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In isolation? What to read…

So you have lots of time to read…but you have to pay for it and find some good stories!

Kindle Unlimited

Many of you will already be signed up to KU – you pay a monthly fee ($9.99 in the US, £7.99 in the UK) and can then ‘borrow’ up to 10 books at a time. Not every book on Amazon is available in KU, but there are a lot. The reason some authors do not make their books available is that Amazon require exclusivity – so they cannot sell ebooks anywhere else.

Amazon offer a free one month trial of KU, and there are sometimes offers of three month trials (I think there’s one in the US at the moment, but Amazon won’t show it to me because I’m in the UK). So you can effectively get a month’s free borrowing, as long as you remember to cancel it before the end of the month.

Free books

I’ve seen Facebook posts from other authors saying they are making some of their books free at the moment, or doing special discounts. So keep an eye on Facebook author pages or sign up for the newsletters of authors you like. If you end up with too many newsletters, you can always unsubscribe from them later when life returns to normal.

In additon, a lot of authors publish the first book in a series free, so you might find some authors you like that way. Just search for ‘free historical romance’ (or any other genre!) in Amazon and you’ll get a long list to choose from.

If you haven’t already signed up for BookBub, it might be a good time to do so. You can pick your genre, and then get daily emails with bargain or free books in the genres you pick. Similar services include Ereader News Today and Robin Reads. You can also follow authors on BookBub, and they will notify you when an author has a new book out.

Advance Reader Copies (ARCs)

Many authors offer ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) – you get a free book before publication, and they ask you to leave a review. Look on their websites or in their newsletters.

If you like writing reviews, there are also websites that organise this for authors. For example, BookSirens and Hidden Gems. You sign up and tell them the genres that interest you, and you’ll get emails allowing to you pick books to review.

Finding new authors

It’s a great feeling when you find a new author you like, not quite so good when you realise you’ve finished all of her/his books. The free books on Amazon are a good place to start, but there are also lots of book blogging sites out there.

Mary Kingswood writes Regency Romance and also reviews books in the genre (and says nice things about my books, so she must be good!)

Helen Hollick runs Discovering Diamonds and writes tales of pirates and the sea, and Arthurian and Saxon stories. You can search for reviews by author name, or by era (there’s a little search box in the side bar for this).

Pauline Barclay runs Chill with a Book. I haven’t worked out how to search by genre (comment below if you do know and I’ll amend this) but you can search by author or title, or look through the monthly newsletters.

Frankie publishes reviews in Chicks, Rogues and Scandals. You can search by genre on the side bar.

Comment below, or email me, if you know of any other good review sites.

Belton House

Afficionados of the 1995 BBC TV version of Pride and Prejudice might recognise Belton House as Rosings Park, Lady Catherine’s home. This is the drive that Lizzie walked along with Mr and Mrs Collins, as he encouraged her not to worry about her dress, as Lady Catherine liked to maintain the distinctions of rank.

The approach to Belton House. The yew trees beside the gravel walk have been trimmed since the BBC filmed there.


There is a lot more detail on Belton House in P&P here for the exteriors, and here for the interiors.

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Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire

I visited Hardwick Hall in August, interested in visiting both the house and the grounds. The Hall is now looked after by the National Trust, and is a popular destination, especially in the school summer holidays. This is the first good view of the Hall you get, through a gate, as you approach from the car park. This is one end of the building, and already you can understand the rhyme:

Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall.

There are formal gardens to one side, this first picture shows the hedges separating the herb garden from an orchard and other areas, and more gardens in front of the house. Unforntunately, the design of these gardens dates from after Bess’s time, so we don’t get much of an idea of what the surrounding gardens looked like when she lived there.

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Beningbrough Hall, Yorkshire – kitchen garden

I spent a long weekend in Yorkshire in May, and as part of the trip I visited Beningbrough Hall, now run by the National Trust. Beningbrough Hall was built in the 18th Century, and the inside is fascinating – the National Trust have a portrait theme here, and display portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery. However as the weather was gloriously sunny, we spent most of our time enjoying the gardens. I’m particularly fascinated by the kitchen gardens of old houses like this.

Cordon fruit trees
Cordon fruit trees

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Spring is sprung in England

To be fair, spring started some time ago, but it’s only in the last few weeks that trees are starting to turn green and it really has the feel of spring in the air. So, as my Regency Romances are set (mostly) in England, and most of my readers are not based here, I’ve gathered together a few photos showing the best bits of spring in my part of the world.

(I’ve omitted the rainy days, of which we have had many this year!)

The first signs of spring for me are the snowdrops, in the woods, and in places like churchyards.

Snowdrops beneath trees
Snowdrops beneath trees

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