Meet New Blood’s Sophia Nelson

Sophia Nelson from contemporary romance new blood by lorna peel

Thirty-three year old Sophia Nelson is about to start work as tour guide at Heaton Abbey House, a stately home and former Cistercian Abbey in Yorkshire, England. She returned to her home town six months previously to be closer to her ageing parents, working for a short time at the town’s mining museum before a suspicious fire burned it to the ground.

Her mother has dementia, suffered a stroke, and lives in a local care home. When her father fell and badly broke his arm, he couldn’t live on his own anymore, so he sold the family home and moved into sheltered accommodation. Sophia slept on her father’s sofa for a short time before her best friend, Michelle, offered Sophia the bed in her loft conversion. Sophia can’t believe her luck in securing a local job which comes with accommodation – a flat in what used to be the stable yard of Heaton Abbey House.

Sophia gets off to an unpromising start with Thomas, The Baron Heaton. She first encounters a man she later realises is him behaving suspiciously at a boathouse on the abbey estate. The following day, trying to familiarise herself with the sprawling house, she wanders into the dark library and begins to examine the leather-bound books on the shelves, not realising her employer is seated in a corner enjoying a glass of whisky. He is not too impressed that the tour guide has managed to lose herself in the house on her first day. For Sophia, it is lust at first sight of her tall, dark, and handsome employer, and who turns her into what she describes as ‘a gibbering mess’.

Matters don’t improve when she witnesses Lord Heaton throwing a man out of his office and later that day she bursts into tears and runs from the library when he asks her about her parents. Returning to the library to apologise for her behaviour, she hears him speaking about his sister, Stephanie, who is in hospital having just suffered a miscarriage. What Sophia overhears leaves her torn between her attraction to Lord Heaton and the fear of opening a Pandora’s box if the truth were to get out. How long can Sophia stay at Heaton Abbey knowing what she does?

New Blood

Excerpt:

She was at Michelle’s at eight o’clock on the dot that evening.

“Come in.” Michelle smiled. “I’ve just put the kettle on.” They brought their mugs of coffee into the living room and sat on the sofa. “So what’s up? You sounded like you were about to strangle someone yesterday.”

“Lord Heaton,” she replied simply.

“What, he’s a pain in the arse?”

“Yeah, and the rest.”

“What?” Michelle’s eyes bulged. “Oh, my God, you don’t fancy him, do you?” Sophia looked away. “Sophia?”

“I don’t know what to do,” she said miserably. “I need to leave but I can’t because I need the money and I need the flat but…”

“Heaton,” Michelle finished and Sophia smiled sadly and nodded. “Okay, tell me what’s been going on.”

“Everyone thinks he’s a recluse. He isn’t. I mean, he doesn’t go out much but it’s not like he never leaves the house or anything. I mean, we’ve been going walking together for weeks now—”

“Walking?” Michelle interrupted incredulously. “Hang on. Hang on. Rewind. You go walking together?”

“It came up that I go walking and I asked if he’d like to come. He said yes after a bit and we go walking on the moors. Stephanie comes too at the moment, though.”

“His sister?” Michelle asked.

Sophia swallowed. “Yes.”

“Okay. Go on.”

“I fancied him from the start. Bloody hell, it’s so corny but he’s tall, dark and handsome. But he’s got an awful temper and he smokes.”

Michelle shrugged. “You can’t have everything.”

“No. We just…talk. He’s shy and he’s lonely. He hates to admit it but he is. Everyone just treats him like ‘Lord Heaton’ and it’s like he’s become this character and has to keep on playing it. I mean, he continually calls me Ms Nelson. He’s never called me Sophia once.”

“And what do you call him?” Michelle frowned.

“Lord Heaton,” she replied. “It sounds ridiculous but he’s never once asked me to call him Thomas.”

“And you never once thought to ask him to call you Sophia?” Michelle added and Sophia shrugged. “Does he fancy you?”

“Yes.”

“What?” Michelle had reached for her mug but had to put it down again. “How do you know?”

“He, um, draws people. He’s got drawings of me.”

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E-book ISBN: 9781911381310

Print ISBN: 9781911381358

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Meet New Blood’s Thomas Heaton

thomas-heaton-from-contemporary-romance-new-blood-by-lorna-peel

Thirty-nine year-old Thomas Heaton is the 13th Baron Heaton. He inherited the title from his father when he had just finished university at Cambridge. For almost twenty years, he has had the burden and responsibility of not wanting to be remembered as the Heaton who had to sell Heaton Abbey House. Despite working long hours – often sleeping in his office – and being regarded as a recluse, he has been forced to open up the house to the public in order to keep the estate afloat.

Luckily, the house is somewhere tourists will flock to see. Thomas’ ancestor, Sir William Heaton bought the abbey and its lands following the dissolution of the monasteries in the late 1530s, renamed the abbey after himself, and remodelled the monastic buildings to suit his own domestic requirements.

A descendent of Sir William’s was created a Baron in the early 18th century and more rebuilding took place, reflecting the family’s elevation to the peerage. A further descendent made a fortune from coal mining, resulting in yet more rebuilding and restyling. A 20th century descendent made a catastrophic business deal and was forced to sell the mine and some land but, thankfully, the house with its mishmash of styles and five hundred acres of land remained unsold.

When he has a few minutes to spare, Thomas retreats to the abbey library to savour a glass of single-malt whisky. Having studied History of Art at university and with a weakness for full-figured Renaissance women, he can hardly believe his eyes when a curvy red-haired woman wanders in and begins to examine the books, not realising he is seated in a corner. The voluptuous Sophia Nelson may as well have walked off the pages of his art textbooks and will be working and living right on his doorstep.

Thomas’ elder sister, Stephanie, recently suffered a miscarriage at the hands of her violent boyfriend and lost a lot of blood. When Thomas offered to donate blood, he is told he can’t – and why – a secret that has been closely guarded for forty years and which shakes his world to the core.

When Sophia overhears the secret, Thomas can only hope she doesn’t reveal it. He struggles to keep his distance and his feelings under control, despite finding himself more and more in her company. She is the tour guide – staff – someone he really shouldn’t become involved with. Is it only a matter of time before the secret becomes public knowledge?

New Blood

Sophia Nelson returns to her hometown in Yorkshire, England to begin a new job as tour guide at Heaton Abbey House. There, she meets the reclusive Thomas, Baron Heaton, a lonely workaholic.

Despite having a rule never to become involved with her boss, Sophia can’t deny how she finds him incredibly attractive.

When she overhears the secret surrounding his parentage, she is torn. But is it the attraction or the fear of opening a Pandora’s box that makes her keep quiet about it?

How long can she stay at the abbey knowing what she does?

Excerpt:

Closing the bedroom door, she saw Heaton crossing the stable yard. It was the first time she had seen him dressed in anything but a suit and she stopped and stared. He was wearing a brown wax jacket with a bottle green jumper underneath, khaki combat-style trousers similar to her own and brown walking boots. She sighed and shook her head. It looked as though he was one of those men who looked fabulous in everything they wore. She reached for her mobile phone, pulled on a waterproof jacket, and grabbed her car keys before going downstairs to join him.

“You’ll have to move the seat back,” she said as she unlocked the Mini.

He got in and moved the passenger seat so far back that he might as well have been sitting on the back seat. She looked around at him, couldn’t help herself, and laughed.

“Sorry. I wanted something small and cheap to run.”

He pulled a comical expression. “I was looking to see if you had a sunroof that I could stick my head through. Maybe we should go in the Land Rover?” She nodded and he got out. “I’ll just get the keys from Des.”

She got out, locked the car, and saw him emerge from Des’ office. The two of them crossed the stable yard to the huge Land Rover.

“You’ll have to give me directions to where we start from,” he said as they got in.

“I will.”

Twenty minutes later, he pulled in at a small car park. “I haven’t been up here for years. You don’t walk too fast, do you?”

“No. There are two routes we can take. Up to what I call the big rock, which is eight kilometres there and back. Or up to the stone circle, which is five. Maybe five would be enough for today?”

He smiled. “I think so.”

He locked the Land Rover, they climbed over the stile, and walked up onto the footpath which ran through the heather.

“It’s lovely up here, isn’t it?” He halted after a few paces, hands on hips, and looked around them.

“If you need to stop and catch your breath just say.”

“Thanks. I’m not very fit. Walking between my office and the house isn’t really enough.”

They set off again at a slower pace.

“Where did you go to university?” she asked.

“Cambridge. The Heatons have always gone there. I was halfway through my final year when I learned that my father had cancer. I still have no idea how I got through my finals. The last time I saw him, he didn’t know who I was, so I do understand what it’s like. Unfortunately, he had run the estate like there was no tomorrow. I went into his study the day after the funeral and found drawers full of bills, invoices, and tax demands. Some went back years. It took years to pay all the creditors and the tax bill was astronomical. I’m still struggling to make ends meet and when the idea was put forward of opening the house up to coach tour parties, well, you saw what I was like. I apologise if I was rude to you. It’s no excuse, but I had to go to a funeral that day and I loathe funerals.”

“I hate funerals, too, and I wouldn’t like complete strangers traipsing through my home so I can sympathise. But there are tours booked for the next three months and Lady Heaton is scheduling additional daily tours because so many coach tour operators want to add the abbey to their list of stops. The way things are going, the abbey will soon have tours all year round.”

He nodded. “I know, but I am not dressing up as a monk or in a suit of armour for anyone.”

She laughed. “What do people say to you when they ask what you do for a living?”

“When people find out I have a title it is a bit of a conversation killer. I think some people have this idea that lords are all at least fifty, frequent gentleman’s clubs, and hunt, shoot and fish. I do none of those things. I was twenty-two when I inherited the title; I’ve been working to keep the place afloat ever since and I don’t want anything to spoil that.”

“It seems to be working, though.”

“Yes,” he agreed. “Just about.”

“Mum and Dad remember when you went down the mine instead of your father when he became claustrophobic.”

“Really?” He gave her an incredulous frown. “Good God, I must have been only about twelve or something. I wanted to go down with him but he wouldn’t let me. Then, when he had to come back up I asked if I could go and he just waved his hand in agreement.”

“Mum said that you asked lots of very good questions and that Dad was impressed. That is a huge compliment from my dad.”

“Were you ever down the mine?” he asked.

“No, I was never allowed, and it’s far too dangerous now. The nearest I got was the museum. I’d liked to have satisfied my curiosity but I much prefer the open air.

Mum’s grandfather was killed in a pitfall and I think she always worried that the same would happen to Dad. Now most of the time she thinks he’s dead.” She burst into tears. “Oh, God, I’m sorry.”

“Come and sit down.” Taking her arm, he led her off the path. They sat down in the springy heather and she wiped her eyes. “You have to cry, and let it all out,” he told her gently. “I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve locked myself in the library and just…”

He pulled a comical expression as she stared at him. It was hard to imagine him crying his eyes out but who knows how he reacted when he left the library after learning that his real mother was a complete stranger.

“I used to cry for my family,” he continued. “Me; the bills that still needed paying; the career I never had; the nightmare of possibly having to sell the estate; the fact that I have no life…that sort of thing. You have your cry then you dust yourself down and, in my case, head back out to the office.”

“My friends in London didn’t want me to come back up here.” She fished a handkerchief out of a pocket and blew her nose. “But I had to, she’s my mum. She and Dad are all I’ve got left and I know I’m quickly losing her. This morning she thought I was Sally, her sister. I’m really dreading a time when she forgets that I exist.”

“Do you not have any other family?” he asked.

“Mum’s brother, Martin, died when he was twenty,” she explained. “Sally lives in Cornwall. They were never close, anyway. Dad was an only child.”

“So why did you go to live in London?”

“I followed a man down there.” She shook her head at her stupidity. “I thought I’d found ‘the one’ at long last and I thought I’d be able to persuade Dad to come and live in London, even though I knew deep down that he’d never leave Mum up here and he’d never move her down there. Anyway, needless to say, it didn’t work out between Lee and me, and I was packing up down there when I got a phone call telling me that Dad had fallen and badly broken his arm and he couldn’t live on his own anymore. That was six months ago. He said himself that he should go into sheltered accommodation so he sold the house and he’s in The Beeches Complex now. Finding a job which has a flat going with it is fantastic.” She smiled. “Do you feel like going on?”

He returned a smile. “To be honest, I’d rather sit here and talk to you. I haven’t had a conversation about anything but estate business in…I don’t know how long.”

“To be honest, I think you work too hard.”

He nodded. “I think you’re right. But I have to work hard. I’m not going to be remembered as the Heaton who had to sell up. And if that means coach parties and teas, then it means coach parties and teas.”

“Did you find the fridge in the end?”

He rolled his remarkable eyes. “Yes. It’s now built into the kitchen cupboards in the pantry. Integrated, I think Mrs Fields called it, so no wonder I couldn’t find it.”

“At least you can raid it now,” she teased.

He shrugged. “There’s no Branston Pickle.”

“I can make you a sandwich if you get a craving.”

“I might just take you up on that.”

She smiled and looked away, hoping that he couldn’t see her blush.

“I rang the opticians in the town,” he announced and she turned back. “They gave me an appointment for tomorrow morning.”

“Oh. Good.”

“I hope I don’t pick the most hideous frames there.”

“Would you like me to come with you?” she asked, hoping she wasn’t overstepping the mark, and he failed to hide his relief at her offer.

“Thank you. I’d welcome another opinion. Even if I could ask Stephanie, God knows what I’d end up getting.”

“I suppose I should have mentioned it before,” she began. “Properly, I mean. But I was sorry to hear about Stephanie. A friend of mine in London lost a baby. It was awful.”

“I suppose you’ve also heard that it was because her boyfriend hits her?”

Sophia nodded.

“She won’t leave him. I’ve begged her, Lady Heaton has begged her, her friends have begged her, but she won’t. I’m terrified that one day he will kill her. She went home to her apartment the other day, refused my offer of coming here for a bit. Stubborn to the last.”

“I take it that she doesn’t know?” she asked.

“No. And that’s the way it’s going to be.” He sighed. “Look, I’m sorry you’re caught up in all of this.”

“I have to say this: I just can’t help but feel you’re burying your head in the sand over it all.”

“Well, what can I do?” he demanded. “Turn up on your friend’s doorstep and introduce myself?”

“Her name’s Michelle,” she told him.

“Michelle’s doorstep, then. Her whole family could fall apart. It sounds dramatic but if it’s anything like what’s happened between Lady Heaton and me—” He stopped abruptly realising he’d said more than he had intended to. “For now,” he continued quietly. “I just want to try and get my head around it all and let sleeping dogs lie.”

She shrugged sadly. “All right.”

“We passed a pub about a mile back,” he said, jabbing a thumb back in the direction of the road. “Would you like a coffee?”

“I would love a coffee, thank you.”

“Good. I’m freezing.”

“Why didn’t you say?”

He just shrugged comically and they returned to the Land Rover.

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Buy New Blood at:  Amazon  Smashwords  iBooks  Barnes&Noble  Kobo 

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Amazon ASIN: B01KW0I7P2

E-book ISBN: 9781911381310

Print ISBN: 9781911381358

Visit my blog for more excerpts, character profiles, and background information

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Meet New Blood’s Stephanie Heaton

guess-attic-girl-woman-pretty

Stephanie Heaton is forty – a year older than her brother, Thomas, Baron Heaton – but being female, she could not inherit the title. She went to university in London but now lives in an apartment in Leeds, and owns and runs a company which designs wedding dresses.

Officially known as The Honourable Stephanie Heaton, she prefers to be known simply as Stephanie. One of her previous employers already knew she was the sister of a baron, the other only found out after she had been with the company for over a year.

Stephanie knows Thomas works too hard and has very few friends, so she has started buying clothes for him to replace the suits she hates and which he wears all day every day. She is also encouraging her friends to bring him for nights out to get him away from the abbey, even for only a short time.

When Sophia Nelson arrives at Heaton Abbey to begin work as tour guide, Stephanie is in hospital. Simon – Stephanie’s drug-dealing boyfriend – has hit her yet again. Stephanie suffered a miscarriage and lost a lot of blood.

Thomas knows Simon all too well. They were at school together and were – and still are – anything but friends. Thomas has begged Stephanie to finish with Simon and come home to the abbey but so far she has stubbornly refused. Thomas is very much afraid that one day soon Simon will kill her. Will Stephanie leave her boyfriend before it’s too late?

New Blood

Sophia Nelson returns to her hometown in Yorkshire, England to begin a new job as tour guide at Heaton Abbey House. There, she meets the reclusive Thomas, Baron Heaton, a lonely workaholic.

Despite having a rule never to become involved with her boss, Sophia can’t deny how she finds him incredibly attractive.

When she overhears the secret surrounding his parentage, she is torn. But is it the attraction or the fear of opening a Pandora’s box that makes her keep quiet about it?

How long can she stay at the abbey knowing what she does?

Excerpt:

“Thomas?” There was a knock at the door and she bit back a curse. “Thomas?”

“Excuse me.” Getting up, he went to the door and opened it. Lady Heaton stood outside wringing her hands. “What is it?”

“I’ve just had the police on the telephone. It’s Stephanie.”

“Tell me?”

“She’s in hospital, Thomas. He’s attacked her again.”

“Christ.”

“We’re to go there.” Lady Heaton’s voice shook. “Now.”

He nodded. “Get your coat, I’ll get the car out.” Closing the door, he inhaled and exhaled a shaky breath. “Christ.”

“Is there anything I can do?” Sophia asked.

“If we’re not back, then the tours and the shop,” he said apologetically. “I’ll have a word with Des before I go. I’m sorry that you may have to start them again so soon.”

“Don’t be silly. I should go,” she said, going to the door. “I’m only getting in your way. I hope Stephanie will be all right.”

She returned to the flat, saw him reverse the Jaguar out of the garage, then walk to the door of Des’ flat. When he drove away a few minutes later, she peered out into the yard and saw light shining out from Des’ office. She went downstairs and knocked at the door.

“Des? It’s Sophia.”

“Come in.”

She went inside and found him sitting at his desk. “Do you know Stephanie at all?”

“Not very well,” he replied. “She went off to university in London and now lives in Leeds. She works as a wedding dress designer and comes back here the odd time. The boyfriend is bad news. That was his brother you saw the day you arrived.”

“Oh. What exactly does Simon do?”

“As little as possible, from what I can make out. His Lordship made the mistake of lending him some money a while back and now he keeps coming back for more. I think he might be a druggie. And so when he can’t come, he sends his brother instead.”

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Buy New Blood at:  Amazon  Smashwords  iBooks  Barnes&Noble  Kobo 

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Amazon ASIN: B01KW0I7P2

E-book ISBN: 9781911381310

Print ISBN: 9781911381358

Visit my blog for more excerpts, character profiles, and background information

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Meet New Blood’s William and Maria Nelson

old-couple

Sophia Nelson’s father, William, is seventy-eight years old and was a coal miner. When the mine closed in 1990, he put his heart and soul into the town’s mining museum, only to see it burn to the ground in a suspicious fire and Sophia lose her job there as a result. He continues to hold out hope that the museum will be re-built and, while he is pleased Sophia has found another job, he isn’t too happy that it is as tour guide at Heaton Abbey House.

Sophia’s mother, Maria Nelson, is seventy-five. She worked in an engineering firm in Leeds and became friends with Danielle O’Hara, mother of Sophia’s best friend Michelle, but they drifted apart when Danielle married Don Armstrong and moved to London. Maria now suffers from dementia, has recently had a stroke, and lives in Rich Hill Nursing Home.

Maria has periods of lucidity but at times she thinks Sophia is Sophia’s aunt Sally, or even Sophia’s grandmother. William visits his wife every day but after falling and badly breaking his arm, he had to spend some time in hospital. Because he was unable to visit her, Maria assumed he had died. Even when he left hospital and started visiting her again, Maria still thinks William is dead and that he is her long-dead brother.

Like her husband, Maria isn’t happy that Sophia is now living and working at Heaton Abbey. She begs Sophia to ‘get out of that place’ and but refuses to say why. What happened at the abbey and is Maria speaking to Sophia, or is she thinking of someone else?

New Blood

Sophia Nelson returns to her hometown in Yorkshire, England to begin a new job as tour guide at Heaton Abbey House. There, she meets the reclusive Thomas, Baron Heaton, a lonely workaholic.

Despite having a rule never to become involved with her boss, Sophia can’t deny how she finds him incredibly attractive.

When she overhears the secret surrounding his parentage, she is torn. But is it the attraction or the fear of opening a Pandora’s box that makes her keep quiet about it?

How long can she stay at the abbey knowing what she does?

Excerpt:

“You are looking for another job, aren’t you, Sally?” her mother added.

“I’ve got another job now.”

“Where?”

“Up at Heaton Abbey. I’m the—”

“The abbey?” Mrs Nelson exclaimed. “No.”

“Yes… What is it?” she cried as her mother began shaking her head violently. “Mum, stop it, don’t do that.”

“Not that place. Not that place.”

“Mum.” She tried to calm her mother. “Mum, stop.”

“You get out of that place. You must get out of that place.”

Sophia could hear feet running down the corridor and her father and a nurse rushed into the room.

“Mrs Nelson?” The nurse tried to soothe her.

“You must get out of that place. You have to get out.”

“Sophia,” her father ordered. “Leave her.”

“Why do I have to get out, Mum?” Sophia demanded. “Tell me.”

“Sophia. Out. Now.”

“Please?” the nurse begged.

Sophia got up and went out into the corridor, kicking the skirting board in frustration. A couple of minutes later her father followed.

“What the hell was that about?” he demanded.

“I don’t know. She asked if I had got a job yet and I told her that I was at Heaton Abbey and she just started shouting and shaking her head.”

“Right, well, you don’t mention the abbey again to her. Do you hear me, Sophia?”

“Yes. I’ll just lie as usual. Pretend I’m Sally one day. Pretend I’m her mother the next.” She closed her eyes for a moment. “I’m sorry.”

“I know,” her father said quietly. “Let the nurse calm her down.”

“All right.”

“You like the abbey, then?” he asked.

“Yes. I did my first tour yesterday.”

“What’s Lord Heaton like?” Mr Nelson added. “Is he a recluse like everyone says?”

“I don’t really know,” she replied truthfully. “He seems to work very hard and doesn’t leave the estate much but I don’t know if that makes him a recluse.”

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Buy New Blood at:  Amazon  Smashwords  iBooks  Barnes&Noble  Kobo 

Buy the New Blood paperback at:  Amazon  Barnes&Noble  CreateSpace  BookDepository

Amazon ASIN: B01KW0I7P2

E-book ISBN: 9781911381310

Print ISBN: 9781911381358

Visit my blog for more excerpts, character profiles, and background information

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Meet New Blood’s Michelle Giles

michelle-giles

Michelle Giles is thirty-three years old and has been Sophia Nelson’s best friend since they were at school together. Michelle is married to Tony and they have one daughter, Cathy, who is six. Now Cathy is at school, Michelle works part-time in the town’s tourist office.

When Sophia split up with her boyfriend and returned to Yorkshire from London to be near to her ageing parents, she slept for a while on her father’s uncomfortable sofa and worked at the town’s mining museum before a suspicious fire burned it to the ground. Michelle then took pity on her and offered her the bed in the loft conversion. Sophia lives with the Giles’ for the next few months but eventually finds a job as tour guide at Heaton Abbey House, a stately home and former Cistercian Abbey, which comes with accommodation.

Michelle has mixed feelings about Sophia’s new job and the fact that Sophia will be living at Heaton Abbey – a place people from the town have little or no connection with. Michelle doesn’t want her friend ‘bowing and scraping’ at the abbey but, at the same time, she does want to see Sophia employed and happy again. But what if Sophia’s employment and happiness includes Lord Heaton – dismissed as a recluse by everyone in the town? Will Michelle simply see the lord – the title – and not the man underneath like everyone else?

New Blood

Sophia Nelson returns to her hometown in Yorkshire, England to begin a new job as tour guide at Heaton Abbey House. There, she meets the reclusive Thomas, Baron Heaton, a lonely workaholic.

Despite having a rule never to become involved with her boss, Sophia can’t deny how she finds him incredibly attractive.

When she overhears the secret surrounding his parentage, she is torn. But is it the attraction or the fear of opening a Pandora’s box that makes her keep quiet about it?

How long can she stay at the abbey knowing what she does?

Excerpt:

Letting herself into the flat, she blew out her cheeks before going to the cupboard and retrieving a small tin of baked beans. She emptied the contents into a saucepan, turned the gas hob on, then heard her mobile phone ringing. Picking it up and glancing at the screen her heart sank. It was Michelle.

“You’ll never guess who we had an email from at work?” Michelle laughed.

“Who?”

“Your boss.”

“You expected him to be still writing on parchment with a quill, or something?” Sophia asked, pressing the speakerphone button and carrying on with preparing her lunch.

“No. Well, maybe not a quill. Did you give him the office email address?”

“Yes, why?” Sophia put two slices of whole grain brown bread in the toaster and pushed the lever down.

“I just wondered what he was like. It’s just that we’re bringing out a glossy brochure. It might be the only brochure, glossy or otherwise. We’ll see how it goes, but I was wondering if Lord Heaton would mind being interviewed? It would be a big plug for the place and a big scoop for us. Is he a bit…fierce?”

“No, not really,” Sophia lied, opening the fridge and taking out a tub of low fat spread.

“Well, not all the time. Actually, underneath it all, I think he’s a bit shy.”

“Shy? Great. He probably won’t do it, then?”

“There’s no harm in asking. Would you be doing the interview?”

Michelle laughed. “God, no. It’ll be Vincent Graves, probably. The brochure was his idea. Pity, though. Is he good-looking?”

Sophia felt herself flush and stirred the baked beans. “Yes, I suppose he is.”

“Excellent. Might even get him on the cover. I’ll tell Vincent. So, how’s it going up there?”

Don’t ask. “Very well. The flat’s lovely and the tours are no problem.” Provided he doesn’t come on them. “I’ve even got the use of the wireless internet connection.”

“Blimey, very hi-tech. Have you tried it out yet?”

“No, I’m still unpacking.”

“And Lady Heaton? What’s she like?”

Where could she start? Best not to even try. Sophia’s mind then went back to Lady Heaton’s peculiar behaviour as she left the drawing room. And where had all that money come from? She shrugged. No, best not even try.

“She’s been pleasant so far.”

“You haven’t got lost at all, then?”

She just laughed and said goodbye to Michelle as the toast popped up and the beans came to the boil.

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Buy New Blood at:  Amazon  Smashwords  iBooks  Barnes&Noble  Kobo 

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Amazon ASIN: B01KW0I7P2

E-book ISBN: 9781911381310

Print ISBN: 9781911381358

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The Stately Home

A stately home is a property built in the United Kingdom and Ireland between the mid-16th century and the early part of the 20th century. They include converted abbeys and other church property following the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Stately homes are different from country houses in that a country house is always in the country, but a stately home can also be in a town or city. The phrase ‘stately home’ originates from the poem The Homes of England by Felicia Hemans, which was published in Blackwood’s Magazine in 1827.

lacock-abbey

Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire, England

King Henry VIII’s policy of the Dissolution of the Monasteries resulted in many former ecclesiastical properties being turned over to the King’s favourites, who then converted them into private country houses. Lacock Abbey, Woburn Abbey, and many other properties with Abbey or Priory in their name often date from this period as private houses. These houses were a status symbol for the aristocracy and famous architects and landscape architects such as Sir Edwin Lutyens, Sir John Vanburgh, and Capability Brown were employed to incorporate new trends into the buildings and gardens. Many stately homes are an evolution of one or more styles but driven by practicality just much as architectural trends.

 

 

Sir John Vanburgh and Capability Brown

The beginning of the decline of the stately home coincided with the rise of modern industry. It provided alternative employment for large numbers of servants, but its final demise began during World War I. The huge staff required to maintain them had either left to fight and never returned, went to work in the munitions factories, or filled the void left by fighting men in other workplaces. Of those who did return home from the war, many left the countryside for better-paid jobs in towns and cities.

Erddig, a group portrait of staff on the garden steps

Some estates employed at least one hundred indoor and outdoor servants

The death blow for many stately homes came following World War II. Many were requisitioned during the war and returned to their owners in poor repair. Many had lost their heirs in one of the World Wars. Owners who survived were required to pay high rates of tax and death duties. Agricultural incomes from the accompanying estates had also fallen.

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Beaupre Hall, a medieval fortified mansion, was demolished in 1966

The solution for some owners was to hold contents auctions, selling its stone, fireplaces, and panelling before demolishing the house. But some properties, including Chatsworth House, are still owned by the families who built them, retain their furniture and paintings, but have opened their house and estate to the public during the summer months. Most stately homes now have to be a business as well as a home.

stately_home_brown_signNew Blood – Sophia Nelson returns to her hometown in Yorkshire, England to begin a new job as tour guide at Heaton Abbey House. There, she meets the reclusive Thomas, Baron Heaton, a lonely workaholic.

Despite having a rule never to become involved with her boss, Sophia can’t deny how she finds him incredibly attractive.

When she overhears the secret surrounding his parentage, she is torn. But is it the attraction or the fear of opening a Pandora’s box that makes her keep quiet about it?

How long can she stay at the abbey knowing what she does?

Excerpt:

In the library he retrieved a cardboard wallet from a shelf, and brought it over to a desk, before switching on the reading lamp.

“This is an aerial view,” he told her, extracting the etchings, and placing them on the desk. “Showing the layout of the monastic buildings. You probably know that most Cistercian monasteries were built to more or less the same plan. It was quite a small abbey. This is the church and a view of the cloister. Then along comes King Henry VIII…”

He was very knowledgeable and seemed to relax when he spoke of the past but with a temper like his, his chances of being a good tour guide were very slim.

“You’re from the town, aren’t you?” he asked, returning the etchings to the folder.

“Yes, but I’ve lived in Leeds and then in London until quite recently.”

“What brought you back? If you don’t mind my asking?”

“No,” she replied, giving him a weak smile. “My mother is ill. She had a stroke and is in Rich Hill Nursing Home. She suffers from dementia, so she couldn’t live at home anymore. She kept wandering off and Dad couldn’t cope. I didn’t want to be too far away so I came back. To the mining museum originally, but then someone took a dislike to it.”

He nodded. “I’m sorry to hear about your mother.”

“Thank you.”

“It must be very hard on your family.”

She noticed a book on Renaissance women in the desk drawer as he opened it and placed the wallet inside. “I’m an only child but, yes, it is hard. She used to be such an active woman. She and Dad married late in life. When the mine closed, Dad—”

“The mine?” he interrupted sharply. “Your father worked in the mine?”

“Yes, he did. And when it closed, he put his heart and soul into the museum. I don’t think there’s a single family in the town that doesn’t have a miner in their family history somewhere.”

“I must have met him at one point or another. What is his name?”

“William Nelson. He gave a very long-winded speech when the museum opened a few years ago.”

“I remember now.” He smiled and glanced at her curls. “Red hair.”

She grinned. “There must be Irish or Scottish in us somewhere.”

“Could you give him and your mother my best wishes the next time you visit?”

“I will, but there are days that I could tell her that I was the Queen of Sheba and she’d believe me.” Don’t cry, she ordered herself, but she couldn’t stop the tears coming. “I’m sorry,” she gasped and fled from the room.

She ran blindly through the hall—almost colliding with Lady Heaton—hauled the heavy front door open, and staggered out onto the steps before halting to catch her breath. Pulling a paper handkerchief from her pocket, she wiped her eyes. Oh, God, what the hell will they both think of you now, she demanded of herself. A hysterical, nosy idiot who doesn’t know when to keep her mouth shut, that’s what.

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Amazon ASIN: B01KW0I7P2

E-book ISBN: 9781911381310

Print ISBN: 9781911381358

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Being A Baron

A peer of the realm is someone who holds one or more of five titles – duke, marquess, earl, viscount, baron – inherited from a direct ancestor, or bestowed upon him by the sovereign. Depending on the terms in which a peerage was originally granted, some cannot be held by a female and others cannot be transmitted through a female line of succession.

debretts

The baron is the fifth and last rank of the peerage and the word baron means ‘man’, being formerly the king’s tenant in chief – a nobleman who held land. New Blood’s Thomas Heaton is the current Baron Heaton, having inherited the title from his father just after leaving university. A baron is always referred to, both verbally and in correspondence, as Lord (Heaton) rather than Baron (Heaton). A baron can also be referred to as ‘My Lord’ or ‘Your Lordship’. The title baron or baroness is never used, except in formal or legal documents.

 

The wife of a baron is known as Lady (Heaton). When New Blood’s Lady Heaton was widowed, she became a dowager, but the custom has been not to prefix either the forename or the word dowager to the title, e.g. ‘Forename, Baroness Heaton’ or ‘Dowager Baroness Heaton’ until the heir to the title marries. So she continues to use the title ‘Baroness Heaton’ but she is still commonly called ‘Lady Heaton’, and addressed verbally or to her face as ‘Your Ladyship’.

The alternative robe for a Baroness, Coronation of Elizabeth II, 1953.

The coronation robe for a baroness at the coronation of Elizabeth II, 1953

 

Thomas Heaton’s elder sister, Stephanie, is known formally as ‘The Honourable Stephanie Heaton’, which is written as ‘The Hon Stephanie Heaton’ on letters and legal documents. She is still commonly addressed as Miss/Ms Heaton as no-one is called ‘The Honourable’ verbally or to their face.

comprising-a-barons-coronet-crimson-silk-velvet-and-ermine-robe-two-pairs-of-silk-hose-together-with-lady-woodbridges-coronet-and-crimson-silk-velvet-and-ermine-robe

The coronation robes and coronets of a baroness and baron

 

As with all peers, barons are entitled to both coronation and parliament robes. The coronation robe – worn only at the coronation of the sovereign – is of crimson velvet, edged with white fur and has two rows of ermine on the white fur cape. Baronesses are entitled to wear coronation robes similar to those of a baron, these are edged with a two inch border of white fur with a train a yard long. The rank of baron is also shown by the coronet worn at a coronation. As the lowest rank, a baron’s coronet is the plainest design, with six silver balls, known as pearls.

a-barons-parliament-robe-coronation-robe-and-coronet

A baron’s parliament robe (left), coronation robe, and coronet

The parliament robe of a baron is a full-length scarlet robe with a collar of white miniver fur and is tied at the left shoulder with a white ribbon. Two bars (edged with gold oak-leaf lace) on the right-hand side of the robe indicate the rank of baron. Thomas Heaton has only worn his once – back in 1999 – just before most hereditary peers were excluded from The House of Lords.

a-silver-ermine-and-red-velvet-barons-coronet

Excerpt:

After the awful rubbery lasagne, Sophia went to the house. Finding the side door open, and with only one wrong turn, made her way downstairs to the kitchen.

“Helen?” she enquired, seeing a middle-aged woman kneading dough on a floury worktop. “I’m Sophia.”

“The tour guide. Hello. Welcome to Heaton Abbey House. All set for tomorrow?”

“Almost,” Sophia replied. “I’m going to do a walk-through of my tour to get it right in my head.”

“Want a bun before you go?” Helen offered, nodding to some buns cooling on a wire tray. “You might need the energy.”

She laughed. “Thanks, I will.”

“I saw his Lordship speaking to you earlier. In a good mood, was he?”

No. “Well, I…” she began.

“He didn’t want the house opened up to the public but didn’t really have much of a choice,” Helen explained. “It was either this or face the possibility of losing it all. So if he’s a bit rude, don’t mind him. He’s had it rough when you realise what he’s had to cope with. His father died not long after he’d left university so he couldn’t have been much more than twenty-two or three. For umpteen years he’s had the burden and responsibility of all this on his shoulders and it’s taking its toll on him from what I can see.”

“What happened to his father?” Selecting a currant bun, Sophia took a bite. It was delicious.

“Lung cancer.”

“Oh.”

“On the surface he seems to have everything, but actually he’s not been dealt that great a hand in life when you think about it. You can’t really blame him if he appears to be a little irritable and unapproachable at times. We just have to have a lot of patience with him. He and Lady Heaton are not long back from a funeral. He doesn’t like those either. Well, who does? And, of course with what happened to Stephanie last week… If he’s grumpy…just don’t take it personally, will you?”

“No,” Sophia replied. “How is she? Lady Stephanie? I didn’t know whether to ask.”

“It’s just Stephanie,” Helen corrected her with a smile. “Baron’s daughters or sisters aren’t referred to as ‘Lady’.” Sophia flushed. She should have known that. Visitors could ask her anything. “She lost a lot of blood but she seems to be on the mend. Physically, I mean. Mentally, who knows? Losing a baby… None of us can understand why she won’t leave her boyfriend. It’s not the first time he’s hit her and it won’t be the last, you mark my words.”

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Buy New Blood at:  Amazon  Smashwords  iBooks  Barnes&Noble  Kobo 

Buy the New Blood paperback at:  Amazon  Barnes&Noble  CreateSpace  BookDepository

Amazon ASIN: B01KW0I7P2

E-book ISBN: 9781911381310

Print ISBN: 9781911381358

Visit my blog for more excerpts, character profiles, and background information

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