Vanessa Kelly delves into the Regency Underworld

Not surprisingly, since I write Regency-set historical romances, I’m a sucker for anything Regency—the  beautiful clothes, the sparkling conversation, the fascinating foibles of the leaders of the ton, the gripping politics of the Napoleonic wars.  Most especially I love the Regency rake.  That dashing dude who whirls the heroine around the ballroom, and seduces her in the dark, velvet confines of his luxurious carriage.

 But this period of history, as we know, wasn’t all ballrooms and glitter.  There was a dark side, one that was violent and dangerous, providing a fascinating contrast to the glamorous life of the aristocracy.  It’s in the intersection of these two worlds that we often find some of the most intriguing and exciting stories in historical romance.

Vanessa Kelly delves into the Regency Underworld

My next book, Sex And The Single Earl, delves into that dark and dangerous underbelly.  But not in London, where so many stories are set, but in that most genteel of spa towns, Bath.Yep.  You heard me—Bath.  One of the most beautiful towns in England.  Nestled along the Avon River, the houses climb in glorious terraces of honey-colored stone up the surrounding hillsides.  Fanny Burney lived here, as did Jane Austen.  When we think of Bath, we think of Anne Elliott and Captain Wentworth.  We think of the Royal Crescent and the Circus.  We imagine strolling in the Orange Grove or sipping the waters in the Pump Room.  Bath is the epitome of gentility, designed by its architects as a Utopian spa where the wealthy would gather to rest, relax, and amuse themselves with dancing, card-playing, and drinking lots of tea.

We don’t associate Bath with poverty, crime and disease.  Yet there were neighborhoods during the Georgian and Regency periods—and beyond—that were almost as bad as the infamous rookeries of London’s East End.  The worst of the slums was situated in Lower Town, along the Avon River, home to the city’s wharves and to the constant mercantile traffic that flowed into Bath.

The center of this blight was Avon Street.  For decades, it was a sanctuary for thieves and gamblers, and notorious for every type of criminal or unsavoury behaviour.  In the latter half of the 18th century the area held an astounding number of alehouses:  one house in nine or ten had a license to serve alcohol.  On Avon Street, the number was one in eight.  This part of Lower Town, a site of continual drinking by all accounts, was also the haunt of “the nymphs of Avon Street,” as the local prostitutes were sometimes referred to.

In Sex And The Single Earl, my heroine—a gently-bred young lady—is determined to save an innocent young girl from a life of enforced prostitution.  Her one-woman crusade takes her, and the hero, into the depths of Bath’s seamy underworld.  Now, I made sure to include plenty of the fun stuff, and the glitter and glam that we love so much about the period.  But the contrast with that lesser known side of Bath allowed me to create a really exciting story, one with drama, danger, and a hero and heroine brought to the very brink before they realize how much they love each other.

So my question for you, dear readers, what’s your favorite kind of Regency story?  Do you prefer the genteel world of Jane Austen?  The dark and dangerous underworld?  Or maybe a little of both?

Vanessa Kelly

Regency Romance That Sizzles




24 Responses to Vanessa Kelly delves into the Regency Underworld

  1. Latisha Dorcas

    I like the layout of your blog and I’m going to do the same thing for mine. Do you have any tips? Please PM ME on yahoo @ AmandaLovesYou702

  2. Julie Robinson

    Yes. If, after you contact them and let them know you’re available and on what topic, then let the reader’s loop or whatever other loop you belong to, know the date you’ll be on and what you’ll be discussing. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d like to hear more research you’ve uncovered about the Regency Underworld, while promoting your book.

  3. Vanessa Kelly

    Julie, do you mean let them know about blogging at Unusual Historicals?

  4. Julie Robinson

    If you get the chance, let the RJ loop know, okay?

  5. Vanessa Kelly

    That’s an interesting way to put it, Julie – we’re safe as readers, which gives us the ability to delve into that darker underworld.

    No, I haven’t blogged at Unusual Historicals, but I would love to!

  6. Julie Robinson

    Very interesting Vanessa. Thanks for that tidbit. Have you blogged yet on Unusual Historicals? I’d love to read more. So, I’d say I favor the underworld over the genteel world, simply because I know I’m safe as a reader from that seamy side of history.

  7. Vanessa Kelly

    Hi Gigi! Yes, humans will get up to all kinds of things, won’t they? And the dark things can sometimes be the most fun to write about.

  8. Gigi

    I love Jane Austen but I do enjoy a darker side to the Regency.
    You know that dark things had to have happen. I mean, we are only human aren’t we.

  9. Vanessa Kelly

    Thanks, catslady! I like the dark side, too.

  10. catslady

    I enjoy the regency era but I also like to delve into a dark book sometimes. To be honest I prefer them over what I call “goody good” books lol. Your book really does sound intriguing!!

  11. Vanessa Kelly

    Thanks, Susan. It sure is a great cover, isn’t it?

  12. susan leech

    Thanks for sharing and I sure have this book on my list. I love the cover and it sounds like one I could really get into. susan L.

  13. Vanessa Kelly

    Hi Pam! Thanks for stopping by! There are so many wonderful historical romance authors writing today. I’m especially fond of Loretta Chase and Anna Campbell.

    Eva, I’m a fan of the little of both, as well. Thanks for stopping by!

  14. Eva S

    I love a little darker books so my answer would be a little of both. This book is a great add to my wish list!

  15. Pam Keener

    This book sounds very interesting. I am new to this type of romance but I love the premise of this book.
    Love & Hugs,
    Pam Keener in PA

  16. Vanessa Kelly

    Thanks, Lisa!

  17. Lisa

    Awesome cover and sound good will have to fine this book soon!
    Welcome to Romancejunkies!

  18. Vanessa Kelly

    Me too, Linda. Thanks for stopping by!

  19. Linda Henderson

    I like a mixture of both. I definitely don’t want it to be too gentile.

  20. Vanessa Kelly

    Thanks, Valerie! Happy to be here!

    Yes, the cover gods smiled upon me.

  21. Valerie

    A warm RJ welcome to you!!!

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that cover….phew!!!!

  22. Vanessa Kelly

    peg360, I’m with you on that – I like the extra spicy part, too.

    Anna, thank you so much for your kind words!! And may I say, nobody does dramatic tension better than Anna Campbell. And were not even going to talk about the sexual tension – right off the charts!

    Bath is beautiful, and I think that’s the image we mostly have of it. When I started researching this book, I really had trouble finding information about the darker side of the city. It took some digging. The bigwigs in Bath didn’t like the darker images presented by the criminal underbelly – it didn’t sit well with the image of Bath as genteel spa town. It seems they did everything they could to supress it.

  23. Anna Campbell

    Vanessa, in Sex and the Single Earl, you do a magnificent job of bringing out that contrast. And I think the light of one emphasises the darkness of the other and vice versa. It’s very powerful! I love the glamour of the Regency period (especially as you say, the rakes! Snort!) but it’s nice to have the dramatic tension that dangerous underbelly of society provides. By the way, I adore Bath! It’s so beautiful!

  24. peg360

    I enjoy reading both.I think is just what i am in the mood to read.
    I love Jane Austen .but they are days I enjoy reading something with a little extra spice.

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