewhere thought he was doing something right. His research and opinions can be found in the publically available book, ‘Insanity and Allied Neuroses’ (this can be found in, and the Gutenberg project). His character in my novel was heavily influenced by his works, and indeed many of his notes regarding Anne come directly from this book.
6) Anne was an unusual women because she read many books, why did the Doctor disapprove?
Women in the nineteenth century were not encouraged to read. Indeed, this was believed to be detrimental to their health, and in itself could directly cause insanity. Women were ‘weak’ creatures, of no significant consequence…delicate, and easily offended. To educate themselves beyond the home was anathema to the men at the time. To fill their heads with stories and knowledge…why, god knows what might happen to their brain! Women were wives, they were mothers. They were to play the piano, and sit, and look pretty. They were to agree with the men around them. In everything they were, in fact, viewed almost as a lesser species. When Dr Savage learnt of Anne’s passion for reading, this, of course (in his 19th century mind) led him to believe that this was a direct cause to her insanity. (Though of course, if you read on….).
7) Tell us more about the history of Anne’s Lady’s Maid, Beatrix.
Ah. Beatrix was found by Anne’s mother during one of her trips to France. Beatrix was in a terrible state, and Anne’s mother took pity upon the woman dying in the road. When she saved her, and took her on, Beatrix’s’ sense of obligation, loyalty, and love for her saviour transferred to Anne. Having lost her own child, she believed that she owed Anne’s mother. When Anne’s mother died, suddenly, there was a motherless child, and a childless mother. Beatrix therefore created a bond that was as strong, if not more so, than that between a natural mother and her child. She would do anything to protect the daughter of the woman who saved her, and in turn, of the child she came, over the years to view as her own. Although she did not agree with Anne, nor of what she did, she was simply in too deep to turn her back or sway her allegiance. She desperately did not want to be alone.
8) The Medea Complex is a complicated tale, I wonder if there was not an alternative way to rid the family of Stanbury?
I wondered this too! But ultimately, no. In the Victorian Era, if a man and wife divorced, any child born of that union would be put in the full custody of the father. Combined with the male entail that secured Asquith Manor, there was no other way to dispose of Stanbury. If she had run away with the child, her family was too well known for this to not have attracted the attention of the police and newspapers. When (for there was no if in my mind, only a when) she was found, the child would be taken away from her as Stanbury commenced divorce proceedings. As mentioned in the novel, women COULD divorce men at that time…but it was very difficult to do so, and Anne would have had to PROVE cruelty, incest, and affair, etc. And still, as previously mentioned, she would run a very high risk indeed of her baby being given to Stanbury, without access! If they killed Stanbury, again, that was too much of a risk: She would have hung, and in that way too, she would have lost her baby. If a grown man suddenly disappears, people start asking questions. So how else could she have done it? She can’t run away from him, she can’t kill him. She certainly can’t ask him nicely not to take her baby away from her (though anyone who has read The Medea Complex, will learn that if she had indeed spoken to him, the outcome would have been very different). Though there is a part in the novel where Stanbury is warned. Did she think that if he thought there was no longer a baby, and no possibility of a baby (to secure his hold on the Manor) that he would go away? Why doesn’t he? Is it because he loved her, and she didn’t realise…or because he was hell bent on getting what he believed was rightfully his, by any means possible? Was she being kind here, and trying to give him an ‘out’? We see his behaviour after her release!
Ultimately The Medea Complex is a tale of miscommunication, two people who want something very very badly, laws that contributed to the story (because come on, it would never be necessary to do what she did in the 21st century!), and then…just to make you wonder…was Anne, in fact, just not a very nice person? Or was she a mother simply desperate to do anything it took to stay with her baby? At the end she clearly says that the death of Stanbury was not her intent, yet the reader knows by this point…she was not stupid. She certainly knew how to do her research. Did she say this simply to appease Beatrix’s’ conscience? Did she know what the outcome would be all along, and if so, why did she do it? Did she feel such hatred for the man, and his plot, that his death was her vengeance?  I like the way that this is open to interpretation. To be honest, I’m not even sure myself. Sometimes I like her character, and sometimes I hate her. Ultimately I don’t know who I feel the sorriest for in the end!
9) Are you working on your next book?
Yes. And it will be JUST as twisty, and dark (if not more so!)
10) Do you have an expected publication date for fans?
I’m going to say (ever so tentatively here)…June 2014. But fans can join my Facebook page to stay right up to date with future developments, and of course, to message me! I love to discuss the novel, and anything else, with anyone!
The Medea Complex
The Medea Complex, or

Thanks Rachel and good luck with the new book.