Please welcome debut author Erica Monroe back to the drawing room! Erica has just released her first novel, A Dangerous Invitation. I was lucky enough to read it in advance and let me tell you, it’s spectacular! It’s incredibly well-researched, the love story is, well, lovely, and the adventure is page-turning. You simply must add it to your TBR pile. And now, let me turn things over to Erica!
Thank you so much to Darcy for inviting me to come back to the Duchesses! It’s always fun to be here.
When writing my debut novel A Dangerous Invitation, I did a lot of research into the rookeries that existed in 1830’s London. A rookery, derived from the word “rook” which means to steal, is a poorer area where crime and vice flourished. Because of the architectural layout of London, these pockets often occurred right in between the middle class and upper class areas of the ton. Stories of aristocrats and travelers wandering onto the wrong street and being accosted by footpads are not that far off from fact. If you didn’t know how to conduct yourself accordingly, you definitely didn’t want to end up in a rookery, for fear you’d lose more than just your purse. These areas were hotbeds of illegal activity, hosting anywhere from housebreakers (ken crackers), pickpockets (files), and ark ruffians (men who would murder and then toss the bodies of their victims into the Thames).
Of course, some people lived in the rookeries simply because they couldn’t afford to live anywhere else. You’d have six people crowded into one room in a crumbling tenement house. But to the aristocracy, who lived in stately manors and didn’t often concern themselves with the poor, these people didn’t exist. They were to be forgotten about, condemned for their origins and the crime they eventually turned to. With little other options, the children were often raised to steal from birth.
While all of this sounds wretched, there were parts of living in the rookeries that could give one hope. The simple triumph of the human soul over adversity. The bonds formed between thieves—often, they became like family to each other, as I show later in my Rookery Rogues series with the Chapman Street gang I’ve invented (though Chapman Street is indeed a real street in Ratcliffe). My heroine Kate’s best friend has associations with Chapman Street, and because of those connections, Kate is able to get a few goods received in that she wouldn’t otherwise have had.
You see, the heroine of A Dangerous Invitation is a fence for stolen goods. When her father’s shipping company went bankrupt after his death, Kate Morgan was stripped of the upper middle class life she’d had. She had no money, no living connections, and no one wanted to associate with her because of the infamy surrounding her betrothed’s arrest for murder and subsequent escape from London, and her father’s business failure. With nowhere to turn, Kate finds herself in the Ratcliffe rookery, which was located near Wapping and the London Docks. Kate spent her youth cataloguing her father’s imported inventory, and so she uses that knowledge to set herself up as a fence. She takes in goods the thieves need to resell quickly and anonymously, and she then turns over those goods for her own profit.
It’s not a particularly lucrative existence when compared with her former, but it affords Kate a certain amount of independence. After two and a half years of living in Ratcliffe, she knows the back alleys to take to afford the newly formed Metropolitan Police (debuting in 1829). She’s learned to pick locks and how to shoot with shocking accuracy. She can go into the flash houses, dens where thieves congregate, and she sits in the public house with little censor because she’s already so far removed from her middle class origins.
When Kate’s past betrothed, Daniel O’Reilly, returns to regain her heart and prove his innocence in the murder he was accused of three years prior, she thinks she must choose between her new independent life and the old one she had.
But as she learns, love isn’t about choosing—it’s about an acceptance of your identity, whether you’re a fence for stolen goods or an alcoholic struggling to remain sober.
One fatal mistake cost Daniel O’Reilly the woman he loved, spiraling him toward drunken self-destruction. Now sober, he’ll have to prove he’s innocent of the murder he was accused of three years ago. But pistol-wielding Kate Morgan hasn’t forgiven his sins.
Torn from her privileged existence by her father’s death, Kate Morgan has carved out a new independent life in the Ratcliffe rookery as a fence for stolen goods. Daniel’s invitation to assist him jeopardizes her structured existence. Yet Kate can’t resist his touch, or the wicked desires he stirs within her.
As their renewed passions grow reckless, their investigation takes them through the darkest and most depraved areas of the City. To catch a killer, they’ll have to put secrets behind them and trust only their hearts.
Erica Monroe writes dark, suspenseful historical romance. Her debut novel, A Dangerous Invitation, Book 1 of the Rookery Rogues series, released in December 2013. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina, and the Beau Monde Regency Romance chapter. Erica can also be found blogging every other Saturday at Teatime Romance. When not writing, she is a chronic TV watcher, sci-fi junkie, lover of pit bulls, and shoe fashionista. She lives in the suburbs of North Carolina with her husband, two dogs, and a cat.
One lucky commenter will win a copy of A Dangerous Invitation! The winner will be announced Sunday, December 15. If you simply can’t wait to win (and you may not be able to – this book is awesome!), you can get your copy today! (A paperback edition will be available later this month.)