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When Violet Parker is told she will be Queen Victoria’s personal housemaid, she cannot believe her good fortune. She finally has the chance to escape her overbearing mother, a servant to the Duchess of Kent. Violet hopes to explore who she is and what the world has to offer without her mother’s schemes overshadowing her every thought and action.
Then she meets James Greene, assistant to the queen’s chief political adviser, Lord Melbourne. From entirely different backgrounds and social class, Violet and James should have neither need nor desire to speak to one another, yet through their service, their paths cross and their lives merge—as do their feelings.
Only Victoria’s court is not always the place for romance, but rather secrets, scandals, and conspiracies…
“What awaits me is marriage,” he said. “But I am not a man any woman should want for a husband so it’s something I will avoid for as long as possible.”
The curiosity in her eyes made his confidence falter, and James lifted his fingers from her arm. No doubt she thought him pathetic for fearing something that so many longed for. But Violet did not know him or what he might be capable of. Of the nasty, volatile temperament passed down through the men in his family for generations.
“Better marriage than imprisonment with a mother who has controlled and belittled you your entire life.” She smiled wryly, her gaze sad. “Better a son who will one day marry than a daughter shackled to a mother who wishes her to scheme and spy upon the only person who has made her feel human, liked, and worthy of a modicum of respect for the first time in months.”
He stilled. “Do you speak of the queen?”
Mistress Parker swallowed before looking at Victoria where she stood a few feet away. “What would you like to do if not marry?” she asked quietly.
James stared at her profile, unsure of her thoughts or disposition. “Stay at court where I am happy. Work hard. Rise within the hierarchy as a single man.”
“I want to paint.”
Had he heard her correctly? “Paint?”
She softly smiled as she faced him. “Yes. I dream of my landscapes hanging in every gallery and every grand house in the country. If you think yourself an oddity in this mercenary world, whatever must you think of me? Good evening, Mr. Greene.”
James stared after her as Violet disappeared amongst the mass of finery, his heart heavy for the sadness that emanated from her, yet his inquisitiveness about her had only deepened. He looked at Victoria as she laughed with Melbourne and others in her circle. Could it be that the queen saw the same spark of something special in Violet Parker that he did?
Do You Agree With The Adage ‘Write What You Know’?
This is actually a difficult question to answer – I do, and I don’t! Let me explain…
I DO agree with the statement in that I believe every writer – especially if they envisage a long career – will inevitably draw on their life experiences from childhood right through until today. Why? One, because there will be a whole range of scenes/storylines/backstories that can be used from their lives but, more importantly, there will also be a huge pot of emotions to draw from, too.
If you have experienced something that brought sadness, happiness, fear, worry, energy, positivity etc to your life, you will be able to relay those feelings emotionally, mentally and physically onto the page. I consider the conveying of emotion as the writer’s number one objective – especially so for romance writers! Therefore, why wouldn’t you use want you know?
Having said that, I disagree with the adage in that there are only so many occupations or roles in life that a person can have so if a writer is unwilling to venture away from their own job experience or the roles they have played such as daughter, sister, aunt, mother etc, then they might soon run out of inspiration for their characters’ lives.
For the last five years, I have been concentrating solely on writing historical fiction which means that has been a LOT of research involved. However, for me, this is always mainly societal or environmental research. I take a lot of time researching societal classes, etiquette, values and childhood schooling of an era, as well as where people lived and how they made a living. It is these types of things that have sometimes changed quite dramatically from one era to another so it’s important a writer gets it as accurate as possible if they are to achieving enveloping their readers in a different world.
But what about the emotion I spoke about when I was arguing FOR writing what you know? Does drawing on my own emotional experiences work if I am writing a story set in the Victorian or Edwardian period? I say yes, it absolutely does!
I have had some writers disagree with me, but overall, most agree with my thinking that emotion would not have been felt much differently by an individual living in 1855 than it would in 1955 or how it will (I imagine!) in 2055. Heartbreak, joy, failure and victory will almost certainly remain constant as far as the heart and soul are concerned. Don’t you think?
So, my answer to the question is yes, every writer should use ‘what you know’, but they should also use what they can research! And who doesn’t love the excuse to research? Or is that just me?
5 out of 5 (exceptional)
VICTORIA & VIOLET is the first book in the Royal Maids series and what a start this is! We see Victoria in her early years, a free-spirited and strong-willed young lady. We also meet Violet, a maid in the queen's service and firmly under the thumb of her social-climbing, manipulative, abusive mother. When Violet starts her service to Victoria though, she becomes her own person - through trials and errors.
This novel is perfectly paced and full of amazing characters, brought to life by Ms. Brimble's writing style. The story is genteel, full of hope and love, and yet simultaneously shows how hard life can be in certain situations and circumstances.
Each of the characters is interesting and intriguing in their own ways - whether you like them or not! I loved the epilogue giving us an insight into how their lives are turning out, and I can't wait to read more in this series.
An excellent start and highly recommended by me.
** same worded review will appear elsewhere **
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *
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Rachel lives in a small town near Bath, England. She is the author of 29 novels including the Ladies of Carson Street trilogy, the Shop Girl series (Aria Fiction) and the Templeton Cove Stories (Harlequin). Her latest novel, Victoria & Violet is the first book in her new Royal Maids series with the Wild Rose Press and releases 17th October 2022.
Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association as well as the Historical Novel Society and has thousands of social media followers all over the world.
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