I’m delighted to inform you, gentle readers, that my February Regency historical, SOCIETY’S MOST DISREPUTABLE GENTLEMAN, is now available! This is the story of Greville Anders, brother of Joanna Anders Merrill, the heroine of FROM WAIF TO GENTLEMAN’S WIFE, and distant cousin of Nicholas Stanhope, Marquess of Englemere, hero of THE WEDDING GAMBLE.

Greville poses quite a temptation to heroine Amanda Neville. She should offer her father’s unusual guest no more than simple politeness; after all, he’s merely a younger son with little wealth, no property—and has just served aboard a Royal Navy warship as a common sailor! Still, dressed in gentleman’s clothing rather than his tattered nautical garb, the rascal is devilishly appealing.

Amused and piqued by Miss Neville’s coolness, Greville figures there’s no harm in flirting with his host’s beautiful daughter while he heals from battle wounds. After all, her dream is to marry a man of high rank and become a great political hostess, ruling the London Society he disdains. Soon, she will depart for the city and they will never see each other again.

Except that fate and love seem to have other plans…

 

LOVE, SMUGGLING…AND CHURCHMEN!

DISREPUTABLE is set along the Devon coast, which, like the Cornish coast, was a hotbed of smuggling. One of heroine Amanda’s chief worries is that her younger brother, who has been sent down from Oxford, has involved himself in the trade as an antidote to the boredom of being forced to remain in the country. The local Devon chief of the trade is a “gentleman,” but competing with him for control of the coast is a dangerous Cornishman, “Black John” Kessel, who first appears in THE SMUGGLER AND THE SOCIETY BRIDE.

I became interested in smuggling while writing SMUGGLER, my Regency Silk & Scandal miniseries book. I needed a daring, rather disreputable-appearing hero who, naturally, had good reasons for his illegal dealings. This followed the pattern of the smugglers themselves, some of whom became local folk heroes, but some of whom were truly cruel, evil, dangerous men.

“Black John” is one of the latter, his character a composite of several individuals described by a man who, perhaps more than any other, is responsible for preserving the tales and folklore about smuggling operations along the Cornish and Devon coasts.

He seems at first a most unlikely person to have interested himself in smuggling. Reverend Robert Stephen Hawker spent 40 years as vicar of the small church in Morwenstow. In addition to tending parishioners, Reverend Hawker wrote books and poetry about the legends of the Cornish coast, including “Song of the Western Men,” which became the Cornwall’s National Anthem. An eccentric who sometimes dressed in a claret coat, blue fisherman’s jersey, sea-boots, a pink brimless hat and a yellow poncho, he liked to work in a small hut he constructed in the cliffs overlooking the sea. That structure is now the National Trust’s smallest property.

From his pen we know about such characters as Cruel Coppinger, a shipwrecked Dane who married a local girl before taking over her wealth to fund his criminal operations. Coppinger wasn’t above abusing his wife to extort money from her mother, or coercing villagers to cooperate in moving his cargo with the threat of beating, kidnapping or even murder if they refused. Then there is the story of the “Witan Stone,” a small crevasse beneath a rock into which the smuggler put some gold to persuade the local revenue officer to look the other way when he was landing his cargo. If the officer took the gold, the smuggler knew that “the coast was clear” for him to land his cargo.

I hope you’ll enjoy the echoes from the legends of Reverend Hawker that appear in Greville’s book!

Julia