Saturday, 12 August 2017

The Wardrobe Mistress by Natalie Meg Evans

Release Date: 15th June 2017
Publisher: Quercus
Genres: Historical Romance

Rich in detail, this is a pacy and engaging read, full of cloak and dagger intrigue, beautiful clothes and romance’ Sunday Mirror on The Dress Thief

From the award-winning author of The Dress Thief, comes a love story set in the glittering world of London theatre.

London 1945. A young war widow steps aboard a train in search of a new life. Clutching the key to a mysterious inheritance, Vanessa Kingcourt can no longer resist the pull of the old Farren Theatre - an enchanted place seeped in memories of her actor father.

Now owned by troubled former captain Alistair Redenhall, The Farren is in need of a Wardrobe Mistress and a new lease of life. With no experience and no budget for supplies, Vanessa must use her intuition to create beautiful costumes from whatever scraps of silk and thread survived the blitz. It's a seemingly impossible task, but a welcome distraction as she struggles to resist her blossoming feelings for Alistair.

What Vanessa discovers could unravel family secrets sewn deep into the very fabric of the London theatre scene . . . but will she repeat the same terrible mistakes her father made? And can she dare to love a man who will never be hers?

Natalie Meg Evan’s first novel, The Dress Thief, was:

WINNER of the 2014 Festival of Romantic Fiction's Best Historical Read award
WINNER of the 2015 Public Book Awards, Athens (Foreign Language Category)
Shortlisted for the 2015 Romance Writers of America (RWA) RITA Awards

Becoming a published writer was Natalie Meg Evans’ goal from an early age. Now, she extracts maximum fun from it by writing the kind of books she has always loved reading. Natalie’s professional experience includes public relations, freelance copywriting and bookkeeping, and she has also done stints as a bar-person, encyclopaedia saleswoman and cleaner. Mother to one son and guardian to two rescued Labradors, Natalie lives in rural north Suffolk, England’s easternmost county.


In the Beginning . . .

December 1925, London

What if she died too?
What if she, Vanessa Quinnell, were put into a hole as dark as this theatre, as cold as the night outside? She reached for her daddy’s hand but his eyes were on the stage. He was yelling, ‘Come on, Billy-Boy, show us an ankle!’ His voice cut through the laughter and the music. Daddy had been
an actor once and Mum often said that from inside their home he could be heard all the way to the churchyard. The Bad Fairy had cursed the baby princess, before flying up off the stage with a cackle. The King and Queen were wailing because one day, their little Briar-Rose would prick her finger and die – unless the curse were lifted. Vanessa knew what it meant to die. You were put underground and never came up again. The princess’s nursemaid had been summoned. Broad as a carthorse in a stripy dress and a jelly-bag cap, she was shaking her yellow ringlets and kicking up her dress to display red-spotted drawers. In a disturbingly deep voice, she bellowed, ‘Children, we’ll save Briar-Rose from doom, if with noise we fill this room!’ The Lilac Fairy could reverse the spell. Did that mean there was hope for her too, Vanessa wondered? Earlier that afternoon, a doctor had shone a light down her throat and tutted, before telling Daddy that she must have an operation. Vanessa’s Uncle Victor had had an operation, and now he was in a hole in the churchyard. But the Lilac Fairy would make everything all right. They must call her name, the fat nursemaid told them, particularly the children. Raise your voices as I count one, two, three – ’
All the children bellowed, except Vanessa.
The nursemaid cupped a hand to her ear and told the children they weren’t shouting loud enough. She strutted along the front of the stage, displaying her drawers, and seemed to stare right at Vanessa. ‘Is there a little girl in the audience who isn’t shouting at all?’ Vanessa let out a choking sob. She’d tried but her throat hurt too much. Daddy lifted her out of her seat and held her level with his shoulder. His breath smelled funny. They’d both had their medicine before they came in to the theatre. Hers came in a glass bottle and tasted peppery. His came from a silver flask. ‘Come on, Toots,’ he urged, ‘make a wish! Make it happen!’
So she clenched her fists around the playbill he’d bought with their tickets, and projected her will towards the brightly lit stage. Moments later, child-fairies in shimmering tunics floated down. Their wings sent out diamond explosions around Princess Briar-Rose’s cradle. Next, a lady in a puffball of lilac and silver net descended. Her hair was a cloud of moonlight curls and the audience drew in an awed breath. Vanessa’s heart slid back to its proper place. The Good Fairy had come. All would be well. 

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