Troubador Dawn to Deadly Nightshade

Released: 01/08/2013

ISBN: 9781783060238

eISBN: 9781783069866

Format: Paperback/eBook

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Dawn to Deadly Nightshade

Sequel to Brandy Row


Dawn to Deadly Nightshade, the sequel to Brandy Row, is the second in a collection of West Country historical novels by Somerset author Shelagh Mazey.

Set in the Yeovil area in the mid-nineteenth century, it follows the life of Joshua, the handsome young son of Violet and Richard Dryer as he takes on the ownership and title of Lord of the Manor of Alvington. Joshua arrives in Somerset to find the folk on his estate are just as superstitious as those he left behind him on Portland. He is soon to learn that people’s fears are justified when he discovers the existence of a coven in the neighbouring parish and he comes into conflict with their warlock.

Joshua’s main adversary is Nathan Meakins, the arrogant son from a neighbouring estate. They first clash over Meakins’ cruel treatment of Joshua’s sister Rebecca, but this discord and tension is to escalate throughout the story, exposing long held secrets from within his own family.

Dawn to Deadly Nighshade draws readers into the celebrations, customs, heartbreaks and fears of the region and era.

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.

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'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 – 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’ (9781780882451),’Dawn To Deadly Nightshade’ (9781783060238) and ‘Legacy of Van Diemen’s Land’ (9781784623067).

The Self-Publishing Magazine

Goodreads, 24 March

Online review from the Historical Novel Society, January 2014

Western Gazette

Brilliant follow on to Brandy row

by Malcom holdich

Shelagh Mazey


I have been a closet writer for many years working on this manuscript. My objective was never publication, I just wanted a challenge and to see if I could do it. Thus Brandy Row started in longhand on scraps of paper, written late at night when the children were asleep and the house was quiet and then transcribed onto a Smith Corona electric typewriter when my son was at playschool.

As a busy mum raising two children, I would often find myself drifting into the magical world of my imagination. I had grown up with wild tales of life on an island where smuggling was rife and the close-knit community were suspicious of outsiders. My father was born and brought up on the Isle of Portland and my childhood was filled with visits to my ancestral home and stories from yesteryear. So it came as no surprise when I found myself living in my father's memories while bringing up my own children in the late 1970s. Now more than 30 years later, I have finally published the story I first started as a young mother.

The idea was inspired by my father's tales of the island and one image in particular of my great great-grandmother meeting a customs official while smuggling bottles in pockets sewn into her underskirt. Members of my family also lived for a time in one of the seaside cottages in Brandy Row, which inspired the title.

For a complete novice Portland seemed a good place to start. Being an island, the story is quite easily contained and, like all islands, its inhabitants are fiercely proud of their heritage. It is almost like weaving in another strong character, so important is its history. My main worry was would I be able to do it justice? I did not want it to be formulaic.

Although taking a long time because of other commitments, the first draft just seemed to pour out onto the paper and once finished, I thought my work was done, but there were to be many rewrites. In 1980 to my delight I acquired an Apricot portable home computer and again the mundane work of retyping and editing the whole manuscript began, but what a wonderful tool it is, to be able to move paragraphs and cut and paste was so easy, no more Tippex.

Quietly drafting in my free time, it was not until I joined a writing group that I began to take my hobby more seriously. Through the Yeovil Writing Circle I met Margaret Graham who was about to have her first novel Only The Wind Is Free published by Heinemann. She has since gone on to publish 11 more books. Margaret and I became close friends and she went through my manuscript and gave me a great deal of sound professional advice. Finally I plucked up the courage to send it off to a publisher, but I found that historical romance was not what they were looking for and, apart from an encouraging letter from Headline, I only had brief rejection letters back. They already had their historical authors and were looking for fresh modern writers. Dejectedly, I put the manuscript back in the desk drawer, but occasionally took it out to give to selected friends to read and each one said they enjoyed it.

When I retired from my job as a medical secretary in August 2008, I used my new-found free time to work on a sequel to Brandy Row. The first draft of this manuscript, Dawn to Deadly Nightshade, is also now completed and because of this I decided to publish Brandy Row myself, rather than relying on the mainstream publishers, and I found Matador were very happy to take this on for me. They have been extremely helpful and professional and thus the birth of my first novel has been relatively pain free. Self-publication was the answer to my prayers. There was a time when self-publication was known as 'vanity publishing', but due to technological advances, more books are self-published than those published traditionally these days.

Brandy Row follows the story of Matthew, a young fisherman, who falls for Violet, the beautiful daughter of a smuggler. It is set on Portland between 1830 and 1851, before the construction of the ferry bridge, when smuggling was rife and the close-knit community armed themselves against foreigners or Kimberlins. The childhood sweethearts are rocked by the arrival of a new, handsome customs riding officer called Richard Dryer who Violet falls in love with. 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.

Shelagh Mazey

Dawn to Deadly Nightshade

Legacy of Van Diemen's Land
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