At the start of Fair Deception (set in 1816), Susanna Fair is an actress at the San Pareil theatre in The Strand in London (this is now the Adelphi, but you can still see the original building under the modern gloss). One night, Kit Kydd saves Susanna from the Dishonourable Rafe Warwick who has wagered that he can make her his mistress by the end of the month.
It proves to be a fortuitous meeting. In order to stand a chance of being made his great-aunt's heir, Kit needs to appear settled, so he strikes a bargain with Susanna. If she will pose as his betrothed, she can safely disappear for a few weeks while they visit his great-aunt in Newmarket.
What Kit doesn't know is that Newmarket holds the secret of Susanna's scandalous past. What Susanna doesn't know is that her previous theatre company has changed circuits and is even now en route to Newmarket. What neither of them know is that Rafe Warwick, having disgraced himself in London, is rusticating in the country with revenge on his mind. Rusticating, in fact, in a certain horse-racing town. Newmarket.
Background to Fair Deception
I love the Regency era. I love the clothes, I love the flowering of the arts, I love the way change was in the air. But I've always been interested in the little people as well as the great ones. I want to know about the lives of the workers and the entertainers, the scientists and the engineers. The ones who make things happen.
Newmarket was the elite venue in the Regency racing lexicon and an essential part of the social calendar for gentlemen. Accounts of the time often mention visits to Newmarket Heath. As it is my nearest town, I also know that then - as now - it had a perfectly good life of its own outside the seven separate weeks when racing meetings were held.
So, having decided not to waste local knowledge, I plunged happily into Newmarket's history: poring over old maps, peering across garden walls at where cock-pits were reputed to be, walking around bumping into people because I was looking at the houses, not where I was going. One of the prettiest buildings in the High Street, I discovered, was originally built as a theatre - but sadly not until 1826. Before that, travelling companies would set up a temporary theatre in a barn for a couple of weeks and put on their entire repertoire before moving on to the next town.
Theatres! That set me off again and by the time I'd surfaced after diving headfirst into Regency theatre research I knew my heroine was going to be an actress. But how to get her to Newmarket? And how to keep here there?
I already had Kit Kydd from The Kydd Inheritance and very fortunately, he turned up in Susanna's audience on page one of the new book. Actually in paragraph one. You just can't keep a good hero down. It became obvious to me almost straight away that he needed money, so I put his long-lost great-aunt in Newmarket, and away we went...