Hi, my day job—no, make that my life—revolves around writing Regency romance. My latest, Compromising the Marquess, is the first in a four-book series charting the fortunes of the Forster dynasty. Leah Elliott writes gossip for a scandal sheet to support herself and her sister. When she moves to the coastal town of Denby she doesn’t expect to find much that will interest her readers, until she meets Hal Forster, Marquess of Denby, whose activities intrigue her, and excite her suspicions.
This is how I imagine her diary would have read:
July 14th, 1814
I accompanied Mrs. Wilkinson and some other ladies to The Hall today. Mrs. Wilkinson was keen to see the marquess and demand an explanation for the unruly behaviour at The Boar’s Head. I, too, was keen to make his lordship’s acquaintance, but was disappointed. He was not at home. Instead we were received by Lord Gabriel, the marquess’s youngest brother. He’s a handsome gentleman in his final year at Cambridge, but no match for Mrs. Wilkinson when she’s on her high horse. I felt quite sorry for him.
Actually, I believe the marquess was at home. As we were entering our carriage I chanced a backward glance to admire the magnificent building and saw a tall gentleman with dark blond hair tied back in a queue watching us from an upstairs window. I am sure it must have been he since he’s reputed to wear his hair in such a fashion. I wish I could have met him.
July 15th, 1815
There’s no help for it. ‘Leon’ will have to put in an appearance at The Boar’s Head tonight. Mrs. Wilkinson is convinced something unusual will happen and I can’t afford to pass up an opportunity to report the event. I shall don my usual boy’s clothing and take young Jonny with me for protection, along with Pickle. He isn’t much of a guard dog, but he still makes me feel safe.
When we arrived there was a large gathering of men congregated in a clearing behind the tavern. My heart lurched when two men, stripped to the waist, appeared in their midst and I realized we’d happened upon a bare knuckle fight. I looked away when the men started hitting one another, feeling slightly sick but unwilling to admit as much to Jonny. Not that he would have noticed. He was totally taken up with the spectacle, face shining as he cheered loudly each time a blow landed. I directed my gaze round the clearing, seemingly the only person present not entirely focused on the fight. If someone was using the event as cover for something illegal, I ought to be alert to that possibility rather than following the action, willing the smaller man to succeed.
“Have you seen anything suspicious?” I asked Jonny.
“Only that chap’s left hook,” Jonny replied, his gaze still fastened on the fight.
“Oh, my goodness, the small man’s got up again.” I felt extreme agitation. “Surely he ought to stay down. We must do something to stop this!” I dashed forward. “He’ll be killed if we don’t.”
Jonny grabbed my arm, showing a surprising amount of strength for such a thin youth. “You’ll be the one killed if you try that.”
“Maybe, but this is barbaric—”
“The small chap knows he has to fight on. There would be a riot if he gave in so easily.”
“So easily? He just—”
Another loud cheer, Jonny contributing to it as enthusiastically as anyone. “Did you see that, miss? I told you the little guy wasn’t finished. He just planted the big chap a right fac-er.”
I blinked, hardly able to believe my eyes. The larger man was now the one prostrate on the ground. His smaller opponent stood over him on swaying legs, blood covering his torso, ready to strike again if his foe was foolish enough to stir. It seemed that he wasn’t. The fight was over.
Men started to move and I suddenly had a clear view of the men standing across from me. I gasped when I noticed a tall man in well-cut clothes, blond hair tied back in a queue, looking directly at me as though he could see straight through my disguise...
I’m giving a copy away to one person who leaves a comment here, along with contact details, telling me what they most enjoy about Regency romance. Good luck!
Thanks for having me here. It’s been great.
The Isle of Wight is full of historic buildings, which is where she acquired her love of history, absorbing it like osmosis. She is the author of nine single-title Regency romances and is excited about her up-coming series charting the fortunes of the Forster dynasty.
When not writing she enjoys reading other people’s books, walking miles with her dog whilst plotting her next scene, and is on a one-woman mission to save the wine industry from the economic slump. Well, someone’s got to do it!
Compromising the Marquess by Wendy Soliman
Book #1 in the Forsters series
Leah Elliot sells secrets to survive. Donning boy's clothes, she uncovers society scandals for a London gossip rag to support herself and her sister, who were left destitute after their father's death. When she meets the dashing—and perhaps dangerous—Hal Forster, the Marquess of Denby, she learns he may be involved in treason. The rumor is too valuable not to sell, despite her attraction to him…
Hal does have a secret, but he's no traitor: he's a spy embroiled in a mystery, seeking the man who killed his contact in France. He sees the alluring woman behind Leah's disguise at once but is intrigued enough to play along…until he realizes that she's the source of the rumors interfering with his investigation and forcing him into an unwanted betrothal.
Now, Hal and Leah must work together to draw out the culprit and undo the damage caused by Leah's gossip. Or will their passion only cause more scandal?
One randomly drawn commenter will win an ebook copy of Compromising the Marquess by Wendy Soliman!
To be entered just leave a comment (with your broken up e-mail address) and tell us what you most enjoy about Regency romance.