My heroine, Georgy Knight, is a failed-actress-turned-stagehand. She embarks on a quest to prove that she and her twin brother Harry are legitimate and that Harry is the true Earl of Dunsmore. To enable her to search Dunsmore Manor for evidence, she dresses as a man and obtains a post as the valet of the hero who is due to spend Christmas there.
The set up of the book enabled me to play around with some fun stuff: master-servant relationships, cross-dressing and gender, what masks hide and what they reveal. And tying a lot of this stuff together is clothing. Male clothing in particular.
Georgy obviously has to disguise herself in male clothing, but in a way, Nathan does too, using his clothing as an elegant sort of armour to enable him to present an invincible appearance to the world. Nathan's clothes are the epitome of style, and Georgy sees the appeal of all this gorgeous paraphenalia:
From the wardrobe she drew a green velvet riding coat and ran a brush over it to make the nap lie correctly. Buckskin breeches. Clean linen—drawers, a shirt, a cravat. All of it pristine white, and the cravat starched to perfect straightness. Silk hose. A tall, black curly-brimmed hat that she turned over and over in her hands, enjoying its craftsmanship, the pleasing lines of it, its dense, velvety blackness. She brought out his riding boots, cleaned just yesterday, even the soles. They were so polished they looked as though they’d never been worn. Even so, she fished out a soft cloth and gave them one final burnish. As she worked, the tinkle of cutlery, the rattle of china and the rustle of paper reminded her that Harland was breakfasting a few yards away.
- The Lady's Secret
I had particular fun writing the dressing, undressing and bathing scenes. At one level, there was the satisfaction of showing that Nathan and Georgy's physical attraction to one another, but on another level, the stripping away of clothes and revealing of skin became a metaphor for the stripping away of other kinds of masks and layers. You can read one of my favourite scenes, the shaving scene, here.
Do you like Regency fashions? Or those of any other historical period? And can you think of other dressing/undressing/bathing scenes you've loved in fiction?
More about The Lady's Secret:
Former actress Georgiana Knight always believed she and her brother were illegitimate—until they learn their parents were married, making them heirs to a great estate. To prove their claim, Georgy needs to find evidence of their union by infiltrating a ton house party as valet to Lord Nathaniel Harland. Though masquerading as a boy is a challenge, it pales in comparison to sharing such intimate quarters with the handsome, beguiling nobleman.
Nathan is also unsettled by Georgy's presence. First intrigued by his unusual valet, he's even more captivated when he discovers Georgy's charade. The desire the marriage-shy earl feels for his enigmatic employee has him hoping for much more than a master-servant relationship...
But will Nathan still want Georgy when he learns who she truly is? Or will their future be destroyed by someone who would do anything to prevent Georgy from uncovering the truth?
Joanna blogs here, and she can be found on Facebook and on Twitter as @ChambersJoanna