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"The decision to become a courtesan is not to be made lightly. A woman must be willing to make her own choices . . . and pay for them."
--from the memoirs of Mlle. Blanche La Tour

Thanks for the chance to guest blog here at FreshFiction. For those of you who’ve been following my blog tour, I hope you’ll bookmark this site. FreshFiction is fabulous.

When I started writing VEXING THE VISCOUNT, I wanted to play with the idea of my heroine masquerading as a courtesan. But I knew Daisy Drake wouldn’t be convincing unless she had some inside information, so I allowed her to discover the memoirs of Blanche La Tour, a French “woman of pleasure.”

Which meant I needed to research the life of an 18th century courtesan. Here’s a little of what I discovered:

Move over, Britney! Eat your heart out, Paris! Courtesans were the original prey of the paparazzi. These darlings of the London tabloids provided the cartoonists of their day with juicy on dits and outrageous exploits to lampoon. Top-tier 'birds of paradise' demanded and received generous stipends, clothing allowances, jewels, houses, a box at the opera and endless diversions from their well-placed protectors. When the relationship ran its course, these astute businesswomen often had negotiated an annuity to comfort them in retirement. A few even managed to marry their wealthy and powerful patrons. After a ten year affair, Mrs. Elizabeth Armistead wed Charles James Fox, a well-connected Member of Parliament, in 1795. However, the scandalous marriage was kept secret until 1802.

So what did a courtesan do?

Other than the obvious.

She most likely slept till noon. Folk of quality always kept late hours and a courtesan mimicked the nobility as much as possible in lifestyle and deportment. She'd have a leisurely breakfast en suite, while she read the tabloids, hoping for a mention. Like men who often kept their eyes peeled for a younger, more beautiful companion, a courtesan hoped to entice an ever wealthier, politically well-connected patron.

In the 18th century, childbed was no light matter. And pregnancy would interfere with a courtesan's ability to be an ornament to her patron's arm. So a clever courtesan was armed with the best available contraceptives of the day. Condoms, also known as French letters or English Riding Coats, were originally made of fine linen and later from sheep entrails. They were designed to be cleaned and re-used. (Ok, let’s all say it together— “Ew!) Some women used oral remedies--seeds of Queen Anne’s lace, pennyroyal, giant fennel, and many other concoctions as contraceptives or methods of inducing miscarriage--but these were often dangerous or even fatal brews. Bearing the child in obscurity and then fostering it out was the usual solution to an unwanted pregnancy.

The main difference between a common prostitute and a top-tier courtesan was her education. Refined, possessed of exquisite taste, these women knew how to entertain both in and out of the boudoir. They weren't necessarily the greatest beauties of their age, but they were without doubt the wittiest, most engaging company.

And Daisy Drake, my heroine in VEXING THE VISCOUNT is armed with Mlle. La Tour’s memoirs as she plans to fool Lucian (the viscount in the title) into believing she’s a courtesan. You too can peek into a Cyprian’s heart. At the opening of most chapters in VEXING THE VISCOUNT, I’ve included a quote from Mlle. La Tour's memoirs. Here's another sample of Blanche's observations:

‘A man will dispute it with his dying breath, but in his secret heart, he lives to be deceived.’

VEXING THE VISCOUNT will hit the bookstore shelves on Feb. 24th, but if you enter a comment or question, you’ll be entered in my blog contest to win a free copy!

Good luck!

Leave a comment below...and you'll be entered into a contest to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card from Jade Lee as well as a chance to win an ARC from Emily!




35 comments posted.


Hey Emily,
I've been too early a few times, but
this time, I'm a good day ahead of you!
I get the Fresh Fiction newsletter (also
just added yours), and happened to
spot your post here.

Since I already won your book, but
have been following you around like a
groupie, my comment can just be a
part of Jade Lee's Amazon contest.

(Julie Robinson 8:53pm February 11, 2009)

Emily, I just realized you didn't mention
the link to the Courtesan Club on your
website for any newbies.
(Julie Robinson 9:02pm February 11, 2009)

I think this book sounds really interesting!
(Virginia Hendricks 7:45am February 13, 2009)

I can't wait to see how Daisy pulls this off!
(Lisa Freeman 8:51am February 13, 2009)

Thanks for the information on the difference between a courtesan and a prostitute.
I had also wondered how the women of days long ago stopped an unwanted pregnancy.
You have the EW! factor right about washing out those condoms. Double "EW!"
(Gigi Hicks 10:15am February 13, 2009)

Hi Emily,
I am sad today:( my blog didnt post yesterday so, I feel bad if I crossed some sort of blog etiquette line. I would be horrified if I insulted someone some way. I know sometimes the blogs are sensored. But if so I apoligize sincerely! I agree with Gigi Double "EW!" Sometimes its funny in researching, we find things that are like "OMG! What were they thinking!" LOL! Have a great weekend everyone! P.S. By the way I met Jade Lee at RT last year she is a hoot!!!
(Jane Lange 11:09am February 13, 2009)

Thanks for the insight. (I hope I win!).
(Shannon Scott 11:36am February 13, 2009)

Interesting subject. Lucky day #13 - hope all have a great one.
(Vikki Parman 11:42am February 13, 2009)

Hi Emily,

Vexing teh Viscount looks like an
awesome read! Thanks for blogging
(Val Pearson 11:43am February 13, 2009)

Whenever I see courtesan, I think of fans of devotion to being irresistable to the opposite sex. Attention in the way of gifts and elevation up the ladder of class is the aim. A courtesan is always looking to be the first chair like in band and orchestrates a whole lot of action behind the scenes to position self in the right location with the right jewel in place.
(Alyson Widen 11:55am February 13, 2009)

Thoroughly enjoyed your blog today and your "Club" link is on my favorites list.

Can't wait to read Daisy's and Lucian'story. Sounds super.

Everyone have a good Friday 13th and a warm, wonderful 14th!
(Betty Cox 11:55am February 13, 2009)

Great research! I bet you had fun! This sounds like a great read!
(Kelli Jo Calvert 11:56am February 13, 2009)

Love the idea of this book and the research for it. This sounds like a great book. Would love to win, if not I'll put it on to buy list.
(Roberta Harwell 12:51pm February 13, 2009)

Interesting research! The book also sounds good, perhaps Friday the 13th will be lucky...
(Rachael Haas 1:03pm February 13, 2009)

Hey Emily, I like todays post, i just can't get enough of your history lessons :-).
Can't wait to read vexing the viscount.
(Afshan Nawaz 1:16pm February 13, 2009)

Hi Emily: Thanks for adding the interesting background. I did wonder what they did with unwanted children in that line of work. What a fun story. I can't wait to read it.
(Amy Alessio 1:29pm February 13, 2009)

I have been following you around on your blog tour and I have loved the info you have shared...I would love a copy of your book!
And I could use the $10.00 gift card from Jade Lee as well!!
Thanks so much
darbyscloset at yahoo dot com
(Darby Lohrding 1:42pm February 13, 2009)

How exciting, Emily! PTP and VTV sound great!

Will you be at RT this year?
(Genella deGrey 2:38pm February 13, 2009)

Sounds like an interesting book to read. Just my kind of book. Thank you.
(Brenda Waters 2:38pm February 13, 2009)

Hi Emily! Happy Valentine's Day! I am still eagerly following your blog, though I was a winner this week.
Based on this blog, I am adding Mlle. La Tour's memoir to my must read list!!
(Rachel Moniz 2:50pm February 13, 2009)

Hi Emily, that period in history had it all drama, intrique and style. I can't wait to read 'Vexing the Vicount'. Happy Valentine's Day.
(Rosemary Krejsa 3:32pm February 13, 2009)

Hi Emily. You know how much I loved this book. Just wanted to say hello. :)
(Crystal Broyles 4:11pm February 13, 2009)

After reading your blog I have added Vexing the Viscount to my TBR list. I would also like to add my EW on the condom matter.
(Judy Anderson 5:00pm February 13, 2009)

Happy Valentine's Day, Emily. Love that quote " A man...lives to be deceived."
(Pamela Pellini 5:24pm February 13, 2009)

Looks like a great book and i love her auther books.
from stacey smith
(Stacey Smith 5:31pm February 13, 2009)

Love your books and the cover and the title is very eye catching. Wishing everyone a very Happy Valentine's Day!
(Tamara Bennington 7:13pm February 13, 2009)

Hi Emily, I love this quote that your put at the end of your post, I am going to have to remember this one!‘A man will dispute it with his dying breath, but in his secret heart, he lives to be deceived.’ Oh so true!
(Gail Hurt 7:58pm February 13, 2009)

Hi Emily, stalking again LOL.
Im on page 166 of Pleasuring the Pirate & had to drag myself away to check out your blog posts for today. Would dearly love to win a copy of "Vexing the Viscount"
Thanks for all the interesting added info and Happy Valentines Day!
(Sheree McLeod 8:00pm February 13, 2009)

Gail--How about this one?
"Anticipation is the whetstone of desire."

Sheree! I'm so glad you're enjoying PLEASURING THE PIRATE! Happy Valentines Day!
(Emily Bryan 9:40pm February 13, 2009)

Hi Emily, looking forward to your book release. Congrats! Daisy sounds exactly like the kind of heroine I want to read about.
(Allison Hol 3:52am February 14, 2009)

Thanks for coming by Allison! Daisy was fun to write.
(Emily Bryan 7:10am February 14, 2009)

I love the title "Vexing the Viscount"!!!
(Pamela Shockley 2:02pm February 14, 2009)

"Vexing the Viscount" has some of my favorite elements in a novel : a bright, intelligent heroine, a gorgeous hero, a search for antiquities, and witty dialogue. What a terrific combination!
(Elaine Carlini-Davis 6:16pm February 14, 2009)

vexing the viscount sounds very interesting. the bit about the condoms, WOW and EW!! :)
(Masoud Oskouilar 9:06am February 15, 2009)

The book sounds really good. And as for reusing condoms, I guess some protection is better than no protection.
(Jody Faltys 12:29pm February 15, 2009)

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