I’m so pleased to welcome Jenni Keer back to my blog. This post was actually scheduled to be posted on the day of the Queen’s funeral, so Jenni asked me to delay in respect. I always love featuring authors I know in real life, so I’ll start this blog post with a photo of Jenni and myself at the 2022 Romantic Novelists’ Association conference.
Today, Jenni is sharing an extract from her recently released novel The Legacy of Halesham Hall …
I’m absolutely delighted to be back on Morton’s fabulous blog. My fourth novel, The Legacy of Halesham Hall, came out on 15th September 2022 in audio, eBook and paperback.
It’s been an exciting year for me, with my last book, The Secrets of Hawthorn Place, going into The Works nationwide after Christmas, and about to hit 2000 reviews on Amazon. It’s been such a joy to see how well this book has been received, but it also sets a high bar! I’m quite nervous about the launch of Halesham Hall, as it’s my first purely historical novel, with dual timelines set in 1899 and 1920. I hope my readers are as enthusiastic about Sidney and Phoebe’s stories as they were about Molly and Percy’s journeys …
My new book follows the two Bellingham brothers, Sidney and Leonard, as they cope with the disappearance of their mother, and being forced to remain with a bitter and twisted father. Clement Bellingham sets the boys a series of puzzles to decide who shall inherit the Bellingham Board Games Company, and the family home – Halesham Hall.
Twenty years later, young Phoebe returns to the Hall to discover the truth behind the estrangement of the brothers. But she risks everything by returning, including her heart …
So, without more ado, here’s an extract from the novel. This section is set in 1899, in rural Suffolk, and at just six years old, a young Sidney Bellingham’s world is about to fall apart …
“Shadows danced across my bedroom wall as the warm breeze shifted the curtains through the open gap in the window. The clouds of earlier had drifted across to the west but the rain had merely given temporary respite and the heat still hung over us – smothering and heavy. My quilt was too heavy to sleep under, and my nightshirt clung to my body as I tossed and turned in restless frustration, more unsettled than usual because I had misplaced my bedtime rabbit toy. There was the sickly sweet smell of summer blooms in the night air, mingled with a less fragrant humid dampness.
One of the exterior doors to the Hall opened and closed, possibly the door from the kitchens, and the accompanying vibrations travelled up the walls. The sound wasn’t loud, but in the still of the night, and with my sash window open, I heard it. I didn’t have a clock in my room but knew it was late because the house was barely breathing. Gone was the heartbeat that pulsated steadily throughout the day: the bustle of Daisy up and down the stairs, the quick tapping footsteps of Mrs Murray prowling the corridors to scold idle staff, and the clanging of pans from Cook, especially when Father changed his dinner plans at the last minute. Instead there was only the whisper of the hot shifting air playing with the curtains and the sounds of my own breathing.
I slid from under the sheet and wondered who could be entering, or possibly leaving, the house at this time? Was Daisy was sneaking out to see the young man from Halesham that Cook said she was sweet on? Or were we being robbed? Some gypsy traveller making off with our silver? Perhaps the gardening hand Father had dismissed so angrily a few weeks ago was back for revenge? I crept to the window and peered out, but didn’t have a clear view of the kitchen door as it was beneath me. I could hear shuffling, so I scampered next door to the nursery, which jutted further forward as part of the L shape of the house, to investigate.
The boxed Bellingham games had been returned to the ceiling-height cupboard after my temper that afternoon, but the floor was still strewn with my toys. Streams of moonlight gave the palest touch of colour to the objects about the room, and I carefully picked my way through them as I headed towards the window and clambered on to the brick box beneath it. My eyes, already accustomed to the gloom, fell upon a figure wrestling with a large bundle below. Was it one of the servants, doing something they ought not to be? It was certainly a woman, small and slight.
But in my desperation to see better, I tipped forward and fell with a crash towards the windowsill. The figure beneath, alerted by the noise, cast a desperate glance upwards, before scuttling across the courtyard and into the shadows of the trees that edged the gardens.
My heart began pounding so loudly I thought it might burst from my chest, and I gripped hard at the windowsill to calm my panicky breaths. I could not make sense of what I’d just seen.
Because the pale, frightened face that had looked up to the nursery had been that of my mother.”
What is says on the back of the book:-
A love that seems lost, may still yet be found, for real love always endures.
1890. One summer evening changes everything for Sidney and Leonard Bellingham when their beloved mother disappears from the family home, Halesham Hall. Left with their bitter father, they are taught to trust no one but themselves, with brother pitted against brother to see who is worthy of inheriting the Bellingham Board Games company. But the series of twisted games they are forced to play will have far reaching consequences.
1920. Phoebe Bellingham arrives at Halesham Hall determined to solve the puzzles that will allow her to claim back the Bellingham inheritance. But this legacy involves more than one secret, and soon Phoebe realises that the stakes are higher than she ever could have imagined.
To buy the book you can use the following link:
I had great fun writing this novel, as Halesham Hall is a weird and wonderful building, built by a madman, and with a series of puzzles incorporated into the very fabric of the house. It was a real opportunity to let my imagination run wild. And I adored the slow-burn romance, which I hope you will too.
So, thank you, Morton, for having me back on your virtual sofa. It always a pleasure to pop by.
Thank you, Jenni and a pleasure to have you on my blog. Mx
About Jenni Keer
Jenni Keer is a history graduate who embarked on a career in contract flooring before settling in the middle of the Suffolk countryside with her antique furniture restorer husband. She has valiantly attempted to master the ancient art of housework but with four teenage boys in the house it remains a mystery. Instead, she spends her time at the keyboard writing commercial women’s fiction to combat the testosterone-fuelled atmosphere, with her number one fan #Blindcat by her side. Much younger in her head than she is on paper, she adores any excuse for fancy-dress and is part of a disco formation dance team.
You can keep in touch with Jenni on the following social media links: