My latest series, "The Emperors of London," contains a historical mystery. One that could have happened, and could have been kept secret. Because writing fiction is all about the “could”s, especially historical romance.
Each book has a different couple at its centre, but they can be read as standalones. I don’t want to give it all away, particularly since the mystery unfolds through the series, but it’s about Jacobites and Hanoverians. And a family feud, with separate mysteries at the centre of each.
As well as being romances, of course.
My fictional families, the Emperors of London (so called because of their outlandish names) and the Dankworths, are ranged against each other on either side of the Jacobite/Hanoverian fight. I set the stories in the 1750’s, when the fighting was underground and dirty. Anything could have happened in that time. The Jacobites could have won with subterfuge and spying what they’d lost on the battlefield at Culloden. Since they stood to win the ultimate prize—the British throne—the fighting became nasty.
So I inserted a bit more wickedness to stir the pot a bit, and the new series is about how it is resolved. Or at least, neutralised.
This is a world without instant news, without internet, or even where time is synchronised over distance. That didn’t come until the railway engine. It’s a world where the law is very different to the way it is today, when even adversarial trials are only just coming to be regarded as the way to judge someone. When magistrates had more power, the power to arrest and to have their favourites, where you could get off a charge by reading a section of the Bible. But only once. On the other hand, you could be hanged for stealing a loaf, or made a hero because you robbed people on the King’s highway, but you had a flamboyant personality.
However some things remain the same. The power of love, hate, and all the basic human emotions, for instance. And the love of gossip. Recently I picked up a few of them and read my way avidly through accounts of runaway brides, poor men turned into millionaires, and collectors of vast wealth who built houses just to put their treasures in. I don’t have to make much up after reading those.
There were persistent rumours all through the 1750’s of the Young Pretender’s visits to London. The authorities decided to keep an eye on him, instead of arresting him and making a martyr of him, although his supporters made great play of calling the Prince a hero, and comparing him to the German buffoons, who were in fact making a good job of monarchy. But what if the Pretender was looking for something in particular? And what if two other factions were hunting it down, too? Who would find it first, and what would they do with it when they did?
You’ll just have to read the books to find out!
“Rogue in Red Velvet” is out on August 4th from Kensington Publishing and all good outlets.