My guest today is historical author Shehanne Moore. I love her books, which combine adventure with feisty characters, humour and a flavour of the Gothic:
God is my witness, this property shall ne’er be inherited by two direct
successors, for its sons will be hounded by misfortune."
As God is mine I must say I was heartily glad to read the
‘Berkshire is a place of mystery, myth and legend. The
county abounds with strange tales of ghostly phantoms, ferocious creatures,
kings & knights, witchcraft, treasure and more.’
Why was I glad? Because it’s never easy coming to the
wonderfully chilling blog of Gothic horror writer, Catherine Cavendish.
Certainly NOT when you write romance,
even when it's slightly Gothic romance.
Thank you so very much Cat for inviting me. despite this.
Not only is my recently re-released book Loving Lady
Lazuli set in Berkshire - phew-there was a ton of tales to choose from.
So it said online anyway which was why I was initially
drawn to the ‘most haunted’ Shaw House but the most interesting thing there I
could find was the true story of how the Duke of Chandos took as his wife, a
beautiful chambermaid who was being sold off by her husband in an inn yard with
a halter round her neck.
Not just shades of Thomas Hardy’s, The Mayor of
Casterbridge but proof that the business of dukes marrying what might be
construed as women who were well below their social status….as happens in
Lazuli and indeed in a lot of historical romance… is not as daft as all that.
Moving on though, through covens of witches and headless
men, I came to the story of Bisham Abbey...I guess apposite again as Barwych
Hall in the book is based on Mount Grace Priory in Yorkshire. However, the Bisham monks were so furious at
Henry VIII for ‘dissolving them,’ they cursed the ancient building.
And indeed…as in another follow through from the book,
sort of anyway…the sons of Bisham’s many different owners didn’t just fall down
dead, they were beheaded, they died young, they were killed in world wars—and,
as in the case of young William Hoby, they had some help from their mother. In
this case, the widowed Lady Elizabeth who had such high standards of education, she not only beat young William to bits and
locked him in the Tower Room to do his lessons all over again, she quite forgot,
despite being so brilliant herself, that she’d done it, clearing off to Windsor
for several days of dancing and banqueting. A very merry widow to all accounts.
After all, weren’t there servants for
tiresome things like children after all?
At least Lady Elizabeth thought so, so she was really
quite astonished on returning home to find that everyone thought William was
I think we all know what’s coming next.
But did William exist at all? There’s documented evidence
for Anne, the Chandos' chambermaid bride. But William?
Well, firstly the fact that there’s no genealogical
evidence to show he did exist, doesn’t always mean a thing. Not all records
survive. And the Hobys had other estates
where his birth could have been recorded.
"Proof" of William’s existence is sort of provided
by the discovery in 1840, during renovations, of copy books containing blots on
every page, corrections by the ‘wicked lady‘ herself and the name, William Hoby.
Alas, I say ‘sort of’ because these copy books sort of then disappeared. Maybe
Lady Hoby stole them...? a bit like my jewel thieves in the book.
However 1840 was the point where the son first became
known as William. Till then he’d just been a nameless son, like you get these
nameless, headless horsemen. Lady Hoby did indeed have a son…Francis…who died
young in unknown circumstances, at the time she had remarried and her surname
was then Russell.
You pays your money you takes your chances, I’d say on
truth and legend mixing to become one…or the other.
Whether or not Lady Hoby caused her son’s death as said, the Abbey is known to be one of the most haunted
houses in Britain, certainly the most haunted in Berkshire and that haunting is
done by her apparently grief-stricken
self, dressed in black lace and white,
washing her hands a la Lady Macbeth. She tears curtains, throws things. But
mostly she just sobs and leaves lights up in the Tower Room. Some people think
she causes the mists that wreath the Abbey and until 1936 she especially liked
to come out for coronations.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little venture to the darker
side and won’t be afraid to visit the Abbey…
Talking ghosts… here’s the blurb for Loving Lady Lazuli.
A woman not even the
ghost of Sapphire can haunt. A man who knows exactly who she is.
Only one man in
England can identify her. Unfortunately he’s living next door.
Ten years ago sixteen year old Sapphire, the greatest jewel
thief England has ever known, ruined Lord Devorlane Hawley’s life by planting a
stolen necklace on him. Now she’s dead and
buried, all Cassidy Armstrong wants is the chance to prove she was never that
But her new neighbor is hell-bent on revenge and his word
can bring her down. So when he asks her to be his mistress, or leave the county
with a price on her head, Sapphire, who hates being owned, must decide...
What’s left for a
woman with nowhere else to go, but to stay exactly where she is?
And hope, that when it comes to neighbors Devorlane Hawley
won’t prove to be the one from hell.
About the author
When not cuddling inn signs in her beloved Scottish
mountains alongside Mr Shey, Shehanne Moore writes dark and smexy historical
romance, featuring bad boys who need a bad girl to sort them out. She firmly
believes everyone deserves a little love, forgiveness and a second chance in
Shehanne caused general apoplexy when she penned her first
story, The Hore House Mystery—aged seven. From there she progressed to writing
plays for her classmates, stories for
her classmates, plays for real, comic book libraries for girls, various
newspaper articles, ghost writing,
nonfiction writing, and magazine editing.
Stories for real were what she really
wanted to write though and, having met with every rejection going, she sat down
one day to write a romance, her way.
You can connect with Shehanne here: