Thank you so much for having me here to talk about my debut erotic historical romance with Ellora’s Cave, Her Gilded Prison.
Her Gilded Prison is classified ‘erotic’ because the theme is sexual, and yet the story itself is more that of a good and faithful woman in the Regency era inadvertently discovering fulfilment in her limited sphere. I say ‘inadvertent’ because Lady Sybil’s motivations are purely altruistic to begin with, though the story has aroused contention amongst readers.
Some see it as a story about infidelity. The official blurb would suggest that’s the case, however, I wrote the story based around the question: ‘How far would a good and virtuous woman go to ensure the security of her daughters and the viability of the estate to which her husband has devoted his life?’
My heroine, Lady Sybil, and her husband have had four children in their twenty years of marriage. Two sons have died in their early teens and two daughters remain. Lady Sybil is still able to have children but her husband, who is utterly devoted to his mistress, cannot bring himself to sire an heir with his wife.
So Lady Sybil, desperate to ensure the estate doesn’t go to an unworthy distant relative who would then have the right to cast out her daughters once he inherits, decides upon bold action to provide the heir her husband cannot, or will not.
Her Gilded Prison is not about infidelity but about courage and determination to do what is right by an unloving husband and dependant daughters. Love becomes the complication—but only later.
Below is a letter my heroine, the lovely, unloved Lady Sybil might have written to her distant cousin, Persephone, hinting at her confused feelings. Although the letter doesn’t appear in Her Gilded Prison, it lays out Lady Sybil’s sentiments and motivations in courting the attentions of my gorgeous hero, Stephen, who is transformed from a “laddish” young man to a sensitive and caring and ultimately very heroic hero through his deepening affection for Lady Sybil, a woman forced into marriage with a man who has never loved her.
My dearest Persephone,
You will no doubt be expecting the usual weekly, prosaic account of my life: that Hetty remains terrified of the prospect of her London come-out as she is convinced no one will ask her to stand up with them; that Araminta is as defiant as ever and determined to ignore the shadow cast by her London season’s dramatic finale last year.
Nothing changes when it comes to my daughters, and my fears are as great as ever for them: that Araminta will singe more than just her wings in the flame she’s fanned to her own magnificence; and that Hetty will moulder in the country, never blooming as she might were she to experience the true regard of a kind and caring gentleman.
A regard I have never known from Humphry who nevertheless continues to provide us with everything we need, other than his affection and attention. He reserves that for—
Ah, but Persephone, you know the pain is too great to mention her name, even to you, my dearest cousin. It is not jealousy that prevents me. Simply the pain of believing I will never in my lifetime know the love or consideration of a good man.
But now I must confess to you a foolish woman’s fancy. The daydream of an old woman who ought to know better for I will be one-and-forty my next birthday and my concentration should be focused only on my daughters’ successes—not on my daydreams.
Dearest cousin, you have always been the voice of reason when I heard none from my chivvying, unsentimental mother and my disinterested father who would still have me wed Humphry when they knew his heart belonged to another.
The fact is, I believe I have garnered the special interest of a kind and very handsome young man. For a week I have tried to convince myself that I must be quite queer in the attic. Indeed I must, for this young man, Stephen, was—until yesterday—Humphry’s heir and has been staying with us to learn the running of the estate.
And now for the most shocking part of this letter which occurred at close to midnight last night and turned our lives upside down. Humphry’s nephew, the late Edgar, whom we were all so relieved to learn had been killed at Corunna, made his miraculous reappearance upon our doorstep. I thought Humphry would die from the shock. It certainly was not pleasure for now Stephen—capable, intelligent Stephen, Humphry’s distant cousin whom he’d been grooming as his heir—has been usurped by a dullard.
I wept bitter tears afterwards as I prostrated myself upon my lonely bed —not because Edgar will become the next viscount but because it is I who have failed. I have not provided Humphry with a male heir who will inherit all that for which my husband has worked; my failure imperils my daughters’ security if they do not marry, for it is quite possible Edgar will deny them tenure in the family home. He is contrary like that.
And now I must end for there is much to organise with Edgar’s return. Sadness weighs heavy upon my heart at the thought of farewelling Stephen whose charm and good nature have brightened the moods of everyone here.
Ah, Persephone, I would provide Humphry with an heir if he would only come to me but he will never betray that woman. Not even to try for the son who would change all our fortunes for the better.
Tomorrow I will solicit Stephen’s counsel. When he first arrived I thought him young and, being so handsome, surely overly fond of the young ladies. I was wrong. He is wise beyond his years, and he is kind. And, to my astonishment, he seems to hold me in high regard. The way he looks at me…
Foolish, I know. I will not pursue that line of thought. Suffice to say I feel sure he will listen well. I’m sure he will help me with the terrible conundrum that places all of us in such peril…”
About Her Gilded Prison
Lady Sybil’s perfect life is a perfect lie. Her husband spends more time with his beloved mistress and illegitimate children than he does with her. Worse, since he no longer beds her, they’re left with only a distant cousin as heir. While her husband lives, Sybil knows no erotic touches, no passion. No love. If her husband dies, her home will be entailed to Stephen, a stranger.
When Stephen visits the property that will one day be his, he’s instantly ensnared in a web of lust, longing and lies. For how can he resist Lady Sybil, a woman so full of beauty and life? A woman who deserves to be loved and worshipped and set free from the gilded prison in which she’s trapped? Stephen is determined to show Lady Sybil every pleasure she’s been deprived of, even if it means being forever condemned in society’s eyes.
Inside Scoop: This erotic Regency romance features an intense, taboo relationship between an older woman and a younger man.
A Romantica® historical erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave
“Think “Downton Abbey with sex….”
Update and Giveaway
Thank you so much for having me here today. I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s helped take my mind off losing my lovely Homer, the handsome Rhodesian Ridgeback you’ll see in my profile picture and who has been with the family for eleven years.
On a happier note, the sequel to Her Gilded Prison has just been acquired, I’m very pleased to announce. It’s called Dangerous Gentlemen and is as different in tone as possible from Her Gilded Prison as it follows the unexpected path of Lady Sybil’s quiet daughter Hetty through London revels.
I’d also love to offer a giveaway of my English Civil War novella The Cavalier to one random commenter.