The heroine of my August release, Outrageous Confessions of Lady Deborah, writes erotic novels in which the main protagonist, the voluptuous Bella Donna, pleasures and humiliates men to an equal degree. In her real life, Deborah has enormous issues with her sexuality, but her alter ego is irresistible. Here is Bella through the eyes of one of her victims:
‘… quite the most exotic and alluring creature he had ever clapped eyes upon. Clad in a black velvet robe with a décolleté so daring it seemed to be held in place only by the sheer power of her considerable will, she was the stuff of every red-blooded man’s fantasy. Dark silken tresses tumbled down her back. Her skin was the colour of whipped cream. Her lips were full, painted harlot red. Her countenance sultry. The black stock of the cat-o-nine-tails she stroked was thick and weighty. She was, overall, a perfect combination of the voluptuous and the vicious which sent the blood surging to the marquis’s most prized piece of anatomy. Charles Mumford groaned. Whether in trepidation or anticipation only he could truly know.’
The idea of having my heroine write erotica came to me a while back, long before that trilogy hit the news and became a publishing sensation. Of course steamy books are hardly a new phenomenon - John Cleland’s Fanny Hill was first published in 1748 and it’s been a best-seller ever since, and I’m pretty certain that those Regency ladies who read the French translation of 1001 Nights were much more interested in the naughty bits than the story of Ali Baba and his Forty Thieves. But what’s different about Deborah’s ‘Bella Donna’ stories is that they are written for women by a woman – and in that sense, my heroine presages what many people will think of as a very 21st Century phenomenon. It’s true what they say – there’s nothing new under the sun.
When it came to writing about Deborah and her relationship with her publisher, I ‘borrowed’ from real-life too – my own. While Mr Freyworth bears no resemblance whatsoever to my lovely editor, he speaks some of her lines. I almost expected the paper to burst into flames, and this scene too had about it an authenticity which elevates your writing to a new plane, are almost direct quotes. Luckily for Deborah, there was no call to use the one that makes my heart sink, this has the makings of a great story!
Freyworth & Sons publish Deborah’s books under a different name, lest their reputation be tarnished. This was common practice for respectable firms wishing to cash in on the very lucrative business of ‘warm’ stories without risk. Others, the ‘grub street’ publishers, were less discreet. Edmund Curl, one of the most famous of those, was pilloried in 1728 when he printed Venus in her Cloister, an edifying tale of teenage nuns. One of the reasons ereaders have made erotica so popular is that no-one can tell what you are reading. In Deborah’s day, the solution was to wrap the book in a plain cover, or to sell it (from the back room of one of
many bookshops) unbound, leaving the purchaser to disguise it between the
covers of something more innocuous.
Deborah’s books don’t make her a fortune, but they do gain her financial independence. By pure coincidence, the first of her stories, which began as the antidote to Deborah’s own heartache, resonated with a huge untapped audience – women. Though I hadn’t heard the term when I wrote this book, I think ‘mummy porn’ could easily be applied to Deborah’s novels. If only she could have sold the magic lantern rights for megabucks, like her illustrious successor!
Outrageous Confessions of Lady Deborah is out now in the
US and Canada.
Here’s what the Romantic Times said
4 Stars. Daring. Dangerous. Delightful. Kaye’s new Regency romance is a riveting and thrilling adventure between a writer and a thief, both bent on revenge, and neither expecting to find love at last. Kaye has another winner on her hands, with an original plot, lots of sizzling passion and enough nail-biting action to satisfy every fan.