As many of you may know, our beloved sister hostess SHARON DONOVAN, tragically passed away on 11th April 2012. We who knew her, loved her, and were inspired by her courage and determination to face head on whatever life threw at her. When she could no longer see to paint she turned to writing and showed her amazing talent in the Inspirational Romance and Romantic Suspense genres, and her story 'Charade Of Hearts' was awarded the coveted Predators and Editors Award in January 2011.

This Blog was a source of great delight to her, she was one of the founder hostesses and she contributed to the fun and silliness in her own original way, and was kind enough to let her unique creation, the hunky butler 'Oliver' join us for our Friday romp and prepare 'virtual breakfast' for the guests on the following morning. It's beyond hard to have to go on without her, but we know that she would have been the first to insist that 'the show must go on.' She is, and will always be with us in spirit.
Sharon, dear friend, we will never forget you.
The Author Roast and Toast is part of the legacy you left us. Let's raise a Toast to you as well as all our guests.

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Beastly Scandal, Shereen Vedam 's Fairytale Regency Roast

Pulled by a matching team of four spirited steeds, a gleaming barouche rumbles over the uneven road. Low branches of towering evergreens form a living tunnel as they pass through a thick, mysterious forest. Dressed in their finery, the seven hostesses perch on the tufted benches of the open air carriage, full of anticipation as they enjoy the scenery. Beside the handsome groom wielding the carriage’s reins, Cuddles  Morena and Creighton hold tight to Nibby’s collar, while Foster, and TT  ride the man’s shoulder.

Suddenly, the front right wheel dips into a deep rut, causing the carriage to lurch to one side.
Mac slaps a hand to her bonnet and squeaks as Melissa slides across the bench and pins her against the side. Lilly scoots over and shifts her parasol to her other shoulder and AJ protectively clutches her cell phone, discreetly hidden beneath the bodice of her dress.

“I don’t know how people survived in Regency times without constantly being black and blue.”
Mac fingers her earlobe. 

“Tell me about it. I think your parasol just pierced my ear,” Lyn snickers as Mary gasps.

“Oh, my Gosh, look at that!” She points past the groom’s wide shoulders.

The ladies turn as the carriage emerges from the shadows of the forest. At the top of a small rise, a sprawling manor house sits like a mystical crown in the surrounding greenery. Sparkling shards of eerie, jewel-like colors shimmer off the glossy, white stone bricks in the bright sunlight.

“It looks like a fairy tale castle,” Lilly breathes.

Mac scrambles to her knees for a better look. “It looks like a magical fairy tale castle.”

Mary knocks Patsy’s parasol aside to squeeze in beside Mac. “According to Shereen, it is, and where better than a magical fairy tale castle to celebrate the release of her book, A Beastly Scandal?”

Mac shoots Mary a concerned frown. “No one mentioned magic to me. Magic and Foster aren’t a good mix. You know how he is. What kind of magic are we talking?”

AJ spins in her seat to join them on their knees. “Shereen didn’t say, but it is a fairy tale castle, so chances are, anything goes.”

Lyn wedges herself between Mary and Vonnie and grins. Her eyes sparkle with mischief as they approach the manor. “I heard something about a ghost, too.”

Mac shoots her a disbelieving look. “You’re making that up.” 

Lyn grins and the others laugh out loud. Mac groans and drops her forehead to the back of the bench seat.

A heavy flapping sound reaches her ears and she looks up. Along with the other hostesses, she stares at the unbelievable sight of a winged, jet black horse hovering over the manor’s steep roof before winging off into the trees. Vonnie snorts and giggles a bit hysterically and the other hostesses exchange looks of shock.  The carriage slows to a stop in front of the manor house’s high portico. Nibby immediately leaps to the ground, followed by Foster, then the sidekicks disappear inside the large open front door.

Mac shakes off her shock to call after them. “Wait! Foster, come back here!”

Mary jumps to her feet and takes the groom’s offered hand to alight from the carriage. “Oh, shoot. We’d better hurry. No telling what kind of trouble they’ll get into in there.”
She hurries inside followed by the other hostesses.

Inside the cavernous foyer, they stand gawking at the splendor revealed. Made entirely of white marble, a grand staircase rises from the sparkling floor and seems to go on forever. To their left, a glimmering ballroom shimmers under the light of two dozen golden chandeliers. Hundreds of guests crowd the dance floor, spinning dizzily to the haunting tunes of a waltz.

Those not on the dance floor gather in groups around the room. The smartly dressed men nip whiskey or swallow hearty ale while women in colorful dresses sip at their wine or tea. 

Oliver, looking splendid as usual all in black, nods to the ladies as he delivers a tray of drinks to one group. Beyond the dance floor, solid gold platters hold a feast fit for a king on the long tables lining one wall. 

The hostesses’ mouths water at the tantalizing scents of roasted beef, game hen and sausage rolls. Savory, boiled potatoes steam in gleaming bowls beside a golden tureen of rich, fish soup. Woven, jeweled baskets hold loaves of fragrant bread and flaky cheese biscuits.

Mac cringes as she spots Foster on the dessert table, tiptoeing through the wide selection of tarts. He stops suddenly to dip a fingertip into the Christmas pudding, no doubt hoping to find the gold coin hidden within.

“Foster!” Mac starts forward then halts when she spots Shereen stepping up to the table.

The hostesses rush over. “So sorry Shereen.” Lyn raises a brow when Cuddles,Creighton,  Nibby and T.T.scurry up over Nibby’s head and nose to join Mac’s troublesome fairy prince amongst the sweets, swiftly joined by Morena.

 “The sidekicks insisted they be allowed to attend today, and they don’t always behave.”

Nibby’s tongue sneaks out and a tart disappears. Patsy snickers. Mary clears her throat.

Shereen laughs. “No trouble at all. In this place, a few more magical creatures won’t make any difference.”

“Oh, lord.” Mac groans. “I was afraid you were going to say something like that.”

Lyn grins and rubs her hands together. “Well, ladies. What are we waiting for? Let’s show Shereen a magical time!”




Lady Annabelle Marchant was a belle of the ball in London until she used her psychical senses to save a man’s life. She failed miserably, leaving him dead and her disgraced. All she wants now is a chance to comfort his widow by cleansing the woman’s home of her husband’s restless spirit. But the widow’s son, the beastly Lord of the Manor, accuses her of coming to the wilds of Cheshire to snag him as a husband. Thoroughly disgusted, she is bent on proving him wrong.


Lord Rufus Marlesbury, the Earl of Terrance, is suspected of murdering his father. He has come home to clear his name by finding the real killer before the new year or the king has promised that Rufus will be called in front of the House of Lords to answer for the crime. He does not have time to waste fending off a marriage-minded miss who has inveigled an invitation to his home by playing on his grief-stricken mother’s worst fears.


With an unruly manor ghost terrorizing the occupants and corpses piling up in the village, Belle must find a way to see the man beneath the beast and Rufus must learn to believe in the love of a woman who has no reason to trust him. Only by working together can they stop a vengeful ghost before it torments the guests or before the killer strikes again.

Lord Terrance may have forbid her from coming to his manor house, but she was determined to clear his country home of its resident ghost.

"That is a desolate looking house, is it not?" Winfield said. "I would have it torn down and rebuilt in a more flattering style, but Terrance seems fond of this monstrosity. So what brings you so far north, my lady?"

She faced the gentleman. "I have come for a visit with Lady Terrance. She is my grandfather's friend."

"I had heard the countess still wore dark colors."

Before she could respond, a loud crack sounded. She sensed danger stab from above. With a shouted warning, she pulled Mr. Winfield out of harm's way just as an icicle crashed and shattered where they had stood. She protected her face as splinters flew in all directions.

Mendal screamed. The owl fluttered its one good wing and screeched. The dog barked ferociously.

Mr. MacBride spoke first, his voice quivering and eyes wide with terror. "It is an omen, ah tell ye." "He is right," Mendal said, sounding unusually timorous as she crossed herself. "We should leave. Bad luck comes from going where we are not wanted."

The front doors opened then, and a footman descended. Immediately, the dog raced up the stairs and inside.

"Dog!" Belle called out in alarm. The animal might wreck the place. This was not how she had hoped to introduce herself to the countess.

An older woman, dressed in black, moved to the open doorway. Belle recognized her from a drawing her grandfather had shown her.

This was Lady Terrance. She gave off waves of fear as she looked toward the roofline. Belle's worries drowned beneath the lady's emotional assault, leaving her head pounding with a headache. Through that onslaught, Belle's purpose became crystal clear. This is why she had come here. Lady Terrance needed her. 

Shereen Vedam was born on a tiny paradise island called Ceylon, later renamed Sri Lanka. Since then she arrived in Canada and moved across the provinces until she landed in British Columbia where she found a new 
paradise all her own, filled with people and pets and plants (including an awesome giant Weeping Sequoia) that nurture her love of reading, writing and dreaming. A Beastly Scandal is my debut novel, and the first of 4 fairytale-inspired Regency romances.

Website: www.shereenvedam.com

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/shereenvedam/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ShereenVedam
Twitter: https://twitter.com/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3415603.Shereen_Vedam


To win a copy of Shereen's book, all you have to do is just leave a comment and your e-mail address.

Contest ends on Sunday and everyone who comments is eligible.


  1. Hi Shereen, welcome to your Roast. Many apologies for being so late - all my fauult, the carrage got stuck in a rut, horses bolted, you know how it is.

    In real life I had an emergency with my little rescued dog, who's just had an operation, and had to collect him from the vet, but he's now safe at home recovering. Also had numerous problems with the internet, we're having weird weather and it's been playing up on and off all week.

    Congratulations on your book, A Beastly Affair' sounds like an amazing story, I love that sort of book!

  2. Hi Hywela and gang,

    Thanks for hosting this roast. You rescued puppy sounds like an angel. Fingers crossed he heals beautifully and swiftly.

    Love the gowns :) I'm off to get a tart before they're all stolen by the sidekicks.


  3. Greetings chickies! *air kisses while breathing heavily* Hiya Shereen. Welcome to your roast. I love me a fairytale romance. A Beastly Scandal sounds like a good one.

    Phew! Foster and company decided to take their pilfered sweets upstairs. I got lost following them. And I think one of the chairs on the third floor moved. I'm telling you, this place may be beautiful, but there are odd goings on around here.

  4. Hi Mac, *hugs8 sister hostess. What a great setting this is, I love fairy tale castles, and these dresses are s comfy and elegant arent't they.

    Thanks for the good wishes, Shereen. Bouncer is a little subdued and not bouncing too much at the moment, but the vet was pleased with him and I'm hoping he'll soon be back to normal, he's such a sweet little guy (bit like the vet actually, although he's not little but he is very kind and sweet)

    Right I'm off to grab some food while there's still some left. Are you going to cut your cake, Shereen, I think Oliver was up all night making it! ;)

  5. I love this place! Wonder what other strange things we'll see. Is there a ghost or just magic?? Cause the magic I can handle the ghost, well I wouldn't care to be scared by a ghost. Personally, I'd prefer the winged horse.
    Nibbie stop stealing the goodies, you know they make you hyper! No, Stop!! Don't jump on that table!!!
    Oh darn...

  6. The table isn't the only thing moving on its own. And Nibbie is racing back downstairs because what's upstairs is apparently scarier to a dog getting caught with a stolen treat. Yikes!

  7. So that explains her behavior. What the heck is up there? Holy Moley! Look at Nibbie run. Come back Nibbster!!!

  8. Well don't you ladies look beautiful as ever and Oliver so dashing. Mmm yummy food. That grand stair case is a sight to see. Shereen your book sounds wonderful. Pretty book cover. Hywela hope your doggie will be alright. Always scary when something unexpected happens.
    Sue B

  9. Lyn's doggie is just adorable. I'm so glad he's okay and so is Nibbie.
    He's quite the footwarmer and it sounds like he rules the roost!!
    I always gauge people by how much they love animals. It says a lot!
    How about another short excerpt Shereen? I'll bet Oliver would share a dance with you for one?

  10. Hi Sue lovely to see you here again.

    Thanks for the good wishes for my doggie. He's had a bit to eat and s getting back to normal. I think he's really glad to be back home though.

    Yes Shereen, let's have another excerpt, the first one was so intriguing!

  11. Anyone seen Cuddles? The other sidekicks are no-where to be seen either, and there are some very spooky noises coming from the direction of the cellar!

  12. Hiya Sue *finger waves*

    Lyn, I think Cuddles and Foster slipped outside to track down that flying horse. At least that's what the coatrack in the hall told me. Dear Lord, I'm talking to furniture. Oliver, quick. I need a cocktail!

  13. Last time I saw Nibbie was when she ran down the stairs and out the door. Hey, is it true Cuddles can change size? Cause I see two horses out there and one has a horn? OMG look at that! Mary points out a nearby window and everyone gazes out to view the scene...

  14. Crumbs, yes he has been kn own to use his magic to grow big enough to carry me. You know I think he's getting a little too friendly with that flying mare, wouldn't surprise me if they'll be off making a mare's nest before too long if we don't stop 'em!

  15. Ghosts aren't the only worrisome beasts in this story. And magic can come in all different forms...some of them very romantic.

    EXCERPT coming up!

    Here's the opening of the story...

    Dear Lord, let us not have killed him.

    In a panic, Belle clambered down from the carriage and ran to the fallen horseman lying on the snow-covered ground. She gently laid his head on her lap. Under the carriage light, her gloved hand came away bloody, and her heart skipped a beat.

    She peeled off the hand portion of her right glove to check his breath. Was that a faint draft against her fingers? His body and long limbs looked properly aligned, but he was icy cold and lay utterly still.

    Other than for that one lump on his head, there were no obvious bruises to him or his horse. Could her carriage have merely frightened his horse, so that it reared and he had fallen? She just wished he would wake up.

    Beside her, hoofs stomped, leads jangled and carriage wheels shifted. Feet crunched through calf-deep snow as the coachman and the stranded family she had offered to take to the nearest inn joined her on the darkened roadside.

    “Is he dead, my lady?” The coachman held a lantern over the body so he could properly inspect their victim. “Oh, it be the hangman’s noose for me for sure!”

    “Hush,” Belle said. “This was an accident. The puppy’s barks merely startled the horses. This was not your fault.”

    It was mine. Belle’s heart squeezed with guilt, for the young wolfhound had barked and jumped to get at the injured baby owl Belle had rescued from a stable at her last stop to change horses. She had refused to countenance them killing the tiny creature and took it along with her when they left. She had been keeping it warm and safe under her jacket. Until she stopped to pick up a family beside a broken down carriage. They had found a lost puppy in the snowstorm, and the children had brought it into Belle’s carriage. Then the dog sniffed out the bird and . . .

    The mother approached, her breath huffing out. “Imagine, riding along a main thoroughfare in the dead of night during a snowstorm. Anyone’s coach could have run him over.”

    Belle shook her head in confusion. How could so many of her good deeds have caused such a catastrophe?

  16. What a great opening line! Grabbing hook for sure! Makes me want more!

  17. Great first line! And the rest ain't bad either. Love it, Shereen.

  18. Hey! How come I never got to ride Cuddles?
    I'd let you ride Nibbie. If you were just a wee bit smaller...
    Foster, I saw you look under that ladies dress!! Oh Mac. He's bad...

  19. Nite everyone, I'll be in that alcove over there, hiding! See you in the morning!
    Nibbie, where are you?? Nibbie come!

  20. Puff, puff, I was down in the cellar, you'll never guess what's down there!
    Magical things like you've never seen!

    Shereen, what a fantastic opening, love it, I really want to find out more and who couldn't love such a kind hearted heroine! On my wish list for sure!

    Mary dear, you can ride Cuddles whenever you like - if you can persuade him to grow tall enough. He has a tendency to only do it when it suits him!

    I'm going to find a quiet corner and get some sleep, I'm really tired after all that ghost hunting and goings on in the cellar. - Don't go away folks, we'll still be here tomorrow!

  21. That is a great opening. Really loved it.
    Sue B

  22. Late to the party, but you know what they say. Congratulations on the release and many sales to you!

  23. Hi Patsy - like the new Avatar, doesn't this look like a fantastic book!

  24. Thanks for all the good wishes Sue and Patsy. And Mary and Mackenzie.

    I'm off to go find a book to read in the library, I heard that room's been checked found safe to enter

  25. Thanks Lyn, come on guys there are carriages arriving and new guests to greet! And a terrific book to go buy! Wishing you tons of sales Shereen! And a great following of happy readers...

  26. The blog post for this roast read as good as a book. Loved the pictures too and the humor as always. Congratulations and best of luck Shereen!

  27. Hi Howard

    Thanks so much for visiting and for your kind comment. So glad you enjoyed our Roast - and pics!

  28. Thanks, Howard, This group certainly did a wonderful job of the blog post. :)

  29. Hello lovelies! My everyone looks so fancy. I LOVE this castle. Love it. I'm thrilled to be hosting you Shereen as I'm all about the magic AND fairy tales.

    *A chair slides up behind AJ and she plops into the seat. A glass of wine floats over from the buffet and she giggles as she plucks it from the air.*

    How lovely! Yes, I think we should all go for a ride on the winged horses. Who's first?

  30. Hi evereyone, welcome back Shereen.
    Hi AJ - yes I love this magical place too. Mmm, mead for the wishing, can't be bad! Oh I can't wait to ride a winged horse, something I've always wanted to do (When Cuddles has stopped herding them into a corner that is.) Cuddles, stop that, prodding them with your horn isn't funny!

  31. Lyn, I'm so sorry to hear about your little rescue dog. I'm sending a bunch of get well wishes his way!!

    Shereen, I love the excerpts you brought with you today! A Beastly Affair sounds exactly like my kind of story!

  32. Phew! Sorry I'm late. I just had to slide down that wicked stair rail and then the nicest young man helped me find an ice pack for me arse. :o

  33. *Lilly rushes in, breathless and scoops up TT who is licking sugar from her lips.* Sorry I'm late! An on going issue with my parent's phone and internet, which I'm happy to say is resolved. Has TT been getting into the food with Nibs? Sorry, Shereen. TT loves sweets. And I love the sound of your debut novel. Congratulations!

  34. I'm up for the horse riding too! If I fall off I'll just bounce back on the girls. Me first!! Mary pushes Lyn out of the way. Lyn throws a glass of mead at Mary, who catches it easily with one swallow. Mmmmm.
    That excerpt is one terrific hook, Shereen, you got me!

  35. All you got from that hunk was an ice pack? That's too bad Mac, I had to fight them off, (of Lilly).

  36. Ladies, do you think this hoop skirt makes my arse look big? *Snort!* Wait, I'm not wearing a hoop am I?

    Shereen, I love the premise of your story. Thanks for sharing an awesome excerpt with us today.

  37. Was that your arse sweetie? I thought it was a platform. HeHeHe

  38. Well I am fashionably late again. LOL. My email I got this morning was last weeks post and I didn't see this one. Was playing tricks on me I guess. What a wonderful party. You look lovely in your dresses and of course Oliver is as handsome as ever. A Beastly Scandal sounds wonderful. Pretty book cover.
    Sue B

  39. Did AJ get back from her winged horse ride yet? She hasn't been fit to live with since she crossed that canyon on a zip line. Mary, have a tart with me so I'm not alone at the dessert line.

  40. I'll have two! And I have been through the line twice already. Gotta keep the boobs full with something.

  41. LOL V! I'd dare you to give me something else to show how brave I've become, but I fear what your mind may come up with.

    Speaking of tarts, Mac how is your arse?

  42. *Picks cherry pit from between teeth and snorts* Why, yes, Mac how is your...what AJ said????

  43. Hey, I resemble that remark! My arse is just fine. *blows raspberry*

    But where is Shereen? Okay, what's going on? I'm beginning to think the door to the website is stuck or something.

  44. A winged horse is seen high up in the azure sky, it circles gracefully for a while, then glides to land gracefully on the castle parapets, closely followed by Cuddles, with Foster and TT on board. Morena, Nibbie and Creighton leap down from behind Lyn.

    Sorry I've been away so long, I just had to have another ride on this gorgeous creature. Yes, I sonder where Shereen is, I suspect there may be a timewarp or something involved here!

  45. Lyn, you sonder? Is that anything like ponder? LOL, What a great party,I see that Jessie and the boys have arrived, don't want them to pick on the faeries. So, off we go...
    Nibbie, no sniffing behinds, you too Creighton. All you have to do is look at the faces, please. Cuddles, you are are so nice to give them all rides. I think Shereen ran off with the rest of the James Gang. Nite everyone, see you at breakfast. Woo Hoo!

  46. LOL Mary *hic* it's this fairy mead!

    I meant wonder! :) Anyway, I'm off with you to get some shuteye too - have a good time with the James Gang!

  47. Loved the excerpt. I like the first line. Have a great evening all.
    Sue B

  48. I'm here, I'm here. I couldn't find the front door. Every time I knocked, the door vanished. Finally climbed in through the window. This place is spooky, but I'm glad I made it in.

    Darn, I missed the riding the winged horses! I love horses and winged ones sounded so cool.

    Now if I can only find the wine cellar.

  49. Hi Sue, thanks so much for dropping by, always great to see you!

  50. Shereen! Thank goodness you're safe, we were afraid you might have been carried off by a dragon or something.

    So pleased you're a horse lover too - I'm sure the winged horses will be back to give you a ride! Meanwhile, enjoy the wine (and the mead) The wine cellar's this way!

  51. Hi Sue,
    Glad you could come by.

    Hywela, Mary, McKenzie, Vonnie, AJ, Lilly, Thanks for having me back. Love this place. So cheerful, welcoming and just plain fun! :)

  52. Hello~waving back~Good morning all. Going to be a nice day here. Enjoy yours.
    Sue B

  53. *Lilly raises a glass* A toast to Shereen, her new book, and this somewhat spooky castle. I went down to the wine cellar and got locked in when the door disappeared. But hey, the wine is good! Thought I'd be locked in long enough to polish off the entire bottle, but TT led Cuddles and Foster to me and they found the door so I could escape. **Lilly hiccups, looks at glass, and frowns.** Oops. This is the last glass of that lovely wine. Guess I'm going to finish off that bottle after all. Cheers!

  54. "Ola ladies!" Melissa stumbles through the door. "I'm terribly sorry for being so late to the party. Yesterday was rather hectic at Snark Estates. My mother-in-law is visiting for what seems FOREVER."

  55. Miss Snark,
    Maybe show you your mother-in-law into this castle, I hear doors "accidentally" vanish once your inside. :) Glad you could join us.

    I'm working on putting the full first chapter of A Beastly Scandal on my website for readers to get a taste of this ghostly Regency tale.

    Have to say HTML codes are scarier than ghosts and goblins. My table keep shifting from one column to two, bottom keeps fading away and just when I think I have it whipped into shape, the ceiling collapses.

  56. Is it morning yet? Yawn,:O where's the food? Are we there yet?
    I think I'll try to find one of those doors...there are some relatives who I'd like to lose myself.

  57. Mary, lol about trying to lose your your relatives ;)

  58. I've a bonus as a thank you for hosting this wonderful party at Author Roast. A first meet of the ghost in A Beastly Scandal.

    I managed to get the full 1st chapter loaded up on my website but here's a snippet to whet your appetite.

    (Lord Terrance has returned home after a disagreeable encounter with our heroine, Belle Marchant, during a raging snowstorm. He's trying to warm up in a tub of hot water, when his mother interrupts to ask what happened with Belle...now his mother has left, but he's still upset by the topic of their discussion - ghosts in his home). Enjoy.


    His mother departed before he could question her more on this havey-cavey business about alleged spirits.

    The water had cooled while they spoke, his head still throbbed, and the topic of conversation had done nothing to ease the pain. He lost all interest in relaxing and stood.

    Cold air brushed against his bare skin, and he shivered as he stepped out of the tub and dried himself before shrugging on his robe. Sighing, he leaned against the fireplace mantle and caught sight of his father's gold watch. A new purchase, by the polished look of it. He lifted the timepiece. The watch lay heavy on his palm and heavier on his heart.

    On its backside was a tiny inscription. As he squinted at the words, the candles flickered out. A gust of wind descended into the fireplace and left scattered embers in its wake. The room went pitch-black, the temperature dropped, if possible, and a vaguely familiar odor invaded the room.

    Rufus dropped the watch on the mantle and searched for a brimstone match. All the while, he bellowed for Ellison.

    Running footsteps were followed by the handle jiggling. That was followed by a knock before his valet said, "My lord, you have locked the door."

    "How could I lock it when I do not have the key?" he said with impatience. "The damned candles have gone out, as has the fire. You probably used inadequate coal. Wait, while I find my way to you." He took a couple of steps, and his foot struck the metal bath, causing pain to shoot up his leg. He swore, shaking his foot to ease the pins and needles, then hobbled over to the door and reached for the handle. Ice stung his palm, and he jerked his hand back.

    His valet shouted in a high-pitched voice, "My lord, the handle be icy cold. It is bewitched. I . . . I shall go for help."

    "Ellison," Rufus said in a deadly calm voice, "stay where you are, and do not spout such idiocy." Using the sleeve of his robe, he grabbed the handle again, turned and pulled. The door remained stubbornly in place and then suddenly gave way. He stumbled back.

    Rufus pointed at the handle. "See, nothing but a sticky door. See that you oil the hinges so we avoid a repetition."

    Ellison delicately reached out to touch the handle. "It seems fine now, my lord."

    "Of course, it is fine. I have warmed it with my touch."

    The valet stared at the handle with a doubtful expression.

    "You are not to say another word about a haunting to me or anyone else," Rufus said, then added in a threatening tone, "If I find you have spread tales, especially to my mother, I will throw you out without a farthing to buy yourself ale. Do we understand each other?"

    "Yes, my lord."

    "Good. Then get on with your duties."

    Unsettled, Rufus returned to his bedroom. He should have come home directly after his father died. Then he could have accomplished his two main goals-searched for his father's killer and cared for his family and servants. They apparently needed taking care of. Ellison was scared of shadows. His mother apparently imagined ghosts roamed the corridors.

    If you want to read more, the full Chapter 1 excerpt can be found here:

  59. Good morning. That was a great excerpt.
    Sue B

  60. Morning sister hostesses, 'morning Sue - and good morning Shereen - thank you SO much for that fantastic excerpt. Brrrr, creey! I must check out the rest!

    Sorry I've not been around - I got lost in the corridors of this castle. They seem to change direction everytime one goes round a corner! I walked around for hours before I realised I was going in circles

  61. Morning Sue and Hywela,

    I've heard about that circling bit in corridors in this place.

    Though if I ran into Lord Terrance in his bathrobe because the corridors tricked me into making a wrong turn, hmmm..now that I might not complain too much about. :)

  62. LOL Shereen, I have to agree with that sentiment - unfortunately I ran into no one except a couple of impish dwarfs, and they were nothing like Lord Terrence, more's the pity!