This has been an exciting week for my blog. Melanie is my second guest this week! As many of you know, I’ve been running a special feature on my website this week, not only on this Blog, but on my Authors to Watch interview page as well. Why? Well, because it’s Titanic Week. On April 10th, 1912, the Titanic set forth on its maiden voyage. It never made it to its final destination. Sadly, the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank during the early morning hours of April 15th. Many perished in the disaster.
To commemorate this tragic event in history, I am collaborating with author, Melanie Dent. Through a series of interviews about her popular historical fiction series, book excerpts, and Titanic articles and facts, we hope to bring the Titanic to you.
If you’d like a refresher course in Titanic history, I found an excellent website which is packed full of interesting pictures, facts, and even has a Titanic Timeline! http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/
For those of you who are not familiar with Melanie’s work, I’ve provided a summary of her first book in the series, as well as some helpful links if you are interested in learning more.
Certain that he cannot give Margaret the life she deserves Thomas Frazer, her grief-stricken father, makes the heart-wrenching decision to place her into the care of his childless employers who adopt and raise her as their own.
When Lord and Lady Trevelyan die on board RMS Titanic Margaret is sent to live with relatives she had never known existed. There she develops a passionate attachment to Lewis Franklin, a humble chauffeur whose own nephew perished on the ship.
Attempts by a spiteful maid to sabotage Franklin’s reputation are foiled but it draws the pair closer together when society dictates Franklin is not good enough for a lady. When she is insulted by a suitor, later exposed as a fraud, Margaret learns the truth about her origins.
Then a murder causes Margaret & Franklin to pull together to help a household in mourning. She must now make sense of what she has learnt as she and Franklin work out what the future holds for both of them.
One hundred years ago this Tuesday the White Star Line vessel RMS Titanic set out from Southampton Docks to make her maiden voyage to New York. She never made it!
Most people know the year the Titanic sank even if they can’t recall exact dates; much the same as people recall that the Battle of Hastings took place in 1066
I was struck by something that a friend across the Pond said recently; that she heard on a radio show that a lot of kids don’t realise that the Titanic was a major historical event as they think only of the movie starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslett. Quite what is taught in history these days is unsure, but it is proof educational standards are in severe decline.
The heroine of The Lynchcliffe series loses her adoptive parents on the ship and our hero, Lewis Franklin, loses his nephew, Daniel. Lady Helena Lynchcliffe loses her sister. Far too many people died.
Lady Helena Lynchcliffe was on the telephone
“May I speak to Lady Helena Lynchcliffe?” A male voice “Speaking.” Helena said.
”Lady Lynchcliffe, my name is John Shaw. I work for Leggett, Taylor and Shaw, the legal firm that represents Lord and Lady Trevelyan.”
“I see.” Helena said.
“I regret to inform you that Lord and Lady Trevelyan were passengers aboard the Titanic and are missing, presumed drowned.”
Helena saw that her hand was shaking.
“I see.” She said. She and her sister, Celia, had not spoken for many years after a furious row at their parents’ funeral when Celia had actually insinuated that Jeremiah Lynchcliffe was carrying a torch for his daughter in law after adding to that the knowledge that she had kept to herself for years about the fact she had been raped. Helena had tried several times to heal the rift over the years, especially when her own children were small, but Celia had never answered her letters. Helena would never know that they had been burnt unread. Now it would seem it was too late. Helena was glad that John Shaw could not see her discomfort; the fact that she had turned pale, her quivering lip and shaking hands.
“I am calling you concerning your niece,” Shaw went on. Helena almost dropped the receiver.
“I was not aware I had a niece.” She stammered. “I had thought that it was not physically possible for my sister to have children.”
(I also like this one as it introduces us to the hero, esteemed chauffeur Lewis Franklin)
Jenkins announced him and bade him enter.
“My Lord, my Lady.” He smiled although smiling did not come easy given the news he had heard that day about the death of his nephew, Daniel, aboard the Titanic. Daniel had been travelling to New York for his mother’s funeral as she had died the previous week. She and her second husband; an Irishman named Liam, had immigrated five years before. Daniel and Franklin had been close so Franklin felt the loss acutely.
“Hello Franklin.” Helena said.
“Good evening my Lady.”
“I was sorry to hear about Daniel.” Helena said. “He was a lovely young man and a real credit to you.”
“Thank you, My Lady. Daniel had his whole life ahead of him. It’s such a waste. “
“I know.” She swallowed. “I have found out that my sister and her husband were on the Titanic.”
Franklin was astounded.
“I was not aware tha had a sister, my Lady.”
“We had not spoken for many years. The sad thing is I tried to mend the rift several times when Michael and Sarah were small.” Regret was etched deep into her face.
“I am very sorry, My Lady. Daniel and I were on good terms and that is hard enough to bear. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for a person to lose someone that they were at odds with. “
“I found out that I have a niece. Her name is Margaret and she’s twenty. She’s studying French literature in Paris at the moment. The term at the Sorbonne finishes next week then she will be coming to live here with us. I want you to take His Lordship and myself to London next week to meet her and her maid?”
“Of course, my Lady. I have a favour to ask though.”
“Of course, Franklin.” She waited.
“In a couple of weeks there is to be a memorial service in Hyde Park for those who have lost loved ones on the Titanic. I was wondering if I might change my day off that week to go.”
“Certainly, Franklin.” Helena said. “Once again I am sorry for your loss.” “Thank you, My Lady, my Lord.” He bowed as he left the room.
(I like this scene as Margaret and Franklin share their first kiss.)
“Well goodnight Lewis.” She kissed him on the cheek.
He drew a deep breath. If he could just taste her it would be a memory to live on.
“Margaret,” His voice was deepened, husky with emotion as he instinctively pulled her into his arms and kissed her hard on the mouth, every nerve of his body burning with acute desire. Surprised but touched, she kissed him back with a hardness that both alarmed and aroused her. She held him tightly. She stroked his back lightly through his thin shirt, tracing his hard muscles and the curvature of his spine and he trembled with pleasure as any tension he might have felt relaxed instantly.
Franklin’s mouth continued to cleave itself to hers. She felt his need, his urgency as she matched it, kiss for kiss as she felt him press against her. His mouth felt hard as it moulded to hers and she felt weak and, afraid she might fall, tightened her arms around him. In reflex he tightened his hold on her. She could taste him; he tasted of honey and fine wine and she felt giddy with the taste. She felt herself tremble as she realised how much she longed to feel his mouth elsewhere on her body; her breasts and her sex were highly aroused and aching for him.
His mouth moved to her ear, which he nibbled gently, and down to her jaw and throat before he put his hand under her chin and lifted her face with the utmost care so that their eyes met.
“Oh Margaret!” He sighed. “I wish I could be sorry for that. But I’m not and I never will be. I’ve wanted to kiss tha since the moment our eyes met. I’m a servant but I am also a man.”
“Don’t you dare ever be sorry, Lewis Franklin.” She declared. “I’m not sorry either. I will live on the memory of that for a long time.”
“So will I.” he whispered. “Live on the memory of that kiss, I mean.”
“Goodnight Lewis.” She said softly.
“Goodnight Margaret.” He whispered, releasing her from his embrace with the utmost reluctance.
Tricia: Thank you, Melanie, for visiting with us. I love the book excerpts (especially the last one). To all my readers out there, please visit my Authors to Watch page to read my latest interview with Melanie. And, be sure to check back later this week when Melanie visits again to share some excerpts from Eye of the Storm.