I am just finishing up the fourth book in my Scandalous Summerfields series today, Lorene’s story. As befitting the title of the series, scandal plays and important role. Lorene has an abhorrence of scandal, but it does seem to follow her wherever she goes.
The was not the first time I’ve written about scandal so today I’m reprising a blog I wrote on the subject in 2008. Scandalizing the Ton, one of my books that came out that year, was what I called my “Regency Paparazzi” story. It was inspired by our present day obsession with celebrities, but we didn’t invent an interest in the rich and famous. Nor did we invent a press willing to do almost anything for some good gossip about them.
The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries abounded with newspapers. Some of them even reported important news, like what was happening in Parliament, social issues, important events. It was during this period that some of journalism’s standards and ethics were beginning to be established, things like not revealing sources, acting as society’s social conscience, which was not always a good idea.
James Leigh Hunt and his brother, John, published serious news in their London newspaper, The Examiner, including calling the government to task for the heavy taxes levied on the people. In 1812, they printed an article criticizing the Prince Regent for his gambling and womanizing and running up huge debts while not doing anything to better the lives of the citizenry. Although what they printed was true, the Hunts were sued for libel and imprisoned for two years. Leigh Hunt continued to edit The Examiner from his prison cell.
In contrast to the responsible and ethical journalism of the Hunts were the newspapers that flourished by reporting the scandals and peccadilloes of the wealthy, the political elite, and the aristocracy. In his wonderful book, Scandal: A Scurrilous History of Gossip, Roger Wilkes gives examples of the eighteenth and nineteenth century love of gossip, and how the newspaper reporters purchased the juicy tidbits from loose-lipped servants and gentlemen and ladies willing to expose their friends. Not only did newspapers purchase gossip, they also blackmailed their potential victims, taking money to not print some embarrassing incident.
They also just made up stories. In Punch Thackeray and his colleague Jerrod parodied that sort of newspaper with their creation of the reporter, Jenkins, who rarely left his humble abode, preferring to invent his stories about the latest shocking antics of important people.
In my opinion the worst of them all was Theodore Hook, a charming and pleasing fellow who came into the Regent’s favor as a very young man, winning a government job at the ocean paradise of Mauritius. Hook lived an idyllic life for four years until a clerk embezzled lots of money that was Hook’s responsibility. He returned to London under a cloud and, in 1820, to make back the income he lost with his government job he started the Sunday newspaper, The John Bull.
Unlike the Hunt brothers, Hook allied himself with the Prince Regent and whipped up scandal and gossip about prominent Whigs. Favorite targets included The Regent’s estranged wife Queen Caroline and the ladies who attended her. One he branded as ‘strangely susceptible to the charms of her own sex’ ; another he accused of having “criminal affection” for a menial servant (Wilkes, 2002).
Hook had no qualms about paying servants to betray their employers, but most of what he learned was through his own ears. Hook succeeded in keeping it secret that he was the editor of The John Bull. Because he was well-connected enough to move in high circles, he dug his dirt in anonymity, from the very people who extended him their hospitality. Such inside information had huge appeal and the newspaper flourished.
In this secret position of power, Hook mercilessly pilloried those who crossed him. When suspicion grew that he was the editor of the Bull, Hook even wrote a letter to the editor (himself), protesting that he was not the editor. He was a known prankster. In his most famous prank, The Berners Street Hoax, he wrote 4000 letters calling for tradesmen, delivery men, professional men such as physicians and dentists, potential empoyers, wig-makers, dressmakers, members of Parliament and of the aristocracy, all to descend upon the house of an innocent middle-class woman, Mrs. Tottenham. While the street became clogged with people, Hook and his friend stood by and laughed. All I can think of is what a cruelty this was to all those people who were only going about their ordinary lives. He cost them all time and money and dignity.
When Queen Caroline died The John Bull turned to more serious journalism. Eventually Hook was made to pay for the embezzlement, a huge amount that took all his assets and landed him in debtor’s prison for two years. After prison he turned to writing novels, none of which were particularly distinguished. He continued his high living until his liver gave out and he died at age 53.
In Lorene’s story there isn’t any journalist quite as reprehensible as Theodore Hook, but the shady tactics and irresponsible journalism of the Regency are depicted once again, as I depicted them in Scandalizing the Ton.
The next book in the Scandalous Summerfields series is Genna’s story, Bound By One Scandalous Secret. Watch my website for more news about this new release, coming in print form November 22 and ebook December 1! The cover should be coming soon.
Who else is finishing a book? Are you writing it or reading it? Or both?
Thanks to Scandal: A Scurillous History of Gossip by Roger Wilkes, Atlantic Books, 2002, for most of this information
This is a newsy post of news. To make it worth your valuable time, there are pretty book covers AND at the end of the post, a way to read my upcoming December release before it’s actually released. Consider yourself teased. And now, on to research books, holiday stories, a hot deal, a boxing hero, a free book, and a demon.
Most of you know by now that A Notorious Ruin features a boxing hero, among other things boxing. I did a lot of reading about boxing and boxing culture of the period for this book. There are lots of great resources in publications of the time, subject, of course, to any and all agendas that a given author might or might not have. It was fun reading.
You might recall that I posted about some great research from David Snowden, particuarly his book Writing the Prizefight, which yesterday won the 2014 British Society of Sports History’s Lord Aberdare Literary Prize. It’s a book you should consider having on your reference shelf. Snowden is on twitter as @PierceEgan so if you’re curating lists and the like, he’s a good follow.
Other Book News
Did you get your copy of Christmas in the Duke’s Arms yet?
There have been some very kind words about all the stories. So, hey! You should get your Holiday stories now!
My contribution is titled In The Duke’s Arms. Because you can never have too many dukes. Though I will admit I limited myself to one.
Fresh Fiction (Reviewed by Monique Daoust) had this to say:
An Exciting, Sensuous and Romantic Regency Christmas!
Ms. Burrowes’ story is ingenious, sensuous, and elegant, and her vocabulary is positively dazzling! It’s spectacularly well-written, the characters are engaging, and it’s very witty; it left me giggling several times. A delicious story of seduction!
In The Duke’s Arms is simply wonderful! The characters are very complex and the interaction between Ryals and Edith is utterly compelling; it’s a joy to watch Edith try to tame the gruff Duke. The story is unhurried, and it’s quite the feat that Ms. Jewel can turn developing passion into something quite suspenseful. The author possesses a perfect knowledge of the period’s language and idioms and writes in a fluid, flowing style that perfectly suits her characters.
Ms. Neville’s contribution is joyful, playful, as expected splendidly written, and quite funny at times. I loved that Robina is a strong and independent woman within the rules imposed by society; she’s a wonderful character as is the dour Wyatt.
Ms. Galen certainly does not disappoint! Those already familiar with this brilliant series will rejoice at getting a final glimpse at some beloved characters. The Spy Beneath the Mistletoe is fast paced, exciting, dynamic; the characters are delightful, and it’s also very passionate. A more than fitting conclusion to a fabulous book!
And then there’s A Notorious Ruin
Ms. Jewel slowly exposed their good, bad & ugly & I loved peeling the many layers back & seeing their inner essence. Let chat about sex, because HELLO it’s a romance. Ms. Jewel uses all forms of NAUGHTINESS with swallowing-lightening shivers & quivers to all my girlie parts & assorted NEKKIDness!
— Patty McKenna Van Hulle
Make Kay of Fresh Fiction had this to say:
A long awaited sequel blends eroticism and Regency elegance…
Jewel did a superb job of evoking the era and locale. The lovely and explicit sex scenes also rang true and yet did not pull me out of the era, which I thought masterful. I am glad that Jewel has gone back to this series, and I’m looking forward to the next of the Sinclair Sisters to fall in love.
Seven Wicked Nights — Until November 16th!
Seven bestselling historical romance authors offer seven sexy stories featuring dukes, lords, rakes, scoundrels…and the unforgettable heroines who bring them to their knees. These stories range in length from long novellas to delectable little bites.
This $0.99 collection goes away November 16th. You should get this while you can.
Scandal — Still Free!
RITA finalist and free at the vendors below. If you haven’t read me, this is a no-cost way to find out what you think.
This book took my breath away. – SBTB
WOW. Simply, wow. That is the only word I can use to describe this masterpiece. It has been such a long time since I have read such a rich, emotional and tension filled romance. Not only did Scandal have me hooked from the very first page, but this is the first book, in a very long time, where I had to read straight through into the wee hours of the night because I couldn’t put it down. When an author can write such a book, that book is destined for greatness. I wouldn’t be surprised if Scandal becomes one of the favorites of 2009, and perhaps placed on most reader’s lists for all time favorite historical. – Romance Novel TV
Readers looking for a deeply emotional and very well-written book will love this one. I have a certain weakness for flawed but redeemable characters, and this tale very much hit the spot. I cannot wait to see more historicals from this author in the future. –All About Romance
Jewel plays readers’ emotions like a virtuoso, ensuring they will eagerly follow her characters into dramatic, intensely passionate and gripping love stories that will steal your heart and make you beg for more. She grabs you at the first word and never lets go. – Kathe Robin RT Book Reviews
And lastly, I tease and tempt you with an upcoming release and a way to read it before it’s on sale…
Dead Drop turned out to be Book 6 in the My Immortals series. Demons instead of Dukes. It’s a short novel, at 42,000+ words.
I’m writing what I guess I have to start calling Book 7 in the series now. I have no buy links for Dead Drop yet since I don’t quite have final files yet. Sometime in the next two weeks. The on-sale date will be December 20th.
How, you are wondering, might you have the chance to read this before the book is on sale? Well, I set up a members-only section of my website, and I’m posting the chapters there every few days. Files are subject to update as I play whack-a-mole with typos lurking in the proofreading rounds.
If you happen to subscribe to my newsletter, you will get the login and password to the members only section and can start reading now. If you want. I’ve posted through chapter 6. I believe Chapter 7 will go up sometime tomorrow or the day after.
You can subscribe at my website.
There. That’s all the book news.
I have been madly revising and revising and revising and revising and wow.
The New and Improved
I have a new cover for Scandal. It should be go live across vendors as I fit in the uploads with revisions…
I tried, I really, really tried, to post the first two chapters of A Notorious Ruin, but WordPress does not indent and I don’t have time to hack the css to make it do that. So, maybe next time? Or you could click on this link to a pdf (at the Riskies). Came out kind of nice.