Hello, and happy Thursday (again)! We’re well and truly into December now, so I thought I’d do one last Throwback Thursday post and giveaway before Christmas overwhelms us.
These books are standalones which are linked purely by the fact that both are based (very loosely) on classic stories that I’ve loved. You will be shocked and surprised to hear that Resisting Mr Rochester is inspired by Jane Eyre, and Saving Mr Scrooge by A Christmas Carol. Bet you’d never have guessed if I hadn’t told you, would you?
Jane Eyre is actually my favourite book, full stop, and A Christmas Carol is my favourite Christmas book, so it was both exciting and scary to think about writing my own versions of these wonderful stories. I must emphasise again that they are loosely based on the classics, and both are contemporary romances with lots of humour.
The first in the series is Resisting Mr Rochester but, in fact, it was the idea for Saving Mr Scrooge which came to me first.
I say that… What actually happened was that I sat up in bed one morning with the title clear as day in my mind. It sparked a whole string of ideas and I knew it would make a good story, but Christmas was some way off, and I thought I could probably write another book before I started on that one – which was when I decided to make it a two-book series and include my own tribute to Jane Eyre.
Resisting Mr Rochester seemed a natural title, and went well with Saving Mr Scrooge, so the Moorland Heroes series was born.
Resisting Mr Rochester
Coming up with my own versions of Rochester and Jane was quite easy. They were characters I already loved, after all. But I wanted a modern take on the story, so I had to think about how to make several plotlines more contemporary and acceptable to a twenty-first century audience. There were some parts of the original novel I had no intention of referencing. For instance, I’ve always found the whole Mr Rochester as a gypsy fortune teller episode a bit silly, and I didn’t see any need to include anything resembling the storyline featuring St John or his sisters.
Some things, though, were important to reference. I couldn’t write a tribute to Jane Eyre without a “mad woman in the attic” plot line, now could I? The fire, the tearing of Jane’s veil, the visit of Mr Rochester’s house guests, including the glamorous Blanche, and the presence of Mr Rochester’s ward, Adele, were all included, in their own way. There’s even a twist on the infamous “Red Room” – although Cara’s aunt’s room has become the “White Room” for various reasons.
I changed the name of Mr Rochester’s house, calling it Morland Hall instead of Thornfield. There was a reason for this. Cara bears some resemblance to Catherine Morland, heroine of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, in the sense that they share a vivid imagination. I thought it would be a fun tribute to this second inspirational novel.
I had loads of fun writing about Cara and Ethan, and I was sorry to see the back of them. So much so that, despite my determination that the books should be totally separate, I ended up giving them a cameo in Saving Mr Scrooge. There will also be a guest appearance from them in my next series, but more of that another time!
Here’s the blurb for Resisting Mr Rochester.
A romcom with a gothic twist!
Cara Truelove has always been a romantic, burying her head in books and dreaming of being swept off her feet by her very own Brontë hero. When she was a gullible teenager, she believed boyfriend Seth to be a modern-day brooding Heathcliff. Fourteen years later, when Seth has proved to be more like Homer Simpson, Cara vows never to fall in love again, and turns her back on romance for good.
Leaving Seth behind, Cara secures a job as nanny at Morland Hall on the Yorkshire Moors, but is shocked to discover her new employer is none other than the tall, dark, and disturbingly handsome Mr Rochester.
Her resolve to be more level-headed is soon tested when strange things begin to happen at Morland Hall. Why is Mr Rochester’s mother hidden away upstairs? What are the strange noises she hears from the attic? Why is the housekeeper so reluctant to leave her on her own? And where is Mr Rochester’s mysterious wife?
As events unfold, Cara knows she must keep a cool head, curb her imagination – and resist Mr Rochester at all costs. After all, one Brontë hero in a lifetime is more than enough for any woman. Two would be downright greedy.
Saving Mr Scrooge
Saving Mr Scrooge was a bit trickier to write, because everyone knows that contemporary romance/chick lit/romcom books should have heroines that readers actually like, and can relate to. Unfortunately, the very nature of this story meant that my heroine had to go on a journey of self discovery, just like Ebenezer Scrooge himself, which meant that she had to start off pretty unlikeable. So how to get readers onside?
You see, the twist in this book is that, while Marley Jacobs (cool name, huh?) is desperately trying to restore her boss’s Christmas spirit, those around her can see that Marley’s a little lacking in that department herself. And while she professes to love Christmas, and spends a great deal of time and money decorating every available space for the festive season, and shopping for presents, the true meaning of this special day seems to have passed her by.
So how to write a heroine with a distinctly selfish streak, who readers wouldn’t entirely hate, and would be willing to stick with while she went on her journey?
I had to make it clear to them that Marley had her good side. I tried to demonstrate this aspect of her personality by showing her obvious love for her mum, sister and nephews. Despite their bickering, it’s clear that both Marley’s mum and Olivia think the world of Marley, and she of them. There had to be something good about her for those relationships to flourish. I also tried to show her softer side whenever she remembered her grandad. Clearly, there’d been a great deal of love between the two of them.
Marley may have a frosty relationship with her grandad’s brother, Great Uncle Charles, but it becomes clear that, contrary to first impressions, Marley really does care about the grumpy old man, and he really cares about her, too. It’s also increasingly obvious that she has real concern for the welfare of the factory workers. No one who worries about their future the way Marley does can possibly be all bad.
Marley wasn’t always the selfish, self-obsessed girl she seems to be right now. So what went wrong for her? What changed her?
To sum it up: Marley has suffered three great losses during her young life: her grandad, her father, and the love of her life, Christopher. She’s also had to shoulder an awful lot of responsibility, so all these things affected her badly.
I’ll admit, here and now, that when people say they don’t like Marley, I feel wounded on her behalf. She is one of my favourite heroines. Yes, she’s deeply flawed, but she’s been through an awful lot, and beneath that thick skin there’s a heart of pure gold. I was rooting for her all the way, and I was desperate for her to get her happy ending. I hope you will be too.
Love, forgiveness, and the magic of Christmas…
It’s the time of peace on earth and goodwill to all men, but at Carroll’s Confectionery Factory on the North York Moors, the meaning of Christmas seems to have been forgotten. New boss, Kit Carroll, is hardly winning friends with his high-handed attitude, his foolhardy approach to production, and his tight-fisted treatment of the factory’s employees.
Marley Jacobs, his self-styled PA, is determined to make him see the error of his ways, and return the festive spirit to Carroll’s. Unfortunately, the little matter of their previous relationship and Kit’s callous treatment of her when they were teenage sweethearts keeps getting in the way of her good intentions.
With encouragement from co-worker Don, romantic sister Olivia, and — astonishingly — the usually sceptical Great Uncle Charles, Marley decides to save this modern-day Mr Scrooge from himself, despite having no well-meaning ghosts to help her.
But revisiting the past doesn’t just stir things up for Kit. As Marley struggles to deal with bittersweet memories, present-day events take a surprising turn. Can the future be changed, after all?
And is it only Kit who needs saving?
You can find all buying links for the books by clicking on the images.
If you haven’t read the original stories you might like to look those up, too.
The winner of my last blog giveaway is Jill Doyle. Congratulations, Jill. You can choose between a signed copy of Bramblewick Volume 1 containing New Doctor at Chestnut House and Christmas at the Country Practice, or the complete Bramblewick Kindle boxset.
For Christmas, I’m giving away a signed copy of Saving Mr Scrooge, along with some yummy chocolate, and a Wrendale Robin notebook. To enter the giveaway, just go to my contact page here and fill in your details, using “Scrooge Blog Prize” as your message. Easy! Because of Christmas postage, this giveaway is only open for a few days, so please get your entries in by Tuesday 15th December at the latest. I’ll announce the winner on the 17th and send the prize out as soon as I can, so you’ll get it before Christmas. Good luck!
Have a great week!