Sunday, August 5, 2012

Rake's Honour (including a fairly steamy excerpt)

The Story behind the Story

I loved William Thackeray’s famous Vanity Fair anti-heroine, the feisty, ambitious Becky Sharp much more than his heroine, the passive, naïve Amelia Sedley. I therefore thought it would be fun to write a book set in the Regency period with a heroine who had all the characteristics essential for survival but which were the antithesis of the womanly virtues upheld by the era.
This book became Rake's Honour and here is the premise: Fanny Brightwell has just two weeks to find a husband who will fulfill her mama's marital criteria or she'll be forced to marry the loathsome libertine, Lord Slyther.
That means two weeks to convince dashing Viscount Fenton she's his perfect bride.
Battling spurned suitors, jealous debutantes and a peagoose of a sister on the verge of destroying the Brightwell reputation, Fanny has little time to make her handsome lover her slave in passion...
So he’ll make her his wife. 
And here is an excerpt:
This scene takes place when Fanny meets the man to whom her mother has betrothed her.
Lord Slyther gave a grunt of satisfaction. “I’m glad his name immediately came to mind, for I’d like to think there were no others competing for the role of rejected suitor. Ah, but, Miss Brightwell, your misfortune is that you have miscalculated, and my fortune is that it gives me all the bargaining power in the world.”
Her already great horror was compounded as she felt his hand upon her neck, gently caressing her skin. Frozen, unable to move as she accepted the truth of his assessment, she trembled as she tried to assimilate his words. Until last night, she had conducted herself with all the decorum required by a chaste innocent, hopeful of contracting a suitable marriage. True, she wasn’t decorous by nature, but only the gleam in her eye when a handsome gentleman showed interest would give her away, surely? Not her actions. Her mother had spent her lifetime trying to subdue that reckless, adventurous streak Fanny had inherited from her ill-fated father and, until last night, Fanny could not have been accused of anything that would compromise her reputation.
“It is true, my lord, that I accompanied Lord Alverley to Vauxhall, alone, in masquerade,” she whispered, “but my virtue is unblemished.”
“Surely the boy tried to kiss you.” In the firelight she saw Lord Slyther’s stained teeth bared with prurient interest before he burst out laughing. “You didn’t enjoy it, eh? Well, that’s good, because as your future husband it’s my job to show you how to kiss. Now stand up, Miss Brightwell, if you please, and face me.”
Fanny rose, silent while her mind whirled at this new and dreadful situation. Her mother was in the next room with Antoinette. When Fanny emerged with Lord Slyther to announce the news of their engagement, Lady Brightwell would clasp Fanny tenderly to her bosom in perhaps the only gesture of genuine pleasure she’d ever extend towards her eldest daughter—the daughter upon whom she was pinning all her hopes. All the family’s hopes, Fanny amended silently. Either she or Antoinette was required to make a decent marriage if the Brightwell family was not to slide into worse than simply genteel poverty. If Fanny was not prepared to sacrifice herself to this horror, there would be no more rubbing shoulders with the haut ton. No, she’d be rubbing the chilblains of some crotchety old woman to whom she’d be paid companion, while Antoinette worked as a governess and their mother lived out her days beholden to her detested cousin, having never forgiven Fanny for failing in her duty .
“Show me your ankles.”
Fanny swallowed down her surprised outrage, only raising the skirts of her cerulean blue lutestring gown when he repeated the command, his voice now cajoling.
He relaxed deeper into his chair with a sigh. “Such prettily turned little ankles, Miss Brightwell.” He patted his heart. “Indeed, you are going to bring me much pleasure in my dotage. Now let me feel your ankle, if you please. That’s right—raise your leg upon the footstool so I may bend forward and caress your pretty little limb.”
At this, Fanny objected while trying not to cry. Never had she been so demeaned in all her life. “With all due respect, my Lord, I committed no sin greater than conversing alone with Lord Alverley.”
“And kissing him.”
“One kiss—”

“Your reputation is besmirched, Miss Brightwell, and only I will be prepared to overlook it once it becomes public knowledge. Now, if you please, my dear, raise your little ankle over the arm of my chair so I may stroke it for you while we discuss the terms of this marriage you’re in no position to refuse.”
Obviously Fanny is rather more feisty than her fellow debutantes which puts her risk-taking into a higher heat level than the first three Regency Historical Romances I published under my Beverley Eikli name, in hardcover with UK publisher Robert Hale.
I therefore adopted Beverley Oakley as a pseudonym because, while the plot twists and intrigue are the same, Fanny’s sexual exploits were too adventurous for a traditional Regency Historical. I still write both erotic and traditional Regencies, depending on the situation in which my heroine finds herself.
My last Regency Historical for Robert Hale (UK) was recently nominated by ARRA (Australian Romance Readers’ Association) for Favourite Historical Romance in 2011.
You can find out more about my books here or visit my blog here
And you can buy Rake's Honour here.


Debby said...

Two weeks is not a lot of time. Great premise
debby236 at gmail dot com

Beverley Eikli aka Beverley Oakley said...

Thanks, Debby,

No, but Fanny is a very artful and ingenious young lady when the pressure is on and she manages to hoist her hero on his own petard. Despite his arrogance and the fact he gets what he deserves, he does get his happy ending:)