Monday, May 16, 2011
By Lady Arianna Hadley
for SWEET REVENGE by Andrea Penrose
In Regency England, proper manners dictate that a lady should always wait for an acquaintance to introduce her to strangers. But I shall go ahead and do it myself. I am Lady Arianna Hadley, and as you see, like Jane Austen’s Lizzy Bennett, I tend to ignore the rules of propriety and take matters into my own hands. That’s because I’m a lady in name only—yes, yes, I was born the daughter of an earl, but my mother died when I was very young and my father . . . Well, my father was a very charming, very clever gentleman who had difficulty discerning right from wrong. He was what you modern day people call a con artist, and as a result of a falling out with his partners we found ourselves forced to leave England under a dark cloud and take up residence in the West Indies.
I enjoyed growing up in the tropics. Life was relaxed and there were few rules, so I was free to explore things that interested me—like learning all about the secrets of chocolate from our local housekeeper (rumors that she was a witch doctor are greatly exaggerated.) However all that changed when my father was stabbed to death in a seedy harbor alleyway. I was only fourteen but in order to survive, I had to figure out quickly how fend for myself. The experience made me tough, resourceful, unafraid to take risks . . . and determined to seek revenge on the men who murdered my father.
Working at various occupations—an actress with a traveling theater troupe, a cutpurse and a cardsharp, to name just a few—helped hone my arsenal of unladylike skills. Finally I was ready to return to London and begin my quest for justice. In order to get close to my father’s former partners, I disguised myself as a male chef and got a job in an aristocratic household. I had it all figured out . . . but even the best-laid plans can go awry. Some nefarious person added poison to my chocolate dessert, and nearly killed the Prince Regent of England. Needless to say the blame fell on me. And when the government sent a special investigator to interrogate me, I feared I was really in hot water.
The Earl of Saybrook was not at all what I expected. To begin with, he turned out to know something about cooking and chocolate! He also had an unbending sense of honor and a dedication to truth and justice. I couldn’t afford to play fair, so naturally we clashed. However when someone tried to kill both of us, it quickly became clear that the only way we each could get what we wanted was to work together . . . and that’s when action really started to heat up!
SWEET REVENGE hit the shelves in April, and is available from your favorite book sources.
To read all about the history of chocolate, visit my website: www.andreapenrose.com
(scroll down to the special link on the home page, or click on the “Diversions” section)
You’ll also find a special recipe for “Sweet Revenge” brownies!