Well, aren't we just having a very chilly and snowy January? Fortunately, my new release SLOWLY FELL is on its way to cheer you up next Wednesday the 24th.
The first character showcase for this book is being shared today by two sisters - Daisy and Ruby Mallard - household servants with a dark secret.
Lady Bramley soon discovers that Daisy's anxiety stems from the antics of her younger sister Ruby - a much livelier and more restless girl, who left the Bramley estate some month ago to work at a very old, mysterious house in Slowly Fell. And who hasn't been seen or heard from since.
Daisy is certain that her sister has been carried off by witches. After all, everybody knows about the curse on Slowly Fell and the macabre history of the Wilding family for whom Ruby went to work. Could it be that Ruby's rebellious temperament has got her in trouble one time too many?
Lady Bramley must get to the bottom of Ruby's disappearance -- not only because she was responsible for writing a reference for the girl and finding her the new place, but also because she doesn't want her breakfast to suffer any worse depreciation in quality, and its clear Daisy can't concentrate on her work until she knows what happened to her sister. Lady Bramley might only be the dowager now and no longer mistress of the house, but she still considers the staff her responsibility and she won't let anything bad happen to a girl in her charge. Or to her strawberry jam.
Moving from a large, efficiently run, well-staffed estate to a smaller house with only three servants and a very demanding mistress, Ruby certainly finds herself noticed more often. But that's not quite such a good thing as she always imagined it to be.
So where is she now? Is Ruby Mallard at the bottom of the village pond, along with all the other lost souls that wandered in and were never found again? Has she been spirited away by the Wilding witches of Slowly Fell? Or has she -- as the cook suggests -- run off with a young man, who lured her with seductive promises of a better life?
Looks like you'll have to read Slowly Fell to find out!
(Images used above: Sweeping the Feathers, by Victor Gabriel Gilbert 1847-1933; Young Woman Ironing, by Louis Lepold Boilly 1761-1845; and a regency kitchen illustration from Google images)