Book Spotlight and Excerpt: A Class Entwined by Susie Murphy

 

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About The Book :

Trapped in a loveless marriage far from home, Bridget does what she can to fill her lonely days. She throws herself into charitable work, but her cherished daughter, Emily, is her only true source of happiness.

Meanwhile, Cormac’s own life unravels and he finds himself doing unspeakable things just to survive.

Neither of them dream they will ever meet again, but fate brings them back together in the most unexpected of ways.

Can Bridget rediscover her love for the man Cormac has become? And how will Cormac react when he learns Bridget’s secret?

A Class Entwined is the second book in Susie Murphy’s A Matter of Class series.

A Class Entwined on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43429665-a-class-entwined)

A Class Apart on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40598338-a-class-apart)

A beautifully written historical novel with characters who linger long after the last page is turned.’ – Hazel Gaynor, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home.

About The Author:

Susie Murphy is an Irish historical fiction author. She loves historical fiction so much that she often wishes she had been born two hundred years ago. Still, she remains grateful for many aspects of the modern age, including women’s suffrage, electric showers and pizza. Susie’s novels, A Class Apart and A Class Entwined, are the first two installments in her six-part series A Matter of Class, which begins in Ireland in 1828.

Susie Murphy Writes Website https://susiemurphywrites.com/

Susie Murphy Writes Facebook https://www.facebook.com/susiemurphywrites/

Susie Murphy Writes Twitter (https://twitter.com/susiemwrites

You Too Can Fall In Love Book Trailer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gNIs0xfFxs

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Read an Excerpt from ”A Class Apart”:

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Chapter 1

Bridget twisted in her seat as the horse-drawn carriage reached the top of the avenue and the familiar edifice of warm red brick came into sight.
‘There it is!’ she exclaimed, heart soaring with emotion.
In the seat opposite, her mother squared her shoulders and gripped her fan tightly, her knuckles straining the material of her glove.
Bridget pressed her nose to the window, striving to take in as much as she could through the dust-streaked glass. All the servants had congregated in the open space before the manor house, waiting to greet their mistress on her return. As the carriage lumbered to a stop, wheels crunching on gravel, Lady Courcey fixed her gaze upon her daughter.
‘You shall maintain absolute decorum, as befits a proper lady,’ she said in a low, measured tone.
Bridget deflated in an instant but there was no time to respond because a liveried footman had already opened the door of the carriage, letting in a breath of air which alleviated the stifling heat within. He offered his hand to assist Lady Courcey and the lady stepped out. Then he reached for Bridget’s hand and she too emerged blinking into the May sunshine.
Oakleigh Manor rose before her. The immense, elegant building remained unchanged, save for the ivy creeping further across its walls. A sea of servants’ faces floated in front of it but impeding this view was the form of her massive-bellied uncle, Lord Walcott, three or four small dogs yapping around his ankles. Just behind him stood the butler, Mr Buttimer, who had been in the family’s service for several decades. His back and shoulders were as straight as if he were about to receive instructions from a military commander.
Lord Walcott’s voice boomed out in welcome. ‘My dearest Constance!’ He waddled forwards under the weight of his great bulk and stooped to kiss his sister’s proffered hand. ‘Your journey was comfortable enough, I trust?’
They had spent the past couple of days travelling more than sixty miles south from Dublin but, despite the heat, had dined well at the inns where they had stayed and had suffered no wheel-related misfortunes.
‘It was an excruciating necessity,’ said Lady Courcey.
Lord Walcott chuckled and turned to bestow a similar kiss upon Bridget.
She curtseyed in response. ‘How do you do, Uncle Stuart.’
Mr Buttimer stepped up next. He bowed without disturbing the rigidity of his posture and said, ‘Your ladyship, you are most welcome back. The estate has not been the same in your absence.’ Still bent over, he cast a hasty glance in Lord Walcott’s direction. ‘That is to say, it has been well managed, but of course we all prefer to see a Courcey in the family seat. Ahem, I don’t mean to imply—it goes without saying that his lordship has been a fine substitute—not my intention to demean—’
‘Thank you, Buttimer. My daughter and I would like some refreshment after we have settled back into our chambers.’
‘Indeed, a luncheon is already being prepared, my lady.’
The butler seemed on the verge of expanding on this subject but Lady Courcey cut him off with a nod and a beckoning gesture of her fan to Bridget. Her mouth was a thin line as she turned towards the red-bricked manor. While for the most part a very happy place, Oakleigh was also the site of some painful memories and plainly those were the ones she was choosing to remember upon their arrival. Bridget felt the poignancy too but it was not enough to quell her joy in coming home at long, long last.
They headed towards the front entrance of the house, making their way through a gap in the neat rows of maids, footmen, stable hands, gardeners, and even some of the local farmers and cottiers. Lord Walcott, who appeared to have taken no offence to Mr Buttimer’s babbling, ambled along in their wake, calling his dogs to heel.
Bridget’s gaze roamed to either side, recognising familiar faces from her childhood. She was not far from the front steps when she spotted Cormac in the last row, his fair hair standing out among the rest. His presence took her by surprise – she had not thought of him in so long, but when she had it was never to imagine him as a servant. His eyes, like the others, were cast respectfully downwards but as she passed by he glanced up. Startled, she turned her head at once so as not to be caught looking herself.
Somewhat flustered, she climbed the broad, stone steps to the front door and crossed the threshold, the barking of her uncle’s dogs shrill in her ears. The enormous entrance hall was pleasantly cool after the sweltering heat outside. Its dominating feature was a sweeping mahogany staircase which rose in splendour to the next floor. At the foot of the stairs stood Mrs Walsh, the housekeeper, a ring of keys hanging at her waist.
‘Your ladyship, Miss Muldowney. I am delighted to welcome you both home.’
Lady Courcey sniffed. ‘Ryan should be following shortly with the luggage. Send her up to me as soon as she arrives.’
She made for the staircase and Bridget followed, eager to reach her bedchamber, which she entered with a sigh of nostalgia. She had been a girl of only twelve when she had last set foot here but nothing seemed to have altered. The four-poster bed was still decorated with burgundy-coloured curtains, at its foot lay the same sheepskin rug into which she had loved sinking her bare toes, and her old hairbrush rested on the dressing table as though she had just left it there that morning. It even smelled the same, of wood polish and fresh linen and something comforting which she could only label as ‘home’.
On the far wall hung a long, silver-framed mirror. A glance into the glass made her pause. Here was the one thing in the room that had wholly changed: her own reflection. She had grown up since the last time she had looked into this mirror and for a moment she did not recognise herself. Her dark brown eyes stared back, struck by the transformation that seven years had wrought upon her, and she looked away, disconcerted.
She turned to the window, which offered a prospect vastly different to the one she could see from her bedchamber in Dublin. Merrion Square, its street busy with passing carriages, had been a sight she had initially hated, then become accustomed to and in the end rather fond of, but it could never replace the view out of any window of Oakleigh Manor, with its endless expanse of nature on every side.
She looked down upon the space in front of the house, where the workers were dispersing back to their duties. The window was open and their voices drifted up to her. Although the rustic Carlow accent was as disparate from the polished intonations of the aristocracy as it was possible to be, the distinctive brogue charmed her now as much as it ever had.
The stable hands remained to see to the carriage and its horses; Bridget saw Cormac grasp a bridle and rub the horse’s neck. A donkey and cart laboured into view at the top of the avenue, the back of the cart loaded with large trunks. Ellen Ryan, Lady Courcey’s freckled lady’s maid, sat beside the driver. She hopped down from the cart and said something to Mr Buttimer who clicked his fingers at his footmen and the stable hands.
Bridget moved away from the window and rang the bell pull. When a breathless maid scuttled into the room, she said, ‘Please bring me some water for washing. I would like to freshen up before going down to luncheon.’
The maid curtseyed and scampered out again. Bridget’s gaze landed once more on the sheepskin rug and, overcome by an impish urge, she sat on the bed and hitched up her skirts to take off her ankle boots and stockings. She sighed as her feet escaped their sweaty imprisonment, then stood on the rug and buried her toes in the wool. A feeling of contentment settled over her like a blanket.
Footsteps came tapping smartly down the corridor and through the open door she saw two footmen pass by bearing a trunk bound for her mother’s room. Close on their heels was another pair who stopped outside her own chamber.
They weren’t footmen but stable hands. She let her skirts fall to cover her exposed feet as Cormac and a lanky boy carried the trunk into her room and set it down by the wardrobe with a muted thud.
They both headed back towards the door but some inexplicable impulse made her say, ‘Please wait a moment, Cormac.’
After the barest hesitation, he said to the other lad, ‘You go on, Liam. I’ll be right behind you.’
Liam shot him a quizzical look but left nonetheless. Cormac turned around to face her. At these close quarters, she could see that he had changed too, physically at least. He was much taller now and the skinny frame of his boyhood had developed into the sturdy body of a young man used to hard work. His skin was tanned and his fair hair was longer than it used to be, falling into his eyes, which she perceived were still that astonishing shade of blue.
‘I…’ She didn’t know what to say next. Why had she even called him back?
He saved her by offering a smile. ‘’Tis good to have you home.’
‘It is good to be home,’ she said, smiling in return.
‘Might you be back for good?’ he asked.
‘Mother says it is just for the summer, but I am hopeful we shall stay much longer than that.’
He glanced over his shoulder as the two footmen, who had deposited her mother’s trunk, passed by again. ‘I’d best be going.’
‘Yes, of course. Thank you for…’ She gestured towards the trunk.
‘No trouble,’ he said and disappeared out the door.
The maid returned moments later with a pitcher of water and Bridget set about washing the sticky heat from her skin.

 

1

Bridget twisted in her seat as the horse-drawn carriage reached the top of the avenue and the familiar edifice of warm red brick came into sight.
‘There it is!’ she exclaimed, heart soaring with emotion.
In the seat opposite, her mother squared her shoulders and gripped her fan tightly, her knuckles straining the material of her glove.
Bridget pressed her nose to the window, striving to take in as much as she could through the dust-streaked glass. All the servants had congregated in the open space before the manor house, waiting to greet their mistress on her return. As the carriage lumbered to a stop, wheels crunching on gravel, Lady Courcey fixed her gaze upon her daughter.
‘You shall maintain absolute decorum, as befits a proper lady,’ she said in a low, measured tone.
Bridget deflated in an instant but there was no time to respond because a liveried footman had already opened the door of the carriage, letting in a breath of air which alleviated the stifling heat within. He offered his hand to assist Lady Courcey and the lady stepped out. Then he reached for Bridget’s hand and she too emerged blinking into the May sunshine.
Oakleigh Manor rose before her. The immense, elegant building remained unchanged, save for the ivy creeping further across its walls. A sea of servants’ faces floated in front of it but impeding this view was the form of her massive-bellied uncle, Lord Walcott, three or four small dogs yapping around his ankles. Just behind him stood the butler, Mr Buttimer, who had been in the family’s service for several decades. His back and shoulders were as straight as if he were about to receive instructions from a military commander.
Lord Walcott’s voice boomed out in welcome. ‘My dearest Constance!’ He waddled forwards under the weight of his great bulk and stooped to kiss his sister’s proffered hand. ‘Your journey was comfortable enough, I trust?’
They had spent the past couple of days travelling more than sixty miles south from Dublin but, despite the heat, had dined well at the inns where they had stayed and had suffered no wheel-related misfortunes.
‘It was an excruciating necessity,’ said Lady Courcey.
Lord Walcott chuckled and turned to bestow a similar kiss upon Bridget.
She curtseyed in response. ‘How do you do, Uncle Stuart.’
Mr Buttimer stepped up next. He bowed without disturbing the rigidity of his posture and said, ‘Your ladyship, you are most welcome back. The estate has not been the same in your absence.’ Still bent over, he cast a hasty glance in Lord Walcott’s direction. ‘That is to say, it has been well managed, but of course we all prefer to see a Courcey in the family seat. Ahem, I don’t mean to imply—it goes without saying that his lordship has been a fine substitute—not my intention to demean—’
‘Thank you, Buttimer. My daughter and I would like some refreshment after we have settled back into our chambers.’
‘Indeed, a luncheon is already being prepared, my lady.’
The butler seemed on the verge of expanding on this subject but Lady Courcey cut him off with a nod and a beckoning gesture of her fan to Bridget. Her mouth was a thin line as she turned towards the red-bricked manor. While for the most part a very happy place, Oakleigh was also the site of some painful memories and plainly those were the ones she was choosing to remember upon their arrival. Bridget felt the poignancy too but it was not enough to quell her joy in coming home at long, long last.
They headed towards the front entrance of the house, making their way through a gap in the neat rows of maids, footmen, stable hands, gardeners, and even some of the local farmers and cottiers. Lord Walcott, who appeared to have taken no offence to Mr Buttimer’s babbling, ambled along in their wake, calling his dogs to heel.
Bridget’s gaze roamed to either side, recognising familiar faces from her childhood. She was not far from the front steps when she spotted Cormac in the last row, his fair hair standing out among the rest. His presence took her by surprise – she had not thought of him in so long, but when she had it was never to imagine him as a servant. His eyes, like the others, were cast respectfully downwards but as she passed by he glanced up. Startled, she turned her head at once so as not to be caught looking herself.
Somewhat flustered, she climbed the broad, stone steps to the front door and crossed the threshold, the barking of her uncle’s dogs shrill in her ears. The enormous entrance hall was pleasantly cool after the sweltering heat outside. Its dominating feature was a sweeping mahogany staircase which rose in splendour to the next floor. At the foot of the stairs stood Mrs Walsh, the housekeeper, a ring of keys hanging at her waist.
‘Your ladyship, Miss Muldowney. I am delighted to welcome you both home.’
Lady Courcey sniffed. ‘Ryan should be following shortly with the luggage. Send her up to me as soon as she arrives.’
She made for the staircase and Bridget followed, eager to reach her bedchamber, which she entered with a sigh of nostalgia. She had been a girl of only twelve when she had last set foot here but nothing seemed to have altered. The four-poster bed was still decorated with burgundy-coloured curtains, at its foot lay the same sheepskin rug into which she had loved sinking her bare toes, and her old hairbrush rested on the dressing table as though she had just left it there that morning. It even smelled the same, of wood polish and fresh linen and something comforting which she could only label as ‘home’.
On the far wall hung a long, silver-framed mirror. A glance into the glass made her pause. Here was the one thing in the room that had wholly changed: her own reflection. She had grown up since the last time she had looked into this mirror and for a moment she did not recognise herself. Her dark brown eyes stared back, struck by the transformation that seven years had wrought upon her, and she looked away, disconcerted.
She turned to the window, which offered a prospect vastly different to the one she could see from her bedchamber in Dublin. Merrion Square, its street busy with passing carriages, had been a sight she had initially hated, then become accustomed to and in the end rather fond of, but it could never replace the view out of any window of Oakleigh Manor, with its endless expanse of nature on every side.
She looked down upon the space in front of the house, where the workers were dispersing back to their duties. The window was open and their voices drifted up to her. Although the rustic Carlow accent was as disparate from the polished intonations of the aristocracy as it was possible to be, the distinctive brogue charmed her now as much as it ever had.
The stable hands remained to see to the carriage and its horses; Bridget saw Cormac grasp a bridle and rub the horse’s neck. A donkey and cart laboured into view at the top of the avenue, the back of the cart loaded with large trunks. Ellen Ryan, Lady Courcey’s freckled lady’s maid, sat beside the driver. She hopped down from the cart and said something to Mr Buttimer who clicked his fingers at his footmen and the stable hands.
Bridget moved away from the window and rang the bell pull. When a breathless maid scuttled into the room, she said, ‘Please bring me some water for washing. I would like to freshen up before going down to luncheon.’
The maid curtseyed and scampered out again. Bridget’s gaze landed once more on the sheepskin rug and, overcome by an impish urge, she sat on the bed and hitched up her skirts to take off her ankle boots and stockings. She sighed as her feet escaped their sweaty imprisonment, then stood on the rug and buried her toes in the wool. A feeling of contentment settled over her like a blanket.
Footsteps came tapping smartly down the corridor and through the open door she saw two footmen pass by bearing a trunk bound for her mother’s room. Close on their heels was another pair who stopped outside her own chamber.
They weren’t footmen but stable hands. She let her skirts fall to cover her exposed feet as Cormac and a lanky boy carried the trunk into her room and set it down by the wardrobe with a muted thud.
They both headed back towards the door but some inexplicable impulse made her say, ‘Please wait a moment, Cormac.’
After the barest hesitation, he said to the other lad, ‘You go on, Liam. I’ll be right behind you.’
Liam shot him a quizzical look but left nonetheless. Cormac turned around to face her. At these close quarters, she could see that he had changed too, physically at least. He was much taller now and the skinny frame of his boyhood had developed into the sturdy body of a young man used to hard work. His skin was tanned and his fair hair was longer than it used to be, falling into his eyes, which she perceived were still that astonishing shade of blue.
‘I…’ She didn’t know what to say next. Why had she even called him back?
He saved her by offering a smile. ‘’Tis good to have you home.’
‘It is good to be home,’ she said, smiling in return.
‘Might you be back for good?’ he asked.
‘Mother says it is just for the summer, but I am hopeful we shall stay much longer than that.’
He glanced over his shoulder as the two footmen, who had deposited her mother’s trunk, passed by again. ‘I’d best be going.’
‘Yes, of course. Thank you for…’ She gestured towards the trunk.
‘No trouble,’ he said and disappeared out the door.
The maid returned moments later with a pitcher of water and Bridget set about washing the sticky heat from her skin.

 

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