Last week, over a couple of glasses of very nice French champagne, good cheese and the wedding episode of Outlander, I badgered Sasha Cottman into joining me on my "Fun Facts" blog to talk about her new book, AN UNSUITABLE MATCH.
I am a huge fan of Sasha's charming Regency Romances. I love them because they are about real people (they may happen to be Earls and Lords) but at heart they behave like normal human beings. The younger generation bicker and hanker after unsuitable young men, or women and, most importantly, for all their faults their parents (yes they have parents) love them and want what's best for them.
In AN UNSUITABLE MATCH (which I have just finished reading - see review below) Sasha creates a particularly obnoxious villain who cheats at boxing... obviously no gentleman. I know the degree of research Sasha goes through and this charming little vignette reflects exactly what I mean when I say good research shines through unobtrusively.
BOXING FOR GENTLEMEN
|Boxing at Gentleman Jacksons Boxing Salon|
While writing AN UNSUITABLE MATCH I wanted to write a scene where the hero and villain of the book could encounter one another, outside of a normal Regency period social setting.
Boxing was a perfect way to show the contrast in character of the two men. David Radley, the hero, conducted himself as a gentleman should. Thaxter Fox, in turn, behaved exactly how a man with a shady and sordid past would conduct himself.
One fact I discovered as I researched boxing was that bare knuckled boxing was frowned upon by London’s elite. If you wished to join and box at establishments such as Gentleman Jackson’s Saloon in Bond Street, you had to wear mufflers. Wool stuffed, mufflers were the early 19th century forerunner of the modern boxing glove.
Thaxter Fox strode confidently over to where David stood and stopped. Rolling his head from side to side and doing a small jig on the spot, he gave the air of one who had seen more than his share of fights.
Neither of them bothered with the social niceties of a formal greeting.
‘Damn nuisance, these muffler things; what happened to being able to fight a man with your bare fists? I didn’t realise how many fops there were in London. I should not be surprised if they allowed girls to join this club,’ he sneered.
‘House rules, Fox,’ David replied, refusing to take the bait. A quick nod to his second and David was ready.
He punched his gloves together, mentally rehearsing for the moment he intended to land a solid whack to Thaxter’s head.
Lord knows you need a good thrashing.
Once engaged to the future Duke of Strathmore, the beautiful Lady Clarice Langham now finds herself in the humiliating position of celebrating his marriage – to another woman. As a result of the scandal, it seems her reign as London's most eligible debutante has come to an end. But things begin to look up when handsome and charming rake David Radley makes it clear that, at least as far as he's concerned, she's still the catch of the season.
The Illegitimate Son…
The eldest son of the Duke of Strathmore, David Radley has been raised alongside his father's legitimate children. But while he is generally received as part of the family, not everyone thinks he should be, and especially not Clarice's father, the Earl of Langham, who forbids her from having anything to do with him.
An Unsuitable Match…
David's been in love with Clarice for years, and it isn't long before the attraction between them develops into something deeper. Yet he senses Clarice is hiding something and until she reveals her secret, she won't be free to follow her heart. Despite everything, David will not give up on Clarice, not even when another seems set to claim her…
ALISON'S REVIEW of AN UNSUITABLE MATCH
I rarely do reviews (mostly because I am the world's slowest reader - 2 pages per night and I'm asleep)... but I devoured this story.
As I said above the one aspect of Ms.Cottman's story I love is the humanity of the characters.
This is the second in the Duke of Strathmore series and although we meet our old friends from Book 1, the book stands alone.
The hero, David Radley, is deeply loved by everyone in his family, including his stepmother and despite the "stain" of his illegitimate birth, he has the confidence to move easily in society. Like David we met Clarice in the first book (LETTER FROM A RAKE) and there is nothing loveable about her... she dresses like a dowd, she is gawky, prickly and an unlikely contender for the love of David, who has something of a reputation with the glamorous married ladies of the ton.
But love her he does and this fact she has accidentally discovered. Unfortunately her father Lord Langham, who we did not form a good opinion of in the first book seems determined to keep these two young lovers apart and push Clarice in the direction of his heir, the ungentlemanly and thoroughly unpleasant Thaxter Fox.
Clarice has her own secrets and the path of true love is destined not to run smoothly, despite the help of her own wise and scheming grandmother and the couple's loving friends.
Thoroughly recommended to anyone who is looking for something a little bit different in Regency Romance. Oh... and don't expect it to be 'sweet', the couple have to earn their time together but when they do, the pages (and the sheets) sizzle... 5 stars!