So far, this podcast has focused on straight historical fiction rather than historical romance. Although love stories have a way of creeping into novels whatever their genre, books that focus on instantaneous passion don't always give equal weight to the historical element in historical fiction. The series written by the mother/daughter team that publishes under the pen name Ursula LeCoeur, however, takes place in the richly detailed, lavishly imagined, deeply researched world of 1880s New Orleans. The Devious Debutante (Royal Street Publishing, 2015), third in the series, follows its hero and heroine through docks and bayous, ballrooms and opium dens, back streets, taverns, and Mardi Gras floats.
Maureen Collins, the daughter of a wealthy cotton merchant, should be focused on her trousseau and on attracting a scion of an old New Orleans family. Instead she spends time in her greenhouse, searching for a way to graft red camellias onto white stems. When by accident she runs into Ben Merritt, an attorney from Philadelphia who has no obvious reason to lurk around her family estate dressed like a workman, his peace offering--an example of that rare red camellia--turns out to contain a tin of opium among its roots. More plants follow, and Maureen's suspicions grow, especially after her attempts to investigate lead her to the scene of a murder that the local police appear to have little interest in investigating. Is she falling in love with an opium addict, or a person even more sinister? As Mardi Gras sweeps the town into revelry, Maureen strives to find out. Meanwhile, Ben races to collect evidence on the killer before he can carry out his dimly overheard threat against Maureen.
C. P. Lesley is the author of six novels, including Legends of the Five Directions (The Golden Lynx, The Winged Horse, and The Swan Princess), a historical fiction series set in 1530s Russia, during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible. Find out more about her at http://www.cplesley.com.