I’m really pleased to be here with Sallyanne, whose blog posts are always so interesting and thought-provoking. I’m pretty sure mine won’t be able to compete, but I’m going to give it a go anyway.
In recent times I’ve become used to the breakneck speed of ebook and self publishing. You write ‘The End’ one day, the book can be available the next. Even with traditional publishers, your ebooks can be turned around in a matter of a few weeks. So waiting for Fallen, my new Black Lace title to come out in print has reminded me of my heady early days in erotica publishing, when I held my breath for months until a beautiful shiny piece of paperback decadence dropped on to my doormat. It was always worth the wait. And somehow I didn’t pass out due to excessive breath-holding – quite an achievement in itself, I think.
There are other senses in which Fallen has been a long time coming. I can barely credit it, but it’s my first Victorian-set title. As an ardent, lifelong Victorianist, I’m not quite sure what I was waiting for. Oh yes I am. It was a green light from a publisher, many of whom are a bit hesitant to commission historical titles in the wake of 50 Shades. But Black Lace stepped up and now I can add Fallen to their roster of my favourite naughty Victorians.
I have high hopes of this book and I hope it will show that readers do have a taste for this kind of thing. Sample the blurb and an excerpt if you’re still unconvinced…
A lady of pleasure…
In the backstreets of London in 1865, James Stratton makes his living writing saucy stories for anonymous clients. But then he receives an enquiry of a far more personal nature.
Lady Augusta Heathcote is blind and has lived a very sheltered life, overseen by her watchful companion Mrs Shaw. But Augusta has a yearning to experience the intimate pleasures of dominance and submission and she makes James an offer he finds impossible to refuse.
A small crowd was gathered outside the premises of Thos. Stratton, Antiquarian and Dealer in Rare Books, of Holywell Street, Strand. Largely composed of legal clerks taking their lunch hour, it jostled and catcalled beneath the Elizabethan gables from which one still expected to hear a cry of ‘gardy loo’ before slops were emptied on to the cobbles.
Some would argue that the shop itself was little better than those aforementioned slops, an abyss of moral putrefaction and decay. Despite the passing of the Obscene Publications Act some ten years previously, many windows still displayed explicit postcards and graphic line drawings. The object of the crowd’s interest today was a tintyped image of a young woman. She was naked and sprawled in an armchair, luxuriant flesh hand-tinted to look warm and inviting. One of her legs dangled over a chair arm, revealing split pinkened lips beneath a dark bush of hair. Her nipples had been touched up, too – in a figurative sense – improbably roseate against alabaster skin. Most shocking was the positioning of her hands, one of which cupped a breast while the other delved inside that displayed furrow. If she had derived any pleasure from her explorations, it did not show on her face, which was blank and stony. But nobody was looking at her face.
A woman, smartly but not showily dressed all in black, cut a path through the grinning throng. The young men fell back naturally, tipping hats and begging her pardon. A less formidable-looking woman might have found herself joshed or even groped, but nobody would have dreamt of doing any such thing to this lady.
She paused to evaluate what had been creating the sensation and the men around her looked away or to their boots, suddenly sheepish.
‘For shame,’ she said, then she put her hand to the door of the shop and entered to the dull jink of rusty bells.
A pasty young man whom nobody had cautioned against the excessive use of pomade double-took at the sight of her.
No woman had ever crossed the threshold of the shop before.
Panicking, he came out from the behind the counter.
‘I think you may have the wrong address, madam,’ he said, placing himself between her and a display of inflammatory postcards from which a portly woman wielding a whip glared out.
‘I wish to speak with Mr Stratton.’
‘Oh.’ The youth found himself at a loss, his eyes darting wildly around the room at all the potentially feminine-sensibility-violating material on display. ‘He is out.’
‘When do you expect him back? I am able to wait if he will not be too long.’
Two of the clerks entered, throwing the shop boy into worse throes of confusion.
‘Oh dear, customers. Perhaps you might wait in the back room? But it is not comfortable and…oh, it is not a place for a lady. Pray, put that down, please, gentlemen, it is not for common perusal.’
He spoke the word perusal with absurd emphasis, as if bringing out a rare jewel from the duller stones of his workaday vocabulary.
‘What, is it too dirty for the likes of us?’ said one, sniggering.
‘Please bear in mind that there is a lady present,’ begged the shop boy.
The lady in question simply swept onwards into the back room.
Oh, if the clerks could have come in here, then they would see how tame, how positively innocent the self-loving young lady in the window display was.
The woman in black sat by the grimy back window and cast her eye over a box of postcards. Far from averting her gaze, she picked one out and examined it. A woman in a form of leather harness knelt behind another, younger, girl. This one smiled sweetly and broadly towards the camera whilst on her hands and knees. And behind her, the other woman pivoted her hips forward, ready to drive a thick wooden phallus directly into the rounded bottom of her playmate.
The visitor’s lips curved upwards.
‘Lovely,’ she breathed.
The book is available from all good booksellers from the 13th March. Here’s the link to Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fallen-Black-Lace-Justine-Elyot/dp/035234766X
And Sainsbury’s Ebook Store: http://www.sainsburysebooks.co.uk/book/Fallen-Justine-Elyot/7452718
Thank you for reading!