Meet my main characters:
Santo Innis is a Cornish engineer who served his apprenticeship at the world-renowned Perran Foundry, was later seconded to two respected companies in London building marine steam engines, and has now returned to Cornwall and Perran.
When and where is the story set? In Cornwall in 1830. The first trials of the Cornish multi-tube boiler using high-pressure steam actually took place here in Falmouth. But while some in the Admiralty were keen to move from sail to steam in the interests of shorter voyage times and increased productivity, many were dead set against it. Contradictory demands for speed and economy were impossible to meet and created intolerable pressures for engineers whose companies were bidding for Admiralty contracts.
What should we know about him?
After his parents were killed when he was a child, Santo was brought up in his Uncle George’s house. George Curnock is the head brewer and joint owner of Curnock’s Brewery run by his brother Arthur. George’s son, Treeve, a maltster, is two years older than Santo and has always bitterly resented him. Santo’s engineering skill has impressed shrewd businessman Richard Vaughan, heir to country estate owner Frederick Tregarron and, despite the class difference, a shared interest hot air technology has drawn them into friendship.
What is the main conflict? What messes up his life? A ship taking part in boiler trials explodes killing all on board, among them the chief engineer who was Santo’s friend and mentor. Santo’s row with Tregarron costs him his job. With his newly-developed marine engine fitted into a bare hull supplied by Richard, Santo – in debt and in love – agrees to take part in a risky venture that will solve all his financial problems. Instead he loses everything.
What is his personal goal? Appalled by the number of deaths caused by high-pressure steam boilers exploding, Santo has developed a revolutionary new engine driven by heated air. In love with Bronnen Jewell he feels he cannot propose to her until he has proved himself and cleared his debts.
2. Bronnen Jewell Aged twenty, she’s a skilled brewster taught by her mother. Her father manages the Gillyvean estate farm helped by her brother and two labourers. Angered by her father’s drunken brutality, Bronnen dreams of escape but can’t abandon her mother who, despite beatings, refuses to leave him. Bronnen is strong, competent, and has learned to hide her emotions until she meets Santo Innis whose replacement of the brewhouse’s water pump starts a chain of events revealing long-buried secrets.
What is the main conflict? What messes up her life? Learning that she is not who she believed herself to be.
What is her personal goal? At the beginning of the story she’s trying to understand her mother’s refusal to leave her violent husband. After Curnock’s brewery is damaged by fire, Bronnen accepts responsibility for fulfilling their orders at Gillyvean. Meanwhile the deepening attraction between her and Santo triggers terrifying nightmares. Learning the truth of her birth and the terrible price her mother has paid leads to reconciliations.
3. Richard Vaughan is a distant relation of Frederick Tregarron also his agent and – because Tregarron had no sons – his heir.
What should we know about him? He’s intelligent, astute, a shrewd manager of Tregarron’s multiple business interests and, since the deaths of his wife and baby, socially adept but emotionally controlled and solitary.
What is the main conflict? What messes up his life? The unexpected arrival at Gillyvean of Tregarron’s youngest daughter, Melanie. She unlocks emotions he has never experienced.
What is his personal goal? To maintain emotional distance from Melanie.
4. Melanie Tregarron is 20 and Frederick Tregarron’s illegitimate daughter by a titled Frenchwoman whose family fled to London during the Revolution.
What should we know about her? She was abandoned to Tregarron’s care at the age of four. His wife refused to accept her so she has been well-educated at an excellent boarding school. Disadvantaged by her illegitimacy she finds refuge in her talent for art.
What is the main conflict? What messes up her life? Following a failed reconciliation with her mother then forced to leave her post as a teacher, she flees to Gillyvean only to find her father plans to marry her off.
‘After giving the matter considerable thought,’ her father regarded them both with a broad smile as his restless fingers turned the stem of his wineglass, ‘I have concluded that the best interests of all concerned would be served by a match between the two of you.’
Shock stopped Melanie’s breath. Her eyes met Richard’s for one appalled moment. Unable to bear the mortification, she looked away. She had come here because there was nowhere else, and because he was her father. But he didn’t want her: couldn’t wait to shift the responsibility on to his heir. It was blackmail. The brief glimpse she had caught of Richard’s horror told her he felt the same.
‘I haven’t finished. Yes, you are distantly related, but you share no direct blood tie. And your marriage would ensure that my wealth, which is considerable, remains safely within the family. It is in every respect an excellent solution.’ He looked from one to the other, smiling in satisfaction.
Solution? Was she such a problem? Dying inside, Melanie stood up. Dropping his napkin on the table, Richard rose as well. ‘May I remind you, Papa,’ her voice trembled, ‘as your heir, Richard’s position is already secure. I was – am – grateful to you for making me welcome. Why am I now to be disposed of like – like – an unwanted gift?’ Her eyes stung with tears of rage and shame.
‘Sit down, Melanie.’ Though he was still smiling, his tone demanded obedience and he waited until she sat. Her heart pounded so hard she felt sick. ‘There is no need for all this drama.’
‘You think not?’ Her voice cracked. She did not dare look at Richard. She could still see his horror.
‘You girls and your nonsense.’ Tregarron eyed her indulgently. ‘You read romances and dream of love.’
Melanie’s face was on fire and beneath her gown her shift clung to damp skin. She felt utterly betrayed. Anger brought her chin up. ‘You mock me, Papa. But surely love offers more chance of happiness than marrying merely for financial convenience?’
‘You possess a remarkable talent, Melanie. But you have much to learn. If you must have love, it is as easy to love a rich man as a poor one. Easier. For there is little bliss to be found in poverty.’
‘That is not –’
He silenced her with a gesture. Then, draining his glass he rose from the table. ‘You will oblige me by thinking about what I’ve said. I am sure on reflection you will see the many advantages.’ He turned to the door.
‘For you, perhaps,’ Melanie threw at him.
Without pausing, her father left the room.
As the door closed behind him, Melanie bolted from her chair and paced to the window, her arms clasped protectively across her body. ‘Lessons in marriage from a man whose wife prefers to live apart from him? How dare he presume to tell me what will make me happy! He doesn’t know me at all.’
‘Melanie,’ Richard pushed back his chair. ‘Calm down.’
She dreaded facing him but there was no avoiding it. She whirled round. ‘I need no instructions from you on how to conduct myself.’
‘In this instance I must beg to differ.’
‘Oh, stop being so pompous!’
‘Perhaps you might stop being so emotional.’
‘How dare you criticise me? What gives you the right to judge? A man who has neither heart nor feelings –’ she stopped, knowing she’d gone too far, instantly wishing the words unsaid. It was not an unfeeling man who had helped her see what she had revealed in Mrs Martin’s portrait, who had spoken of past events retaining the power to hurt.
As he strode round the table, his eyes burning in a face pale with barely-controlled fury, she felt a stab of panic. But through her fear excitement flashed like lightning. The mask had finally shattered, revealing a man of powerful emotions that rivalled her own.
Standing her ground she glared back at him as defiance battled shame. Reaching her he stopped. For a moment they simply stared at each other.
Then from deep in Richard’s throat came a sound that was half growl, half groan. It sent chills racing over her skin. She gasped as his hands gripped her shoulders and hauled her hard against him. His head came down and his mouth covered hers in a passionate kiss that ravished, plundered, and demanded yet more.
After an instant’s paralysing shock Melanie melted. Her mouth softened, her lips parted, and she fell headlong.
For a long moment they clung. Then, brusquely, Richard thrust her away, his grip tight enough to bruise though she doubted he was aware of it. ‘And you don’t know me.’
‘Whose fault is that?’ she cried. ‘You live behind a wall of courtesy.’
Looking into his eyes she recognised anguish and desperation. Was it hers? A reflection? Or was she finally seeing the real man? Then he stepped back, releasing his grip. Never had she felt so alone.
‘I – that was unforgivable.’ His voice was hoarse. ‘Please accept my sincere apolo –’
‘No!’ she shouted, fighting tears. ‘I don’t want an apology. I don’t deserve it. I should never have said – what I did.’ Ashamed of herself and furious with him for shutting her out again, she rubbed her arms, trembling from the violent upheaval ignited by his kiss.
‘When I showed you Mrs Martin’s portrait you complimented me on my insight. Yet when I looked at you I saw only the mask you wear, not the man behind it. That was partly your fault. But I was wrong. Wrong to say what I did, and wrong about you.’
‘For pity’s sake, Melanie.’ His features were tight, drawn as if in pain. ‘I’m so sorry. I should never –’ His voice cracked. ‘I can’t –’ He strode out of the room. Moments later she heard the front door slam.
Santo Innis is developing a revolutionary new engine to counter the lethal effects of high-pressure steam. His backer is Richard Vaughan, heir to Frederick Tregarron, owner of Gillyvean estate.
Following the tragic deaths of his wife and baby son, Richard immersed himself in work. But his world is turned upside down by the unexpected arrival at Gillyvean of Melanie Tregarron, a talented artist and Frederick’s illegitimate youngest daughter.
Desperate to prove the viability of his invention, Santo persuades Richard to let him fit one at Gillyvean’s brewhouse.
But when Bronnen Jewell – worried about her mother’s suffering at her father’s hands – arrives to brew the harvest beer she’s horrified, fearing loss of the income on which she depends.
As the lives of these four become entwined, a shocking revelation shatters Bronnen’s world; desperate for money Santo makes a choice that costs him everything; Melanie fears she will never be free of her past; and Richard has to face his deepest fear.
Jane Jackson has been a professional writer for over thirty years, and twice shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award. Crosscurrents is her twenty-eighth published novel.
Happily married to a Cornishman, with children and grandchildren, she has lived in Cornwall most of her life, finding inspiration for her books in the county’s magnificent scenery and fascinating history.
She enjoys reading, research, long walks, baking, and visiting Cornish agricultural shows where her husband displays his collection of 28 (and counting) restored vintage rotavators.
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