Thank you Leah for having me on your blog! Let me start by displaying the cover of my book RAKES AND RADISHES and the back cover blurb.
When Henrietta Watson learns that the man she loves plans to marry London’s most beautiful and fashionable debutante, she plots to win him back. She’ll give him some competition by transforming her boring bumpkin neighbor, the Earl of Kesseley, into a rakish gothic hero worthy of this Season’s Diamond.
After years of unrequited love for Henrietta, Kesseley is resigned to go along with her plan and woo himself a willing bride. But once in London, everything changes. Kesseley — long more concerned with his land than his title — discovers that he’s interested in sowing wild oats as well as radishes. And Henrietta realizes that gothic heroes don’t make ideal husbands. Despite an explosive kiss that opens her eyes to the love that’s been in front of her all along, Henrietta must face the possibility that Kesseley is no longer looking to marry at all…
RAKES AND RADISHES has received a rating of 9.5 / 10 from The Season and 5 bookies from Book Lovers Inc.
Okay, now that I’ve gotten the promo stuff out of the way, I want to talk about Regency setting. One of the reasons I love to read and write historical fiction is to get immersed in another time. I want to “feel” how a character moved around in her space, what she saw as she walked down the street or visited the theater. I dug through all kinds of internet archives looking for images of London in the early 1800s. Below, I have taken some quotes from my book describing settings and placed them beside an image of the actual place. I’ll let you judge if I got the details correct.
Kesseley’s London house is on Curzon Street.
The carriage rode along the edge of the park, the boughs of oak trees arching over them. On their left she saw grand white houses that resembled decorated Queen cakes with curving bay windows and terraces.
Oh Lud, was one of these Kesseley’s?
But the carriage took a swift turn away from the park and into a grid of row houses, coming to a stop before a plain brown brick dwelling with a wrought-iron gate.
Henrietta sat still as Kesseley and his mother gathered their persons. Surely this couldn’t be their London home?
“We’re here,” he said.
Think of something nice! “It looks so — comfortable.”
It certainly wasn’t fashionable hour. The park was almost empty but for the people in dark, worn clothes, eyes averted, quietly hurrying to other destinations. She pulled Samuel onto the path, and he actually started to trot beside her, like a good hound.
This was much better, almost enjoyable, as the cool wet, morning breeze blew under her bonnet, tingling her cheeks. For a moment, the sun popped out from between dense clouds and sparkled through the tree leaves. Henrietta’s heart lightened.
A rather proper elderly man with a pearl-handled cane passed her. Henrietta smiled. He only scowled.
What? She looked down. Samuel was hunched, defecating on the soft sable sand.
This is the outside of the park, but I think the image is very evocative of the times.
Thoughts in this vein kept him occupied all the way down St. James to the great white bay window of Boodle’s.
The door swung open, and two fashionably dressed bucks leaped onto the pavement, each holding ducks, their faces alight with secretive mischievousness. Tucking the ducks under their coats, they ran down the street on a seemingly urgent mission. Kesseley watched them leave, then stepped inside.
The porter leaped from around his desk and grabbed Kesseley’s arm. “Deliveries are made in the back!” He spun Kesseley around to the door.
The balconies inside the theatre were stacked so high it was dizzying. Even at the tiptop, slammed against the stunning oval ceiling, people sat peering over the rail. Using the constant of gravity, Henrietta tried to calculate how long it would take a person falling from that height to hit the gallery. Approximately 1.5 seconds, she decided.
I used the Apsley House as inspiration for this ball scene:
Kesseley believed that Lady Huntly had managed to squeeze the entirety of fashionable London into their ballroom. Golden fires roared in four fireplaces and hundreds of candles hung in three expansive chandeliers. Their light caught in the mirrors running along the walls, reflected back, multiplied. The place was brighter than heaven and hotter than hell. Beneath his coat, sticky sweat soaked his shirt.
They drove around the fountain and then turned into a dark, narrow lane. Kesseley pointed to a flat, unremarkable building. “You should know this place.”
Henrietta shook her head.
“It’s Almack’s.” He laughed. “I thought all ladies knew Almack’s.”
This squat building was heaven? She had expected angels, pearly gates and St. Peter standing at the door with a guest list. It looked rather pedestrian.
Kesseley followed Bucky and his friends to an entirely different ball at the notorious Argyll rooms. Under the stately bronze goddesses lining the walls and the eighteen chandeliers that ran down the length of the room, the lightskirts danced. Their provocative gowns of sheer white muslin hung low to expose their bosoms and clung to their limbs, giving the inspecting gentlemen a good eyeful of the merchandise.
Royal Greenwich Observatory
Kesseley arrived at the Royal Greenwich Observatory as the last light of the sinking sun lit the road. The silhouette of the old observatory rose above the treetops. From the high perch, Kesseley could see the Thames snaking to London, where the lights of the city blurred in the haze of coal. But up here the air was clean and crisp, fragrant with the sweet scent of flowering trees.
Green Man Inn
A footman in green livery ran out from The Green Man Inn and opened the hackney door. Henrietta latched on to his hand and stepped down, feeling her heart slow. She had made it to safety. The rain was coming down harder, and she shouted above its roar, asking the hackney driver to wait.