What chance did she have of following her heart? Sneak peek.

SNEAK PEEK EXCERPT FROM ON DIFFERENT SHORES – Book One of FOR THEIR COUNTRY’S GOOD. It’s England, 1841, Jem has been transported to Van Diemen’s Land and Ella, pregnant and penniless, is desperate to follow him…cornfield with Jem and Ella ghosted, faded outer 

Back at her lodgings, she gathered together what wealth she had: the silver-backed mirror her mother had given her, a second-hand silver card-case she’d bought having once naively thought to use it for her calling cards, the cameo Harry had given her that had belonged to his grandmother. She stared at them hopelessly. Her landlord would be wanting his rent today, and this was all she had to offer him.

She descended the stairs and knocked at his door. It opened, and a tall gentleman stared down at her. She took a deep breath. ‘Mr Jessop. I wonder if I might have a word with you?’

He smiled. ‘Mrs Weston, come in. How can I help you?’

She refused the seat he offered and held out her mirror, cameo and card case. ‘I was robbed today. My money was stolen. I can’t pay for my room. This is all I have.’

He frowned. ‘You want me to sell them for you?’

‘If you could take them as rent…’

‘They’re not worth much. Maybe a week’s rent.’ He stared pointedly at her bulge. ‘How will you pay after that with a baby at your breast? And how will you eat?’

She shook her head. ‘I don’t know. Maybe you could find it in your heart…’

‘I can’t afford to keep you and a baby, even if I wanted to. Don’t you have family? What about your husband?’

‘My family are in Bath. My husband… I came here looking for him.’

Mr Jessop’s eyebrows rose in question. ‘He left you, alone and pregnant?’

‘He…’ There was nothing to gain by lying. ‘He’s on Stirling Castle.’

‘He’s a sailor?’ Her landlord’s eyes opened wider. ‘Stirling Castle… isn’t that the prison hulk? He’s a convict?’

She clutched at the back of a chair. Her head hurt where she’d hit it when she’d fallen, and a twinge in her stomach made her gasp. ‘He was sentenced to be transported. I tried to find out about an assisted passage, so I can follow him, but convict’s wives don’t qualify for help. And because I’m only his common-law wife, still married to someone else, I can’t go with him on the convict ship like legal wives.’

‘From what I’ve heard, you wouldn’t want to, and certainly not with a young baby. If you want my advice, go home to your family.’

‘I don’t have the fare.’ Another twinge cramped her stomach. ‘Anyway, I don’t think I’m fit to travel.’

Mr Jessop handed her back her mirror and card case. ‘You can stay tonight, but you’ll need care while you birth… I can’t afford to pay a midwife, either.’ He pursed his lips. ‘Your best course of action is to throw yourself onto the mercy of the parish.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘There’s a poorhouse in Stoke Damerel, not far from here. Duke Street. I suggest you approach them first thing in the morning. They’ll look after you and your baby.’

‘But the poorhouse…’ Her mother had told her of her grandmother’s last years. A shudder ran down her spine. ‘My grandmother died in the poorhouse.’

‘It’s your best option, Mrs Weston, if you don’t have a husband who will provide for you.’

She nodded. Much as she hated the idea of charity, she had a baby to consider, and she had a feeling she would birth early. ‘It will only be for a while. I’ll find work, eventually and be independent again.’ She flopped into the chair she’d refused and held her head in her hands. ‘Am I ever going to be able to follow Jem? Am I stupid to even try?’

Mr Jessop patted her shoulder. ‘Love is a powerful support, but your child will need you more than your man does.’

She palmed aside a tear. What chance was there of following her heart, now?

Want to read from the beginning? Click here.


Lock up your wife and beat her – women’s rights back in the day

On International Women’s Day, I’m reminded of the research I undertook while writing ‘For Their Country’s Good’, an historical series about a young poacher exiled for life for killing one of Lord Northampton’s gamekeepers. He left behind a common-law wife pregnant and penniless who was determined not to be left behind. It was researching her plight more than his that uncovered shocking truths about the lives of women in Victorian England.

I hadn’t intended to write a book that highlighted the lack of women’s rights, but that lack was such an inescapable and integral part of the story that it became inevitable. Once given in marriage, often as a political or social pawn, a woman legally owned nothing – everything she may have owned before marriage became the property of her husband. Even her children belonged to her husband, and she had no rights over them.  She could be legally imprisoned, beaten, and raped – indeed rape in marriage  was legal until 1991.

While a man was socially applauded for the number of his mistresses, and his wife was expected to accept it, if a woman strayed just once, she could be set aside with no means of support, denied access to her children, and refused permission to remarry. A husband’s revenge for being deserted or cuckolded was such that many women stayed in violent and loveless marriages rather than lose everything, including her children. Divorce was unheard of for all but the peerage, and was seen as a crime against God. Indeed, it was the church that actually promoted this inequality between the sexes, church courts having the say rather than civil courts in marital issues. The laws of marriage and property rights were made by men for men. A man could be looked down on for beating a horse but was virtually encouraged to beat godliness into his wife.

Women’s rights have come a long way since the 1840s, which is when ‘For Their Country’s Good’ is set, but women still have to fight for equality in the workplace and for acceptance as equals. Even when I was a young woman, men were expected to sow their wild oats, but girls were expected to be virgins. I was never quite sure how that hypocrisy was supposed to work! And I was paid half of my male counterparts for doing the same job in banking, and yes, it did rankle.

Men and women are not the same, not equals in every respect: I’d be the first to say that. We have different strengths and weaknesses, different temperaments, and mindsets, and our lives dance to different hormones and rhythms, but we complement one another, help and support one another, sometimes frustrate the hell out of one another, and are two sides of the same coin. It is important that we value one another.

Whether you’re a women’s libber or a woman hater, bear in mind the deprivations that spawned  woman’s fight for equality and the courage that fight has taken.  There are cultures where women are still treated as chattels and barely human. We must be ever wary that human rights, rights and freedoms for both men and women, are not eroded while we sleep.

Book One of ‘For Their Country’s Good’

FTCG coomp maybe our love is not meant to be


Welsh Wednesday Writing – ‘June In The Valley’ – Book & Poetry review.

Love poetry? Love Wales? Grab a load of this.


library1Welcome to this, the first review/writing post of my newjune2 Welsh Wednesday writing series where each Wednesday I hope to be posting book/poetry reviews of Welsh authors, those authors living in or with a strong connection to Wales, or books that simply have an equally strong Welsh theme to them. In addition, I’ll also be posting information about Welsh writing groups, bookshops, and anything to do with Welsh literature whatever the genre be it fiction, history, travel, culture etc.welsh2library2I’m proud to present here my review of a collection ofwelsh1 writing from the Tonypandy Writer’s Group, June In The Valley, a little gem of a book I discovered while searching for Welsh creative writing groups. It’s only available in print format but at only £3.00 it’s an absolute literary bargain … click title for Amazon link.


June In The Valley


The Tonypandy Writer’s Group

timberwolfamazonA fine collection of poignant short stories & poetry…

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Book Trilogy Review – Beyond The Law

Meet a great writer and sample his wares.



In 1969 at the age of 17, Tom left his native Glasgow to join the British Army. Tom’s military career spanned from 1969 to 1992. He followed this with a career in Retail Management, in which he was employed from 1992 to 2012.
Tom has been writing since 2007.

He has published seven novels, five anthologies of short stories, a five-part novel, a five-part series of erotica novellas, and a series of five anthologies of genre-based poetry, and has several other projects in the pipeline …



 Tom’s websites & social media:




On Fb@tom.benson.writer.artist
On Twitter  – @TomBensonWriter


Beyond The Law: Consequences (Book 3) –

(Currently only available on Amazon Kindle) –

Amazon blurb … In August 2004, close relatives of three recently deceased Glasgow gangsters are looking for answers and revenge. Those intent on causing more bloodshed have yet to meet…

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A Date With . . . Rhonda Hopkins

An interesting interview with an interesting author.

Frank Parker's author site

Rhonda Hopkins is a self-published author from Texas with two decades of experience working within the Family Court system. She writes often quite dark stories featuring zombies. She also has a non-fiction book in the pipeline which will be a guide for people encountering the Family Court for the first time.

I began our conversation by asking her about life in her native Texas. For me “Texas” invokes memories of old cowboy films, vast cattle ranches, rodeos and Dallas – both the TV series and the city with its glass and steel towers. I wondered how accurate was that image.

Pecan 03_1500x1500_540x540 Native Pecan Tree – image from growerssolution.com

“That’s a great question and one I’ve never been asked before. Texas is amazing. We have just about everything here. Large cities, small towns, and wide-open spaces. We have a large variety of trees, my favorite being pecan. We had several in our…

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