By KJ Charles On Jul 16 2014, 9:00 am
The country house party. Symbol of a golden age of privilege, epitome of that brief, glorious time before world war when life (for a tiny percentage of the population) was as good as it probably ever got. Think Brideshead Revisited or Downton Abbey (early series), with handsome young men in cricket flannels, witty young ladies in dashing gowns, croquet on the lawn, attentive servants, hunting parties and endless, limitless luxury.
Nice for some, eh?
The country house party was an essential, and eye-wateringly expensive, part of the social whirl. Entertainments would involve shooting, drawing-room games, gambling (bridge and baccarat), flirting, political manoeuvring, marriage-arrangement, and of course sex. Lots of sex.
If you’re thinking the Edwardians were too polite for that, forget it. One had to behave with decorum, of course, one should not brandish one’s affairs in the public eye. But for many, adultery was a hobby, even in some cases a job. Bedrooms were openly arranged for the convenience of illicit love affairs. I have not been able to substantiate the story that some hostesses would have a bell rung ten minutes before the servants came up with morning tea, in order to allow guests time to get back into their own beds. But it’s apparently true that the notorious womaniser Lord Charles Beresford burst into a bedroom crying “Cock-a-doodle-doo”, fully expecting to find his latest lady love, and leapt onto a bed already virtuously occupied by a bishop and his wife. (There’s a menage opener for you.)
I set my m/m romance Think of England in a country house for several reasons. It’s written very much in the spirit of pulp adventure, with treachery, villainy and espionage. So a country house, isolated and miles from anywhere, meant that my heroes were trapped – forced to socialise, forced to collaborate, forced to all kinds of things that wouldn’t have crossed at least one of their minds. The impossibility of leaving and the need to keep up appearances make for all sorts of desperate circumstances. And mostly, there’s the sex. Because the essence of the country house party – the keeping up of polite appearances and the hot, sweaty reality concealed behind them – gives endless opportunities both for villainous goings on and for the most delicious romantic entanglements….
Lie back and think of England…
England, 1904. Two years ago, Captain Archie Curtis lost his friends, fingers, and future to a terrible military accident. Alone, purposeless and angry, Curtis is determined to discover if he and his comrades were the victims of fate, or of sabotage.
Curtis’s search takes him to an isolated, ultra-modern country house, where he meets and instantly clashes with fellow guest Daniel da Silva. Effete, decadent, foreign, and all-too-obviously queer, the sophisticated poet is everything the straightforward British officer fears and distrusts.
As events unfold, Curtis realizes that Daniel has his own secret intentions. And there’s something else they share—a mounting sexual tension that leaves Curtis reeling.
As the house party’s elegant facade cracks to reveal treachery, blackmail and murder, Curtis finds himself needing clever, dark-eyed Daniel as he has never needed a man before…
Contains explicit male/male encounters, ghastly historical attitudes, and some extremely stiff upper lips.