SHEHANNE MOORE’S CENTRAL HEATING PUMP
“Well Shehanne, luv…or may I call you Shey…I can? Nice one. Thanks for the cuppa. I must say strong tea, when combined with a generous slice of your very own homemade Dundee Cake provides a real treat for the taste buds, although inevitably the cake doesn’t dunk like what my preferred Garibaldi biscuits do. Never mind though.
To the point. You’d be amazed at the number of issues you romantic novelists have with your central heating pumps…beats me, but there you have it! Still all sorted now. The problemo was none other than a jammed propeller due to foreign stuff in the central heating seeping into to your all-important pump. May I ask you a question? Tell me, do you keep rodents?”
“I do actually, my hamsters”
“Well there’s your answer. Hamsters, or should I say, rodents belonging to the subfamily Cricetinae, are famous for storing grub they don’t want to scoff immediately in their cheek pouches. When the cheek pouches reach overload, the little blighters look elsewhere for a place to secretly conceal any glut. Your cunning devils choose your central heating system! Still all sorted now, although I do feel you are glazing over a tad.”
“No, I’m fine, really”
“Anyway, you’re not alone. Only last week I was down at Jane Austin’s gaff in Hampshire…my God, that place chucked up something rotten, what with her letting her pet pig, Lady Ambrosia have a complete run of the home…you’d think she’d have it house-trained…but, oh no, too much hard work! I don’t know how that poker-faced bint finds time to write, she’s forever on her mobile texting away. Changing the subject, is that all the books what you have writ on the coffee table over there? May I cop a gander?”
“By the cringe, there’s some tasty girls on the covers, that’s for sure. Oh, I like this cover…this one, the one you said was your new book, ‘The Writer and The Rake’. I’ll lay odds that bloke’s never done a day’s plumbing in his life, and the bird with the come-hither eyes…if you get my drift…well, I’ll go to the foot of our stairs, I know her. That’s none other than young Mavis who used to work the counter in The Spa shop down The Mile End Road by day, spending most nights hanging around the lamppost outside it. I heard she’d moved to Scotland. They always said she’d follow a bloke in a kilt anywhere. Doesn’t she scrub up nice though? By the way, when you made the booking you said you wrote ‘smexy’ romance. What’s all that about luv?”
“Jonny, what a gent you are that you don’t know. Of course, I can tell you are a gent and a gem and probably a little smexy yourself, it that’s any help to you. Now, don’t look so modest. In any kind of conversation, it means one thing. Smart’n sexy. That was two. Sorry.”
“Stroll on luv, I’ve never been called smexy before…I’ll take it, mind…I do believe such accolade is giving rise to a stirring in me parts! So how come you got to knocking out smexy romance books then?”
“Hmm? Simple answer, I was desperate. A girl can only take knocking on so many doors and meeting with the usual dreaded R letter. So being smart I decided to put the historical fiction with the cast of the ten commandments on hold and visit the drawing board. That’s why I did it. AS to how? I had to study the genre. I mean me? Write romance? Let’s not kid I even knew the first thing about it.”
“Good on you, luv. You’ve wetted me whistle, and now me cement is wet, you have to tell more.”
“Now Jonny, I am sure a man of the world like you can guess and needs no lessons from me on this score. But I would add that me being me, you can forget the lovey-dovey stuff. I am deeply drawn to flawed characters. Ones who like a great deal of space and everything their way. These are bad boys and they need a bad girl to sort them out. Of course, there’s certain scenes of a certain nature. Ones that might require the cold tap on the shower to be working. However, I would say that what interests me most is the dynamic between a particular hero and heroine. What draws one to the other. What makes that work and what makes you believe that they can do this, they are right for each other, they can be together, to quote my new heroine, ‘till the day turns to dust.’”
“Well you chose proper good having Mavis on the cover, they always said she was the girl all the bad geezers wanted. So, give us the low down on the new story then.”
“Well, The Writer and The Rake is about just that, a writer and a rake, except she’s from the present day and he’s not. It’s a time travel about a dynasty whose members are somewhat cursed that way and it’s a follow on from my last book The Viking and The Courtesan. The heroine is the Courtesan’s grandmother as a young woman, a pretty heavy smoking, drinking, clubbing young woman who finds herself back in Georgian England, pitted against a hero who can’t quite get his head round her. Having ballsed up his life…much as she’s doing with hers…he needs a wife in order to inherit. He just doesn’t quite bank on the loose cannon she is. I liked exploring the business of taking this high-octane woman and placing her in this alien world. I try to send my characters on a journey around a theme. In Loving Lady Lazuli, it was the idea of whether you can let go of the past when it has destroyed your present. In the Unravelling of Lady Fury, it was whether sex can be reduced to a business transaction when it has once been anything but. With His Judas Bride, it was just how much of your life can you mess up by getting into this passionate tangle when you just shouldn’t. The Viking and the Courtesan is about the stages by which you might let everything you know go and step into the unknown.”
“Cor, look at this cover…this one, The Unravelling of Lady Fury. I wouldn’t say no to unravelling her, lovely girl that she is. I’m guessing she wouldn’t fancy a plumber, they never do…I call it the plumbers curse.”
“Oh, I don’t know she lives on a pirate ship. I bet there’s leaks galore.”
“True enough luv. Still, time and plumbing waits for no man, and Nancy Mitford is next on me list…her French Bulldog’s stuck in the U-Bend again! Got to be on me way. Hope ‘The Writer and The Rake’ sells in shedloads luv…whoops, I meant Shey. I better be off now, and keep those hamsters of yours away from the central heating system in future!”
“Thanks ever so much Jonny, you really are a living legend.”
“I hope you don’t mind an extract Jonny it concerns the hero and how looks and clothes can be deceptive….”
“No worries on that front luv…it’s probably for the best I have a read of it in the motor though…you never know, what with it being of a smexy nature I have very real fears I might not be able to cope in the company of a proper lady like what you are.”
She stopped. Pale stone walls, on which the light danced with soft shoes, beautiful blue-lit windows rising in golden amber arches to the roof. A faint smell of old stone. Across the dusting of withered leaves, a stone dais in ancient sandstone. Her heart missed a beat. What was this place exactly? The reason Gabriella didn’t like him?
“Not a place I come to often, I admit, being too far gone down the road of badness for that, but nonetheless, a place that is ideal for spending your days in the kind of prayer and contemplation you told the servants you did.”
“Me? Oh, I think you’ve got that all wrong, darling.”
“Not at all.” His feet echoed softly on the pale stone floor. “There’s the altar—”
“That was only for the servants’ benefit. You see—”
Admit she didn’t know how to direct a tiresome bunch of servants on their jam making, or whatever Georgian servants did? Especially when it might be worse if she did instruct them and made it obvious she hadn’t a bloody clue? She waited as the withered leaves rustled in their silent corners. “I just hadn’t thought is all.”
He glanced around. “Good you have now though. Anyone chancing in here will see how devotional you are. I’m just sorry the floor is stone and there’s no pews.”
“Oh. Don’t worry about it because—”
“That’s two of us then. At least, I think it is.”
“I know I must look wealthy to you in my fine clothes, Miss Carter, but that’s for show. The truth is two winters ago I’d to strip the pews out and burn them for firewood after a particularly brutal run-in with Christian and Clarence.”
“I can’t imagine what over.”
“Which I don’t think you understand about.”
“Believe me, I’m trying.”
“I couldn’t agree more. Unless, of course, you want to rethink the business of the servants and show them you can run this house, smoothly, perfectly?”
She stopped fiddling with her hair and glanced round. Mentioning his sex life with Gabriella was a mistake. Already she’d no fags, no voddie and damn all food obviously because of other run-ins with Christian. 1765 had bugger all to recommend it. So obviously, she should at least try to say a few words to the servants. One, or two, no more. In fact, feeling the chill on her bones, she’d as good as decided. But, this strange place, if he was going to leave her alone here? This place was perfect to find the portal from. For that matter it might even be here.
Her breath shortened. “Hell, no.” She padded down the steps, let the dried leaves rustle about her bare feet. “I think I’d rather stay here.”
1765 had bugger all to recommend it.
He saw her coming. If he’d known her effect he’d have walked away.
When it comes to doing it all, hard coated ‘wild child’ writer, Brittany Carter ticks every box. Having it all is a different thing though, what with her need to thwart an ex fiancé, and herself transported from the present to Georgian times. But then, so long as she can find her way back to her world of fame, and promised fortune, what’s there to worry about?
Georgian bad boy Mitchell Killgower is at the center of an inheritance dispute and he needs Brittany as his obedient, country mouse wife. Or rather he needs her like a hole in the head. In and out of his bed he’s never known a woman like her. A woman who can disappear and reappear like her either.
And when his coolly contained anarchist, who is anything but, learns how to return to her world and stay there, will having it all be enough, or does she underestimate him…and herself?