I’m very happy to welcome Jessica Cale today, not only because she is one of my pub sisters, but because she is the author of one of my favorite books, Tyburn. I was thrilled to hear she’d written the next book in the series. Virtue’s Lady is at the top of my TBR list.
Fleas and rats and bedbugs, Oh my! The real-life inspiration behind Virtue’s Lady
Hello, readers! I am so very happy to be here as a guest today to talk to you about some of the real-life inspiration for my new book, Virtue’s Lady. In this book, Lady Jane Ramsey tries to give up her life of wealth and privilege when she falls in love with a carpenter. To prove to him (and her family, and herself, and that awful hack driver) that she’s more than just a pretty face, she tries to live on her own in Southwark.
Today, Southwark is a lovely part of London, but back in 1671, it was a very different place. It was a separate town south of the river, and was a haven for criminals, prostitutes, and other people seen as undesirable. To make it on her own, Jane has to look for a job, learn to count money (not something she’s ever has to think about before), and live on her own in a dangerous place. She even learns to box! It’s not easy for her, though. Outside of her father’s posh country estate, the world is dirty, dangerous, hungry, and full of pests, and she has to deal with all kinds of them from the very small (fleas) to the very large (irritatingly beautiful barmaids).
In order to create a three-dimensional world of truly horrible muck, I had to draw on a lot of my own personal experiences of living in Britain. Like many Americans, I grew up picturing a Britain of thatched-roof cottages, where everything is serene and picturesque, and every guy walking down the street is gorgeous and has some kind of title. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but you get the idea. Determined to find a Mr. Darcy of my own, I moved there alone when I was 18 to go to University.
Britain was not what I expected. Everything was expensive, there was rubbish everywhere, and all that stuff you hear about people being more polite there? Total rot. A lot of the student houses me and my friends lived in were in appalling condition, too–over the years, we had “damp,” black mold, lice, fleas, bed bugs, slugs (in the kitchen!), and even snails. Our heater broke the day of the biggest snowstorm to hit Cardiff in years and was out of commission until it melted. We once lived in a neighborhood where people would damage your house so you’d pay their friends to fix it, and it wasn’t unusual to hear police helicopters right over the house at night, checking out our garden! Jane Austen, this was not.
Having said all of that, I love Britain. So it wasn’t the idyll I pictured. Over time, this was replaced with a more realistic appreciation for everything that is great and beautiful about it. Wales is the most beautiful place on earth. The history of Britain is a living, breathing thing, in some ways more real than the people you meet. And as for the people, there’s a lot to love, and now my family and many of my closest friends are there. I had my fair share of terrible jobs (did I ever!), dodgy houses, and even infestations, but it was worth it.
In a lot of ways, Jane’s story is my own. Britain was not what I expected. I worked and I struggled and I fell in love with it just the same. As for Mr. Darcy, I forgot about him quickly enough when I met a punk rocker with a history degree from the wrong side of the river. I tried to see what he did, and I found beauty in the dirt.
I hope you enjoy Jane’s story, and when you get to the icky parts, just remember: that probably happened to Jess.
Thanks for reading!
Author: Jessica Cale
Genre: Historical Romance (Restoration/Enlightenment)
Publisher: Liquid Silver
Release Date: April 13th
From toiling for pennies to bare-knuckle boxing, a lady is prepared for every eventuality.
Lady Jane Ramsey is young, beautiful, and ruined.
After being rescued from her kidnapping by a handsome highwayman, she returns home only to find her marriage prospects drastically reduced. Her father expects her to marry the repulsive Lord Lewes, but Jane has other plans. All she can think about is her highwayman, and she is determined to find him again.
Mark Virtue is trying to go straight. After years of robbing coaches and surviving on his wits, he knows it’s time to hang up his pistol and become the carpenter he was trained to be. He busies himself with finding work for his neighbors and improving his corner of Southwark as he tries to forget the girl who haunts his dreams. As a carpenter struggling to stay in work in the aftermath of The Fire, he knows Jane is unfathomably far beyond his reach, and there’s no use wishing for the impossible.
When Jane turns up in Southwark, Mark is furious. She has no way of understanding just how much danger she has put them in by running away. In spite of his growing feelings for her, he knows that Southwark is no place for a lady. Jane must set aside her lessons to learn a new set of rules if she is to make a life for herself in the crime-ridden slum. She will fight for her freedom and her life if that’s what it takes to prove to Mark—and to herself—that there’s more to her than meets the eye.
The girl was beautiful.
She had him pinned to the bed. He was helpless beneath her hands. Her long fingers spanned his chest, tracing the line where the muscle dipped and gave way to shoulder. A hint of a smile played on her lips, more than just a little bit wicked. Kiss-crushed and sherry red, they were the sweetest thing he’d ever tasted.
“Like this?” She shifted back onto his hip bones.
She hovered above him like a conquering angel, all of the fearsome beauty of heaven in her laughing eyes, as grey and deadly as any steel. He could see the evidence of her ferocity in the iron poker that still projected from the door behind her head, a temptation as much as a warning.
“Getting there.” He grinned.
His hands rested on the curve of her waist, his rough, tanned skin a stark contrast to her smooth flesh, luminous and pale as the moon.
“More,” she moaned, rocking against him.
The bed slammed noisily against the wall, an insistent rapping that increased in frequency, strangely unconnected to the movements of her hips.
Somewhere in the distance, the sound of a saw.
Mark became aware of the bedclothes tangled around his legs. The stench of the river replaced the scent of her skin. She flickered as she bent over him with a sly smile, her hair falling around him like a curtain of copper silk. He was moments away from a bone-shattering orgasm. Just a little bit longer. She increased her pace, her breath quickening as she neared her peak. Her lips hovered above his, close enough to kiss, but somehow out of reach.
Her hips flickered under his hands and he heard the warble of a flock of geese.
“Jane,” he gasped, reaching out to grasp her as she disappeared, and finding only bed linen beneath his hand.
Liquid Silver: http://www.lsbooks.com/virtues-lady-p1008.php
All Romance E-Books: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-virtue039slady-1782182-340.html
Other Books in This Series
Tyburn (The Southwark Saga, Book 1): Notorious harlot Sally Green fights for survival in Restoration London. When a brutal attack throws them together, Sally is torn between the tutor who saves her and the highwayman who keeps her up at night; between new love and an old need for revenge. Winner of the Southern Magic Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence 2015.
Liquid Silver: http://www.lsbooks.com/tyburn-p975.php
Barnes & Noble
All Romance E-Books: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-tyburn-1695993-340.html
Jessica Cale is a historical romance author and journalist based in North Carolina. Originally from Minnesota, she lived in Wales for several years where she earned a BA in History and an MFA in Creative Writing while climbing castles and photographing mines for history magazines. She kidnapped (“married”) her very own British prince (close enough) and is enjoying her happily ever after with him in a place where no one understands his accent. You can visit her at www.authorjessicacale.com.
Social Media Links
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Jessica-Cale/e/B00PVDV9EW/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9819997.Jessica_Cale