The English Village

Melford 3Nicola here. Today I am musing about life in the English village. So many of the historical romances I’ve read are set it cities such as London or Bath, or smaller towns like Brighton or Cheltenham. This makes sense. These places were the epicentres of activity in the Regency era, the venue for balls and other social events, a place where people might go for their health, for sea bathing or to take the spa waters. They were a good hunting ground for ladies looking to secure a titled husband, or for men seeking an heiress. It feels as though all the excitement is focussed on the towns and cities where there are lots of new people to meet and lots of things going on. After all, as Jane Austen wrote in Northanger Abbey: “If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.” 

In some ways, things haven’t changed much in two hundred years. When I was younger I lived in a number of different English cities: Leeds, London, Leicester. They were vibrant places with a mix of cultures and events that was very stimulating. Even today a trip to London, or Edinburgh, or Oxford is something of a treat. The combination of history and shopping is irresistible and much more exciting that what is on offer at home. So where does that leave the English village?

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What We’re Reading in July

Woman readingNicola here, introducing the July What We're Reading. We all love this feature as we get so many wonderful book recommendations as a result. We hope you enjoy it too. If, like me, you're going away in a few weeks time and are looking for the next read to take with you, or if you have already been indulging in some holiday reading, this is the place to share!


Only one book to recommend this month. It's been a busy time altogether. The RWA National Conference was a mad, lovely, exciting week. The rest of July was spent madly writing.

Still, I did get to read Robin McKinley's, The Hero Hero and crown
 and the Crown
 It's a YA that won the Newberry Medal a few years back. A princess despised and distrusted by her people steps outside their expectations and becomes a strong and magical warrior who saves the kingdom. The book is about choices and strength and what these cost.

McKinley has been a favorite of mine since I read Sunshine, her YA-vampire-not-quite-a-romance. A lovely book.


I’ve been cruising the high seas and spending more time in the moment than reading, apparently. And I watched movies on the plane! But here’s a couple of books I can recall.

Axeman’s Jazz, Julie Smith—a mystery rich with gritty New Orleans atmosphere. The heroine is a very good, very determined cop which gives a nice spin on the usual types of humor found in hapless female detective stories. The story includes lovely layers of satire on New Orleans society— the killer is picking off attendants of 12-step programs, which to the detective’s dismay means that half the city is a potential victim.

1395707162001-Fool-Me-TwiceMeredith Duran, Fool Me Twice—I went into this thinking “yawn, another book about a tortured, privileged duke.”  I have a real hard time being sympathetic to dukes who have everything and still manage to whine. But Duran pulls out ALL the stops. She beats this once-decent guy into a puling lump, then torments her innocent heroine beyond reason. Even though I was fully prepared to laugh at the preposterous setup, Duran made me root for both of them. Her emotional and descriptive writing twists the heart and keeps the pages turning.

Off the Reservation, Glen Merzer—if you want a novel that literally goes off the deep end on satirizing politics, try this one. The protag is a Congressman who grabs attention by saying just what he pleases and turns his lunacy into a campaign platform, while claiming over-population is the root of all problems and that there are no solutions. The way to bring honesty back to politics!

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