Good Morning! Please welcome Rebecca Cohen, author of “Saving Crofton Hall,” the fourth book in the Crofton Chronicles. My question to Rebecca today is: “Why is Elizabethan England so compelling for you?”
Elizabethan England holds a particular fascination for me, so much so I wrote a whole series of books based in that era. The interest started at school, with the extravagant costumes of the rich, and the devious machinations of the royals initially drawing me to the period. The more I learned about it, the more I wanted to know. Once I decided to set the series in the Elizabeth period, learning about the daily lives of characters I created lead me through their homes and what they ate, into the seedy back streets, as well as the royal court.
Just to set the scene, it’s interesting to note that when Elizabeth I took the throne, she reinstated her father’s laws that were repealed by Queen Mary, and this included the 1533 buggery act. The act made homosexuality punishable by death by hanging, although there are only a handful of executions in the records, and strings were pulled for the well-connected. And James I, Elizabeth’s successor, was rumored to have a great attachment to the Duke of Buckingham.
But back to what I love about the period. As my characters were to be part of the elite of the time, I researched Elizabethan past times of the wealthy. While, unsurprisingly, feasting and dancing were very popular, there was a deep love of sport; hunting, tennis, archery and, of course, duelling. But they were also deeply fond of romance.
The rich Elizabethans were all about courtly love, through their poems and entertainment. At a time when you should not touch your partner overtly in public (although Anthony Redbourn didn’t abide by that social nicety in The Crofton Chronicles), dancing was one of the few ways a couple could openly show their affection. I used a very risqué dance for the time called the Lavolta in Duty to the Crown, an intimate dance of lifts and skips that sent tongues wagging when first seen at court.
However, under the veneer of properness is a very different Elizabethan England. Renaissance Venice was well known for its pornography, but there were also choice pieces English literature including Thomas Nashe’s Choice of Valentines which featured a man and his prostitute lover … and her glass dildo. And it seemed only far to give Anthony his own private collection of erotica.
As enticing as court was, there was another side to life, especially in the big cities. London was already a vibrant city by this time, and a part of London called South Bank was known then as the seedier part of the city. Here was a warren of streets where the less reputable Londoners could be found. Alongside theatres and the gambling dens were some of the city’s most popular brothels, often called ‘stews’ after the bath houses they originated in.
So I guess I love the period for all the vibrant, larger-than-life elements, but also the daily life, like having to drink beer for breakfast because the water was too dirty. I doubt any other period will ever be as fascinating to me.
And here’s more on her newest release:
Book Name: Saving Crofton Hall
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23286754-saving-crofton-hall
Author Name: Rebecca Cohen
Rebecca Cohen is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and baby son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Benjamin Redbourn, Earl of Crofton, has no intention of giving up his beloved ancestral home without a fight. Faced with his mother’s gambling debts, forgery, and the possibility of foreclosure by the bank, Ben vows to make Crofton Hall pay for herself. But opening an Elizabethan manor house to the public isn’t a one man job. With time running out, Ben needs help—and fast.
Ashley Niven has experience managing events, and he also loves history. Being in charge of opening Crofton Hall is a dream come true. As he works with Ben to prepare the house as a venue for lavish weddings and receptions, Ashley finds himself drawn not just to the charm of the house but to the dashing Earl of Crofton. Even if Ashley can look past Ben’s playboy reputation, he fears an affair could prove too much of a distraction.
But Crofton Hall has many secrets, and something hidden for over four hundred years is about to change all their lives.
She wouldn’t meet his eye.
“Just short of five million to the bank.”
Ben lost his balance and landed heavily on his arse in a nearby chair.
“How the hell did you manage that? I only agreed to borrow five hundred
thousand, and that was for essential repairs, and the estate could easily
repay the loan in ten years.”
“I approached the bank with a business case for a visitor attraction.
They were very enthusiastic.”
“What gave you the right?”
“Your father left us both in charge of Crofton Hall, Benjamin,” she
He glowered at her and she deflated.
“I needed the money, and the only way I could get it was to tell the
bank I wanted to open Crofton Hall to the public.”
“And they agreed to lend the money without my permission?” he
asked carefully, hardly believing his mother’s audacity, but getting the
feeling he knew what she was going to say next.
“They might have been under the impression that you’d agreed to it,
and I was acting on both our behalves.”
“Really. And how would they have thought that?”
“Your signature isn’t exactly hard to copy.”
Ben covered his face with his hands, understanding what his mother
“I know I shouldn’t have, not without your permission, but I was
desperate. And the bank thought our business plan was excellent.”
He looked up at her. Elena’s eyes were red from crying, but there
was still an edge of defiance in her face. “How much is left?”
She shrugged. “A few thousand, maybe.”
“And you used Crofton Hall as security?”
The anger flashed through him, burning through his usual amicable
nature. “How could you have been so stupid? Were you even thinking past
your own selfishness?”
Elena cowered in her seat.
“You’ve ruined us, destroyed this family!”
“I didn’t mean—”
Ben didn’t want to hear her feeble excuses. “Oh, that’s all right, then.
We’ll tell the bank, you didn’t mean it, and they’ll forget all about it.”
Ben reined in his anger. Taking deep, slow breaths, he clenched and
unclenched his fists as he regained his calm. He watched Catlin pace up
and down. Harry stood slumped against the fireplace, shell-shocked. Now
was not the time to panic. He needed to know exactly how much trouble
they were in and deal with it. “Get me the paperwork.”
Without argument, Elena jumped to her feet and scurried over to the
writing bureau in the corner. From the folds of frills and ruffles of her
blouse, she fished out a key on a chain and unlocked the bureau. She drew
out a sheaf of paper. “It’s all here.”
“Right, let’s hope my economics degree wasn’t for nothing.” Ben
snatched the papers. “I suggest you all keep your distance until I’ve
He sank into a chair by the unlit fireplace, blocking out the angry
thoughts as he scanned sheet after sheet. The figures danced before his
eyes, and he saw the terms and conditions his mother had agreed to. The
interest, compound interest, and payback terms were listed and
categorized in black and white with no way of denying the facts. They
were in deep shit, the bank would be at the door within weeks, and Ben
seethed internally at his mother’s gall.
The effort she’d put into defrauding the bank was amazing, the
business case had been full of fine details and promised an excellent
return, but little help would that do them now.
Ben stared around the sitting room; generations of Redbourns had sat
in here. Men who’d fought at Blenheim, Waterloo, and El Alamein —they
would never have given in and surrendered Crofton Hall in the face of
adversity. And it wasn’t about to happen while Ben was Earl of Crofton
either. As much as he wanted to rail against it, their only hope was to
convince the bank they were following through with the idea of opening
the house to the public.
“We can probably sell the London apartment. That’ll raise around
two million. Our trust funds are protected, so we can’t release the equity
from those. If we’ve any hope of holding on to her, Crofton Hall is going
have to earn her keep.”
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