Black Diamonds

Seasons of Change Book 1

Heartwarming Historical fiction by Lynette Rees: perfect for fans of Iris Gower and Richard Llewellyn.

A tale of passion and compassion and most of all, one woman’s brave heart. Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, 1865. When Lily Jenkin begins her first day working for the Morgans at their corner shop in the little village of Abercanaid, she has no idea of the calamity that lies ahead of that fateful day.

It is a day of tragedy at the Gethin Coal Pit that brings her into contact with the new handsome, chapel minister, Evan Davies, for the first time. Although a dark cloud of death passes over the village, Lily and Evan draw close to one another as they help the villagers deal with the tragedy, forming a bond which could lead to love.

However, there is a gossiping old crone in the village who will do her best to cause trouble for the pair by hook or by crook. Lily has the opportunity to escape the valley of the shadow of death to make a new home for herself in Great Salt Lake, America. Will she take the chance to go to ‘Zion’, following her Mormon relatives, and more importantly, will Evan, a Welsh Baptist minister, go with her?

The Seasons of Change Series: 1. Black Diamonds 2. White Roses 3. Blue Skies 4. Red Poppies


COVER REVEAL: The Workhouse Waif

The Workhouse Waif
I’ve been itching to show you all the new cover for The Workhouse Waif. I’ve now been given permission to post it by my publisher, Quercus Books. I really love the feel of the new cover and the little girl representing Megan, is gorgeous. She reminds me very much of my own daughter at that age. She feels so familiar to me and in a way she is…I’ve been on a journey with her and I hope you’ll enjoy that journey too!
Will this little orphan girl find her happy ending?
After the death of her father in a mining accident, Megan and her family had no choice but to move to the local workhouse. Separated from her mother and five siblings, young Megan must learn how to stand on her own two feet.
But it’s on one of the days she’s sent out on errands that her fate changes. She meets a young boy who’s stealing apples from the local market, as well as a friendly well-to-do lady with the most melodious voice she’s ever heard. With her newfound friends, can she find a new life for herself?
A heartwarming saga, perfect for fans of Dilly Court, Katie Flynn and Nadine Dorries
Please note: this edition contains editorial revisions
It’s now possible to pre-order the Kindle edition of this book – a bargain at just 99p here, by clicking on the link below!
[Amazon hasn’t uploaded the new cover as of this posting but I’ve been assured it will show up pretty soon! It’s all in the pipeline and is already uploaded to the Quercus website.]

Excerpt: The Workhouse Waif


Megan was becoming excited on the run up to Christmas day itself. It really thrilled her to see people coming into the tea room carrying gaily wrapped presents, their cheeks pinched and flushed from the frosty air. She’d hear them chatter about their plans for the festive season to one another and to her employer.

“Yes, Peggy, we’ll be spending Christmas with Alf’s folk in the country. They came to us last year, so it’s our turn to go there this year. It won’t be such hard work for me…”

“Oooh Peggy, I’ve bought my little Winifred this beautiful china doll, when I saw it in Edmonds’ Bazaar I knew she just had to have it. Won’t her face be a picture on the big day itself?”

“Could we order a couple of your miniature Christmas cakes to have with our tea, Peggy? They look ever so nice.”

Megan loved all the chatter, but at times her mind drifted back to the workhouse, though she knew that was the one day of the year the inmates looked forward to as the food was heaps better and they could see their relatives also interned at the workhouse. Usually, visits to one another were sparse. They were allowed a visit on a Sunday and sometimes for particular occasions like birthdays or if their relative were unwell. The workhouse divided families—that fact Megan knew all too well. Her family was still divided in a way but at least they got to meet occasionally at Mr and Mrs Evans’s home in Twynyrodyn, and she knew all were well cared for, including herself.

She was becoming increasingly concerned about Griff, he’d been practising hard at the Temperance Hall for a special show during Christmas week. He hadn’t called to the shop nor to Mrs Mathias’s house for the past two days.

She vowed to herself if he did not call tomorrow, she would seek him out herself, even though she hated setting foot in the China district of Merthyr. Mrs Mathias had warned her that young ladies had set foot in that place never to return home again. She said there were bad people there known as, ‘bullies’, who ran gangs of pickpockets and prostitutes. Megan still wasn’t sure what a prostitute was mind you. Though she had a fair idea that maybe the man who had accosted her that time was one of those bullies himself.

As Megan went about her business at the tea room that day, she noticed Peggy had a strange gleam in her eye and kept humming to herself. That was odd, she seemed so pleased with herself, but that was nice as she had worried so much about Eli of late. At the end of the working day, when it had grown dark and the last customers departed, wishing them both a ‘Merry Christmas’ as they left, Peggy locked the door and sat at one of the tables.

“Megan, please sit down, I have something to tell you…”

Purchase book here:

The Workhouse Waif [Available now!]


The perfect heartwarming romance, rich in historical detail.

When she returned to the Workhouse, the dark foreboding building made her stomach lurch, it was then she realised that she had never been allowed out of its confines on her own during the hours of darkness before, that was another strike against her. It had been daylight when she’d departed…

Eleven-year-old, Megan Hopkins, is an inmate at Merthyr Tydfil Union Workhouse. Megan’s family has fallen on hard times. Her hardworking collier father, was killed in a mining accident at Castle Pit Troedyrhiw, and her mother has six mouths to feed, besides her own, so they all find themselves interned at the local workhouse.

One day, Megan has been asked by the matron to fetch some shopping as there’s a Board of Guardians meeting that afternoon, she is skipping past the Temperance Hall holding a wicker basket in her hand, when she’s stopped in her tracks by the most melodious voice she has ever heard in her life. It’s the voice of an angel, called, Kathleen O’Hara.

Megan doesn’t realise it, but their paths are about to cross and maybe a little magic is about to occur…

Available here in Kindle and Paperback formats!


Interview with Historical Romance author, Emma Hornby



Hi Emma,

Welcome to my blog! You write historical fiction. Could you please tell readers a little about your new release, ‘A Shilling for a Wife’?

Hi, Lynette, and thanks for inviting me here! A Shilling for a Wife, published by Transworld, Penguin Random House, is my debut novel and is out now. It’s a gritty northern saga and follows the story of Sally Swann, a former workhouse inmate, and her quest to escape her abusive husband.

Where did you get the idea for that particular story from?

It was during research into my family history that I first began to get ideas for a book. Lancashire has such a rich and fascinating history and I quickly became immersed imagining the daily struggles these strong, northern folk once endured. The story itself just sort of happened – I’m unsure, even now, where the plot came from! I began with the germ of an idea and the characters carried me along.

Do you have a favourite character in the book?

I do like Sally. She’s humble and unassuming, yet has a feisty streak to her, and she’s fiercely loyal to those she loves. Ivy, her friend and neighbour, is also lovely. She pulls no punches and tells it exactly like it is!

Is there a villain?

Yes. Miner, Joseph Goden, Sally’s husband. He’s a drunkard and bully and evil through and through. He makes Sally’s life an utter misery and does so with a smile on his face. His sister, Alice, is almost as bad. They’re a horrid duo!

Is there any sort of theme throughout?

It’s a story of loss and heartache, suffering and pain. But it’s also one of hope and strength and survival, and shines a light on the northern kindness and spirit. Everyone is striving for something and ultimately, whether they be nice or bad, each get what they deserve. Goodness triumphs over evil, as it will in the end.

Did you learn anything from writing the story?

I discovered first and foremost that you can achieve anything if you want it that badly. There were days when I didn’t think the story would ever see completion but it did, and I’m so glad I persevered. Writing is a tough job but the good points far out-weigh the bad.

Where do you usually write?

I write on the settee with my feet up. I’ve tried the desk thing, which most writers prefer, but it’s not for me. I’m much more comfortable and relaxed in the lounge, and this helps me write better and for longer periods.

Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever written?

Probably on the toilet! I tend to keep a pen in my pocket and if a piece of dialogue or idea strikes, I’ll jot it down before I forget. Although usually, I don’t carry paper around with me, so my hands and arms are often covered in scribbled notes and snippets of scenes!

What’s the writing process like for you?

I’m very much a morning writer. I begin when the children have gone to school and finish just before they arrive home. I don’t plan at all, simply put fingers to keys and see what comes out. Some days are better than others and if the writing just isn’t flowing, I stop. There’s no point in trying to force it – for me, it just doesn’t work. I don’t give myself a hard time; some days are like that. You just have to get back to it again the next day.

How did you become a writer in the first place?

I’ve always enjoyed writing. I began with poetry in my teens and moved to short stories a few years later. I used to read books and think, I could do that, so decided to put myself to the test. I’m so glad I did!

What comes first for you, the characters or the plot?

Characters, definitely. I do have a basic idea in mind before I begin writing but the characters do what they want to do and decide what route the story will take. They rarely listen to a thing I say! They pull the story along and make it their own.

Are you working on anything at the moment?

Yes, my third novel. It follows three orphans struggling to survive on the mean streets of northern England. Book 2, which is about Scuttlers – gangs of young street fighters who once terrorised Manchester’s slums – is finished and will be out 4th May next year.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Self-discipline is key. We all have days when we don’t feel like writing but you must push yourself. Even if sometimes, you only manage a few lines – they all add up. You need to see the book through, right to the bitter end. Unfinished novels don’t get published. Keep going and don’t give up.

Who are your favourite authors?

Catherine Cookson has to be top of my list. I also read a lot of classics, depending on my mood. Wilkie Collins, Austen, Dickens and Hardy are some of my favourites.

Do you have any other particular talents?

I do enjoy singing.

Is there anything readers might be surprised to find out about you?

I left school at 15. No college, no uni, nothing. This makes me even prouder of where I am today. No matter what your background, you really can achieve anything if you work hard enough.

Where can people buy your books?

A Shilling for a Wife (eBook and hardback) is available online now at Amazon, Waterstones, WHSmith, etc. Paperback is out 23rd February and should be in shops and supermarkets soon. It will be available in audio shortly as well. Book 2 is also available for pre-order now.


Social media links:




The Workhouse Waif [Excerpt]


The Workhouse Waif by Lynette Rees

Available here:

When Megan got to the High Street she made her way to the Vulcan Inn by the side door, it was heaving with men, most looked like colliers like her Dad and ironworkers too, no doubt blowing off steam after a night’s graft. Some were spilling out into the alleyway, pewter tankards in hand. Their chatter and laughter echoing out into the busy main street, she jostled her way past them. The pubs seemed to be open all hours in the town. She found the barmaid Griff had spoken of and asked her if Griff’s Uncle Berwyn was around, but she hadn’t seen him since the previous day. Dis-spirited and head down, she made her way out of the pub.

Just as she was leaving the alleyway, a tall man in a shabby long tail coat and battered top hat, grabbed her by the arm, so forcefully, she almost dropped the basket she was carrying. “Say, Miss, how old are you?”

“Almost twelve,” she said, trying to not allow the fear to seep through into her voice.

“Hmmm nice and young and good looking too. Want to make some money?” He twirled his thick black moustache. If he cleaned himself up and wore nice clothing, she guessed he might be considered quite handsome. Though there was something about him that warned her not to hang around.

She blinked several times. This sounded too good to be true that she could make some money, but wouldn’t it help her brothers and sisters? It could help them get out of the workhouse now her mother was no longer alive.


“If you go over to the washhouse in China and tell them Twm Sion Watkin sent you, they’ll give you a job.”

The mention of a washhouse immediately put Megan off, she’d had enough of the laundry at the workhouse the other day, and her inner voice seemed to warn her he was bad news. Someone most people feared.

“’ere leave that gal alone!” The barmaid, Florrie, had followed her outside.

The man shook his head and scuttled off down the alley.

Megan blinked at Florrie in surprise. “Who was he?”

“Let’s just say he’s not someone you’d like to know. He’s a pimp, cariad. You need to keep away from people like him.”

A pimp? So that’s what a pimp looked like. She remembered Mrs Woodley’s words. “So is he something to do with a prost a something?”


“Yes, that’s the word. But what exactly are they?”

“Or ‘nymph of the pave’ as we sometimes call them. Bad ladies who do wicked things for money. Now I’d get out of ‘ere if I was you, it’s not safe.” Florrie shook down her dress as if shaking off the man’s evil presence.

“But I need to find my friend Griff,” she protested, her chin jutting out with determination.

The barmaid’s face softened. “I know the lad well as he comes in here often enough to take his uncle home when he’s in a state.”

“Any idea where Griff could be right now?”

“He runs around with a lot of bad lads called the Rodneys. They’re a bunch of barefooted urchins, some people don’t like them as they think they’re a load of pickpockets. But they’re just starving half to death, bless ‘em. Some like Griff, got no mothers or fathers and have fallen into bad ways. Two of them are due to go to court and my guess is they’ll end up transported to Australia. It’s not right, those kids are blooming starving.”

“They’d be better off in the workhouse where I am,” Megan said softly, remembering Griff’s recent theft of apples.

“Maybe,” the barmaid said, “but it’s become a way of life for them. They know no other. China is a dangerous place for a young lady like yourself to be. Please don’t go looking for Griff’s house on your own, will you?” She gave Megan a stern glance. “I’ll take you there myself, if you like, I’m due to finish soon enough. I know where he lives as I had to help him get his uncle home once.”

Megan beamed. “That would be grand. I’ll just go and get my shopping from the marketplace and meet you back here.”

“No, I’ll come with you right away,” the barmaid said. “If you go walking through there with a basket full of goods, you’re liable to get jumped. Some are starving half to death.”

Megan took heed of the barmaid’s cautionary words. “Very well and thank you, Miss. I don’t have a lot of time to spare as I’ll be missed from the workhouse and the goods I need to purchase are for dinner time.”

“Don’t worry, it shan’t take us long. I’ll just pop back inside and tell the landlord I’m due to finish.”

She was as good as her word and a few minutes later they were stood outside a small, dilapidated, grimy house in a dark narrow alleyway. The houses seemed to be on top of one another and the stench made Megan want to heave.

“That’ll be the open canals of people’s waste,” the barmaid began, “they throw it all out into the street and it finds its way into the River Taff. People blamed it all for the cholera outbreaks that took so many lives…”

Megan had heard all about that and some at the workhouse had died, but luckily most had been segregated to the infirmary part where they were isolated from the other inmates. Else it could have been far worse.

“This is Griff’s house,” the barmaid said, then she tapped on the door.

After a lot of shouting from inside, the ramshackle wooden door with its peeling paint, swung open. Griff stood there, blinking. “Megan, is it really you?” he asked.

She nodded. “Of course it is. I don’t have long as I’ve been sent from the workhouse kitchen to pick up some shopping. Would you like to come with me and we can walk and talk along the way?”

He nodded enthusiastically. “I’ll just tell my uncle I’m going out then. All that shouting was him, he’s in a bad mood as he has no money to buy booze.” He looked at the barmaid who gave a knowing smile.

“Well, I’ll be off then,” she said, turning back in the direction from whence she arrived, leaving Megan and Griff staring at one another.

She heard him shouting to his uncle that he was going out for a while to hear some muffled shouts from inside the home. She was so glad she didn’t have to live with an uncle who was permanently drunk, and she got the impression that Griff was more than happy to leave that little scene behind.

The Workhouse Waif is available on Kindle!


Eleven-year-old, Megan Hopkins, is an inmate at Merthyr Tydfil Union Workhouse.

Megan’s family has fallen on hard times. Her hardworking collier father, was killed in a mining accident at Castle Pit Troedyrhiw, and her mother has six mouths to feed, besides her own, so they all find themselves interned at the local workhouse.

One day, Megan has been asked by the matron to fetch some shopping as there’s a Board of Guardians meeting that afternoon, she is skipping past the Temperance Hall holding a wicker basket in her hand, when she’s stopped in her tracks by the most melodious voice she has ever heard in her life. It’s the voice of an angel, called, Kathleen O’Hara.

Megan doesn’t realise it, but their paths are about to cross and maybe a little magic is about to occur…

Available here:

Newspaper Article about Black Diamonds


This is a newspaper article taken from ‘The Merthyr Times’ that was published last year. It includes a short extract from my book and information of how I came up with the plot.

Books in this series:

  1. Black Diamonds
  2. White Roses
  3. Blue Skies
  4. Red Poppies

The Seasons of Change books are available here:

Interview with Regency Author, Beth Elliott



Hi, Beth, and welcome to my blog!

Hello, Lynette. Thank you for inviting me. It’s lovely to have a chat.

You write Regency Romance and have recently had a book published by Endeavour Press called, ‘April and May’, could you tell readers a little about your book?april-and-may

Four years earlier Tom and Rose met and fell in love but both families disapproved and they were parted. They meet again in Constantinople. Circumstances force them to work together on a secret project. Rose now has a new admirer, handsome Kerim Pasha, the Sultan’s chief minister. Back in London, Tom and Kerim Pasha carry out their secret mission, with threats of violence never far away. Both wish to win Rose but it takes her a long time to understand her own feelings.

Is this your first book? Do you have any plans to write and publish any other books?

I’ve written six stories set in the Regency period. April and May has just been published as an e-book by Endeavour Press. It’s my first story using Constantinople [now Istanbul] as a setting, although the plot moves to London later on.

My next story, Scandalous Lady, is set entirely in Constantinople. That’s the story of an ice cold diplomat who meets a rebellious artist and thereafter, nothing goes to plan.

Who was your favourite character in ‘April and May’? And why?

I love all my main characters – no favourites, although I do have a soft spot for Sebastian. There’s a plot all ready for him to have his own story soon.

Is there any sort of theme throughout your book?

Very simply: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Did you learn anything from writing the story?

In terms of crafting the story there’s always more to learn. I feel pleased with some of my scenes but conveying character, events and setting while keeping the story flowing is a never-ending process.

Where do you usually write?

I have a small study [very untidy with books and papers in heaps] and prefer to write on the desktop, then edit on printed out pages. It gets messy!

Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever written?

When I stay with my long time French friend, she puts me in her study to write while she carries on with her endless DIY. [She has an enormous old farmhouse]. Every now and then she sticks her head round the door and asks ‘Are you writing?’ As she’s always holding either a hammer, an electric screwdriver or a saw, you bet I’m writing. It’s like that cartoon on Facebook where the stick figure with the gun says ‘Just write the damned novel’.

Tell me a little about your writing day…

I’m a night owl. In the day I may do research but the actual writing starts about 9pm and goes on until I run out of ideas or the characters get stroppy. They normally cooperate until at least midnight.


Do you have any writing advice for would be authors?

Writing is not easy but don’t get discouraged. Never throw anything you have written away. In a few days you’ll find something in there that is worth developing.

Which authors have you been influenced by?

I always loved tales of long ago and far away. As a child, Robert Louis Stevenson’s stories fired my imagination, and in a completely different vein I enjoyed Jane Austen. Then I sneaked my mother’s Georgette Heyer stories. I also like Louise Allen, Nicola Cornick and Loretta Chase. Then there’s Mary Balogh and Diane Gaston and, again showing an inclination for travel and adventure, Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe stories – after watching the delectable Sean Bean in the TV films of them.

Can you tell readers something about yourself that would either amuse/interest/or surprise them?

I studied French and Italian [in England] and went to teach at a university in France. There I met my Turkish husband. He had also studied French and Italian [ in Turkey]; so we had two languages in common but then we both had to learn each other’s own language to speak to the members of our families.

If you could be anything other than an author, what would that something be?

An archaeologist. It involves history, travel and breathless excitement when you discover unexpected items from so long ago. You’ll notice there’s a whole family of archaeologists in April and May.

Finally, can you tell readers where they can find your books and where they can find your website/social media links online?

The best way to find my books is via my website

There’s a link there to my Amazon page as well as to Endeavour Press

I have a Blog called Regency tales – It’s mostly a well illustrated scrapbook of research for my stories, with a few interviews and travel notes.

I’m also on Facebook as Beth Elliott and on Twitter as @BethElliott.

Thanks for answering my questions and good luck with your new book! 

Thanks to you for the invitation. Your questions have made me think hard.  And in my grandmother’s language I’ll end by saying Diolch yn Fawr Iawn to you, Lynette.