Life in the beautiful Cotswolds village of Treweham could never be described as boring, but the arrival of a documentary film crew means that things are even busier than normal.
For the ever-so-dashing Lord of the Manor Tobias Cavendish-Blake and his new wife Megan, it’s a great advertising opportunity as they’ve recently opened up their home, Treweham Hall, to the public. And for the chef at the local pub The Templar, Finula, the arrival of the brooding director Marcus Devlin, means her love life is looking up.
Whilst at the racing stables, jockey and trainer Dylan Delaney is hoping the exposure will help him find new owners and horses for him and his partner Flora to train. But there is more to Marcus Devlin than meets the eye, and he has very personal reasons for heading to the Cotswolds.
And once his plans become clear, life in Treweham may never be the same again.
Guest Post – Sasha Morgan
How Writers Are Treated
I often find people assume that if you’ve had a few books published, then you’re rolling in it. Annoyingly still, people ask, ‘How many books have you sold?’ usually followed by, ‘So what do you actually make on each book?’ You can see their minds ticking over, trying to calculate how much money you have earned through royalties. What a cheek! How would those people respond to me casually asking, ‘What’s your salary?’ It’s exactly the same, isn’t it? Another assumption which tends to grate is when family, friends or colleagues ask if they’re in the book. No. Why would you be? Is what I really feel like saying. Certainly, none of my characters are any person I know. They really aren’t, yet some find this difficult to believe. I’m not sure why, given that my leading men tend to be tall, dark handsome aristocrats, or champion jockeys with bodies to die for, no offence meant!
Of course, it is lovely though when they read your books and genuinely enjoy them. It’s nice to hear them sing their praise with gusto and promises of review – even though you know they won’t. I’ve given up expecting them to now. I’ve also given up asking, ‘Where are you up to?’ when they say they’re reading your book. I realise it could sound like I’m testing them, to see if they really have bought it. And that’s another thing, while I’m on a roll, how many authors are asked for freebies? Excuse me, this is my life’s work here, and you’re expecting me to just give it away for nothing? Or even, when they blatantly say ‘I’ll borrow it,’ when you’d much prefer to hear, ‘I’ll buy it.’
Bad reviews are another gripe. I can’t tell you how close I’ve come to reply to some of the tripe that’s written. One reviewer actually said, ‘The author doesn’t understand the characters.’ So, that’ll be the very characters I’ve created then? Unbelievable. The good reviews, however, make it all worthwhile – as any writer will tell you, when 5 shiny stars twinkle up on the screen, you feel like punching the air; when bloggers rave over your work, you feel like punching the air; when editors ask you to write a piece for their magazines, you feel like punching the air. That’s a lot of punches, so I’ll take the knocks too. An interviewer once asked me, ‘If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?’
‘Miserable,’ came my reply.
I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The sequel to Scandal takes you back to ‘The Cotswolds’ and the village of Treweham, it’s pleasant to reacquaint with the characters whose lives have moved on. If this is your first visit to the village, there is sufficient backstory for this to be read as a standalone, but it’s an engaging series, so I recommend reading ‘Scandal’too.
Treweham is the subject of a TV documentary, which the villagers hope will increase tourism, especially the residents of the hall, recently opened to the public. The documentary producer has his own agenda and this threatens everything; the integrity of Tobias, his family and the village he loves.
The fast-paced story is told from multi-points-of-view with short chapters, which makes it easy to read The plot has a few surprises as the story’s themes; revenge, romance, secrets, friendship and family are explored.
It’s a good escapist read for those who like to immerse themselves in characters’ lives, in a delightful rural setting, If you like Jilly Cooper and Fiona Walker, this story should please you.
Extract from A Country Rivalry
Marcus Devlin marched into the office with purpose, a look of determination on his handsome face. He was late and the rest of the production team were all sitting round the table waiting. They had worked with him before and knew exactly what to expect. His tardiness was the least of their problems. He threw down his clipboard with force, making Jamie, the young runner, jump. He then plonked himself down. There was no preamble, no cosy introduction with Marcus, just straight down to business.
‘Right, I’ve managed to secure the funding for this documentary.’ There was slight applause and a round of congratulations from the assembled team, which Marcus cut short. ‘Now we have to decide locations, schedules and the budget.’ Silence fell. He glared at the woman sitting on his right. ‘Viola, what you got for me?’ he asked directly, in his southern Irish lilt.
She answered with ease, refusing to be intimidated by him.
‘As the documentary is exploring quaint, English traditions and customs, I suggest we call it Green and Pleasant Land.’ This was greeted with nods and murmurs of agreement.
Marcus didn’t give away any opinion. On the face of it, this documentary didn’t appear his usual, gritty style. He did, however, have every intention of adding his own harsh, stark mix, blowing away any image of ‘a chocolate-box village’.
‘Go on,’ he ordered.
Viola shuffled in her chair and cleared her throat. ‘Regarding the location, for me, this would work best in the heart of some quintessential countryside, steeped in folklore in the olde worlde villages.’ Again, mumblings of encouragement echoed from all the team except the producer.
‘Where?’ interrupted Marcus.
‘I’ve done some research. The Cotswolds.’ This finally seemed to evoke a reaction from Marcus. For the first time since stomping through the door, his face relaxed a little.
‘And?’ he asked.
‘I’ve come up with two villages. Bellebrook and Treweham.’
Now he was interested. He stared straight into Viola’s face intently. ‘Continue.’
‘Both have good stories to tell, with colourful characters. They have history, aristocracy and well-known faces. Both villages have hit the headlines for various reasons, from arson to flash, celebrity weddings. Heard of Christian Burgoyne?’
‘He’s a barrister, isn’t he?’ Marcus raised his eyebrow.
‘That’s him: a top-class barrister who defended a young, single mother accused of harming her child.’
‘I remember that!’ butted in Jamie. ‘The baby had brittle-bone disease.’
Viola nodded and continued, ‘What about Tobias Cavendish-Blake?’
Marcus’ eyes narrowed and there was an awkward pause. ‘That’s the wild child, Lord Cavendish-Blake, recently married,’ he replied flatly.
‘His brother is Sebastian Cavendish-Blake, rising star at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre,’ gushed Jamie, his eyes shining with admiration.
‘Also,’ Viola carried on, ‘there are two country inns oozing with rustic charm. The Bluebell at Bellebrook and—’
‘The Templar,’ finished Marcus.
Viola’s brow furrowed: how did he know that? Typical, always one step ahead.
For Marcus, it was a no-brainer. After staying at The Templar a week ago and acquainting himself with the landlord’s daughter, a redhead with porcelain skin, who could have been hand-picked from his home town of Roscommon, his mind was made up.
‘Treweham. We’ll go for Treweham,’ he said decisively.
‘Ri-ght…’ Viola answered, a little perplexed. Normally she would have had to pitch things much harder to Marcus for him to decide and she had been prepared to do so. He’d quite taken the wind from her sails. She knew damn well that being his assistant producer would be taxing. She was originally a researcher, but had wanted to gain further experience and relished the opportunity when Marcus had offered her the position of his assistant on his last documentary. He had done so again, expecting her to act as assistant producer and researcher, thus saving money on a very tight budget.
‘Now, let’s talk schedules. We’ll want to interview the villagers. We need to home in on any eccentrics, recluses, country bumpkins, people that will entertain, or provoke. Viola, you mentioned folklore. I like that, but take it further, exploit it, think… think…’ he narrowed his eyes again, ‘The Wicker Man.’
There was a stunned silence. Libby, the editor, a quiet, middle-aged lady, who had worked several times with Marcus, coughed slightly. ‘Is that really the angle we’re going for, Marcus?’
He looked surprised by her question. ‘Yes. Why?’
‘I thought it was more quaint English country tradition we were interested in?’ added Len, the cameraman.
Sasha lives in a rural, coastal village in Lancashire with her husband and Labrador dog. She has always written stories from a very young age and finds her fictional world so much more exciting than the real one
If you want to read Megan and Tobias’ story read my #review of #Scandal