Toogood and Sukey’s story, titled Listen to the Moon, will be out from Samhain probably in January 2016. This isn’t the official backcover copy (which doesn’t exist yet), but it should give you the general idea:
Laid off and blacklisted through no fault of his own, gentleman’s gentleman John Toogood is stuck in the small town of Lively St. Lemeston until he can find a new job. His reputation for discreet, skilled professionalism has never been more important, so the instant attraction that flares between him and his happy-go-lucky young neighbor couldn’t come at a worse time. Maid-of-all-work Sukey Grimes works hard, but her manners are provincial, her respect for authority nonexistent, and her outdated cleaning methods—well, the less said about them, the better.
But the only job John can find is for a married couple, so when Sukey is fired for the second time in five years, they tie the knot against both their better judgments. John is determined to prove that he deserves his cushy new job as butler, but it’s going to be a challenge when his most difficult underling is also the wife he’s rapidly falling in love with. As for Sukey, she knows that John’s impeccably impassive facade hides a lonely man with a gift for laughter, but she underestimated just how vexing it can be to be married to the boss…
I’m really enjoying working on the story and I can’t wait to tell you more! In the meantime you can take a look at my Pinterest boards for the book: casting and reference images.
One of my favorite research books for True Pretenses was The Jews of Georgian England 1714–1830 by Todd Endelman. Check out this excerpt (which, by the way, gives a pretty clear demonstration of how what we would consider “bribes” were a normal and accepted part of Regency civic and political operations):
Because of the opposition of the great London merchants, the number of licensed Jewish brokers continued to be limited to twelve until 1830. Whenever one of the twelve Jewish brokers died or resigned, there was intense competition to obtain the vacated position. [Would this be a great plot for a romance or what?] This allowed the Lord Mayor, who had the right to nominate a successor, to exact a substantial fee from whomever he nominated. In 1815, for example, Moses Montefiore’s uncle paid £1,200 to obtain a broker’s medal for him[…]
At a meeting of the Court of Common Council in May 1830, Pellatt suggested that the Court increase the Lord Mayor’s allowance by £100 annually to compensate him for the loss of income that would result from abolishing the restriction on the number of Jewish brokers. Interestingly, he mentioned that he had discovered a precedent for such an increase. In 1782, the Lord Mayor had been granted an additional £50 a year for abandoning his right to an annual gift from the Spanish and Portugeuse Jews’ Synagogue[…] The records of the Sephardi congregation reveal that, from very early on, the Jewish community made an annual gift to the Lord Mayor. In 1671, it was a pipe of wine, costing £48; some years later it became the practice to present him with a purse containing fifty guineas; ultimately the money gift was replaced by a specially designed silver salver. (In 1679, the salver contained sweetmeats; in 1716, fifty to sixty pounds of chocolate.)
Offering bribes to powerful and arbitrary officials was, of course, the practice in every Jewish community in the premodern world. The Dutch and French Protestant communities in London also presented the Lord Mayor with an annual tribute—a pair of silver flagons—but they gave up this practice in 1739, when they considered it unnecessary. The Jews, on the other hand, continued to make an annual offering for another forty years.