The Workhouse Waif

The Matchgirl (16).jpg

Heartwarming Historical Fiction by Lynette Rees: perfect for fans of Dilly Court and Nadine Dorries.

Available from Amazon:

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…

The Winds of Fortune Series: 1. The Workhouse Waif 2. The Matchgirl’s Dilemma 3. The Harlot’s Promise [due for publication in 2018] 4. The Cobbler’s Wife [due for publication in 2018]


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.


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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.


Red Poppies



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…

Available here:

Blue Skies


Rebecca decided to accept Doctor Owen’s proposition and the following week she found herself sitting in a carriage accompanying Hannah to Llanbadarn Fawr. It was the longest journey she had ever made in her life and she wondered throughout how her parents had managed to go all the way to Great Salt Lake and back again. Or even why her father should choose to make the journey one more time.

The doctor’s cook had made up a wicker basket of food for their journey which was mainly crusty bread, cheese, and fruit. There was also a small bottle of homemade ginger beer and some water to sustain them.

   So far Hannah had not uttered a word. It had been heartbreaking seeing the doctor say goodbye to his emotionless wife with tears in his eyes. Once he realised Rebecca had noticed his upset, he quickly looked away and bade them a safe journey. Now they were off to the village of Llanbadarn Fawr for some fresh clean air.

   As they took the Brecon Road, Rebecca watched the grey clouds belching from the chimney stacks of the Cyfarthfa Ironworks in the distance, as she breathed in the sulphurous air. Why people left places like Cardigan to come to dirty smelly Merthyr Tydfil she had no clue. But her mother had always told her they came for the money as they thought the streets were paved with gold. Poor farmers who had almost lost their livelihoods and struggled through hard times, got the shock of their lives when they came to Merthyr having to live in hovels where diseases like Cholera were rife, or else had little choice other than to bed down with lots of others in doss houses peppered around the town. There had been an explosion of the population. Merthyr had once been a farming community itself. Now no more. It was something entirely different. A boom town, a heaving metropolis where iron was King and coal its Queen.

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White Roses


London was not what she expected it to be at all. It was beginning to get dark by the time they arrived and a thick mist had descended. “I’ve not seen anything like this since I lived near the marshes back home…” Kathleen muttered.

“Apparently London is notorious for thick fog, it’s a mist mixed with chimney smoke.” He coughed. “It’s going to make it all the harder to find our way.”

Two young men dressed in breeches, jackets and flat caps made their way towards them.

“Carry your trunk to a cab for a shilling, sir!” one of them shouted.

“Tisn’t a bad idea,” Kathleen commented.

Dafydd nodded and dug deep into his pockets and handed the young lad a shilling. The other lad beside him stood there holding his grimy hand out.

Dafydd drew in a breath. “But your friend said only a shilling.”

“A shilling a piece, Guvnor. He carries one end and I carry the other.”

“I’ll end up broke at this rate.” He dug into his trouser pocket again and handed over the shilling to the boy.

The boys made off quickly with the trunk walking at a fast pace with the trunk between them and Dafydd and Kathleen found it hard to keep pace.  Then they hit the mist again and had no clue where they were.

“The lads, did you see where they went?” Dafydd asked a man in a bowler hat who just approached them.

“No, I didn’t, sir. Did you just get off the train by any chance?”

“We did, yes indeed,” Kathleen added.

The man shook his head. “It’s the oldest trick in the book. They wait for people’s arrival at the station, offer to carry their bags for a bob or two, then run off with the luggage. You have little chance of catching the urchins in this peasouper of a fog tonight.”

Dafydd stood there open mouthed at the situation.

“My gown, my beautiful green velvet gown…” Kathleen sobbed. “I needed it for my stage audition. Now what will I do?” She looked around in panic but there was no sign of the lads anywhere in the mist…

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