Today I am so pleased to welcome K.J. Charles to Joyfully Jay. K.J. has come to talk to us about her latest release, A Seditious Affair (which I totally loved and gave 5 stars). She has also brought along a great tour wide giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
One of the biggest challenges of writing historical romance is finding the balance between accuracy and acceptability. Historical romance is just no fun (for me, at least) when it’s modern people with modern manners in fancy dress. But it’s no fun for anyone when the historical attitudes of the MCs are repugnant. Slave-owning, marital rape and antisemitism might have been acceptable or at least lawful in the Regency, but from the modern perspective, it’s hard to see them as anything but indications of a revolting person with a serious need to rethink his life.
A lot of people argue that gross historical attitudes, like body lice, are something romance can ignore as part of the genre’s conventions. I think that’s fair. I like historical accuracy, but in the end, we need to believe the MCs deserve a happy ever after—which slave owners and Nazis do not. If a hero has managed to keep all his teeth and avoid syphilis, he can avoid being a callous bigot as well. Or, alternatively, if he starts badly, he should learn. (There’s a cracking anthology, The Brightest Day, which includes a post-Civil War story by Lena Hart with an ex-slave owner/Confederate soldier hero. He falls in love with a black woman and ends up selling himself into indentured service for a year for her sake. Now, that’s redemption.)
But it’s worth noting that historical MCs with ‘modern’ attitudes aren’t necessarily anachronistic. My new book A Seditious Affair delves into the murky world of Regency radical protest and political extremism. The hero, Silas Mason, is a follower of Thomas Spence, one of the great English radicals (possibly the first in England to use the phrase “the rights of man”). Silas believes in universal suffrage, abolition of slavery, women’s rights, a universal basic income, free education, land redistribution, homosexual law reform, and an end to class distinction. Frankly, you’d probably think he was a bit of a Trot right now, let alone in the Regency.
The thing is, Silas’ attitudes aren’t anachronistic at all–for a radical. What they are is extremist, and there’s a reason it’s the revolutionary pamphleteer who holds those views, not the Marquess of Cirencester’s son. If a Regency duke believes in equal rights for women, let alone votes for workers, I’ll probably adore him, but I also want to know how and why he’s part of that current of thought. Not just as backstory but because those political views could have very serious consequences.
A Seditious Affair features heroes who are both highly political, whose views are diametrically opposed (well, it wouldn’t be any fun otherwise) and who are caught up in the intense turmoil of the times because of their beliefs. Because these aren’t just debating positions. We’re talking about people’s lives here: people risking flogging, transportation or hanging to write what they thought; people fighting for their rights because the alternative was starvation and destitution. People for whom ideas were something to live and die for.
Silas’s beliefs are big trouble. And his affair with a man on the other side of the ideological divide doesn’t help. Because when a revolutionary extremist falls in love with a loyal Government man whose job is to hunt him down…well, politics doesn’t get much more personal than that.
Silas Mason has no illusions about himself. He’s not lovable, or even likable. He’s an overbearing idealist, a Radical bookseller and pamphleteer who lives for revolution . . . and for Wednesday nights. Every week he meets anonymously with the same man, in whom Silas has discovered the ideal meld of intellectual companionship and absolute obedience to his sexual commands. But unbeknownst to Silas, his closest friend is also his greatest enemy, with the power to see him hanged—or spare his life.
A loyal, well-born gentleman official, Dominic Frey is torn apart by his affair with Silas. By the light of day, he cannot fathom the intoxicating lust that drives him to meet with the Radical week after week. In the bedroom, everything else falls away. Their needs match, and they are united by sympathy for each other’s deepest vulnerabilities. But when Silas’s politics earn him a death sentence, desire clashes with duty, and Dominic finds himself doing everything he can to save the man who stole his heart.
KJ Charles is a writer and freelance editor. She lives in London with her husband, two kids, an out-of-control garden and an increasingly murderous cat.
KJ writes mostly romance, frequently historical, and usually with some fantasy or horror in there.
Find her on Twitter @kj_charles or on Facebook, join her Facebook group for early news and exclusive freebies, or get the newsletter here.
K.J. has brought a copy of A Seditious Affair and a $25 All Romance Ebooks gift certificate to give away to one lucky reader on her tour. Just follow the Rafflecopter link below to enter.
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