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Friday, November 21, 2014

Cassandra Samuels: A Scandalous Woman and a Giveaway

I have been around the romance writing world for long enough to watch with pleasure as writers go from those first tentative steps, learning their craft, blooding themselves on contests and rejections and finally attaining that elusive goal... a publishing contract and one such is my guest today.

One of the nicest people in the Romance Writers of Australia, historical circle is Cassie Samuels and I am absolutely delighted to have her on my blog to talk about an aspect of research for her debut release, A SCANDALOUS WAGER. 


A Scandalous Woman – Caroline Norton

Thank you so much for having me here today Alison. I’ve chosen to talk about this aspect of my research because my heroine Lisbeth and Caroline Norton are both scandalous women and both were abused by their husbands.

Caroline is a fascinating woman for many reasons. Born in 1808 as Caroline Sheridan she became the face of justice for women, but she didn’t start off that way. When her soldier father died in Africa the family was left penniless. They were granted a grace and favour apartment at Hampton Court Palace. Caroline and her sisters were highly accomplished and accepted everywhere due to their upbringing at court.

In 1827 she married George Norton a barrister and MP. Caroline was witty and clever and used her skills to win favour for her husband and his political ambitions. However, he was a controlling husband and often had fits of rage and drunkenness. He physically and emotionally abused his wife throughout their marriage.

Caroline wrote prose and poetry to vent her emotions and earned money doing so. George disliked his wife’s success. In 1836 she left him. He took her earnings from her writing. So, she racked up bills in his name. In turn, he decided to hide her children from her which was a cruel blow to a woman who lived for her sons.

Her husband was insanely jealous of her friendship with the then Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, and sued him for Criminal Conversation (accusing him of having an affair with his wife). Melbourne took him to court and won.

Caroline campaigned relentlessly for the rights of women to their children. Her intense efforts culminated in the Custody of Infants Act and the Married Women’s Property Act. These acts gave women a legal identity where before they had none. I think we owe a lot to Caroline Norton.

If you want to know more about Caroline and other Scandalous Women you can watch the documentary on You Tube here:


Set up – This is the morning after Lisbeth meets the Earl of Bellamy and he has accepted her business proposal to help her return to society to seek out her husband’s killer so she can clear her name.

Lisbeth sighed and sipped her tea.
Alone again.
Even when Nathaniel had been alive she had been alone. His dedication to their courtship had been nothing but a dedication to her dowry. What a naïve, silly little fool she’d been then, believing in the fairy tale. A fairy tale which had so quickly turned into a nightmare.
She sipped her tea and closed her eyes for a moment. Yet, even in those few moments memories assailed her. Flashing images passed behind her eyelids in quick, painful succession, each frame of memory causing her to jolt and shudder in her seat. She felt every fist, every boot as they connected; his angry tirades hardly heard through ringing ears. Every cruel word he’d uttered was a scar upon her very soul.
She gasped, her lungs struggling for air, and opened her eyes as she looked around frantically.
Sun poured in from the windows. A cheerful flower arrangement displayed vibrant reds, yellows and green. Her mother’s china graced her table and in the distance she could hear the sound of the servants going about their business.
She released a breath slowly, then another, until her heart had slowed to a more temperate rate.
She picked up her schedule sitting neatly on the table and fanned herself with it. Lisbeth usually took comfort in knowing she had something else to think about besides her horrid, pathetic past but her schedule’s purpose had morphed overnight into something more than a direction for her day. The origins of this simple sheet of vellum lay in her desperate attempt to do everything in exactly the manner and timing Nathaniel had demanded. It had become her sole means of self-preservation.
And it had worked…most of the time. No plan was ever fool proof. Which brought her right back to the present.


As the Black Raven, she’s cold, distant, and alone, untouched by the gossip and scorn of her aristocratic peers. Until he enters her house – and her life – and suddenly her icy shell is no match for the heat of attraction…

Notorious Widow Lisbeth Carslake, Countess of Blackhurst was acquitted of her husband's murder, but no one believes in her innocence. Known as the Black Raven, bringer of bad luck and death, she is eviscerated by the gossips and mocked in the clubs. She’s also the subject of London’s most scandalous wager.

Oliver Whitely, Earl of Bellamy, needs money, but it takes more than a few drinks to take on The Black Raven Wager. He finds himself drunk, at her house, and – more surprisingly – inside, and agreeing to a business proposal at the end of a fire poker. She will let him win the wager, and he will help find her husband’s killer before the killer finds her. But business agreements don’t mean trust, and Lisbeth certainly doesn’t trust Oliver, her body’s reaction to him, or her heart.

 Love may be the biggest gamble of their lives, but is it a wager their hearts can afford to lose? 

Cassandra Samuel's mother always said she should have been born in the 1800s. Unfortunately, she was born in the 1970s instead. But she was not discouraged by all the corduroy and dodgy hair do's. She decided if she couldn't live in the Regency period she would write about it instead. 

Cassandra cut her romance reading teeth on Jane Austen when she readPride and Prejudice in high school. It was the beginning of a love affair with the Georgian and Regency eras that continues today. She has wanted to be a romance writer since she was a teen and was encouraged to study a diploma in journalism, but fiction writing was where her heart belonged. 

She is the eldest of three children and grew up living on the outskirts of of the Royal National Park which gave her a love and appreciation for the Australian bush.  Cassandra lives with her fabulously supportive husband and three wonderful children on the NSW South Coast along with a three-legged staffy cross, a cheeky terrier and a cat called Angus.  Cassandra enjoys music, the theatre, reading, and watching romantic comedies.

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