The Bar Sinister


The Bar Sinister is available in a new edition and e-book format from Uncial Press (  An excellent review appeared in the October 20, 2007 edition of Romance Review Today (

I wrote a master's thesis in history on the Peninsular War--that is, English and Spanish resistance to Napoleon's occupation of Spain. The many military memoirs and letter collections I read were an invaluable source of material for my regencies, too, and I developed a soft spot for Wellington's officers.

In The Bar Sinister I introduce two officers, Richard Falk and Thomas Conway, who are key characters in my next three regencies. Richard is the son of the Duchess of Newsham by her lover, Lord Powys (hence the bar sinister). The Duke of Newsham killed Powys in a duel and compelled the duchess to return to him. Although the duchess bought Richard a military commission when he was seventeen, the duke's agents made trouble for him throughout his career. By the time the novel begins, however, the duke is dead, and Richard is a widower with two small children by his Spanish wife.

The heroine, Emily Foster, a widow with a young son and a small estate in Hampshire, decides to maintain her independence of an overbearing father by "baby farming," that is, by taking on the care of other people's children for a fee. Richard brings his children to her. Emily falls in love with Amy and Tommy immediately. It takes her longer to fall in love with their father, who is abrupt and not very open with her and, in any case, bound for Spain. He is concealing two things—his scandalous background and the fact that he supports his children by writing shockingly improper adventure novels.

The plot of The Bar Sinister has more twists than a Spanish mountain road, so I won't summarize it, except to say that Tom Conway, Richard's friend, unexpectedly succeeds to the earldom of Clanross. He is able to use his newfound power to rescue Richard, Emily, and the children from the machinations of Richard's half-brother, the Duke of Newsham. It's a wonderfully melodramatic novel ('gothick' Jane Austen would say) and surprisingly funny.

"a first-rate Regency novel, canny in craft and handsomely peopled with full-fledged characters" Kirkus

"There is nothing ordinary about this book." RT

"Brilliant!" The author's mother.

"A well-tempered tale, with bright and solid folk and an amusingly edgy brace of lovers." Kirkus