Excerpt: The Matchgirl’s Dilemma

My historical fiction novel, The Matchgirl’s Dilemma, was published on Kindle yesterday. I plan to bring out the paperback edition within the next month or so. I am so excited about this book. I undertook a lot of research for it, which was quite harrowing in parts, to say the least. Those matchgirls were treated badly by their bosses at Bryant and May, and some even met their deaths by having encountered the dangerous white phosphorous employed at the factory that the government of the time refused to ban. When they were of no further use to the company, they were tossed away like spent matches, but those fierce flames forged ahead with the help of social activist, Annie Besant, to address their concerns about conditions at the factory. They brought about a revolution for the workers of this land, helping to form the trades unions we know of today.

A shiver coursed Lottie’s spine. She was just about to tell Oliver this was the woman she had met outside the factory, then thought better of it.

Annie Besant stood firm on the wooden podium, the red ribbon in her hair that was her trademark, fluttering in the summer breeze, her knuckles white, as she began, “The people have been silenced. I will be the advocate of this silence. I will speak for those who aren’t able to speak. I will be the Word of the People…”

There was a tremendous ripple of applause, and for the first time, Lottie noted there were a lot of women in the crowd and one or two she recognised from the factory.

“Go on, give it to them, Annie!” a man shouted from the back of the crowd.

“There is one factory in this area where the young girls and women are battered into silence. They aren’t allowed a voice, but I am. This is the same factory where they work long hours for little pay. They work with a chemical called phosphorous that is so dangerous it can eat away at your bone and believe me, there have been deaths!”

There was a huge collective gasp from the crowd and Lottie turned to look at Oliver who was staring intently ahead, his eyes fixated on Annie Besant, but his glare was hard and unflinching. It was obvious he was no fan of the woman or her politics.

“That’s terrible!” a woman shouted.

“These poor girls if they even drop a box of matches on the floor they’re forced to pay for it from their own money!” Annie Besant continued. “Those young girls and women can’t speak for themselves, so I propose that there is safety in numbers and that soon there will be a walk out at the Bryant and May factory!” she shouted as people cheered, some threw their hats in the air.

Oliver remained stone-faced. “I think it’s time we left before unrest breaks out,” he said firmly, and although Lottie yearned to stay, she guessed there might be truth in his words. In any case, her mother would be worried about her. He took her by the arm and guided her through the jostling crowd, who were listening with avid interest, but how she longed to stay behind and hear more of what Mrs Besant had to say on the matter.

“That woman is a trouble maker,” he said, once they were well away from the throng. “She was involved in that demonstration at Trafalgar Square last November when all that unrest broke out. Two thousand police and four hundred troops were brought in to halt the demonstration…”

If you’ve enjoyed this excerpt, you can read the full book here on Kindle!




Excerpt: ‘Red Poppies’ by Lynette Rees

There was talk that maybe this war was coming to an end. It had been going on for three long years, but Adele dismissed it as rumour-mongering—no such luck, she expected. Though people said the arrival of the Americans would hasten the defeat of the German army.

To the North East of Ypres, things weren’t going too well. At Passchendaele in October 1917, it did little but rain for the entire month, so that many soldiers went down with trench foot, such were the conditions they had to endure from the cold, rain and mud. It really was a hell on earth for them. The Third battle of Ypres had been launched on the 31st of July, 1917 and continued until the fall of the village of Passchendaele on the 6th of November. Adele prayed for the day when it would all come to an end.

She had become increasingly concerned about Belinda, after discovering she’d joined the Suffragette Movement back home. They were the women, headed by Emmeline Pankhurst, who fought for women’s rights. But they were sometimes inclined to violence and only in 1913 had blown up David Lloyd George’s house, and all this whilst he was thought to be a supporter of the right of women to vote. It made Adele wonder if they could do that to someone who supported their cause, what would they do to someone who didn’t?

Though Belinda had informed Adele in one of her very long letters that Miss Pankhurst had instructed the Suffragettes to stop their campaign of violence and to support the government and its war effort, so that demonstrations were more peaceable, but Adele still remembered the buildings the women had set on fire and the letter bombs. She hoped Belinda would not get herself involved in anything like that.

Adele’s thoughts jarred back to the present moment as a man was brought into the tent by two stretcher bearers, shivering and shaking so badly that he almost toppled off it.

“Shell shock!” The bearer, whose name was Arthur, said.

Of course, she’d immediately recognised the condition. “Between me and you,” Arthur carried on, “I hope for his sake whilst he’s over here he doesn’t get discharged as they’ll send him straight back out to The Front. Only a few months ago this happened, they got sent to that hospital that takes the overflow from ‘ere, and the poor bastard was sent back to his death. He just couldn’t take the noise of the explosions.”

“Ssh!” Adele warned. “I don’t want us to disturb this man’s mind any more than it already is.”

Arthur nodded. “Sorry, Doctor Owen. It’s just it makes me feel so angry.” She noticed a tear in his eye and patted his arm.

“I know you are, Arthur. I dislike it myself the way the men get treated, and sometimes it’s by their own superiors who should be taking care of them.”

He nodded. “Very well, Doc, we’ll leave him here. But please try to put some kind of word in for him, send a message to the hospital when he gets there. This man can take no more. His name is Donald by the way.”

A lump arose in Adele’s throat. How she wished she had the authority to do what she could with the men when they were due for discharge. Even some who had been sent to British hospitals had been despatched back to The Front instead of returning home to the families who loved them. What kind of war was this?

She leant close to the man and whispered in his ear, “Donald, we’re going to get you fit and well again, I promise you that.”

He shivered uncontrollably as his limbs made sharp jerky movements. “Nurse, a strong sedative, please!” She called out to Morag.

Morag returned a couple of minutes later with an injection which Adele administered to the man, within ten minutes he was asleep and his muscles had ceased jerking.

“This is awful,” Adele complained to Morag. “Arthur told me that some of the men are this way due to the trauma of being told to take no prisoners. He explained to me that one young man had to bayonet a couple of German soldiers in the face, and as a result, developed facial tics. It’s a psychosomatic thing, almost as if the men take on the injuries of the men they have wounded or killed.”

Morag grimaced. “The ones who are going back to Britain, where are they being sent to?”

“Some have been sent to the East Suffolk and Ipswich Hospital. But Mr. Bellingham has told me that a psychiatrist will be at his hospital soon to try a talking cure with the men.”

“A talking cure?” Morag furrowed her brow. “Never heard of that before. How can that possibly help?”

“Well, the psychiatrist, Doctor John Bowden, says that it’s cathartic for the men to relive traumatic events. Some are having severe nightmares where they wake up screaming and shouting, it’s very scary, Mr. Bellingham says it disturbs the whole ward.”

“Yes, I can well imagine that happening…”

“Anyhow, Mr. Bellingham says that he’d like me to be involved in this talking cure thing and he’ll bring someone here to replace me.”

Morag frowned. “Och no. I’d hate to lose you here, Adele. I cannae be thinking of you leaving us all! You’re a brilliant surgeon, you’ve saved so many lives.”

“And lost a lot too along the way,” she replied sardonically.

“Ye cannae save everyone! What shall I do without you? You understand the nursing staff so well as you were once one of us.”

Adele looked her colleague firmly in the eye. “Well, this is what I was going to tell you…Mr. Bellingham has informed me that I can bring one person from the nursing team with me and I’ve chosen you, if you don’t mind?”

Morag’s eyes lit up. “Mind? I’m absolutely over the moon! I’m ginna afta give ye a big hug, hen!” She embraced Adele so tightly, she could hardly breathe, but it was nice to see her colleague so happy.

If they could just help one soldier like Donald, it would be something, Adele supposed.

Self-publishing gave me a wonderful professional start. I’ll be forever grateful.


I’m going to have to post a response to this article  so that I can put it out of my head.

cropped-screen-shot-2016-08-17-at-8-46-33-pm1.pngYou have to forget writing for a living. 

The assertion that self-published authors ‘are going to be marketing for a living’, the inference being that they’ll do this instead of writing, is one I must disagree with. As a self-published author, I spent 95% of my work time writing. It was, and remains, the absolute bulk of what I did. I am a writer – writers write. However, I appreciate this isn’t always the norm. Self-publishing, like traditional publishing, has authors of all different types. To play devil’s advocate, marketing is an essential part of all business. I have many writer friends who spend a greater portion of their time marketing themselves and their books than I do – the thing is, the traditionally published authors are just as…

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Excerpt: Red Poppies

Adele had to admit, she’d shed more than just a tear that night and fallen onto her bed thoroughly exhausted. The bed itself was little more than a narrow camp bed, with a couple of army blankets to keep her warm, but it was a better condition to sleep in than those who slept on the floor on pallets who were at risk of being woken by rats that often found their way to the encampment. Though the relative few she saw, were nothing compared to the ones the soldiers themselves described in the trenches as being as ‘fat as cats’.Wounded Canadian being carried into the receiving room at a Can

She had drifted into a deep sleep of dreams of her homeland and family when she heard a soft female voice beckon her.

“Och, Adele, wake up. We’re expecting another few ambulances full of injured men. I’ve brought ye a cup of tea before they arrive.”

For a moment, she thought she was still dreaming, until she opened her eyes and saw Morag, a young Scottish nurse from Dundee, holding out a tin mug of tea in her hand. Adele sat up and took it gratefully from her, it would be many more hours before she’d have the chance of another.

“Thanks so much, you’re very thoughtful.”

Morag smiled. Even in the dimly lit tent, where there were only a couple of lanterns lit, she could see the young woman’s dazzling smile. She was the sort of person who lit up a room with her presence, always positive, forever cheerful, an asset to be around.

Morag sat in a chair sipping her own tea, it would be hard work for her too later. Harder in some respects as she had to run hither and thither, looking for this and that for the medical team, whilst they only had to attend to the task-in-hand.

The nurses, though, sometimes did the doctors’ jobs if they were not around and were well-experienced. She knew that herself from the time she’d spent as a nurse back in Merthyr. The ward sister there could diagnose as well as any of the doctors, and more often than not, was correct with her diagnoses.imagesEIHQLYFQ

At first light, the ambulances arrived and the stretcher bearers brought in the casualties to the clearing station. Adele had had hardly any time to draw a breath for the first half hour or so, the large tent was in chaos as the injured were sorted into those requiring immediate surgery and those that could afford to wait. All the other casualties were in another tent. Some could wait, others were already dead by the time of arrival or else on the brink. Often Adele heard one or another of the men cry out with delirium, their limbs shivering, lips trembling. Shell shock, they called it. Some of the poor men would never be the same again. Fortunately, for some, with the right help, support and guidance, they became physically whole again, though they’d never forget the mental anguish, ever.

Worst of all were the firing squads—who on the command of a senior officer would shoot a deserting soldier, as they brought shame on the army and could prove a security risk if they fell into enemy hands. Adele often wondered if those poor men were just shell-shocked and refusing to take any more, their bodies shutting down, their need to escape, their only outlet from a hell on earth. Life in the trenches was arduous. Often they were stuck in inches of wet muck with no means of washing, changing or drying their clothing. Although they were told to change into clean socks and dry their feet, it didn’t always happen that way and as a result, many soldiers developed something known as ‘trench foot’, a painful condition. The constant mud and rain had exacerbated the condition for many. Often the foot would crack and change colour, then swell up as blood vessels and nerves were damaged in the process. If untreated, then gangrene could set in resulting in amputation to save the soldier’s life. One soldier arrived at the clearing station and his toes fell away when his socks were removed, the stench being unbearable. Adele had to inform him that his limbs had to be removed as soon as possible.

The sounds and smells they endured as they worked at the encampment was like nothing she’d ever witnessed before. Here, there wasn’t much cleaning up of areas, like at the hospital. It was very rough and ready, often a quick sweep and mop of the floor were all they had time for. No time to disinfect operating tables as time was of the essence, a delay could mean the difference between life and death. Often wounds were already infected from mud and manure from the fields, the medical staff were really up against it.

One young man lay on a gurney whimpering in the corner of the tent. There was no time to attend to him. Adele wished she could split herself in two, realising that a lot of her decisions meant the difference between life or death. She was in the midst of suturing a wound when the young lad cried out, “Mam! Where are you?”

Morag left the operating table as Adele was able to manage alone for a while. She knelt beside the gurney and took the lad’s hand. He wanted and needed his mother, but she was in a distant land. Adele watched Morag stroke the soldier’s head and softly kiss his cheek. A smile appeared on his face, he held out his arms as if he was embracing someone, and then he was gone, in the belief his mother was him. If there’d have been time, Adele would have wept, but there were many more casualties to attend to and she just didn’t have the time to spare. No time to ponder her decision on whether she’d have saved the lad if she’d operated on him first. Only God knew the answer to that.

Adele didn’t have the time either to dwell on her dry mouth, aching back and limbs, and her growling stomach. Something spurred her on, propelling her to get through the day’s work. James Bellingham was beginning to leave more and more cases in her capable hands to work at another hospital over the Belgian border in Northern France. That one was in a large château that had been taken over for the war effort. The men were transported there by ambulance and even trucks after their operations. If then found to be chronically unwell, they were shipped back to Britain, where special hospitals were set up to deal with the aftermath of burns, amputations and shell shock.

At that time, there was also pioneering plastic surgery being carried out at various British hospitals. Some of the men had received horrific burns to their faces and other parts of their bodies, making them barely recognisable to their families and friends.

The first time James had left her alone with the nursing team, she had trembled from top-to-toe, but a professionalism had taken over, along with a comforting word from Morag. After a couple of minutes of adrenaline coursing through her veins, she had calmed down, realising she was doing the best she could under the circumstances. James, who checked out her work when the casualties arrived at the hospital, informed her he was very pleased with her work indeed, which gave Adele an immense feeling of satisfaction.

It wasn’t planned that she would head a surgical team but there was little choice as one of the senior surgeons had fallen ill, so it was either in at the deep end or let the men die. There was no other choice.

Apart from a quick cup of tea and a small corned beef sandwich, it was 4.30 p.m. before Adele got to go off duty, when another surgeon, who had rested most of the day, took over for another long shift.

The cost of this war was high and seemed totally futile to Adele.

Red Poppies is now available in Kindle format on Amazon!

UK Readers: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Red-Poppies-Seasons-Change-Book-ebook/dp/B01HBQ7BU2

US Readers: https://www.amazon.com/Red-Poppies-Seasons-Change-Book-ebook/dp/B01HBQ7BU2


The Sicilian’s Proposition


Journalist Joanne Smith encounters Sicilian millionaire Dante Alphonso while conducting an interview for Life Today magazine. Dante has been well known to the media for years, where constant scorn has been thrown upon the playboy lifestyle of his younger years. He detests that reputation as he would much prefer to be known for his charity work for The Children’s Hope and Dream Foundation, an organization he established to help terminally ill children achieve their wishes. Dante has already had his fingers burned by bloodhound journalists, but takes a chance on Joanne, inviting her to his home country to visit his vineyard and meet the Alphonso Family. Things begin to sizzle between them under the Sicilian sun as Joanne embraces their lifestyle. A thorn in the side for Joanne is Dante’s ex, Carla, a strong alpha female whose family owns a rival vineyard in the area. Carla betrayed Dante before, so trusting any woman is difficult for him. However, Joanne has a secret she has kept from Dante…

Just 99p from Amazon! https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sicilians-Proposition-Sexy-Bosses-Book-ebook/dp/B00WCZVJ3S



Excerpt: What Lies Ahead

Vince Conway looked up from his desk as Ruth entered the office. “Any luck with the Morgans?” he asked brightly.

Ruth shook her head. “Not a lot to be honest.”

“What did you find out about their relationship with Frances Donovan?”

“Well,” Ruth said, seating herself opposite Vince. “It sounds as if Cathy Morgan and Frances were quite good friends up until a few months ago. Then they had a bad falling out.”

Vince sat forward in his seat, his azure blue eyes glittered with interest as he lightly tapped his Parker pen on the desk. “Any idea why they fell out?”

Ruth nodded. “Yes. It appears to be over some bingo win. Frances won fifteen thousand pounds at that Castle Bingo Hall in the town. According to Cathy, the pair always shared any winnings between themselves, it was an unwritten rule. Though this time…”

“I’m guessing Frances became greedy and refused to share her winnings?” Vince studied Ruth’s face as if it held some clue to what might have gone on.

Ruth nodded. “You’ve got it. Mostly their winnings were small over the years, the odd hundred quid here or there, but now this was in the thousands, the goal posts changed. Apparently, Frances claimed all the money for herself.”

“Any idea what she spent it on?” He placed his pen down on the desk in front of him and stroked his stubbled chin.

“Aha,” Ruth nodded. “She jetted off to Las Vegas for a fortnight and spent the rest on a new conservatory.”

“Hardly seems worth losing a friend over, though…” Vince said, lifting his pen once more and twiddling it thoughtfully between his fingers.

“Yes, I agree. And Cathy is very bitter about the whole thing. Very bitter indeed. In fact, she said she thinks it was partly to blame for her recent breakdown.”

“Breakdown?” This was the first he’d heard of any mention of a breakdown. Then he remembered how she’d dithered about calling into the station to see him almost as though she were afraid to leave the house.

“Yes, she’s been off from work for some time now as a result, she was nursing at Prince Charles Hospital, a ward sister. A good nurse by all accounts, dedicated to her profession.”

“That’s extremely interesting.  That young woman who was murdered in Cyfarthfa woods a few years back worked there. Can you get onto the case and find out if there’s any link with her and Cathy?”

“Will do, boss. So no one has picked this guy up as yet?”

“Nope. The Woodentops have been searching outhouses and sheds that kind of thing but it’s my guess he’s gone to ground.  What we’re dealing with here is a very clever individual. He strikes, retreats, strikes, retreats. His form of defence is attack and he works with a military precision.  I think it might be worth getting him profiled.”

Whatever or whoever this man was, there was no doubt in Vince’s mind that he would strike again, the question was, ‘but when?’



What Lies Ahead

What Lies Ahead

The loss lies where it falls…
Cathy Morgan has recently suffered a breakdown, which causes her to take sick leave from her work as a ward sister. One morning, she is awoken by her husband Denzil, who has some distressing news for her. Someone she knows well has been murdered. Not only that, but there appears to be a connection with that murder and that of a young nurse called, Alison Marsh, who died some ten years ago.

It’s Detective Sergeant Ruth Carter’s first day back in work after giving birth to her son, Jacob  Not only is it her first day back on the job, but now she’s a single mother after breaking up with her long term partner, Pete. Her partner at work, Detective Inspector Vince Conway, is concerned for her welfare. They’ve missed one another, especially after being involved in solving the case of another serial killer the following year.

As the pair investigate the recent murder and other events that occur, it becomes apparent that the crimes are linked to a secret organisation operating in the community who call themselves the, ‘Inner Sanctum’. But who is committing the murders and why?

Crime Fiction Book #2 in the Trilogy:

#1: What’s Left Behind
#2: What Lies Ahead
#3. What Doesn’t Kill You

Fans of Peter Robinson and Mark Billingham will be gripped by this exceptional new voice in Welsh crime fiction.