I have been desperate for House of Secrets by Lynda Stacey to reach the top of my TBR pile ever since I was involved in the e-book cover reveal a year ago. Sadly, life (and death) has intervened and it still hasn’t got to the top but House of Secrets is now available in paperback and I’m excited that Lynda is on the blog today to tell me more about her central character Madeleine. I’m also thrilled to have an extract from House of Secrets for you too.
House of Secrets is available for purchase through the publisher, Choc-Lit, links here.
House of Secrets
A woman on the run, a broken man and a house with a shocking secret …
Madeleine Frost has to get away. Her partner Liam has become increasingly controlling to the point that Maddie fears for her safety, and that of her young daughter Poppy …
Desperation leads Maddie to the hotel owned by her estranged father – the extraordinarily beautiful Wrea Head Hall in Yorkshire. There, she meets Christopher ‘Bandit’ Lawless, an ex-marine and the gamekeeper of the hall, whose brusque manner conceals a painful past.
After discovering a diary belonging to a previous owner, Maddie and Bandit find themselves immersed in the history of the old house, uncovering its secrets, scandals, tragedies – and, all the while, becoming closer.
But Liam still won’t let go, he wants Maddie back, and when Liam wants something he gets it, no matter who he hurts …
A Guest Post by Lynda Stacey
On the 4th July my novel House of Secrets was turned into a paperback and I couldn’t have been prouder at the moment I got to take it back to where it all began, the beautiful Wrea Head Hall hotel in Scarborough.
Lynda on the staircase at Wrea Head Hall
It was at this time, I got to look back at how I created Madeleine, the heroine of House of Secrets.
What happened to Madeleine before the story began?
Madeleine is a young, widowed mother. We meet Madeleine at a time in her life when she’s already overcome many obstacles, most of which she’d thought were her worst nightmare, that is until our story begins.
Madeleine fell in love at school with her childhood boyfriend, Michael. They married young, much to everyone’s disapproval and lived together in a second floor flat which they made into a home.
But, one morning Madeleine kissed Michael goodbye as he left for work. But it isn’t long before the police are at the door, Michael has been killed in a car accident and Madeleine is left widowed, while heavily pregnant. The shock sends Madeleine into early labour and Poppy is born so prematurely that Madeleine spends many a night sitting by her incubator, praying that she survives, whilst making promises to protect her and love her.
However, just a couple of years later, Madeleine meets Liam. He’s enigmatic, caring and falls into her life in a way that becomes all encompassing. But, Madeleine soon realises that she’s made a big mistake … and this is where our story begins …!
What makes a good heroine?
A good heroine is always someone the reader can relate to and identify with. I always give my heroines a history, a life and a family, after all, we all have parents, siblings and distant aunties, don’t we? So, the characters within a novel need to have that too.
I feel that by doing this, it gives them depth of character and a personality that can’t be ignored. They don’t necessarily have to be sexy, they don’t all have to be tall, blonde and straight out of a magazine. But, I do feel that they need to be a good person with dreams, hopes and wishes. They need to have a goal in life, something to achieve, something to aspire to and the novel needs to take them on a journey to achieve this.
But most importantly, the reader needs to feel that they are taking the journey with our heroine and that by the end of the novel, they’ve reached a good and satisfactory conclusion to the story.
Who would be the perfect Madeleine in a film?
I think Michelle Keegan would be the perfect Maddie. She’s very down to earth, normal and would bring a realism to the character that readers would identify with. Yes … Michelle Keegan would be my Madeleine.
An Extract from House of Secrets
From Madeleine’s point of view …
Madeleine covered her eyes in an attempt to shield them from the early morning sun. It burst in through a tiny slit in the bedroom curtains and shone directly at her. She lay for a few moments, waiting for her eyes to become accustomed to the light before peering across to where Liam slept.
She took a deep breath and inched her body between the crisp white sheets towards the edge of the bed in an effort to widen the gap between herself and her naked lover. Then she lay as still as she could, not daring to move, as she watched him sleep. She used to love watching the steady rise and fall of his chest, his deep, slow, untroubled breaths and the way he slept on his back with his arms spread outward, as though surrendering in a childlike, unconscious state. But he’d changed. Now, she didn’t know whether to love him or to hate him, at any given moment.
Holding her breath, she noticed his eyes flicker and knew that as soon as he woke, she’d have to quickly judge whether he was in a good mood or bad. Whether he’d want to make love or argue and, right now, she was tired and didn’t feel in the mood to do either. Closing her eyes, Madeleine lay back against the pillows, only to feel Liam’s hand pushing the sheets down to uncover her.
‘You awake, Maddie darlin’?’ his soft Irish tone mumbled in her ear.
Liam’s hand started to move over her body in soft, gentle, caressing strokes. Madeleine felt herself relax. This was Liam in a good mood. For a moment she enjoyed the simple feeling of tenderness, along with the feel of his hand moving sensuously over her body. It was what she’d enjoyed so much at the beginning of their relationship and a small part of her wondered if he could change, if they could both change, and if once again she could have the loving and caring Liam, without the nasty side she’d experienced of late.
She inhaled deeply and then caught her breath as Liam’s hand travelled down to her thigh. There had been a time when she’d have felt waves of excitement, times when she’d wished for him to be closer and, more often than not, it had been her that had instigated their lovemaking. But that was before. Before she’d moved into his house with her daughter and before he’d taken control of everything she did. Madeleine thought back to when she had first met him, how generous, caring and loving he’d been, which made her wonder why he had changed, if the arguments were her fault and whether it was her that made him angry. Maybe he regretted allowing her to move in, or perhaps he simply didn’t like the fact that she was a mother, with a very young daughter.
About Lynda Stacey
Lynda, is a wife, step-mother and grandmother, she grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire.
She is currently the Sales Director of a stationery, office supplies and office furniture company in Doncaster, where she has worked for the past 25 years. Prior to this she’d also been a nurse, a model, an emergency first response instructor and a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor … and yes, she was crazy enough to dive in the sea with sharks, without a cage. Following a car accident in 2008, Lynda was left with limited mobility in her right arm. Unable to dive or teach anymore, she turned to her love of writing, a hobby she’d followed avidly since being a teenager.
Her own life story, along with varied career choices helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.
Lynda joined the Romantic Novelist Association in 2014 under the umbrella of the New Writers Scheme and in 2015, her debut novel House of Secrets won the Choc Lit & Whole Story Audiobooks Search for a Star competition.
She lives in a small rural hamlet near Doncaster, with her ‘hero at home husband’, Haydn, whom she’s been happily married to for over 20 years.