Thanks to Lynn and the other Broads for hosting me today! My name is Alicia Rasley, and I’m most famous for my role as Lynn’s navigator on several driving trips in England. (Or maybe I should say that Lynn was “my chauffeur”.)
Actually, when we were getting lost in the English countryside, Lynn and I took the time to plot a ghost story. Gwen’s Ghost has now been reprinted in a boxed set with five other Regencies. So I thought I’d explain a bit more about the project, and ask you all a question: Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever had an experience with ghosts or hauntings? If you comment, you’ll be enrolled in the Story Broads raffle for a free Kindle Fire!
When Lynn and I wrote Gwen’s Ghost, we wanted to explore one aspect of “ghost-ness,” the idea that “unfinished business” is one purpose for lingering after death. From that theme came the story of Valerian Caine, the Georgian dandy (complete with high-heeled pumps and velvet face patches) killed in a duel and brought back almost a century later to fix the family feud his death had started. Of course, he can’t appear in 1816 as himself, so he poses as Jocelyn Vayle, a man who has lost his memory. The only one who sees through his masquerade is Gwen Sevaric, the acerbic descendant of the man who had killed him a century ago.
This book joins five other Regency romances in a boxed set dedicated to that theme of “masquerade.” The Regency Masquerades set offers six different views of romantic masquerades, with reasons ranging from the pragmatic to the desperate.
In The Lady from Spain by Gail Eastwood, the hero and heroine are disguised for the very good reason that they must hide their identities to survive in a time of war.
The Earl’s Revenge by Allison Lane is a tale of two people who – like so many authors—are using professional identities to present their work (illustration and satire) while protecting their positions in society.
In Daring Deception, by Brenda Hiatt, Frederica dons a disguise and obtains a domestic post in the household of a man she will be forced to marry. Posing as a frumpy housekeeper, she knows she can learn what this lord is really like, and what secrets he is concealing.
In The Redwyck Charm by Elena Greene: An heiress yearning for adventure, Juliana Hutton masquerades as an opera dancer to escape an arranged marriage. Her erstwhile betrothed uses an assumed name to have one last adventure before he too is forced into this marriage.
And then, in Lynn’s other book anthologized here, Lucy in Disguise, the young heroine has disguised herself as a witch to scare away those who might harm her best friend. At the same time, the hero chooses to take up the role of a smuggler to escape the restrictions of his high social position.
This leads to another question—why is disguise such a compelling theme in romance? Usually the characters have what they think is a good practical reason to hide their identities. But there’s a deeper need underlying the use of the masquerade. I think that perhaps what we conceal is what we reveal, that donning a mask lets us paradoxically be more ourselves. In some ways, most of us are often pretending even without a disguise, aren’t we? Yet true love can come only when we reveal our true selves.
The masquerade allows simultaneous concealment and revealing. And let’s face it—masks and ghosts are just plain fun, or we wouldn’t be celebrating Halloween every October!
To see how each type of masquerade plays out, buy Regency Masquerades, a digital boxed set containing six full-length novels by award-winning authors. For a short time, this set is just 99 cents! Buy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo Books.