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: https://www.facebook.com/events/929180810491602/

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Secrets, passion, and a nasty villain or two

Cover_LadyBeauchampsProposalLady Beauchamp’s Proposal, by Amy Rose Bennett, had me from the first page. The author beautifully captures Beth’s desperate courage, and when her sleazy husband enters (on the next page) the atmosphere ratchets up another notch.

Elizabeth is the neglected and ignored wife of the dissolute Lord Beauchamp. When she escaped from him before he can infect her with syphilis, she runs as far as she can, applying for a job as governess in a remote castle in Scotland. There, she meets James, the Marquess of Rothsburgh, and the attraction between them is immediate.

Both James and Beth are decent people, tormented by the events of their pasts, guilty about their growing attraction, and troubled by self-doubt. It isn’t hard to care about what happens to them. As the author turns up the heat on their sensual awareness of one another, we want them to be together despite the fact that Beth is still married.

In those days marriage really was till death. That Beth’s husband is a selfish, hedonistic rat oozing a particularly nasty infection doesn’t change his legal rights to insist on keeping his wife. Beth and James can’t see any path to a happy ending except to wait, perhaps for years, and the last chapters turn the gothic screws tighter still, with Beth facing something worse than she can imagine (no spoilers – you’ll have to read it for yourself).

I loved this book, and I found the ending very satisfying.

I have two tiny niggles.

One is the speed of the ending – ten months passes between the end of one chapter and the end of the book. It worked, but it seemed rushed to me. I’d have at least liked to see a scene played out between Beth and the two sleazes, where they make their threats to her, rather than just hear about them later when she is thinking over what they said.

The other is a continuity problem; early in the book, we’re told that Beth heard about the governess job a month before the day she arrives at the castle. The person she hears talking about the job mentions that the Marquis is a recent widower. More than a fortnight after she arrives – so close to seven weeks after someone in London mentioned the death, the Marquis tells Beth his wife has been dead for eight weeks. So how did the news arrive in London so fast?

As I say; tiny.

I still loved the book. I recommend it, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing more from Amy Rose Bennett.

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