I was recently asked to read and review a Historical Romance by an author that I have to admit I actually hadn't read anything by - yet! I am most certainly a fan of Elyse Mady now after reading THE WHITE SWAN AFFAIR available from Carina Press on May 21, 2012.
It is amazing! Gorgeous cover, too, don't you think?
Blurb for THE WHITE SWAN:
After the tragic death of her beloved, Hester Aspinall vowed never to be ruled by her passions again. Still, she is drawn to her landlord, handsome adventurer Thomas Ramsay—but she doesn't fool herself that a man of his station would look twice at a poor tailor's sister.
With the sea for a mistress, Thomas has no intention of entering into matrimony. And yet, he can't get the plain-spoken and desirable Hester out of his mind, even though she's never tried to secure his attentions as other women do.
Everything changes the night Hester's brother is arrested during a raid on a gay brothel, the infamous White Swan. With no one else to turn to, and terrified Robert will hang for his crime, Hester accepts Thomas's offer to bear the cost of the defense. A true gentleman, Thomas expects nothing in return—but Hester can no longer deny her own desires...
She may offer her body eagerly, but can she protect her heart?
* * * * *
Hester Aspinall was living a modest simple like with her brother, Robert in London until the morning Robert didn't join her for breakfast. She waited, her worry that something had happened to him that caused him not to return to sleep in his bed. Knowing what a courteous man her brother is, she concludes that he must have spent the night at his tailor shop after too much drink so she packs up a meal and heads to the shop. He's not there either. She soon discovers that her beloved newly engaged brother has been arrested in a raid upon a public house called the White Swan. He has been charged with having patronized this certain common, ill-governed and disorderly house in Claire Market and in this said house committed with sundry evil and ill-disposed persons all manner of dishonest conversation and unnatural acts. Robert was being charged with homosexual activity, a crime possibly punishable by hanging.
Hester is expelled from her meager lodgings, faces loss of income, and disgrace as well as an actual attack on her by Robert's fiancée's father and a crowd of onlookers. Injured and disgraced, Robert's landlord, Thomas Ramsay rescues her from the mob and takes her into his home for care and safety only adding more disgrace to her reputation for she is now a single woman living in an unmarried man's home without protection. At first she does everything to persuade him to allow her to take cheap lodging near Newgate Prison so that she might be close to her brother but Thomas refuses to allow her to live on her own in such a disreputable manner.
Thomas Ramsay's first love has always been the sea but upon meeting Hester Aspinall when her brother leases a shop from him for his tailoring business, he's immediately smitten with the stoic young woman. Rescuing her from the mob and then from herself as well as offering aid to Robert in prison, Thomas hopes to win over the brave and stoic young Hester. Unknown to him is that Hester fights her own mounting attraction to the handsome and considerate Thomas even as her brother orders to her to leave the man's home and take lodgings elsewhere.
Elyse Mady has taken a true life person in the name of Robert Aspinall and created a fictional world for him. She tells us that there was a real Robert Aspinall who earned a living as a tailor and who was, in fact, arrested in a raid on the White Swan and charged accordingly. Elyse has woven a wonderful story incorporating the real-life arrest, ultimate incarceration, and trial along with a fictional family background and future. Her characters are written with depth and her story is told in an incredible voice that invites the reader to feel as if they are actually in London, 1810, with all the sights, sounds, and smells. Her characterization of the times, the people, and what it would have been like to be charged with a crime and subsequently locked away in Newgate Prison was exceptional and eye-opening.
I highly recommend reading THE WHITE SWAN AFFAIR by Elyse Mady. It's an extraordinary historical romance that will take you on a journey through the worst of what London could be in 1810. The loyalty of a sister to a brother and a brother to a sister pulls at the heart. A woman's sacrifice of her own reputation so that she may experience the love she wishes to be her own. Her sacrifice believed to be in gratitude for the assistance the man gives her and her brother further tugs at the heartstrings until the resolute declaration of their love for each other. Even the love between two men brings a sense of romance that cannot be ignored. If you love learning new bits of history, if you enjoy a tale that will keep you glued to page after page, and a romance that brings a tear to your eye, THE WHITE SWAN AFFAIR by Elyse Mady will fill your every desire. I plan to experience more of her tales now that I know what an extraordinary writer she is. Thank you, Elyse, for a fabulous journey into the darkest parts of London.
Happy Reading Everyone!
THE WHITE SWAN AFFAIR by Elyse Mady, from Carina Press, available May 21, 2012 in ebook format.