Welcome to Virginia Taylor, author of the South Landers Historical series!
Between 1/14 and 1/28, all my South Landers series historical romances are being discounted. Starling will be $0.99 and the others $2.99. Although each story is set in South Australia in the 1860s each is a standalone although most of the lead characters know one another.
Perhaps you have never read an historical romance set in SA? If not I will give you a tiny preview from Starling, here.
“Yes,” the woman answered distractedly. “Jane Burdon.” She covered her quivering mouth with one gloved hand. “Do you think Mr. Seymour will get her out? He’s over there.”
Starling narrowed her eyes at the three dirt-streaked men who were peering into another hole mounded on one side with soil, but she didn’t spot Mr. Seymour. A few minutes later, she saw him emerge from the hole, shirtless and muddy.
“We’ll need strong shoring,” he said to the men. “The sides are beginning to move. Take the wagon to the timber yard, Derry, and tell Joe I sent you. Grab every piece of planking you can find. Don’t take more than half an hour. We can’t wait any longer than that, or the work we’ve done will be a waste of time.” He hauled a bag of dirt out of the hole and dumped the weight on the slippery verges. His big shoulders strained.
“Need spelling yet, Seymour?” A stout man emptied the soil and handed the limp sack back to him.
“Not until it’s safe. I’ll go on until the shoring arrives.” Mr. Seymour wiped a stained hand through his dirt-plastered hair.
This morning, while he’d wandered around more than half-naked, Starling’s only reaction had been embarrassment. She’d never seen a bare man before him. Now she gazed at his manly form, wishing he wasn’t quite so physically attractive. She would hate to see such a fine body injured, and she was scared for him, but as he stood with the rain sluicing over his skin, he looked insoluble, like a great stone monument.
Within moments, and not even glancing at her, he disappeared headfirst back into his hole.
Starling held her umbrella over Mrs. Burdon. “He’ll get her out,” she said, repeating the words the servants had told her. “He never gives in once he’s made up his mind to help.”
“I wish I could see Tammy. I can’t even hear her. Mr. Seymour says he knows how far down she’s wedged.” Mrs. Burdon’s face creased with worry.
Starling reached out a tentative hand. Mrs. Burdon grasped her fingers. The men continued to empty the bags of soil while Mr. Seymour filled them. The hole looked tiny, not much wider than a man’s shoulders, yet the earth being removed seemed never-ending.
When the shoring arrived, Mr. Seymour widened the hole, and then the heavy-set, older man, who Starling had identified as Mr. Burdon, took over. Mr. Seymour paced. Not wanting to be noticed by him, certain he would not be bolstered by her presence, Starling pulled the waterproof farther over her head, left the umbrella with Mrs. Burdon, and squelched in her waterlogged boots back to the house.
This part of the story was inspired by many tales of the same sort of rescue, one in Australia about the time I was writing Starling. I’m not sure who the rescuers were, but a group tunneled overnight to get a child out of a pipe. It was televised and took many hours. Like the rest of Australia, I cried when the child was pulled out alive. The strain on the faces of the men, the lack of light in the tunnel, and the sheer heroism of this act was inspiring, and of course I want my heroes to be inspiring.
Alasdair Seymour, the hero in Starling, made his fortune by tunneling, though for profit until he needed to help the child. In doing so, he caused Starling to see him not as her oppressor but as man whose courage she can’t deny. This way, he takes his first step in gaining her trust. However, historical accuracy is also important to me and I know old wells have been found in the vicinity of the place I used for the setting.
In the early days of the colonial settlement of South Australia, (1836) aborigines lived in and around the site that Colonel Light, the city planner, had decided to use as the capital city, Adelaide. Because hills lined the coast, the new settlement was constructed in a long line in front. In those days, the River Torrens (named after the man who invented the Torrens Title, used worldwide) was the only close source of fresh water.
Collecting this water was a problem. Justifiably annoyed by having their land invaded, the native tribesmen kept in sight of the riverbanks, finding the desperate settlers easy targets for their spears. Not about to be defeated so easily, the settlers built tunnels to the river. They also built wells close to the banks for the same reason, using guards while the water was being drawn.
Thirty years later, (1863) after the city of Adelaide had been developed, and the wells and tunnels disbanded, my hero in Starling, Alasdair, built his home on one of these sites. But Alasdair is an autocratic wealthy man and he has one use only for Starling—as his fake bride. What better way to show that he has another side than to have him rescue a child from a ghastly death? What better way to have Starling see him in a different light, than as a man with character?
THE SOUTH LANDERS SERIES
Kensington Publishing/Lyrical Press
Book 1 Starling on for 99 Cents until Jan 28, 2018
AMAZON: http://amzn.to/2jmlGbd (For Starling)
MEET THE AUTHOR
After training at the South Australian School of Art, Virginia worked in an advertising agency for a short time. She left to train as a nurse/midwife and met the man of her dreams. Two children later, she changed tack again and began theatre set painting and design. Now she fills her days as a full-time writer.