23 Sep 2014

Mistress of Lies by Holly West

Mistress of Fortune #2
Author: Holly West
Release Date: Sept, 29 2014
Publisher: Carina

London, 1679
Isabel, Lady Wilde, mistress of King Charles II, has made a good living disguised as fortune teller Mistress Ruby, counseling London's elite. But after the murder of one of her customers, business has taken a downturn, and Isabel is on the verge of accepting the king's offer to move into the palace.
Isabel's plans are interrupted when a beggar girl named Susanna shows up at her home, claiming to be her niece. Isabel always believed that her older brother, Adam, died alone during the plague. When Susanna reveals that Adam was actually murdered, Isabel is compelled to take up an impossible task: discover the truth about her brother's death, twelve years after it happened.
Isabel's investigation leads her through the gamut of London society, from bear-baiting matches and brothels to the realm of wealthy bankers. But as she uncovers her brother's dark secrets, Isabel begins to wonder whether the past is better left buried, especially when uncovering the truth could lead to her own funeral.
Carina Press

Author guest post
Re-Imagining Restoration London by Holly West

When I was fourteen, I read a historical romance novel called Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor. It was a huge sensation when it was published in 1944 and became a runaway bestseller. Though relatively tame by today’s standards (after all, it was my mother who encouraged me to read it), it drew lots of criticism for its depictions of sexuality.
While its portrayal of sex might’ve been scandalous at the time, it was its depiction of Restoration London and the reign of Charles II (1660-85) that captivated me. I was a young American girl who’d never traveled outside of California and Winsor’s vivid rendering of this magical place overtook me. It began a life-long interest in England, and London, especially.
Before I ever got a chance to see England in person, I married an Englishman (purely coincidence, despite my status as an Anglophile) who’d immigrated to Los Angeles for work. Our first visit to his homeland was for his grandmother’s 80th birthday celebration and his sister’s wedding.
After dreaming about seeing London for so many years, it had a lot to live up to. The city had taken on an almost mythical quality for me. I’m happy to say that it surpassed my expectations. If I’d been childishly infatuated with the city before, upon visiting that first time, I knew it was true love.
When I sat down to write my debut novel, Mistress of Fortune, I knew beyond doubt that I’d set it in Restoration London. I also knew that when I finished my first draft, I’d conduct a research tour of the city, going to all of the locations that appear in the book. The first morning, my husband and I set off for the Tower of London, where I’d been before but now studied with a different eye. I needed to absorb the atmosphere so that I could infuse my book with it. I scouted out little details, trying to imagine my characters walking these same streets. For the next five days we traversed London from the Tower to Primrose Hill, much of it on foot, searching for Restoration London.
To be certain, the city has changed greatly in the past three hundred-fifty years. Plague, fires, wars, and urban development have altered the landscape, and little of Charles II’s city remains. But there are pockets of it that seem untouched; commemorative plaques and monuments appear everywhere and remnants of the City Wall are still evident. If you look closely enough you can still see Restoration London, even if most of it is of your imagination.
My goal as a writer was to re-create this city I love so much as faithfully as I could. The second book in the Mistress of Fortune series, Mistress of Lies, takes up where the first book leaves off and leads my heroine, Isabel, Lady Wilde, though the gamut of 17th century London society, from bear-baiting matches to brothels to the realm of wealthy bankers. Having now visited London several times over the years, I can confidently say the love affair continues, and I look forward to our next encounter.

Holly West is a crime fiction writer based in Los Angeles. Her short stories appear in several anthologies and her debut historical mystery, MISTRESS OF FORTUNE, will be published by Carina Press in 2014.

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