Today I'm taking part in the blog tour for This Earl of Mine, the first book in Kate Bateman's new Bow Street Bachelors historical romance series which publishes today. You can read the excerpt below as well as a Q&A with Kate but first let me give you a little more information about the book:
Shipping heiress Georgiana Caversteed is done with men who covet her purse more than her person. Even worse than the ton’s lecherous fortune hunters, however, is the cruel cousin determined to force Georgie into marriage. If only she could find a way to be . . . widowed? Georgie hatches a madcap scheme to wed a condemned criminal before he’s set to be executed. All she has to do is find an eligible bachelor in prison to marry her, and she’ll be free. What could possibly go wrong?
Benedict William Henry Wylde, scapegrace second son of the late Earl of Morcott and well-known rake, is in Newgate prison undercover, working for Bow Street. Georgie doesn’t realize who he is when she marries him—and she most certainly never expects to bump into her very-much-alive, and very handsome, husband of convenience at a society gathering weeks later. Soon Wylde finds himself courting his own wife, hoping to win her heart since he already has her hand. But how can this seductive rogue convince brazen, beautiful Georgie that he wants to be together…until actual death do they part?
London, March 1816.
There were worse places to find a husband than Newgate Prison.
Of course there were.
It was just that, at present, Georgie couldn’t think of any.
“Georgiana Caversteed, this is a terrible idea.”
Georgie frowned at her burly companion, Pieter Smit, as the nondescript carriage he’d summoned to convey them to London’s most notorious jail rocked to a halt on the cobbled street. The salt-weathered Dutchman always used her full name whenever he disapproved of some- thing she was doing. Which was often.
“Your father would turn in his watery grave if he knew what you were about.”
That was undoubtedly true. Until three days ago, en- listing a husband from amongst the ranks of London’s most dangerous criminals had not featured prominently on her list of life goals. But desperate times called for des- perate measures. Or, in this case, for a desperate felon about to be hanged. A felon she would marry before the night was through.
Georgie peered out into the rain-drizzled street, then up, up the near-windowless walls. They rose into the mist, five stories high, a vast expanse of brickwork, bleak and unpromising. A church bell tolled somewhere in the darkness, a forlorn clang like a death knell. Her stomach knotted with a grim sense of foreboding.
Was she really going to go through with this? It had seemed a good plan, in the safety of Grosvenor Square. The perfect way to thwart Cousin Josiah once and for all. She stepped from the carriage, ducked her head against the rain, and followed Pieter under a vast arched gate. Her heart hammered at the audacity of what she planned.
They’d taken the same route as condemned prisoners on the way to Tyburn tree, only in reverse. West to east, from the rarefied social strata of Mayfair through gradu- ally rougher and bleaker neighborhoods, Holborn and St. Giles, to this miserable place where the dregs of humanity had been incarcerated. Georgie felt as if she were nearing her own execution.
She shook off the pervasive aura of doom and straight- ened her spine. This was her choice. However unpalat- able the next few minutes might be, the alternative was far worse. Better a temporary marriage to a murderous, unwashed criminal than a lifetime of misery with Josiah.
They crossed the deserted outer courtyard, and Georgie cleared her throat, trying not to inhale the foul-smelling air that seeped from the very pores of the building. “You have it all arranged? They are expecting us?”
Pieter nodded. “Aye. I’ve greased the wheels with yer blunt, my girl. The proctor and the ordinary are both bent as copper shillings. Used to having their palms greased, those two, the greedy bastards.”
Her father’s right-hand man had never minced words in front of her, and Georgie appreciated his bluntness. So few people in the ton ever said what they really meant. Pieter’s honesty was refreshing. He’d been her father’s man for twenty years before she’d even been born. A case of mumps had prevented him from accompanying William Caversteed on his last, fateful voyage, and Georgie had often thought that if Pieter had been with her father, maybe he’d still be alive. Little things like squalls, ship- wrecks, and attacks from Barbary pirates would be mere inconveniences to a man like Pieter Smit.
In the five years since Papa’s death, Pieter’s steadfast loyalty had been dedicated to William’s daughters, and Georgie loved the gruff, hulking manservant like a second father. He would see her through this madcap scheme— even if he disapproved.
She tugged the hood of her cloak down to stave off the drizzle. This place was filled with murderers, highway- men, forgers, and thieves. Poor wretches slated to die, or those “lucky” few whose sentences had been commuted to transportation. Yet in her own way, she was equally desperate.
“You are sure that this man is to be hanged tomorrow?”
Pieter nodded grimly as he rapped on a wooden door. “I am. A low sort he is, by all accounts.”
She shouldn’t ask, didn’t want to know too much about the man whose name she was purchasing. A man whose death would spell her own freedom. She would be wed and widowed within twenty-four hours.
From This Earl of Mine by Kate Bateman. Copyright © 2019 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.
Q&A with Kate Bateman:
Q: What inspired you to write This Earl of Mine?
A: Most of my books are inspired by real historical events, but for the adventure subplot in This Earl of Mine I was looking up something completely different, fell down a research rabbit hole, and stumbled upon an outlandish plot to rescue Napoleon from exile on Saint Helena using a submarine! I’d had no idea submersibles were even in use in the Regency, but a little digging soon revealed a tale far stranger than fiction—with plenty of smugglers, spies, and underhand skullduggery thrown in. Of course, then my writer brain couldn’t help but wonder WHAT IF . . .?
What if someone loyal to Napoleon stole the plans for the submarine from the Admiralty? And what if London’s fledgling police force, The Bow Street Runners, were tasked with finding the vessel and foiling the scheme?
The main plot, of course, is the romantic one between shipping heiress Georgie Caversteed and Bow Street Runner Benedict Wylde. They try to piece together the clues, while trying to ignore the inconvenient attraction that sparks between them. (Spoiler alert: they succeed at the former, and fail miserably at the latter!)
Q: Is there one thing you would like readers to take away from this story?
A: You mean apart from a new appreciation of early19th century submarine development?! Why, yes! I firmly believe in happy-ever-afters for everyone, and while none of my characters may be perfect, they’re certainly perfect for each other. A successful romance should be a true partnership between equals, with love, respect, humor, and kindness. I hope that’s what readers see develop between Georgie and Benedict.
Q: Where do you go or what resources do you use to make sure your novels are historically correct?
A: I have quite a bit of overall historical knowledge from my life as an antiques appraiser and auctioneer; I’ve handled plenty of Regency-era artifacts, like scent bottles, reticules, clothes, letters, furniture etc. And I’ve visited (and lived in) plenty of historic houses when I lived in England. So I have a pretty good idea what that world is like when I’m describing it. I do lots of random research online too, though. I suspect I’m on a secret CIA watchlist because of my weird internet browsing history, which currently includes such gems as: ‘does Prussic acid smell like almonds?’ ‘18th century jewel heists,’ and ‘chloroform, first use.’
Q: Did you learn anything surprising while researching for this novel?
A: Apart from the crazy submarine plot, I found out what the chapel of Newgate prison looked like in 1816, discovered more about the founding of London’s first true police force, the Bow Street Runners, and found a new book boyfriend in the wonderfully roguish Benedict Wylde!
Q: Describe the hero and heroine of This Earl of Mine in three words each.
A: Georgie is resourceful, determined, and curious. Benedict is amusing, loyal and scoundrelly!
Q: What was the hardest scene to write in This Earl of Mine? Your favorite?
A: My favorite scene was the sexy banter between Benedict and Georgie as they listen to the terrible poetry written by Juliet’s fiancé. Almost every sentence is a double entendre, and Benedict is shameless in trying to say something utterly inappropriate to make Georgie laugh, and I just giggle every time I think of it. I hope readers can feel the ridiculously flirtatious, slow-burn teasing in that scene. Yum!
The hardest was the sexy scene inside the tiny submarine. It’s a confined space, and I had to think about the technicalities of which body part was where, and whether they had enough space to do the scandalous things I wanted them to do. (Of course they did!)
Q: Why do you write historical romance?
A: Because it can be total escapism. A reader can travel back in time to a different world and encounter situations that just don’t happen today. As a writer I like the challenge presented by the historical parameters; lots of great conflicts arise because of social, cultural, or economic factors. Plus, there are so many real historical adventures out there just waiting to be discovered. . .
Q: Is there another particular author that inspires you or that you enjoy reading?
A: SO MANY AUTHORS! Laura Kinsale, Connie Brockway (As you Desire is a favorite), Loretta Chase, Judith McNaught, Anne Stuart, Joanna Bourne, Tessa Dare, Eloisa James, Suzan Elizabeth Philips, Julie Garwood, Galen Foley, Kerrigan Byrne, Julia Quinn, Beverly Jenkins, Alyssa Cole, Joanna Shupe, Johanna Lindsey, J.R Ward, Janet Evanovich, Georgette Heyer, Mary Renault, Jane Austen, E.M Forster, Leo Tolstoy, P.G. Wodehouse, Antoine de Saint Exupery, Jean M. Auel, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, . . . Ok. I’ll stop now. But there are plenty more.
Q: What’s next for the Bow Street Bachelors?
A: Two more books! Those bad boys Alex Harland and Sebastien Wolff each get their own adventure and I can’t wait for everyone to read them! Alex meets his match in half-French jewel thief Emmy Danvers –AKA The Nightjar– in To Catch an Earl, (Bow Street Bachelors #2). And Seb gets a sexy cat-and-mouse game of his own when he’s forced to protect the infuriating Anya Denisova – a feisty Russian Princess who’s faked her own death in The Princess and The Rogue, (Bow Street Bachelors #3).
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A: Only that if you haven’t already preordered This Earl Of Mine, the paperback is currently at a special preorder price of $6.79, so snap it up in time for the release day, October 29th! Happy reading everyone!
Social Media Links:
• Author Web Site