The first in The Shaws is coming out. It features characters who were in The Emperors of London, namely the wild and scandalous Shaw family!
I learned a lot when I was writing this book. Most of my research into the legal system of the eighteenth century had concentrated on the law itself, especially the doings of the magistrate’s court, the one at Bow Street in particular. So many features of what we consider the law today came from there, including the idea that the people who administered the law should be above corruption. Even the beginning of the police force started there.
For this book, I wanted to know more about the way the law worked in practice. I already knew about some of the quirks – the magistrate, or judge had much more leeway in his interpretation of the law, for instance. And advocacy. This book features a lawyer who is also a barrister. Used to the system of today, I was surprised to discover that one man could be both. But all the money was in being a lawyer. Barristers were relatively new, and it wasn’t usual to have someone to speak for you in court. Andrew Graham, who features in this book, is one of the forward-thinkers. He is passionate about justice, and he wants to see trials becoming much fairer. There were such men at this time, and they helped to get the notorious Waltham Black Acts repealed, but that didn’t happen until later in the century.
As I read my way through the Old Bailey site online, I discovered that at this period, barrister are hardly ever mentioned in criminal cases. The accused would speak for himself, however qualified or not they were to do so. Trials were lightning fast compared to today. You could be tried, condemned and hanged in a week. Or transported, if you were strong and the judge felt you could be of use elsewhere.
I continue to read about the law, because I might have an idea for a new series coming in here.
All most people know about the period is that a person could be hanged or transported for stealing a loaf of bread. It’s almost a cliché, but it’s also true. It depended on the value the court put on the loaf. If they decided the loaf was worth under a set amount, the sentence was far more lenient. And it was the court that set the price, not the shopkeeper or the market price.
And the other thing – the court at Bow Street was in the open air! It was roofed over sometime in the 1750s, so I had “my” court with a roof. While it might have been authentic, I don’t know how many readers would have believed it!
When Lady Charlotte Engles receives an offer of marriage from an eligible suitor, she’s finally ready to let go of her long-held hope that her engagement to Lord Valentinian Shaw will result in marriage. For despite the betrothal their families made between them, Val shows no interest in leaving his reckless life behind in favor of one with Charlotte. But when her plea to end their arrangement ends in a heated embrace, suddenly Val seems reluctant to let her go . . .
The last thing Val wants is a wife, despite how desirous his lovely bride-to-be has become. But when he discovers sweet Charlotte is planning to marry a dastardly man, he feels duty bound to keep her safe, even if that means making good on his marriage pledge. Then Charlotte is taken hostage by her dangerous suitor and suddenly Val is ready to risk everything for the woman who has won his heart .