Sunday retrospective

time-machineToday’s Sunday retrospective reaches back to the second half of October 2014, when I was writing the last third of Farewell to Kindness. I was reporting progress—and hiccups—as I went. I finished the month with a photo of the printed first draft of Farewell to Kindness and the heading #amediting. A couple of days before that, I posted a list called ‘Editing the book’ — everything I needed to do between finishing the first draft and sending the book for beta reading.

Criminal injustice was the post I wrote when I found out about the sea change in the British criminal justice system, and how this affected my plot. In 1807,  the old system was no longer working and the new system had not been invented.

Our modern view is that one law should apply to all. It doesn’t always work. Money buys better lawyers, for a start. But the basic principle is that we have laws that lay down the crime and the range of punishments, and judges who look at the circumstances and apply penalties without fear or favour.

The pre-19th century situation in England was far, far different.

I also posted on why I changed the name of my heroine in Farewell to Kindness in a blog post with the longest titleI have ever written: Ewww, just ewww: or the cautionary tale of the perils of naming characters in a whole lot of books at once and then starting one without reference to the real world.

I waxed philosophical about romance writing as a genre in a couple of posts that largely picked up what other people were saying:

  • Fear of vulnerability reports on research that suggests fear of vulnerability underpins the common dismissal of the romance genre by readers of other types of fiction
  • Romance novels are feminist novels has excerpts from a much longer article that directly confronts the view that all romance novels are trivial, and turns it on its head.

The first review I published on my website was for the wonderful Lady Beauchamp’s Proposal. Four months later, I was thrilled to find author Amy Rose Bennett as another potential Bluestocking Belle, and we’ve been colleagues and allies ever since.

And I also published a review of Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt. In less than a fortnight, I’m hosting a Belles’ Book Club discussing another of the Maiden Lane series, Scandalous Desires. Elizabeth has agreed to pop in for an hour, so don’t miss it. You can join the event here:


Beauty and the Beast, Hoyt style

darling-beast-stepback1What a wonderful story Darling Beast is.

Apollo is working as a garden designer, restoring the burnt out ruin that was the pleasure garden Harte’s Folly. Four years ago, Apollo was wrongly accused of a brutal and senseless murder, and sent to Bedlam. Having escaped, he is at risk of being recaptured by the King’s men and reimprisoned or killed A savage beating in Bedlam has taken his voice.

Lily is an out of work actress, banned from the London stage by a vindictive theatre manager after she left him to work at Harte’s Folly. Harte, the eccentric part owner of the gardens, has allowed her, her child, and her maid to move into the two rooms that remain of the theatre.

When Lily’s son Indio meets Apollo and makes friends, Lily is first compassionate and then attracted.

As they begin to act on their attraction, Apollo becomes more and more determined to clear his name. But his own past and a secret from Lily’s past come back to put them both in terrible danger.

Both Apollo and Lilly were beautifully drawn. Apollo’s dreadful experiences in Bedlam make him fear that he is more monster than man, and Lilly has learnt never to trust an aristocrat, so is horrified to find that Apollo is a Viscount, heir to an Earl, and brother to a Duchess.

Each has to learn to trust and depend on the other.

Thank you, Elizabeth Hoyt, for another several hours in your world.

Several of the secondary characters are crying out to have their stories told.

I understand that Captain Trevillion and the blind sister of Apollo’s brother-in-law, Lady Phoebe, come next. The Captain is the lame ex-soldier who arrested Apollo but who also worked to clear him once he was convinced of his innocence. In Darling Beast, Lady Phoebe greatly resents the restrictions her brother forces on her in his overprotective love, restrictions that include the Captain as bodyguard.

I sense that the enigmatic and capricious Duke of Montgomery may already have met his match in Miss Royce.

Asa Makepeace, also known as Harte, must one day have his story. He’s a marvellous character, who has popped in and out of the books from the beginning of the series. Such a contrast to his sternly religious family, but with his own high moral code when pressed.

And what about Lily’s brother Edwin? Is there a story there?

I look forward to many more Maiden Lane stories.