The Ladies of Impropriety duet was a chance to do something different, and I think it accomplishes that! I loved writing these stories that attempt to mix nontraditional settings and experiences with enough of tradition to appeal to a wide variety of reader.
When you browse the bookshelves these days (which are few and far between in my neck of the woods. Readers have been reduced to shopping in grocery stores for books out here—the nearest Barnes and Noble is twenty very slow minutes away and through a lot of traffic, making you think twice about how badly you want to go to the bookstore), it seems like there’s a huge push for traditional settings—manors, house parties, country homes, London seasons. Those stories are peopled with traditional characters—lords, rakes, second sons, war heroes, ladies who are looking to break free of arranged matrimonial hopes, ladies who are wallflowers, ladies who are companions to richer relatives, ladies who are secretly rebellious, ladies who have already lost at love in some way.
All good stuff, by the way. I just wanted to do something a little bit different—I do want to emphasize the ‘little bit,’ because both stories do embrace some traditional elements of their own. Mercedes Lockhart is a billiards wizard. She’s not a lady in either sense of the word. Her father is not titled, and there’s not even the veneer of a baron somewhere in the family tree. Her father was a boot boy in Bath before he made it big as a billiards champion. She doesn’t want to marry a lord, she’s not even looking for love. She just wants to be recognized for her talent and not her gender. Of course, it’s a romance, so love finds her when and where she’s least expecting it.
This book is about romance certainly, so romance readers won’t be disappointed, but it’s also about billiards in the 1830s, A LOT about billiards and I think that’s very different. I tried to be true to the research, about the look and technology of the tables, and the kinds of games or hustles that were run at that time.
The second book, A Lady Dares, features Elise Sutton, who is also not a titled Lady and isn’t from a peer’s family. Her father, later in life, was knighted for his contributions to yachting, but knights are not recognized peers of the realm, they don’t sit in the House of Lords and the title isn’t hereditary. Here too, the book is centered around yachting instead of a more traditional romance venue. However, yachting, billiards, and horse racing are definitely three traditional British past times, so there is tradition mixed in. This, like billiards, is not a wild, shot-in-the-dark setting, or something that’s been fabricated as a plot gimmick. Most of my research for the book came straight from the Royal Yacht Club resources both in book and online formats.
If you’re looking for unique settings, ultra strong heroines who rise up past their mistakes, and the heroes who are willing to be their equals, give this duet a try. Romantic Times gave each book 4 ½ stars and a month K.I.S.S. award to Mercedes’ hero, Greer Barrington. Also, there is a short Harlequin Undone! available digitally that features Lucia Booth (the club owner from Mercede’s story) in a sensually charged tale of her own, The Lady Seduces.