Bestselling author Josi S. Kilpack tours the blogosphere May 4 through May 22, 2020 to share her third novel in the Mayfield Family series, Rakes and Roses. The blog tour kicks off here today and will see forty popular book bloggers specializing in historical romance, inspirational fiction, and Austenesque fiction will feature guest blogs, interviews, exclusive excerpts, and book reviews of this acclaimed Regency romance.
Echoes of Austen's Mansfield Park
ABOUT THE BOOK
Many thanks to Maria Grazia for hosting me here today at My Jane Austen Book Club. I have long admired Austen and her ability to craft complex characters. My new Regency romance novel Rakes and Roses is filled with them, too. I am happy to share some comparisons and insights.
In Jane Austen’s third novel, Mansfield Park, the reader is presented with a family whose dysfunction drives the conflicts of the story. Though wealth and title have given the Bertram family admirable status and opportunity, their basic morality is put to the test throughout the story. Of all of Austin’s stories, Mansfield Park is my favorite. Perhaps because of the moral questions it poses and the growth we see in multiple characters as they have to face the consequences of their poor choices. Because of the weight of some of the choices made, Mansfield Park is also considered by many critics as Austen’s most controversial story.
Though the storyline is very different than that of Rakes and Roses, the third book in my Mayfield Family series, I believe they share similar themes regarding how the choices of a parent can influence the moral awareness of the children and how dissipation (think, Tom, the eldest son of Sir Thomas) is sometimes an attempt to distract one’s self from trauma they don’t know how to deal with head on.
Such is the history of Harry Stillman, our male lead. Harry was raised in a privileged but violent home. As the heir and the only son, he had many of his father’s cruelty chip away at his confidence until he stopped seeking approval and sought only pleasure in whatever form he can find it. This leads him on a dissolute course of self-destruction, similar to Tom Bertram. When our story opens, Harry is out of money, friends, and options. He’s on the run from a dangerous lender he can’t pay and desperate for rescue.
In contrast to Harry, Lady Sabrina has lived at the mercy of other people’s choices her entire life. Her mother was the mistress to a duke and though she is publicly acknowledged and raised in the duke’s household, she is continually aware of the tolerance extended to her. She marries in an attempt to gain a more solid place in society only to find herself in a worse position than before and with no way out. When her husband dies unexpectantly, however, she inherits everything and finds herself truly in charge of her own life for the first time ever. In regard to Austen’s characters, she is perhaps most easily compared to Lady Catherine de Bourgh, in that she has charge of her own wealth, or perhaps Emma Woodhouse who is determined she need not marry. Sabrina has chosen to use her power for good and help others. Which is what brings her and Harry’s paths to intersect.
In helping Harry, however, Sabrina is putting her reputation, her discreet philanthropy, and her heart at great risk. The scandal that would erupt if people knew she was carrying for an unmarried man in the home she lives in by herself would ruin her and she’s taken great pangs to create an identity that enacts her do-gooding without revealing she’s a woman. Most importantly, however, is the fact that should she marry again, she is giving up her independence and once again submitting to the power of a man to dictate her life. How can she possibly trust anyone enough to give up so much?
Rakes and Roses shows the cracks of English society during the Regency period and the way that law and privilege often blur the lines of morality. It also shows the growth that can come from hardship and the strength of the heart even when it has been badly bruised. Jane Austen had remarkable insight into the driving forces of her characters and the limitations placed upon them by both the laws and culture expectations of the time period. I hope readers of Rakes and Roses will see similar depth in my stories. Though Rakes and Roses is the third book in the Mayfield Family series, it stands alone.
A standalone novel in the Mayfield Family series with an unusual premise and an uplifting ending.
Lady Sabrina endured an abusive marriage, a miscarriage, and early widowhood to emerge as a smart, successful, confident woman who found a way to make her mark in a man's world. She has friends and purpose, but cannot hide from the emptiness she feels when the parties are over and the friends have gone home to families she will never have.
Harry Stillman may be charming and handsome, but he's a gambler and a rake who has made a mockery of his privileges. He turns to the mysterious Lord Damion for financial relief from his debts, but still ends up beaten nearly senseless by thugs and left in an alley.
When Lady Sabrina comes upon Harry after the attack, she remembers the kindness Harry once showed to her six years ago and brings him to her estate to heal. Though their relationship begins on rocky footing, it soon mellows into friendship, then trust. But Lady Sabrina needs to keep Harry at a distance, even if he is becoming the kind of man worthy of her heart. After all, she is keeping a secret that, if exposed, could destroy everything she's so carefully built.
"Uplifting...Kilpack flips the typical Regency romance script, with the heroine rescuing the hero. Kilpack's strong, upright heroine who finds a way to claim her power in Regency society sets this love story apart. This magnetic tale will appeal to fans of emotional romance."—Publisher’s Weekly
“Kilpack takes traditional regency roles and challenges them. She shows how one person can make an impact in the world. I found the story and premise unique.”—Heather Gardner, Fire and Ice
“This is a story of redemption above all else…the ending was perfect.”— Lucinda Whitney, author of Rescuing the Prince
Josi S. Kilpack is the bestselling author of several Proper Romance and Proper Romance Historical series and a Cozy Culinary Mystery series. Her books, A Heart Revealed and Lord Fenton's Folly; were Publishers Weekly Best Romance Books of the Year. She and her husband, Lee, are the parents of four children.