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Tuesday 17 August 2021

Wednesday Wanderings with Anna Belfrage and the Coffee Pot Book Club

visiting around and about,
wandering here and there...

Location, location!
Anna Belfrage (with assistance from Erin and Duncan)

“Location?” My protagonist Erin peers over my shoulder. “Who cares about location?” She takes a deep breath and glares at some of the women strolling past her without as much as a glance her way. My heart goes out to her.

“Hmph!” Erin says, before reminding me that this is all my idea. She never wanted to end up in 18th century Annapolis, thank you very much! 

But now she has. That’s what happens when you’re the protagonist of The Whirlpools of Time.

Annapolis is a recurring location in my books, and our dashing male lead, Duncan Melville, was raised here. In 1715, Annapolis was a relatively new name for a relatively new place. The settlement on the Severn river was founded in 1649 or so by a group of die-hard Puritans who were determined to wrest the fair Colony of Maryland from its tolerant owner, the Catholic Baron Calvert. The Puritans named their little town Providence. The official name was Anne Arundel’s Town, but a good Puritan would rather fall on his rapier than live in a place named after a Catholic lady, so Providence it was. Until it was named Annapolis in honour of Princess Anne, who was definitely not Catholic. I imagine most old-timers continued to refer to their home town as Providence.

By 1715 things had changed. Not only was the Anglican congregation substantially larger than the Presbyterian/Puritan one, but Annapolis had caught on. A sizeable settlement, Annapolis was something of a commercial hub, trading in everything from slaves to imported luxuries. And where there is commerce, there are generally lawyers—which is fortunate for Duncan, as he is a man trained in law, by his father, by his father’s partner, but also by the University of Glasgow. 

In 2011, I visited Annapolis and spent several happy hours walking up what remains of the colonial street plan. Not that I use it much in The Whirlpools of Time, but the fact that I know where the mill was, where the harbour warehouses stood, how the streets diverged like spokes on a wheel from the central market place, makes me feel secure in describing my chosen location.
However, far more important than the actual setting is conveying the attitudes and perceptions of the inhabitants of 18th century Annapolis. Theirs is a society where white skin automatically puts you at the top of the ladder, and when Duncan shows up with Erin, a woman whose lovely, golden skin speaks of non-white ancestry, the immediate assumption is that she must be a slave—or at least descended from one. Which, of course, is why Erin is being given the silent treatment. A son of this little town—a white son—and he weds a coloured hussy? Everyone in Annapolis wondered how Erin pulled that off. 

“Pulled it off? Duncan is damned lucky to have me,” Erin says, but the way she twists her hands contradicts the self-assurance in her voice. 

“Something I thank fate and the good Lord for daily,” Duncan lifts Erin’s hand to his mouth and presses a gentle kiss to her palm. She gives him a watery smile. They both know that his love and support won’t protect her from the prejudices and the vitriolic comments. Conflict is rife, putting it mildly…

The Whirlpools of Time is not set exclusively in Maryland. Actually, most of the story is set in Scotland. Other than a rather exciting excursion into the Highlands, Erin’s 18th century experience centres on Edinburgh. 

Edinburgh 1769 Castle and Old Town

Obviously, I spent hours studying what maps I could find of Edinburgh in the beginning of the 18th century. But it isn’t only about the street plan. It’s about creating an illusion of the past, and to do so, you need to add smells and sounds, touch and feel, to sight. 

In 18th century Edinburgh, narrow closes were bordered by houses—tenements—rising up to eight storeys on each side, effectively hindering any sunlight from reaching the cobbled ground. The tenements were crowded, and the further up you went, the poorer the tenants—for the simple reason that the higher floors were quite the death-trap should there be a fire. 

It makes for an atmospheric setting: looming buildings, plenty of shadows for the baddies to hide in. It was damp, it was mildewy. The gutters were best avoided, the inhabitants emptying their chamber pots through their windows. Accordingly, the city smelled. A lot. Well, unless you stuck to the broader streets. 

I am fortunate enough to have visited Edinburgh. And while I had to use my imagination to recreate the stench (phew!), one thing became apparent more or less immediately: anyone moving around in Edinburgh—and especially in the old town—was in for a good cardio session. I cannot recall any flat streets. They were either going up, up, up, or down, down, down. The jury is out on which is the worse—but I imagine in 1715 you did NOT want to slip while balancing your way downwards, as God alone knew what sort of mess you might land in. 

Now, the benefit with both Edinburgh and Annapolis as settings for The Whirlpools of Time is that my characters are visiting these places three hundred years ago. Yes, we have maps, we have some descriptions, but ultimately no one knows exactly what it looked like. There is a certain leeway for the intrepid author here—especially in Annapolis, where very few of the Colonial buildings have survived the tooth of time. 

It is somewhat trickier in Edinburgh: there are plenty of buildings around that would have been there already when Duncan and Erin visited. Once again, it is a source of confidence to have been there, slipped down a close in the rain, clambered up others to emerge totally winded before St Giles. I have walked where Erin walks, I have followed Duncan as he desperately searches one close after the other for his abducted wife. 

“Huh,” says Erin, giving me a black look. “You’ve done all that walking in your—our—time. Let me tell you it is very, very different to do it in 1715!”

I believe her. And while I now and then wish I could do some real time travelling of my own, I would never do it without a return ticket. Unfortunately for Erin, she doesn’t have own of those! 

About the book

He hoped for a wife. He found a companion through time and beyond.
It is 1715 and for Duncan Melville something fundamental is missing from his life. Despite a flourishing legal practice and several close friends, he is lonely, even more so after the recent death of his father. He needs a wife—a companion through life, someone to hold and be held by. What he wasn’t expecting was to be torn away from everything he knew and find said woman in 2016…

Erin Barnes has a lot of stuff going on in her life. She doesn’t need the additional twist of a stranger in weird outdated clothes, but when he risks his life to save hers, she feels obligated to return the favour. Besides, whoever Duncan may be, she can’t exactly deny the immediate attraction.
The complications in Erin’s life explode. Events are set in motion and to Erin’s horror she and Duncan are thrown back to 1715. Not only does Erin have to cope with a different and intimidating world, soon enough she and Duncan are embroiled in a dangerous quest for Duncan’s uncle, a quest that may very well cost them their lives as they travel through a Scotland poised on the brink of rebellion.  
Will they find Duncan’s uncle in time? And is the door to the future permanently closed, or will Erin find a way back?

Trigger Warnings: Sexual Content. Violence.

Buy the book

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Available on #KindleUnlimited.

About Anna

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.  

Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients. Her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk, has her returning to medieval times. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. Her most recent release, The Whirlpools of Time, is a time travel romance set against the backdrop of brewing rebellion in the Scottish highlands.

All of Anna’s books have been awarded the IndieBRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of some Discovering Diamonds reviews, and various Reader’s Favorite medals as well as having won various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.

Find out more about Anna, her books and her eclectic historical blog on her website, .

Social Media Links:

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Twitter Handle: @abelfrageauthor @maryanneyarde
Hashtags: #HistoricalFiction #TimeTravel #HistoricalRomance #BlogTour #CoffeePotBookClub

*** *** 
Helen's latest release 
A new edition with new additional scenes

When the only choice is to run, where do you run to?
When the only sound is the song of the sea, do you listen?
Or do you drown in the embrace of a mermaid?

Throughout childhood, Jesamiah Mereno has suffered the bullying of his elder half-brother. Then, not quite fifteen years old, and on the day they bury their father, Jesamiah hits back. In consequence, he flees his home, changes his name to Jesamiah Acorne, and joins the crew of his father’s seafaring friend, Captain Malachias Taylor, aboard the privateer, Mermaid.

He makes enemies, sees the ghost of his father, wonders who is the Cornish girl he hears in his mind – and tries to avoid the beguiling lure of a sensuous mermaid...

An early coming-of-age tale of the young Jesamiah Acorne, set in the years before he becomes a pirate and Captain of the Sea Witch.

and a cosy mystery set in 1970s north London 

The first in a new series of quick-read,
cosy mysteries set in the 1970s.
A Mirror Murde

Eighteen-year-old library assistant Jan Christopher’s life is to change on a rainy Friday evening in July 1971, when her legal guardian and uncle, DCI Toby Christopher, gives her a lift home after work. Driving the car, is her uncle’s new Detective Constable, Laurie Walker – and it is love at first sight for the young couple.

But romance is soon to take a back seat when a baby boy is taken from his pram,  a naked man is scaring young ladies in nearby Epping Forest, and an elderly lady is found, brutally murdered...

Are the events related? How will they affect the staff and public of the local library where Jan works – and will a blossoming romance survive a police investigation into  murder?


“A delightful read about an unexpected murder in North East London.” Richard Ashen (South Chingford Community Library)

“Lots of nostalgic, well-researched, detail about life in the 1970s, which readers of a certain age will lap up; plus some wonderful, and occasionally hilarious, ‘behind the counter’ scenes of working in a public library, which any previous or present-day library assistant will recognise!” Reader Review


  1. Thank you so much for hosting today's blog tour stop, we really appreciate all that you do.

  2. Lovely Helen - as always, it was a pleasure to visit with you!


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