Monday, May 13, 2013

Noblesse Oblige

Noblesse ObligeA few years ago a publisher who shall remain nameless told me that the Regency traditional with sex didn’t fit in the market, that it wouldn’t work. That was when I’d written a book subsequently called “Noblesse Oblige.” Either, they said, tone down the sex or forget the history.
I sold the book to a small publisher and it did remarkably well, won awards and sold very nicely. Recently I got the rights back from the publisher, and after a light edit and a new cover, I put it up on Kindle and some other platforms. I just didn’t want it to die, because it was a book of my heart, which was probably why it didn’t fit anywhere. I’m astonished at how well it’s done since.
It also features my one and only duke. Dukes abound in historical romance, but not in my work. I decided that I’d do a duke when I needed to, and this book really needed the oomph a duke brings to a story. The hero needed it. At first the fact that plain old Mr. Rivers was a duke in disguise was a secret, but it’s impossible to give an idea of what most of the book is about without revealing it, so the mild spoiler came into being. Mild because the heroine, Marianne, and the characters around her are the only ones who don’t know what’s in front of them, and some do, but choose to keep Jerome’s secret.
The idea came when I read about the King trying to stay at a spa as a private man and failing miserably, but why not, I thought, why shouldn’t someone a bit less instantly recognisable get away with it?
Jerome just wants to get away from the pomp and circumstance for a week or two, so he goes to Scarborough every year, where he meets Marianne, paid companion to vulgar Mrs. Middleton, who is looking for a good time. Spas were sometimes places where ordinary behaviour was relaxed a bit, so the perfect place for unattached men to meet unattached women, and even indulge in a little discreet naughtiness. Not that there’s anything like that between Marianne and Jerome, not at that stage, anyway.
Although there are some erotic scenes, they are marital ones, and they do involve two characters who love each other very much exploring their own sensuality and each other’s. I loved writing them, because it’s not very often the romance writer gets the chance to write scenes like this. The conflict comes from other sources. I tried very hard to avoid the clichés of the awful mother-in-law, the rake who will ‘do’ anything in a skirt, and other tropes that have become ubiquitous in the genre. I wanted to write about the real Regency, the period that existed, but I wanted to make it sexy. For me, the Regency has always been sexy, but it doesn’t have to be overt.
Jerome and Marianne have more to face. As soon as they become engaged the attacks start, and soon it’s obvious that Someone has Got It In for them. Since I wanted to explore how their crises affected their characters and how they developed under fire, I didn’t make the mystery too mysterious. It wasn’t important. But I did create some characters and revisit some places I still love.
Scarborough, for instance, has a perfect little spa building, an elegant small rotunda, that for a time in this period was a fashionable place to go for people in the north. York was a centre of northern culture, a place the highest in the land might gather for social events. It had a theatre, elegant shops, wonderful Georgian houses. And the house itself, based on Castle Howard, which is situated half way between Scarborough and York. I set it a few miles away, and it became Riverscourt Abbey, an elegant private dwelling and one of the glories of the north.

Book Description:
In Regency England, a woman without inherited wealth had few options. Marianne Noble decided to be a lady's companion. Working for the wealthy but vulgar widow Mrs. Middleton is sometimes a trial, but never more than when, on a visit to the fashionable spa town of Scarborough, Mrs. Middleton sets her sights on the handsome Jerome Rivers. Because Marianne wants him for herself.
Jerome is hoping to escape from the pressures of his life, but instead meets the one woman he knows he will love for the rest of his life. Can Marianne cope with marriage to a man she sees as a simple country gentleman but who turns out to be so much more? If that wasn't difficult enough, someone seems determined to kill Jerome, or Marianne, or both of them.
Will Marianne cope with her new position in life? Will they discover who wants them dead? With only love to sustain them, Marianne and Jerome must trust each other and discover the truth.

You can buy the book from Amazon here
from Kobo here


Elizabeth Hawksley said...

What a delightful story, Lynne! And Scarborough is a great setting with its rotunda and the fantastic castle perched on the edge of the cliff.

The Scarborough art gallery has a number of watercolours by Paul Sandby (1725-1809). He painted some evocative scenes of temporary regimental camps, exactly like the one that comes to Meryton.

Joanna said...

Hi Lynne story sounds lovely I intend to buy it. I love Scarborough it brings back lots of memories of childhood holidays.