Tuesday, 20 March 2012

More Than a Governess

More than a Governess
Harlequin Historical Romantic Adventure 
Published by Harlequin April 2008
Also published in the UK March 2009 as a special for Mothering Sunday...
Major Collingham needs a governess to look after his children until he can contract an advantageous marriage: impecunious Juliana Wrenn needs funds to open a school of her own. A four-month contract suits them both, but neither foresees the growing attraction that threatens the best laid plans………..(scroll on down past the photos to read an extract)

"More than a Governess is a richly woven tale of passion, intrigue and suspense that deserves a place on your keeper shelf!"

The story is set in 1816, on record as one of the wettest ever. No one knew it at the time, but volcanic activity on the other wide of the world in 1815 had released tonnes of ash into the atmosphere, and this affected the weather the following summer.  Not a very good setting for a romantic novel, you may think!  However, Major Collingham has to take his family from London to his home in Lancashire, through some pretty wild and desolate country and heavy rain often caused landslips and washed away the roads, just what I needed to make the journey interesting for my poor characters.  Of course Juliana is a very resourceful young woman, and rises to every challenge of the eventful journey and soon Major Collingham realises that she is much more than just a governess.
England at that time was far less densley populated, and if a traveller strayed from the main coaching routes then they could go for miles without seeing  village.  These pictures were taken in January on the bridle paths near my home in the Pennines - I think  this is how most roads would have been in the early 19th century - difficult on foot or on horseback and extremely uncomfortable in a carriage. 


She hurried back to Bouverie Street and made her way directly to the kitchens, where Mrs Churwell was waiting to hear her news. Juliana could not suppress her elation.
'He's hired me,' she cried. 'Major Collingham is sending the carriage here for me on Monday, and he says Thomas and Amy can come too. I was most surprised at that, I can tell you, but it is ideal for us all.'
'Oh well done, dearie! I'm that pleased for you, I really am.' The housekeeper turned to the footman, who was relaxing in a chair with his feet up on the fender. 'You hear that, Lawrence? Miss Wrenn is to be a governess to the major, and him a hero of Waterloo, no less!'
'Is he? I never knew that,' smiled Juliana, taking off her bonnet and placing it on
a side table.
'Aye,' Lawrence poured himself another mug of ale. 'My brother was in his regiment, the 30th Foot. They fought off the French at Quatre Bras. Praised by Lord Wellington hisself, they was. But that's not all,' he grinned. 'Devil Collingham, they call him. Heard it from the man's groom hisself, I did, last time I delivered some papers to the house and stopped off for a glass of daffy on the way back. Devil Collingham - devil on the battlefield, and devil in the bedroom. They say in Brussels it was nothing for him to pleasure three women in one night.'
With a shriek Mrs Churwell cuffed him round the ear.
'I'll have none of that talk in my kitchen, my lad! You had best get back upstairs, now, before the master starts shouting for you. Go on now! Don't you be taking any notice of what Lawrence says,' she added, when the footman had lounged away. 'I don't hold with servants tittle tattle.'
'No more do I,' agreed Juliana. She looked up at the housekeeper, a mischievous twinkle in her green eyes. 'However, it seems I have just made a pact with the devil!'

© Sarah Mallory

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A great deal of the action in "More Than a Governess", my first Sarah Mallory novel, takes place as Juliana travels with her young charges from London to Lancashire, with one of the more dramatic episodes set in Derbyshire.  It is sometimes difficult to visualise how an area looked two hundred years ago, but some areas are not that different and I like to think that my characters crossed a section of moorland very like the picture opposite. The land is rocky, bleak and desolate.  You can imagine the bad weather rolling in from the west and covering the land in a blanket of cloud.....
(This photo is courtesy of Andy Savage at www.derbyphotos.co.uk)

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