Friday, June 29, 2012

The White Swan Affair Blog Tour: Guest Post with Elyse Mady & Giveaway

Happy Friday and welcome to my tour stop on The White Swan Affair Blog Tour, hosted by Kismet Book Tours! I'm really excited to have romance author Elyse Mady on Romancing the Darkside today. Ms. Mady has a talent for writing historical romances that take you away to a time of balls, corsets and seduction. Today she's here to chat about the dark side of Regency life and her latest historical romance release, so sit back and take a journey back in time...oh and there's also a giveaway!

The Underbelly of Regency Life
By Elyse Mady

When was the last time you thought about the Regency period in London and thought: Brutality? Filth? Mass murder?

Probably very rarely, if at all because we’ve become accustomed to the polite society portrayed in the novels of Jane Austen and Maria Edgeworth and all the modern writers who recreate the period so charmingly, with their balls and their Mr. Darcy’s and the refined aura of polite society to charm us.

Sadly, the reality for a lot of people in the era, especially those caught up in the justice system, was very, very different.


I spent a lot of time while I was writing “The White Swan Affair” researching crime and criminality and punishment during the Regency. Since the book is based on a trial and convictions that really took place, I wanted to better understand the context in which the crimes that Robert Aspinall and the men found at the molly house would have endured.

On July 8, 1810, the Bow Street police raided a public house in the Clare Market – a small collection of streets a little east of Covent Gardens. They arrested a large number of men (the exact number is unknown) and ultimately incarcerated eight, who were brought to stand trial in September for the crime of sodomitical practices.

All of the men served between one and three years hard labour; seven were pilloried. Two others, arrested after the fact, were hung. Authorities didn’t take crime lightly in other words and death and banishement were real and apportioned with a liberality that shocks the modern reader. It was a system that is very far removed from our own system of today, that punished minor crimes with overwhelming brutality and hung children as young as seven and eight.

I spent a lot of time while I was writing “The White Swan Affair” researching crime and criminality and punishment during the Regency. Since the book is based on a trial and convictions that really took place, I wanted to better understand the context in which the crimes that Robert Aspinall and the men found at the molly house would have endured.


On July 8, 1810, the Bow Street police raided a public house in the Clare Market – a small collection of streets a little east of Covent Gardens. They arrested a large number of men (the exact number is unknown) and ultimately incarcerated eight, who were brought to stand trial in September for the crime of sodomitical practices.

All of the men served between one and three years hard labour; seven were pilloried. Two others, arrested after the fact, were hung. Authorities didn’t take crime lightly in other words and death and banishement were real and apportioned with a liberality that shocks the modern reader. It was a system that is very far removed from our own system of today, that punished minor crimes with overwhelming brutality and hung children as young as seven and eight.





Yet the as brutal as the punishments were, that didn’t stop the public’s fascination with the criminals who committed them. Newspapers were filled with accounts of trials and printers rushed to describe the most shocking in what were known then as “Newgate Calendars”

It’s a term you might not have heard before but Newgate Calendars were a 18th and early 19th century precursor to the National Enquirer – sensationalized accounts of the most daring and notorious crimes of the day. If it bleeds, it leads, in other words. Now the crime didn’t have to take place in London and the convict wasn’t necessarily housed in Newgate but if the crime or crimes was noteworthy enough, it would be retold in these cheap pamphlets for pennies a page.

Robbery.High Treason.Murder.Extortion.Coinage. All of these crimes and more were retold for the titillation of the public and they make for some really gruesome reading. No misdeed was too shocking, with the exception, as far as I have been able to tell, of sodomy, which I have never found mentioned in any of the calendars I’ve read, despite being prosecuted with regularity during the quarter sessions throughout England.

Multiple murders were alright, then. Homosexuality was to be expunged. (Admittedly, I’m being a little facetious but only a little)

Nonetheless, the people mentioned in these accounts are though very recognizable to us when we read through the accounts today. They have arguments. They behave rashly. They dislike their spouse or marry rashly. All of the human emotions we encounter in novels are here, too. But I think the biggest impact that these accounts had for me was to help remove the romantic gloss that is often brushed over the past. That people behaved better. They may have behaved more formally. More politely, but not necessarily better.

For me, discovering those events was satisfying, although often very sad. Suffering is never an enjoyable experience for me but I don’t think that pretending it doesn’t exist is the right course, either. I love an Almack’s ball as much as the next girl but I think that when true events, like the one at the White Swan are explored, we gain a better, fuller understanding of the past, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

What do you think? I’d like to know if readers prefer their history ‘lite’, dark or in between? Does learning about history change your view of the past? And do events like this have a place in Historical Romance? One commenter will win a signed e-copy of my latest novel “The White Swan Affair” in their choice of format.

*** 

THE WHITE SWAN AFFAIR
BY ELYSE MADY

London, 1810

After the tragic death of her beloved, Hester Aspinall vowed never to be ruled by her passions again. Still, she is drawn to her landlord, handsome adventurer Thomas Ramsay–but she doesn’t fool herself that a man of his station would look twice at a poor tailor’s sister.

With the sea for a mistress, Thomas has no intention of entering into matrimony. And yet, he can’t get the plain-spoken and desirable Hester out of his mind, even though she’s never tried to secure his attentions as other women do.

Everything changes the night Hester’s brother is arrested during a raid on a gay brothel, the infamous White Swan. With no one else to turn to, and terrified Robert will hang for his crime, Hester accepts Thomas’s offer to bear the cost of the defense. A true gentleman, Thomas expects nothing in return–but Hester is no longer able to deny her own desires…

She may offer her body eagerly, but can she protect her heart?


About the Author


Elyse Mady is the author of “Learning Curves”, “The Debutante’s Dilemma”, “Something So Right” and “The White Swan Affair”, with Carina Press. She blogs at http://www.elysemady.com. You can also find her on Twitter at @elysemady and Goodreads

In addition to her writing commitments, Elyse also teaches film and literature at a local community college. In her free time she enjoys (well, enjoys might be too strong a word – perhaps pursues with dogged determination would be better) never ending renovations on their century home with her intrepid husband and two boys.
 
With her excellent writerly imagination, she one day dreams of topping the NY Times Bestseller’s List and reclaiming her pre-kid body without the bother of either sit-ups or the denunciation of ice-cream.


One lucky winner will win an ecopy of their choice of any Elyse Mady title!


 Grand Prize:
 


Tour Dates:
Monday, June 18th - Peace, Love, Books
Tuesday, June 19th - Endlessly Bookish
Wednesday, June 20th - Unwrapping Romance
Thursday, June 21st - I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read
Friday, June 22nd - Romance Book Junkies
Monday, June 25th - Librarian Mouse
Tuesday, June 26th - Sweeping Me
Wednesday, June 27th - Ex Libris
Thursday, June 28th - Books Are Magic
Friday, June 29th - Romancing The Darkside
Monday, July 2nd - That's Swell!
Tuesday, July 3rd - My Reading Room
Wednesday, July 4th - Snowdrop Dreams of Books
Thursday, July 5th - A Bookish Libraria
Friday, July 6th - Books and Things

2 comments:

  1. Congrats on the new release! It looks marvelous and I've added it to my wishlist ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I like my stories "in between". I find reading books which are too dark a bit depressing sometimes. Thanks for the opportunity to win.

    ReplyDelete

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