Monday, August 22, 2011

Book Review and Interview with Jillian Kent plus book giveaway

Narelle here. I'm delighted to welcome Jillian Kent to our blog. Today we are giving away a copy of Jillian's debut release, Secrets of the Heart.

Jillian Kent is more than enthusiastic about the release of her first novel, Secrets of the Heart, The Ravensmoore Chronicles, Book One. She’s a full-time counselor for nursing students and holds a masters degree in social work. She’s fascinated with human behavior and thought it would be interesting to explore what might have happened in a lunatic asylum during England’s Regency era, her favorite time period. Jillian hopes you will escape into the past with her and find faith for the future.

Book Review by Narelle Atkins

Secrets of the Heart (Realms, May 2011) is Jillian Kent’s debut Regency romance and Book One in The Ravensmoore Chronicles. A compelling romance set in 1817, with elements of intrigue and suspense that delves into the darker side of life in Regency England.

Devlin Greyson inherits the title of Earl of Ravensmoore after the unexpected death of his father and elder brother. He continues studying medicine at a hospital in York, despite strong disapproval from society and his peers.

Lady Madeline Whittington is grieving the loss of her beloved father and younger siblings, and she is distressed by her mother’s attraction to the mysterious Lord Vale. Lord Vale claims to be an old friend of her father’s, and Madeline distrusts Lord Vale’s intentions toward her mother.

Lord Ravensmoore aka Doctor Greyson provides medical assistance to Madeline after her horse stumbles during a hunt. She is drawn to Devlin but later recalls that he was the attending trainee doctor at the hospital when her father died, and Madeline holds Devlin responsible for her father’s death.

Devlin is smitten with Lady Madeline, but he is holding his own secrets that jeopardise a potential match between them.

Madeline shows kindness to a disturbed girl she comes across in the woods, and who she later learns is an escapee from the nearby Ashcroft Lunatic Asylum where Lord Vale is a benefactor.

Secrets generating from Ashcroft Lunatic Asylum threaten to destroy both Devlin and Madeline’s lives. Danger lurks and their faith is challenged as they fight for what is right in a world where polite society would prefer to ignore the plight of the mentally ill.

Secrets of the Heart provides an insightful and honest look into life in a nineteenth century lunatic asylum. Human rights take second place to the agendas and greed of those in authority. The powerful story has engaging characters and exciting plot twists that will keep you turning the page until the very end. I highly recommend Secrets of the Heart to those looking for a thought provoking Regency romance that addresses the tough issue of mental illness.

Narelle: What do you find most fascinating about the Regency era?

Jillian: I think it’s the only period in England’s history where the king was unable to carry out his duties because of mental illness, which in fact probably was an illness related to the disease pyforia and even now experts are thinking it may have been arsenic poisoning from the wigs they wore at that time.

I also love that Jane Austen lived during this time period, as well as other authors like Lord Byron. I found this link about British female writer’s that others might enjoy:

The fashion plate of the day was a man, Beau Brummell, but I love the women’s clothes. It was also a wild and crazy time, a time when rules weren’t very strict prior to the Victorian era and this allows a writer’s imagination to soar and deal with fascinating and complicated issues. Writers can focus on the aristocracy and the upper crust and/or the extreme poverty of the day and the effects this had on everyone. And then there are the medical and mental health issues. I love exploring how people’s thoughts and attitudes from another century can still be heard in our present day, for better or worse.

Narelle: How did you go about researching mental illness during the nineteenth century? What did you learn about life in lunatic asylums during this period of English history?

Jillian: Roy Porter was an English researcher who died a few years ago from a heart attack as he rode to his garden. He was prolific and wrote many, many books and papers, related to England, mental illness, medicine, and much more: here’s the link to his obituary that you might find interesting:

I’ve read:

Mind Forg'd Manacles: a history of madness from the Restoration to the Regency
A Social History of Madness: stories of the insane
The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: a medical history of mankind from antiquity to the present
Madmen: A Social History of Madhouses, Mad Doctors & Lunatics (Revealing History)

Roy Porter’s books are a wealth of information.

Many years ago I read a book by author Laura Kinsale called Flowers from the Storm which was about the effect the Quaker, John Tuke, had on the asylum system. The hero in her novel had been the typical rake of the day who’d suffered a stroke which made this book very interesting.

I also looked up the asylum laws on line and it was during the early 1800’s of the Regency that significant changes took place in mental health laws. There were those who believed that demon possession was the root cause of mental illness. Even King George was burned, restrained, and brutalized in efforts to help him regain his mental health.

Narelle: How do attitudes toward mental illness in today’s society differ to those held by society during the Regency era?

Jillian: Significant strides have been made in mental health through the use of medications and therapy; however we’ve got a long way to go. The problem of stigma still weighs heavily on many people who have suffered very serious mental illnesses and others are afraid to seek therapy and use their insurance for fear that employers will hold it against them. We have many veterans returning home from war who will need a lot of help. Many individuals are exposed to all kinds of trauma: loss of a spouse, a child, rape, physical illnesses, and more. I hope some day that we can stamp out the stigma of mental illness to encourage treatment so that others do not suffer needlessly. I really like the following video and website information. I hope you’ll tell others who may be interested.

I also hope you will visit this link at NAMI: "Not, 'Whose Fault Is It?'"

Jillian, thanks for joining us today. It's been a pleasure to interview you and learn more about mental illness during the Regency era.

By commenting on today’s post you can enter the drawing to win a copy of Secrets of the Heart. The drawing will take place on Friday, August 26 and the winner announced on Sunday, August 28. Please leave an email address [ ] at [ ] dot [ ] where you can be reached.

"Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws."

To learn more about Jillian Kent, please visit her website.

Narelle Atkins writes contemporary inspirational romance. She resides in Canberra, Australia with her husband and children. To learn more about Narelle, please visit her website.


  1. Hi Narelle, hi Jillie. This is a great interview. I remember Flowers From the Storm, too. It had an impact, that's for sure. I can't wait to read your book, Jill. Its on my list!

  2. Hi Narelle and Suzie,
    First of all a big thank you to Narelle for the awesome book review and for having me here at ICFW. I'm so grateful for this opportunity. A first book is such a wild ride in many ways and there is and was a huge learning curve (at least for me) when my book released in May.

    So nice to see you here and yet another fan of Flowers From the Storm. I'll look forward to what you think about Secrets of the Heart Suzie.

    Have a great day all!

  3. A few years ago I was praying regularly for 6 friends with cancer. Only one is left. Now I find a number of people with mental illness on my prayer list. Frankly, I think I would rather be praying about cancer. I appreciate so much the sermon link above comparing mental illness to the story in John 9 where the disciples were so quick to look for blame. May your book cause many to think even though it is set in a different era.

  4. Darker side indeed! I've always found those asylums very troubling and wish today's world would be tolerant. Thanks for the wonderful review and interview! <3

    Can Alex save Winter from the darkness that hunts her?
    YA Paranormal Romance, Darkspell coming fall of 2011!

  5. Suzie, I vaguely remember Laura's book and I wonder if it's still in print?

    Jill, thanks for visiting with us :) We appreciate your insightful answers and the helpful links you provided.

    LeAnne, I also hope Jill's book will inspire people to think about mental illness in today's world.

    Elizabeth, thanks for stopping by :)

    Good luck in the drawing!

  6. Hi LeAnne,
    Thank you for stopping by and for your post. I'm so sorry you've lost so many friends to cancer. I lost both my father and brother to that wicked disease and my mom is a breast cancer survivor.

    Mental illness is devastating as well. And I pray that those you are praying for will be healed. It takes so much out of the families and they hurt almost as much as those suffering with the brain disorder. I'm glad you liked the link and I also hope this book will make others think about what they can do to help make the lives of those with mental illness better.

  7. Hi Elizabeth,
    The Quakers in the 19th century were getting the right idea and the psychiatric hospitals where the mentally ill were allowed to work outside and learn more independent skills sometimes were good and sometimes not so good.

    Today, everyone must remember that mental illness is a physical disease of the mind, no different from cancer and diabetes and just as difficult to treat. Thanks for the comment, Elizabeth. Nice seeing you here.

  8. Hi again Narelle,
    Thanks so much for helping me get the word out about Secrets of the Heart and your wonderful review. Good luck in the drawing everyone. I appreciate you all stopping by today. Have a great week!

  9. Thanks for this great interview. I'm very interested in this book for a couple of reasons. First of all, I've traced my family back to England in the early 1800s and have always been fascinated about life back then. And secondly, I understand more these days about the different kinds of mental illness so I think it would be very interesting to see how it was handled (or not handled!) during that time. And I certainly can't resist a good romance of course :)

    What a great idea Jillian for a book!

  10. Hi Narelle and Jillian,
    I had not realised there was a defined literary genre for romance with an inspirational or faith basis. I love reading and will be looking our for your recommended novels and Jillian's first book.

  11. Sounds like a wonderful book, Jillian. I'd love to read it. I'm a great fan of historical writing of course, and have also traced my family back to England so always fascinated by different aspects of life in the earlier centuries. Plus being a psychologist I'm aslo very interested to read about how mental illness was handled in earlier times. I'm sure I'd find your book a treat.

  12. Helen, thanks for stopping by and I hope you have the opportunity to read Jillian's book :)

    Raylee, it's great to see you here :) You'll find a number of the authors on our blog write inspirational romance, including a few Australian authors.

    Carol, thanks for visiting with us and I'm sure you'll love Jillian's book :)

    Good luck in the drawing!

  13. Hi Helen!
    So glad you like my book idea. Hope you get a chance to read it. With your family roots I think you'll enjoy it. And the romance is good too. :)

  14. Hi Raylee!
    There are many inspy books out there. You are in for a pleasant surprise. Hope you read my book and come visit me at

  15. Hi Carol,
    Because you are a psychologist I think you'd find Secrets of the Heart fascinating. Hope you'll tell your other friends working in the mental health field.

  16. Thanks again Narelle,
    It's been so much fun being here with all of you. And I just took the survey that Lisa posted. Looks like fun!

  17. The idea of the book is great. Whenever i think of Lunatic Asylums, it reminded me of going to Port Arthur (in Tasmania). how men would go made in Solitary confinement as even their guards would wear slippers, so noise deprivation was part of their punishment.

    Mental illness is starting to become noticed, but back in Regency times it was unknown how to treat it. I am sure your book will open people's eyes.

  18. a wonderful posting..would love to read this novel..thanks for the chance :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  19. Hi Melanie,
    I didn't know about Port Arthur. I think solitary confinement would be so awful. I too hope this book will open people's eyes to the ongoing issues and needs of those with mental illness. Thanks so much for your comment, Melanie.

    Hi Karen,
    Glad you enjoyed the post. Enjoy the book when you get a chance to read it.