Publication date: February 14th 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance, Young Adult
Synopsis: Changing places doesn’t always help you see things differently.
Cassie throws the first punch in a brawl at Winchester Abbey Girl’s School. Her subsequent suspension is a glitch in Cassie’s master plan; Finish School/Get Job/Leave Home (and never come back). As punishment her mother banishes her to Ludlow Park, their creepy ancestral home. In the dark of a stormy night Cassie finds herself transported to 1714, the beginning of the Georgian period.With the help of a lady’s maid and an obnoxious gentleman, Mr Charles Stafford, Cassie must unravel the mysterious illness afflicting Lord Miller. If Lord Miller kicks the bucket the house goes to Reginald Huxley, the brainless cousin from London.
Cassie’s task is to figure out who is poisoning the Lord of Ludlow without exposing herself to the ridicule of her peers, getting herself committed to the asylum or worse, married off to the first man who will have her.
Cassie must learn to hold her tongue, keep her pride in check and reign in her rebellious nature – because the fate of her entire family, for generations, rests on her shoulders.
Meanwhile, Lady Cassandra Miller frantically searches for her smelling salts or her trusted governess Miss. Blythe, whose soothing advice she would dearly love. Instead Cassandra finds some woman and a boy squatting in the Ludlow mansion; her father, her lady’s maid and all the servants have magically disappeared.
Tell-a-vision, the In-her-net, horseless carriages and women wearing pantaloons; Cassandra is afraid that she might have inhaled fowl air causing her to temporarily lose her senses.
Only when both girls can get over their pride, societal prejudices and self-importance will they be able to return to their rightful century. Until then, they are free to wreak maximum damage on their respective centuries.
Under the covers, she pulled the lace end of her night shift past her knees, down towards her shins, wrapping it around her toes. Winter was coming and the nights were getting colder. She had foolishly ignored Miss Blythe’s advice and refused a warming pan, declaring that it was too early in the year for frost. She snuggled deeper in the bed, regretting her decree.
She wished her mother was here. This time of year, coming into the darkness of winter, Cassandra felt her absence the most; her Mama, the exquisitely beautiful Lady Augustine Miller. If the stories of her youth were to be believed, she had commanded the attentions of not three but four prominent gentlemen during her début. Cassandra smiled to herself before twisting around in an effort to get comfortable. The horse hair mattress was lumpy. She would instruct Molly, her new maid, to beat it in the morning.
‘How am I expected to sleep in such discomfort?’ she said to the darkness before sitting bolt upright, her frustration rising. ‘Insufferable!’ She turned and punched her eider down pillow.
The room had recently been renovated, her furniture repositioned. Wallpaper had been purchased from London and a new canopy of light green silk had been added to the four posters of her bed. A mahogany writing desk and matching chair had been imported from France. According to Miss Taylor of Upton Manor, they were the most fashionable of furnishings and a necessity in any lady’s bedroom.
‘Simpering idiot,’ she said into the dark.
Miss. Taylor was very free with her opinion, an opinion that Cassandra usually disagreed with. Much to her dismay, it was her duty to suffer the companionship of the ladies of the neighbourhood once a month. It was a tradition that her mother had established, before Cassandra was born. The gatherings were an opportunity to become better acquainted with the families of the parish.
Cassandra loathed the events. In truth, as far as Cassandra could make out, the occasion was an excuse for gossip, a way to show off the latest fashion and a means of securing a match with someone’s brother, uncle or at times, even father.
These thoughts irked her. There would be no going back to sleep now, her blood pumping with discontent.
She reached to the chair beside her bed and pulled a well-worn shawl over her shoulders. If Miss. Blythe was to see her wearing such an item of clothing, she would scold her no end. Oh Miss. Miller, so unbefitting for a lady of your stature. Her governess still called her Miss., even though by rights, since her mother’s death, Cassandra was now the Lady of the house.
However Miss. Blythe, for all her remonstrations, had been a tower of strength and sense in the last three years. She had taken Cassandra under her wing and instilled all the knowledge she possessed. Cassandra had learned to move in polite society, to host social engagements, to handle the servants. In truth she had learned how to administer a large estate in a relatively short period of time; a fact that she was particularly proud of.
For a simple governess, Miss. Blythe’s knowledge of society was quite impressive. Yet sometimes Cassandra found her cautious nature overbearing. Every now and then she wanted to throw discretion to the wind, order beef instead of mutton for a dinner party. Or perhaps go out in the carriage without a bonnet. Such recklessness would not be acceptable of course. It would seriously hamper her chances of attracting a suitable husband.
Caroline Healy is a writer and community arts facilitator. She recently completed her M.A. in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University. She alternates her time between procrastination and making art.
In 2012 her award winning short story collection A Stitch in Time was published by Doire Press. Fiction and commentary has been featured in publications across Ireland, the U.K. and more recently in the U.S. Caroline’s work can be found in journals such as Wordlegs,The Bohemyth, Short Story Ireland, Short Stop U.K., Five Stop Story, Prole, Literary Orphans and the Irish Writers’ Centre Lonely Voice.
Her debut Y.A. novel, Blood Entwines was published by Bloomsbury Spark in August 2014 and she is in the process of writing the second book in the series, Blood Betrayal, as well as a short story collection, The House of Water.
She has a fondness for dark chocolate, cups of tea and winter woollies.
(More details can be found on her website www.carolinehealy.com)