Saturday, February 13, 2016

What He Wants...Is What She Needs

In my new novella, out next month, a gentleman who unexpectedly comes into an earldom meets a businesswoman from the City of London, and the inevitable happens (well, it’s inevitable in my books!)
It's in the anthology "Seven Nights of Sin," where you'll find stories by Victoria Vane, Sabrina York, Eliza Lloyd, Suzi Love, Maggie Andersen and Hildie McQueen. Oh yes, and yours truly.
My hero, Gerald, knows he’s third in line to an earldom, but since there are two perfectly healthy heirs to himself, he discounts the possibility. He has a comfortable fortune, and lives, until he inherits, in an unfashionable part of London with his three sisters. Inheriting a title wasn’t all sweetness and light, especially when the new title holder was unknown to society. Gerald and his sisters weren’t interested in fashionable society, so they had a lot of ground to make up, if they were going to do the title justice.
My heroine is based on one of my ancestors, Hester Bateman. After discovering that several women
had flourishing businesses in Georgian London, I became more intrigued with this possibility. Women could inherit property if it was unentailed, and they could live independently. They couldn’t do their own legal business and they were barred from the House of Commons but they could employ people to do that part for them.
Hester Bateman was left a young widow with three young sons to support. Her husband left her the business, not in trust for her sons, but in her own right. So Hester set to improving the business. She made silver wire, which was used to do things like applying fancy trims to flatware or jewellery, but that wasn’t enough for Hester. She registered her own mark at the Guildhall, with the Goldsmith’s Company, and started to make domestic silverware.

I hadn’t realized how she could do this before I tucked into the research. Hester owned a mill. It was a machine that rolled the silver. One man turning the handle could operate it. They were developed and used abroad, and rare at this time. The other way of beating out silver was the way the Romans had used, with hammers and human skill, beating out the sheets to thinness. The machine could produce more consistency, and it could also go thin. That meant Hester could produce moderately priced silverware for the emerging urban middle class. Added to clever design, that made her business a huge success. With the mill, she could make flatware, tea sets, rolled candlesticks with lead inside for ballast and cheapness, and a plethora of other articles.
I loved researching this book, and it’s given me a new avenue to explore. Independent heroines who have a choice. Lovely!
While my heroine Annie only gets as far as the silver wire part, I did give her a mill, and made it a significant part of the story at one point.
She had a shop on Bunhill Row, near Smithfields, so that was where I gave Gerald his London house. Annie’s landlord wants her, so he uses her place as blackmail. So she asks Gerald if she can have his house, but of course, Gerald has his stipulations, too. He wants her, but instead of offering her marriage, he asks for one night. Gerald knows he has to marry well, in order to give his sisters a good footing in society, so Annie just won’t do.
So does Annie take Gerald’s rakish proposal, or does she plump for the man who is offering her marriage?

 Get it here! 
And read about it here!


Elizabeth Hawksley said...

I'm impressed that you have so illustrious an ancestor, Lynne. I have been a Hester Bateman fan ever since I read an Historical novel about her many years ago - unfortunately, I've forgotten the name of the author. I come across silverware by her in museums, occasionally, and I always give her a silent cheer.

Fenella J Miller said...

I had heard of Hester Bateman - would love to have had her in my family tree. Love the sound of this story.

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