Bristol – home to the Matthew, John Cabot’s tiny ship. In 1497 he was supposed to sail to Asia and trade there. Instead he reached Newfoundland, beating Columbus.
Then there’s the SS Great Britain, the great iron ship – the first of its kind, created by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the man who also designed the Clifton Suspension Bridge, an engineering marvel of its time.
Bristol was a thriving port for centuries, and with a history stretching back into the mists of time. Stone Age hunter/gatherers left traces behind, in the pre-Roman Iron Age the local Dobunni tribe created hillforts around the area, the Romans built a town – Abona. But Bristol itself began round about 1000 AD as Brycgstow, meaning The Place at the Bridge in Old English. The Rivers Avon and Severn, and the Severn estuary made it one of the most important maritime towns in Britain for nearly a milennia. Today it is a huge, sprawling metropolis, and it’s the UK’s eighth biggest city.
Okay, enough with the factual. I used the city in The Psychic’s Tale – Mark Renfrew works as a researcher for The Dominic Waldron Experience, a reality TV show in the stable of Goldstream Media, based in Bristol. Mark himself lives in Staple Hill, a suburb of Bristol, and Jack Faulkner, his lover, studied archaeology at Bristol University.
The Psychic’s Tale – First part in The Fitzwarren Inheritance Trilogy by a trilogy of authors – Chris Quinton :: RJ Scott :: Sue Brown
“I curse you and your children’s children, that you shall all live out your allotted years, and that those years shall be filled with grief and loss and betrayal, even as you have betrayed and bereaved me.”
Four hundred years ago in rural England, a mob burned two men to death, but not before one of the victims, Jonathan Curtess, hurled a dreadful curse at the mob’s leader, Sir Belvedere Fitzwarren. The curse has followed the family through the centuries, bringing grief and loss to each generation.
Mark Renfrew is a closeted psychic and openly gay. When his grandmother discovers a family link to a 17th century feud and a still-potent curse, she insists he investigates and do his best to end it. He travels to the village of Steeple Westford, and meets and falls for Jack Faulkner, an archaeologist. He also meets the Fitzwarrens, who are facing yet another tragedy.
Then Mark learns that the man who cursed them had twisted the knife by leaving three cryptic conditions that would lift the curse, and he knows he has to try to break the curse his ancestor had set.
Cheltenham Spa – the discovery of mineral springs in 1716 brought royal patronage in the 18th centuary, though it never quite overtook Bath as the fashionable choice, and Spa was added to its name. It seems to have taken that name from the River Chelt, but the actual meaning of Chelt is lost. The town was a thriving community long before the Regency period, receiving a market charter in 1226.
The town is possibly most famous for its racecourse – the Cheltenham Festival draws the finest racehorses and jockeys from around the world, and huge crowds flock there.
My story, Home and Heart, is set in the area – the business base of Home-Safe Pet and House-Sitting is in the town itself, and Ben Elliot lives above his uncle’s shop in Charlton Kings, a suburb of the town.
Home and Heart
Deep in the Cotswolds in the heart of England, Ben Elliot settles in for a quiet Christmas house-sitting and caring for an elderly woman’s two dogs while she’s away. When her black-sheep grandson, Adam Prescott, turns up on the doorstep, Ben takes in the human stray as well. Destitute and betrayed by family, boyfriend, and Fate, Adam has lost all faith in others, and in himself.
Determined to help, Ben soon loses his heart to the other man and believes Adam has feelings for him, too. Then Adam’s ex shows up, offering him the world if only Adam will come back to him. Now Ben must choose whether to step aside, or reach for the only gift he wants this Christmas.
Christmas may not be a time of celebration for Ben.