It is 1745, and Lydia Hawkesworth feels torn between her love for highwayman Drummond and her passion for his decadent younger brother Valerian.
With the arrival at Hawkesworth Manor of the icy French beauty, Madame de Chaillot, Valerian's plans to steal his brother's inheritance turn down a sinister path - one which Lydia is drawn to follow.
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About the Author
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Helena Ravenscroft is the author of two novels, both published by Virgin: Stand & Deliver and Bound by Contract, plus a short story, Lepidoptera, included in the Wicked Words anthology of female erotica. She is a member of Feminists Against Censorship.
Stand and Deliver was my first novel, and the review in Desire magazine which called it `a full-on, Wicked Lady-style romp' says it all. I spent my teenage years devouring films like that, along with books which positively seethed with suppressed sexuality and passion, like Wuthering Heights, Forever Amber, and Angelique. Erotica may be as old as the written word, but writers like the Brontes and Kathleen Winsor were only able to allude to sex. Modern writers have been lucky enough to be able to go further; and women are really pushing the envelope in this field, producing frank, well-written, sexually explicit work which turns the reader on, and moves into a territory previously dominated by men.
I believe that colour and texture play a large part in peoples' subliminal responses to sexual situations, and accordingly use rich jewel colours and sumptuous fabrics in my descriptions, along with full use of all five senses and my favourite fetishes of smooth-fronted breeches and tight-laced corsets. In Stand and Deliver there is a handsome good brother, a devilish bad brother, a haughty French mistress, lusty young stable lads, and a breathless chase through a dark forest. The feisty heroine, Lydia, is strong, independent and sexually adventurous, but is a woman of her time in that she has to abide by the rules set by her legal guardian. Her dilemma is whether she should chase the brother that she desperately wants, or have the one who would do her the most good if I was her I would definitely want both!
Loss and redemption, control and dependency, sibling incest, and gothic tradition are all themes I try to weave into my stories.
I had a great time working on and researching for Stand and Deliver. I hope readers have as much fun reading it as I had writing it!