Guest blog by Grace Elliot, author of Verity's Lie
In my new release, Verity's Lie, the heroine faces a future controlled either by an over-protective father or a manipulative husband. Sadly, in the 19th century this was not an uncommon problem because the male dominated society of the day decreed that women were irrational, disruptive creatures in need of a firm (male) hand to guide them. Women were looked on as descendants of Eve or Delilah – whose impulsive nature would land them in trouble if not kept in check. One quote (obviously written by a man) neatly sums up the opinion in which women were held in, describing them as – “children of larger growth”.
In the late 18th and early 19th century, the perfect woman was one that was passive, submissive and subservient, and society colluded to ensure they stayed exactly that way. Even in wealthy families, there was a marked distinction between how male and female children were treated. The daughter would be educated in reading and writing sufficient to manage household accounts, plus embroidery or music, with the sole purpose of making her into good wifely material. Her brother, however, would be taught about the world, learn languages and politics – equipping him for ruling –if not the country then his own life.
This injustice does not end there, because even in marriage, men had the better end of the deal . If a husband was unfaithful , the wife was expected to turn a blind eye to his infidelity – on the grounds that men needed their sexual needs assuaging. If however, the wife had an affair the husband could summarily divorce her – and refuse the wife any contact or access to the children of that marriage.
A woman who didn’t marry had limited options. Very few women, although there were exceptions, could make a living at a genteel career. The work available to women was usually low paid; as a seamstress, servant or governess – and many were forced into prostitution as the only way of providing for themselves. Again, male society condemned prostitution whilst men remained the created the market – it was the exceptional man who questioned the rule of supply and demand, or stopped to wonder what had driven women to such dire lengths.
In this excerpt from Verity's Lie, the heroine is introduced to Eulogy Foster – a woman who has succeeded in creating an honourable living – as an artist’s muse.
Farrell removed the brush from behind his ear. "Come, Ryevale, let's retire to my study and ring for tea." He indicated for his lordship to go first, and they left.
Verity stared after Ryevale, suddenly bereft without him, but then Eulogy seemed such easy company that there could be nothing to be anxious about. Then the suspicion hit that Ryevale had intended this all along, for her to be alone with his sister-in-law.
"There, now that those two men are gone, we can talk properly." Eulogy slid her arm through Verity's and guided her to a window seat.
"Whatever do you mean?"
"Come now. What is there between you and my brother-in-law?"
Verity hesitated. "I'm not sure what Lord Ryevale has said, but he is a friend and barely that."
Eulogy look amused. "That—in itself—is remarkable."
"What do you mean?"
"Ryevale isn’t the 'friendly' sort."
"Now, tell me honestly. Has he kissed you?"
Verity colored violently.
"I'll take that as a yes, then."
"But he only did it to protect me."
Eulogy's eyes widened. "That sounds exciting. Do tell."
"We were at Vauxhall. My father disapproves of such places...and I saw two of his acquaintances. Ryevale kissed me to conceal my identity."
Eulogy sucked in her cheeks and nodded. "I see...things begin to make sense."
Verity had the dizzying impression that Miss Foster already knew quite a lot about her. "Look. I'm not sure what Lord Ryevale has said..."
"Nothing, dear. Nothing, other than your father is overbearing."
"Ryevale really has not business interfering. Father loves me dearly."
"But has impossibly high standards."
Verity opened her mouth and closed it again. It was true. Much as she wanted to deny it, her father expected her to be a paragon—and the expectation exhausted her. Her shoulders slumped.
"Sometimes," Eulogy's face softened, "doing what's expected of you and doing what's right aren’t the same thing, and you have to make a choice."
"I don't understand."
"Let me relate a little of my story."
Seated side-by-side beneath the window, in a low voice Eulogy recounted how she was orphaned and as a young woman travelled alone to London in search of her one remaining relative, only to be turned onto the street by her brother. Verity listened open-mouthed at how Jack Huntley had saved Eulogy from being raped and then helped reunite her with an old family friend, Tristan Farrell.
Time flew past as Eulogy explained how Farrell had recognized her true identity and how she became his muse. How, despite being hounded by her estranged brother, Eulogy had fought back against attempts to blacken her reputation. She had been sustained by the determination to earn an honorable living and even refused Jack's first offer of marriage in order to remain independent.
Verity's mind raced: this woman had risen above destitution with dignity to make a career for herself. Compared to that, standing up to an overbearing father was nothing.
Verity’s Lie - Synopsis
Charles Huntley, Lord Ryevale, infamous rogue…and government agent.
In unsettled times, with England at war with France, Ryevale is assigned to covertly protect a politician’s daughter, Miss Verity Verrinder. To keep Verity under his watchful eye, Ryevale plots a campaign of seduction that no woman can resist– except it seems, Miss Verrinder. In order to gain her trust Ryevale enters Verity’s world of charity meetings and bookshops…where the unexpected happens and he falls in love with his charge.
When Lord Ryevale turns his bone-melting charms on her, Verity questions his lordship’s motivation. But with her controlling father abroad, Verity wishes to explore London and reluctantly accepts Ryevale’s companionship. As the compelling attraction between them strengthens, Verity is shattered to learn her instincts are correct after all – and Ryevale is not what he seems. If Lord Ryevale can lie, then so can she…but with disastrous consequences.
Grace Elliot leads a double life as a veterinarian by day and author of historical romance by night. Grace lives near London and is passionate about history, romance and cats! She is housekeeping staff to five cats, two sons, one husband and a bearded dragon (not necessarily listed in order of importance). “Verity’s Lie” is Grace’s fourth novel.
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