Inspirational Rooms

Hi, Jo here.

I recently went on a little trip north, mainly to celebrate a wedding anniversary with friends, but it also let me visit a place I had in the back of my mind when I envisioned Perriam Manor in Seduction in Silk —Astley Hall. The outside isn't right, but years ago, I had been impressed by the amount of dark panelling and the heavily ornate plaster ceilings. Ornate plaster ceilings aren't that unusual in grand houses, but these are in rooms of quite modest proportions as you can see at the right. They do feel rather oppressive, and of such substance that they might fall on one's head! 

In the book I describe them as swirls of plaster, but that's my memory failing me.
M4618 - m4619ew pan2I found they are detailed and this was apparently achieved by carving the designs out of wood and then plastering on top. Cheating, I suppose, but impressive. No one knows who created them.The next picture shows some detail. Sort of ghoulish, isn't it? Like a skeleton. I wish I'd remembered that detail! M4615w




On to the rooms. Here's a typical one. 
M4649wThe ceiling is quite modest, but the panelling is very dark. Imagine the windows overhung by ivy, as in the novel!

Finally, one of the bedrooms, which is almost exactly like the one I saw when writing the opening scene, when Perry arrives at Perriam Manor to find his cousin Giles dying, a curse on his mind.

If you've read Seduction in Silk, do these pictures fit the image in your mind?


We also went to Chirk Castle on the Welsh border, which I was surpised to find had relevance to Crag Wyvern, the faux medieval keep in The Dragon's Bride, which therefore also plays a part in A Shocking Delight, which follows on with the story of the new Earl of Wyvern and his search for a bride.

I'll share more about Chirk another time.

Have you ever visited a house that seemed ideal as a setting for a historical romance? Which one, and why?

This all reminds me of the magical Thorne miniature rooms in the Chicago Institute of Arts. They are recreations of rooms from all periods and by detail and use of light they feel as if you could just walk into the them.

There are examples on line. Here's one. Can't you just imagine some of my Mallorens strolling in there?

Lastly, my publisher recently did a cover reveal for A Shocking Delight, out next April. We're all so pleased with this one we felt it needed a fanfare. Isn't it gorgeous?
Andel Lucy looks as young and pretty as she is. She doesn't always find it works to her advantage, especially when trying to be taken seriously.

Anyone note a slight implausibility in the picture, though? If so, I'll tell you how it relates to Chirk.If not, you'll have to wait.*G*





Jo Beverley reveals SEDUCTION IN SILK

Cat 243 Doverby Mary Jo:

I pounced on the opportunity to interview Word Wench Jo Beverley about her new release, Seduction in Silk, just out from Signet Penguin.  The story is set in Jo’s Georgian Malloren World, in 1760s England.  Jo is the Grand Master (Grand Mistress?) of the marriage of convenience romance, and SiS is another distinguished member of that tribe.

Jo, you once said that you were addicted to marriages of convenience.  Could you explain why you enjoy them so much? 

JB: I think it’s the forced intimacy between strangers. So many aspects of courtship are familiar in real life, but not many of us, male or female, are pushed into bed with a stranger. I like to pay attention to the man as well as the woman, because it won’t necessarily be easy for him. In An Unwilling Bride, the hero Lucien wonders if he’ll be able to perform, because he realizes he’s never set out to have sex with a woman without desiring her at the time.

SedinsilksmallSo I think it’s a great dramatic situation, but I also find the fantasy erotic. I wonder how many of the Wench readers feel the same.

MJP:  Tell us about the delicious Peregrine Perriam, and his very reluctant lady, Claris! 

JB: Perry is one of those characters who turn up and surprise. I can’t even remember how he came to be. In An Unlikely Countess the hero needed a friend, and there was Perry. He was such an odd match for Cate (yes, that’s the hero’s name — Catesby) that I had to come up with a backstory for my own satisfaction. (Cate had a year on the town when young which was so wild that his father tossed him into the army.)

Cate by that time is a career soldier. Perry is a Town Beau. He’s a younger son set to serve his family’s interests in London, at court, in society, in all the offices of power, and in any other sneaky way he can find. He loves it, and has no An Unlikely Countessinterest in rural life, which is why inheriting a country manor at the beginning of Seduction in Silk is such a pain in the you-know-where, not to mention the marriage forced on him.

He doesn’t expect to have difficulty in getting an impoverished clergyman’s daughter to the altar. She’ll leap at the chance. He’ll install her in Perriam Manor with the income to do with as she wishes and get back to his real life. When she insists on a marriage in name only, he has no objection at all.

Getting her to that point isn’t easy, however, because Claris has no interest in marriage. In general I find impoverished heroines who are dead set against marriage hard to believe, but Claris has survived her parents’ tortuous marriage and her father’s almost insane domination. Having gained freedom, and having enough money to survive on, she doesn’t want to give it up, especially at the demand of a stranger.

Also, she comes from strong women, on both sides. Perry realizes she has a scandalously eccentric grandmother (who is in the book) and an insanely vengeful virago of a mother. No wonder she tries to shoot him.

She does move into a grander world, however. Here’s a short fun video I made about Georgian dress and Claris.

MJP:  What are you working on now for next year?

JB: I’m going back to my Regency world, that of the Company of Rogues. It’s been a while, and readers have been asking for a story about David Kerslake, the heroine’s brother from The Dragon’s Bride. He begins the book as the local smuggling master as well as the Earl of Wyvern’s estate steward. He ends it as the earl with many problems to deal with. A biggie is that the earldom is bankrupt, so he needs to marry money. A Shocking Delight will be out next April.

MJP:  You’re starting to move into the brave new world of indie publishing.  Could Dtk22you tell us more about your plans there?

JB: It is exciting, isn’t it, Mary Jo? You’re ahead of me there. It’s such a great world for authors these days because we’re able to get our work out to readers directly if we choose. I’ve e-pubbed some of my previously published novellas. There’s a page for them here.

The one at the top is the first novella I’ve written directly for e-readers. It’s a sort of lead in to SinS. The protagonists are new, but Perry plays a small but crucial part.

Also, some of my early books have not been available for e-readers, and I’ve just Ubepubcorrected that. The first five Company of Rogues books plus the second Malloren, Tempting Fortune, are now e-pubbed, and though I’ve hired help it’s been lovely to be in control of the situation. Though I must say that it’s hard to find stock photos of clean-shaven, fairly slim blond men! Why is that? I even searched Scandinavian sites. With An Unwilling Bride I gave up and have just a woman on the cover. It suits the title that she seem alone.

MJP:  Do you have an excerpt of Seduction in Silk to share?

JB: After having been driven off a pistol-point, Perry has returned to Claris’s cottage to lay out the advantages.

    “I can’t claim great wealth, Miss Mallow, but I can provide a very comfortable life for my wife. What’s more, and you seem to have failed to grasp this, I’m at your mercy. You may demand what you will.”
    “Except, it seems, that you leave and never bother me again.”
    “Except that,” he agreed. “But you may continue to live here if you wish, or I can offer Perriam Manor as an alternative residence. It’s of modest size, but in good repair and well furnished, though in an old style. I’m sure it’s cozy in winter and pleasant in summer. It’s surrounded by parkland and gardens that I would judge adequate but ripe for improvement, if gardening is your true delight.”
    Claris kept a stony face. “Alas, with you present, sir, all would be spoiled.”
    “Then you’ll be delighted to know that I would rarely be there. I’m much engaged in Town matters and can only enjoy rural delights now and then.”
    “Even one day a year would be too much.” His amiable confidence was stirring her temper and for once she welcomed it. “Why am I debating this with you?” She loosened her arms to point at the door. “Begone!”
    “Consider,” he said, completely unmoved. “You would be the mistress of a comfortable domain, and enjoy its income. Did I not mention that?”
    “Will you not leave!”
    “The income of the manor would be yours to do with as you wish,” he continued as if she hadn’t spoken. “You would need for nothing.”
    “Except my independence. I would have a husband, a lord and master.”
    “Alas, true, but I assure you that I am far too busy to abuse my powers.”
    “Busy? What if you have an idle moment, sir? Leave!”
    “I must remain until you change your mind.”
    Breathing hard, Claris saw he meant it. He was disregarding every word she spoke. “You . . . you . . .” She grabbed the pistol and pointed it.
    “Claris . . . ,” Athena said.
    “Leave,” she growled, “or I will shoot you.”
    The smile widened and his eyes lit. 
    He was laughing at her?
    She cocked the pistol, the click, click loud in the room.
    “You won’t fire it,” he said.
    “Oh, won’t I?” Claris closed her eyes and squeezed the trigger.
    A tremendous boom deafened her.

JP: Clearly Perry doesn’t die, or it’d be a very short and unusual book, but that’s certainly a turning point!

SedinsilksmallMJP:  Thanks so much for introducing us to Perry and Claris, Jo.  Having read the book, I guarantee it’s every bit as good as it sounds! 

Jo will give away a copy of Seduction in Silk to one commenter between now and midnight Saturday.  Share your thoughts on marriages of convenience, and the temptations of shooting a man who just won't listen!

Fashion, fun, and frolics

GraygirlHi, Jo here, sharing a bit of fun and fashion. No, I'm not claiming that's me. Just another example of the 18th century look. Quite a young girl, but in her finery.

There's a place on line where anyone can make a 30 second video for free and I've been playing. Along the way today I found a couple of great fashion sites to play with.

I wanted to make a video that would alert people to Seduction in Silk, coming toward us rather faster than I'm prepared for. How can it be June already? Someone e-mailed me to remind me of something I'd promised to do in June and my first reaction was irritation that they were bugging me about it so early! Mind you, that could be the weather. How's your almost-summer?

The BBC is asking whether we should get a new name for the season. Bummer has been suggested. I favor scummer myself. Can you come up with a name for a dull, wet summer? I certainly hope you don't get one. But not excessive heatwaves, either.

Anyway, I made a video about a Georgian lady preparing for a ball. I hope you enjoy it.

Make a video of your own at Animoto.

Then I thought I'd should try the men's version. I couldn't find as good pictures, but it's still fun, IMO.

Try our slideshow creator at Animoto.

Along the way I came across this fabulous site of Georgian and other images. Do please explore. I'm sharing a couple here. Click on them to enlarge. 18th Century Fashion Plate 157

18th Century Fashion Plate 140







This is a banjan, or dressing gown. The ones my heroes wear are often gorgeous, but not quite so flowery.

18th Century Fashion Plate 282

Now this is is, I'm sure, a heroine in disguise. You can even see her breasts!

I also revisited the V&A Museum's costume pages. Always interesting.

 To complete the fun — hey, it's Sunday! — I made a little Wench video.

Make your own slideshow with music at Animoto.

You can read an excerpt from Seduction in Silk here.

Also, if you're a Goodreads member it's #7 on the upcoming historical romances list. If you plan to buy it and click to say so, we could nudge it a bit higher.

May you enjoy fun and frolics of all kinds,