Today is the official release day for my latest Victorian romance, Duke of a Gilded Age. This novel took me far longer to write than I thought it would, due to the amount of research involved. The story takes place in 1890, with locations such as Brooklyn, New York City, a Transatlantic ocean liner, Liverpool, London, and a small fictitious dukedom known as Mansbury, England. In New York, my main characters visit Central Park, Madison Square Park, the newly dedicated Statue of Liberty, the Ladies’ Mile, and the Fifth Avenue Hotel. I learned a great deal I didn’t know, and occasionally felt sad that so many wonderful and historic details have been lost, particularly in regard to the ocean liners of the day. I took what I could, nevertheless, and created what I hope is a reasonable facsimile of the era. Research texts were very helpful to me, along with period newspapers and photographs. Like a eager voyeur, I studied the precious few film clips I found, as if I were a time traveler lucky enough to catch a glimpse through a magical keyhole.
The next morning after breakfast, Lady Frederic returned to her room to finish her letters, Mr. Oakhurst set off for the employment agency, and Wesley hired a cab to take him and Belle through Central Park. The cab entered the park through Scholars’ Gate at Fifth Avenue and East 59th Street, and headed north. Belle gasped at the beauty of the large bodies of water, the landscaping, and the monuments. There was even a riding path around Croton reservoir.
“That’s Belvedere Castle. It’s an observatory.”
“I’d like to see it up close.”
“We can walk there, if you don’t mind the exercise.”
“I adore exercise.”
“After we make a tour of the park, we’ll find a place to stop.”
A few minutes later, Belle spied a flock of black and white sheep grazing on the lawn. “Why, there are sheep in the middle of the city!”
“Yes, and that red brick complex with the peaked gables is the Sheepfold.”
“How absolutely charming!”
Belle’s hazel green eyes were sparkling, and her smile revealed even, white teeth. She’s really very pretty—when she’s not scolding me or being a prig. The pink and white dress Belle wore had puffy sleeves with small pleats, an elaborate ruffled front, and a high collar with a large bow at the back of the neck. Her curly, nutmeg‐colored hair was tucked under a white straw sailor’s hat, the brim of which was bound with a wide, pink grosgrain ribbon. The whole effect was one of dainty femininity, and Wesley found himself watching her rather than the scenery. Unfortunately, she noticed his stare.
“Is something wrong?”
“Oh…not at all.” Wesley waved to get the driver’s attention. “Drop us off at the carriage concourse at Cherry Hill, won’t you?”
When American-born Wesley Parker inherits a dukedom in 1890, he must learn to be an aristocrat. Assigned to the task is his attorney’s daughter, prim Belle Oakhurst. As they travel to England together on a luxurious ocean liner, their tempestuous relationship encounters more than rough seas. Although Wesley is increasingly attracted to Belle, she is already engaged. While Belle begins to regret her hasty promise to marry, she is bound by honor and duty to keep her pledge. Furthermore, a thoughtless fabrication on her part threatens to expose her as a liar. Neither Wesley nor Belle can foresee that their voyage across the Atlantic will be fraught with peril, and will cost more than one man his life.
Also, don’t forget to pick up a copy of The Ice Captain’s Daughter for free now through Sunday, June 30th HERE. In that download is a sneak peek at Duke of a Gilded Age!