That was the premise for my novel, UNVEILED, originally published by Berkley Books in 1993. I had been watching an old Barbara Stanwick movie, where she and her father cheat men on a cruise ship in a game of cards. Of course she falls for her mark (or it wouldn’t be a romance!) but I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if she went through all that effort and found out the guy was broke.
From that idea came a story. For the woman, it was easy. Women have married for money since time began. Our heroine had a child out of wedlock, and was desperate. So when elderly Ella Pemberton, the wealthiest woman in Cape May, swears Katie is her long lost niece Fan, she goes along with the story and meets Christopher Scott.
The hero’s situation was more difficult. How to make him attractive if he is looking to marry money? History helped out there. In 1873, there was a financial panic in the United States, and while wealthy men like the Vanderbilts and Rockerfellers consolidated wealth, others lost everything. It was easy to understand why a man, used to having the finer things in life, would be coached by his family to marry an heiress quickly, before word got out about their loss. Yet the one thing neither of them counted on was falling in love. . .
UNVEILED was a pleasure to write. I discovered how much I love the Victorian time period, and setting the story in Cape May was wonderful. If you’ve never been there, go! It’s about ninety minutes southeast of Philadelphia, and several hundred Victorian homes have been renovated as bed and breakfasts, restaurants, and shops. You can stay in a gorgeous cottage once owned by a millionaire from Wall Street, you can walk the promenade and take in the sea breeze, hear the clip clop of a horse’s hooves at night as he takes a couple on a romantic carriage ride.
UNVEILED is now available on Amazon.com along with my other historicals. And next year, when Bantam re-releases my Katie Rose books, I will have completed a novella about Penelope Appleton, the third Appleton sister who has a secret. . .she can divine the future!