Author * Speaker * Editor

Excellent storytelling, accurate historical reporting, and gritty, persevering characters

The Story behind Refuge at Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

Welcocturansky-2lowme Carrie Turansky to The Story behind the Story. It’s so exciting to have her here. If you’re a Downton Abbey fan, you’ll love her books. Read the post, and at the end, you’ll have a chance to win a copy of the book if you live in the U.S.







How did you come up with the idea for this series?


Early in 2012 I attended the American Library Association Conference in Philadelphia with aut

hor friend, Cathy Gohlke. I spoke to an editor there and asked what she was looking for. She said she’d love to see and Englis

h historical romance series set in the same time period as Downton Abbey. I’d enjoyed watching the first season of Downton, and I especially liked the way the screenwriter gave equal time to developing the storyline of the

wealthy family as well as the loyal servants. I didn’t know much about Edwardian England, but I jumped into the research, and fell in love with the time period. The ideas for the characters and plots rose out of my research and the issues

of the time. The titles of the novels in the Edwardian Brides Series are The Governess of Highland Hall, The Daughter of Highland Hall, and A Refuge at Highland Hall, which releases October 20, 2015.

What kind of research was required for the book?

I love research. That’s how I usually find the characters and events in my stories. I took two trips to England to research this series and spent hours reading books about the time period, customs, and issues in Edwardian England. I wanted to understand life “below stairs” as well as life “upstairs” lived by the aristocratic class. I watched several documentaries that were helpful, and I read a biography about a brave young British pilot that was a wonderful inspiration for the hero. I also took an online course about World War One aviation to help me write the hero’s scenes.

Why did you choose to focus on both the male and female protagonists?

 Most of my readers are wom

en, so I gave the heroine a few more scenes than the hero, but in this book the hero, Alex Goodwin, has several key scenes showing his role as a pilot chasing German Zeppelins across the front lines in France and Belgium. Those are quite exciting scenes that are inspired by real events, so I think male and female readers will enjoy those. I also try to balance the number of scenes given to the staff with those of the family so readers have a view into both sides of life.



Can you tell us about your research trip to England?IMG_0838

My husband and I visited England in 2012 and focused our time in Oxfordshire, the Peak District and the Cotswolds. Our tour of Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is set was the highlight of that trip for me. I loved seeing all the rooms where Downton is filmed, including the great hall, the library, the upper gallery and bedrooms. The gardens and greenhouse were lovely, and I had those in mind for several of the scenes in The Governess of Highland Hall. But I wanted to find a unique estate and setting for my books. My online research led me to Tyntesfield, a beautiful estate near Bristol in southwest England. It was a perfect choice. Tyntestfield is featured on the cover of A Refuge at Highland Hall and The Governess of Highland Hall, and I used the interior design of this house to help me envision the scenes in my novels.

I was very excited to visit Tyntesfield in May 2014. What a thrill to see all the rooms and take a private tour of the day nursery and the governess’s bedroom! It’s even more beautiful than my online research revealed. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend a visit to Tyntesfield. I have a Pinterest board filled with photos to help me remember everything I saw there.

Press Kit:

Book and Series Title:  A Refuge at Highland Hall, The Edwardian Brides Series, Book 3

Back Cover Copy: The Great Ward shakes the world of a spirited young woman and the brave British pilot she loves, sending her home to Highland Hall and him into the war-torn skies over France. Can their love and faith see them through the heartbreak of war?

Penny Ramsey has always considered Highland Hall her home, but when Britain becomes involved in World War One she travels to London to assist her sister Kate with the eight orphan children Jon and Kate have taken into their home. Doing her part for the war effort takes priority over Penny’s dreams of romance until she meets Alex Goodwin, a Royal Naval Air Service pilot in training.

Alex is determined to prove his worth and do his part to defend his country. Knowing he is heading off for the dangerous assignment of chasing Zeppelins across the front line in France, he feels it’s unwise to form any romantic attachments. But he can’t help admiring the pretty, warmhearted Penny and wondering what it would be like to find her waiting when he returns home from the war.

Penny writes to Alex, their friendship blossoms, and she becomes his tie to home and normalcy as he faces the hardships war. But being an RNAS pilot means confronting the enemy, and the fallout form those experiences push Alex beyond Penny’s reach. Can God mend the brokenness left by the losses of war? Will faith and forgiveness bring them together again?

Praise for A Refuge at Highland Hall:

“In A Refuge at Highland Hall, master storyteller Carrie Turansky weaves together another beautifully written tale of courage, hope, and love. Her story swept me back to the streets of London and then on to France during the conflict of World War I. I love reading historical fiction, and it was a joy to learn so much about this era through the endearing Ramsey family. A Refuge at Highland Hall is a powerful conclusion to the Edwardian Brides Series!”

Melanie Dobson, award-winning author of Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor and Chateau of Secrets

Here’s your chance to win a copy of this wonderful book. Follow the instructions to enter (it’s easy!). Contest runs utnil 12:00 a.m. on October 23.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Audience: Teen girls through grandmothers, Downton Abbey fans, and those enjoy English historical novels like Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice.

Genre: Historical Romance

Release Date: October 20, 2015

Author Name: Carrie Turansky

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  1. I love the story lines in Downton Abbey and I especially love the humor that is sprinkled in with the drama. I am really looking forward to reading Carrie’s book. Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

    • Hi Loraine, I’m a Downton Abbey fan too, and I’m eager to see Season 6, but I’m sad it’s the last season. I enjoy the time period so much I am writing my next book set in 1903 in England. Happy Reading!

  2. Hi Liz, thank you for inviting me over to your blog! I hope readers will enjoy this third and final book in the Edwardian Brides Series. I loved doing the research and learning more about WW1 in England and France. Blessings and Happy Reading to All!

  3. I always enjoy reading the background stories of a book, and of it’s author. Thanks for sharing! I’d love to win a copy!

  4. I think all the rules of etiquette and social class of that time are very interesting.

    • Hi Beth,
      I had a lot of fun learning about the rules and customs of the Edwardian era. Learning about the relationship between the staff and the family was interesting too. I hope you enjoy reading Refuge!

  5. Oh, sounds like a great book! I love everything about the WWII period and I’m currently writing a WWII novel. 🙂

    • Hi Faith, that’s fun to hear you’re writing a novel set during WW2. A Refuge at Highland Hall is set during WW1, but there are many interesting similarities. It was a challenge to weave in facts, and yet the characters stay “on center stage” and keep the story moving forward. I hope you enjoy reading the series!

  6. I love the beautiful dresses and how the women were always so dressed up.

  7. What I like best about the WWI time period is ladies acted like ladies and men were gentlemen. Times were hard but everyone worked together. Thanks for the opportunity to win.

    • Hi Linda, I enjoyed learning more about life during WW1 in England and then weaving some of that into A Refuge at Highland Hall. I hope you enjoy reading the series!

  8. Hello. I’ve never watched Downton Abbey but like stories back in that era. Not sure about WW1` but love books of WW 11 since I had a brother in that war and we moved to the city of Houston, Tx. so my daddy could work in the shipyards. I would love to win Carrie’s book. Maxie

  9. I enjoy learning more about our past, but my favorite time in history to learn about is early 20th century (1900-1950.) I am, especially, intrigued by the 30’s. There is something about man’s fight to overcome such a heartbreaking time in American history and personally knowing so many older relatives who lived during that time. Memories are the best stories.

    I am friends with a group of women who get together in January every year for the kick-off of the new season of Downton Abbey. Unfortunately, it looks like this coming January will be our last unless Julian Fellowes’ new series brings us all back together. We kick off the night with a traditional English dinner. Every attendee brings an authentic English dish. I think the dinner is the best part, because I prefer to enjoy the show curled up on the couch at home.

    • Hi Terrill, your Downton Abbey viewing party sounds delightful! I just hosted a book launch tea party and made raspberry scones and lemon curd. Yum!I’m sad to see this is the last season too. I hope reading this series will keep your love for the Edwardian era alive! I’m already working on my next book set in England in 1903! Blessings and Happy Reading.

  10. Love the Edwardian time period. So glad Carrie wrote these books to continue what Downton Abbey started….. my love for this time. Carrie’s books are genuine and full of good Christian morals. Can’t wait to read the newest addition.

    • Hi Joyce, thank you for stopping by! I’m so glad you are enjoying the Edwardian Brides Series. Blessings!

  11. Fascinated by the fashion and the traditions and the fact that they had maids and cooks!

  12. There are so many fascinating aspects of Downton Abbey. I have enjoyed watching the classes express themselves in the midst of the confining culture. The castles and the landscapes are gorgeous. The fashion is so romantic.

  13. I love everything about Downton Abbey. I’m so sad that this is going to be the final season coming up in January. I love most of the characters on the show. I love the dresses the ladies wear. I would love to see Highclere Castle some day but I do have the video and that will have to do.

    I really don’t understand why it has to go off the air. I will miss it so much. I think they could have thought up more things for the show, it’s so beautiful and rich with characters. I have one of the soundtracks too. I love the music they play on there.

    I have most of the box sets on blu ray accept for season 5 and the new season 6, but I will be getting them as well. I will always be able to go and back to that period and watch everyone. It’s just so sad to see it go.

  14. I love the clothing in Downton Abbey – the dresses and especially the hats. I loved the hats that Cora wore earlier in the seasons.

  15. I find the manners and the society very interesting! I adore Downton Abbey because the characters are authentic and dealing with issues of the times. I would love to read this book!

  16. I enjoy learning about the clothing and the customs of that time. In reading Carrie’s books, I feel like I am right there with the characters. 🙂

  17. Thank you, Liz and Carrie, for this wonderful interview! It’s interesting to learn more of the “story behind the story”. 🙂 Looking forward to reading the new book. Appreciate you offering the giveaway. Wishing you both all the best with your books!

  18. I must say the beautiful costumes – or rather clothing. It’s just beautiful and elegant without being too “frilly”. But after some thought, it is also the time period where people still work together to get through the tough times of war and depression and poverty. People strive to better the lives of their family and how faith played a big part of people’s lives. Times have changed.

  19. I love how united people became during WWI. It didn’t matter what class you came from, you had to let those societal walls down to care for each other and survive the horrors of war. I am also moved by the shock and loss of innocence which happened to the characters, as they witnessed such terrible atrocities. So glad Downtown Abbey became a well watched program. I am excited to have a chance to win this book! Thank you!

  20. I love the costumes of the time period. 🙂 A Refuge at Highland Halls sounds like a really neat read!

  21. Having never read any of Carries books, they sound fantastic. I always can appreciate when an author puts so much work into history behind a novel or series. These sound lovely. Thank you for a great post and wonderful information on this book. It sounds like a page turner.

  22. I love how Carrie blessed us with her awesome writing skills and remarkable research to extend that historical era beyond Downton Abbey. I would be overjoyed if she continued writing in that era for the rest of her career! I appreciate the manners, proper protocol, and faith during that era.

  23. I am so ecstatic to have this wonderfully written series which mirrors Downtown Abbey, but from a Christian perspective. I so enjoyed Governess of Highland Hall and The Daughter of Highland Hall. I just finished The Daughter of Highland Hall and was so disappointed that it ended before I have been able to get a copy of A Refuge at Highland Hall. Ms. Turansky’s in depth writing style has allowed me to feel as though I am a part of the Foster/Ramsey families!

  24. like the fashion

  25. The class distinctions were interesting to watch on Downton since things have changed in our time. It’s always fascinating to learn about different time periods.

  26. I adore Downton Abbey and all things Edwardian. The perfect culmination of clothes and manners. Throw in a world war and it’s the perfect setting for a romance ripe with drama and adventure. Really look forward to reading this story!

  27. I love the time period of World War I. I love reading about the fashions and the culture. I did not watch Downton Abbey, but I really wish that I had. I may try to get the DVDs in order to watch what I missed.

  28. I love reading about WWII time period because it was a different time period. Mannerisms, were better,people seemed to be more caring and thoughtful. Dress was more classy . It’s an interesting time period to read about.

  29. I love Downton Abbey. I think it’s the fairy tale of living in the big beautiful house, having a ladies maid and footman, a butler and housekeeper to take care of things while you do life. It was a totally different time that we really can’t imagine living that way, yet it intrigues us. We want to know about the upstairs and the downstairs. We’re drawn to both lives. I can not imagine dressing for dinner nightly the way they did, but love the costumes! It just draws us in!

  30. I have loved Downton Abbey since I first started watching it. I love the scenery (of course), and how elegant the time period seems. It is fun to get caught up in the characters’ lives, just like I do with Carrie’s books. I am so excited to read this final book!

  31. I have never seen Downton Abbey, but I have read the first two books of the Edwardian Brides Series. I LOVE them! I think it is so interesting to see the differences in the way we live, think, and act now compared to WWI. I can’t wait to read the third book!!!

  32. Great interview!!!! Looking forward to reading this series. The best part of the Edwardian time is the changes that came about. People were learning new ways and areas were opening up to more people. The classy fashions were a plus!!! Thanx for the giveway.