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Monday, December 16, 2013

Blog Tour: The Highwayman's Bride by Jane Beckenham (Guest Post + Giveaway)

I am very pleased to welcome Jane Beckenham to my blog today!

**Jane will be awarding $25 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. To visit Jane's other stops, click here

Jane has penned a very interesting piece on highway robbery in historical England -

ANGER AND DEATH ON THE HIGHWAY
Jane Beckenham

             Myth or reality?  Who knows?  We all know of Robin Hood and his band of merry men, robbing from the rich and giving to the poor.  Then there’s the highway robber, long considered gentlemen thieves and rather  romantic figures.  They were termed ‘common as crows’ during the period 1650 to 1800.

             In those days, travel was difficult, and because of the lack of decent roads, no one road alone, fearful of being robbed. Many would write their Wills before taking such a journey, and hired escorts for such excursions. They were considered to dress well, be well mannered.

 The legend of the highwayman and used threats rather than violence. "Stand and Deliver" and "Your money or your life,” is historically known as their catch phrases.

            As with myth and legend though, there were well-born and well-mannered highwaymen, they sadly were outnumbered by those who practiced their trade with brutality. Violence and rape were common. When Tom Wilmot had difficulty removing a woman's ring, he cut off her finger. Highway robbers originated during the English Civil Wars. When Charles I was defeated, many Royalists had their estates confiscated.

Left bankrupted these cavaliers journeyed into the world of highway robbery. Most plied their trade on the four main roads leading to London. The Great Western Road, Hounslow Heath, the Great North Road, the Dover Road Oxford Road. However, the establishment of the public stagecoach in 1658 gave highwaymen a new target, especially after 1734 when the coaches began to carry mail.

            But as policing improved with the establishment of the Horse Patrol around London in 1805, and the Metropolitan Police in 1829, it meant the time was up for highwaymen.

            Claude du Vall was known as a ‘true gentleman of the road’.  Born in Normandy he arrived in England after being hired by English royalists and then became a footman to a nobleman.  Loved by the ladies of all classes, he was a fine dresser and well mannered and never used violence.

            Captured drunk in a tavern, Claude was sent to Newgate.  He was hung at the age of 27, followed by an elaborate funeral at St Paul’s!

Dick Turpin is probably the most famous highwayman, along with his horse, Black Bess.  Born in 1706 he apprenticed as a butcher then took to stealing animals to slaughter.  Caught in the act he hid, but resurfaced in a gang known as the Essex Gang.  The gang invaded isolated farmhouses, terrorizing and torturing the female occupants into giving up their valuables. 

At one robbery it is reported that when the widow refused to co-operate he hoisted her into the open fire until she gave in.

By 1737 Turpin had achieved such notoriety the bounty on his head had escalated to one hundred pounds.  However, it couldn’t last and eventually he was captured while using an assumed name and sentenced to death.  Like a true showman he even hired five mourners for 10 shillings each.

But highway robbery was not just the forte of the male population. English aristocrat Lady Katherine Ferrers (4 May 1634 – c. 13 June 1660) was also known also as the "Wicked Lady" and  terrorized the county of Hertfordshire  robbing and generally creating havoc before dying from gunshot wounds sustained during a robbery.

But why would a young woman, gentry even, take to the highways and rob people at gunpoint?

It all comes back to the politics of the time.  Many families who were royalists were deprived of their property and incomes and forced to take to thievery to make ends meet. Married at 14 her family fortune and assets however were controlled by Katherine’s husband and sold off; as his wife she would have been powerless to stop him. But again as it was with the male of her trade, life is short and the young Lady Katherine died at the age of 26, shot during a robbery and found to be wearing men’s clothing.

And so it led to my character Tess Stanhope in The Highwayman’s Bride.

What makes a person, a woman, particularly in those times when women’s roles were so restrictive to actually take to the roads? Death is inevitable as shown from the young age they died. So why the risk?

            It has to be a desperate situation and for Tess, it’s either marry a man as despicable as her uncle, an abuser, or run away – but with no money to leave, sometimes you have to resort to something you would normally never, ever consider. Highway robbery.

Happy reading everyone
***
About the book:
England, 1813

Forced into a marriage . . .

Compelled by her uncle to marry a man who has a predilection for violence, Tess Stanhope resorts to a ploy from her favorite novels to fund an escape—highway robbery. But her attempt is botched by a maddening, handsome rogue named Aiden.

Driven by revenge . . .

Aiden Masters, the Earl of Charnley, is hell-bent on avenging his sister’s brutal treatment at the hands of the criminal Florian Nash. He single-mindedly seeks vengeance at the expense of all else—even by furtively roaming the highways at night. 

Blackmailed for love . . .

At a London party Tess meets up with Aiden once again and blackmails him...marry her or she’ll divulge to society his clandestine life as a highwayman. She desires a marriage in name only—but the more time they spend fighting their desire, the closer they come giving in.



Excerpt: 
“Stand and deliver.” Those three words made it all real, and the fantasy dissolved. Loosening her hold on the reins, she wrapped her free hand over the one holding the pistol and tried to steady it.

“Do as he says,” called a decisive voice, the icy tone echoing from the veil of darkness.

“What!” Her gaze switched momentarily to the other side of the copse as a rider and horse drew up alongside her. He brandished a pistol towards the carriage. Shock and fear ran in rivulets down her spine. She wanted to flee. Hide. But it was too late, and there was no going back.

Tess swallowed back her fear. “Who are you? What are you doing here?”

“Steady your pistol lad, or you’ll be dead in seconds.”

Lad? Lad? He talked to her.

“Don’t you want to share your takings?”

“Exactly.” She flicked her pistol toward the carriage driver, making sure he understood she meant business. “Hurry up.”

“Don’t shoot, don’t shoot. We’re simple folk with no money,” came a cultured voice. The carriage door slammed back and splintered.

“Don’t make them like they used to,” remarked the man on the horse beside her.

Her mouth pursed. “Go away.” 

“No.” The ragged cloth tied across his mouth and nose muffled his voice. “Unless you want to get yourself killed, that is. These roads can be dangerous.”

Tess eyed him, and even in the dim moonlight witnessed a surprising twinkle in his eyes. “So why are you here? Should you not be tucked up safe and sound in your bed?”

“You need me.”
***
AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Multi-published author Jane Beckenham lives in a tiny slice of paradise just north of Auckland, New Zealand. From her office she can watch the tuis and fantails flit about, along with families of pukeko and quails and a pair of lorikeets have taken up residence.

Along with the menagerie of bird life, are Jane’s husband of thirty years and two daughters, and her beloved dog, Bingo.

For the last ten years Jane has sat in her office every day, writing stories of hope and dreams that bring a smile to her face and hopefully her readers too.  Romance, love and honor are the words in Jane’s tag line, and words she believes are the centre of all her romances.

Jane’s love of reading began as a child when she spent years in hospital. Those days inspired her dreams, which over the years have become a crucial part of her life. Dreaming of being able to walk again, then dreaming of her own happy after, and dreaming of becoming a mother, and subsequently adopting her daughters from Russia.

Come and dream a little while with Jane.

Email Jane at neiljane@ihug.co.nz
Twitter @JaneBeckenham


Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

**Jane will be awarding $25 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. To visit Jane's other stops, click here
***

46 comments:

  1. Mary thank you for hosting me, much appreciated. Just a small thing, you have someone else's excerpt here, that's not mine. Can u pls change it LOL
    I hope all your visitors like my article. They certainly were interesting days.
    Jane

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    1. So sorry, Jane! Apparently my paste button didn't work then. Fixed it now!

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  2. Fascinating facts about Highwaymen, Jane. Most interesting.

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    1. Hi Rowena, thanks for popping in, appreciate that. Yes, they were wild and scary days back then, and you literally took your life in your hands when you travelled on the roads.

      Jane

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  3. Hi, Jane! Congratulations on The Highwayman's Bride! It's a very interesting premise and I'm very curious about it.

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    1. Hey Tin, thanks for popping in. The Highwayman's Bride is doing really well, lots of 5 star reviews coming in which are like early Christmas pressies! The blog host has inadvertently put up the wrong excerpt, not mine, so pop back a bit later and hopefully the proper one will be up.
      Jane

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    2. Thanks for stopping by, Tin! :)

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  4. Oh wow that was really interesting. Thanks for the post!

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    1. Thanks for popping in, and i do love your tag line - herding cats and burning soup! really fun and quirky...
      Jane

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  5. Sounds like an exciting read Jane. Good luck with the blog tour and book.

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    1. Thank you jolliffe for popping in, much appreciated.
      Jane

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  6. Wow I LOVE the cover! It's like a cross between a classic romance cover and the newer "Twilight-esk" covers. Very neat!

    andralynn7 AT gmail DOT com

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    1. Andra Lyn, thanks re the cover, i've had so much great feedback on it and the book too, lots of 5 star reviews coming in - yay!
      Jane

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  7. Awesome guest post, I always think of as highwaymen as rather romantic figures, though the truth is not nearly as rosy lol. I'm in the middle of reading The Highwayman's Bride at the moment, and really enjoying it!

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    1. Cerian i think we all thought of highwaymen as romantic a bit like Robin Hood. Trouble was they were stealing for themselves LOL. I am so pleased you're enjoy THB, i loved writing it, especially the scenes with Aiden and Alexander, but then Tess and Aiden were made for each other

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  8. I really never thought about why there were so many highwaymen. It was really interesting to read your comments on them.

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  9. Thanks MomJane, i found it really interesting when i was researching that many of them were gentlemen of the roads because they were in fact well to do who had lost their land/monies because of political/royal goings on and not just out and about criminals. Mind you, Dick Turpin was never really a gentleman!

    Jane

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  10. Replies
    1. Glad you liked it Carolyn. These characters really are meant for each other, but have a long way to figure it all out

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  11. Excellent research, Jane. More to the point, loved that excerpt; just the right touch of Who? What?

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    1. Thanks Vonnie, appreciate you popping in
      Jane

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  12. Great highwayman history short and excellent excerpt! I'm adding it to my wish list!

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    1. Thank you Glenda i'm glad you liked it.
      Jane

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  13. Hi Jane! I'll see you a little later!

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  14. Interesting research

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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    1. Kipha and Bn100 thanks for popping by.

      Jane

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  15. Another fabulous book by a fabulous author! Jane and I go way back. Thanks for hosting this lovely lady, Mary.

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    1. Oh you are a sweetie, Serena, wishing you a wonderful Christmas.
      Jane

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  16. Such an interesting twist with the heroine being the "highwayman" (albeit a bad one! LOL). I am intrigued and I've added your book to my TBR list. All the best Jane :)
    LaniM

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    1. LaniM thanks for stopping by. Yes, we do tend to torture our characters but all in a good cause!
      Jane

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  17. Thanks for this fascinating glimpse into the background of highway men and women and the politics at the time. YOur book sounds well researched and I love the premise.

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    1. Thank you Julie. The idea of a female Highway robber was glimpse that got the book started.
      Jane

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  18. Great excerpt, thank you.

    Kit3247(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Thank you Rita, it just shows that we never know what's around the corner

      Jane

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  19. Replies
    1. Thanks Ella, much appreciated. yes, i like my cover too, the heroine's hair is a perfect replica.
      Jane

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  20. This novel sounds simply fantastic!

    justforswag(AT)yahoo(DOT)com

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    1. Hi Chelsea, thanks for this. It was a great book to write and i can't wait to write Aiden's sister Mary's story.
      Jane

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  21. I'm going to love everything about this. Fabulous post thank you.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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    1. Mary, thank you, that's so nice of you to say.
      Happy reading
      Jane

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  22. Thanks for the excerpt and the chance to win!
    Sounds like a great read!!
    Happy Holidays!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

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    1. Hey Natasha thanks for following along the blog trail
      Jane

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  23. I enjoy reading historicals like this and who could resist a nice looking highway man ;)
    Lori

    lorih824 at yahoo dot com

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    1. Hi Lori, Yes Aiden is a hunky kinda guy and who can resist a tortured hero!

      Jane

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