Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall Chapter One #BookLaunch #Histfic #JaneEyreSequel

Chapter 1 – Abodes of Horror

Grimsby Retreat, 16th December 1867

Jane

Please, Lord, do not let me lose my mind in this dreadful place. Help me preserve my sanity. I must return to Michael and Helen at Eyre Hall. I have been removed to this terrifying house in a fraudulent manner, deprived of my freedom, and caged in an infernal cave like an animal.

I was dragged to this disturbing place and ensnared in a cage twelve nights ago by a group of armed men who barged into Eyre Hall while I was alone. I resisted, but they forced me into a carriage and brought me here in the dead of night. I do not know where I am, except that it is over four hours’ drive from home.

I have been maliciously confined, and even if I managed to escape, I do not know in which direction I should flee. There are thick woods to the north, east and west, and I have no idea what lies to the south, as I have not yet seen that part of the house or grounds. Although I have only been here for a short time, my captivity is already proving unbearable.

My first days were distressing. I was not allowed to wash or wear clean clothes. They said they were waiting for my trunk, but I told them I did not want a trunk, because I wanted to go home, and they brought me a grey flannel dress, which was so long that the skirt dragged along the floor and so coarse that it scraped my skin like sandpaper.

When I asked Mrs Mills, the person who seems to be in charge of us, if I could wash, she laughed and said the showers were only for those who caused trouble. I was given a basin and some cold water; no soap or ointments. My face was dry and my lips were parched, so I asked for the toiletries I was accustomed to using, and that was when I discovered where I was. Mrs Mills laughed again and told me it was not a guesthouse, but an asylum for the mentally insane.

I was shocked when I heard the sinister nature of my abode of horror. Why had I been removed to this mansion of despair? Could it be a nightmare conjured up by my wondering mind? How could I suddenly find myself in this sea of misery and madness?

My first visitor had been a tall, angular man with a sallow face and weary eyes who said his name was Dr Stevens.

“Where is Dr Carter? He is my doctor.”

He made some notes in a worn notebook and sighed. “I am a special doctor for people who have your particular type of malady, madam.”

“Thank you for your visit, Doctor, but I assure you I am not ill. However, I am missing my home and my family.”

He looked up with a brief smile which didn’t reach his eyes. “We can start there to ascertain your health. Who exactly are you missing?”

“Michael, my betrothed, and Helen, my daughter. I miss them terribly.” I used the damp handkerchief in my hands to wipe away fresh tears, but I breathed in deeply and made sure I kept my composure.

 He pursed his lips and wrote more words in his notebook. “Fabrications, madam.”

“I don’t understand, Doctor.”

He left his pen on the table beside his notebook and looked at me as if I were a poor beggar who had asked for a morsel to eat. 

“The man you mentioned, Michael Kirkpatrick, I believe is a servant who was once in your employ but is now a convict.”

“That is not possible. What has he been convicted of?”

“Theft and assault. Before his departure, he stole belongings from Eyre Hall and he assaulted you.”

“You must be mistaken. Michael and I will be married on Christmas Eve.”

“You are a widow, and you cannot remarry without your son’s consent, madam, and in your present condition, he cannot agree to such madness.”

I realised this doctor would not help me, so I did not argue. When I left this dreadful place, I would speak to John and clear Michael’s name.

“And where is Helen?”

He looked at his notes. “Yes, Helen. She is a servant at Eyre Hall, the same as Michael. They have both conspired to rob you of your reason, and it seems they have succeeded. You have only one son and his name is John Rochester.”

A throbbing at the back of my head spread to my temples and forehead as I tried to make sense of his words. It was a nightmare, and I had to wake up. I flew to the small window and grabbed the iron bars; they seemed real, but this could not be happening. I needed to get out of this terrifying place. 

“Dr Stevens, I need to go home.”

“You cannot leave here until you admit that it has all been a fabrication of your feeble mind, Mrs Mason. Michael is a servant who seduced you, robbed and attacked you, and Helen is another servant’s daughter who you have imagined is the stillborn child you lost ten years ago. The sooner you admit it, the earlier you will leave.”

Someone must have given him this false information. I had to find out who was behind this conspiracy. “May I ask you who has informed you of this?”

“Archbishop Templar has always taken an interest in Grimsby Retreat, where you are now staying. Your son has asked him to take care of you and his late father’s estate in his absence until he returns from his visit to America.”

Was it possible that the archbishop had fabricated the lies and convinced these people that I was a madwoman? What was his purpose in confining me and imprisoning Michael? I could not yet fathom the answers to these questions. But it would seem the bishop had become our worst enemy.  

“Where is John? When can I see him?”

“In due time, when you are recovered. We will take good care of you, Mrs Mason. Your confusion is understandable. You have lost two husbands in just over a year, your only son left home, your miscarriages and stillborn child have added to your sorrow.” He patted my hand and smiled. “But worry not; we will take good care of you.”

I raised my hands to my hair and felt for my hairpins. I knew Michael was as real as the little silver butterflies with crystal pendants I was wearing. They were his favourite. I stroked the long pin which, being firmly fixed and covered by my dishevelled hair, had not been removed. I imagined that as long as I could feel it, Michael would find me. I smiled demurely at the foolish doctor and thanked him kindly. What else could I do while I prayed Michael and Helen were safe?

The following days merged into endless hours of misery. The house grew colder and gloomier every minute. In the mornings we had breakfast in a large hall where there was a small fire covered by a huge grate, insufficient to heat the chill room. Porridge, gritty brown bread and tea were passed around the long table. I drank the tea but hardly touched the food. Dinner was tasteless and tough, stewed meat and soggy boiled vegetables which did little to encourage my waning appetite.

I was required to spend the mornings in the icy room with the other residents on my floor. There was nothing in the behaviour of these women to suggest that they were any more unstable than I was. They were all well-dressed and reasonably groomed, although they moved with heavy feet and cautious eyes, which I supposed was due to our bleak surroundings and Mrs Mills’ bad temper.

There were six other ladies on my floor. Mrs Pengilly was a quiet, elderly lady who told me she had been admitted by her husband to mend her nerves. She liked to sit by the fireplace with Miss Short, a stout, middle-aged spinster whose father was worried about her habit of reading and eating too much. Miss Fowler was a tall young lady with bulging eyes who spoke in a loud voice with a Scottish accent; she sat alone in a corner reading one of the tattered copies of the Bible from the sparse bookshelves. Mrs Black was a widow who was usually found knitting by the window. She told me her brother brought her here every year in December and January, because she refused to take part in the Christmas celebrations. Miss Craft, a fine-looking and smartly-dressed woman, rarely spoke. She occasionally played the out-of-tune piano in the corner. A young girl called Katy, who refused to eat or speak, drew pencil sketches of angels and demons. I had seen no one else, but I knew there were more prisoners on the other floors, because I heard their cries at night and fits of demoniac laughter echoing from below during the day. 

As one monotonous day rolled into another, I began to sink into despair. I felt as if I had been buried alive, unable to eat or sleep, until I realised that these first days had been a holiday. Chaos was about to send Satan on his way to ruin me. I prayed Michael would find me soon, or I would die in this godforsaken inferno.

One morning when I heard Katy crying, I approached her and asked if she would like to talk to me about what ailed her, but she shook her head fiercely. “Be quiet. Don’t tell anyone,” she chanted.

That evening, I heard sobs coming from Katy’s room, which was across the hall from mine. I jumped out of bed and listened behind my door, which was locked on the outside. I heard her feet dragging along the floor. “Not to the shed, please,” she said, and a man’s voice answered, “Be quiet. You know the rules.” I listened to her muffled cries until they ceased. I peered out of my window and waited. Minutes later I heard more cries and saw two figures crossing the garden towards the shed, but it could have been the wind, or wild animals. The noises ceased, and I hoped I had imagined that Katy was in trouble, because there was nothing I could do to help her.   

The following morning, when Katy was not sitting at the breakfast table, I asked Mrs Mills if she was unwell.

“Unwell? Not at all. She has been discharged. Her parents took her back home yesterday evening.”

Miss Craft raised her hands and moved her fingers in the air, playing an imaginary piano. “That’s good news,” she said and dropped her hands back to her lap.

“I’ll miss her,” said Miss Pengilly, and Miss Short nodded.

Miss Fowler’s terrified eyes glanced at Mrs Black, who shot up, knocking her chair to the floor. “She didn’t say goodbye. She should have said goodbye. I knitted her a scarf. She was my friend. Friends say goodbye when they leave!” 

Mrs Mills made eye contact with each one of us before speaking. “Silence, or I shall call Dr Stewart. He will not be pleased.” She paused, stabbing me with her eyes. “I had not realised you were such a troublemaker, Mrs Mason. You will stay in your room until further notice.”

The following days were short and gloomy, merging into one long night. I watched the motion of the moon glide under the clouds, and I imagined I saw a shadow in the grounds. I whispered Michael’s name and cried bitterly; little did I know that the real inferno was about to begin.

It started with a knock on my door one stormy afternoon some days after Katy’s mysterious disappearance. I had found a worn copy of David Copperfield and took pleasure in stroking its weathered pages, for I had trouble focusing on the words. Bitter tears spilled from my eyes, smearing the ink, as I remembered my conversations with Mr Dickens at Eyre Hall. 

“May I intrude, Jane Eyre?”

I jumped out of my chair and turned abruptly, surprised to hear my maiden name in a voice I did not recall. Neither did I recognise the large, overfed body or bulging blue eyes which stared back at me.

“Good afternoon, sir. Are we acquainted?”

“You do not remember me?”

I would not have forgotten his bulging reptilian eyes, which did not blink. “I’m afraid not, but please sit down. It is not often I have company, sir.”

I waved towards a rickety chair by the writing desk and sat down again myself. My visitor nodded and obliged. His corpulent presence and repulsive odour filled the tiny room. I coughed and held my handkerchief to my nose.

“I hope you are comfortable here, Jane Eyre, for that is your name, is it not?”

“I am Mrs Mason at present.” I wanted to tell him that soon I would be Mrs Kirkpatrick, but I remembered the doctor’s words. “My husband died over a year ago.”

“You were once called Mrs Rochester, I believe?”

“Yes, Mr Rochester died over two years ago. Did you know my husband, Mr—?”

“Yes, I met both your husbands, madam. Mr Rochester and Mr Mason both employed my mother’s services at Thornfield Hall. Do you not remember me? My name is Poole, Mr Daniel Poole.”

I looked at him more carefully. His veined cheeks, bushy grey eyebrows and fuzzy beard suggested he was Richard’s age. I tried to imagine what he might have looked like twenty years earlier, but no one came to mind.

“I’m afraid I cannot recall having seen you at Thornfield Hall, Mr Poole.”

“I visited my mother on one occasion. You were the governess at that time.”

“Poole?” Could Grace Poole, Bertha’s drunken keeper, be this man’s mother? I was reminded of a grim, unfriendly woman with a prim cap perched on her large head and a coarse, gloomy face, wearing a brown stuff dress and white apron. Mrs Poole had spent most of her time in a low-ceilinged, oaken chamber on the second storey of Thornfield Hall, where she sat and sewed, and drank port, gin, or whatever spirits were available.

I jumped out of my chair at once. “You are Grace Poole’s son?”

“The very same. I was already employed at Grimsby Retreat, but of course, you wouldn’t remember the likes of me. You were too busy enticing the master of the house, weren’t you?”

“What do you mean?”

“Funny isn’t it, how the wheels of fortune turn unexpectedly? You were a quaint little thing. An ethereal waif, tantalising all the men in sight.”

I trembled in the realisation that he had not come as a friend.

“You wouldn’t have noticed me then, would you? I wasn’t good enough for you, was I? Answer me.” His eyes bulged even more as he leaned towards me.

“I’m afraid I have no recollection of your visit to Thornfield Hall, Mr Poole.”

“Well, it so happens I’m the superintendent at Grimsby Retreat, where you are presently in residence. Your stay here is in my hands. I’ll have you know I’m not a rancorous man at all. I’ll forget how you ignored me and demeaned my mother with your haughty airs, and I am prepared to make your stay here much more pleasant.”

He held out his hand, but I recoiled. “Come, Mrs Mason, don’t be shy. I mean you no harm. Let us take a walk. I want to show you the rest of the retreat.”

I had no choice. I was trapped between a thick wall and a grated window behind me, and a massive man with a repulsive grin before me. He crushed my hand in his fat, sweaty palm.

“Your hand is cold, Jane. Come.” He pulled me towards the door. “You don’t mind if I call you Jane now, do you? I’ll show you to your new rooms. You’ll be much more comfortable there.” 

 I had to run to keep up with his long strides as he dragged me across the main hall and up a winding staircase to another floor.

“These are the best rooms, reserved for our special guests. I also live here with my wife. Fortunately, Mrs Poole is unwell.” He smiled, revealing uneven grey teeth. “She won’t bother us.”

Despite the blazing flames and well-furnished room, I shivered, as if ice water were trickling down my spine.

“You’re cold. Don’t stand in the doorway, Jane. Come inside. This will be your room from now on. I want you to write a list of the food you like to eat, and the clothes and other personal items you’d like to have.”

“Why?” I whispered.

“Isn’t it obvious? I’ll look after you while you’re here and, in return, you’ll be my mistress.”

I held my breath. “Why?” I repeated, trying to make sense of this bizarre situation.

“Because I want you, and I am in a position to have you.”

“I’d like to return to my room, please.” I tried to sound assertive, but my voice was unsteady.

“There is no going back, I’m afraid. You will stay here and oblige me. You’ll find I’m easy to please.” He took my limp hand and pressed it to his mouth. The room swirled like a tornado, sucking me into its twisting eye.

When I woke up, I was in my new bed and the doctor was taking my pulse. “You must eat, Mrs Mason, or you will make yourself ill. Do you want to be force-fed?”

He showed me a long tube and motioned it towards my mouth. I shook my head energetically.

“Then you must eat everything on the tray before Mr Poole returns. There is nothing else physically wrong with you.”

The food on the tray, cheese, cold meat, and fruit, would have looked appealing in any other place, but my lips felt as if they were glued together. I managed to pull them apart to speak to the doctor.

“Could I see my son or Archbishop Templar, please?”

“No visitors are allowed for the moment.”

“When can I have visitors?”

“Perhaps in the spring, when you’re feeling better.”

I asked for a Bible. I was anxious to re-read the Gospel according to St Matthew in the hope that it would give me the strength to endure Poole’s designs on me as our Lord had suffered on the cross. Why had I been forsaken?   

The Bible gave me little comfort. I cried for the wretched treatment I was enduring and wished for a quick death instead of the slow poisoning awaiting me. I remembered Michael’s words. “No one will keep us apart,” he had promised. I closed my eyes and recalled the joyful moments we had experienced a few months earlier.

**** The End of Chapter One ****

Thunder Moon will be priced at $0,99 until 5th November, so grab you copy now!

By the way, did I tell you I’ve gone wide? That means Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall is available at most international retailers find yours by following this link:

Happy Reading!

#BookLaunch Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall #4 The Eyre Hall Series #Histfic #JaneEyreSequel

Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall is the darkest novel in The Eyre Hall Series, but it also has many exciting, nerve-wracking, and romantic scenes.

Jane and Michael are kidnapped, deprived of their freedom, and forced to escape as outlaws with false identities, for six months.

Fortunately, matters improve in the second half of the novel, although there will be major and surprising changes at Eyre Hall and in the lives of all the main characters.

Readers will witness more lies, betrayal and the revelation of family secrets dating back to the ever-present attic at Thornfield Hall.

Some new, surprising, and engaging characters will appear to become part of the permanent characters in the series. There will be wedding bells, a new and endearing romance, as well as unexpected heartache.

As always, there will be a death, including Mr Isaac das Junot’s unnerving presence and alarming predictions.

Readers who have read the first three novels will not be disappointed in this thrilling, gothic romance and fourth installment to The Eyre Hall Series.

What? You haven’t read Blood Moon, All Hallows and Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall yet?

No worries! I have a fabulous plan for you!

The Eyre Hall Series Volume One, which includes the first three novels plus the novella Resurgam Book #0.5, is available for preorder and will be published on 28th October at a very special price, all four novels in the box set for $2.99!

So there’s no excuse not to binge read them all! Almost 1000 pages of adventure, romance, mystery and gothic thrills set in Victorian England (with a few short trips to colonial Jamaica).

If you have as much fun and angst as I had writing the series, you will be well and truly thrilled to bits! Go on, indulge!

By the way, did I tell you I’ve gone wide? That means Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall is available at most international retailers if you follow this link:

And if you want to preorder Volume One of The Eyre Hall Series, here’s the link:

Happy Wednesday and Happy Reading!

The view from my back garden a few hours ago, this evening. A treat fro my eyes!

Why I wrote #Resurgam: An Eyre Hall Series #Novella inspired by Helen Burns’ Death in #Jane Eyre

I am sure I was not the only impressionable teenager who read chapter IX of Jane Eyre and was haunted forever by Charlotte Bronte’s description of Helen Burns’ death in Jane Eyre’s arms, where Helen’s corpse rested, nestled with Jane until the following morning.

Helen Burns was Jane Eyre’s best friend at Lowood Institution for Orphans, where Jane spent seven years as a student and two as a teacher. Helen supported Jane through the public humiliations Mr Brocklehurst imposed on her, and helped a non-conformist Jane to understand and adapt to the teachers and routine at Lowood. In case you don’t remember, you can read a flash fiction summary of chapter VIII, in which their friendship is explained, and chapter IX, which deals with Helen’s death.

Chapter IX ends with a few brief lines about Helen’s burial in an unknown mass grave. Forty girls, half of the pupils at Lowood, died of typhus that summer. As most of the girls were orphans, few of them had families, and those who did could not afford to pay for a headstone.

Resurgam is dedicated to my grandmother, Rafaela Fernandez, whom I never met because she was killed in an air raid in August 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, and buried anonymously in a mass grave. My mother, who was seven at the time, was sitting on her lap. Miraculously, she survived.

No doubt that is why I was especially sensitive to Helen’s death and anonymous mass burial. When I decided to write an Eyre Hall Series Novella, Helen’s death scene, her anonymous mass grave, and the word Resurgam were constantly on my mind.

In Jane Eyre, Jane tells her Dear Reader, that she returned to the cemetery fifteen years later, when she was married to Mr Rochester and had a son, to lay a headstone on her friend’s grave with the word, Resurgam.

Why Resurgam? Resurgam is Latin for “I shall rise again.” It is found in the Bible referred to the resurrection of Christ on the third day. Helen was fervently religious, and stoically accepted her death. Helen also influenced Jane’s religious beliefs and faith in God, especially regarding life after death, which Jane firmly believed in. Her faith was the reason why she wanted her friend to have a headstone to remind everyone who saw it that they would rise again after death.

I wrote Resurgam to capture the moment Jane returned to Brocklebridge cemetery and erected Helen’s headstone. The plot explores the reasons Jane did so at that precise moment, and how the event came about. The novella delves into the themes of friendship, honouring our past and our deceased friends and relatives, as well as love, marriage, motherhood and social concerns.

Naturally I reimagined Jane, some years into her marriage, with her young son, John Eyre Rochester, while she was living at Eyre Hall, the house she built on the site of Thornfield Hall, with her uncle John Eyre’s inheritance.

Readers of Resurgam will see how the Rochesters’ marriage developed over the years and the way in which Jane adapted to her new life as the wife of the wealthy owner of the Rochester estate, as well as the reasons and way in which the word Resurgam finds its way to Brocklebridge Church graveyard.

Writing Resurgam was cathartic for me and my Jane Eyre. It was written at a challenging time, which led to a personal reflection about the life we lead, the dreams we achieve, and the people and life we leave behind, because we can’t have it all, or can we?

The events narrated in Resurgam occurred eleven years before Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, Book One of the Eyre Hall Series, so it can be read as a standalone or as a prequel to the series. Some of the main characters of The Eyre Hall Series, such as Michael, Susan, Mrs Leah, John Rochester, Bishop Templar (who is Archdeacon), and Isaac das Junot, appear in this 22,000-word novella. Check out yesterday’s post for the blurb and more information about Resurgam.

If this sounds intriguing, why not preorder here. It’s available on Amazon and other book retailers at a special launch price of one dollar click on the image below.

As always, if you would like a complimentary ARC in exchange for an honest review, just let me know in the comments or sign up for my newsletter by following the link below:

And if you’d like to find out more about The Eyre Hall Series, visit my homepage

#BookLaunch Resurgam: An Eyre Hall Series Novella is available for preorder! To be published on 20th #September

Relive the mystery and magic of Jane Eyre

Nine years after her marriage to Edward Rochester, Jane has everything she ever wished for. She is married to the man she loves and they have a healthy eight-year-old son. They live in a grand new house, Eyre Hall, built on the grounds of Thornfield Hall.

Jane has the family she longed for and all the comforts money can buy, and yet she is discontented.

Mrs Rochester is dissatisfied with her opulent lifestyle, and she is tormented by cryptic nightmares in which Helen, her deceased best friend from Lowood Institution for Orphans, begs Jane for help.

When another friend from Lowood, Mary Anne Wilson, appears unexpectedly at Eyre Hall with distressing news, Jane realises she will not recover her peace of mind, fortitude, and passion unless she finds a way to keep the promise she made to Helen when she was a penniless orphan.

Resurgam is a standalone novella which can be read as a prequel to The Eyre Hall Series. The events narrated take place between 1853 and 1854, eleven years before Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, Book One of The Eyre Hall Series.

If this sounds intriguing, why not preorder here. It’s available on Amazon and other book retailers at a special launch price of one dollar click on the image below.

As always, if you would like a complimentary ARC in exchange for an honest review, just let me know in the comments or sign up for my newsletter by following the link below:

And if you’d like to find out more about The Eyre Hall Series, visit my homepage

Insecure Writers Support Group #IWSG ‘Defining Success as a Writer’ #amwriting #September2021 #BookBlogger

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts, and concerns about our profession. By the way, all writers are invited to join in!

The awesome co-hosts for the September 1 posting of the IWSG are Rebecca Douglass, T. Powell Coltrin @Journaling Woman, Natalie Aguirre, Karen Lynn, and C. Lee McKenzie!

September 1 question – How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

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Defining Success as a Writer

Success as a writer will be unique to each author.

A writer’s perceived success will depend on the goals they set out to achieve as an author in the first place.

In my case, I wanted to publish a sequel to Jane Eyre that would include the premise of the prequel Wide Sargasso Sea, which gave Bertha Antoinetta Mason, the first Mrs Rochester, a voice.

I imagined a daughter, born in the attic at Thornfiled Hall, Annette Mason, who was rejected by Edward Rochester and taken to Jamaica by her uncle Richard Mason.

In Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, Richard Mason returns to the Rochester estate while Mr Rochester is on his death bed. He brings his niece, Annette Mason, who is now twenty-two years old, with him, in order to claim her birthright.

Link to my UK Author page

The Eyre Hall Series (Amazon.com link) is the sequel to Jane Eyre. Especially for readers who love action packed, neo-Victorian romantic thrillers, with gothic mansions, evil villains, unforgettable main characters, lots of drama, and unexpected twists and turns, reminiscent of Victorian novels.

I imagined I would write one novel, then I realised it would be a trilogy, and now it has become The Eyre Hall Series of six novels (four already available for purchase and two more will be published in 2022).

And Resurgam: An Eyre Hall Series Novella will be available for preorder shortly.

My aim in 2013 was to write and successfully publish one novel, which I did, so mission accomplished. But that doesn’t mean I’m satisfied with my writing career in 2021.

Goals are not fixed, they are constantly being revised and expanded.

Now I have new goals, which I haven’t yet achieved, namely to complete my series. I’m fairly confident that by the end of 2022, I will have published the entire Eyre Hall Series,.

I also have plenty of other literary projects underway, such as a A contemporary thriller, which is finished and on the waiting list for a second edit and proofread. I have also started work on another series of non-fiction books called, you guessed it: Rereading Jane Eyre! But more about those future projects in the coming months.

I am determined to present readers with a polished novel, which has a professional cover, is well written, edited and proofread. I cannot expect all readers to like my novels; they are not for everyone, no book is.

My ability to market as an independent author is limited, but reaching international fame and fortune is not my primary goal, as I have my retirement pension and I’m quite shy.

I’m happy to write to my heart’s delight and produce a polished product I enjoyed writing and which I can be proud of. So, as far as I’m concerned, I’m a successful writer!

If you click on the image, you will be taken to my newsletter sign up page. Go ahead, make my day and sign up if you want to get news of special offers, new releases and updates on The Eyre Hall Series and all things related to Jane Eyre.  

Thanks for reading! And I hope you’re having a fabulous Friday and weekend!

Happy Reading and Writing!

Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, Book One in The Eyre Hall Series. #Excerpt Chapter Three: The Last Testament #BookLaunch

WAIT! Contains spoilers!

Do not read if you haven’t read chapter Two published here yesterday!

Chapter Three also takes place at Eyre Hall in July 1865, twenty-two years after Jane Eyre’s marriage to Edward Rochester. As the title suggests, Mr Rochester is signing his last will and testament. In this case, the narrator is Mr Rochester.

CHAPTER 3 – The Last Testament

Mr Rochester

He held out his hand. “Good morning, Mr Rochester. I trust you are in good health after your accident.”

“I’m still alive, for now,” I replied.

“And for many years to come, I hope.”

I wondered if he had forgotten I had called him to draft my last will and testament, or if he was more of an idiot than I had imagined.

“I am without patience, Mr Briggs. Be seated and let us get down to business.”

He sat, squinted, and looked around the room. “Is Master John not in attendance?”

“He’s not expected until tomorrow, but his presence is not required.”

Briggs coughed and wriggled in his chair. “Mr Rochester, I respectfully suggest Master John should be present.”

“My wife will be present. Master John is too young to take on any responsibility at Eyre Hall yet.”

“But Mrs Rochester…” He fumbled with his gold-rimmed eyeglasses and stared at me as if I had grown tusks. “She… I mean…The tenants and the leaseholders will not respect her.”

“Mr Briggs, you have forgotten your place, and you have also forgotten that Eyre Hall is so called in memory of my wife’s uncle, Mr John Eyre, a wealthy wine merchant from Madeira and her benefactor, whom I did not have the pleasure of meeting. My wife generously and wisely invested part of her inheritance in the construction of Eyre Hall. It is thanks to her insistence and desire that Eyre Hall was built on the grounds of Thornfield Hall.”

“Yes, I do recall the transaction, sir. In fact, as you may remember, Mr Eyre appointed me to locate his beloved niece. But that is not the issue, sir. Think of the land, the tenants; what will become of them? Need I remind you that Mrs Rochester, whom I greatly admire, is a woman? Therefore, she does not have enough knowledge to manage an estate.”

“Neither did I, as you well know. Mr Cooper takes care of the finances and you see to the legal matters. What else could she need? Or are you planning to abandon her?”

“Of course not. We will naturally assist Mrs Rochester in anything she requires; I am simply worried it could be too much for her.”

“Nothing is too much for Jane Eyre Rochester. She will have everything she deserves. Eyre Hall will belong to Jane for life. The Rochester Estate will remain in her hands until my son, John Rochester, is thirty, if he has a wife and legitimate heir, or as soon thereafter as the events should occur.”

“I must advise you that your son may not—”

“Did I ask you for your opinion, Mr Briggs?”

He shook his head, whispered, “No, sir,” and avoided my fierce gaze by opening his black leather case and extracting the documents.

“Then keep it to yourself unless I ask for it, which I guarantee you, I will not.”

He placed his brass fountain pen beside the documents and waited for my instructions. I had met plenty of pretentious London solicitors like him, making great effort to look important when travelling to the provinces, but I knew him too well to be fooled. He would sell his soul to the devil for the right price. 

“It is my wish, and although my body is failing me, I am perfectly sound of mind. Write it all down, now. I do not want to wait another minute, or it may be too late. St Peter is impatient.”

“Sir, you exaggerate.”

“Don’t coddle me. I will not live long enough to lose my mind. Call my wife.”

“At once, sir. And we will need two witnesses, I suggest two trustworthy servants. Mrs Leah and Simon, perhaps?”

“Not Leah; it’s none of her business. She’ll find out soon enough. And Simon is a gossip who can’t even read. The others aren’t much wiser.”

He nodded, pursed his lips, and tapped his fingers on the table. “Who do you suggest, sir?”

“Call the sturdy one with wolf’s eyes and his sister, the glum girl who looks like a nun. Bring them and let us get this over with.”

“You mean Michael and Susan?”

“I’m not interested in their names; just bring them.”

Minutes later, the girl walked in behind her brother and lowered her head as if she would turn to stone if she looked at me, but the brother stood tall, with his hands behind his back, his amber eyes on me. He raised his eyebrows defiantly, wondering why I wanted to speak to him. I rarely spoke to any of the servants, except Simon, who had been my valet for years, but I had heard enough about this bold young man to know he was not an idiot like the rest of them.  

“Simon told me you beat a man to an inch of his life because he made unwanted advances to one of our maids at the Rochester Arms. Is that true?”

His brow furrowed. He looked uncomfortable as if he were not proud of what he had done, or perhaps it was not true; Simon tended to exaggerate. Or perhaps he was just surprised by my question. In any case, he should have answered at once. “Well, is it?”

He nodded, pursing his lips. He was not going to volunteer any information, but I was curious, so I asked, “Why?” He clenched his fists in reply, but I was tired of his insolence. “Answer the question.”

“It was one of Mr Raven’s sons, sir. He was drunk, and Beth had not provoked his attentions. I asked him to respect her wishes, and when he ignored my words and Beth’s protests, I made him stop.”

“You made him stop? Old Raven was livid. His son’s vision was impaired for weeks after your battering, not to mention the limp he still sports.”

“I did what I had to do to protect Beth, sir.”

“She’s your sweetheart, is she?”

The fearless youth answered at once. “No, sir. I am not courting.”

“That’s not what Raven told me.”

His sister shot him a sideways glance; she knew her brother contained a beast who could be unleashed if provoked. She was not pretty, but neither was Jane when I met her, and yet she bloomed when she fell in love with me. The girl had intelligent eyes and a quiet strength about her. She was the type that could be taught to warm a man’s bed with fire. I turned back to her brother. “Have you ever had to defend your sister?”

He stood straighter, letting me know he was proud of defending his sister, but then he thought better of his admission, fidgeted, and looked towards the door. He did not want Jane to know, of course; righteous Jane would not like our servants to get involved in pub brawls. Little did she know he got up to a lot more than that.

“Well done. I can’t fault you for looking after your sister,” I said, because a man should defend the women he loves or the women he’s in charge of protecting.

“When I’m gone, you are to look after Mrs Rochester as if she were your sister; nobody is to take what is hers or molest her, do you hear me?”

His brow furrowed, and he nodded. Briggs was right; it was not easy for a woman to be respected in these parts, and Jane would be on her own. John was too youthful, coddled, and inexperienced to be of help, but this stealthy young man who had felt the pang of hunger and the fury of anger, he would do the job.

“John told me you carried him home, all the way from the Arms, after a problem with an unruly client.” He knitted his eyebrows, but his fierce gaze did not falter. “Yes, I found out, although John did not disclose the event.” The boy opened his mouth to speak but closed it again. He was hot-tempered, but not foolish. He knew it was not his place to question the master of the house. “And then you called Dr Carter, and you made sure his mother never found out about it.”

His sister did not know either. Her eyes widened, and she shot her brother a worried look. He glanced her way and then nodded, looking at me directly in the eyes. He was obedient, fearless, and astute, an excellent combination for a loyal servant.

“Look after John, too. Jane trusts you, and she is an excellent judge of character, so I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, despite your audacious behaviour.” He blushed like a debutante and lowered his head in acknowledgement. “Give me your word that I can count on you to protect them.”

“You have my word, sir.”

“And you better keep it, or I’ll come back from hell and curse you till the day you die.”

“I give you my word that no one will harm Mrs Rochester or Master John while I’m employed at Eyre Hall.”

I lifted my cane towards Briggs. I needed to ensure the boy would stay at Eyre Hall for the foreseeable future.

“Tell Cooper to double his salary and secure it for the next ten years.”

Briggs nodded and made a note in his ledger.

The lad looked older and sturdier than John, too young to have many vices, but old enough to go to war. “How old are you?” I asked him.

“Twenty-five next month, sir.”

“You’re old enough to marry. Have you set your eyes on someone?”

“I’m not planning on marrying, sir. Not until my sister finds a position or marries.”

“Jane tells me your sister is apprenticed to the parish schoolteacher. She is a clever girl, and she’s not unpleasant to look at. Do not let her marry below her station. And keep away from Mrs Rossett, both of you. She’s a troublemaker.”

“Yes, sir.”

His sister turned to leave. “You wait here,” I said, and her face paled, but I was too sick to carry out what she thought I required. I might have desired her tender flesh once upon a time. She reminded me of the plain, meek Jane I had met twenty-three years ago, but my body was too wasted now. “Stay. You are both to be witnesses of my last will and testament.”

Their eyes widened, but they remained as still as two gate posts.   

Mr Rochester is aware that Jane will need help from loyal servants and he has identified Michael as her guardian

 I turned to Briggs. “And where the devil is Jane?”

She walked in and strode to my side, placing her hand on my shoulder and glancing at the two servants in surprise. “Is everything all right, Edward?”

I squeezed her hand. “It is now that you’re here. Let us begin, Mr Briggs. Read out the testament you have written per my instructions.”

“Edward?”

“It is time, Jane. I want everything to be in order as soon as possible.”

 “Edward, shouldn’t we discuss—”

“Do not interrupt me.” The footman’s head jerked towards me, and I realised my words had been too harsh. “Because if you do, my darling, I will lose my nerve and my concentration. I am feeling stronger today, but I know this will not last, and I want everything to be in order before I leave. Do you understand, Jane?”

She nodded and sat beside me, covering her mouth with an embroidered handkerchief. I waved my cane at Briggs. “Read it!”

I watched them listen carefully as Briggs read my will and then presented the siblings with his pen so they could sign.

“Jane, find Susan a husband and her brother a wife.” She nodded, and I turned to them again. “Make sure you marry your equal, as I did. The man or woman who matches your wit and intelligence, who will adapt to your way of life and accept you as you are, with all your faults, because our virtues are easy to tolerate.”

The girl looked at her brother, who bowed and spoke. “Yes, sir. Thank you for your advice, sir.” 

I didn’t like his tone, but I was in no mood to argue, and they had served their purpose. I waved towards the door. “You may return to your chores.”

The girl said, “Thank you, sir,” curtseyed, and spun towards the door, but her brother had the gall to ignore my words and turn to Jane.

“Mrs Rochester, is there anything you require?” I disliked his insolence, but it pleased me that he would be loyal to Jane over anyone else, including the present master of the house.

When she seemed too upset to reply, he insisted, “Shall I bring some tea to the drawing room?”

She composed herself, smiled and spoke at last. “Thank you, Michael.” It was a lovely smile, one that she had not bestowed on me for months, perhaps even years. She was right not to; I did not deserve her kindness. “I’ll be there shortly,” she added, and he followed his sister out.

“Jane, you are to be strong. John needs you, and you will have to run the estate single-handedly; he is not prepared yet. Mr Cooper is trustworthy. You can depend on him, but as with any employee, he must know you are his employer. He will respect you and answer to you. Have you gone through the books with him as I asked you?”

She nodded and glanced at Briggs. “There are some expenses I don’t understand. The payments to Jamaica, and others to…” she paused. I knew she must have seen the sums I had been sending to the convent in Spanish Town and London.

“You heard me tell Cooper yesterday they were to be discontinued, did you not?”

“Yes, I did, but I would like to know the subject and reason for the transactions.”

“They are old debts and burdens which have been amply paid. You are not required to carry any of them; that is all you need to know.”   

The less she knew, the better. There was no point in displeasing her by opening old wounds. The past was dead and gone. I would soon be relegated to her memory, and I did not want her to know all the reasons she should not have loved me. I could at least be a better man in her recollections. 

“Jane, you were too good for me. I never deserved you. I should have treasured you more, but I could not change my nature. You have been the love of my life, and if I did not love you more, it was because I was not capable of it, not because you did not deserve it. You are dearer to me than anyone has ever been, including my son. I have been a fortunate man to have had you by my side all these years. I am not proud of all my deeds; unfortunately, they cannot be undone, but I ask for your forgiveness.”

She was not angry or upset by my words, but she did not smile. Her face was calm, as if she had known a storm was coming and was taking refuge in a house on a cliff, watching the raging waves from afar.

“There is nothing to forgive that I have not already forgiven.

“There may be grievances you are not aware of and yet you must forgive them too.”

“Edward, I cannot forgive that which is unknown to me.”

“You would have me die in torment?”

“Of course not; I have nothing to reproach you.”

I wanted to tell her she was wrong; I needed her pardon, but she withheld her absolution. “Edward, I am tired. Simon will take you to your room and serve your dinner.” She dropped a chaste kiss on my forehead and left without waiting for my response. I never expected Jane to be so cruel, not after offering her my sincere repentance.

Why couldn’t she do as I asked and forgive all my sins, including the ones I had not confessed? If she understood I was trying to avoid the heavy burden she would have to carry if I told her everything, she would not deny me her forgiveness.

If you’d like to know more about Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, check out these three posts:

What Happened after Jane Eyre Married Mr Rochester?

Blood Moon at Eyre Hall Two Days to Launch

The Prequel which Inspired the Sequel to Jane Eyre

Blood Moon will be published on Amazon tomorrow, 22 August. Here’s the International link in case you’d like to check it out.

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Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (1966), The Prequel which inspired the Sequel to Jane Eyre: The Eyre Hall Series

I would never have written The Eyre Hall Series if I had not read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (I was about fourteen the first time I read it). Many of the characters and events in The Eyre Hall Series were inspired by Jane Eyre, however my main inspiration for writing The Eyre Hall Series was Wide Sargasso Sea, the prequel to Jane Eyre, written by Jean Rhys in 1966 (I read WSS, many years after JE, when I was over forty, at the suggestion of my friend and colleague, Anne Gerd Petersen).

Check out my review on Goodreads

Wide Sargasso Sea tells us Bertha Antoinetta Mason’s story from her childhood in Jamaica to her tragic death at Thornfield Hall. It was Ms Rhys’s retelling of ‘the madwoman in the attic’s’ story which inspired my unique character, and one of the protagonists of The Eyre Hall Series: Annette Mason.

Annette is Jane’s antagonist in Blood Moon at Eyre Hall. She is the child who was born in the attic to Bertha Mason, rejected by Edward Rochester, and surreptitiously removed by her uncle, Richard Mason, to a convent in Jamaica.

The Eyre Hall Series would not exist without Annette Mason. Annette was inspired by Jane Eyre (Jane dreams she hears a baby in Jane Eyre, more information below), and created as a tribute to Bertha Antoinette Mason, a wealthy Creole heiress who was used and abused by Edward Rochester in both Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea. (Read my post about The Madwoman in the Attic here).

“But there was no baby in the attic in Jane Eyre,” you may say.

Only Grace Poole, Edward Rochester and Richard Mason knew what was happening, or who was in the attic for ten years, and none of them was a reliable narrator. The baby was not there the day Mr Rochester opened the attic and showed Jane Eyre, the Vicar and the solicitor who was inside, but that doesn’t mean the baby hadn’t been there at some point during the previous years.

There are two scenes in Jane Eyre in which Jane dreams of a baby and hears its cries while she is sleeping directly under the attic at Thornfield Hall.

Chapter XXI of Jane Eyre, starts like this:

Presentiments are strange things! And so are sympathies; and so are signs; and the three combined make one mystery to which humanity has not yet found the key.

Jane then tells the reader about her dream:

The past week scarcely a night had gone over my couch that had not brought with it a dream of an infant, which I sometimes hushed in my arms, sometimes dandled on my knee, sometimes watched playing with daisies on a lawn, or again, dabbling its hands in running water. It was a wailing child this night, and a laughing one the next: now it nestled close to me, and now it ran from me; but whatever mood the apparition evinced, whatever aspect it wore, it failed not for seven successive nights to meet me the moment I entered the land of slumber.

And in the following paragraph:

It was from companionship with this baby-phantom I had been roused on that moonlit night when I heard the cry; and it was on the afternoon of the day following I was summoned downstairs by a message that someone wanted me in Mrs. Fairfax’s room.

This does not mean there was a baby in the attic. In fact, Jane attributes the dream to her childhood, but then, Jane has no idea what is going on in the attic, does she?

Jane’s dream also means that my imagining of the baby in the attic is not a feverish or absurd delusion. The baby is a result of reading between the lines of Jane Eyre. It is an account of what could have occurred in that attic, where the first Mrs Rochester was held prisoner for ten years, while her husband was away most of the time, galavanting with mistresses in the continent.

When I started writing the Eyre Hall Series in 2013, I had four characters in mind. Three first appeared in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea, namely, Jane Eyre, Edward Rochester, and Richard Mason. The fourth belongs to my imagination: Annette Mason.

Annette Mason is meant to be a tribute to her mother, Bertha Antoinetta Mason. Her uncle, Richard Mason, has brought Annette to Eyre Hall for his own devious purposes, but from this author’s point of view, Annette has come to reinstate and vindicate her mother and face her mother’s rival: Jane Eyre Rochester. How will Jane react to Annette’s arrival, twenty-two years after her marriage to Edward Rochester? Well, you’ll have to read The Eyre Hall Series to find out!

Why not start with Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, Book One, and see if it’s for you?

You can read the first chapter on this blog post:

Find out more about Blood Moon at Eyre Hall here:

International link to Blood Moon at Eyre Hall here

Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, Book One The Eyre Hall Series. #Excerpt Chapter Two: Earthly Matters #BookLaunch #HistFic

WAIT! Contains spoilers!

Do not read if you haven’t read chapter One, published here yesterday!

Chapter Two also takes place at Eyre Hall and the surrounding land in July 1865, twenty-two years after Jane Eyre’s marriage to Edward Rochester. Her husband has suffered an attack while they were walking in the grounds and they have returned to Eyre Hall and called the doctor. The narrator is Jane.

CHAPTER 2 – Earthly Matters

Jane

Michael called Simon as soon as we arrived and instructed him to take Edward to his room, wash his muddy wounds, change his clothes, and put him to bed. Then he told Beth to call Adele and Christy to bring hot tea and led me to the drawing room. I was shivering, despite the woollen cloak. Michael suggested I sit by the fire. I nodded, too shocked to speak. Edward’s face had looked as grey as a corpse’s, and his hands had felt as cold as death. Perhaps he had died, and I had not noticed.

“Michael, how is Edward?”

“Mr Rochester will recover.” But Michael’s intense stare did not appease my distressed thoughts.

“Why are you still here? Please fetch Dr Carter.”

“I’ll leave as soon as Miss Adele comes downstairs to join you.”

I was grateful for his loyalty, but my major concern was Edward’s health. “I’m well, Michael,” I said, forcing a smile, because I knew he would not leave me unless I convinced him I had recovered from the shock.

“John must come home as soon as possible.”

He nodded. “I’ll be back with Dr Carter in less than an hour, and then I’ll ride to Millcote to send a telegram to Master John.”

As soon as the door closed, grief crushed my chest like a boulder, and I felt helpless. Minutes later, Adele rushed in fussing as if I had suffered a heart attack. “Adele, I’m well. It is Edward who took another turn.”

“What happened?”

“We were by the lake, and suddenly he clutched his chest, cried out, and lurched so violently that his chair overturned and he fell to the ground.”

She threw her arms around me. “How dreadful, Jane!”

“It was a blessing that Michael arrived so quickly.”

“What was Michael doing by the lake?”

I could not fathom why Michael had been so close by, and then I remembered he had draped the cloak over my shoulders. “He brought my winter cloak. I went out with my summer coat.”

“Well, thank goodness he’s so thoughtful. I hate to think of you alone with Edward, sick on the ground, out on the estate. You wouldn’t have been able to lift him and push him back on your own.”

Adele was right, and I shuddered to think of having been alone when Edward fell. Michael was nothing like the shy lad who had arrived at Eyre Hall nine years earlier. He was sturdy and loyal, like the trees in the orchard. I had grown to depend on him for my life to run smoothly. He brought my meals on time, and he knew what I preferred to eat and drink, he carried out my errands, kindled the fires and drove me wherever I needed to go.  

But he would leave one day, when his sister, Susan, who had been a maid and was now apprenticed at the parish school, found a permanent position, or married. He would marry and find another employment, no doubt in a grander household. He was too clever and resourceful to stay at Eyre Hall forever.

They would all leave me soon, and I should be alone. First Edward, then Michael and finally John, who was already away most of the time at Oxford, or in London, with his fiancée, Elizabeth. He would marry in a few years and maybe find a position in London. Elizabeth’s father, Judge Harwood, a prominent London magistrate, would no doubt endeavour to keep his daughter and future grandchildren close to him.

I would become an old, widowed maid in this empty country house, which should have been full of children, if God had allowed me to have more, at least one more; the little girl I held in my arms for a few minutes before she died and was taken away from me forever. I saw the iron gate to the Rochester crypt inside our church every Sunday, and I never ceased to shed a tear for the innocent body I buried there ten years ago.

Jane is worried about her husband’s death and the loneliness that will follow. She also mourns the loss of her baby daughter.

******

Dr Carter entered the room solemnly, with his navy-blue coat, as always, starched and buttoned, and his medical case firmly gripped in his broad hands.

The doctor was getting old. He walked stiffly and had trouble standing up after he had been seated. His overweight frame no longer had the worthy presence of his youth, but his light-grey hair, grave voice and expression conferred an air of wisdom which led his patients to believe every word he said and follow his instructions to the letter.

“Good day, madam, Miss Adele.” He greeted us both with the tragic tone of the bearer of bad news. I offered him some tea, which he declined, and delivered his medical diagnosis at once.

“Mr Rochester shows the typical signs of apoplexy, a distorted mouth, slurred speech, weakness of the right arm, and pain at the back of the head.”

Adele jumped up from her seat and rushed towards the doctor, who was still standing in the doorway. “How is he? Can we see him?”

“He is stable at the moment. Despite the weakening of the body and paralysis of his left limbs, his breathing is slow but deep and regular, and his heart activity is feeble, but even. I suggest we let him rest and recover.”

Adele grabbed his arm. “But tell us, will he get better? He must get better!”

Dr Carter coughed and retrieved his arm from Adele’s grasp. “When he is able to speak, we may discover that he has some long-term physical damage such as urinary incontinence, inferior vision and hearing, and perhaps impaired memory.”

“But you can cure him, Dr Carter?”

“Adele, please sit down or you will make yourself ill.” I patted the seat next to mine by the hearth, then I turned to the physician. “Please take a seat and tell us how we can help Edward.”

He approached the armchair to our left. “I cannot stay long; Mrs Carter is expecting me for lunch.”

He dropped his case on the floor and sat. “There is no definite cure for this malady, madam. However, periodic bloodletting can help by decreasing blood pressure as can the use of purgatives, and some laudanum for the pain, which may all prolong his life, or at least render it more comfortable. I have instructed Simon to rub his legs with a woollen cloth and some ginger ointment to improve the circulation and to prepare plantain tea twice a day to reduce the inflammation from his head injury. I also suggest several cups of dandelion tea for the bladder and kidneys.”

We sat in a tense silence, pondering over the doctor’s disturbing prognosis. “How long can we expect him to remain with us?”

“It’s hard to say. This episode was far worse than last year’s illness. He is older and weaker. I suggest you call John.”

“Michael is on his way to send him a telegram.”

Dr Carter shook his head. “I doubt he’ll be with us next Christmas.”

Adele cried into her handkerchief, and the doctor continued. “I will visit daily, more than once if needed. I would warn you that nervousness or distress of any kind should be avoided at all costs as it will worsen his weak health and shorten his life. He needs absolute rest. He must no longer engage in any kind of subjective labour.”

And so, we had reached the beginning of the end. Soon Edward would be but another memory of days gone by. His corpse would lie alone in the damp crypt, and I would remain in this empty house until it was my turn to join him.

Dr Carter interrupted my thoughts. “I trust his affairs are in order, madam?”

“Not yet. He has asked to see his accountant and his lawyer as soon as possible.”

“His mind may have softened after the accident. We will have to wait and see when he wakes up. I suggest you postpone their visit for a few days.”

“I can’t bear to see him suffer!” cried Adele, burying her face in her handkerchief. 

“He will not suffer, Miss Adele. He may have difficulty swallowing and breathing, and his pulse will weaken as his blood flows more slowly. He will leave us gradually but painlessly when the time comes.”

Other worries Jane has are the financial and estate matters she will have to deal with after his death.

******

The doctor’s diagnosis had been too pessimistic. A few days later, Edward’s words were slow but clear, and his memory had not been impaired. He insisted I call Mr Cooper and Mr Briggs, because he wanted to make sure all his accounts were in order.

Mr Cooper was a tall, skeletal man with a large head of unruly white hair whose jackets were too long and trousers too short, reminding me of a clown, although he never smiled at all. Simon carried Edward down to the library for his meeting. I was about to leave them to their business when Edward called me back.

“Stay, Jane. You are to supervise all transactions from now on. I have no more interest in earthly matters.”

Edward had asked me to help with the accounts over the last year, so I had become familiar with the procedure. I listened attentively to Edward as he instructed his accountant to prepare for my forthcoming responsibilities.

“You will send one final year’s payment to the following and inform them that all contact will be ceased thereafter.” Edward glanced at me before continuing. “Mr Pickering.”

Mr Cooper’s eyes shot up. “Excuse me, sir, did you say mister?”

Edward interrupted him. “I said Mr Pickering; are you deaf?”

I had seen the unfamiliar names with regular payments. Edward had told me Mr Cooper had mistakenly written Mrs instead of Mister in several entries. I supposed it was another of his lies, but his disloyalty had ceased to trouble me years ago, although Edward kept up appearances in front of his accountant.

“The same for Mr Weston and Mr Heath.”

Mr Cooper’s eyebrows reached his hairline. “Did you say, one year’s annuity, sir?”

“Why do you tire me so? Do not question or interrupt me again, or you will be out of a job, do you hear me?”

Mr Cooper nodded. “Excuse me, sir. I was merely checking the facts. We are dealing with a lot of money.”

“It will be a final payment. Make it known to them that if they ever ask for more, you are to speak to Briggs and he will press charges. Blackmail is a punishable crime and should be reported at once. Blackmailers and other extortionists are punished with seven years’ transportation. They can even be sentenced to death if the victim was threatened with murder.”

“Naturally,” said Cooper, scribbling in his notebook.  

“Also, all rents, club annuities and any other expenses not directly related to Eyre Hall and the Rochester Estate will be discontinued immediately.”

Cooper coughed, wiped his forehead, and shot a sideways glance in my direction before asking, “Sir, the overseas expenses; what is to become of them?”

“Continue with the upkeep for the villa in the south of France and transfer it to Adele. Jane has no interest in it, do you, my love?”

“None.” It was the house he had asked me to travel to after Bertha Mason’s presence in the attic was discovered. He wanted me to live with him in France while his wife remained in the attic. I should have realised then that he would not be a worthy husband, but I was blinded by love. “Adele will be pleased.”

“And the other overseas expenses, sir?”

“The same as the rest; the annuity to mark the end of the agreement.”

“Are you sure, sir?”

Edward raised his cane. “I’m sure you are a deaf and dumb imbecile.”

Cooper held up his hand and moved further away to the other side of the desk. “They have not replied to the letter I sent last month, sir.”

“That is of no concern to me. I do not care for a reply, because I did not ask a question. I merely told you to inform them of the new situation. They have been informed, I trust?”

“Of course, sir. It was sent through the diplomatic dispatch to the governor’s office as you instructed.”

“Excellent. Then it is done. I have no more business with them and neither has my wife. I would like to spare Jane the burden of dealing with any of my unfinished affairs. You will take care of these matters at once, Mr Cooper.”

Edward did not intend to justify, explain or much less be penitent for any of his undisclosed expenses, which I supposed were clandestine; he merely wished to ensure they were terminated before I took over our finances. I did not ask or complain; I had no interest in his London acquaintances or dealings over the last ten years of our marriage. I had chosen to immerse myself in my writing and my involvement in local charities and Sunday schools as well as John, Adele, and the day-to-day running of Eyre Hall.

The first eleven years of our marriage had been like a protracted honeymoon, until the severe breakdown I suffered after my daughter’s death. I dread to remember the abyss I descended into, and I thank my dear cousin Mary and her husband, Reverend Wharton, for helping me recover my sanity during my stay with them in Wales. Unfortunately, by the time I returned, Edward had become restless and impatient at Eyre Hall. His trips to London and visits to acquaintances were frequent, but, in all honesty, I was partly to blame, for I had stopped loving him, and yet, his lies, betrayals, and imminent death still saddened me.

I surreptitiously wiped a tear as they continued to talk about the estate matters I was already familiar with. I felt old and unloved, and yet Edward had met me and found love later in life. Perhaps it was different for men, so free to feel love at any age while we women were constrained to find happiness only in our child-bearing years. I still had my courses, although little did they serve me, for I was barren. I was half a woman who would soon be a solitary widow nobody would ever love again.

We are also made aware of recent difficulties in their marriage. Perhaps Edward went back to his old ways?

Come back tomorrow I’ll be posting an excerpt of chapter three!

If you’d like to know more about Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, check out these two posts:

What Happened after Jane Eyre Married Mr Rochester?

Blood Moon at Eyre Hall Two Days to Launch

Blood Moon will be published on Amazon on 22 August. Here’s the International link in case you’d like to check it out.

Sign up to my mailing list for information on new releases, updates, and special offers

What happened after Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester married? Find out in The Eyre Hall Series, Book One Blood Moon at Eyre Hall is out now! #FridayReads #BookLaunch

According to Orson Wells:


“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.”


Jane Eyre ended with a wedding and HEA, but what would have happened some years after the wedding?


Jane mentioned that they had one child in Jane Eyre. Would they have had more?
Would Jane have become the lady of the grand lady of Rochester Estate?

Would she have worn the silk dresses and jewels Mr Rochester offered?
Would she have championed women’s independence in any way, as she did in her autobiography, Jane Eyre?
What about the poor, workhouses and institutions for orphans, would she have cared?
What would she have done with the fortune she inherited from her uncle John Eyre?
What about Mr Rochester? Would he have been the faithful husband he promised?
Would he have shared Jane’s concerns for the underprivileged?
After their honeymoon, what kind of a husband would he have been?
Were their backgrounds too different to lead to a happy marriage, or can love conquer all?

Nobody can know for sure what happened after Jane Eyre married Mr Rochester, but there are plenty of clues in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea, the prequel written by Jean Rhys in 1966, to give us plenty of options.
The Eyre Hall Series explores what could have happened, but what do you think happened 22 years after their marriage?

Book One of the Eyre Hall Series, Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, explores some of the avenues their marriage might have taken. It will be published on Sunday 22nd August.

You can download your copy on Amazon US here!

Amazon UK here

Amazon International link here

If you live in the US, you can apply for a goodreads giveaway here

You can also apply for an ARC copy at Book Sirens in exchange for an honest review here

And you can also apply for an ARC at Book Sprout in exchange for an honest review here

Important Message: If you have already read the original Eyre Hall Trilogy, you should read Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall, Book 4 in the Eyre Hall Series, which will be published in October and will soon be available for pre-order. Any questions, just let me know in the comments.

And remember if you enjoy reading action-packed, historical fiction, set in the Victorian era, including romance, heartache, evil villains, engaging heroes and heroines, gothic and supernatural elements, pick up your copy of Blood Moon at Eyre Hall! Hours of enjoyment, for the price of a coffee!

Happy Weekend and Happy Reading!

Insecure Writers Support Group #IWSG ‘My Favourite Writing Craft Book’ #amwriting #August2021 #BookBlogger

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts, and concerns about our profession. By the way, all writers are invited to join in!

August 4 question – What is your favorite writing craft book?

The awesome co-hosts for the August 4 posting of the IWSG are PK Hrezo, Cathrina Constantine, PJ Colando, Kim Lajevardi, and Sandra Cox! 

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

My Favourite Writing Craft Book

When I started writing my first novel in 2013, I had read hundreds of novels and even taught literature to undergraduates, so I thought I knew all about writing. I had an idea, four main characters, a location in space and time, and I started writing ‘by the seat of my pants’.

Although I enjoyed the experience, I wasn’t able to finish the novel as I had started it, because I didn’t have a plan. I had no idea what a story beat was, or a character arc, etc. I had taught literature concentrating on style, themes, and context, not from the point of view of creative writing, so I didn’t have a clue.

I realised my handicap and started reading all manner of books on the art of writing, which you are all no doubt familiar with, and fortunately, one of them was Save the Cat.

Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need by [Blake Snyder]

I was literally awestruck by the simplicity and clarity of the proposal which was definitely life-changing for my writing career. That said, I confess I have never followed it to the letter, but it opened my eyes to the elements of a dramatic story and showed me a way to structure my novel, which had become a rambling mess, which I couldn’t finish.

In 2018, Jessica Brody wrote a fabulous follow-up called Save the Cat Writes a Novel, which is a far better manual for novel writers, because the original Save the Cat is aimed at screenplays. Jessica Brody, adapts Blake Snider’s proposal to the novel with invaluable examples, checklists, ideas and inspiration to help writers with their first novels.

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book On Novel Writing You'll Ever Need by [Jessica Brody]

I soon developed my own writing strategy which still incorporates some of Save The Cat’s structure as well as plenty of other great books I’ve read and podcasts and YouTube videos I’ve listened to.

I visualise the main points of my novel before I start writing. Then I jot down my ideas in a summary and continue visualising it for weeks, until the whole story takes shape in my mind, as if it were a film. That’s when I write the scenes on cards. The structure tends to fall into three acts. I order the scenes chronologically and check that no scenes are missing in the story flow. Finally, I rewrite the summary and when I’m satisfied that I have a complete story, I write the scenes which are most important and clearest in my mind first.

Although I would never call myself a pantser, the final version is rarely exactly the same as the initial summary. New characters and scenes often appear and others are deleted or changed. I have a plan, which I use to guide and help me. I do not allow it to constrain my creativity.

I made this banner for The Eyre Hall Series myself on Canva. It used to be a trilogy, but it has now become a series of six books. Book One, Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, is available for preorder and it will be published on 22nd August. And books two and three, All Hallows at Eyre Hall and Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall will be published the same week. Book four, Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall will be published in the autumn and Snow Moon and Midsummer in 2022.

If you click on the image, you will be taken to my newsletter sign up page. Go ahead, make my day and sign up if you want to get news of special offers, new releases and updates on The Eyre Hall Series and all things related to Jane Eyre.  

The Eyre Hall Series is the sequel to Jane Eyre. Especially for readers who love action packed, neo-Victorian romantic thrillers, with gothic mansions, evil villains, unforgettable main characters, lots of drama, and unexpected twists and turns, reminiscent of Victorian novels.

You can preorder Blood Moon at Eyre Hall here, or you can ask me for an ARC in the comments, or sign up for my email list by clicking on the image above.

If you’d like to read or reread Jane Eyre, I’m posting one chapter a week, every Friday, in flash fiction, directly from the original novel, for readers who prefer to read an abridged version, here, just click on the banner below:

Thanks for reading! And I hope you’re having a fabulous Wednesday!