(Amanda is putting on her Laurel McKee hat—which is probably a black fascinator with a red rose and some feathers—to launch her new book One Naughty Night, book one in the Scandalous St. Claires series! Comment for a chance to win a signed copy…but if you don’t win, it’s available in ebook for the promo price of 2.99 from June 4 to July 2!!)
Under the cover of night…nothing is forbidden…
Lily St. Claire will do anything for the family that saved her from the streets. With their support, the young widow has become the hostess of The Devil’s Fancy, London’s most exclusive gaming den. She’s determined to restore the St. Claire family fortune, lost a century before to the despised Huntington clan. But a ghost from her past may be her ultimate undoing…
The son a a duke, Lord Aidan Huntington is handsome and wealthy, with a taste for adventure and a reputation for wickedness. A gambler and a rake, Aidan can’t resist a seductive woman with secrets–but one naughty night with Lily leaves him wanting more. As Lily is drawn into London’s dark underworld by an old enemy, Aidan will risk everything to save the woman who has awakened his deepest desires…
After I finished writing about Georgian Ireland in my “Daughters of Erin” trilogy, I wanted to do something very different for my next project. So I turned to my very earliest historical love—Victorian England!
In this intriguing first St. Claire romance, McKee introduces a delightfully down-to-earth heroine…readers will cheer Lily in her quest for happiness and look forward to the sequels –Publishers Weekly
It all started when I was about ten years old and I came across a battered copy of Jane Eyre on my parents’ bookshelf. I think they used it for a college class or something, but after reading the first page I was totally hooked into Jane’s world. (Though I was deeply shocked—spoiler alert!–Bertha in the attic. I had to go back and read the whole book again just to be sure). After reading it three times, I ran out and and found a pile of other Victorian novels, like Dickens and Gaskell (though I admit I was too young at the time for Wuthering Heights. I hated it then, but I have a deep appreciation for its uniqueness now), I also read non-fiction about Queen Victoria and her world. But then I moved on to other historical loves, like the Regency and Tudor England, and never tried a Victorian-set novel of my own.
Until a couple of years ago, when I watched the movie Young Victoria and fell in love with the costumes. I confess—it was clothes, and the fact that I’ve always loved a “family feud” story, that led me to this story, and to Lily and Aidan and their families, the ducal Huntingtons and the underworld St. Claires.
I am completely in love with the St. Claire and Huntington families. Not only did this first book in a new series by Laurel McKee have me thoroughly enjoying the story between Lily and Aidan, I was just as drawn into both their families and the supporting characters who were involved just enough to add interest to their own stories that will be coming up in the series. But, this was Lily and Aidan’s story and I enjoyed everything about it, from the suspense coming from a man from Lily’s past to her and Aidan’s naughtiness in the bedroom. –Happily Ever After Reviews
When I was younger I had a fantasy vision of what Victorian life was like, but for this book I wanted to delve deeper and give a more realistic picture (especially of Lily’s Dickensian childhood before she was adopted by the St. Claires). The sixty years of Victoria’s reign marked an enormous shift in society and the way the world worked. The way people traveled, shopped, dealt with illness, childbirth, and death, even the way they dressed and read, were very different from what came before. There was gaslight and then electricity, railroads, factories, the world of the arts (the theater was booming, as were the visual and decorative arts, and novels by authors like the Brontes and Dickens were sensations), the rise of the middle classes, and the expansion of the British Empire into every corner of the globe. All led by a woman who was the very image of domestic responsibility, unlike her uncles.
But it was also a time of vast social differences, a new emphasis on the appearance of respectability, and a whole hidden underworld of dark activities like drug use, prostitution, and pornography. The contrast between what really was and what things appeared to be was wider than ever before. I loved incorporating all these aspects of Victorian life into Lily and Aidan’s story!
For and excerpt and more info, visit my website! And if you would like to read more about the period yourself, here are just a few sources I found helpful…
Donald Thomas, The Victorian Underworld(1998)
Jennifer Hall-Witt, Fashionable Acts: Opera and Elite Culture in London, 1780-1880 (2007) (It was Elena who recommended this book, which is fascinating!)
Michael Mason, The Making of Victorian Sexuality(1994)
Suzanne Fagence Cooper, The Victorian Woman(2001)
JJ Tobias, Crime and Police in England, 1700-1900(1979)
Sally Mitchell, Daily Life in Victorian England(2009)
FML Thompson, The Rise of Respectable Society, 1800-1900(1988)
What do you love about Victorian England?? Comment for a chance to win a copy!
I love the clothes as well, it is so different from what we wear today so I always enjoy the descriptions and looking at pictures from that time.
I’m 72 years old and because I lived with my grandparents during WWII my memories bridge the gap between those eras.(I have a picture of my grandmother in a Gibson Girl dress complete with high neck and long skirt. She was about 16.) The differences between reality and “respectability” didn’t end with the Victorian era. I was talking with my daughters recently about the social hypocrisy that existed at least in the South until the 1960’s. I’m old enough to remember when people “had to get married” and a lady didn’t leave the house without her hat and gloves.
I love that it was a time of such change. Life expectancy in Europe jumped (back to the levels last seen in the 1400s, when the Black Death killed so many that life for the survivors was plentiful), and hasn’t really changed an awful lot since. Industry, inventions, adventure, exploration, health, medicine, military promotions, even women’s rights, workers’ rights, abolition of slavery in England.. I could keep going for ever.
Congratulations on the new series, Amanda! You continue to amaze me with your versatility.
Thank you for the list of resources. It will be useful if decide to allow the children in Lady Dearing’s Masquerade to grow up and have stories of their own.
But I still like Regency clothing better. Sorry!
I love the clothes- the corsets look so sexy and naughty, but no doubt so uncomfortable!
Congrats on your new release of One Naughty Night.
Thank you for your interesting interview about Victorian England. I loved the clothing, the Queen, and all the inventions that came out during that time.
Congratulations on the book! I like reading about the fashion and lifestyle.
Like you Amanda/Laurel, I fell in love with the clothes but it was also two miniseries that I watched on PBS in high school, Edward VII, and Lillie with Francesca Annis as Lillie Langtry, that really started my love for the Victorian era. When I was studying theatre and pursuing an acting career the plays of Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw captured my imagination. I was lucky enough to play Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion.
This one is easy. I love Queen Victoria! She was so progressive and thought of the ills of her people rather than herself and her class. Love her!
There must be something in the water…..
My current Work-In-Progress is a gaming hell story! It amazes me how this happens.
Amanda—I mean, LAUREL—this sounds like a fabulous premise!!!!
Thanks so much for visiting today, everyone! (and thanks so much to Diane for making sure the post posted while i was on my way home) 🙂
Elizabeth, I remember that “Lillie” series! I was fascinted by the story of Lillie Langtry and ran out to find books to learn more about her. the next book in the series (2 Sinful Secrets) will focus more on the St. Claires’ theatrical ventures…
I love the way the world was changing, especially for women, during the Victorian era. I think it was an exciting time, with new inventions that made life easier and more opportunities for careers for men and women to make a decent living. I’m looking forward to reading One Naughty Night, it sounds like a fantastic story.
Barbed1951 at aol dot com
Congrats on the new series !! And a special thanks for the list of reference books!
The clothes of the Victorian era are indeed lovely. I prefer those of the Regency, but the Victorian era runs a close second.
I think what I like most about the era is the naughtiness underneath all that strict morality. What lies beneath all that civility and decorum makes for such juicy writing fodder !
congratulations on the new release, Amanda. Love the cover book.
looking forward to read this book 🙂