Trip of a Lifetime

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My trip of a lifetime!


I’ve recently returned from my first real holiday in 20 years. Most special was spending time with my son who I hadn’t seen since early 2020, when Covid turned all our worlds upside down. He lives in Camden Town, not far from the very center of London and his flat was our base for excursions into Europe and other parts of the UK. Camden is a vibrant community with its colorful street art, buzzing markets and eclectic mix of people. My son’s flat is above the World’s End pub which was itself once an open market space and traces its history back four hundred years. Formerly known as Mother Redcap, the World’s End boasts tales of highwaymen, witches and hauntings, so it is a very atmospheric location! 

We took the Eurostar from London to Paris and from there headed for Brussels and Avignon, cities where history lives and breathes all around. I’d never been to Europe before, so every sight and experience was enthralling. In Avignon we were housed in an utterly charming apartment in a narrow shaded street, but I’m a bit queasy about heights and hesitated to go too far out on the partially-ruined Pont D’Avignon over the River Rhones. Romance abounded in Brussels, with couples being married in the courtyard of the wonderful Town Hall. After the ceremony the newlyweds emerged onto an upstairs balcony and waved to the people below in the Grand Place. Our apartment in Paris was very cute with a view of Parisian rooftops from my bedroom window. We boated up the Siene to the Eiffel Tower, ate lunch in a riverside cafe, and walked back along the river through the Tuileries Garden. 

Logistics and time limits meant the Regency town of Bath was off our map, but we were visiting extended family in Royal Leamington Spa, which is a kind of mini-Bath with streets sporting elegant Regency architecture and a history of mineral springs. Brighton’s Royal Pavillion was definitely on the agenda though, and what an opulent, extravagant place it is! Stunning chandeliers, gilt, marble, crystal, silver and gold. The Prince Regent’s opulent personality shone through. We wended our way through a maze of cobbled streets and enjoyed a fish-and-chip lunch on the stony Brighton beach. 

On the Isle of Wight we stayed in a quirky little hotel halfway up a steep street that tested my legs, and visited Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s summer home. We saw 101 Dalmations at the outdoor theatre in Regents Park, The Lion King at the Lyceum and the amazing Jean-Paul Gaultier Fashion Freak Show at the Roundhouse in Camden.


If you’re the chief cook in your household you’ll know the relief of not being responsible for a meal for four weeks! We threw caution to the winds while we were away and ate out at one of the cafes, restaurants or pubs that abounded on every street. Back in Camden my son concocted delicious dinners including nightly desserts. 

I was in the UK at a momentous time: Queen Elizabeth II died, a new Prime Minister was sworn in and King Charles III ascended the throne. My month away left me with so many enriching memories and experiences. As a writer, I tried to absorb everything, took multiple notes and many photographs. I know many of the sights and I saw, and the experiences I enjoyed will find their place in my Regency, and other stories.

Another adventure was travelling light. I decided to follow the 5 Kilo Traveller’s advice to travel with only carry-on luggage for my month away. I didn’t quite nail the packing, but taking carry-on only is such a bonus and a great learning experience. You can read about my  travel light experience on Katherine Leamy’s 5 Kilo Traveller.



The Three Quills are delighted to announce A Tangle of Todays and Tomorrows is up for pre-order now. In ‘A Tangle of Todays and Tomorrows’, we transport you into the timeless era of the Regency worlds of Stannesford, Northbridge, and Hunterlaw. Come and enjoy three very different romantic journeys with Jen, Leigh, and Caroline.
The title is the third and last in the Three Quills ‘Tangled’ series and will be released on 31st October. Click here to purchase or click on the image. Thank you! 

Cover Reveal!

Cover reveal for Lord Benedict's Bride


I am loving the cover of Bk 3 in my Northbridge Bride series! 

Arranged marriages are one of my favorite tropes, especially when the union is for the wellbeing of others rather than to advance the couple’s own interests.  Here’s a quick outline of the story.

Catherine Adair, a spinster of independent means, is broken-hearted to learn of her dearest friend, Erica’s death. Erica writes to Catherine on her deathbed and begs her to take care of her daughters, Imogen and Phoebe. But Erica’s husband, also stricken with fever, has made his impecunious cousin Lord Benedict Cranston, the girls’ official guardian. Combining Catherine’s wealth and her desire to give the children a loving home with Benedict’s formal role appears to be the best solution. However, it is impossible for Benedict and Catherine to share the same household without the sanctity of marriage. They agree their union will be ‘in name only’ but emotions are set alight when they find themselves together under the same roof!

Readers of Bk2 in the series, The Beaumont Betrothal will recognize Benedict’s home Foxwood, as the decaying residence of Sophia Cranston, Benedict’s distant cousin. Click here to purchase a copy of The Beaumont Betrothal

Keep your eye out on  my website and Facebook for updates on Lord Benedict’s Bride.

Introducing… The Three Quills!

This logo represents The Three Quills, Jen Yates, Leigh D'Ánsey and Caroline Bagshaw.
Photo of Regency author Jen Yates
Jen Yates writes Regency Romance with more than a touch of spice!
Photograph of Leigh D'Ansey
Leigh D'Ansey writes Regency Romance with a sense of place.
Caroline Bagshaw writes Regency Romance with a Scottish setting.
Caroline Bagshaw writes Scottish Regency Romance with a hint of intrigue.
Three Regency Romance authors get together

What happens when three Regency Romance authors meet at the coolest Cafe in the King Country? The Three Quills is what happens! Last year, Leigh D’Ansey, Jen Yates and Caroline Bagshaw had a meet-up (or two) at the Fat Pigeon Cafe before putting together their Christmas collection (FREE for you), A Tangle of Tinsel and Tartan. 

The cover of a Tangle of Tinsel and Tartan with new Quills logo
A Tangle of Tinsel and Tartan – an anthology of short Regency Romance.
Ideas for the next anthology

Earlier this year, the three met again to throw ideas around for the next anthology planned for the summer solstice. St Mary’s Church provided the perfect venue for an overnight stay. Over tea, cakes and a hearty dinner, our authors decided a logo was in order to represent them collectively. After numerous notions were put on the table,  Leigh, Jen and Caroline decided The Three Quills was an excellent choice. Clever Caroline came up with the concept and drew the design, and Dar Albert of Wicked Smart Designs brought it to digital life. Isn’t it fabulous? Dar has created several different colourways plus an elegant framed version, so no matter what colour the background, The Three Quills logo will tell you that you are in for three scintillating Regency stories!

A collection for the summer solstice

The Quills are now hard at work on their summer solstice collection – A Tangle of Tiaras and Titles. Another meeting was convened to discuss details, this time in Caroline’s country garden – an appropriate setting, because A Tangle of Tiaras and Titles must feature a garden party. Keep your eyes peeled for the cover reveal! To find out more about The Three Quills click on their pictures or visit The Three Quills page on my website. Sign up to my newsletter to make sure you don’t miss out on all the updates. 

Click here to read about our planning retreat at St Mary’s Church – a stunning venue.

Till next time!

Photograph of the Three Quills Caroline found in a specialty paper store.
The Three Quills!
Photograph of can chairs in caroline Bagshaw's garden.
The Three Quills met for a photo shoot in Caroline's country garden.
An afternoon tea of lamingtons at St Mary's.
Tea and cakes are an essential planning ingredient.

Regency Romance Retreat

St Mary's church provided the perfect venue for our workshop.

An anthology for the Summer Solstice

Caroline BagshawJen Yates and I had so much fun putting together our Christmas Regency Romance anthology, ‘A Tangle of Tinsel and Tartan’ that we’ve decided to repeat the process. Our next collection will celebrate the summer solstice. I have a perilous tendency towards procrastination and consequently am inclined to leave everything to the last minute. Sometimes that means there are several ‘everythings’ all needing to be pulled together at the same time! Thankfully Jen and Caro have a more orderly approach and we arranged to meet a couple of weeks ago for a one-night retreat to do some forward planning. While Jen and Caro had pristine notebooks, I rummaged around in my bag and uncovered a crumpled old jotter pad with a few spare pages. But my tattered jotter did the trick and I drove home feeling incredibly efficient with a rough list of all the jobs I need to do between now and the end of July. 

An old church provided the perfect venue

We adored our retreat venue, St Mary’s Church an old church in Pio Pio village. St Mary’s has been restored with  dedication to detail and offers the perfect place for writers. Even though our anthologies are comprised of shortish stories, there’s a surprising amount of work involved when putting together an anthology. There’s a title and theme to be decided upon, cover design, photo shoots for publicity and social media material. We are each also working on individual projects, so we talked about whether we should have a logo to represent the three of us as a separate entity. We threw some ideas around and in the end decided upon The Three Quills. Today, Caro presented us with a quill each which she discovered in a specialty paper shop in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. I’ll tell you more about The Three Quills once we’ve confirmed the details.

A Tangle of Tiaras and Titles

‘A Tangle of Tinsel and Tartan’ focused on a Christmas theme with either or both, a baby and a banquet to be included. The stories for our next anthology will focus on summer, garden parties, titles and tiaras. You can download a FREE copy of ‘A Tangle of Tinsel and Tartan here’ and we hope you’ll look forward to the summer release of A Tangle of Tiaras and Titles. Wherever you are in the world in these uncertain times, our thoughts are with you. Take care and keep safe xx

Leigh's jotter pad with very untidy scribble.
My note-taking skills leave a lot to be desired.
The worktable at St Mary's church.
Almost too beautiful to work on - but we managed!

I’m so excited!

Tips for Writing the Regency Romance is available now for pre-order

Tips for Writing the Regency Romance – a light-hearted guide is now on sale!

My writing space
My writing den.

If you have always aspired to write a Regency romance, this is the go-to guide for you.
This handy guide will help you breathe life and authenticity into your stories. Tips for Writing the Regency Romance explores the intricacies of etiquette and the conventions of courting and matrimony among the bon ton that are central features of a Regency romance.

Learn how to create memorable characters who overcome obstacles, break society’s rules and find their happy-ever-after while still remaining true to their time. If writing a Regency romance is on your agenda, this handy guide is a must-have for your research shelf.

Navigate the Regency era with this easy-to-read, informative guide.” – Jen Yates, Regency Romance author.

The book fair bubbles along with tips and essential-to-know tid-bits on etiquette, fashion, who was who, life below stairs and the very important marriage mart. I loved it.” – Lyndsay Campbell, author of historical women’s fiction.

The Beaumont Betrothal

The Beaumont Betrothal_ebook coverI’m thrilled to announce the release of The Beaumont Betrothal, Book 2 in the Northbridge Bride series. It has been ‘Coming Soon!’ for much longer than it should. I am in love with the cover designed by Tania Hutley and must thank Bronwen Evans for her developmental edit, which saw many changes and much improvement in the manuscript. Regency Romantica author Jen Yates‘ humor, wisdom, and hospitality also paved the way to publication, as did the inspiration, example, and encouragement of many others, particularly those in our C2C (Coast-to-Coast) chapter of Romance Writers of New Zealand.

The Writing Community is tremendously supportive

Attending a SPA Girls self-publishing workshop was the real impetus towards self-publishing, and I sincerely thank Cheryl Phipps, Wendy Vella, Trudi Jaye, and Shar Barrett, not only for the initial learning but for their ongoing support. Many see writing as a solitary occupation but sharing the support, knowledge, and experience of other writers is enriching in so many ways. I’ve always found the writing community tremendously supportive; individually, at conferences, workshops and meetings, and also on social media which is integral to our craft in today’s cyber-centered world.

Work in Progress

Book 3 in the Northbridge Bride series has the working title The Diplomat’s Daughter. I am determined  Catherine and Benedict won’t have to wait as long for their HEA as did Sophia and Bruno from The Beaumont Betrothal. Wish me luck! I love feedback from readers, so if you enjoyed reading The Beaumont Betrothal or any of my other titles, please email me at

Excerpt from The Beaumont Betrothal

“Careful. You’ll get freckles,” came a deep voice from behind her.

Startled, she spun around to see a wide-shouldered long-legged gentleman with a thick crop of peat-colored hair roughed-up by the same breeze that played with her own. His high-bridged nose bisected a pair of bold, alert eyes and she was struck by an odd sense of familiarity. At the same time, she knew she’d never met this man before. She would not have forgotten that dark, flashing glance.

A thrill flickered inside her. Despite the blustery draught, the air around her shimmered. She brought a hand to her throat and drew in a quick breath but did not look away, imbued with an unexpected recklessness.

“I rather like freckles.” She lifted her chin, aware of the wind loosening the length of colored cloth she’d tied about her head earlier in the day.

He smiled. His teeth were very white, their color echoed in the thin, gleaming scar that tracked across the lean plane of his right cheek. Perhaps it was this injury, tugging at the muscles beneath his bronzed skin that resulted in an indent near the corner of his long upper lip and softened the hard line of his mouth.

“I do too,” he said, eyeing her in a way that brought warmth to her face. His rich baritone was dangerously attractive, and his drawling enunciation told Sophia he was not a native-born Englishman.

Conversing with a gentleman when she was unchaperoned and to whom she had not been introduced breached all the rules of etiquette, but she did not care. For she held an unhappy awareness that this could be her last chance to venture beyond the bounds of behavior society, and she herself, would demand of her should she be compelled to marry Freddy.

She found herself returning his smile. “I do not know you, Sir,” she said. “And I have been cautioned throughout my life against the perils of speaking to strangers.”

His mouth quirked. “I am not particularly strange,” he said. “But that’s certainly a valid warning for a young lady. It’s one I’d issue myself.”

She dimpled, unable to resist provoking further conversation. “Then perhaps I should bid you goodbye.” But she made no move to step away, intrigued by this new turn of events and excited by the presence of a man unlike any she had encountered before.

Despite the weather, his dress was faultless; his white cravat precisely tied, his caped surtout tailored to emphasize his wide shoulders and narrow waist. Perhaps he had unbuttoned it when the rain stopped for it lay open, displaying a cream-on-cream waistcoat beneath a charcoal jacket. Tight-fitting buckskins encased long, muscled legs and his hessian boots gleamed where they were not splashed with mud. He carried himself with an easy, masculine grace and wore his garments without pretention.

Beyond him and to the right, a bay mare cropped at the grass beside the brook. Sophia was surprised her unhappy thoughts had so engrossed her that both horse and rider had been able to approach without her knowing.

After a moment or two, he angled his face and said: “What were you searching for?”

Sophia tilted her head.

“When I first saw you, you were gazing so intently into the water. I wondered what held your interest.”

Sophia caught her lower lip between her teeth. What could she say? She was watching for mating trout? She turned her face into the cooling breeze.

“Fish,” she said truthfully though with less eloquence than she would have liked.

The corner of his mouth lifted. “To… fish for… or to eat?”

She shook her head. “To watch. They are quite beautiful.” She found herself staring at his mouth, waiting for that captivating indent to appear. When it did, her heart gave a little lurch.

His eyes flashed with humor. “I don’t recall ever encountering a woman who considered fish beautiful.”

“Oh, but they are! Only last week I saw a buck directly under this bridge with the most astonishing coloring, flashes of dark red dappled with gold.” She was aware of her expression dimming. “But I should not like to catch one, for when they are out of their own environment their colors fade to dullness.” Like hers would, once she was married to Freddy, she thought unhappily.


The Romance of Favourite Things

I love the hand crafted table I use as a desk.
I like to think this old sewing table was crafted with a loving hand for a loved partner.

I have lots to do today. I should be reading, writing, editing and getting geared up to promote my soon-to-be-released ‘The Beaumont Betrothal’. But it’s a rare sunny day and I’ve found myself mooching around my little house, adjusting a cushion here, flicking a duster there and shaking the odd rug. I can’t call it ‘housework’ – more like diversional therapy!


But appreciating the space where I live has reminded me of all the things that make my house a home. I’ve moved several times over the years and there’s always been a decluttering of sorts, but some things go from house to house and it’s not until they’re in place, that the new space begins to feel like ‘home’.

The old sewing table is kind of ugly but I love it. It looks to me as if it was hand-crafted by some resourceful husband back in the day when most of what you needed, needed to be made by hand. I like to think it was a loving hand and made for a loved partner. The Bentwood chair isn’t very comfortable to sit on but it fits nicely under the table and looks as if that’s where it belongs, although I do move it around the house from time to time.

Marmalade pot
There’s always space for this marmalade pot.

I love these little pots joined at the rim. I use them from time to time, but more likely for hummus or relish than the jam or marmalade they were probably designed for.  I have numerous little jugs and dishes that have come with me over the years with new pieces being added occasionally. I’m especially fond of ferreting out bits of pottery from charity shops.


This wooden apple has a family association that goes back generations.

This wooden apple was made from a tall pine tree that used to grow alongside the post office where my great-grandfather was postmaster. I gave the apple to my mother for a gift many years ago and now that Mum has passed on, the piece of wooden fruit sits on my shelves and I am so happy to have it there.





shell2This limited edition print by Richard Wardle is very special to me. The picture was used on the cover of Rosamund Pilcher’s novel, ‘The Shell Seekers’ and I won it, along with a copy of ‘The Shell Seekers’ and a cash prize, for gaining first place in a nation-wide short story competition. Winning this competition gave me the encouragement to believe in myself as a writer. Subsequently, I had other short stories published along with children’s literature, and later I began to focus on writing romance.

There are many other items in my home that are truly special to me, and I’ll bet you too have treasures that you would not part with. I’d love to hear about them!


The Romance of Soap and Water

Research and Therapy in the Shower

Readers in the Northern Hemisphere will be looking forward to warmer days, but here in the Southern Hemisphere, winter’s nipping at our heels. On a chillier-than-usual morning this week, I spent far longer in the shower than I should have. I did consider the electricity bill climbing as I enjoyed hot water splashing over my shoulders, but decided I could call my shower research, as I thought about bathing before we had hot water on tap. I could also call it therapy because the needles of hot water were doing wonders for my computer-cricked neck!

running water shower
Hot, running water at the turn of a tap is a luxury.


An appreciation for fresh, clean water at the turn of a tap

I lived in a rural area for 20-odd years, where we relied on rain for our water supply. At the end of most summers, we had to buy water in by the tank-load – and it wasn’t cheap. Not to mention the nine months or so I lived in a caravan near a forest where water had to be bucketed up from a nearby creek and carefully rationed. The water was heated on a small gas stove and we washed all over using a plastic basin set in the awning attached to the caravan. With those experiences behind me, I still see running water as a luxury and have never lost my appreciation for fresh, clean water arriving at the turn of a tap.

Regency Shower

By the early 19th Century, bathing was on the cusp of change. Washing oneself all over regularly as opposed to once every few weeks (or months) gained credit not only for hygiene (a relatively new concept), but also as an activity that was beneficial for one’s health. I was surprised to discover quite sophisticated bathing apparatus had been invented by the early 1800s. The third Earl of Hardwicke enjoyed a plunge pool designed by Sir John Sloane, which held 2,199 gallons of water heated by a boiler in the basement. A Regency shower featured a pump that lifted water from a tank at the bottom of the structure to a basin at the top. The bather pulled a chain to pour water over her/himself. 

Ladies and gentlemen of means during the Regency and before would have enjoyed bathing in water brought to them by servants. Their bath may have been scented with flowers, oils, perfumes or herbs. It sounds romantic, and perhaps it was for the bathers, but hard work for the people who had to lug all that water upstairs and then dispose of it when the bath was over. Poorer people were more likely to have washed in the kitchen and the water used by the whole family before being poured away – most likely directly into the street.

Flowers for Jeanne
Flower, oils and herbs were used to scent bath water.


Artists throughout history have depicted bathers in both private, intimate surroundings and in public baths. The Impressionists often featured Eastern, harem and Turkish bath scenes, painted from imagination because men would not generally have been allowed access to Islamic women.

I’m afraid it’s just not possible to include all available information about bathing through the ages in this post but do explore some of the online links for greater insight.

What about Soap?

I discovered soap-making a few years ago. I love whipping up a batch using lye (caustic soda), natural oils and essences but I’m certain it’s much easier for me than it was for people earlier in history. Soap-making has been around for a long time. The Babylonians were making soap with ashes mixed with fats way back around 2,800BC while the Phoenicians used goats tallow and wood ashes and soap was widely known in the Roman Empire.


lavender soap 2
I love to make soap and give it away!

By Victorian times, soap was being mass-produced, with bathing soap manufactured as a separate product from laundry soap. In today’s world, soap is made for a multitude of purposes including washing carpets, pets, cars, and children. I make it because it gives me pleasure and a rough-cut bar or two makes a special gift for friends or family. I use lavender oil for scent and haven’t experimented or veered from this recipe because it gives me a good result every time.


I’m not sure if this blog post turned out as I intended. I may have to explore this fascinating subject again before too long!


Does Writing have to be a Solitary Occupation?

I’d almost insisted (I can be stubborn!) that writing should be a lonely job – a-starving-artist-in-the-garret kind of job. Yes, I’d joined Romance Writers of NZ a number of years ago and enjoyed regular meetings of our local chapter. I’d attended two or three writing retreats with a few writing pals, but the act of writing I saw as being something I needed to do alone.

Writing Retreat – sharing a wealth of writers’ experience

Writers at work
In between meals, the dining table became a multi-writer workspace, but if you wanted to find a comfy corner and spend all day reading, that was fine too.

Well, thanks to some awesome happenings this year, I’ve had a bit of a turnaround! First up, was a writing retreat in the country where a fellow author was housesitting. Seven of us gathered over a period of two or three days, some staying for shorter or longer periods depending on those pesky other commitments that are integral to our writing lives. Ranging in age from 30s to 70s the individuals in our group made an interesting mixture – a zoologist researching animal behaviour, an investigator with an extensive background in high-level police work, a Bowen therapist-in-training, a tertiary teacher, a retired primary school teacher, a couple of administrators – but we had all also worked in other fields throughout our lives. One of us had owned an antique shop, one had founded and operated a niche magazine, one had farmed a beef and cattle station deep in the heartland of New Zealand, one was elite in martial arts. We had rural and/or urban backgrounds; we were divorced, married, single, partnered with-or-without children, traveled extensively or stayed close to home. What a wealth of experience we had to share! And a magnificent dining table to share conversations over the meals to which we all contributed. And the conversations? Mostly about writing – so many aspects of writing! We weren’t all writing novels and we weren’t all working within the same genre.  Goal-setting, planning, social media, websites, and job applications were all thrown into the mix and if we wanted to share, or needed advice or information, it was on tap for everyone. If you wanted to find a comfy chair in a corner and read all day, that was fine too.

Then I decided, almost on impulse (which is unusual for me) to sign up for the SPA Girls self-publishing workshop. I was so impressed by what Cheryl Phipps, Shar Barratt, Trudi Jaye, and Wendy Vella had achieved by pooling their skills and experience, sharing their ups and downs, inspiring each other, learning, and growing their writing careers as individuals within a collaborative group. As well as the workshop itself, I traveled with two other writers and the conversations we had along the way, the characterization exercise we worked on back at the motel, and the companionship and laughter we shared were uplifting. Plus, dinner at the nearby Thai restaurant was exceptionally delicious!

Talking Regency Romance and cover design

Her Dark LordMore recently I’ve had fun working with a couple of authors who also write Regency Romance. Jen Yates (you really must read her raunchy Regencies – Jen YatesNZ) came to stay with me for a couple of days and we talked cover design, which is something I’ve become interested in now that I’ve decided to mostly self-publish. This weekend we were joined by Caroline Bagshaw whose upcoming Regencies are set in Scotland, Caroline’s country of origin.

The companionship of other writers is enriching

Yes, the act writing itself – fingers on keyboard, pen in hand, or voice-recording – are activities that probably need to be done alone, but sharing ideas, brainstorming or asking questions of someone who truly understands why you want to know this peculiar kind-of-weird detail is truly rewarding.

Writing doesn’t have to be a solitary occupation.

The companionship of other writers, fresh perspectives and new ideas not only helps me grow as a writer but enriches my life in ways that are immeasurable. Pricking the little bubble of my solitary writing world has set me free.