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.
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: http://locutus.ucr.edu/~cathy/womw.html
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: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/professor-roy-porter-729803.html
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. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUaXFlANojQ
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.