Welcome to the 18th Century &
Georgian England

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Meet Lord Hazelmere, Christian Selwyn and follow his story




Welcome to the 17th Century,

English Civil War & the Restoration


English Civil War & Restoration books

54 thoughts on “Bookshelf”

  1. Hi Stella! Thank you for the brilliant books!
    I’ve been a fan of historical fiction for a while, having read Georgette Heyer, Philippa Gregory, Julia Quinn, Michelle Moran and Alison Weir; and now I’m glad to add Stella Riley to that list!!
    Please do continue your amazing work! The Rockcliffe work certainly brings the idea of a new TV series to mind ( fingers crossed). Are you working on more books? Please do!

    1. Thank you, Aartee! It’s very flattering that you think Rock & Co worthy of a TV series but, truthfully, I’m not sure how I’d feel about that. I’ve seen what television has done to Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series. I don’t think I’d like that done to Rockliffe – regardless of the money. But if it were to happen (which it won’t, of course) who would you cast as Rockliffe?

        1. It is, Colleen. I’ve never worked with another narrator and can’t ever imagine doing so. Also, I’ve just listened to the first 15 chapters of The Shadow Earl and, though I may be biased, I think it’s among Alex’s best performances.

  2. I have just finished The Montesoro Legacy, the last of the Brandon Brothers series. I like all the books that I have read, but particularly enjoyed the 18th century Rockliffe and Brandon Brothers books. Do you intend to write more books set in the 18th century in the future, now that you have completed the Brandon Brothers series? I sincerely hope so.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comments – I’m delighted that you enjoyed Leo and Mariella’s story. As for the future, I’m considering writing at least one M Section spin-off – featuring either Rainham or Roger Falconer – but no firm decision as yet.

  3. I have enjoyed Midwinter Magic and am glad the ever resourceful Bertrand has found his match . Please can we have some more Rockcliffe books , they are such lovely characters to read about , I would love ,for instance , to hear of the growing families of the main characters and how the harpsichord playing Earl adapts to playing a piano ! All fanciful I’m sure because you must be fed up of them . Please keep on writing your books are a joy .

    1. Some interesting thoughts, Elizabeth. I’m delighted that you’ve enjoyed Rock & Co; and no, it’s not that I’m tired of these characters – actually, there’s no escaping them. As my husband is fond of saying, they live in the house with us. But I wanted to close the Rockliffe series before it was played out and readers became bored with it. You can still look forward to some old friends making guest appearances in the Brandon Brothers trilogy – Book Two of it is almost finished. If you haven’t already reviewed Midwinter Magic and can spare a few minutes to do so, it would be greatly appreciated.

    2. I agree to all of this. One of the things I love about the books is that there are always a few loose ends (which I look forward to being tranformed into more books). Occupying my mind more and more are Julian & Arabella’s three adopted children, particularly Tom. What will he become when he grows up? And what (if anything) will that minor villain, Mr Bascombe, get up to? Of course he might turn into a major villain – my knowledge of history is extremely sketchy, but Newark isn’t that far from the Fens, which I think once harboured its share of evil-doers.
      What a shame that writing a book is so time-consuming!

      1. Minor characters can be very intriguing for that very reason – their roles are small and, in the general scheme of things, relatively unimportant at the end of the day. However, I became very fond of ‘Julian’s orphans’ and might, did it not leaping some 15 years forward into the time of the French Revolution, enjoy writing Tom’s adult story. As for Mr Bascombe, he never appeared on the page in person which is probably just as well.

  4. I love all your books. Started with the Black Madonna some twenty odd years ago and followed with a Garland of Straw. Recently discovered Rockcliffe, The Brandon Brothers, The Marigold Chain , The Kings Falcon, Lords of Misrule and A Splendid Defiance.
    I’ve also just finished Midwinter Magic and awaiting Brandon Brothers Two.
    It’s hard to have a favourite character but l think Gabriel Brandon just pips it. Though l love all your male heroes.
    I think my favourite female character is Abigail Ambrose.
    Your work has helped keep me sane through lockdown. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Andrea – so glad you’ve enjoyed my work. And yes, Gabriel is (surprisingly!) the favourite of quite a lot of readers. He certainly is my husband’s pick of the bunch. I’m still working on Brandon 2 – Under a Dark Moon – but hopefully it won’t be too much longer. If you haven’t already done so, perhaps you could find a few minutes to review Midwinter Magic – or indeed any of my books. Reviews are very helpful and greatly appreciated.

  5. Just finished the final tale set in the Rockliffe world, and I am having a hard time decompressing. I loved visiting all the characters and seeing how their lives developed as they found love and friendship, and I will miss them. Most of the heroes in this series were clearly heroes to die for from the moment they stepped onto the page, and I loved them all. My one disappointment is that I’d actually have liked to see more of the one who was not, Ralph Harcourt. As we discover the trauma that changed a young man who wore his heart on his sleeve to one who is almost inhumanly cold and controlled, I very much wanted to see how his life with Elizabeth transforms him. I imagine he will always be controlled and intellectual (the scene at the Audley dinner party with his clever apology to Sebastian and his detente with Aristide is nothing short of brilliant), neither will he suffer fools gladly (particularly his brothers). However, I also imagine he comes to love Elizabeth heart and soul, and with her and their children he will be almost unrecognizable to those who knew him before his marriage, and I would have loved to see a scene or two.

    1. Yes, Susan, Ralph is an interesting fellow – as are readers’ reactions to him. Some, like you, grew to understand and empathise with him; others never got over the dislike they felt for him in Hazard. From my own perspective, it was the first time I’d chosen to rehabilitate a character and by the end of Cadenza I liked him quite a lot. If you haven’t read A Trick of Fate, you’ll find a further (brief) installment of his and Lizzie’s story there which shows how their marriage is going. As for Midwinter Magic, it was necessary to curtail the cast list to a degree so I didn’t end up with sundry characters wandering around without portfolio , as it were. Hence, some couples weren’t invited and others were unable to attend. Novella writing, I have discovered, requires a certain discipline!

      1. Aaaarrrrggghhh!!! Thank you for this tip! I was desperate for a snippet of Lizzies married life as I got quite invested in his rehabilitation. And I SO wanted to hear about the wedding night after the “I can promise you physical pleasure” bit, esp as Lizzie was the more “up tight” one. EXCITED! A trick of fate here I come x

  6. Hello! I just wanted to let you know that I truly love your books, and finding them has been a bright spot in my pandemic reading. You treat your characters with sympathy and kindness, and make them seem like real people complete with flaws and personality. Thank you!

    1. Thanks a lot for your kind comments, Maureen – they’re very much appreciated. I’m guessing it’s the Rockliffe series that you’ve been reading – in which case, look out for a final novella, Midwinter Magic, to be released on December 6th. I couldn’t resist one last brief visit into Rock’s world!

      1. It’s already preordered! I’ve actually read all your available books over the last 8 months. The Marigold Chain is a favorite of mine. I was hoping we’d eventually learn what happened to Giles after he went to Jamaica.

        1. Thanks, Maureen. You’re not alone in wondering what happened to Giles after he left England. But at present, I’m still writing Adam Brandon’s story so it’s hard to think ahead!

  7. Hello, I just wanted to say that I love your historical romance books and can’t wait for more! I enjoy the dialogues and slow-burn romance, plus no anachronistic content! I hope there will be a new one this year.
    All the best,

    1. Thank you so much, Ena. I’m currently working on Brandon Brothers #2 – Adam’s story – but it isn’t progressing as quickly as I would like. One of the reasons for this is that I need to do some ‘on location’ research which lockdown is making impossible at present. However, I can promise a Rockliffe novella in time for Christmas – a Rockliffe swansong, if you like. Hope this helps!

      1. I have loved the Rockcliffe series too and I shall miss him Rockcliffe. What a wonderful character. I can’t wait for your novella. As a matter of interest which book shall I listen to next?

        1. So glad you’ve enjoyed Rock & Co, Alex. As for what next … there’s Max Brandon’s story in A Trick of Fate if you want to stick with the Georgian era. But if you fancy branching out into the 17th century, you could try A Splendid Defiance. The history in the background is all true; but there’s a lot of other stuff going on as well as a romance. And Captain Justin Ambrose ranks as a top hero among my fans. Defiance is also a good starting place for the (seriously long!) Roundheads & Cavaliers series. Needless to say, Alex has narrated all of them.
          As for the novella … you’ll meet Rockliffe again there and it will go on pre-order in October for an early December release.

      2. Great news ?.Have loved your writing for so long.A very,very happy day when you came back on Kindle.Just out of curiosity can I buy your books hardback.I have black Madonna and Garland of straw from way back plus parfit knight(would make lovely presents from my family).Hope all is well with you and yours.

        1. Sorry, Alison – but since I publish independently these days, I only do paperbacks. This is because print-on-demand costs are so high that I would have to price hardbacks at a ridiculous figure just to cover my own costs. Still, the paperbacks look pretty good and I’m able to have new covers.

  8. I am thrilled to say I just discovered you! My first was The Marigold Chain so I have hours of enjoyment ahead of me getting to know your other characters. One question, Is Giles going to have a story? I would love to read\ listen to his happily ever after!
    So glad I found you on audible \ Kindle .

    1. Hi Sherry – thanks for getting in touch. It’s always a pleasure to hear from a new reader. The Marigold Chain was the very first book I had published back in the dim and distant past and I’ve often contemplated writing a sort of companion novel for Giles but never got around to it – mostly because, over time, I moved off in different directions. First, to the English Civil War (5 titles there) and then to the 18th century with Rock & Co. Currently, I’m working on Adam, the second of the Brandon Brothers. I think it unlikely that I will ever get back to Giles … but nothing is impossible!

  9. Hi Stella, I’m very pleased to see that you’re writing a series starting with Max Brandon. Always thought there was more juice available there 🙂
    Do you still think it will be ready for release by the end of the year?
    Also, I remember seeing a comment on here some time ago where you mentioned writing Toby’s story – potentially in conjunction with the restoration of Charles II. Is that on the back burner for now?
    Finally, I should say how much I enjoy reading your books. Occasionally I get a bit lost in the military detail, but the characters fairly leap off the page and the dialogue is always a joy.
    I read A Splendid Defiance when it first came out, I think… picked it up at a book shop. And still have it!

    1. A Trick of Fate (Brandon Brothers – Max) will be going on pre-order very soon now for release in October – exact dates still to be confirmed, I’m afraid as there are several factors to be taken into account. But I’ll be honest and admit that Max was deliberately written with an eye to the future and a step away from Rock & Co.
      Toby’s story remains on the back-burner due to (with the exception of the actual Restoration) a very unexciting historical background.
      I’m glad you enjoy my work – have you tried it in audio? Alex Wyndham is exceptionally talented!

  10. This is my summer for re-discovering the Roundheads and Cavaliers series, together with Splendid Defiance and Marigold Chain. Having listened to A Splendid Defiance while packing, in anticipation of The Black Madonna’s audio release, and to The Black Madonna on a trip through France, I am currently happily ensconced in Garland of Straw, while dodging the insane heat in the French Alps. The descriptions of cold, snow, rain and sleet in Yorkshire and London do help 😉

    1. I’m gathering that you’ve read the R&C series before, Sophie. But first, let me thank you most sincerely for your excellent review. It’s outstandingly good – one of the best, if not the best, I’ve ever received. You include so many important points and discuss the novel in depth, all without revealing the entire story/plot. This is a rare talent in a reviewer, believe me!
      It took a long time and a lot of thought before I finally decided to proceed with the Madonna audio. It’s a long book and therefore expensive to produce. Of course,there was never any doubt that Alex would handle the project brilliantly. But on this occasion, it helped that we had the chance to sit down and discuss it face-to-face well in advance. Early results (sales and reviews) are encouraging … so now the long process of consideration begins all over again with regard to Garland – for which, at present, we are still attempting to finalise the new cover.
      Too much information,I think. Like you, I’m on holiday – in my case, southern Turkey – and will be for a further week.
      BTW, if you want to continue to chat, e-mail might best. Address is

  11. I have really enjoyed all the Rockliffe books and have listened to them over and over. Am now listening to Hazard for the third time. In every book, I become more and more aggravated by Madeline….would like to strangle her. And that’s a tribute to your character development, S.R. I do have a question….in which book do you tell the story of Rafe and his lady love?

    1. Yes, Penny – Madeleine is a pain. But I think she finally redeems herself when the chips are down, don’t you? As for Ralph and Lizzie … their story is mostly told in Cadenza. It couldn’t go further at that point because doing so would involve changing Ralph’s character and I draw the line at that. He’s emotionally shut-down and that will take time to change. But you will be happy to learn that I’ve included a brief, further installment in his development in my current work-in-progress – Brandon Book One, A Trick of Fate – which should become available later this year. Hope that helps!

  12. I stretched out Cadenza as long as humanly possible because I didn’t want the Rockcliffe series to come to an end. Please tell me there will be more books in the series, following up on such a wonderful assortment of characters. I would especially love reading more about Elizabeth and Ralph.

    1. So glad you’ve enjoyed spending time with Rock & Co, Karen. Although, at present, I don’t plan to continue the Rockliffe series, you will almost certainly be meeting some old friends again in the Brandon trilogy.
      Book One – A Trick of Fate – is already underway and I hope to finish and release it later this year. Lizzie and Ralph may make an appearance in it but at this stage in the writing, I can’t promise.

  13. I would greatly appreciate a little relationship chart for the Rockliffe series characters? Who is friends with who, what stories are told in what book :). So happy to have found such a great author through Audible!

    1. I’ll try to get around to this at some point, RJ – perhaps in my newsletter. But just at present I’m a bit tied up with writing Max Brandon’s story and preparing the audio of The Black Madonna. Thanks for your interest and so glad you’re enjoying spending time with Rock & Co.

      1. I too would love a family tree of sorts. I am only now starting book 4 and am already struggling to remember people whose name is familiar but I have difficulty placing. I do appreciate that it is better to leave the reader to go back, than to continually explain relationships or history and some authors do, in a hope that makes a book more a stand-alone. Your books are very enjoyable!

        1. I’ve considered your idea of a sort of family tree before, Danielle, but couldn’t see how to make it work since quite a few of the lead characters aren’t related at all. Yes, we have Rock’s brother and sister and eventually their spouses. But where do we put Adrian Sarre, Sebastian Audley, Aristide Delacroix or Julian Langham? And that’s just some of the gentlemen! The only other alternative is listing the characters, along with who is married to who and putting it in every book, along with current additions … and that seems a bit pompous for this style of novel.

  14. In the Parfit Knight, Robert Daker was sent away into the military. Since Rafe s got to become a better person, what about Robert? Did he become a better person from his experience? Did the war change him into a leader, or was he made weak because of it? What about Rafe and Elizabeth? Did their wedding happen or did her father interfere? Did Rafe say I love you out loud? And Max? Does he get married? I love your books and I would love to have more of these characters. Will we get to see the children grow up and find their own way? I feel so anxious because I want more of the Rockcliffes. Please say there will be more?

    1. Wow – so many questions! Starting with Robert Dacre … since he had no redeeming features when last we saw him, I doubt he’s improved but to be honest, Samantha, once he was off the page, I was done with him.
      Ralph and Lizzie – yes, the wedding happened. I’m surprised you thought Lizzie’s father might have been able to stop it – what with Lizzie being of age and Ralph being an earl. And no … Ralph never did manage to tell Lizzie he loved her in so many words but all the signs were there that he wanted to. Maybe we’ll hear him do that in the future – though I’m not promising anything.
      As for Max … I’m writing his story now and hope to have it finished later this year. Thanks for getting in touch. I’m guessing you listened to the audio. Do you ever review? If not, might you consider doing so?

  15. Hello Stella, Just seen the new cover for the Black Madonna, will kindle be getting an update so that the old cover is replaced with the new version? Hope so.

    1. Unfortunately, Amazon do not supply updates unless they have been done to correct serious flaws within the book. Their reason for this is that an update causes a reader to lose bookmarks and highlights. Personally, I wouldn’t consider that important and would much prefer to be offered the revised version. You could try asking them to over-write the version you already own with the new one. That might work – though I suspect not.

  16. I’ve finished all of your books (most recently your Civil War books) and now I feel that there is a huge hole where my “friends” were. I miss them so much! So, I’ll ask a question – will the Restoration, do you think that Francis and Ashley will return to England or meet Eden properly? I recall that Ashley meets Eden briefly in Scotland during Cromwell’s time but it seems to me that they must be destined to meet as friends. I understand that most sequestered property was returned to original owners after the Restoration so Francis, as just about the only living member of his family, and the current Viscount, could reasonably have come back – if only for a visit. Perhaps if you write an ending for Tobias a few “friends” could visit!

    1. Although I haven’t made any firm decision on it yet, the possibility of a 5th R&C book telling Toby’s story and ending with the Restoration has been on my radar for some time. At present, however, I’m still immersed in Rockliffe Six – Cadenza – which should be available for pre-order tomorrow. As for what comes next … watch this space.

  17. I really like the new covers for the Rockcliffe series and I have just completed buying all the audio versions of your books through Audible. I am looking forward to the next book in the Rockcliffe series.

    1. Thank you, Sandra. Yes, I’m pleased with the new covers – as you can probably tell, I’m not a great fan of the current fashion for bare-chested men and/or couples in a clinch. As for Alex – he’s brilliant, isn’t he?

      1. Stella, yes, Alex is great and I am in the middle of listening to The Black Madonna at the moment, having listened to A Splendid Defiance with delight. I love reading books, but the audio version, especially when read so brilliantly, brings out layers of nuance and characterisation missed when just reading it on the page. I do hope that the rest of the Roundheads & Cavaliers series manage to appear as audiobooks with Alex as the narrator. Historical fiction is undergoing a renaissance at the moment, which augurs well for you and other authors in this genre.

        1. Thank you,Sandra. Several other readers, newly come to audio, have made comments similar to yours regarding certain things standing out more clearly in audio than they did on the page. This is welcome news because – Madonna being so long and historically based – asking Alex to narrate it was a bit of a leap of faith on my part. I’ve also been surprised by the number of complimentary American reviews as I’ve always recognised that the ECW probably doesn’t appeal much in the US. What you say about a revival of interest in historical fiction is interesting. I wasn’t aware of it and wonder what makes you think so. As for the other R&C titles in audio … Garland of Straw is currently under consideration – I know Alex would like to do it. Time will tell!

          1. A very long overdue reply to say that I think that the literary plaudits for Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy has moved historical fiction (which your C&R series are rather than historical romance) from being dismissed by many as a genre fiction into the mainstream. A number of years ago, I remember seeing a historical novelist being part of a panel discussion. When she left the studio the others on the panel were quite dismissive of her writing, on the basis — if I am remembering correctly — that anyone who has to write to an existing historical sequence of events and include historical personages cannot be a ‘real’ writer at all, as so much of the plot, settings and characters are predetermined. I thought then and continue to do so that this is wrong and I am glad that historical fiction is not so easily dismissed by critics now.

          2. Interesting, Sandra. The truth is that writing historical fiction is a great deal more difficult than writing historical romance. Aside from the amount of research required, one then has to fit the fictional story into/around the real events without it appearing contrived. And then, of course, there is the question of balance – not getting carried away with one’s research and turning what should be a novel into a history book. Whoever the panelists who dismissed it as a cop-out were, they clearly understood none of that – probably because they weren’t writers. I’d like to finish off the R&C series with Toby’s book … but finding a story that works against the lead-up to the Restoration has so far defeated me.

  18. There are more characters un resolved in both series. Will there be more books in each series?

    1. With the exception of Toby Maxwell in the R&C series, I’m not entirely sure which characters you mean. If you could specify, I’ll try to answer your question. In the meantime, I am currently completing Rockliffe Book Six.

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