Title: Saving Crofton Hall
Author Name: Rebecca Cohen
Publication Date & Length: November 24, 2014 — 240 pgs
Benjamin Redbourn, Earl of Crofton, has no intention of giving up his beloved ancestral home without a fight. Faced with his mother’s gambling debts, forgery, and the possibility of foreclosure by the bank, Ben vows to make Crofton Hall pay for herself. But opening an Elizabethan manor house to the public isn’t a one man job. With time running out, Ben needs help—and fast.
Ashley Niven has experience managing events, and he also loves history. Being in charge of opening Crofton Hall is a dream come true. As he works with Ben to prepare the house as a venue for lavish weddings and receptions, Ashley finds himself drawn not just to the charm of the house but to the dashing Earl of Crofton. Even if Ashley can look past Ben’s playboy reputation, he fears an affair could prove too much of a distraction.
But Crofton Hall has many secrets, and something hidden for over four hundred years is about to change all their lives.
She wouldn’t meet his eye.
“Just short of five million to the bank.”
Ben lost his balance and landed heavily on his arse in a nearby chair.
“How the hell did you manage that? I only agreed to borrow five hundred thousand, and that was for essential repairs, and the estate could easily repay the loan in ten years.”
“I approached the bank with a business case for a visitor attraction. They were very enthusiastic.”
“What gave you the right?”
“Your father left us both in charge of Crofton Hall, Benjamin,” she said sharply.
He glowered at her and she deflated.
“I needed the money, and the only way I could get it was to tell the bank I wanted to open Crofton Hall to the public.”
“And they agreed to lend the money without my permission?” he asked carefully, hardly believing his mother’s audacity, but getting the feeling he knew what she was going to say next.
“They might have been under the impression that you’d agreed to it, and I was acting on both our behalves.”
“Really. And how would they have thought that?”
“Your signature isn’t exactly hard to copy.”
Ben covered his face with his hands, understanding what his mother had done.
“I know I shouldn’t have, not without your permission, but I was desperate. And the bank thought our business plan was excellent.”
He looked up at her. Elena’s eyes were red from crying, but there was still an edge of defiance in her face. “How much is left?”
She shrugged. “A few thousand, maybe.”
“And you used Crofton Hall as security?”
The anger flashed through him, burning through his usual amicable nature. “How could you have been so stupid? Were you even thinking past your own selfishness?”
Elena cowered in her seat.
“You’ve ruined us, destroyed this family!”
“I didn’t mean—”
Ben didn’t want to hear her feeble excuses. “Oh, that’s all right, then. We’ll tell the bank, you didn’t mean it, and they’ll forget all about it.”
Ben reined in his anger. Taking deep, slow breaths, he clenched and unclenched his fists as he regained his calm. He watched Catlin pace up and down. Harry stood slumped against the fireplace, shell-shocked. Now was not the time to panic. He needed to know exactly how much trouble they were in and deal with it. “Get me the paperwork.”
Without argument, Elena jumped to her feet and scurried over to the writing bureau in the corner. From the folds of frills and ruffles of her blouse, she fished out a key on a chain and unlocked the bureau. She drew out a sheaf of paper. “It’s all here.”
“Right, let’s hope my economics degree wasn’t for nothing.” Ben snatched the papers. “I suggest you all keep your distance until I’ve finished reading.”
He sank into a chair by the unlit fireplace, blocking out the angry thoughts as he scanned sheet after sheet. The figures danced before his eyes, and he saw the terms and conditions his mother had agreed to. The interest, compound interest, and payback terms were listed and categorized in black and white with no way of denying the facts. They were in deep shit, the bank would be at the door within weeks, and Ben seethed internally at his mother’s gall.
The effort she’d put into defrauding the bank was amazing, the business case had been full of fine details and promised an excellent return, but little help would that do them now.
Ben stared around the sitting room; generations of Redbourns had sat in here. Men who’d fought at Blenheim, Waterloo, and El Alamein —they would never have given in and surrendered Crofton Hall in the face of adversity. And it wasn’t about to happen while Ben was Earl of Crofton either. As much as he wanted to rail against it, their only hope was to convince the bank they were following through with the idea of opening the house to the public.
“We can probably sell the London apartment. That’ll raise around two million. Our trust funds are protected, so we can’t release the equity from those. If we’ve any hope of holding on to her, Crofton Hall is going have to earn her keep.”
Rebecca Cohen is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and baby son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.
What motivated you to start writing?
I wrote a lot as I was growing up but stopped when I went to university and pursued a career in science. In my late twenties I needed something to fire up my creativity and I got an idea for a story that wouldn’t leave me alone, so I went back to writing. The result, after several drafts, was Servitude, a science fantasy novel which became the first in in my Reagalos series from Dreamspinner Press.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration for writing?
Escapism. I love my day job, but it can be stressful and deals with very specific things which have to be fixed NOW. So when I write I like to leave the corporate world and escape to where my next story takes me.
What is your writing environment? (Where do you write, what do you do to prepare right before you start writing)
I’m very lucky. I can write anywhere. I do most of my writing on the sofa in my living room, and can tune out the TV. I don’t have to lock myself away in another part of the apartment and often sit with my feet propped up on my hubby. I try to have a notebook with me at all times (I’ve scribbled on the back of receipts when caught without anything better) and regularly jot down a few sentences if I’m on the tram.
What is the hardest part of a book for you? Any particular scene(s)?
This depends on the story, if I’m honest. Sometimes I put in a placeholder for a sex scene and come back to it, or if I’ve something very angsty to do I often write the aftermath before the big scene so I know I’ve fixed my boys before I break them
If you only could write in one genre, what would it be? And if you couldn’t write in that genre what genre would you pick next?
Oh that’s a terrible thing to ask! I write in so many (contemporary, historical, sci fi, fantasy) it would be a real hardship to have to only do one. But my first love is fantasy, so I’d probably say that, and the next, based on my current WIP list would be contemporary.
If you could spend a day with one author, who would it be and why?
Doulas Adams. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy is one of my favourites, as are his Dirk Gently novels. I loved his sense of humor and would’ve loved to have shared a beer with him.
What do you like to see in book reviews? What makes a review better than other ones to you?
As long as the review is honest and constructive then I’m happy as a writer – I accept not everyone will love what I write. As a reader, I want reviews that tell me about the book, but not in so much detail that it spoils the story.
If you could give one tip to new writers, what would it be?
Finish the first draft. Get that story written, you can play with it later. Otherwise you’ll just have a file full of unfinished stories
How do you make hard decisions with your books? Like the title of the book or some of the characters actions?
Once the plot is down and I know it will work, then characters need to do what it takes for the plot to work. I don’t really have an issue with those sort of hard decisions. For some writers their characters lead them, but I’m afraid for my boys, I’m in charge and they’ll do what I need them too. As for titles, I’m been very lucky that up till now I’ve not had an issue… fingers crossed that’ll stay the same!
If you could only use 4 words to describe yourself, what would they be?
Happy, hardworking, stubborn and loving.