Accent Hub welcomes Julie Roberts onto the blog today. Julie tells us of her successful weekend at Newbury Craft Fair and gives you a little taster of her much loved novel, The Hidden Legacy.
I haven’t been a seller at a craft fair for some time, so I ventured out this November with my novel The Hidden Legacy. The moment of should I was a promotion decision that needed careful thinking about –the table cost, petrol, should I be using this time to write?
Well, It was worth every minute of my day. I spent lots of time talking to so many people, mothers pushing their babies, ladies with time to read on a cold winter’s day, and those suffering partners who I persuaded to take home an extra Christmas gift for the lady in their lives.
I enjoyed the atmosphere of the hall, the variety of so many different stalls, the refreshments, just coffee for me as I did not have time to sit and eat my sandwich lunch.
And only two books left to take home. Time to order more books…
With Christmas in mind, why not treat yourself or a loved one to The Hidden Legacy. Here’s a little taster of my regency romance.
This moment was the beginning of her new life.
Meredith stood in front of a building in Ludgate Hill. She owned every brick and room squeezed between a silversmith and a tailor’s premises. From today it was her home, her art studio, and gallery. She wanted to dance and clap her hands, though such girlish behaviour would not be appropriate. But it was still a wonder that her beloved guardian, Frederick, had bequeathed it to her.
She stepped close to the bow window, which reflected her green eyes bright with happiness. A light breeze lifted a strand of dark hair as she rubbed her finger over a dust spot. The new easels had emptied her purse, but they had been worth every penny as they displayed her two favourite paintings, a river scene and a portrait of a boy.
The sound of bolts being drawn in the adjoining shops made her heart beat faster. Could she succeed in the art world? Would artists allow an un-sponsored, unprotected woman into their realm of canvas and oils? Enter studios where models were draped in only swathes of scarlet silk?
Going inside, she left the front door open. It presented a more welcoming entrance than a client having to knock. The dusty and dingy room of two weeks ago was now covered with unbleached linen panels. It had transformed the space into a light and airy gallery. In pride of place on the long wall was her painting of Frederick.
She picked up The Times and read the advertisement she had placed. It looked small and insignificant amongst so many others.
Artist of experience seeks pupils to tutor in the graces of drawing and painting.
Mondays and Wednesdays – 9am until noon.
Charge 5s.0d per morning.
Sanders Studio, Ludgate Hill.
Should she be sitting when a client arrived? She swept her skirt across a wooden chair and seated herself behind a spindly-legged desk that she had bargained fiercely for with a mean-faced trader at a flea market – but she loved the elegant tone it gave the gallery.
Fifteen minutes passed. She couldn’t sit a moment longer and paced the length of the room, counting each step … Thirty minutes! What would she do if no one came? Frederick had, in his will, provided her with an allowance which ought to cover her own expenses. But there was also Mrs Clements to provide for. It had only been proper to invite her to leave Harlington and come to London as her companion and housekeeper. Her tuition money would be essential to pay Mrs Clements’ wages. And what about buying her art materials? If she sold a painting she would need to create another to replace it. Her plan to put aside a little money each quarter for emergencies was looking more than fanciful. Clearly being independent meant shouldering a lot of personal and household responsibilities.
Clattering horses’ hooves sounded outside the window and Meredith hurried to see what was happening. A well-attired gentleman was lifting a little girl from a coach. A moment later he opened the inner gallery door and together they stepped inside.
Now that she could see him better, he was a very handsome gentleman. His dark hair touched the collar of his jacket and his eyes were the darkest of brown. He removed his hat, favoured a slight bow, and said, ‘Good morning. My niece and I have come in answer to an advertisement regarding tuition. Would you please announce to the artist that Mr Fox and Miss Weston are here?’
This was not a good start. He thought she was an assistant? Her hands started to tremble and she clasped them tightly and prayed the dark dress she wore gave her a professional appearance.
She curtsied. ‘You address the artist, sir.’
He stepped back, ‘You! But you’re a …’ he faltered, ‘a lady, a very young lady!’
If this was the reaction she was going to get whenever a prospective client walked through the door, interviews would be extremely tedious. But she would not be intimidated by his words; she raised her head an inch and replied, ‘I am Miss Meredith Sanders, at your service, sir. I can assure you I am fully qualified to tutor.’
Mr Fox gestured to the window. ‘Come closer that I might see better a lady who recommends herself so highly.’
Meredith bit her tongue. How many times had she been warned that her frank speaking would be her downfall? Was she now going to lose this client she so desperately needed?
‘I beg your pardon sir, I meant no offence.’
Amusement tinged his voice as he repeated, ‘I asked you to come nearer the light.’
The last thing she wanted to do was provoke a disagreement, so she stepped forward and said, ‘This is a bright room, sir. However, I am happy to oblige you.’
His gaze started at her feet and moved upwards to her eyes, his expression revealing nothing of his thoughts. ‘Tell me, how many of these paintings can I attribute to you?’
‘All of them, sir.’ Meredith kept her tone civil and swept her arm in a circle towards both long walls. ‘I paint watercolour and oil, portrait and landscape.’
‘Um,’ was his only comment. ‘Do you have a stool for my niece to sit on?’
Meredith indicated a wooden chair in the corner and the child sat down. Miss Weston’s behaviour was demure, but there was an expectation in her, an excitement as she leant forward and watched her uncle’s every move.
Mr Fox toured the room that was now her gallery, stopping to study first a landscape, then a charcoal sketch and finally the portrait of Frederick.
‘Who is this?’
‘My …’ she hesitated, then the untruth left her lips, ‘my late father, who was also my dearest friend.’
‘Would you say this is a good likeness?’
Her grief, never far from the surface, returned. ‘Oh, yes.’ Her voice warmed, as it always did when she spoke of Frederick. ‘He had the dearest of natures. Those lines beside his eyes were caused by laughter and his lips tilted up at the corner when he smiled. And he always wore the most brilliant of colours.’ She was drawn into the painting, remembering the long summer days in his studio, how he had taught her to mix the oil paints, sketch an outline.
‘I am much taken with your talent, Miss Sanders.’
She forced her memories aside, relieved to hear Mr Fox now viewed her with a more appreciative manner. Now that her initial fear had calmed, she could see his face was not so stern, his voice a more gentle tone. And his fine woollen green jacket fitted his broad shoulders to perfection. She let her gaze drift lower to the pale breeches and highly polished boots. Such an outfit could only come from the highest quality shops. A flutter of excitement ran down to her toes.
You can find out what happens to Meredith in the rest of the novel by purchasing a copy here.