Brook Cottage Books is thrilled to welcome Jane Lark to the blog to talk about the re-release of The Illicit Love of a Courtesan. This is a book I can highly recommend with the sequel out on 7th November! You can read my original review for the book HERE.
'The inspiration for The Illicit Love of a Courtesan came from a real Regency Courtesan’s memoirs. Harriette Wilson published her memoirs in 1825, in a kiss and tell series. I have been telling her story on my history blog for a little while. There was one man who she had a relationship with because she fell in love and it was this story that really captured my attention.
What I loved when I read this is how it mirrored what people might do today so well. At first she didn’t know his name, she’d just seen him in a park, and she kept going to the park and walking about it in the hope of bumping into him. Once she knew who he was and where he lived, she would walk past his house, and go and stand near it, in the hope of seeing him. If you didn’t do that as a teenager, my group of friends did.
Then one day she caught his eye in the park, and thought she saw him looking at her too. Then she saw him ride past her house and turn around and ride back again.
When they did finally meet, the tone of Harriette Wilson’s writing changes completely, you can hear the intensity of her feeling in her words.
Sadly for Harriette, it didn’t work out how she would have liked, but once I read this, I knew I wanted to give a courtesan a really passionate and intense love story, so I wrote this…
The Illicit Love of a Courtesan Blurb
In the eyes of the ton, Ellen Harding lives a charmed life – she is the beautiful, exquisitely adorned mistress of Lord Gainsborough. But on the inside, behind her glamorous façade, she is empty – a vessel – deaf to the voice of morality and blind to shame. Unable to escape the gilded cage she has been trapped within.
Kind, gentle Edward Marlow could prove to be her salvation… With one look he gives her hope. With one touch he sets her senses alight.'
Lose yourself in the passionate intensity of this stunning debut from exciting new talent Jane Lark.
An excerpt from The Illicit Love of a Courtesan
He’d been waiting ten minutes when he saw her. She was simply and elegantly dressed, her appearance nothing like that of a courtesan. The long dark navy pelisse she wore was to keep her warm in the chill, early March winds. Spring was still as yet unbroken.
The demure garment hung to her ankles, with double breasted buttons across her chest, and an upturned fox fur collar framed her beautiful neck and face. Her hands were within a matching fox fur muff at her waist. The dark navy hat, sitting high on her ebony hair, was decorated with jay’s feathers that swept up from the brim above her left ear. And a narrow, navy veil, woven in a fine net, was drawn down over her eyes and nose.
His hands curled into fists inside the pockets of his thick, many-caped greatcoat as he watched her, waiting for her to notice him.
She had thought to hide herself, he guessed, but he would know the curve of her jaw, that mouth, the column of her neck, anywhere, even within a crowd. He had committed it to memory half a dozen times in recent weeks and lain awake night after night recalling every detail.
She looked over her shoulder, glancing back up the street, as if she half expected to be followed. Then she looked to the traffic in the road, waiting until it was clear before she crossed to the park gates. She’d still not seen him.
Within her muff he imagined her hands clasped together, her thumbs circling one another. He’d seen her tendency to fiddle when she stood at Gainsborough’s back. She was forever twisting and turning her fan; never comfortable, nor secure. The other courtesans he’d seen in London were women of excessive confidence, bold, never meek and maidenly in their manner as Ellen always seemed. With Ellen he could not even lay her lack of confidence at the door of her age. She was older than him, and yet her nervous behaviour made her seem half a dozen years younger.
She was on the path some distance before him now, her short, quick strides slicing at the skirt of her pelisse. Her gaze was on the pavement ahead of her, oblivious to the men who passed her and looked back, as nearly every man did, even with her beauty covered by a veil.
She looked up.
The moment she saw him, he could tell she’d not thought he would come. It was in the sudden drop of tenseness in her shoulders and the smile opening her mouth as if she would speak and acknowledge him from afar. But such an outburst would be folly, even though he had come as asked without acquaintance or equipage, someone may know him. Her mouth closed on the exclamation as she increased her pace, weaving through people walking the other way.
He silently cursed every man who looked at her twice. But then she was clearly a woman of standing, walking alone, the conclusion was obvious. A protective wave of masculine hormones ran through his blood, an instinctive need to defend his territory.
Angry at himself he turned to walk through the gates of the park, sensing her follow him. Fool, she isn’t yours. She was Gainsborough’s, and when he spoke to her he must not forget it.
He’d walked nearly two hundred yards before she drew alongside, and when she spoke her voice was breathless but full of joy he’d not heard in it before. “You came. I didn’t think you would.”
I love writing authentic, passionate and emotional love stories.
I began my first novel, a historical, when I was sixteen, but life derailed me a bit when I started suffering with Ankylosing Spondylitis, so I didn’t complete a novel until after I was thirty when I put it on my to do before I’m forty list.
Now I love getting caught up in the lives and traumas of my characters, and I’m so thrilled to be giving my characters life in others’ imaginations, especially when readers tell me they’ve read the characters just as I’ve tried to portray them.
Released 7th November!!!!