Inspiration for Courting Chaos

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When I began Taming Beauty I had no intention of embarking upon an entirely new series. After all, I still have Gilroy’s tale to tell as book 4 of my Idyllwild Series, and books 2 and 3 of what will one day be a series featuring Veronica and Bernice from Pretty Poison.

Alas, in the course of writing Taming Beauty, I introduced Lilith’s sisters, Harry and Kate – honestly they were only meant to be minor secondary characters with no responsibilities beyond moving the plot forward – and they simply demanded more page time. More and more and more, until I had no choice but to give them their very own stories.

I knew little of Harry beyond the fact that she was another of Lord Dunaway’s illegitimate daughters, as well as the granddaughter of the Duke of Montclaire and the Scandalous Bathsheba Sinclair. She’d proven herself to be particularly prickly, surprisingly cynical and exceedingly clever. Her father, the debauched and dissolute Dunaway, described her as a woman destined to carve out her own fate. Harry proudly proclaimed herself determined to lay waste to all the Earl of Dunaway held dear. I suspected Harry needed a charming rake to smooth her jagged edges and introduce her to the softer, sweeter side of life with a liberal application of laughter and love.

But who was Miss Hesperia O’Connell? While creating teasers for Taming Beauty I came across this lovely painting that just captured my imagination…


Victorian Lady, Green Dress by John O’Brien

I recognized Harry in the woman standing alone before a window, quietly surveying her domain. But as Harry isn’t a country girl, her domain would hardly feature a pond with swans gliding over its placid surface. Nor would we find her in Mayfair, Fitzrovia or even Bloomsbury. No, Harry’s stubborn desire to control her own future would put her in the heart of London, where her curiously calculating mind and mercenary tendencies would allow her to bloom and thrive.

Thus, I transformed the luxurious parlor into a spacious flat that had previously housed a dance academy, and situated it atop a book shop in a working class neighborhood in the East End of London.                                             
Harry's flat above bookshop

In exploring various neighborhoods suitable to Harry’s needs, I discovered Wellclose Square. Dubbed one of the East End’s “Lost Squares” and possibly the site of one of London’s “Lost Rivers”, Wellclose Square was once part of the Precinct of Well Close and has a rich history dating back the dissolution of the monasteries. With its close proximity to the River Thames, Wellclose Square was inhabited by working and middle-class men and women whose businesses were local to the area or connected to the river or the sea.

         Wellclose Square  Corner of Stable Yard, Wellclose Square    

The neighborhood had a sordid side as well. At one time, the Neptune Street Gaol, the Court House and the Cock and Neptune pub were connected to the extent that the publican acted as gaoler. Philanthropist John Howard visited in 1777 and described the gaol (mostly utilized as a debtor’s prison) as a “resort of idle and dissolute persons, who came there to drink and play, and were encouraged to do so by the keepers in order to increase the profits of their office.”


Grace's Alley, Wellclose Square

Grace’s Alley, Wellclose Square


With the neighborhood possessing that sort of seamy reputation, is it any wonder that Phineas believes Harry to be running numbers and rigging boxing matches for Wellclose Square’s version of a crime lord?

Courting Chaos is available now at Amazon.

Read an Excerpt

Congratulations to our latest Corset Winner: Nancy Zahar. 
April’s Corset is a Spring Fling of Floral Fuschia, outrageous enough that Harry might have had gown run up from the same fabric (with an outlandish bonnet to match, of course). 

To enter simply post a Comment. Any comment will do, a bit of news, an idiom that’s always struck you as amusing, a historical ideal you’ve found ludicrous or a notion of any sort.
I’ll randomly choose one winner from all entrants on May 1st.
(U.S. Only)

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