Three young ladies with more beauty and charm than Isobel, Leonora and Vivien Buchanan, daughters of the laird of Blane, would be hard to find; their marriage prospects are exceptional. Indeed, in the summer of 1890, Isobel is already engaged to a duke. But Isobel is secretly uncertain about the man she is to marry. When another, utterly unsuitable candidate presents himself, she is stunned by the strength of her feelings. Suddenly she must make a decision that could have devastating consequences. Younger and more independent, Vivien has always resisted the destiny allotted to women of her class. Marriage to a radical politician seems to offer her the deep and close relationship she seeks; but time and changing ideals can temper the deepest passion. Only Leonora, spoiled and extravagant, is ready to settle for a conventional marriage. But a rich and titled husband is no guarantee of happiness, especially against the pull of true but illicit love.
Set against the turbulent events of the 1890s and moving from the Western Isles of Scotland to London society, from slum life in Edinburgh to a palazzo in Venice, and finally to the battlefields of the Boer war, The Daughters of Blane is the passionate and ultimately triumphant story of three women who refuse to fit the mould society has made for them.
In the summer of 1900, a group of young people are brought together in the decaying splendour of the Quarro, a Scottish country house owned by the down-at-heel Lennox family. As their lives touch, new alliances are formed – some doomed to failure and bitter despair, others that will endure against the odds to bring lasting happiness.
Jessie Macpherson, newly appointed cook, daily dreams up sumptuous menus and dazzles the Lennoxes and their guests with her skill. But even at this time of triumph, Jessie realises there has to be more to life. Sholto Hamilton, a poor but ambitious lawyer and highly successful ladies’ man, offers her a glimpse of other delights, and before long Jessie is trapped in the sensual web he has woven. But what future together can there be for a gentleman and a servant? Will Sholto wish to burden himself with a wife such as Jessie when he still has his way to make in the world?
The future seems far more assured for Celia Lennox, the daughter of the house, and Sholto’s friend Ralph Erskine. Heir of an Edinburgh steel magnate, and a passionate admirer of Celia’s wild, fey beauty, there could not be a more eligible candidate than Ralph for her hand. But, eligible or not, another man has caught Celia Lennox’s eye – and perhaps her heart.
Meanwhile Ralph’s sister Alix despairs of ever fitting the rigid mould of society wife and mother. Surely a woman’s sphere of influence need not be confined purely to the drawing room and marital bed? Alix overcomes parental opposition and society’s disapproval to win herself an education and against all expectations finds a man who shares her views, a match made in heaven – until a shocking stroke of fate robs her of happiness and turns all her passion and commitment on to the fearsome path of martyrdom for the cause of women’s suffrage.
On an impetuous journey to stop her father making an unsuitable marriage, Griselda Farqharson meets dashing Tom Thorpe. They fall instantly in love and into trouble. After she indulges in a sensual clandestine encounter with him, Griselda is forced to face the consequences of her reckless disregard for the rules of society. For this is England in 1816 and Tom is a wealthy baronet, caught up in a net of emotional entanglements and family conflicts. Determined to do the right thing and preserve Griselda’s reputation, he must face the ruin of his own. As a whirlwind of scandal engulfs them, will Griselda and Tom be able to transform their passionate attraction into a true and lasting happiness or will their love be destroyed by it?
Moving from the Norfolk countryside to the fashionable drawing rooms of London, Reckless Griselda is a hot-blooded regency romantic comedy that asks the question: should you let your heart rule your head?
When a mutilated corpse is found in a ditch outside the ancient city walls of Northminster, the Chief Constable, Major Giles Vernon, and his new police surgeon, Felix Carswell, are drawn into a complex murder enquiry.
Northminster is a cathedral town under siege from industrialisation, a population explosion and all the attendant horrors of poverty, disease and crime. Appointed only two years ago, Major Vernon has transformed the old city watch into a modern police force. This challenge has been a necessary distraction from his troubled personal life – his wife is now in an asylum and the vulnerable Giles is in emotional limbo.
Newly qualified and energetic, Felix Carswell is determined to make his own way in the world, on his own terms. The bastard son of prominent Whig politician, Lord Rothborough, Felix was raised by a Scottish clergyman and his wife. However Rothborough has grand plans for his natural son and will not let him be. Felix suffers from divided loyalties and a confused identity – he is far more like his autocratic father than he would like to admit.
Together the two men set out to solve the mystery of the Butchered Man.
When Chris Adam recieves a proposal from wealthy young Guy Lindsay, her family are delighted – this would be a fine match indeed for a daughter of the Manse. Chris is tempted, for she is attracted to Guy, but her vocation is to be a composer, and instead of marriage she chooses to study music in Edinburgh.
There Chris meets Angus Bretton, who has been sent down from medical school in disgrace. Though he seems strangely restrained after the passionate Guy, Chris falls deeply in love with him, and it is Angus who comes to her rescue when events conspire against her and all her dreams are in ruins. But Angus is not all that Chris imagines him to be and their happiness is short-lived. A chance meeting with Guy gives Chris a glimpse of the fulfilling life she might have had – but now Guy is married to one of Chris’s friends.
As war breaks out across Europe in 1914, tragedy, betrayal and scandal lie ahead before Chris can fulfil her musical destiny and stand by the side of the man she loves.