The Perils of Travel in Historical Fiction: A Guest Post by Caroline Warfield

18009085_10155113596020833_1125127663_nTravel presents a challenge to any writer of historical fiction. I once asked my brother, a navy veteran, how long it would take to sail from Ostia to Genoa and he said, “That would depend on the ship, the tides, the winds, and the weather.” Not much help! Luckily there are sources that can give approximate times for frequently used routes. 

In writing The Reluctant Wife I discovered that a typical trip home to England from Calcutta took six months by sail. SIX MONTHS?! What on earth was I going to do with characters shipboard for that long, and/or how could I handle a big time gap? I discovered another option. In 1835 the India Mail instituted steamship and overland service from Bombay. Steamers would travel up the Red Sea to Suez. Passengers then disembarked and went overland to Cairo, sail up the Nile and then across on the Mahmoudiyah Canal to Alexandria. From there they embarked on a second steamer to England. It took four months off the journey.

That left me with two teeny-weeny problems. #1 The steamer and overland service from Calcutta didn’t begin until 1841 and #2 My story was set in 1835. There is a reason why they call it fiction. I took the liberty of moving Calcutta service forward six years and apologized afterward. My characters were much happier, particularly a small girl who was dee-lighted to go the way that involved camels. 


 18009198_10155113595015833_1116346867_nThe Reluctant Wife

Children of Empire, Book 2

Genre: Pre Victorian, Historical Romance Heat rating: 3 of 5 (two brief -mild- sexual encounters)

ISBN: 978-1-61935-349-9 ASIN: B06Y4BGMX1 Page count: 275 pages

Pub date: April 26, 2017

When all else fails, love succeeds…

Captain Fred Wheatly’s comfortable life on the fringes of Bengal comes crashing down around him when his mistress dies, leaving him with two children he never expected to have to raise. When he chooses justice over army regulations, he’s forced to resign his position, leaving him with no way to support his unexpected family. He’s already had enough failures in his life. The last thing he needs is an attractive, interfering woman bedeviling his steps, reminding him of his duties.

All widowed Clare Armbruster needs is her brother’s signature on a legal document to be free of her past. After a failed marriage, and still mourning the loss of a child, she’s had it up to her ears with the assumptions she doesn’t know how to take care of herself, that what she needs is a husband. She certainly doesn’t need a great lout of a captain who can’t figure out what to do with his daughters. If only the frightened little girls didn’t need her help so badly.

Clare has made mistakes in the past. Can she trust Fred now? Can she trust herself? Captain Wheatly isn’t ashamed of his aristocratic heritage, but he doesn’t need his family and they’ve certainly never needed him. But with no more military career and two half-caste daughters to support, Fred must turn once more—as a failure—to the family he let down so often in the past. Can two hearts rise above past failures to forge a future together?

Find it here:

About Caroline Warfield


Traveler, poet, librarian, technology manager—Caroline Warfield has been many things (even a nun), but above all she is a romantic. Having retired to the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania, she reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows while she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

Caroline is a RONE award winner with five star reviews from Readers’ Favorite, Night Owl Reviews, and InD’Tale and an Amazon best-seller. She is also a member of the writers’ co-operative, the Bluestocking Belles. With partners she manages and regularly writes for both The Teatime Tattler and History Imagined.


Amazon Author

Good Reads


Twitter @CaroWarfield


Children of Empire

Three cousins, torn apart by lies and deceit and driven to the far reaches of the empire, struggle to find their way home.


Caroline will give a kindle copy of The Renegade Wife, Book 1 in the series, to one person who comments. She is also sponsoring a grand prize in celebration of her release. You can enter it here:

The prequel to this book, A Dangerous Nativity, is always **FREE**. You can get a copy here:

Excerpt 18034863_10155113596610833_468827986_n

I want to take the steamship and camel,” Meghal interrupted.

Ah yes, the camel. Do you plan to ride north along the Silk Road to Istanbul, or merely cross the Punjab into the Kingdom of Kabul and beyond?” Fred asked, unwittingly echoing Clare’s reaction to the shipping agent.

Where is that?” Meghal demanded.

To the west,” he responded.

Meghal turned to Clare. “Is the Nile in the Kingdom of Kabul?”

No. Egypt. It is also west, but farther south”—Clare waved a hand back and forth—“but we’re not taking the steamer route.”

Tell me about this route you aren’t taking. The Nile?” The workings of his daughter’s mind mystified him; Clare’s fascinated him.

Clare briefly explained what she had learned about the inaugural run of a mail steamer to the Suez.

What is the advantage?” he asked.

It cuts four months off the time we would spend cooped up on a ship,” Clare answered.

Camels,” Meghal declared. Her eyes widened as a new idea struck. “And crocodiles.”

The disadvantage?” he asked, barely controlling his laughter.

Goodness, Fred. I would have to disembark with two children, travel overland to Cairo, travel by river barge down the Nile and the Mahmoudiyah Canal to Alexandria before embarking on yet another steamer for Falmouth or Southampton while managing luggage and keeping your daughter from wandering off with the first interesting band of Bedouins she encountered.”

But Papa can help with the luggage, and I promise not to follow any—what are Bead-oh-ans?”

Clare’s face registered the shock he felt. Neither one of them had mentioned his plans to his daughters. Clare raised a brow and shrugged, obviously unwilling to rescue him.

You’re on your own, Wheatly, he thought as he tried to put words together while Meghal smiled hopefully at him.

I thought you knew, Meghal. I’m not going with you. You will have to take care of Miss Armbruster for me.” She will like the idea of caring for everyone, he thought, pleased with himself for coming up with that.

His daughter’s instant response disabused him of that notion. “Why?” she demanded, the universal challenge of children everywhere. Before he could think, she stabbed him in the heart and twisted the knife. “Don’t you care for us?”

Of course, I do! Never think that.”

Where will we go? Who will take care of us? Do we have to live with Miss Armbruster?” Meghal colored and turned to Clare. “I’m sorry, Miss Armbruster. Ananya and I like you, but you aren’t family,” she said. “We need family.”

Fred seized on her words. “That’s just it. I’m sending you to family. Your Aunt Catherine and your cousins will be happy to have you come and stay with them while I”—he clenched his teeth—“while I find work so I can send her money for your care.”

Meghal sank back in the chair, outrage still rampant on her face.

Music in its Roar – A Short Story

I intended to have this finished nearly two weeks ago. I also intended this to be a short-short story, maybe 2k words or less. And then it grew, and grew, and grew, and finally just tipped its toe past 6k words and here we are.

If you’ve read any of my earlier short stories (Dust and Silver, Sleet and Shadow, Pale for Weariness) set in this world of werewolves and corsets and proper speech, then this is a prequel to those (though there’s no particular order in which any of them needs to be read). And if you’ve been curious as to how Mr. Callum Muir took on the curse of a werewolf, well then this is the tale for you…

Music in its Roar

Music in its Roar 

He wasn’t entirely certain of the day. Morning, perhaps. But, no. The light was all wrong. Despite the mist that clung to everything, mingling with the fog that hovered several feet above the ground, there was a quality to it; a glow that spoke of a sun completing its journey towards the horizon, of stars springing back to light in an unseen sky.

He could’ve moved if he’d wanted, away from the questionable puddle by his right hand. The stench would still be there, but at least he would find a safe remove from its source. Instead, he flexed the fingers of that same hand, one at a time, wincing as he reached the third finger, the one he suspected was broken. The pain was fresh and raw, still throbbing as he took to turning his wrist once, and then again. Another thing broken. He recognized that feeling, along with the ache in his ribs, the grinding of fractured bone every time he drew in another breath of the foul, cloying air.

There were windows, though less resembling their namesake than existing as mere apertures in a crumbling wall. Even the door was gone, ripped free of its hinges some time before, enough years passed since its removal that ivy grew thick around the frame, as if it would reclaim the building along with himself, should he lie there much longer. And if he could roll onto his side, or at least turn his head, he knew that she would be there, too.

Continue reading “Music in its Roar – A Short Story”

How to be Pregnant (in Regency England)

My next release, The Firstborn (yes, I WILL find a way to slip that into every conversation from now until… oh, let’s say summer) features a baby named George. He’s chubby and smooshy and spits up on people at inopportune moments, but let’s go back a bit and examine what it was like to be “in the family way” round and about two hundred years ago.


1.  You’re not “pregnant.”

Such an ugly word. You’re also not “with child.” Or “breeding.” What are you, livestock? Save those terms for the lower classes. If you’re a gentlewoman, then you’ll be looking forward to your “confinement.” Because that doesn’t sound at all, confining. *ahem*

2. Don’t eat for two.

No meat, wine, spices, coffee, tea, or eggs for you. Also, you may be bled if your pregnancy looks like it needs help. Because everyone knows that loss of blood is fantastic when hoping to ensure a healthy mother and child.

3. Get your affairs in order.

Nearly 20% of mothers (and their babies) fail to survive childbirth, so give your husband a kiss, don’t worry that the attending physician hasn’t washed his hands in a fortnight, and be assured that if things do take a turn for the worse, they’ll probably bleed you. Again.

4. No midwives for you.

Women attending a birth is SO eighteenth century. And how would a fellow woman know what it’s like to have children? Better to bring in a doctor (or accouchement) to keep you lying down, order the birthing room sealed up, and forbid you proper nutrition for several days following the birth of the child. That is, if you survive it.

5. Suck it up, Buttercup.

Anaesthetics weren’t used in childbirth (or at least accepted) until after Queen Victoria used chloroform for the births of her eighth and ninth children. In the 1850s. So if you’re looking for any sort of pain relief, better look elsewhere (just not at any of the attending physician’s instruments… they haven’t been cleaned… ever).

Characters of The Firstborn: Sophia (Penrose) Brixton

In my next book, The Firstborn, I stumble into the lives of two sisters. The older of the two, Sophia, has had to pick up the slack of caring for her younger sibling, Lucy, after the death of their parents. They’ve now lost everything of their former life. Their home, income, and all while dealing with the grief of losing two family members.


And then Lucy finds herself with child, without a husband, and with the eyes of their entire hometown glaring down at them through shades of scandal.

Sophia does what she thinks she must. She finds a new home for them, a home where they won’t be known. She takes on the guise of a widow, and raises her sister’s son as her own.

Simple enough, right?

Of course not. There wouldn’t be a story to tell if everything had tied itself up so neatly.

Lucy finds herself too young, still reeling from her parents’ deaths to care for her child, and so is too quick to leave her son to Sophia’s care. So when a certain Lord Haughton comes calling, claiming to be the child’s uncle and making demands left and right about the boy’s care, Sophia balks at the threatened loss of control over her own life… and the life of her nephew.

Even worse for her is the fear that her nephew will be taken away from her entirely. A woman in nineteenth century England had a frightening lack of rights, and a member of the peerage, and one with the funds to see things done, would’ve had no difficulty swooping in to take a little boy from a woman deemed unfit (i.e. poor) to raise him.

But Sophia is not the type to back down without a fight. And at the end of the day, more than anything, it is her love for her nephew that fuels her resolve to remain a part of his life.

“It does not make a whit of sense,” Sophia said, as she began to crumple the edge of the letter between her fingers. “Six weeks ago, he came here ready to settle a large sum of money on us in exchange for our silence, ensuring that no one would ever discover George’s connection to his great and illustrious family. And now he’s inviting us to his home, to mingle with his sister and make banal conversation about the weather over tea and light refreshments?” She shook her head. “I simply cannot fathom what has worked this supposed alteration in his behavior.”

Lady Rutledge slipped a bracelet from her wrist and held it out to George, who crawled quickly over to her side and babbled excitedly as she dropped the bauble into his grasp. “You suspect all is not as it seems?”

“Well, I certainly don’t believe he was visited by angels on the road to Damascus. I simply…” She exhaled heavily as her shoulders slumped forward in a most unladylike manner. “George has been in my care for his entire life. Even when Lucy was still here, she never… She always treated him as a burden. And I do understand how she could think such a thing. Children are not easy creatures to care for. They are maddening and exhausting and consume your entire life in a frightening amount of time. But even so…” She closed eyes that had suddenly become watery. “I don’t want to lose him.”

For a moment, there was nothing but the jangle of Lady Rutledge’s bracelet and the satisfied sounds of George as he attempted to shove the sapphire concoction—along with a great deal of his fist—into his mouth.

“And you believe Lord Haughton will take him from you?”

Sophia blinked several times and looked across at Lady Rutledge. “I don’t know. A part of me wants to think he’ll spirit George away forever as soon as I enter his home. But another part of me—a much smaller part, I must admit—hopes that he is truly penitent and wishes to…I don’t know, create some sort of compromise that will benefit George.”

“One in which you don’t lose access to him,” Lady Rutledge pointed out.

As George crawled his way towards her part of the drawing room, Sophia reached down and removed the bracelet from between his teeth. When he began to fuss, she merely tickled him under his arm until his cries turned to damp-cheeked giggles. “Or that involves him lording his control over me with a few coins,” she said, her fingers lightly teasing George’s plump chin.

“More than a few coins, if your description of his offer was accurate.”

“Quite accurate,” Sophia said, her eyebrows raised at the memory. “Perhaps it was foolish of me to turn him down, but I could not like the idea that I was somehow being purchased, like a horse or a bolt of silk.”

A moment of silence passed between them, apart from the steady thump of George’s knees and hands as he crawled across the floor.

And so Sophia finds herself dealing with someone very much like herself, someone who has been trying to keep tabs on the behavior of a younger sibling, trying to clean up the mess of their mistakes – and all while making a few mistakes of their own.

Sophia was thrill to write, a character I would very much love to meet in real life (and preferably have on my side during a fight).

The Firstborn will be available for purchase in paperback and ebook from several major retailers on May 9th, 2017. 


Rooting for the Bad Guy

Generally, my heroes are good guys, in the sense that they’ve always been good. They may be a bit stuck up when I pick up their story, or have made a few poor choices here and there (because no one in the real world ever does that… *shifty eyes*…) but for the most part, they’re good. You know they’re the hero within the first few scenes they have on the page. And so you dig out your pom-poms and you cheer for them. Edmund_Blair_Leighton_-_Courtship

But sometimes… Well, sometimes I like to give the bad guy a chance. I know that’s not always something that sits well with prospective readers. We (and I do include myself in this group, sometimes) want to see things in black and white. Frodo, good. Sauron, bad. Ring must be thrown into the fire. (Isildur! NOOOOO!!!) And yet, doesn’t the “bad guy” get to have his shot at redemption?

It’s a thread I’ve noticed running through some of my stories more and more. Someone screws up. Someone screws up badly. And yet, they get their second chance (or maybe it’s their third or fourth or seventeenth chance by the time we run into them.) One of my future releases, The Bride Price, features an antagonist who early readers dislike. Vehemently. Give him a moustache and he’d be twirling it. But down the road, I still plan on giving him his own story, his own shot at fixing his life and trying to make up for past mistakes.

Some people who know I plan on giving him his own redemption story are NOT PLEASED about this. Well, okay. That’s your thing. But it’s interesting how people see villains, how they want to keep them tucked into their little box of evil and not let them out to make something better of themselves.

Is it because we like to keep things clearly delineated? Good is good and bad is bad and never the twain shall meet?

Does the young woman who gives up her child for her sister to raise and takes a large sum of money in return always have to be portrayed as bad, or do we get to revisit her some years down the line, when age and acquired wisdom have perhaps changed her views and made her regret some of her previous choices? (Yes, that character will have her own story down the line, too. Believe me, I have a lot of stories in the planning stage. Probably more than I should.)

Maybe because I’ve grown older (well, slightly older… middle-age older) I like to write characters who are not perfect, who might fit the role of antagonist in one story but work their way to hero or heroine in the next. Maybe because I’ve seen people change over the course of years (and years) that I’m more inclined to reflect those alterations in personality in the fiction I produce. Or maybe I just like messing with people. That could be it, too.



Taking the Plunge

Years ago (Ten? Eleven? I should know this, but my husband will be the first to tell you that I am terrible with dates) I made some friends. We met on an online forum that had been created to discuss our shared criticisms of a certain fantasy novel/series. But we didn’t really do much in the way of criticism. That gets old. So instead we chatted. About everything. And I mean, everything. And the weeks, and the months, and the years went by. The website and the forum and all of the other things that went with it fell by the wayside. But a tight group of us remained, sharing our life experiences. Marriages, deaths, births, moves, jobs lost and gained, just life and all of its angles.

And some of us write. We wrote back then, but we were baby writers, still figuring out the ins and outs of storytelling (well, we still are…) still trying to figure out the rules before we learned that they’re really only guidelines. That writing is passion and bleeding out onto the page and realizing that each of those words is a tiny piece of your soul. (Horcruxes, man. Horcruxes EVERYWHERE.) And now some of us are published. Now some of us are doing this full-time, because we can’t see ourselves doing anything else.

So after that intro, I’m really just leading up to the announcement that one of those dear friends, someone with whom I talk about cooking and marriage and kids and, again, everything in-between, has taken a huge step.

Today, K.S. Villoso (I call her Kay) is releasing the second two books in her first fantasy trilogy. This is big for her. This is make it or break it big. And I am sitting over here, cheering and praying and hoping that everything goes well. Because she is an amazing writer. I’m not simply saying that because she is a friend. I have friends who aren’t good at things, and I don’t write blog posts talking about things they’re really not good at just to give them a poof of self-esteem. She is an excellent writer. The proverbial diamond in the rough. And she has worked HARD at this. Because writing (like almost everything one is passionate about) can be hard, exhausting, draining work.

So here is her first book. It’s currently free on Amazon (don’t ping me if you find this post some time in the future and it’s back up to full price!)


It has been years since his brother’s accident. Kefier was only just beginning to live a normal life–at least, as normal as it could get for a mercenary from a run-down town. And then an errand goes wrong and he finds himself holding his friend’s bloody corpse.

Already once branded a murderer, he is pursued by men he once considered friends and stumbles into the midst of a war between two mages. One bears a name long forgotten in legend; the other is young, arrogant Ylir, who takes special interest in making sure Kefier is not killed by his associates. The apex of their rivalry: a terrible creature with one eye, cast from the womb of a witch, with powers so immense whoever possesses it holds the power to bring the continent to its knees.

Now begins a tale with roots reaching beyond the end of another. Here, a father swears vengeance for his slain children; there, a peasant girl struggles to feed her family. A wayward prince finds his way home and a continent is about to be torn asunder. And Kefier is only beginning to understand how it all began the moment he stood on that cliff and watched his brother fall… (Amazon link)

Here is the second book in the trilogy:


Enosh, apprentice to one of the richest merchants in the Kag, is secretly heir to a broken line of mages. Because of The Empire of Dageis’ quest for sources of the agan–the life-source that mages use for power–his people have been reduced to scavengers, his culture diminished to a speck in the wind. For more than ten years, he has helped raise a conjured beast to use as a weapon against the Dageians. But Enosh’s plans are falling apart. A powerful enemy has escaped and Enosh needs to capture him before he reaches Dageis. His quest is further complicated after he finds himself used as a pawn by Gasparian nobles.

On the other end of the continent, Sume, daughter to a Jin-Sayeng hero, must return to her roots to save her country and bring honour to her father’s name. To do this, she must befriend a prince and understand the terrible, corrupting nature of power and the reason her father was driven to walk away from it all those years ago…

Meanwhile, Kefier, Enosh’s agan-blind brother, is forced back into a life of violence. As he struggles with the notion that hands, once bloodied, never stay clean for long, he finds himself occupied with an unexpected burden: his own brother’s daughter. (Amazon Link)

And, finally, the third:


The battle at Shi-uin has left scars. The rise of Gorrhen yn Garr to power seems unstoppable. As nations fall, the lines between love and duty become blurred and Kefier, Sume, and Enosh must learn to live with the choices they have made.

The stunning conclusion to the epic fantasy trilogy that crosses champion and spectator, friends and enemies, and hero and foe in a tale of conflict, revenge, and lost kingdoms. Highly-praised for character development and rich worldbuilding, The Agartes Epilogues is a must-read for the discerning epic fantasy fan. (Amazon Link)

So, there you are. The first two are free for a limited time. The third is on sale (again, limited time, so no resting on your laurels). They are good books. Kay is a fantastic author. Grab them. Read them. Review them. Tell others about them. Go on, now. I have to go tell my kids to stop playing in the bathroom (again).