Tuesday, 18 August 2020

New Release Spotlight: The Second Mrs Thistlewood by Dianne Haynes

The Second Mrs Thistlewood by Dionne Haynes

Regency England. A land of oppression and social discontent.
Arthur Thistlewood is fighting for a revolution. Susan Thistlewood is fighting for freedom. From Arthur.
Battered and bruised by her violent husband, Susan finds comfort in food and books. As Arthur’s legal property, leaving the marriage seems an impossible dream — until a chance encounter with a charismatic Bow Street Runner. In the sanctuary of an inconspicuous London bookshop, the Runner’s easy manner and unexpected generosity compel Susan to pursue a life without her husband.
But will the Bow Street officer provide a key to Susan’s freedom? Or will he place her in the greatest danger of all?
Inspired by true events from the Cato Street Conspiracy of 1820, this is a tale of courage, determination, and love.

Amazon UK           Amazon US 

An extract from Chapter 3 of The Second Mrs Thistlewood.


Regency England is a land of discontent. While the rich grow richer, the poor grow poorer with machines of the industrial revolution putting many out of work. The Corn Laws threaten to increase the price of bread and many other staples, resulting in many families going hungry. Meanwhile soldiers are returning from fighting in France to face unemployment and begging on the streets.

Arthur Thistlewood wants to bring about change in the British government to improve conditions for the working classes, but as his ideas grow more militant, so does the treatment of his wife and son. Susan is intent on finding a way out of the marriage. This is an example of why.

The aroma of warm gingerbread draws a gurgle from my stomach. I inhale deeply and admire the little cakes fresh from the oven. I’m always a competent baker, but this is my finest batch to date.
A commotion at the front door announces Arthur’s arrival. My limbs tense. He was not due home until later this afternoon.
Susan?’ His loud voice is laced with agitation.
Here, Arthur.’ I rush into the hallway to help him remove his overcoat. I shake out the wrinkles and hang the coat on the battered stand by the door.
His face is taut with concern, his eyes muddied by angst. He sniffs the air and his grimace slackens into a boyish smile. ‘Gingerbread?’
Arthur always chides me for having cakes or pastries in the house, for it’s insulting to indulge in such niceties while others dare not dream of them. But today is a special occasion. It’s the start of a new year.
Arthur holds my hand and raises my fingers to his lips. ‘This will be the year we overthrow the tyrants in government and give the common man the fair treatment he deserves.’
He smiles and pulls me closer.
Do you have a plan?’
A few ideas.’ He grins and bends forward as if to kiss me when the front door flies open. He pulls away and stands erect as Julian, my stepson, stumbles into the house.
Arthur’s smile fades. ‘You’re unsteady on your feet, Julian.’
The twelve-year-old grins. ‘Tripped on the top step.’
Arthur grabs a fistful of Julian’s wool coat and pushes him against the wall. ‘Have you been drinking?’
I dislike the ominous tone.
No, sir.’ Julian pales. ‘Just running about with my friends, that’s all.’
Arthur clenches Julian’s jaw and forces his mouth open, sniffing his breath. I avert my eyes and stare at the stained tiles on the floor. I know what’s coming.
What have you had?’
Arthur is too strong for the boy and Julian’s feet hover an inch or two above the floor. No matter how often this happens, I cannot get used to it.
I’m sorry, sir. Truly. It won’t happen again.’ The tremor in his voice tells me he’s crying, but I dare not intervene.
Gin, sir.’ A sob. ‘I had to. Everyone else was. John Martin found a bottle and shared it. I tried refusing, but they started on me and I had to take a few swigs to shut them up.’
So you were weak-willed. You’ll not grow into a fine gentleman if you’re easily swayed by friends. I’m disappointed, Julian.’
I suppress a comment about Arthur’s own gullibility. His migration towards radical politics coincided with the discovery of new friends at card tables. No doubt his poor investment choices were similarly misguided.
Arthur releases his grip and takes a step back. I clench my fingers and close my eyes, tight. A loud whack echoes around the hallway after Arthur’s palm connects with Julian’s face, then a dull thud as Julian’s head strikes the wall. I look up. Julian’s cheeks are shiny with tears and a livid red handprint lingers on his cheek. Blood seeps from his left nostril.
Arthur turns to face me and my legs quiver.
He beams at me. ‘Time to eat that delicious-smelling gingerbread.’
Julian and I exchange fleeting glances. I want to embrace the boy, reassure him that all will be well, but I daren’t. Instead, we troop towards the kitchen and settle at the table, pretending to enjoy the gingerbread that sticks in our throats.

Dionne is a retired doctor, living in Plymouth with her husband. She has a passion for history, the great outdoors, good food and life in general. With her medical career now well behind her, she is enjoying a second career as an author.
In 2015, Dionne finished writing her first novel The Provenance of Lilly, but after careful reflection and consideration of some harsh criticism, she decided not to put it into print. Instead, she worked hard at honing her writing skills, and published her debut novel, Running With The Wind, in 2019. She is currently working on a sequel which will form Book One of The Trelawney Wives series.
Dionne graduated from St George’s Hospital Medical School in 1992, and started her medical career in the Royal Air Force. In 1998, she left the military to have her son, and worked in General Practice and Occupational Medicine. The opportunity to retire came in 2014 and Dionne did not hesitate to take it, relishing the opportunity to delve into history books and begin her writing career. Although no longer practising medicine, her medical background has some influence in the plotting of her stories.
While keen to maintain historical accuracy in her writing, Dionne creates stories from real events with sparse recorded details, allowing her imagination to take over and tell a tale of what may have occurred.