ABOUT DANGEROUS TO KNOW: JANE AUSTEN’S RAKES & GENTLEMEN ROGUES
“One has all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it.” —Jane Austen
Jane Austen’s masterpieces are littered with unsuitable gentlemen—Willoughby, Wickham, Churchill, Crawford, Tilney, Elliot, et al.—adding color and depth to her plots but often barely sketched. Have you never wondered about the pasts of her rakes, rattles, and gentlemen rogues? Surely, there’s more than one side to their stories.
It is a universal truth, we are captivated by smoldering looks, daring charms … a happy-go-lucky, cool confidence. All the while, our loyal confidants are shouting on deaf ears: “He is a cad—a brute—all wrong!” But is that not how tender hearts are broken…by loving the undeserving? How did they become the men Jane Austen created? In this romance anthology, eleven Austenesque authors expose the histories of Austen’s anti-heroes.
Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues is a titillating collection of Georgian era short stories—a backstory or parallel tale off-stage of canon—whilst remaining steadfast to the characters we recognize in Austen’s great works.
What say you? Everyone may be attracted to a bad boy…even temporarily…but heaven help us if we marry one.
Top 5 Historical Bad Boys by: Lona Manning
Rene and Lydia, thanks for inviting me to visit Lit. 4 Ladies so we can talk about our favorite rakes and rogues.
So, why do we love a rogue? Perhaps it’s because rogues don’t play by the rules; they live for the moment, they are self-confident and often cynical–and I can tell you, they are fun characters to write! A rake is not the same as a straight-up villain, like Prince John in Robin Hood. A rake has some quality or qualities that make him attractive, such as brooding good looks and seductive charm.
Christina Boyd has assembled eleven JAFF authors, including me, to bring Jane Austen’s rogues and rakes to life in a new anthology: Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentlemen Rogues.
My assigned rake in Dangerous to Know is Tom Bertram, Edmund Bertram’s older brother. Tom is sociable, energetic, immature and selfish; or in the words of his creator, Jane Austen, he is full of spirits, and… feels born only for expense and enjoyment. In my story, The Address of a Frenchwoman, he meets an enchanting émigré and gets the surprise of his life.
Tom also appears in my novel, A Contrary Wind: a variation on Mansfield Park, but I conceived him quite differently in the novel.
So I have two different Tom Bertrams and they are both rogues. So, to celebrate the release of the anthology and in the spirit of roguery—that must be a real word because I didn’t get a wavy red line under it—I’m sharing my top five favorite rogues in historical fiction.
Number one and towering over all is Harry Flashman. Flashman is a cheat, a cad, and a bounder:
…she writhed against me for five delicious seconds, and as I changed my grip to the half-Flashman—one hand on her right tit, t’other clasping her left buttock; and stand back referee—she slipped smoothly from my embrace.
George MacDonald Fraser took a character from a Victorian boy’s novel, Tom Brown’s Schooldays, and placed him at most of the major battles and turning points of the 19th century, from the Charge of the Light Brigade to Harper’s Ferry to Little Big Horn. There are 12 books in the series, although the latter few books don’t have the verve of the first novels.
#2) Richard Sharpe. My husband and I got hooked on Sharpe, the TV series, and then went on to read all of Bernard Cornwell’s books. Sharpe is a British officer who has risen through the ranks. He’s rough around the edges, hates authority and he’s irresistible to the ladies. Cornwell does not linger on romantic or steamy love scenes, but he manages to make the battlefield scenes interesting, (at least for me) and I always used to skip over those when I was reading historical fiction. There are 26 books in the Sharpe series—and the TV series, with Sean Bean breathing heavily as he clambers over the hills of Portugal, is great fun also.
Just remember, Braithwaite. While you were learning to be a fool at Oxford I was learning to kill men. And I learned well.
#3) Marcus Didius Falco, scrappy underdog private eye. I don’t read a lot of detective fiction, but Lindsay Davis brings corrupt, dangerous, exciting Ancient Rome alive. Didius Falco is a working-class cynic who falls in love with the daughter of a noble house. The first book in the series, The Silver Pigs, is exciting, funny, and romantic.
I like my women in a few wisps of drapery: then I can hope for a chance to remove the wisps. If they start out with nothing I tend to get depressed because either they have just stripped off for someone else or, in my line of work, they are usually dead.
#4) Rhett Butler. (Of course). Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell. He needs no introduction, I think!
“Always remember I never do anything without reason and I never give anything without expecting something in return. I always get paid.” His black eyes sought her face and travelled to her lips.
My final pick is a real historical character in my favorite historical fiction book.
#5) George Rogers Clark, brother to William Clark of Lewis & Clark fame. Clark’s exploits in the Revolutionary War deserve to be better known; a flawed hero who lied, bluffed and faked his way through several decisive encounters with the British. I love the sweeping family saga of the Clark family, From Sea to Shining Sea, by James Alexander Thom.
Well readers, I hope you enjoy the new anthology, Dangerous to Know. Be sure to pick it up during our blog tour while it is bargain-priced at only $2.99, and enter our rafflecopter.
Happy reading and tell me about your favourite rogue in the comments!
Excerpt from Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues
THE ADDRESS OF A FRENCHWOMAN by Lona Manning
Gentlemen, allow me to propose the first toast. To our host. Thank you for your hospitality, George. Here we are, half-a-dozen of the most eligible bachelors in the country, in exile from all womankind and happy to be so. We have dinner, a fire, plenty to drink, the races to talk over, and no other company wanted. To George!
Yes, fellows, since you press me so hard, yes, I confess it: Cupid’s darts have winged me severely. If you must have the story, pass me that bottle first. I can lift it with my left hand without paining my collarbone too much. Now, you may not like what you are about to hear. You think lightning will never strike you. But let me tell you, last year at the Basingstoke Races, I was neither looking to fall in love, nor looking for someone to fall in love with me, when all unawares—but stay, I must go further back….
It was in late June, I believe, when Henry Crawford and his sister arrived in Mansfield. Now, there’s a charmer—some of you have met Miss Mary Crawford in London, I daresay. Some may fault her figure—or lack of it—or some may fault her colouring. Personally, I fancy a nut-brown maid, but that is by-the-bye. What distinguishes Miss Crawford from the rest of her sex is her excellent discourse and her wit.
She took a vast liking to me, of course, and we bantered most agreeably for the first few weeks of our acquaintance while her brother, Henry, flirted with my sisters. A pleasant way to pass the summer; in mutual admiration but with no hearts involved. That is all that I thought or wished or intended. Then, by merest chance, one evening when we were all gathered together in the drawing room, I saw that my brother, Edmund, was following Miss Crawford with his eyes, most intently. What’s this? I said to myself. I undertook to watch him carefully and before long had discovered his little secret: he was harboring a tendresse for Miss Crawford. If you know Edmund, he is not one of those fellows who falls in love with every pretty face he meets; still less is he a flirt, like Crawford. But then, I imagine that Henry Crawford must labour twice as diligently to charm the ladies to compensate for his lack of height and his plain features, poor fellow. Edmund, on the other hand, is very well-looking but a most indifferent lover with no more idea of repartee than an infant!
So, what was I to do? Here was Edmund, making calf eyes at Miss Crawford. Here was Miss Crawford, working her eyelashes at me, and hinting, more than hinting, that she would like to be invited along to Basingstoke so she could watch my horse run! And, she added, with such an air of innocence, how much she would love to learn to ride, if only someone could undertake to give her some lessons, how grateful she would be. As long as I was in the picture, what chance did Edmund have?
Then I had an inspired thought. “Oh,” said I, “you should apply to Edmund. He has a gentle little mare, who would be capital for you. While we have such excellent weather, you should remain here at Mansfield and take your lessons with Edmund; it would be his very great pleasure. And after I return from Basingstoke, we can all ride out together!”
Damned clever of me, if I do say so. I not only took myself out of the race by going to the races but gave my brother an excuse to attend on Miss Crawford every morning: to guide and advise her, to help her up on her saddle, and lift her down again.
Oh, but she gave me a look when I proposed it! She was taken aback, to be sure. No doubt her sudden enthusiasm for horseflesh and racing had little to do with horses, but more with—well, no need to puff myself, fellows. But she agreed with a good grace, while Edmund looked grave, and said something about asking Fanny—that’s our little cousin—for permission. Honestly, I felt embarrassed for him. Not “I’ll wager that you will make an excellent equestrienne, Miss Crawford.” Not “I am yours to command, Miss Crawford” but “I must ask Fanny.” If he had not the spirit or the ardour to woo the lady under such a pretext as this, well—I washed my hands of him, that’s all. I had done all I could, more than many would do. The rest was up to him.
No regret on my part. Miss Crawford is charming, we all agree, but I never had a serious thought about her, and Edmund, as I said, is besotted with her. Here’s to Miss Crawford, then. “Miss Crawford.”
So, I set out for Basingstoke Down, well pleased with myself! I daresay, it really is gratifying to sacrifice present pleasure for the sake of someone you care about.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS and the EDITOR
CHRISTINA BOYD wears many hats as she is an editor under her own banner, The Quill Ink, a contributor to Austenprose, and a commercial ceramicist. A life member of Jane Austen Society of North America, Christina lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her dear Mr. B, two busy teenagers, and a retriever named BiBi. Visiting Jane Austen’s England was made possible by actor Henry Cavill when she won the Omaze experience to meet him in the spring of 2017 on the London Eye. True story. You can Google it.
KAREN M COX is an award-wining author of four novels accented with romance and history: 1932, Find Wonder in All Things, Undeceived, and I Could Write a Book, as well as an e-book novella companion to 1932, The Journey Home. She also contributed short stories for the anthologies Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer and The Darcy Monologues. Originally from Everett, Washington, Karen now lives in Central Kentucky with her husband, works as a pediatric speech pathologist, encourages her children, and spoils her granddaughter. Like Austen’s Emma, Karen has many hobbies and projects she doesn’t quite finish, but like Elizabeth Bennet, she aspires to be a great reader and an excellent walker.
MARIE CROFT is a self-proclaimed word nerd and adherent of Jane Austen’s quote “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.” Bearing witness to Joanne’s fondness for Pride and Prejudice, wordplay, and laughter are her light-hearted novel, Love at First Slight (a Babblings of a Bookworm Favourite Read of 2014), her playful novella, A Little Whimsical in His Civilities (Just Jane 1813’s Favourite 2016 JAFF Novella), and her humorous short stories: “Spyglasses and Sunburns” in the Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer anthology and “From the Ashes” in The Darcy Monologues. Joanne lives in Nova Scotia, Canada.
AMY D’ORAZIO is a former scientist and current stay-at-home mom who is addicted to Austen and Starbucks in equal measure. While she adores Mr. Darcy, she is married to Mr. Bingley and their Pemberley is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has two daughters devoted to sports with long practices and began writing stories as a way to pass the time spent at their various gyms and studios. She firmly believes that all stories should have long looks, stolen kisses, and happily-ever-afters. Like her favorite heroine, she dearly loves a laugh and considers herself an excellent walker. She is the author of The Best Part of Love and the soon-to-be released A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity.
JENETTA JAMES is a mother, lawyer, writer, and taker-on of too much. She grew up in Cambridge and read history at Oxford University where she was a scholar and president of the Oxford University History Society. After graduating, she took to the law and now practices full-time as a barrister. Over the years, she has lived in France, Hungary, and Trinidad as well as her native England. Jenetta currently lives in London with her husband and children where she enjoys reading, laughing, and playing with Lego. She is the author of Suddenly Mrs. Darcy and The Elizabeth Papers, as well as a contributing author to The Darcy Monologues.
LONA MANNING is the author of A Contrary Wind, a variation on Mansfield Park. She has also written numerous true crime articles, which are available at www.crimemagazine.com. She has worked as a non-profit administrator, a vocational instructor, a market researcher, and a speechwriter for politicians. She currently teaches English as a Second Language. She and her husband now divide their time between mainland China and Canada. Her second novel, A Marriage of Attachment, a sequel to A Contrary Wind, is planned for release in early 2018. You can follow Lona at www.lonamanning.ca where she blogs about China and Jane Austen.
CHRISTINA MORLAND spent the first two decades of her life with no knowledge whatsoever of Pride and Prejudice—or any Jane Austen novel, for that matter. She somehow overcame this childhood adversity to became a devoted fan of Austen’s works. When not writing, Morland tries to keep up with her incredibly active seven-year-old and maddeningly brilliant husband. She lives in a place not unlike Hogwarts (minus Harry, Dumbledore, magic, and Scotland), and likes to think of herself as an excellent walker. Morland is the author of two Jane Austen fanfiction novels: A Remedy Against Sin and This Disconcerting Happiness.
BEAU NORTH is the author of three books and contributor to multiple anthologies. Beau hails from the kudzu-strangled wilderness of South Carolina but now hangs her hat in Portland, Oregon. In her spare time, Beau is the co-host of the podcast Excessively Diverted: Modern Austen On-Screen.
KATIE OLIVER is the author of nine novels, including the Amazon bestseller Prada and Prejudice, as well as the Dating Mr. Darcy, Marrying Mr. Darcy, and Jane Austen Factor series. She resides in South Florida with her husband (where she goes to the beach far less often than she’d like) and is working on a new series. Katie began writing as a child and has a box crammed with half-finished stories to prove it. After raising two sons, she decided to get serious and get published. She is convinced that there is no greater pleasure than reading a Jane Austen novel.
SOPHIA ROSE is a native Californian currently residing in Michigan. A long-time Jane Austen fan, she is a contributing author to The Darcy Monologues, Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer, and Then Comes Winter anthologies, short stories based on Jane Austen’s works. Sophia’s love for writing began as a teen writing humorous stories submitted for Creative Writing class and high school writing club. Writing was set aside for many years while Sophia enjoyed a rewarding career working with children and families. Health issues led to reduced work hours and an opportunity for a return to writing stories that continue to lean toward the lighter side of life and always end with a happily-ever-after.
JOANA STARNES lives in the south of England with her family. Over the years, she has swapped several hats—physician, lecturer, clinical data analyst—but feels most comfortable in a bonnet. She has been living in Georgian England for decades in her imagination and plans to continue in that vein till she lays hands on a time machine. She is one of the contributors to The Darcy Monologues anthology, and the author of seven Austen-inspired novels: From This Day Forward—The Darcys of Pemberley, The Subsequent Proposal, The Second Chance, The Falmouth Connection, The Unthinkable Triangle, Miss Darcy’s Companion and Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter. You can connect with Joana through her website www.joanastarnes.co.uk and on Facebook via her timeline and her author page, All Roads Lead to Pemberley.
BROOKE WEST has always loved the bad boys of literature and thinks the best leading men have the darkest pasts. When she’s not spinning tales of rakish men and daring women, Brooke spends her time in the kitchen baking or at the gym working off all that baking. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and son and their three mischievous cats. Brooke co-authored the novel The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy and the short story “Holiday Mix Tape,” which appears in the anthology Then Comes Winter. Find Brooke on Twitter @WordyWest.
Grand Prize #1. Enter Rafflecopter to win fifteen books from the anthology authors! One winner. Fifteen books! Contest ends midnight, December 30, 2017. One “Grand Prize #1 winner” will be announced January 2, 2018.
Grand Prize #2. Follow our “Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s #RakesAndGentlemenRogues” Blog Tour and comment on each stop to be eligible for #RakesAndGentlemenRogues Pleasures prize pack: ‘Pride & Prejudice’ Print, autographed by Colin Firth & Jennifer Ehle; Bingley’s Teas (Willoughby & The Colonel); Jane Austen playing cards; set of 6 Austen postcards; and ‘The Compleat Housewife’ notecards set. (All guest comments will be entered in drawing to win. Comment at each site to increase your odds.) Contest ends midnight, December 30, 2017. One “Grand Prize #2 winner” will be announced January 2, 2018.