It gives me great pleasure today to welcome another Love Historicals author, Christy Carlyle. Among Christy’s many talents is graphic artistry. She designed the cover for the anthology Magnificent Medieval Men that I am part of with three other authors.
Thanks for having me as your guest, Anna. I blame my interest in the Victorian era on Charles Dickens and a film version of Oliver Twist made in the 1960’s. When I look back and try to identify the spark that ignited my interest, I can pinpoint an experience during my childhood. For two years in a row, my elementary school collected the 5th and 6th graders in the gymnasium a few days before the summer break and showed a 1968 movie called Oliver!
The film is a musical version of Charles Dickens’ novel about a 19th century orphan boy and his journey from workhouse to London’s underworld to the possibility of finding a loving home. It’s a fantastic story, but I was more taken with the setting and characters other than Oliver Twist. Characters like The Artful Dodger and Fagan, the thief leader, were as fascinating to me as the rookeries and crowded tenements they inhabited.
In my teens I collected books about the Victorian era, including a book of engravings by Gustave Doré called London: A Pilgrimage. Doré’s engravings actually inspired Carol Reed, the director of the film that had so captured my imagination in elementary school, and it’s easy to see why. Doré captured the haunting appeal of Victorian London’s rookeries and the crowded bustle of everyday life in a city whose population exploded during the 1800’s. During the 1900’s, London grew from a city of about one million in 1800 to over five million by the century’s end.
Another book that fired my fascination for Victorian England was London Labour and the London Poor by Henry Mayhew. In the 1840’s, Mayhew, a journalist, spent time interviewing hundreds of Londoners about their lives, jobs, and daily experiences in the metropolis. His reporting is meticulous and he brings the sights and sounds as well as the voices of Victorian Londoners alive.
The 19th century and particularly the years of Queen Victoria’s reign from 1837 to 1901 was a period of enormous changes in England. Not only did the population more than quadruple, but innovations in technology, medicine, and transportation altered the way Victorians lived their lives, affected other social trends, like fashion, how people spent their leisure time, and the literature of the period.
The challenges and tensions of the Victorian era are what interest me the most. The increased population of London created districts of enormous poverty, including Whitechapel in London’s East End. The enigma of who killed several women in the district during the 1880’s remains a mystery to this day, and I chose the setting and the fear and anxiety surrounding the mystery as backdrop for my Whitechapel Wagers series. Each story features characters who live or work in Whitechapel and are touched, in some way, by the crime and pressures of living in such a crowded, impoverished area of Victorian London.
In a future series, my characters will move in more affluent circles of Victorian society, but they will still be impacted by and take part in the changes of the era, including women’s suffrage, medical reform, and innovations in crime detection. The topics worth exploring in Victorian society and history seem almost endless, and whatever the status of my characters or what other period or genre I might write, I will always write stories set in the Victorian era.
About Christy: She writes historical romance and historical mysteries and has just released her debut Victorian romance novella, Scandalous Wager, in January. The second book in the Whitechapel Wagers series, Wanton Wager, will be released in May.
Christy writes sensual, and sometimes downright steamy, historical romance, usually set in the Victorian era or Regency period. She loves heroes who struggle against all odds and heroines that are ahead of their time. A former teacher with a degree in history, she finds there is nothing better than being able to combine her love of the past with her die-hard belief in happy endings.
Buy link for Scandalous Wager – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I1HVPXA
About Scandalous Wager: Set against the backdrop of London’s dangerous East End in 1888, Victorian propriety and passions collide when a spinster strikes a scandalous bargain with a detective caught up in the investigation of the Ripper mystery.
Elizabeth Ainsworth has decided she will never marry. Years spent on the shelf have taught her plain looks and a distinct lack of ladylike talents won’t win a proposal from any of the eligible young constables or inspectors her Detective Chief Inspector father invites to their home. Most of them are too busy staring at her younger, prettier sister anyway. And Lizzy is content to be a spinster, especially if it means she can continue with her charity work in Whitechapel. But she has one lingering regret. She wants to experience passion at least once in her life and, most of all, she wants to experience it with Ian Reed.
Detective Inspector Ian Reed has aspirations to ascend the ranks of the Metropolitan Police, and he hopes proving himself to his superior, Detective Chief Inspector Ainsworth, will help him get there. A series of brutal murders plaguing Whitechapel have him working long hours, so when Ainsworth’s daughter shows up on his doorstep and offers herself to him, he fears he might be dreaming. Fascinated with Lizzy from the moment he meets her, Ian is determined to spend more than one night in her arms, despite what it might cost both of them.
Excerpt from Scandalous Wager: She rapped on the door of his lodging. She half expected a landlady to open and turn her away. Most landlords did not allow their single gentlemen to have women callers. But there was no landlady.
The door creaked open and Ian Reed stood before her, just a hairsbreadth away, smelling of soap and clean linen, his black hair slightly damp and his skin smooth and freshly shaven.
She didn’t get a word out before she heard her name on his lips and felt his warm breath against her face.
His tone belied shock and disbelief at her presence on his doorstep so late at night. No proper woman would be at his door at this hour. He ushered her in, closed the door behind them, and slid the lock in place.
“Is your father unwell?”
It was natural he would think her visit related to her father. It was the only connection between them. Except for her inability to keep Ian Reed from her thoughts.
“My father is well, Inspector Reed. Thank you.”
His rooms were small—just two rooms separated by a doorframe without a door. A suit lay on his bed, a brush discarded beside it. She had interrupted his household chores. Sparsely furnished, the room’s only true adornment was his collection of books, some in a neat row on a shelf, others stacked on a wooden chair, and two lying on a small table near his bed. His love of books and literature, his intelligence and voracious curiosity, had become clear during his visits to Lizzy’s home. She also loved to read, and it pleased her to see that books were all the decoration his rooms required.
But the room’s simplicity only highlighted the scandalous nature of her visit. Here was a man doing his nightly duties, snug in his cozy rooms surrounded by works of literature and tomes of knowledge, and she was going to ask him to spend his time on sin.
“Please sit, Miss Ainsworth.”
Lizzy lowered herself into the straight-backed chair he indicated.
“Would you like a cup of tea? I was just going to have one myself.”
He tidied as he made his way across the tiny room, hanging his suit on a hook near the bed and placing the brush in a drawer.
“Yes, thank you, Inspector Reed. I would—”
Her thoughts scattered as she watched him pour steaming water from a kettle into a chipped white teapot. He reached for two cups from a high shelf. As his shirt pulled tight, she savored the outline of his muscular body beneath the cloth. Even in his overcoat or the suits he wore on visits to her home, it was easy to suspect he possessed a fine physique, but she had never before been afforded such splendid evidence.
“Ian.” She hadn’t meant to speak his name aloud. It came out in a throaty whisper as she tested it on her lips, savoring it on her tongue.
His black head snapped around and he shot a look straight at her mouth. Shifting her gaze to his eyes, she fancied she could hear his heartbeat but then realized it was her own, thundering in her ears.
“Would you call me Lizzy?”
He smiled that smile, disarming and lovely, boyish and yet seductive. No man should be allowed such a smile.
You can find out more about Christy and her works in progress at her website – http://www.christycarlyle.com.
You can also follow her on Facebook to keep up with Christy, her love of Victorian history, and upcoming releases – https://www.facebook.com/historicalromanceauthorchristycarlyle