Please join us in welcoming the lovely KJ Charles to Sinfully. With the upcoming release of A Seditious Affair, the second book in The Society of Gentlemen series, she has popped in to chat about putting romance into history.
There’s also a giveaway, so don’t miss out!
Putting the romance into history
The Society of Gentlemen trilogy is set in a particularly nasty period of English history, starting with the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, when magistrates sent armed cavalry into a peaceful reform meeting, killing more than a dozen and wounding hundreds. The government’s reaction to the popular outrage this caused was to pass the horrendously repressive Six Acts to silence protest. As a result, a group called the Spencean Philanthropists set out to murder the British cabinet in what became known as the Cato Street Conspiracy. The Regency: it’s not all Mr Darcy in a wet shirt.
In the first book, A Fashionable Indulgence, I used the Peterloo Massacre as a driving force, but it happens off page. In A Seditious Affair, my hero is right in the middle of the action. Silas Mason is a radical, an extremist--and a Spencean. He’s in the Cato Street Conspiracy up to his neck. (Meanwhile Dominic, his lover, is employed by the government to hunt radicals down, and it’s his job to see Silas hang. Where’s the fun in romance if you don’t have a few difficulties to overcome?)
Using history as a backdrop is one thing; putting fictional MCs in the middle of real events is quite another. That means reconciling what actually happened and who did it with your story, giving your characters a role that doesn’t compromise the facts. I don’t get on with realistic historical fiction where the MCs take a causative role in events. (The Doctor Who sort of thing where Paul Revere gets sick so the heroine rides to warn the militia instead.) It jolts me out of my immersion if I’m thinking: hold on, that’s not what happened.
I love alternate history dearly; by all means put Dracula on the British throne. But for me, fiction in a ‘real’ setting has to respect the history it’s using. Because history isn’t a backdrop or a stage setting or a foil for a love story. It’s real people’s lives that mattered to them as ours matter to us. So I felt it was important to use the real events of Cato Street, the real jawdropping stupidity of the real idiots involved (and boy, were they), even their real dialogue as recorded at the time. I wanted to tie up Silas and Dominic in this mess without infringing the facts or changing the course of history, tempting though that was.
I’ve tried to depict the farcical tragedy of the Cato Street Conspiracy accurately as part of the Society of Gentlemen’s world, to show how political turbulence swept up my seditionist and his Tory lover as it did thousands of others. Silas and Dominic’s story is mine, but the story of Cato Street is that of real people who lived and died for a dream of freedom, no matter how deluded. I hope I’ve treated it well.
A Seditious Affair
(Society of Gentlemen #2)
Publisher ~ Loveswept
Published ~ 15th December 2015
Genre ~ Historical M/M Romance
Silas Mason has no illusions about himself. He’s not lovable, or even likable. He’s an overbearing idealist, a Radical bookseller and pamphleteer who lives for revolution . . . and for Wednesday nights. Every week he meets anonymously with the same man, in whom Silas has discovered the ideal meld of intellectual companionship and absolute obedience to his sexual commands. But unbeknownst to Silas, his closest friend is also his greatest enemy, with the power to see him hanged—or spare his life.
A loyal, well-born gentleman official, Dominic Frey is torn apart by his affair with Silas. By the light of day, he cannot fathom the intoxicating lust that drives him to meet with the Radical week after week. In the bedroom, everything else falls away. Their needs match, and they are united by sympathy for each other’s deepest vulnerabilities. But when Silas’s politics earn him a death sentence, desire clashes with duty, and Dominic finds himself doing everything he can to save the man who stole his heart.
Advance praise for A Seditious Affair
“This book is so good I read it in one sitting. I just couldn’t put it down. K. J. Charles has long been one of my favorite authors, and this book doesn’t disappoint. A Seditious Affair is a beautiful love story interwoven with the realism of the political unrest of the time—another winner from K. J. Charles!”—USA Today bestselling author Carole Mortimer
Meet KJ Charles
KJ Charles is a writer and freelance editor. She lives in London with her husband, two kids, an out-of-control garden and an increasingly murderous cat.
KJ writes mostly romance, gay and straight, frequently historical, and usually with some fantasy or horror in there. She specialises in editing romance, especially historical and fantasy, and also edits children’s fiction.