Set in 1820s Edinburgh, Bella’s Betrothal is a very enjoyable read with a great sense of place and engaging characters. Since Anne is also an excellent playwright, there is plenty of sparkling dialogue between the hero, Charles Lindsay, and heroine, Lady Isabella Wormsley. It begins with one of the best lines I’ve read in any recent romance and I've really enjoyed following the not-so-smooth course of their love story and their interaction with a host of interesting characters. Here’s a little about the novel.
While she is travelling north to find sanctuary from the malicious gossip of the Ton, Lady Isabella Wormsley’s room in a Dalkeith inn is invaded by handsome Scottish Laird, Charles Lindsay. Charles has uncovered a plot to kidnap her, but Bella wonders if he isn’t a more dangerous threat, at least to her heart, than the villainous Graham Direlton he wrests her from.Bella settles into the household of her Aunt Hatty Menzies in Edinburgh’s nineteenth century George Square where Charles is a regular visitor. She has been exiled to the north by her unfeeling mama, but feels more betrayed by her papa to whom she has been close. Bella hopes the delivery of her young cousin’s baby will eventually demonstrate her own innocence in the scandal that drove her from home.
Bella’s presence disrupts the lives of everyone connected to her. Direlton makes another attempt to kidnap her and in rescuing her a second time, Charles is compromised. Only a betrothal will save his business and Bella’s reputation.Mayhem, murder and long suppressed family secrets raise confusion and seemingly endless difficulties. Will the growing but unacknowledged love between Bella and her Scottish architect survive the evil Direlton engineers?
Inspiration behind the storyWriting a longer piece like a novel brings together lots of things previously swimming in my subconscious soup. Place is a big influence. I sometimes find myself creating a character and scenario while standing in front of a house. It needn't be a big house and I've written one or two short pieces based on some photographs I took of a Victorian laundry. With Bella's Betrothal, I was very keen to showcase Edinburgh. I've lived here for a long time now in Georgian and Victorian houses. The townscape is always around me.
Next would be theme in the sense of 'What is this novel about?' With Bella's Betrothal, I was exercised by the damage gossip can do. Even in our own, maybe pedestrian, lives, reputation is precious. Once lost, getting it back is the Devil's own job.Characters are of course paramount and I will try out 'voices' until I'm hearing the main protagonists and, often, the villain. Villains are just so interesting and such fun to create. With Bella's Betrothal, I also had several very demanding and interesting secondary characters clamouring to be heard.
Thanks for being my guest, Anne!
Bella's Betrothal is available from Amazon UK and US
ANNE STENHOUSE has always loved words. Reading them and using them greedily, she can’t truly remember a time when she couldn’t escape into the pages of a book and certainly can’t remember when she couldn’t talk and ask questions. Anne is a published and performed playwright. She studied both English and History at University in Edinburgh, and finds it a great joy to combine these two disciplines in her novels.Being a playwright means Anne loves dialogue and knows a piece is going well when she ‘begins to hear the characters talking to each other’. She has been a civil servant, full-time Mum, and for a while, a worker in an Addictions’ rehabilitation unit. Anne lives in Scotland with her husband and dancing partner of over thirty years. Their children and a grandchild are close by.
Anne’s debut historical novel, Mariah’s Marriage, was shortlisted for the RNA Joan Hessayon Award.You can find out more about Anne on her blog, Novels Now.