Guest blogger: Beverley Eikli
Four months ago my husband had a serious motorbike accident and was winched out of the Victorian Alps and flown to the Royal Melbourne Hospital with multiple fractures. We’d just bought a new house in a nearby town and were in the throes of renovating our old house to sell while packing up, and arranging new schools.
It was a pretty hectic time as I was working as a disaster event researcher during the day, and on edits late at night for my book coming out with Escape in October.
This morning, as my lovely, stoic husband languished in bed on high doses of pain medication after a recent follow-up operation, I reflected on the changed dynamics within our relationship as a result of his accident: of bravery, pride and coping, dependency, admiration and gratitude, exhaustion, hope and self-esteem. I imagined all these as ingredients an alchemist might mix up and wondered how the quantities of these ‘ingredients’ would compare with ten years ago, just after my husband broke his back as I was about to give birth to our youngest daughter.
At the time of his first accident I was unpublished with six rejected manuscripts in the bottom drawer and an odd (though interesting) work history having lived and worked in 10 countries as the ‘trailing spouse’ of a pilot husband. Ten years ago, at this crisis point, I felt very pregnant, unemployed and despairing of ever winning a publishing contract.
The accident put everything into perspective. What did I have to complain about when my husband was in agony and might never fly again? My job was to look after a toddler, a newborn and a rehabilitating husband in the happiest, most efficient environment possible.
Perhaps this new brand of efficiency had an effect on my writing, or perhaps it was pure luck, but within 18 months the release of my first historical romance was something my hugely supportive husband—flying again—and I were both able to celebrate.
Ten years later and we’re in the new house (not quite unpacked yet) in a lovely area just north of Melbourne. I have eleven books published and as I pondered on what to blog about while doing the dishes this morning, I realised that six of my eleven books feature marital power shifts or coming to terms with altered dynamics within marriage after a major upheaval.
Themes, I think, are like wisps of smoke. They can infiltrate one’s work with one’s life experience and lessons learned without one realising it. Those two accidents, though terrible for my husband, brought out the best in both of us. His courage, bravery and determination to not allow his pain to impact on the rest of the family inspired my admiration for him in a completely different way. In turn, I had to assume responsibility for so much of what I’d not done before, which gave me a different level of power and autonomy, as well as a different kind of focus with regard to my own work.
As I look back upon the ups and downs of twenty years with the same gorgeous man, it amazes me how much has been gained from the low points.
And so to the heroine of my new release, Cressida in Cressida’s Dilemma, who is at her lowest point in her eight-year marriage to the influential Lord Lovett she adores but from whom she’s retreated due to her fear of conceiving a sixth child she fears will kill her.
Passive and naïve, Cressida is galvanised into action when she hears rumours that her husband has returned to the arms of his former mistress.
Cressida’s Dilemma is a sweet, steamy Regency romance about rediscovering all that was once wonderful within marriage—and, in Cressida’s case, an inner vixen she had no idea existed. It’s the first of my Salon of Sin series, written under my Beverley Oakley name, which features cuckolded duchesses and kitchen maids who adopt false identities in order to pass through the red baize door of Mrs Plumb’s unassuming premises in their search for love.
When Cressida, at her lowest ebb, ventures across the threshold in search of her husband, she learns the truth is not as straightforward as she’d expected.
Just as I’ve learned that one’s lowest ebb can be a springboard to some interesting and positive changes within marriage as well as career.
Historical romance author Beverley Eikli’s love of the gypsy lifestyle and appreciation of the world’s varied heroes was honed during years of working in the male-dominated safari and airborne survey industries. Redemption is her favourite theme and flawed heroines her specialty.
Now living with her family in Melbourne, Australia, twenty years after hitching her star to the Cessna Caravan (now a Boeing 777) of the handsome Norwegian bush pilot she met around a campfire in Botswana’s beautiful Okavango Delta where she ran a safari lodge at the time, Beverley teaches creative writing, makes historical costumes and works as a disaster events researcher.
A woman who fears her husband is being unfaithful takes an extraordinary and sensual journey to discover an unexpected truth—and helps unravel the mystery of a lost child.
Eight years of marriage has not dimmed Cressida—Lady Lovett’s—love for her husband, but the birth of five children has cooled her ardor.
Now rumors are circulating that the kind, dashing and seemingly ever-patient Justin, Lord Lovett, has returned to the arms of his former mistress, and Cressida believes her choices are stark—welcome her husband back to the marital bed and risk a sixth pregnancy she fears will kill her, or lose him forever.
With the astonishing discovery that methods exist to enable the innocent Cressida to transform herself into the vixen of her husband’s dreams without expanding her nursery, she seeks to repay the woman responsible for her empowerment … only to discover her unlikely benefactress was, and perhaps still is, her husband’s mistress.