Hello, my name is Darcie Wilde, and I write mysteries. Specifically, mysteries set during the English Regency.
I got my introduction to the Regency the way most people do; via the work and world of Jane Austen. From the Incomparable Jane, I discovered the warm, witty, wonderful works of the great Georgette Heyer. Between the two of them, they kindled a fascination in me for all things Regency — the dances! The genteel manners, the snobbery, and the witty banter! And, oh! Those clothes! I mean, what’s not to love? It’s a lush, intricate and magnificent time period.
But the more I read about the history, the more I came to realize it was a deeply complicated time as well. Not only was Napoleon running roughshod across the Continent, at home, the royal family which was still very much the heart and center of government, was falling apart in all sorts of interesting ways. The banks and the stock market were careening along full tilt in the modern boom-and-bust cycle. Drinking and gambling were epidemic among the upper classes. The middling and lower classes were agitating for better and fairer living conditions, and a debt of as little as five pounds could land a man in jail for the rest of his life.
Oh, and did I mention there was no police force? Having a crime investigated and prosecuted was largely left to the private individuals who were directly victimized. It frequently involved having to pay a professional thief-taker or one of the very few police officers to look into the crime and find out whodunit.
And of course, nothing could possibly go wrong with that, now could it?
It was this contradiction — the idea that this glittering high society skated on very thin ice that led to the creation of Rosalind Thorne. Rosalind was a minor heiress. She had every advantage, until she didn’t. Her father abandoned the family before his creditors could catch up with him, and Rosalind was left to make do on her own. She became what the writers of the time called, “a useful woman.” These women were gentry who had fallen on hard times. They would manage to stay on the fringes of society by helping their friends out by arranging balls and dinner parties and handling other social and domestic chores. In return, those better off friends would do things like loan the women the use of their carriage, or invite them to dinner, or to stay in the country, or give them little gifts, even money, and so could keep living something like their old lives, on the surface anyway.
This is what Rosalind does, and she’s actually very good at it. As a result, she knows all the people who make things actually happen in the glamorous world of the haut ton, and how their lives all mesh together. She’s overlooked, because she has neither power nor money. In fact she’s pitied. Which means she’s underestimated.
Which means no one really wonders what’s going on when she makes polite conversation on topics of recent interest, or is seen doing a favor for a “friend,” or is standing in a corner gossiping about that shocking thing that occurred last week at the dance…
Even when that shocking thing is the discovery of a very dead body.
About the author:
Darcie Wilde writes her steamy and adventurous romances from a university town in a certain northern-midwestern state that has been known to bear some passing resemblance to a mitten. When not writing, she’s reading, cooking, hiking, swimming, climbing things, raising her rapidly growing son and trying to convince her cat — Buffy the Vermin Slayer — not to do any further damage to the furniture.