Hi, I'm Suzi Love, an Australian historical romance author, and the year is 1843.
The heroine of my latest book, Embracing Scandal, is racing around London trying to collect documented proof of the illegal activities of some of her peers so her friends at Scotland Yard will be able to arrest them for stock market fraud.
But, as you can imagine, accusing members of the beau monde - upper class society - has put Lady Rebecca Jamison, along with her five scientifically-gifted siblings, in grave danger.
People with intellect and skill, like Becca, are investing in the towns and counties where new railway tracks are being laid, and in the factories producing machinery and steel products. New railway bridges are springing up everywhere, making train travel the quickest way to reach country areas which were only accessible before on poorly maintained roads.
Steam trains are cutting across large tracts of country land and this enormous railway expansion has opened up many money making avenues in transport, steam engines, and inventions.
But the fraudulent syndicate are desperate to get hold of Becca's calculations for the next big boom area. Will it be more steam engines? Bigger factories? More rail tracks so England can compete with European countries who are expanding rapidly?
Meanwhile, Becca and her sisters tiptoe around London society and try to avoid scandal, a rather impossible task considering they are 'bluestockings', the derogatory name give to intelligent women who read books, support worthy causes, and discuss war and politics.
Becca can't openly visit the London Stock Exchange, the Bank of London, or the coffee houses around them as they are male financial domains. Even titled men aren't supposed to 'dirty' their hands with trade so gently bred ladies are forbidden from mentioning business or financial affairs.
One of Becca's close friends is Augusta Ada Lovelace, also a mathematical genius and the daughter of Lord Byron. Ada is helping Charles Babbage with his Analytical Engine, the world's first computer, and Ada is about to become the first computer programmer.
So, despite Queen Victoria's increasingly prudish dictates on behavior due to the influence of her adored German husband, many women are ignoring the rules and using their brilliance for more than house-keeping.
These women are Embracing Scandal. Pioneering new careers.
Luckily for my story, the Duke of Sherwyn views Becca's intelligence as a benefit, rather than a deterrent, in his selection of a duchess. Although, when he first discovered that Becca's life had been threatened he instinctively adopted the gentlemanly code of that era and he insisted that Becca retreat from danger and allow him, a male, to take control.
Can you imagine the sparks that fly? A feisty heroine who is determined to let no man rule her life and a duke who has sworn to avoid scandal yet determined to protect his old nemesis.
Hope you all enjoy reading more about this era of invention and expansion. Oh, and of course the fiery clashes between Lady Rebecca Jamison and Cayle, Duke of Sherwyn.
Embracing Scandal Blurb:
After Lady Rebecca Jamison, a mathematical genius, saves her family from financial ruin by secretly investing in railway stocks on the London stock exchange, a greedy syndicate, desperate for Becca’s calculations and predictions, murders her friend and threatens the Jamison family, forcing Becca to beg assistance from her childhood friend, Cayle St. Martin.
The newly titled Duke of Sherwyn has returned to London after five years on the continent extending his family’s shipping interests. He’s shunned his privileged London life and his father’s unbending attitudes, and becomes committed to employing the spying tactics he learned on the continent to help Becca indict the syndicate—and using his skills as a lover to seduce her into his bed.
But how will Cayle be able to convince Becca, a determinedly self-sufficient spinster, that he can be more to her than just a protector?
Lady Rebecca Jamison watched Cayle. Under the rules of etiquette, she must remember to address him as Your Grace or Sherwyn in public, despite knowing he’d abhorred the bowing and scraping expected by dukes, including his father.
Becca tried to judge his level of inebriation and his reaction to her news, though she was wise enough to stay out of arm’s reach. In the past, her knight in shining armour had constantly overreacted if he thought her adventures, or misadventures, placed her in harm’s way.
“Please, my dear.” The new duke's fists unfurled as he flung his arms wide in a dramatic gesture. “Go ahead and clarify that terrifying statement.” His voice lifted another octave.“Before my hair turns completely white. Or my legs give out.”
Neither Cayle’s fury nor his towering size frightened Becca. But she was terrified that the city would awaken and the streets fill with people before he became calm and rational and listened to her plea for his help in collecting the final proof that would send at least a dozen of their peers to prison for illegal trading practices.
"Or even worse.” He voice was a low snarl as he pointed at the floor. “I misplace the contents of my heaving stomach all over the duchess’s prized carpet.”
Becca winced. For the tenth time she listed to herself the reasons she’d bravely bearded this particular panther in his lair.
To protect her family.
To secure the nest eggs saved by the fallen women at the shelter.
To save her own life.
As the new Duke of Sherwyn, Cayle was her best, or possibly only, chance to do all that and to keep her promise to Scotland Yard. She hoped he’d listen with an open mind. Hoped he’d comprehend how much danger her family and friends were in without realising how close she had come to also being murdered.
“I’d gone to Peggy’s cottage to collect some letters she’d written on behalf of our Women’s Society. The door was ajar. I knocked but Peggy didn’t answer so I went inside.”
Peggy had been sprawled across the floor, her sturdy legs protruding at odd angles from her yellowing nightgown. Her hair had been matted with blood and tangled in the strings of her dislodged nightcap and her plait had been a rusty red mess instead of a neat tail of plain brown.
“I can’t sleep. Every time I close my eyes, I see the murderer standing over Peggy’s battered body. But he runs towards me. Not away.” She shuddered and closed her eyes.
Fingers brushed her cheek. “Becca, I’ll not let anyone harm you.”
“If I’d only arrived at Peggy’s cottage a few minutes earlier.”
“Stop it. You mustn’t blame yourself.”
“How can I not? One life has already been destroyed because of me. My friend was killed. Her body discarded like a tattered rag doll.”
His bloodshot gaze narrowed on her face. “So, knowing how your mind works, you’ll try to focus the consortium on yourself, and thereby keep everyone else out of danger.” He raised a brow. “Am I correct?”
Damned man was still a mind reading menace. “You’re wrong. I’ve little wish to confront those men by myself. But neither will I allow anyone else to be hurt.”
“And who protects you from the current set of fire–breathing dragons?”
She raised her chin. “I’ve outgrown such childishness.” She lowered herself to the closest settee, a demonstration of ladylike maturity and a reprieve for her trembling knees.
Buy Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Crimson Romance.
Suzi Love lives in a sunny part of Australia and loves to travel - anywhere and everywhere.
Her romances, ranging from sexy to erotic, are set in Britain, Australia, and the South Pacific, while her historical romances take place during her beloved late Regency to very early Victorian years. Best of all, Suzi loves exploring the many-layered and ever-changing aspects of society from the end of the Regency through to Queen Victoria's very early reign.
Her titled heroes and heroines may appear to live privileged lives in and around London, but these strong characters challenge traditional manners, morals, and occupations, either through necessity or desire, and expose the seamier sides of tonnish life. Though Suzi's books often have a grittier side, she tries to make history fun, one year at a time.
Apart from writing and reading, her favorite thing is traveling. She loves to visit historically famous places and speak with fascinating people and uses her research in her vivid and romantic books.
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Sultry Scribes - Aussie romance authors
Historical Hearts - Australian historical romance authors
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