Renee Rose: Hi Katherine! Thank you so much for hosting me today to talk about mystery novels.
Katherine Deane: Wait–what? I’m here for the spanking. What are you talking about??
Renee Rose: Well, it occurred to me that my new book The Darlington Incident has an oddball influence: Agatha Christie. I grew up reading mystery novels, starting with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys as an early reader, and progressing to Agatha Christie by my teen years. I read every single Nancy Drew book at least three times (I used to read one a day when I got home from school) and I know for a fact I have read every single Agatha Christie written (almost 100).
Now many of the stories I ingest often come out as spanking stories, but I can’t say that Nancy Drew or Agatha Christie’s ever did (they lacked good alpha males, I suppose). Hardy Boys, yes, but that’s another story. So when I wrote The Darlington Incident, it took me a while to realize that a little Agatha Christie sneaked into this one.
One of the fabulous things about Agatha Christie novels is the way the suspects of a crime are all contained on a property. The mysteries often take place at a weekend party, a boarding house, or some other setting where a limited number of people could have entered or exited.
I used the same trope in The Darlington Incident, setting the events at the Westerfield’s Ides of March festivities. Spymaster John Andrews poses as Lord Darlington in order to discover the traitors involved in selling/buying secret government plans.
Naturally, his main suspect is the woman with whom he is falling in love: Eliza Hunt.
Katherine Deane: (grumbles) I’m still waiting for the spanking.
Renee Rose: (laughs) You’ll have to read the book.
“Why did you return?” she asked.
“I came back to see you,” he admitted. “Though I did not plan to ask you to play parlour games with me.”
“Why?” she demanded. “I do not mean why not parlour games, but why did you come to see me?”
“I enjoy your company,” he answered truthfully.
And I suspect you of treason.
He hated his suspicious mind, which reasoned she and Lord Auburn might be the two he sought, and the forced kiss an act to cover up an interrupted meeting. He did not wish to believe such a thing. He wanted only to comfort the lovely woman on his arm.
She stopped and stared up at him, a deep furrow between her brows. “How can this be?” she demanded. “What is going on? Two men cannot seek me out without cause.”
He frowned. Grasping her arms he gave her a gentle shake. “Do not underestimate your charms,” he scolded.
A giggle bubbled up from her lips. “You are like no other man I have ever met, Lord Darlington.”
When spymaster John Andrews receives word that plans are afoot to sell England’s secrets to her enemies during the Ides of March ball at the Westerfield Estate, he is determined to bring an end to this treasonous game. Posing as a gentleman by the name of Lord Darlington to stake out the event, he is ready for anything as he mingles with the members of the ton…except falling for his prime suspect, the lovely wallflower Miss Eliza Hunt, in whose trunk the secret documents are soon found.
After new evidence leads him to believe Eliza may be innocent, John cannot wait to catch the traitors, clear her of all suspicion, and then ask for her hand. Though he fears he is not the sort of man worth having as a husband, he knows that if he wants Eliza as his own he will need to face the demons of his past and lay claim to the title and the birthright he abandoned long ago.
Eliza knows Lord Darlington is not the gentleman he purports to be, but he is the first man to see beyond the birthmark on her face and treat her like a beautiful woman. She dreams of a life at his side–and in his bed–even once it becomes clear he stands ready to punish disobedience with firm chastisement applied to her bare bottom! As he draws her out of her shell and demands she let go of her self-doubt, her desire for him grows ever stronger, but can their love survive the shadowy designs of those who would do England harm?