This Friday, July 31 (July is going, going, gone!) Book 2 of the House of Pleasure series, Only Marriage Will Do, will release as an indie title! I’m really stoked about having this next book in my Georgian series out with the new covers and a few changes here and there. I’m really enjoying revisiting the characters and story lines too. I hope those of my readers who liked Only Scandal Will Do will read on for the story of Duncan’s sister Juliet, who went missing at the end of Scandal.
To get everyone primed and ready for the release, I’m posting a series of articles on my blog this week with little tidbits of trivia regarding my research for Only Marriage Will Do along with short excerpts from the novel to whet your appetite.
Aside from the proxy marriage, another major part of the story line for Only Marriage Will Do is the journey Juliet takes to flee the man who claims to be married to her.
Travel during the 18th century was in no way easy. Long journeys took days or weeks to accomplish. Juliet’s flight from London to her brother’s estate in Cumbria, a distance of about 300 miles and 5 hours in a car today, would have taken at least a week if not longer.
Roads were not improved once you got out of the London area. Toll roads, privately financed roads that charged a fee to carriages and riders, were kept up better than public roads boomed in the mid-18th century. Most were concentrated around major towns and places of commerce, although they were more scarce in the northwest of England. But even these improved highways were sometimes impassable and fraught with “highway men” who robbed carriages, farmers’ carts, and lone horsemen.
Traveling via carriage or stagecoach, people were subject to frequent stops (about once every three hours) to change horses at coaching inns, which also offered refreshment and rooms for the night. People of wealth would plan out their journeys and send servants ahead to make the arrangements for accommodations. In Juliet’s case, she is alone with just her maid, coachman and groom, so she must take whatever accommodations that happen to be available when she stops for the night. In the book I have tried to use coaching inns that actually existed at the time of the novel (some still are in use today!). And it was very time consuming to calculate how many miles the horses might go for each lap of the journey so I could match it with the correct inns.
So, a trip of this length, riding all day, every day with one or two people in the carriage with you, swaying side to side, always wary of robbers or accidents that could happen at any time, was an adventure to say the least.
Here’s a “little” excerpt from Only Marriage Will Do to give you an idea of some of the travails of travel during the 18th century :
By the time the carriage swept into the final inn of the day, a sprawling white stone building rising two stories, the sun had just begun to lower in a sky wreathed by gray thunderclouds. The spotty rain had turned the coach yard to a slimy muck.
“Oh, how wretched the ground looks, Amiable.” Juliet wrinkled her petite nose and frowned. “My pattens are in my luggage, I fear.”
With a laugh at her woebegone face, he swung out of the carriage and sank almost to his ankles in the mire. Damn. Nothing to laugh about here. It would be a tricky business to get the women into the inn without mishap. The single possible way would be to carry them. He motioned for Juliet.
She scrambled toward the open door.
Without warning, he swooped her into his arms, surprising a shriek out of her.
She grasped his neck.
“Glynis, stay in the carriage. I’ll come back for you.” He slipped and slithered through the mud, maneuvering as best he could with Juliet attached to him like a limpet. Her heartbeat hammered against his chest and his own pounded even louder because of her proximity. Spending most of the day in her company had softened him. Now, holding her close, breathing her subtle flowery fragrance, her soft body nestled close to him, his protective instincts warred with his unmistakable lust. He tightened his arms around her, and she sent him a tentative smile then laid her head back on his shoulder. With determination, he concentrated on his footing.
At last, they arrived at the inn’s doorway. She slid down his front onto her feet, sending sudden heat coursing through him. Did she do that on purpose? Minx.
She clung to him for just a moment, her body pressed against his.
Sublime torture. “Stay right here, my dear, while I rescue yet another damsel in distress.” He slogged back toward the carriage and breathed easier.
Once there, he attempted to put his arms around the maid, but she proved more skittish than Juliet. When he finally coaxed her out of the carriage, Glynis lay straight and stiff in his arms. She kept her arms crossed over her chest so he had a much less secure grip, carrying her as he would a platter overburdened with a roast pig.
About midway to the inn door, a coach and six thundered into the yard, horses snorting, their hooves splashing mud.
The conveyance was nowhere near them, but Glynis let out a yelp of fright and tried to rise straight out of his arms.
He wobbled, tried to find his balance as she twisted in his arms. His feet skidded in the treacherous mud. Damnation. If he could only compensate a little more…
Glynis threw her arms around his neck.
Too little too late. The next thing he knew, he lay flat on his back, Glynis sprawled on top of him, both of them plastered with mud. The maid had, of course, fared better, having used her rescuer as a cushion against both the fall and most of the sticky muck. Her clothes might be salvageable.
“Damn it to hell.” He wanted to curse the maid, horses, rain, mud, everything he could think of that had brought him to this pass. He raised his head. A disgusting sucking sound as it came away from the muck made him cringe.