One of the reasons I enjoy writing historical romance is exploring some of the events that happened in different eras and using them as a backdrop to the story. Part of the reason I chose 1816 as the year in which to set Midwinter Masquerade was because of two significant circumstances.
The long wars with France came to an end with the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, when Wellington finally vanquished Napoleon Bonaparte. But the end of the war, although a victory for Britain, left a whole army of soldiers without work or money and exacerbated the problems already looming across the country with rising prices and general unrest.
By the following year, 1816, further problems arose with one of the worst summers ever experienced, making it known as ‘the year without a summer’. Evidently, this was caused by the eruption of a volcano in a far off island, and the effects were felt in different parts of the world. This added to the growing discontent in Britain, when food became scarcer and corn prices rose too high.
Although Midwinter Masquerade is very much a romantic novel, I allude to these problems in the story to bring some reality and background to the period. Since the Winter Solstice is a pivotal part of the novel, I liked the idea of setting it in such a dark year. It also ties in with one of the themes of the novel – the choices facing my main heroine, Lady Lenora Fitzallan, the possible change of direction her life may take before the end of winter and the coming of another year.
In Edinburgh, December 1816, young widow Lady Lenora Fitzallan accepts an invitation to the Scottish country estate of Edward Montgomery, the man she once thought to marry seventeen years previously. Until he left without explanation. Accompanied by her godmother, Lady Pettigrew, Lenora forms a friendship with Edward’s young niece and ward, Annabelle, who has a propensity for getting into scrapes and falling in love with the wrong man.
In the days leading up to the Masquerade Ball on the Winter Solstice, another guest arrives. Mr Henderson has a particular reason for meeting Annabelle, who distrusts him on sight. Meanwhile, Lenora struggles with her rekindled feelings for Edward, while thinking of Robert Masters, the sophisticated man who hopes to marry her when he returns from abroad.
As past secrets begin to unfold, Annabelle is rescued from harm, and a dashing, costumed stranger arrives at the Ball.
Once the past is revealed and the real villain unmasked, Lenora must decide where and with whom her future now lies.
Midwinter Masquerade is available from:
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Midwinter-Masquerade-Romy-Gemmell-ebook/dp/B00G4DNG7G
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Midwinter-Masquerade-Romy-Gemmell-ebook/dp/B00G4DNG7G
All e-formats from Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/370487
Rosemary Gemmell’s short stories and articles are published in UK magazines, in anthologies, in the US, and online and she has won several short story prizes. She lives in the beautiful west coast of Scotland and is now a published novelist for adults (as Romy) and Middle Grade/tweens (as Ros) with three different e-publishers. Her BA (hons) in literature and history and MA in Humanities are put to good use in reading and research for all types of writing. Midwinter Masquerade is her new Regency era novel set in Scotland from Tirgearr Publishing.
You can find Rosemary at:
Main Blog: http://ros-readingandwriting.blogspot.com
A FREE Holiday Anthology from Exquisite Quills containing Rosemary's short story, Highland Hogmanay, is available from Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/374815
Thank you so much for being our Friday Friend, Rosemary. Midwinter Masquerade is already on my Kindle, and I'm looking forward to reading it, especially as I know your historical background will be accurate and authentic. Although I've studied that period of history, I never realised the volcano was to blame for the bad summer of 1816! You learn something new every day :-)