Today I'm hosting the Blog Tour for Only You, a fabulous contemporary romance by Lorna Peel. So, without further ado, here's Lorna...
My Favourite Books and Authors
When I was little I read everything Enid Blyton wrote – The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, Malory Towers, St Clair’s – the lot! Then I moved on to anything with horses in it, Nancy Drew, and the Sweet Valley High series. When hormones kicked in, I went through a pop music magazine phase – Smash Hits and Number One – both sadly long gone. After that I moved on to adult books but whenever I think of my childhood books, I think of Enid Blyton.
These days, my favourite author is Sharon Kay Penman. I bought her Wars of the Roses epic, The Sunne in Splendour, when I was on a school trip to Northern Ireland. The sheer length of it (886 pages) intimidated me for a couple of years but when I did finally read it, I loved it.
I also love her Welsh trilogy (Here Be Dragons; Falls The Shadow; The Reckoning) about the last years of independent Wales, not just because of the brilliant writing but because I was brought up in north Wales and I have either been to, or know of most of the locations in the books. I can read them over and over again.
Another of my favourite authors is Phil Rickman, who writes the Merrily Watkins mystery series. Merrily is a single mum, a priest in the Church of England - but is also a Diocesan Exorcist, so there is often a paranormal twist to the mysteries. Every book in the series is a great and unique read!
Honourable mentions go to Joseph O’Connor, author of Star of the Sea - a novel about the Irish Famine; the late Diana Norman, author of Daughter of Lir - a brilliant novel about Ireland just before the Norman Conquest; and Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy, probably the saddest book I’ve read yet.
A week later, she brought five history books into her bedroom, closed the door with a foot, and set them down on the bed. “Okay,” she announced. Robert sat up and placed a pillow behind his back. “Irish history lesson number one.”
“Am I going to get homework?” he asked, switching on the bedside light.
“Depends how good you are.” She climbed onto the bed and settled back against him. He kissed the back of her neck. “And whether you can concentrate!”
“Oops! Sorry, teacher. I promise that I’ll be as good as gold.”
And he was, listening intently as she explained the events leading up to the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s.
“Ireland’s population was eight million at the time. It’s not been anywhere like that since.”
“What is it now?” he asked.
“Somewhere around four and a half. The Republic of Ireland, that is.”
“Tell me about the landlords.”
“Well, all of Ireland’s land was owned by a few thousand landlords, mostly Protestant and mostly descended from English settlers. Some took an active interest in their estate, but others had little or no interest and left the day-to-day running to agents.”
“Why?” He leaned to one side and began to flip through a book until he came to a map of Ireland. “Where did they live?”
“Some lived in Dublin or England, and were known as absentee landlords. Quite a few landlords went bankrupt. Despite being the landlord of a large estate, Rowley’s financial problems weren’t an exception. They had lowered rents and distributed clothes and food to their tenants. Many didn’t and even put up rents and evicted tenants who couldn’t pay.”
Jane felt Robert tense. “Were there any reprisals?”
“Yes. Seven landlords were shot, six fatally, during the autumn and winter of 1847. So, Rowley being shot dead wasn’t an exception there either, but he had been forced to evict his tenants because he was completely broke and his creditors were calling in their loans.”
“I’ve got my work cut out for me, haven’t I?”
She twisted around and gave him a smile. “I’ll help you.”
“Don’t regret saying that.”
Jane Hollinger is the wrong side of thirty, divorced and struggling to pay the mortgage her cheating ex left her with. As a qualified genealogist, teaching family history evening classes is a way for her to make ends meet. But she begins to wonder if it’s such a good idea when a late enroller for the class is a little... odd. “Badly-blond Bloke” both scares and intrigues Jane, and when she discovers he is her all-time favourite actor and huge crush, Robert Armstrong, she’s stunned. Even more stunning to Jane is the fact that Robert is interested in her romantically. He’s everything she ever dreamed of, and more, but can she overcome her fear of living in the public eye to be with the man she loves?
Lorna Peel is an author of contemporary and historical romantic fiction. She has had work published in three Irish magazines – historical articles on The Stone of Scone in ‘Ireland’s Own’, on The Irish Potato Famine in the ‘Leitrim Guardian’, and Lucy’s Lesson, a contemporary short story in ‘Woman’s Way’. Lorna was born in England and lived in North Wales until her family moved to Ireland to become farmers, which is a book in itself! She lives in rural Ireland, where she write, researches her family history, and grows fruit and vegetables. She also keeps chickens (and a Guinea Hen who now thinks she’s a chicken!).
Thank you for featuring me on your blog, Gale!