Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sparta Rose winner

We' ve had a wonderful week with dear friend and featured author Ginger Simpson. Celia Yeary has won a copy of Ginger's Sparta Rose. Congratulations, Celia and please contact Ginger to receive your copy. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ginger Simpson's Sarah's Journey

Ginger Simpson’s novel Sarah’s Journey is a compelling, heartfelt tale about the capability of love to grow in spite of adversity in a time where such feelings were abhorred. When Sarah, the lone survivor of a wagon train attack, first encounters a handsome, injured man named Wolf, she leaves him for dead and attempts to steal his horse, fearing him a part of the Indian war party that attacked her and her companions. However, a snakebite stops her in her tracks.

When Wolf regains consciousness he comes across Sarah and nurses her back to health. Sarah expresses her desire to find a town where she can start a new life, and Wolf agrees to take her to Independence where she can stay with his friend Maggie, who owns the local boarding house. A part of two worlds, yet shunned by both, Wolf is determined to fulfill his dream of owning a cattle ranch in Independence. But before that can happen, he has to pay off a sizeable loan before the bank sells the land to someone else.

Sarah and Wolf’s journey is not an easy one, as they are waylaid by nature, Indians, and a group of army men who falsely accuse Wolf of stealing. However, it is their attraction for each other that presents their greatest challenge. Both are afraid to act on their feelings, each fearing that they would be rejected because of their different heritages. But, in spite of it all, their feelings for one another grow, making hiding their love far more difficult.

When the dashing Jonathan Montgomery, a man interested in buying Wolf’s parcel of land out from under him, also sets his sights on Sarah, Wolf finds himself with an even greater problem. Can Sarah and Wolf’s love overcome the obstacles set before them, or will adversity triumph?

Published by Eternal Press in May 2008, Sarah’s Journey is one of Ginger Simpson’s finest works. Her characters are real and easy to identify with, and her setting is rich and enthralling. Ms. Simpson skillfully weaves heartfelt emotions with the problems of the Old West, keeping the reader guessing until the book’s jaw-dropping conclusion. I believe this book is destined for great things, and I can’t wait to read another one of Ms. Simpson’s wonderful tales.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sparta Rose - Excerpt 2

Second Excerpt: Sparta Rose

She mounted and followed him out of the barn, annoyed he still refused to see her as anything other than a helpless female. She’d show him.

Once outside, Ty spurred his stallion into a run. The bag of tin cans tied to his saddle horn rattled as he left Ellie lagging behind. She dug her heels into Chessie’s side, but it was no use. The chestnut mare couldn’t match Shadow’s speed, besides, the faster pace sent cold air biting into Ellie’s cheeks. She slowed Chessie to a walk.

Ty noticed, reined his mount and waited for Ellie to catch up. He swiveled in the saddle and called out, “C’mon, we don’t have all day.”

Ellie wasn’t in a hurry. She wanted to make the time spent with him last, and if the truth be known, she didn’t mind stalling a bit to avoid the “show down”. She drew Chessie up alongside Shadow.

“I didn’t know we were in such a hurry. Why can’t we just enjoy the ride?”

“I did enjoy the ride,” he answered with a smug look on his face. “You should have joined me.”

She sneered. “All right, you’re an expert rider and a magnificent shot. I get your message. Has anyone ever told you you’re a conceited jackass?”

But a handsome one. It irked her she couldn’t seem to stay mad at him for any length of time.

He bent and patted the side of Shadow’s neck. “There’s a fine line between conceit and confidence. I’m confident because I know I’m good.”

There was no use pursing a conversation about his skills. He obviously had a pretty high opinion of himself, but maybe it was warranted. Her nervous stomach rolled as she turned her attention to the incredible scenery. She pulled the collar of her sheepskin-lined jacket up past her chilled cheeks and wondered what she had gotten herself into.

Ellie had no doubt her admiration of nature’s beauty posed a stall for time. A definite winter threat iced the air, but the grass around them was just as fresh as the first day of spring. A few evergreen trees dotted the countryside, but the majority of the others had lost their leaves, stretching naked branches skyward. An occasional rabbit skittered to escape the horses’ hooves, and in the distance, a hungry hawk circled over his intended prey.

She turned back to Ty and made a sweeping gesture of the landscape. “Isn’t this the most breathtaking sight?”

He nodded in agreement, but his gaze never left her face.

They continued to ride, and before long, Ty pointed to a stand of trees. “Over there. We should be far enough from the house so we don’t disturb your pa.”

Disturbing her father was the least of her concerns at the moment. What had she been thinking challenging Ty to a contest? Pa was doing better, but maybe she should use him as an excuse to postpone the match. She nibbled her bottom lip and sighed. Ty would see right through that excuse.

Note: Galley copy

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sparta Rose - Excerpt 1

First excerpt: Sparta Rose

The early fall humidity dampened her temples and sent a trickle of perspiration between her breasts. She stopped and blotted her face with her shirtsleeve, wishing he would go away. Far away.

“Maybe I should ride with you?” Ty suggested.

She spun around. “No! I…uh…I mean, no thanks. I doubt you’d feel comfortable sipping tea and talking about female things.”

His throaty laugh bounced off the weathered timber. “Guess I wouldn’t be much good at gal talk. But be careful. The boys didn’t pick up a trail on the shooter, but I doubt whoever did it is gonna hang around. I’d bet a month’s pay the Bryants were behind it, but they probably meant to frighten you more than hurt you. Fools that they are, they think one little bullet is gonna scare Ben into selling. They’re probably in Sparta having a drink at the saloon as we speak.

His confidence rankled her, but she reminded herself to keep a civil tongue. “Well, don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere near town.” The lie came easy.

“Good idea.” He grinned. “Go ahead and have a nice visit with your friend.”

She struggled to keep her gaze from lingering on his cocky stance—the way his faded denims fit just right, but she turned her attention back to her animal. Besides, who was Tyler Bishop to tell her she could go?

Ellie led Chessie out of the stall and mounted. Ty walked alongside as she rode out of the barn. Hopefully he was wrong about the Bryants being in town because she planned to make this trip come hell or high water. One incident wasn’t about to keep her ranch-bound; if anything, it was the reason to go and buy that gun.

Once outside, she reined her horse and looked down at Ty. “Tell Pa I’ll be home before sundown.”

Ty peered up from under the dusty brim of his hat. “You best be.”

Those eyes. They pierced her very soul, until he opened his mouth. She nudged her mount in the sides and left him standing in a cloud of swirling dirt. “Don’t tell me what to do, Tyler Bishop,” she yelled over her shoulder. “You aren’t my boss.”

A smile tugged at her lips. It pleased her to put him in his place and leave before he could utter a sound. Her smile blossomed into an actual giggle at the thought of him wheezing and sneezing in the wake of her departure.

Note: Galley copy

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sparta Rose by Ginger Simpson

Ellie Fountain is the apple of her father, Ben’s eye. Her mother died young and she has grown up as his right hand man in his attempt to make their ranch, Fountainhead, one of the most successful in the territory.

Ellie may have tended toward tomboyish ways as she grew up in a world populated by ranch hands, but she loved it. Life wasn’t always easy, but Ellie and Ben managed well between them, until a stranger rode over the hill and asked Ben for work.

From that first day, Ellie felt Tyler Bishop was a threat. Ben embraced him and his abilities like a son, even deferring to him on the future of the ranch. Ellie tried even harder to keep her father’s attention, but suddenly, he changed. He began insisting she behave more like a lady, wore feminine clothes and stopped hanging round so much with the ranch hands.

But this was Ellie’s life and Ben’s attitude only confused her and she felt pushed aside, by a man with an unknown past. A man whose motives were surely to get his hands on her Pa’s ranch and his money, not caring what happened to Ellie.

What her Pa also seemed to forget, were there were others in the district who cast covetous eyes on Fountainhead. The Bryants were a bad, father and twin sons both, who took a delight in taunting Ellie with the fact they intended running her and Ben from their land.

Pa told her to leave the Bryants to him and Ty Bishop to sort out, but Fountainhead was her inheritance, her life and she wasn’t going to trust it all to a drifter like Bishop. No matter how attractive he was and with that winning way of looking at her which made her insides melt. He wasn’t going to get the better of her that’s for sure.

So after the Bryant boy’s latest prank, Ellie decides she’s going to defend Fountainhead herself and not only goes to buy a gun, but takes herself off into the woods to learn how to use it. And if she has to, she will; whether it’s against the Bryants, or even Ty Bishop if he tries to take Fountainhead from her.

But when a series of odd things happen, Ellie is forced to look at her enemies in a different light and the lines between the two become clouded. Trust becomes harder when she doesn’t know who is on her side.

And those dresses Pa keeps going on about? Well, perhaps they aren’t so bad after all. Ty certainly seemed to like what he saw when he took her to the social in town. Not that she went with him to impress him, but you have to keep your enemies where you can see what they are up to.

Sparta Rose is a story filled with all the flint and vinegar of the old west, with some healthy ambition, jealousy and revenge thrown in. The bad guys are unredeemable, well some of them, and Ellie Fountain is the heroine we all want to be. Beautiful, modest, courageous, determined and ambitious. But at her core is her love for her father and her home. As the story unfolds, and Ellie fights for her future, she becomes the woman she didn’t know she wanted to be, and finds an ally in a man she didn’t realise she wanted.

Ginger Simpson’s Sparta Rose, is a delight and just the thing to curl up with in front of the fire on a winter’s night. I promise you will hear the jingle of a bridle and smell wet leather as you read.

Review by Anita Davison

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Interview with Ginger Simpson, Sparta Rose

Today, our guest is a great friend and fellow writer, Ginger Simpson. Ginger's new novel Sparta Rose makes it debut February 2009.

Please tell readers about yourself and your background; your hobbies and interests.
I wish I could tell you I’m a world traveler who has lived an exciting life, but that would be a lie. I’m married for the second time, live in TN with my husband, and I write. I worked for twenty-three years at the University of California, Davis, and from that experience, I hope to write a non-fiction novel entitled, Souled Out. It won’t be a happy story, but maybe it will bring some closure to the disappointment of being sued by a co-worker I considered a friend. You just never know.

Despite missing riches and extreme beauty, I love my life, and the bright spot in it is my grandson, Spencer. He’s the reason I moved here and the reason I want to get up every day and keep going. Ever love someone so much your heart hurts? That’s how I feel about him.

How long have you been writing historical fiction?
Since I started writing in 2002.
Prairie Peace was my first published novel, and an historical romance. Of all the genres in which I’ve dabbled, historical is my favorite.

What do you enjoy most about writing in this genre? What challenges have you found?
I love the old west and that’s what I write about. The challenge is making sure you speak appropriately for the time. When writing, it’s so easy to let modern day lingo slip into the dialogue. For instance, kids were goats and “youngins” were children. You didn’t say “okay”, you said all right, and Mom and Dad weren’t recognized words. It was Ma and Pa who raised you, and believe me, if you slip up, someone will notice.

You have an upcoming release with Eternal Press, Sparta Rose. Please tell us about the story.
Sparta Rose is a romance set in Sparta, TN. When I came to this state, I was awed by its beauty. I never guess there were so many shades of green. It was only natural that I write a story set here. But…this book has been through the wringer. I signed with an agent who contracted me with an e-publisher—something I could have done on my own. It turned out to be a nightmare and I asked for and received my rights back. The second publisher who offered a contract fell ill and put everything on hold. Rather than wait and see what happened, I asked for and received my rights back again. It was a wise move, I think, because the website is down, and I’ve seen no new releases from them in months. Still it was more time wasted for me. Finally, Eternal Press offered a contract and I was elated because I’ve published with them before and love how they do business. Finally, Tomboy Ellie Fountain’s story is going to be told. If three different houses contracted this book, it can’t be bad. *smile*

What do you enjoy most about your heroine in this story?
Her feistiness. Ellie is determined to prove she can do anything a man can do, and maybe better. She knows what she wants and she goes after it. I wouldn’t mind looking like her either, but that “aint’ happnin’”.

What’s a typical writing day for you?
I write when I find time or when the mood strikes. Since I’m a “pantser”, I have to wait until my character is ready to talk to me. Sometimes they get stubborn and don’t say a word for days.

Tell us about your other works and projects.
Part of the problem with being a “pantser” is you always have voices in your head. The big dilemma for me is how to turn them off. I can’t ignore them, so I find myself knee-deep in stories I’ve started that need to be finished. Right now I’m working on:
First Degree Innocence – A mystery romance
The Locket – A mystery
Souled Out – Non-Fiction
Odessa – Western historical
Tender Return – Historical Romance

How do you create your characters?
My characters create themselves and they seem to do a great job. I don’t have to do much work, and I’ll give you an example of how one gets started. I was working on First Degree Innocence when Odessa popped into my mind. She started yelling about her pa being trapped under an overturned wagon in the middle of the Arizona desert. I couldn’t very well ignore her, and once I started listening to her, I was hooked on the story. It’s finding time to finish them when all the characters are screaming for my attention.

Do you have a favorite character from your stories?
Sarah Collins from Sarah’s Journey. I love all my heroines, but she defines the person I would like to be or even hope I am. Unwilling to put up with unfair treatment of others, Sarah speaks her mind, stands up for others and shows a brave side when bravery is required. When faced with a difficult decision, she makes the one that is most beneficial to all—unlike some who think only of themselves.

Your stories have a real flavor of the setting and time. How do you do your research?
I think years of reading western historical has given me a good foothold on the period I like to write about. I’ve spent a lot of time in the local library, researching unfamiliar information, and making sure I get my ‘ducks in a row.’ The internet is a valuable tool for language (etymology) and costumes, and when all else fails, I have a great resource in other historical authors who are always willing to help.

You have dynamic, gutsy heroines throughout your books. Who is your favorite literary heroine?
I’m sure everyone expects me to name a mainstream heroine here, but I’m not going to. Anita Davison, a friend and great author, has created a wonderful heroine in her Duking Days series. Helena Woulfe is someone I admire, aspire to follow, and can’t wait to read more about. If you want to see old England through the wide eyes of someone with spunk, beauty and grace, then you need to read Anita’s work.

What are your future writing plans?
Like everyone, I would love to be recognized on a larger scale, and that takes tons of work and perseverance. I’m hoping 2009 will be the year I secure an agent who will help me sell one of my manuscripts to a mainstream publisher…or just a publisher who will make the book available in an actual ‘brick and mortar’ store. I set goals for myself when I started and this is the final one.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t despair. Write from the heart, then join a critique group and get lots of opinions. Don’t use them all, just the ones that allow your voice and story to be heard, but makes it better. Be active on lots of loops and make bunches of friends. They teach you tons.

Do you have a website, blog, etc. where readers can learn more about you?
Well, yes I do. My website is and my blog is You can also find me at, as well as many of the networking groups. I believe in visibility.

Any closing thoughts you’d like to share.
I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge my fellow authors who have always been willing to take time to “help me get it right.” People like Anita Davison, Lisa Yarde, Ciara Gold, Phylllis Campbell, and Mirella Patzer, just to name a few, are aces with me. I also want to thank the readers who have been with me since I began this crazy journey… the ones who still read my books and encourage me to write more. The support and love you offer is better than any royalty check I could ever earn.

Thanks for your time, Ginger, and best of luck with your new release, Sparta Rose, coming in February from Eternal Press.
Thank you for taking time to ask such great questions thus allowing me to promote myself and my work. This has been a pleasure. I hope 2009 brings us all good health, prosperity, and peace.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

An Accomplished Woman by Jude Morgan

This book opens with a charming scene at an art exhibition with a Regency Miss lamenting on the cavalier treatment of her beloved brother by the woman he worshipped and who had cast him aside without a second thought.

Lydia Templeton listens sympathetically and although I guessed early on she was the woman in question, I was still thoroughly entertained by their interchange and Lydia's bewilderment with a man whose favour she had attracted by no more effort than by, 'Suppressing my yawns in his presence'.

Lydia is an intelligent woman in her twenties, who once scandalized society by refusing the hand of wealthy and eligible Lewis Durrant. She lives happily with her father, Dr Templeton and spends her time exactly as she wishes with an occasional visit to her married brother in London.

Thus all the dowagers have given her up as marriage material and she is therefore selected by her Godmother to chaperone a young orphan to Bath. Pheobe Rae is a beautiful, and more interestingly, rich girl of nineteen who has two suitors. The sojourn at the fashionable spas is to enable her to make a decision about which, if either, of these young man she intends to accept.

Lydia tries her best to be impartial, but the two men are so different, she finds this more and more difficult as the days pass. Then when Mr Durrant arrives in Bath purporting to be in search of a bride and latches onto the party to watch the fun, things get even more complicated.

Miss Templeton is obviously more engaging than even she admits, because she manages to evoke strong emotions in men without even trying. It wasn't difficult to work out what would happen with the tangled emotions of the characters, but to say it was predictable would be an insult. My enjoyment wasn't in any way affected by this foreknowledge as the writing and characterisation is beautifully put together. The gentle, Regency language with its humour and sheer visual richness, not to mention its irony, was a treat. Even 'must hate' characters were a delight and at the words, 'It's Mrs Vawser', I hunkered down to enjoy the outrageously entertaining dialogue.

A fabulous, gentle read to be enjoyed on a lounger in the sunshine with a cool drink beside you. Bliss!! I had the good fortune to meet the author too and my copy is signed. A definite keeper.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Interview With Ellen O'Casey

Today I am talking to Author Jean Fullerton’s character, Ellen O’Casey, from her new novel ‘No Cure For Love’, released by Orion last month. This book has also been long-listed for the Romantic Novel of the Year 09 prize. An amazing achievement for a first novel, so our So congratulations to Jean for that.

Thank you for taking time to talk to me, Ellen. I know you will have to perform any moment, but I hoped you’d spare me a minute.

Well, my friend Kitty’s doing her turn at the moment so we should be all right. But I can’t be too long or Danny’ll be after us.

What is your happiest memory from your childhood in Ireland, and was life always as hard as it is for you now?

I remember one day, it must have been spring because I can still see the swallows in my mind’s eye as I think of it. A rare day it was, with the sun warming you and the smell the dew still fresh on the grass. Pa piled us all into the old rickety cart and took us all to the county fair.

We were so excited me and my brother Pat and Mike hadn’t slept all night with the thought of it. Me and Pat argued all the way like a couple of cats in a sack, and if Ma threatened to make us walk once, she did it a dozen times.

When we got to Wexford, sure, I’d never seen so many people. I didn’t think there were that many in the world let alone Ireland. There were dancers and travellers in their brightly painted wagons and the men distilled potchine in kettles and tin baths or what ever was at hand.

The fiddles played and the young girls whirled in their new clothes laughing and smiling. The young men in their rough working clothes and heavy boots danced like feather in the breeze and catching their lasses as they passed.

Ha! Pat and Brian O’Malley sneaked off and drank some homebrew and were as sick as dogs but instead of a whacking, Pa laughed and bundled us all back in the cart to take us home.

I don’t remember getting into bed that night but I’ll never forget it. It was less than a month later we all piled into the cart again and left our old home forever and came here. But that day sometime comes back to me in that moment between sleeping and waking and I can smell the new spring grass once again.

As a widow, how difficult is it for you to remain independent?

It’s almost impossible and with out my Ma I’d have been in the poor house before now. We both up before dawn to fetch water from the pump at the bottom of the street . Then I go and collect the washing from the big houses while Ma heats the copper. All morning we scrub our knuckles raw on the washing board before drying and ironing it and then taking it all back at the end of the day.

At night we sit by candle light and sew collars from Miller factor. We get thrupence for two dozen. It barely keep us, what with the rent and food being so dear. That’s why I have to sing in this place and sometimes down at the White Swan or Paddy’s Goose, Danny’s other pub. And if you think it’s grim in here, you should see that hole down on the Highway.

Your husband was a difficult man, I believe. But he died ten years ago, leaving you with a small daughter. That’s a long time to survive alone. Were there other opportunities for you to marry again?

That’s a bit of a question and I’m not saying now, that I haven’t had the odd offer or two but there’s been no man who’s taken my fancy enough for me to want to make it permanent. But I wouldn’t say no to the right man. But he’d have to be the right one because I’ve been married to the wrong one before and don’t want to repeat the experience.

The docks of the East End are hardly a hospitable environment for a woman alone. Don’t you find it frightening living there with just your mother and with a child to care for?

I live in the Knockfurgus part of the dock where most of us Irish are settled. It’s in walking distance of the riverside where there’s work to be had when the ships are in. Our street can be a bit rough, I grant you, but we all look out for each other. We share what little we have and that’s not much. There’s none of us who would let a child go hungry even if we had to skip supper ourselves.

It’s the drink that makes it hard on a women. I mean, no one would argue that a man entitled to a drink at the end of the day, to clear the dust from his throat but some, well; they don’t know when to stop and its his wife and children who feel the force of it, as often as not.

As to the danger. The Italian and Irish gangs are after each other not us so when they are cutting each other up in the streets and alleyway we shut ourselves in. Our house is very small, two room on top of each other really, but there is only me, Ma and Josie so we’re snug enough. Some houses have three or four family living in and then there can be trouble.

Of course, I’m often scared out of me life when I have to walk home after singing here. But I keep to the main roads and go as fast as me legs will carry me. Some time the beat officer will walk a way with me and I can relax then. But I have to work here so there’s no point wailing about it.

Many single women around you seem to take the line of least resistance and do what is expected of them? Does this make you more determined to remain separate from it all, or were you ever tempted?

It’s true. If you peek though curtains you can see them sitting at the back of the room now. They are easy to spot with their bright dresses and red lips. Sad souls. And I for one, don’t condemn them for what they do. I mean, most of them have a child or two to feed and sometimes it the streets or the workhouse. And it can looks easier that scrubbing sheets all day but there’s always a man lurking around who takes their money, not to mention the danger of being found by the peelers in the gutter with you throat cut. And if you live long enough you’ve got the pox ward at the hospital to look forward to.

It seems an easy way but when I see what poor Kitty has to do to keep Danny sweet I think I’m better off on my own.

Although, if I were honest with you now, I do miss the arms of a strong man around me when I snuggle under the quilt.

Doctor Munroe keeps looking this way, he’s obviously attracted to you. Could he be your future do you suppose?

Oh, go away with you! Whatever are you thinking? A man like that, you know, fierce handsome enough to tempt the angel themselves, isn’t for the likes of me.

There’s a lot of toffs who come down East slumming. I avoid them ‘cause all their after is a quick night’s fun for a few shilling and I’m not interested.

Mind, I’ll not have you thinking Doctor Munroe’s is one of those because he’s not. He’s a proper gentleman and not just because of the way he dresses and speaks.

But no. He’ll marry some pretty lady with money and who speak right. Not a pub singer with an ageing mother and gangling daughter. In a better world perhaps his smiles and kind eyes might become more but not in East London, not in 1832.

He’s quite a controversial figure, I hear. He’s making all sorts of health reforms in this neighbourhood and he’s annoyed Mr Donovan too by treading on some of his nefarious schemes. Do you admire him, or feel he’s too reckless and should be more careful?

Ho! Doctor Munroe’s ruffled Danny’s feathers and no mistake. Good job too. Danny’s got his fat finger in every sticky pie around here. On the Parish Committee and the Board of Governors at the Workhouse. It a disgrace how he runs the neighbourhood. Letting the water pump break and you can smell the workhouse before you see it. I pity the poor souls forced to live in there.

I do admire Robert….I… I mean Doctor Munroe.

Ellen you’re blushing.

I’m not. It’s just a little warm in here that’s all. Anyway, it’s a brave thing that Doctor Munroe’s doing and his surgery in Chapman Street where he charges only what he has to. But your right, he need to be careful. Danny’s been top dog around here for years and he doesn’t stay there by being nice to people who cross him. So for his own sake, I wish Doctor Munroe would watch out for himself. It would fair break my heart if anything should happen to him.

Your independence is admirable, but what future do you envisage for your young daughter, Josephine? You seem determined to keep her in school, but what else can she expect but a life in service or as a docker’s wife?

Josie as bright as a button and with her brains she could teach school or work in a shop. I don’t mind her going into service because she would learn things I could never teach her, but it would mean her going away as there are no big houses around here. But to do any of those thing she need her letters and figuring. My Pa knew that which is why he taught us all to read and do arithmetic.

I don’t suppose I want any more for Josie than any mother. I want her to find a good man who’ll treat her right be he a docker or sailor or anything

She had a beau, Patrick Nolan. He’s the son of my friend Sarah Nolan and he’s a good lad. dependable and hard working but I’ve told him I’ll be after him if he takes advantage. I don’t want Josie to make the same mistake I made. So I’m keeping a close eye on them just to be sure.

You speak of your late husband without bitterness. Being the child of a very happy marriage, don’t you feel cheated that he wasn’t the man you deserved?

Michel O’Casey had grand curly hair and a smile to warm you on a frosty day but he thought he could solve his problems at the bottom of a glass. I was only fourteen when I met him and too young to see him for what he really was.

I don’t know if cheated is the right word but I’m sad that me and Michael went sour so quickly. I realise now that a love like Ma and Pa’s only comes once in life time. I thought Michael was that love but it didn’t take me long to find out my mistake. I hope that someday such a love might happen to me. but I’m getting older now and so it might be too late.

Did you ever consider you and your Mother could have returned to Ireland when you were widowed?

No. It’s worst there than when we left. People dying in empty field and eating grass to keep the hunger from their bellies. There’s no future for us there especially Josie.

Beside, most of our family are over here in Liverpool and Bristol and my brother, Pat’s in America. He’s doing grand, so he is.

What would you do if Josephine got involved with one of Donovan’s henchmen?

Holy Mother, don’t even say such a thing. Sure it would be the death of me Ma if she were to get caught up in anything to do with Danny Donavan. She wouldn’t. She too smart, is our Josie.

I don’t think I have to tell you that it’s a foolish woman who lets herself be sweet-talked by one of Danny’s men. She as likely to find herself with a blackeye for her troubles and walking the streets to keep him in brandy.

If you manage to save enough passage money to get to America, what kind of life do you hope awaits you there?

I don’t think it’ll be easy but my brother Pat got his own business in New York. He told me in his last letter that he would be looking to buy himself a bit of farm land north of the city in the Bronx.

He also wrote that in the wild territory the government give away land just to have someone on it. Can you imagine that? He’s says he’d saddle up his ole mule and dash for it.

I’m not afraid of hard work either, so I’ll just do as I’ve done when I get there and do whatever I have to do to keep my family.

This isn’t a nice environment for a gentle person like you, is it? [Danny Donovan’s pub] Have you ever considered making more of your lovely singing voice? Approaching an opera house or a more reputable music hall?

You’re a very kind lady to say such things and I do hate singing here. But I’m Irish and catholic so a respectable place like an opera house would turn me away at the door even if I could read music and the like.

I’ve heard there’s a place up west in the Stand that’s the papers call a ‘Music Hall’, but there’s no such thing around here. Just pubs like the Angel with a small stage thrown up in the corner.

Perhaps one day I’ll sing in somewhere better and where I don’t have to dodge Danny’s straying hands while I earn a few coppers, but until then I’m afraid I’ll have to sing for all the O’Caseys’ suppers in the Angel and Crown.

How may readers contact you?

I have a contact page on my website at:

I would love to hear from them.

Thank you so much for talking to me, Ellen. I hope you do get to America, if that’s what you decide you finally want. Now I see Mr Donovan glaring at us. He doesn’t look pleased, perhaps it’s time for you to sing now.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

No Cure For Love Review

Jean Fullerton, author of 'No Cure For Love'

Released by Orion this month, Jean won the Harry Bowling prize in 2006, for a novel written about London. This book has also been long-listed for the Romantic Novel of the Year 09 prize. An amazing achievement for a first novel, so our congratulations to Jean for that.

Ellen O’Casey, an Irish immigrant living in the docklands of London in 1832, was widowed ten years before with a small daughter to care for. Living with her mother in poor lodgings, Ellen is fiercely determined to retain her independence and respectability and not fall into the many traps poor, defenceless women with few rights were lured into during this time.

Ellen has a talent, a beautiful singing voice, but the only area she can find so far is to sing at Danny Dovovan’s pub, The Angel. However it’s a means to an end in Ellen’s mind. If she can use her meagre wages to keep body and soul together and put a few shillings away each week, she will be able to take her mother and Josie to join her brother Pat in New York, where surely a better life awaits them all.

One day the figure of Doctor Robert Monroe walks into The Angel and from the moment he sees Ellen, this principled young man is convinced she is everything he could want. However the chasm between their social classes faces both of them at every turn, and besides, Danny Donovan, the docklands local gangster, has his eye on Ellen and believes it’s only a matter of time before she will succumb to his advances.

Ellen, however is equally determined to repulse the odious Mr Donovan, after all she has been called on to give support to the women he has already used and discarded. She has even seen one of them die

Dr Monroe has an agenda of his own in the deprived, cholera ridden docklands where he tries to minister to the needs of the people living there. Time and again he runs up against the Danny Donovan, who has not only the inhabitants, but the local authorities in his grip.

Ellen cannot help her attraction to Robert, but she is aware that if she accepts his proposal she will ruin him. She tries to warn him of Donovan’s power, but Robert’s loyalty is to the people he cares for and he is determined to break the man’s grip on the people and improve their lives.

When an attempt is made on Dr Monroe’s life, he knows he has become a real threat to Donovan. Ellen risks her own reputation and her life in helping Robert expose the man, but will their efforts succeed against a man like Donovan? Will they both live to see right triumph, or will they, as well as their doomed love survive Donovan’s cruel dominance?

Jean Fullerton’s novel is a colourful saga of life in the poor end of London where life was cheap and morals were even cheaper. Women had no status and motives were always suspect amongst the alleyways and public houses where they all scraped a meagre living.

Ellen is an unusual woman and an admirable heroine who holds onto her self respect, no matter what the cost. Even when she sees a way out of her circumstances, she chooses not to make life more difficult for the man she loves. A woman who sees the sun above the mire of her situation and strives for it for the sake of her child in a society where the poor were expected to keep their place.

This is a satisfying read with a beautifully drawn hero in the Doctor Robert Munroe who sets out to change the lives of the London slums for the beter. Jean's heroine, Ellen, takes the reader into a life you cannot help feeling she doesn’t deserve. You will travel with her into a murky world and hope she can pull herself out of it and into the more genteel life she strives for.

Anita Davison