As a published author, one of the questions I get asked is how do I come up with story ideas? Every author has different methods and honestly, every story came from a different set of circumstances. Mostly they aren’t planned out but hit us like a freight train in the middle of another story or in a conversation or driving or just about anywhere.
For The Wicked Bargain, I’d been reading several Regency novels with the heroine as a courtesan. The stories of course are of redemption of these women – most in a circumstance that placed them as courtesans. They meet the hero, stay true to him (the old HQ rules in place) and he saves her forever. Good stories. But…
What if the high-price courtesan was male?
I always have wondered the strange set of rules in the ton – men could take courtesans or mistresses and the wife had the heir, maybe two, and gladly (sometimes) welcomed another woman servicing the man she’d married. But what of the wives? Research indicates a small amount (known at least) of ladies who took matters into their own hands and took lovers. And if they did, why not paid courtesans?
Thus was the birth of my upcoming release, The Wicked Bargain:
Haunted by a past as a sex slave, nobleman Ethan Warth returns to England as a male courtesan for rich matrons and runs a brothel for wealthy lords. Arabella Covington appears on his door, trained in the medical arts but unable to practice because of her gender. He hires her to care for his ladies but her inquisitive nature and beauty make him desire to teach her the world of seduction.
Ethan, however, never counted on falling in love…
Excerpt from The Wicked Bargain –
Ethan sat in the card room at White’s, holding a flush set in his hand. He found it amusing that despite his lack of funds, familial ties of membership, held for generations, kept him a member. It worked to his advantage for its members often became his ladies’ clients. But to maintain the façade of being a nobleman, he had to present himself worthy of his peers. That involved expenditures he couldn’t afford like the card game he sat at. Gambling was easy for him and he had the uncanny knack to win but he never bet much. Just enough to keep him in the game, knowing lady luck was a fickle friend, having left him before in his life. Tonight, though, she was with him. Before him sat his current winnings, a windfall considering his mind wasn’t involved in the game.
“Warth,” Geoffrey Lanford, sitting to Ethan’s left, prodded amid laughter.
Edgar Maddock to his right, blew a puff cigar smoke at him to break his train of thought.
Ethan coughed, but it worked. He focused on his cards and the players. “All right, all right, gentlemen,” he said with a wry smile. “Mad, put that blasted thing out or set it over there. I can’t breathe.”
Edgar’s smile broadened as he moved the cigar. “Cards on the table, let’s see whatcha have, pup.”
Fanning his hand of cards, he laid them on the table.
The two other players across the table grunted, almost simultaneously and threw their cards on the table.
Ethan grinned as he pulled the pot to his pile.
“Thought you weren’t really with us,” Geoffrey commented drily.
“Hoped was more like it, pup,” Edgar chimed in.
“Then, perhaps, you two should have left me in my dreams. I would have folded instead,” Ethan retorted.
Edgar and Geoffrey were two of his few friends that had staid steadfast through the years he was enslaved. They had helped maintain his townhouse, particularly after his brother had died, leaving Ethan heir to the title and his father more adamant to get him freed. While he trusted them, he still kept some items strictly to himself. That included Arabella.
“Going to the crush at Wentworth’s?” Geoffrey prodded.
Ethan leaned back in his chair, an easy grin across his face as he took a sip of his brandy. “Perhaps, though I have another engagement planned.”
Edgar guffawed. “I be thinkin’ you need to change your strategies lad and train us poor sots how to keep the lovely women beckoning for us as they do for you.”
Ethan laughed. It was a hollow laugh but in his languid, confident stance, he drawled, “Ah, but that is my area of expertise and why would I knowingly give that up, particularly to the likes of you chaps?”
The trio burst into laughter.
The three looked in the direction of the bellowing voice.
“Ethan, it does appear Knottingham needs a word or two with you,” Geoffrey smirked.
Ethan watched the middle aged and balding Viscount St. James approach, angry fumes of smoke appearing to spout out of his ears. Looking in the man’s direction with half-closed eyes, Ethan chortled, “I take it his Countess isn’t home.
Edgar leaned slightly towards Ethan, his voice low and it had a tone of amusement to it. “Weren’t you fucking her at one point?”
Ethan smiled but didn’t answer. He kept his clients out of his conversation. Now, if they touted their arrangement, he could do nothing other than be thankful. Notoriety helped his purse whether it was the lady singing his praises or the husband’s anger toward him. As the Viscount barreled closer, Ethan could only think what an idiot the man was. If he showed his wife half the emotion he displayed now, she wouldn’t look for a lover.
“Where the hell is my wife?” St. James fumed.
Ethan didn’t move off the chair nor straighten up. Raising his eyebrows at the man, he smiled dryly. “I have no idea Henry. Having problems with your memory, ole man? Can’t remember where you placed her?”
“How dare you! You conniving whoreson!”
Ethan rose from the chair, placing his brandy down on the table before him. “Henry, I think you should recall that last statement. Unless you wish to name seconds,” he threatened quietly. He watched St. James’ face pale and he hoped the man continued his rampage so they could meet at dawn. Ethan’s temperament only helped him excel at the duels as he considered it an honor to dispatch another idiot to hell. And it was one of the few chances he had open to take revenge on the rank and file that condemned him to hell in Arabia.
“As you can see Henry,” he said quietly as the St. James stood before him. The man’s balding head beaded in perspiration. “She isn’t here.” Both of his friends laughed. No women were admitted to the club and Ethan knew the Viscount was aware of that. “I’d advise you to continue your search elsewhere.”
The man grounded his teeth as he glared at Ethan. He leaned across the table. “Stay away from my wife, Blackmore,” he hissed and stormed off.
“Thought you broke it off with her, pup,” Geoffrey said after the Viscount left.
Ethan slouched back down, extending his legs before him and his lips curving upward. “So, who is game for Wentworth’s?”
So tell me where your most unusual story idea came from & do post an excerpt for us.