A realistic Prince Charming? My Lady Original
To make my day, My Lady Original is coming out with Escape publishing in December! Woooooo! This is always the good bit, and I had a lot of fun playing about with the hero, Lord Darenth, who is everything a hero ought to be...in fact, a bit too much. He's tall, he's dark, he is rich, titled, terribly charming and spectacularly handsome. Oh, yes. Jack Darenth is drop-dead gorgeous, he is perfect, and I'm just waiting for the reviews to slate him as being completely unrealistic.
Or is he?
Jack Darenth is a viscount, of which there are 115 in England. Almost all of them are wealthy, many will be charming, dark, tall, or all three, so at some point, there had to be a viscount who was also drop-dead gorgeous. It's statistics. The current Marquess of Bath's father was said to be 'the handsomest man who ever lived' and charming as hell. These men may not be common, but they do exist.
They also, in Jack's time, were the A-listers of their day. The idea of fancying actors was relatively recent - gossip and adoration focussed on the aristocracy, and with the majority of women having no career but marriage, men such as Jack were the dream goal for all from their own class down. Every possible trick was used to land them, every advantage used, even their bedrooms broken into if it would get the hunter such a huge reward. Look at poor Jane Bennet, sent out in the rain on a horse so that she had to stay overnight at Mr Bingley's. Mr Bingley was not even A-list. Show Mrs Bennet a Lord Darenth, she'd have gone berserk.
Nor was this confined just to the men. Rich, titled, beautiful girls were often deemed to be at risk of kidnapping or ruined by unscrupulous fortune-hunters. The Countess of Strathmore was targeted by a man who wrote anonymous letters to a newspaper denouncing her, then those in his own name defending her, then challenged the editor to a duel for failing to protect her, and claimed he'd been mortally wounded to bring her to the altar. Confused? She was the richest woman in Georgian England, and it worked. That was how far a man would go, although tactics were often cruder. The same poor Countess was abducted when she tried to escape him, a tactic that worked centuries earlier on Mary Queen of Scots. So rich was the prize that hunters could be brutal.
As a historian, one thing I do find is that people do not really change. These days, girls sob and cry hysterically over handsome, rich actors; 200 years ago, they did the same to handsome, rich aristocrats, hunting them for their status or their money. Unfortunately for my hero this time, a smash-hit novel 'reveals' that he is dying to find true love, and pandemonium breaks out.
So there is Jack: the equivalent of a young Hugh Jackman with screaming fans told he wants them. Not that unrealistic after all!