I recently reviewed Full Circle – A Duke Lost as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team (#RBRT)
This is a historical romance, set in Regency England. It has three main characters and four distinct parts.
The first part is a poetic and unhurried. It takes us through an intense and beautiful love story between a Duke and a young deaf girl. Bram is the honourable Duke of Bramford, who has fought for his country and is very loyal to the crown. The wedding had been arranged by his mother since the bride was two years old! Anna is an orphan who has been living practically on her own all this time, in an isolated castle in Scotland, waiting for her betrothed. When they meet, in her 18th year, they are both surprised to fall in love. I thought I was going to read a sweet, traditional romance, because their love story was drawn out in great detail. I didn’t mind, because I love historical romances, but I did wonder where the story would be going.
The second part of the plot moves on with the only obstacle to their happy marriage, namely Bram’s best friend, Michael, Earl of Milford, who thinks Bram should marry a richer and more worldly society lady. Surprisingly, Michael also falls in love with Anna, and although their friendship is threatened, Michael finally remains both their friends.
The plot then takes a third surprising twist (I can’t go into any detail without including a spoiler), and Anna will learn that her husband is not the man she thought he was, and that he has other priorities and duties in life, which exclude Anna and their children. Anne must turn to Michael for support, with Bram’s approval.
Finally, the title refers to the end of the story in which harmony is restored, at great emotional cost to all involved. It’s not a sad ending, although it’s not a perfect HEA either. I think it’s the best possible ending, although I can’t help feeling sorry for the way in which one of the characters is excluded from ‘the circle’.
The three main characters were engaging, and the plot, which was slow at first, moved on well in the second part. Especially for lovers of historical romance.
I asked Nicci if she would like to take part in an interview so we could know more about her and her, her novel, and writing process.
This is your first published novel, and it’s set in Regency England. What is it about the Regency era that most interests you?
I’m going to tell you a little story about a dream I had many times before even having set foot in England:
Surrounded by village shops and treading a cobblestone street, I smile to myself. A feeling of absolute pleasure comes over me. I love everything about the quintessential English style. The higgledy-piggeldy street starts to incline and I look up towards an emerald green hill. A winding path leads up to a church of magnificent proportions. A proud steeple signals a hearty welcome. I approach with eagerness. But with every desperate step I take, the church seems further and further out of my reach…
I came to England having stored this in a remote part of my subconscious. When I visited Chesterfield, the dream came rushing back to me. If you have not been there before, the town has an ordinary church with the most extraordinary twisted spire, both of human and natural creation. At that very moment, I realised I had truly found my home. England.
And if you know anything about English people or culture, you know that that spire is more than just a bizarre piece of architecture. It is wholly unique and yet considered. Inconsequential and yet determined. Beautiful. Like it’s people.
It has a history that can be felt in the rhythm of it’s pulse.
Is your plot based on any real historical event or people?
I have worked for twenty years in social care and, for much of that time, I have had the privilege of knowing people who have overcome adversity and have challenged the cruel hand that life has dealt them. I admire these people for their fight and optimism. But it wasn’t until I watched a movie made by deaf children to help people who can hear understand what life is like for them that I realised deaf people are inspirational and truly lovely and positive people.
I then reached out to deaf people using social media and read some of their stories. I was especially touched by a piece written by Christina Hartmann. She describes a world of deafness that has shaped her life into something quite beautiful and personal. Her world is clearly hers and hers alone to cherish and enjoy. She wrote:
“Make no mistake: my deafness was no curse. It shaped my perspective of the world, and I’m glad for it. For me, deafness opened up new worlds, rather than the other way around”.
I encourage you to find Christina’s personal account called ‘What it is like to be deaf from birth’.
What are the challenges facing authors of historical novels?
First and foremost, Anachronisms. If you have never heard of this very wicked word, the best way to explain it is by giving you an example of my own close call- in Full Circle- A Duke Lost, the Duke’s best friend, Michael, is having a full-on rant about the major mistake the Duke will be making if he marries Anna. Michael goes on to say:
“Don’t do it man. Every eligible beauty between here and London is ready to be set before you to be savoured and selected, each and every one resplendent in this season’s finery and primed to please. The one you are hell bent on has baggage, a heaping pile of baggage the size of the Matterhorn.”
Originally, this read “a heaping pile of baggage the size of the Kilimanjaro.”
Fortunately, my editor, Jacqui, is not only a linguist extraordinaire, but an English history enthusiast and she knew that Mount Kilimanjaro would not have been well-known during the period Full Circle is set in. She also uses Census information to research the names I use for characters to ensure they are ‘period appropriate’. Perhaps the moral of the story is that behind every good author is a ‘Jacqui’.
This leads onto the next set of challenges:
Historical accuracy vs. the use of creative license (where would a romance novel be without creative license… snooze fest!).
Too many descriptive paragraphs vs. too few (how much is too much, how little is too few?) and then, my arch-nemesis,
To use the Queen’s English or something a little more universal (I vote for “ma’am” as in “farm”, and not “ma’am” as in “jam”, but this is apparently not everyone’s cup of tea!)
Which writers have inspired you as an author?
I first read Pride and Prejudice as a teen. Now, you may not be surprised by this, after all, Jane Austen is probably many, many people’s first waltz with period romance. But South African teen’s are no ordinary teens, not those born in the ‘70’s anyway. I had a very sheltered life. My idea of a good man was one who worked hard, mowed the lawn on a weekend, knew how to ‘braai’ (barbecue) and at some point in his life had played rugby. Needless to say Mr. Darcy, made my pulse race.
After that I couldn’t get enough of period books. Although Pride and Prejudice will always have a special place in my heart, Forest Lovers by Maurice Hewlett is my absolute favourite. Set in the medieval times in a dream world, Maurice Hewlett describes an awe-inspiring love.
What are you working on now?
‘Hedgerows & the Imperious Duke’ is a period novel that tells the story of two unique people: Shael Nathan Averay, 11th Duke of Stanthorpe, born to wealth and expectation. However, he is no ordinary member of the aristocracy and is prone to extreme peculiarities which are not tolerated amongst the ton. He doesn’t blame anyone for detesting his company; he feels the same way about himself. Although alone and absolute, self-pity is just not part of his vocabulary. In fact, he feels little for anyone. He knows he is a monster.
The Duke resigns himself to the life of a recluse. But he does not take into account the fifth and youngest of the girls he has earmarked to be the future wives of his brothers- Nelle- an untamed, playful and nature-loving sprite who makes it her personal mission to show the Duke a life previously unknown to him. Unexpectedly, Nelle’s life is not what it appears to be on the surface and the Duke’s poor social skills, joined with his insular nature, means that he fails to recognise a kindred, suffering soul. Will he be in time to save her?
Well, you will have to read the book! But, I can tell you this, these star-crossed lovers make my tummy turn and their cruel circumstance made my editor extraordinaire cry…
What would you like readers to know about you?
I suppose I could tell you that which you could read on any of my networking site (trained social worker, studied psychology, love my family, love my dogs, love England), but instead, I will tell you a few select things that will help you understand why I can write about adversity:
~ I am convinced I can feel my eyebrows growing, like aliens on my face. I have Googled this phenomenon and can’t find anyone like me. It doesn’t feel good to be different.
~ I am obsessive about clean and clear surfaces. Order and control are biggies for me. I understand that feeling vulnerable can make you feel a little doolally.
~ I had very bad early childhood experiences. I know what it is like to feel ‘little’ in a very big world.
~ I believe Lattes are a key source of essential nutrients.
Where can readers find out more or contact you?
Where can readers buy your book?
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Full-Circle-Duke-Nicci-Mayne-x/dp/1515271269/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452808804&sr=8-1&keywords=nicci+mayne
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B011Z3UZF0?*Version*=1&*entries*=0
Thank you for stopping by, Nicci. It was a pleasure getting to know you better.