Behind the books


Writers of historical romance have differing ideas about how authentic the period background of their novel should be.  If it’s a romance, the argument goes, then the writer has greater licence in the way they represent the physical, social and political setting.

But whether it’s my academic background or just sheer pickiness, this argument doesn’t work for me.  I have to make the period detail as authentic as I can and that requires research.  Sometimes it’s just a case of checking.  In my latest Regency for example (no title as yet) I wanted the hero to offer the heroine a plate of madeleines but I had to confirm for myself that these were cakes known to Regency society.  Fortunately they were, because they were exactly the cake my hero had to offer!

At other times, the research takes more time, like reading up on the developments in transport during the early years of the century.  On occasions, there are things that you simply can’t discover and in this respect Walking Through Glass proved a challenge.  I thought I knew my Victoriana well, having taught the nineteenth century novel for years, but in reality the book pushed me to explore widely and despite doing so, I was left with things I couldn’t confirm.  I never found out, for instance, how an architect’s office in Great Russell Street would have gone about providing refreshments for its workers in 1851!  When you hit this kind of blank, you simply have to go with your own hunch.

Most of the research, of course, doesn’t find its way into the book.  If it did, it would weigh the story down but it seemed a shame just to lose it.  So when my first novel was published I thought it would be a good idea to include a few snippets of the research I’d done in a section of the website entitled Behind the Books.  As each novel has appeared I’ve carried on doing this and the snippets have grown so much that they now warrant their own index. 

If you have a minute or two to spare, do take a look through the index below.  Hopefully you’ll find something new and interesting in its pages.

Click on a link to find out more.  
Courtship and Marriage Almack's Assembly Rooms
Gambling Travelling in the Regency Period
Brighton Pavilion Bath
Fencing Sea Bathing
Debtors' Prisons Women of the Road
Uppark House Smuggling Along the South Coast of England
The Peninsular War  

Enjoy mystery as well as history, adventure as well as romance? Then take a look at my sister site at