From toiling for pennies to bare-knuckle boxing, a lady is prepared for every eventuality.
Lady Jane Ramsey is young, beautiful, and ruined. After being rescued from her kidnapping by a handsome highwayman, she returns home only to find her marriage prospects drastically reduced. Her father expects her to marry the repulsive Lord Lewes, but Jane has other plans. All she can think about is her highwayman, and she is determined to find him again.
Mark Virtue is trying to go straight. After years of robbing coaches and surviving on his wits, he knows it’s time to hang up his pistol and become the carpenter he was trained to be. He busies himself with finding work for his neighbors and improving his corner of Southwark as he tries to forget the girl who haunts his dreams. As a carpenter struggling to stay in work in the aftermath of The Fire, he knows Jane is unfathomably far beyond his reach, and there’s no use wishing for the impossible.
When Jane turns up in Southwark, Mark is furious. She has no way of understanding just how much danger she has put them in by running away. In spite of his growing feelings for her, he knows that Southwark is no place for a lady. Jane must set aside her lessons to learn a new set of rules if she is to make a life for herself in the crime-ridden slum. She will fight for her freedom and her life if that’s what it takes to prove to Mark—and to herself—that there’s more to her than meets the eye.
Jessica recently did a little time traveling to visit with Lady Jane for this revealing and exclusive interview:
It is late one October night in 1671 and I am sitting in the Rose & Crown in Southwark with Lady Jane Ramsey. She has just arrived from work, and she looks tired. Only halfway through the week and she’s already worked nearly thirty-six hours as a seamstress across the street. When we left her at the end of Tyburn, she was wearing a gorgeous blue dress and wielding a poker, and now she’s wielding needles in homespun. The difference is significant. I try to hide my surprise at her appearance as she downs her first glass of wine.
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me, Lady Jane.
(Whispers, distressed) Don’t call me that here!
(Lowers voice) Sorry! You’re the daughter of the Earl of Hereford and one of the wealthiest heiresses in England. Southwark is probably the most frightening slum in or around London. Why would you want to live here?
It’s not so much that I wanted to live here, but that I must. I value my freedom too highly to surrender it because someone tells me I ought to. My father controlled every detail of my life. My dresses, my servants, my meals, my lessons. He even chose the furnishings in my old room right down to that ghastly footstool with the salmon ruffles. When he chose a man for me--if you can say that Lord Lewes is indeed a man--I knew it had to end. I ran for my life to the only place I knew he’d never find me.
I’m sure Mark had something to do with your choice of location. How did you two meet?
There was a carriage accident some weeks past. My driver, Bennett, left me in the Three Compasses while he saw to the damage. Mark was there. I had my first taste of sherry with him and I kissed him! (laughs) He thought I was a prostitute, and I can’t truthfully say that I blame him. At any rate, I was kidnapped just after that by this mad lord who thought to make off with my inheritance, but Mark rescued me… (trails off with a dreamy expression)
That must have been some rescue to make you want to move here.
Oh, yes. He made quite an impression.
Do you miss anything about it at all? Being Lady Jane?
I do. It isn’t easy living in Southwark. I’d like a dry room with a good bed and enough money to afford kindling. I’d like to eat fresh bread every day and not have to ration my cheese until I get paid. I miss my maid, I miss drinking chocolate, and I miss all of my lovely thick stockings. I only have two pair now, you know, and the warmer ones are full of holes. I would love to sit in front of a roaring fire with tea and biscuits, but that’s not likely to happen here. Did you know that most people here have never even heard of tea?
Everyone drinks coffee, don’t they?
They do! And it’s the thickest, most vile concoction anyone ever dreamt of! But do you know, I’m growing accustomed to it? No matter how cold it gets, or how badly I’d like some tea, it’s not worth going back. This place has a charm of its own, and I like it here. There’s a fire just here, and I can have my coffee with a pork pie--they do marvelous pies here--and have a chat with my friends. I have friends now. That’s all I need, really.
Do you think you’ll ever want to go home?
That place is not home anymore. That sounds petulant, but it isn’t. I haven’t been here long, but I never want to leave. A comfort or two here or there isn’t enough to make me want to sacrifice my future or give up the rights to my own body. My father would have married me to a syphilitic old goat three times my age! Three times! I’d be dead in a few years and wishing I was in the meantime. I’d rather be poor than chattel.
Someone like Mark would be preferable?
God, yes! (blushes) Pardon my outburst, but of course. That is to say, I’d like that very much. I don’t think he holds me in very high esteem, however, so for now it’s just me and Horatio.
He’s the rat that lives in my wall. Charming fellow. He has darling little ears!
Buy the book
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Excerpt: Mark’s dream
The girl was beautiful.
She had him pinned to the bed. He was helpless beneath her hands. Her long fingers spanned his chest, tracing the line where the muscle dipped and gave way to shoulder. A hint of a smile played on her lips, more than just a little bit wicked. Kiss-crushed and sherry red, they were the sweetest thing he’d ever tasted.
“Like this?” She shifted back onto his hip bones.
She hovered above him like a conquering angel, all of the fearsome beauty of heaven in her laughing eyes, as grey and deadly as any steel. He could see the evidence of her ferocity in the iron poker that still projected from the door behind her head, a temptation as much as a warning.
“Getting there.” He grinned.
His hands rested on the curve of her waist, his rough, tanned skin a stark contrast to her smooth flesh, luminous and pale as the moon.
“More,” she moaned, rocking against him.
The bed slammed noisily against the wall, an insistent rapping that increased in frequency, strangely unconnected to the movements of her hips.
Somewhere in the distance, the sound of a saw.
Mark became aware of the bedclothes tangled around his legs. The stench of the river replaced the scent of her skin. She flickered as she bent over him with a sly smile, her hair falling around him like a curtain of copper silk. He was moments away from a bone-shattering orgasm. Just a little bit longer. She increased her pace, her breath quickening as she neared her peak. Her lips hovered above his, close enough to kiss, but somehow out of reach.
Her hips flickered under his hands and he heard the warble of a flock of geese.
“Jane,” he gasped, reaching out to grasp her as she disappeared, and finding only bed linen beneath his hand.
Other Southwark books
Tyburn (The Southwark Saga, Book 1): Notorious harlot Sally Green fights for survival in Restoration London. When a brutal attack throws them together, Sally is torn between the tutor who saves her and the highwayman who keeps her up at night; between new love and an old need for revenge. Winner of the Southern Magic Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence 2015.
Liquid Silver: www.lsbooks.com/tyburn-p975.php
Barnes & Noble: www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tyburn-jessica-cale/1120852744?ean=9781622101740
All Romance E-Books: www.allromanceebooks.com/product-tyburn-1695993-340.html
Jessica Cale is a historical romance author and journalist based in North Carolina. Originally from Minnesota, she lived for several years in Wales, where she earned a BA in history and an MFA in creative writing while climbing castles and photographing mines for history magazines. She kidnapped (“married”) her very own British prince (close enough) and is enjoying her happily ever after with him in a place where no one understands his accent. You can visit her at www.authorjessicacale.com.
Social media links
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessicaCale @JessicaCale