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Friday, November 4, 2011

Guest Blogger ~ Aileen Fish ~ A Man's Castle

What is it about estate homes in historical novels that leave us pining to live there? You know you want to, admit it. None of us laughed at Elizabeth Bennet when she declared she thought she probably first fell in love with Mr. Darcy when she saw Pemberly. We all sighed with her when she first saw that impressive prospect from her uncle’s carriage.

Is it privilege we long for? Money? Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire, shown here, stands on 3000 acres of wooded parkland. In California,where I live, the only properties with that kind of acreage are cattle ranches, and they are getting fewer with each passing decade. And most have a working farm house, not one set up for entertaining.

While researching my next release, A Christmas Dragon Scheme, I looked at floor plans of the great country houses and was impressed with one thing: the houses with a royal suite. The owners ran in high enough circles they needed a room for the King to sleep in when he dropped by. We have hotels with Presidential Suites in the U.S, not homes!

We had to consider the layout of Danby Castle for our novellas in the Regency Christmas Summmons Collection. We quickly agreed on the personal rooms The Duke of Danby would use, and went on to imagine a castle big enough to house the dozens of grandchildren, and their parents, in some cases, who would come to visit. What a grand home it has to be! And its own ballroom, of course, where the Duke holds his annual Christmas Ball.

Of course, the home or castle is only a backdrop to the characters in a story, but the research is so much fun! Without the country houses belonging to the peerage, we might as well be writing about the smithy or rag lady. Those books are fun in their way, but we need our occasional chance at becoming mistress of Pemberly, don’t we?

You can find my Danby novella, The Viscount’s Sweet Temptation, in A Summons from Yorkshire (Regency Christmas Summons Collection Book 1). Here are the blurb and excerpt:

Lady Harriet Thornhill knows the summons from her grandfather means he’s decided whom she must marry. Determined that she’d only marry a man of her choosing, she stows away in her friend’s father’s carriage, only to find herself alone with young Archibald Napier,Viscount Morley.

Morley’s plans for a quiet Christmas vanish when he discovers the sweet young lady hiding under the blankets in his carriage. As she claims an acquaintance with his sister, he feels duty-bound to see her safely back to her family.

A broken carriage wheel leaves them stranded, and Harriet’s reputation is at stake. Morley’s not ready to take a wife, until he’s told he wouldn’t be a suitable husband for her. With memories of her sweet, tempting kiss filling his thoughts, he prepares to fight for the hand of the woman he believes he could love.


Lady Harriet Thornhill stood at the window of her parents' sitting room in the inn, gazing at the gathering black clouds. The threatening storm echoed the swirling emotions in her mind. She must escape!

Her mother, Lady Alderford, sat quietly behind her sipping tea and nibbling the biscuits the proprietor's wife had provided upon their arrival. Her father dozed in the chair opposite her mother. How could they be so complacent when Harriet's very life was at stake?

Harriet wished she had read her grandfather's summons before her mother had. Mayhap she could have burned the missive and pretended it had never arrived. How dare he insist they alter any holiday plans they might have to travel to Yorkshire in such incumbent weather? How dare he insist he had important business with his entire family? Who did he think he was to command them all?

Well, of course, he thought he was the Duke of Danby, and he was the Duke of Danby, so he most likely did have the right to make these demands. But her mother was the duke's youngest daughter. They did not pretend to think Harriet's brother Leander, Baron Penlow, stood to inherit much of anything from the duke. By the time her hordes of cousins had been given their share of his wealth, there would be little left for the Thornhills.

That left only one reason for the duke's summons. He must have found someone for Harriet and her sister, Lady Miriam, possibly even Lee, to marry. Oh, this would never do! To be forced to marry a man not of her own choosing, mayhap not of her acquaintance, and after she had only enjoyed two London Seasons!

It was not to be borne.

A slow drizzle kept the roads filled with muck, just enough for her father to insist they stop early for the night. Papa was not a favorite son-in-law and felt no urgency to arrive early at Danby Castle. As much as she might consider pleading her case to either of her parents, she knew it would be wasted breath.

No one crossed a direct command from the duke. No one.

Comment with your email address to be included in the contest detailed here: http://aileenfish.com/books/summons.html Keep up with Aileen’s releases at http://aileenfish.com where you’ll find links to follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Aileen ~ I'll admit my love affair with stately homes! When I was in England a few years ago, I toured more than one & I could have seen a dozen more. Why stop there, even?? *sigh* They truly are beautiful and instantly transplant me to another time.

    Love the excerpt too! Harriet is so adorable in your novella. And Archie is nothing short of wonderful!

    Happy blogging and welcome to LadyScribes!

  2. Thanks for blogging with us today, Aileen. I can spend hours on my computer, looking up pictures of the various country estates in England and other European countries. I can't even imagine how I'd be if I got to go there and see them in person!

  3. These homes just boggle my mind, lol! They are just so big and they have so much history and famous people long gone that have been there! I mean, all the royal houses... its so neat to think of all the past royals walked the floors once :) Hope to visit some someday and be awed in person :)
    tigger_time2 at yahoo dot com

  4. The only estates I've been in that are close to those in Europe are in Newport, RI. I took the tour there of the Astor's, Vanderbilt's and others homes! Wow, not only were they huge, and gorgeous, the workmanship was incredible. Yeah, I think most of us long to glide down one of those winding staircases and make a grand entrance.

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  6. wow... the Castle is very...big and beautiful ;)

    i love the excerpt

    thank you to post it


  7. Thank you for a great interview and excerpt from your new book. I grew up in England but, sadly, only ever visited a couple of Stately Homes. At the time, I never realized or understood all what they represented (being a teenager and all). Now, whenever I go home for a visit, I make it a point to visit either a Stately Home or Castle and see all that I missed out on when I was younger.

    I adore Historical Romance novels with a passion. I love being swept back to another time and place where people lived, laughed and were finding their way to each other. I expect to enjoy all this from when I read "A Summons From Yorkshire".

    Thank you for this opportunity.

    dpd333 (at) aol dot com

  8. I love stately homes and castles!! I plan to own one someday ;)

    And I LOVED your novella!

  9. Thanks for the welcome ladies!

    @Lisa, I hope to get there, too. Someday!

    @Eli, thanks for stopping by!

    @Diane, I shudder to think of missed opportunities from my teen years. How lucky you can make up for lost time!

    @Linda, I've seen the Astor and Vanderbilt homes on "America's Castles" and wold love to see them in person some day, too.

  10. Any old homes are my passion, but nothing compares to the grand homes and castles of Europe. I could spend every day for months touring historical homes.