Troubador Brandy Row

Released: 01/08/2012

eISBN: 9781780888019

Format: eBook

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Brandy Row


Brandy Row takes place on the Isle of Portland between 1830 and 1851 – when smuggling was rife and the close knit community armed themselves against foreigners or ‘Kimberlins’. A young fisherman, Matthew, has fallen for Violet, the beautiful daughter of a smuggler. They are childhood sweethearts when the new Customs Riding Officer arrives on the scene. Richard Dryer is handsome and shrewd and a worthy protagonist for the smugglers, but trouble is brewing for everyone when Violet falls in love with him. Knowing that she risks being ostracised by her family and friends Violet has to make a decision that will have repercussions throughout the rest of her life. Brandy Row is a family saga that encompasses two generations, it puts the flesh and bones on the history of Portland. It begins at a time when the only access to Portland was by rope ferry and leads up to the construction of the breakwater. Brandy Row also fictionalises the arrival of the convicts on their way to the Verne prison prior to transportation and the traditions, celebrations, superstitions and customs of Portland at that time. It features smuggling, sea rescues, attempted rape and murder, blackmail, imprisonment, tragedies and heartache. Brandy Row is the first of a new regional saga series that follows one family across a generation and takes place chronologically throughout the 19th century.

Review of 'Brandy Row' by Teresa Gess

"For anyone with Isle of Portland connections who are not only interested in their own ancestry but also local and social history, then 'Brandy Row' is a must. This book is based around a romance (or two) but cannot really be classified as romantic fiction, it has too much else to offer. It gives you an understanding of the Isle over almost 30 decades mid 19th Century, Portland comes alive with topographical descriptions, as well as those of the families. Names mentioned are Attwool, Byatt, Comben (sadly no Cox for me) Pearce, Stone, White and others. Although fiction it is based on fact which helps you travel back in time to exist amongst your ancestors and appreciate their lifestyle. I just hope that Shelagh will enlighten us in the future with the next generation, and for me also a prequel as my direct Cox line left Portland pre 1840's. A book I shall certainly read again."

Teresa Gess



It was amazing. As a Portlander, with generations of family living on the Island from the 1600s, this story was a pleasure to read. Fueling my desire to find out more about my ancestors, it is set in the 1800s at Chiswell, Chesil Beach and Weymouth where my family live and as I read the words I felt I was floating in a bubble above the characters in all the nooks and crannys as the story unfolded in a time when Smuggling was rife and pictured what life may have been like for them 200 years ago. Historically correct and full of Portland family names such as the Whites, Shaddicks, Combens and Stones, old customs, traditions and superstitions this was an educational read as well as thrilling, full of murder, romance and suspense, I couldn't wait to turn the pages. Now I am moving straight on reading the second book from this author. My grandmother recommended this book to me, she is in her late 70s and she loved the story as much as me.


' Dawn To Deadly Nightshade'

Joshua Dryer is the new lord of Alvington Manor in Somerset. He finds the people in Somerset just as superstitious as the ones he left in Portland, but perhaps with good reason as a coven of witches is discovered in the neighbouring parish and Joshua has come into conflict with their warlock. Nathan Meakins is both his neighbour and his biggest adversary; a man with evil intent towards the young women in his employ and little to no respect for those he views as beneath him. Can Joshua, a young man from humble beginnings change things in this small part of the world; or is he destined to be damned by those from a higher strata of society?

From Dawn to Deadly Nightshade is the sequel to Brandy Row (previously reviewed) but this is no straight sequel; indeed, the characters from Brandy Row are present, but not constantly as this is set in a different part of the West Country and follows the story of the son of Violet Allen and Richard Dryer; the heroes of Brandy Row. Mazey's style of telling rather than showing is still present and, at times, becomes quite forceful. It is also a brave action on behalf of the author to use present tense, something which can put off many readers.

Having said that, once again Mazey has created robust cast and the reader is left in no doubt of the intentions of the characters involved. Joshua is a break from the traditional Lord of the Manor in his style and attitude towards his staff. Something that they find both welcoming and strange, his friendliness and lack of pretension putting him at odds with his neighbours.

A gripping storyline and obvious research make for a very good read.

© Historical Novel Society 1997 - 2020.


'Legacy of Van Diemen's Land'

This is the third in Shelagh Mazey's Heart of Stone saga. For his crimes in the previous volume, the evil Nathan Meakins faces transportation for a minimum of twelve years and his sworn enemy, Lord Joshua Dryer, marries his love, Louisa. In the midst of all this is four-year-old Aurora, daughter of Louisa's sister and also of the dastardly Meakins. Only Aurora does not know this and is too young to understand that her adoptive parents, Joshua and Louisa are not her real parents.

The action is split between the transport ship, the penal colony, Meakins plans for revenge on his rival, and the almost gentile lifestyle of the well off and their community: this contrast, for me, works very well indeed. Things have to come to a head, of course, because Meakins wangles an early release and soon returns to his evil ways before returning to Dorset as a rich man.

Ms Mazey writes in the present tense of which I am not personally over fond and I have to admit to feeling a tinge of disappointment at the ending shades of a more famous novel. However, in Nathan Meakins she has constructed a true villain; cunning, conniving and with a total lack of morals or remorse.

Those who have read either or both of the two previous books will love this, though newcomers could possibly have done with a few instances of as backstory, so possibly worthwhile for readers to start at the beginning. Nevertheless I do recommend this book.


The Golden Fleece, by Shelagh Mazey is the Fourth novel in the Heart of Stone Saga.

Frost Magazine has enjoyed Shelagh Mazey's first three historical novels in the Heart of Stone Saga, and the first, Brandy Row, was admired by the judges of the Words for the Wounded Indie Author Award.

And here is the fourth in the series. Such an evocative read, which hauls the reader straight in with a vicious murder that later enmeshes the lives of those who live on the Alvington Estate in the vicious criminal underworld. As with a good saga, it leads to an innocent man being imprisoned. So, will he, won't he obtain justice?

Let us tell you a little more: Billy Riddick is a stable boy who was at the Poor House until he found employment at Alvington Manor. When Lucy Warren, the love of his life from Home Farm, marries the arrogant Ashleigh Seymour, Billy is devastated and moves away to Wincanton. He finds work and a new home at Hatherleigh Farm, the original site of Wincanton Races. How interesting that is. However, his nemesis, Ashleigh Seymour turns up at the racecourse and Billy inadvertently becomes embroiled in his unsavoury drinking and gambling lifestyle.

Lucy begins to regret her marriage, but when Ashleigh's gambling debts threaten to bring about his downfall, the good hearted Billy tries to help him. This leads to disturbingconsequences.

At the heart of all this is the continuing life at Alvington Manor with its pulsing love stories, plus a few tragedies set amongst the local traditions, celebrations and customs. There are murders and weddings, a voyage to Australia and journeys to Europe, as this epic family saga continues in the way we have become used to.

Author Shelagh Mazey is based in the West Country and her knowledge of local history makes this series fascinating and illuminating. Written with pace and verve, it works. Enjoy just as much as we at Frost Magazine did.

Hopefully there will be a fifth?

The Golden Fleece by Shelagh Mazey, available on

A stand alone title which follows on from the earlier trilogy: 'Brandy Row', 'Dawn To Deadly Nightshade' and 'Legacy of Van Diemen's Land'.

'All That Glitters' is the fifth book in the Heart of Stone Series, following on from 'The Golden Fleece'. Set in the late 19th century it charts the heroic adventures of two women who decide to leave their homes and nurturing families to travel abroad seeking romance, love and new futures.

Aurora Dryer is the adopted daughter of Lord and Lady Dryer of Alvington Manor, who fell for the prospector Rhys Thomas on a short-lived trip to Australia. Her challenge is to persuade her parents to let her follow her heart and return to the gold mining town of Bendigo to see if the magic can be re-captured.

Lucy Seymour, the young widow of murdered Ashleigh Seymour, makes the decision to travel with her small son Frankie to the diamond mines of South Africa to visit her brother-in-law, Rupert. Enticed by the offer of marriage, Lucy knows that she and her son have a long sea voyage and epic trek overland ahead of them, but she wishes to escape her uneventful provincial life with her in-laws.

Both women are yearning for excitement, but their journeys are destined to take different paths to those they had envisaged.

This story involves, gold and diamond mining, several love interests, heartache and jealousy, voyages and a shipwreck, black magic, vendettas, arson, kidnap, extortion and the traditions and customs of Somerset, Bendigo and Hopetown during that period in the 19th Century.

Excellent reading - makes for a wonderful insight to past living and is very descriptive. It's a hard book to put down once you've started reading ! Highly recommended - especially if you live on Portland !!

by Jacky Stacey

Shelagh Mazey

Shelagh Mazey lives in a thatched cottage in Hardington Moor, Somerset. Since retiring from the NHS she has written an ongoing saga of regional historical romantic novels, commencing in 1830 and leading up until 1876. Her first story, Brandy Row is a pastoral tale involving smuggling, set on Portland. Dawn to Deadly Nightshade is an upstairs downstairs story set in the Yeovil area. Legacy of Van Diemen’s Land involves both areas, plus the Tasmanian penal colony and the Victorian goldfields of South Australia. The fourth book, The Golden Fleece, is set in the Wincanton area and involves horse racing and gambling. The book that is due out in February is called All That Glitters and this one takes the reader to the South African diamond mines and the Australian gold fields. Shelagh is currently self-publishing All that Glitters with Matador and is converting all five novels into an ongoing screenplay.

The Golden Fleece - 4th in the series

All That Glitters - 5th in the series
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