Today I am so pleased to welcome Victoria Sue to Joyfully Jay. Victoria has come to chat with us about her latest release, The Innocent Auction. She has also brought along an exclusive excerpt and a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
How hard was it to write a historical novel?
Really difficult. I didn’t make things easy on myself at all. The Innocent Auction is set in 1810. Not only was homosexuality punishable by death in Regency England, but my two main characters are a Lord and a stable-boy. That in itself makes it impossible for them to be together, even if they weren’t the same sex.
Does that mean there isn’t a happy ever after?
Of course not! (grins) There is a very happy ever after but I couldn’t change the law of the land or the customs of the day. The main thing in this novel is that I’ve tried to be historically accurate, and sometimes that made things exceptionally difficult.
How is this different to any other Regency Romance?
Most of the action takes place between Newgate Prison and the slums of London. There are no balls, parties, or fox-hunting.
Tell us about your two characters
Deacon, is an Earl. He is estranged from his father, and banned from his family home. At the start of the book, his father dies and he finds he is Earl to a bankrupt estate. He has families that depend upon him for their livelihood, and huge responsibilities that mean he can’t just say “to hell with it” and ride off into the sunset with Tom.
Tom is rescued by Deacon when he is just fourteen years old from the slums of London. Deacon sends him to his estate to live, and they meet again when Deacon’s father dies and Tom is an adult. Tom is completely torn. He knows they both risk the hangman’s noose should they be caught, and while he loves Deacon, he feels that as Deacon rescued Tom as a boy; he now needs to protect Deacon in return. He thinks the only way of doing that is by removing the biggest threat to Deacon’s safety and peace of mind – Tom himself.
What is your favorite part of the book?
Apart from the ending? I think the night they spend in London before they go to The Old Bailey for the trial. They’re not Lord and Master that night. They’re not doing something considered a sin enough that they could be hung. They’re just two people very much in love and trying to snatch as many moments as they can together.
With a nod, Deacon reached for his purse. Tom then took the brandy off the man. He and rinsed the cup he was holding and wiped the grimy edge. Then he poured a little in and passed it to Deacon, who knelt down and unbuttoned his jacket to cover Master Beau up with it. He then took the cup off Tom.
“Beau?” Deacon said, putting his hand around the back of Beau’s head and lifting it a little. He drizzled a little brandy onto his lips and Beau coughed. “Steady, take a little more for me.” Deacon tried again and this time Beau swallowed before he coughed. He gasped and tried to open his eyes, blinking. “It’s Deke, Beau. Take another sip.”
Beau swallowed a little more before Deacon let him back down gently. When he pulled his hand away, it was covered in blood. Deacon raised an angry glance to the keepers.
The big man shrugged. “We’re not here to police what goes on in there.”
Tom dragged his gaze away from the boy in the corner who seemed to be asleep. “Perhaps you can get the warden?”
The big man laughed. “He won’t come down here. You want him, you ‘av to go up there.”
A faint voice came from Beau. “Deke?”
Tom hunched down next to Deacon. He couldn’t touch him, but he wanted to know he was there.
“Beau? I’m here. I’m going to get you out of here.” Deacon held his hand out for the cup again, and Tom passed it to him. “Here, take another sip.”
Beau eagerly drank some more and opened his eyes properly. He frowned. “Shouldn’t have come, Deke.”
Deacon shook his head. “I’m going to see the warden. This is Tom. He’s going to stay with you until I get back.”
Tom smiled at Beau, who blinked and coughed a little more.
With a look that spoke volumes, Deacon then rose to his feet. “Stay with him while I go find out what’s happening,” he told Tom.
Beau suddenly shot a hand out to Deacon. “Deke, my ring.”
Deacon glanced at Beau’s hand, and then his own. “Where is it?
“I don’t know. Someone took it.” Beau’s agonized whisper echoed in the room.
“We’ll find it,” Deacon said, clasping Beau’s hand.
The keeper they had met at the gate and Deacon then disappeared. Tom heard some shouting from one of the other cells, and while the smaller turnkey rolled his eyes and ran out, the younger one took himself away into the corner. Tom unbuttoned his waistcoat, folded it, and gently lifted Beau’s head as he pushed it under. The man blinked at Tom. “I know you,” he said hesitantly.
Tom looked at the viscount. He was pretty sure he’d never called at Rawdenscliffe except for the other day, and then he didn’t think the man had seen him. “I work for his lordship at Rawdenscliffe, with the horses. He needed someone to drive him to London.” Tom tried to shrug, but he couldn’t feign disinterest.
Beau frowned as if trying to place him. “You grew up on the estate?”
Tom shook his head. “No, sir. His lordship found me in London five years ago.”
Beau’s eyes widened, and he smiled. He glanced over at the keeper who wasn’t taking any notice. “We have met, once. The tobacco dock on Pennington Street.”
Tom gaped. The Innocent Auction? “I. I didn’t realize, sir.”
Beau smiled again. “It was my fault he was there. He’d found out about the raid and that I was going.”
Tom blinked in wonder. In five years, he’d never questioned why Joe and his lordship had been there. He should have known he was there to rescue someone else as well. Tom quickly glanced at the sleeping boy. A prisoner had inched closer and his chains had clanged. The keeper stood up threateningly and the man cowered and went back. Master Beau followed his gaze. “Is that your jacket?”
Tom nodded, then whispered wretchedly. “There isn’t anything more I can do.”
“You showed him kindness.” Argyll coughed, and Tom reached for the cup, but he waved it away. He snaked a hand out and grabbed Tom’s wrist. “Listen to me. Deacon’s going to try and save me and when he can’t, it will kill him. He will need someone to watch out for him. The duke will take me down, but I don’t want Deacon getting caught in the crosshairs.”
Tom struggled inside. He wanted to comfort Master Beau but the insidious misery of the prison was robbing his optimism. “His lordship will sort everything out, you’ll see.” Tom then added staunchly, “If anyone can, he will be able to.”
Beau stared at him. “Deacon’s a good man.”
Tom flushed under the steady gaze.
“Something tells me you know that.”
Tom dipped his head. He could feel the flush creeping up his neck.
Beau smiled. “Take care of him.” Beau didn’t wait for an answer, just sighed and closed his eyes. Tom stayed still and fretted over Beau’s words. Deacon’s going to try and save me and when he can’t, it will kill him. What was Deacon going to try and do?
Their love was a death sentence.
Deacon, Viscount Carlisle, was aware of the slums and gin-lanes of London. Just as he was aware of the underground traffic that furnished the brothels and bath houses with human innocents. He was also aware that the so-called justice system would hang the accused without much of an attempt at a defense, unless the unfortunate had deep pockets to pay for it.
He just hadn’t expected to be directly involved in any of it.
It started with a plea for help and ended with forbidden love, the love between a Viscount and a stable-boy. An impossible love and a guarantee of the hangman’s noose.
Will Deacon fight for Tom? Will he risk the death sentence and take that fight from the stately halls of his English mansion to the horrors of Newgate Prison and the slums of London?
Or will he realize that if he doesn’t, death will be a welcome end to the loneliness of the sentence he is already living?
Victoria Sue has loved books for as long as she can remember. Books were always what pocket money went on and what usually Father Christmas brought. When she ran out of her kids’ adventure stories, she would go raid her mom’s. By the age of eight she was devouring classics like Little Women, and fell in love with love stories.
She’s still in love with them. Any size, any shape, any creature – love is love, no matter what it says on the box.
In fact if they don’t fit very neatly into any box she loves them even more!
She has a very patient husband and three wonderful children. In 2010 in search of adventure they all moved from the UK to the US and are happily settled in Florida. Finally, after reading love stories for so long, she decided to write her own.
Victoria Sue has brought a copy of a backlist book to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Wednesday, January 6th at 11:59 pm EST.
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