”The stories are, to put it simply, magical.’

 

An enchanting collection of Regency short stories featuring love and passion on Midsummer Eve.

 

Midsummer Eve is the traditional time for love divination, when gentlemen and ladies can hope to meet their true love.

Lord and Lady Allingham hold a lavish ball every year at their country estate, Rookery End, to celebrate this ancient custom.   These five little tales of love and passion take place in this romantic setting in Regency England.

 

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Midsummer Eve at Rookery End -The Complete Collection

The original Midsummer Eve at Rookery End short stories were published in 2009.  They proved very popular and in 2011, I wrote a prequel story – The Virtuous Courtesan – which featured in the Brief Encounters anthology.

Now, for the first time, the revised and updated complete collection of Midsummer Eve stories, including a brand new tale called Love’s Thorne, are brought together in a new edition.

For anyone new to the series, here’s a quick primer on the background:

Inspiration for these short stories came after reading a book given to me by a friend (thanks, Gilly!) on old English customs and festivals.

Midsummer in England was the highlight of the festival year in medieval times and continued to be celebrated in various ways, including bonfires, processions and parades.  Midsummer Eve and Midsummer Day were also cited as times when particular divinations could be successfully carried out.

Love divinations were the most popular.  Many love divination procedures were chronicled in old texts.  These included girls throwing hemp seed over their shoulder and the baking and eating of a ‘dumb cake’ on Midsummer Eve, both performed in the hope of seeing the form of their future husband appear.

The most widespread love divination was referred to as ‘Midsummer Men’, where orpines (a native wild flower of the British Isles, Sedum Roseum Crassulaceae, commonly referred to as ‘Midsummer Men’) were placed in pairs, one representing a man, the other his sweetheart.   If the orpine reclined from the other, it indicated that there would be aversion; if the plants inclined towards each other, it indicated love.

Given this history, the idea of a midsummer Regency ball to celebrate these ancient customs, and romance in general, seemed a very appropriate one to me.  Lord and Lady Allingham’s country mansion – Rookery End – is an imaginative fusion of my favourite English country houses and gardens.  These great estates with their elegant architecture and beautiful gardens provide the perfect stage for these little  tales of  love and passion.

Here’s more about each one in the order they appear in the new edition of the anthology:

In The Virtuous Courtesan (2010) a valuable portrait sparks a series of events that culminate in Lord and Lady Allingham’s extraordinary first meeting.

Siren’s Daughter (2009) is about a lost love re-gained, one of the most appealing romance themes. There is something particularly poignant about love being given a second chance.

Blue Figured Silk (2009) features the redeeming properties of love and proves that even a rake is not immune from its influence.  This story is also partly inspired by the wonderful Savage Garden song ‘I Knew I Loved You’.

In A Scandal at Midnight (2009), misunderstandings and misconceptions abound, but love is still able to conquer all obstacles.

Love’s Thorne (2013) is a new story.  A wily valet lends a helping hand when Captain Simon Russell’s future happiness is at stake.

 

The Virtuous Courtesan is set a few years earlier than the other stories.  I leave it to readers to decide whether Siren’s Daughter, Blue Figured Silk, A Scandal at Midnight and Love’s Thorne all occur on the same Midsummer Eve or on separate occasions!

To finish, I’ll just highlight that they deliberately hark back to the original legends – which means on Midsummer Eve at Rookery End, people meet their future partners, experience coups de foudre and fall in love more quickly than they might otherwise ;0)

I hope you enjoy reading about these characters as much as I enjoyed creating them!