Is there a better summer read (we still have three weeks left – don’t rush it please!) than a Regency Romance? And one laced with a mystery, a good number of secrets, and echoes of Jane Eyre? [Please see below for the Book Giveaway info].
Julie Klassen’s latest title is Lady Maybe, a tale of a young woman, an unwed mother, who does all in her power to protect her son, and unwilling to divulge the father’s name. This is one of the many intriguing secrets in this historical romance, and once again Klassen portrays the gruesome reality of the “fallen woman” in Regency England – Hannah Rogers’ only choice is to leave home and try to manage on her own, an impossible task in a world where women are the victims of a system that affords them no way to survive alone, or at least survive respectably.
The book begins with a horrible carriage accident and from there we encounter so many secrets and betrayals that to write any sort of substantial review would spoil the reading journey! Nothing is as it seems – you must puzzle it all out along with the characters – and though it is clear who our Heroine is after the first few chapters, the Real Hero is not truly revealed until the end. And along the way, any number of social issues in early nineteenth-century England are spread before the reader: the plight of unwed mothers, the difficulties of divorce, the prejudicial justice system, and the vagaries of gossip – all this, with some compelling bits of Jane Eyre hovering about, makes Lady Maybe an engaging must-read.
I interviewed Julie here earlier this year for her The Secret of Pembroke Park – so today I asked her to share with us something about Lady Maybe, and here she tells up how she chose the North Devon coast as the setting for this story.
On a Cliff’s Edge
by Julie Klassen
Jokingly, I say the real reason I write books is to justify my long-held desire to travel to England. But the truth is, my research trips there enrich my novels’ settings and add a great deal of historical detail. So far, I’ve been able to go three times.
While writing Lady Maybe, set in Regency England, I needed to find a road dangerously near a cliff’s edge overlooking the sea. Initially, I searched for the location using Google Earth, old maps, and web sites. I finally found the ideal setting—a coastal road in North Devon along the Bristol Channel near Lynton & Lynmouth. These twin villages are nestled amid the dramatic landscape of Exmoor National Park—also the setting of the novel Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore.
I wrote my first draft before I ever visited the area. Then, last year, an old friend and I had the privilege of traveling there. We drove on winding, breathtakingly-narrow roads as far as we could, then continued on by foot, walking on a carriage road hundreds of years old. Wind whipped hair in our faces, pulled hoods from our heads, and drowned out our voices as we searched for the perfect spot to send a carriage careening down into the water far below. Standing on the edge of that cliff, overlooking the sun-streaked blue and gray water, the opening scenes began to play like a movie in my mind: a lady’s companion, a carriage accident, and a desperate woman trying to rescue her child…
[Lynton, © Julie Klassen]
During an earlier trip to England, my husband and I visited a carriage museum in Devon. There, I learned the difference between a landau, barouche, traveling chariot, gig, chaise, and more. How fascinating to see so many historic carriages up close, to peer into the rich interiors, and imagine my characters heading off on their life-changing journey.
I hope readers will enjoy the journey as well!
Lady Maybe synopsis (from the rear cover):
A woman’s startling secrets lead her into unexpected danger and romance in Regency England…
One final cry…”God almighty, help us!” and suddenly her world shifted violently, until a blinding collision scattered her mind and shook her bones. Then, the pain. The freezing water. And as all sensation drifted away, a hand reached for hers, before all faded into darkness…
Now she has awakened as though from some strange, suffocating dream in a warm and welcoming room she has never seen before, and tended to by kind, unfamilar faces. But not all has been swept away. She recalls fragments of the accident. She remembers a baby. And a ring on her finger reminds her of a lie.
But most of all, there is a secret. And in this house of strangers she can trust no one but herself to keep it.
Berkley Trade, July 2015
For those of you who love Klassen’s Regency novels, the wait for the next one is short one! The Painter’s Daughter will be released on December 1, 2015 (it is available for pre-order now). Here is the synopsis:
Sophie Dupont, daughter of a portrait painter, assists her father in his studio, keeping her own artwork out of sight. She often walks the cliffside path along the north Devon coast, popular with artists and poets. It’s where she met the handsome Wesley Overtree, the first man to tell her she’s beautiful. Captain Stephen Overtree is accustomed to taking on his brother’s neglected duties. Home on leave, he’s sent to find Wesley. Knowing his brother rented a cottage from a fellow painter, he travels to Devonshire and meets Miss Dupont, the painter’s daughter. He’s startled to recognize her from a miniature portrait he carries with him–one of Wesley’s discarded works. But his happiness plummets when he realizes Wesley has left her with child and sailed away to Italy in search of a new muse. Wanting to do something worthwhile with his life, Stephen proposes to Sophie. He does not offer love, or even a future together, but he can save her from scandal. If he dies in battle, as he believes he will, she’ll be a respectable widow with the protection of his family. Desperate for a way to escape her predicament, Sophie agrees to marry a stranger and travel to his family’s estate. But at Overtree Hall, her problems are just beginning. Will she regret marrying Captain Overtree when a repentant Wesley returns? Or will she find herself torn between the father of her child and her growing affection for the husband she barely knows?
About the Author:
Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. She is the bestselling author of ten novels set in Regency England, including her new release, Lady Maybe. Julie is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, and enjoys traveling to England to research her books whenever she can. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked as a fiction editor for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her novels have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She also won the Minnesota Book Award, and has been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards. Julie and her husband have two teenaged sons and live in St. Paul, Minnesota.
For further reading:
Julie’s other novels:
- Lady of Milkweed Manor (2008)
- The Apothecary’s Daughter (2009)
- The Silent Governess (2010)
- The Girl in the Gatehouse (2011)
- The Maid of Fairbourne Hall (2012)
- The Tutor’s Daughter (2013)
- The Dancing Master (2014)
- The Secret of Pembrooke Park (2014)
- Website: http://www.julieklassen.com/
- Her research page, with pictures: http://www.julieklassen.com/Research.html
- Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Julie-Klassen/102060596587055
- Twitter page: https://twitter.com/Julie_Klassen
Please comment or ask a question of Julie in the box below to be entered into the random drawing for a copy of Lady Maybe, with hearty thanks to Julie and her publisher Berkley Books. Deadline is Tuesday September 15, 2015 11:59 pm – winner will be announced the next day – domestic mailings only, sorry to say.
Good Luck! and Thank You Julie!
©2015, Jane Austen in Vermont