Hosted by Donna MacMeans
Today we're welcoming the return of Cheryl Ann Smith to tell us about her new release, The Accidental Courtesan (Don't you love that cover?) Romantic Times gives a thumbs up to the book's "dash of humor, plenty of sensuality and a fast pace." Without further ado, here's Cheryl Ann -
Thanks so much to Romance Bandits and Donna for having me here! I had so much fun on my last visit that I’m thrilled to come back to talk about courtesans and to give away prizes!
Several years ago, I decided to write a book about a courtesan school. My heroine would rescue courtesans from that life and match them with suitors. In order to make the storyline realistic, I needed to find out if courtesans actually did marry. Thankfully, it was quite common, giving my story credibility.
Many of the women who became courtesans did so to escape poverty. Some turned to the profession to gain power, and some just enjoyed the notoriety it afforded them. Oddly, it appears that men did not find a woman’s scandalous past (or in some cases, present and future) as a mistress or courtesan a deterrent to marriage. Some husbands used their wives' extra-marital relationships with nobility to gain favor in court.
Jeanne Becu was the illegitimate daughter of a seamstress. She became a prostitute in her teens, though she had several professions, including milliner’s assistant. At the time, only titled women could be a royal mistress and she seemed to like the idea of becoming one. So, she married Comte Guillaume du Barry and was soon a mistress to Louis XV. Sadly, some years after Louis XV died, she was accused of treason the beheaded. France sure liked their guillotine!
Virginia Oldoini wasn’t born poor. She married at 17 and became the Countess of Castiglione. A cousin involved her in politics, where she met, and became the mistress of, Napoleon III. This (surprisingly) upset her husband and they separated. But she did not slip into obscurity. Instead, her beauty captured the attention of photographers, Mayer and Pierson. They documented her life in photographs, earning her a legacy that carried on long after her death.
Marie-Louis O’Murphy posed for a nude painting as a young teen. It came to the attention of Louis XV. She became one of his mistressesand bore him a child. When she attempted to replace Madame de Pompadour as his favored mistress, she was booted from favor and married off. She went on to live an interesting life, including marrying and divorcing a second husband (the first died) who was twenty-eight years her junior.
Needless to say, the research into this topic was very interesting! Though my books have yet to feature an actual courtesan heroine, I wondered if readers would accept a fallen woman as a heroine, or would her past be too hard to overcome?
The Accidental Courtesan has been released this week (Oct 4th), the same week as my birthday (Oct 7th), so I’m having a party! Berkley is giving away a two book set of my books to a Romance Bandits commenter today. Just give me your opinion of a fallen woman as a heroine.
Donna here - Speaking of prizes, I just wanted to remind everyone of the mad party of tricks and treats and prizes beginning on October 14th in the lair. Later this month a BIG Bandita Surprise will be announced with even more prizes, but you MUST be here on the 14th for details!
Cheryl's Birthday Bash continues on at her blog and she's giving the gifts! For details about a chance at a birthday kindle, visit www.cherylannsmith.com