Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Whitechapel Wagers: Romance, History, and Jack the Ripper

Victorian London is my evergreen preoccupation. I have been fascinated with the place and era so long it feels as much like home as the 21st century world around me. I admit I am not simply interested in the lavish decoration popular during the period, nor the elaborate bustled gowns in every color of the rainbow, nor the complex code of manners and social expectations Victorians held to so fiercely. What truly interests me are the dark edges of the period—the grit of industrialization that clogged the air, the dangerous excitement of new inventions, the resistance and rebelliousness of those who sought to shatter the class system into pieces, and the evils that plagued the growing metropolis, yet also led to innovations in crime detection.

Jack the Ripper by Angel Biljana
Teen fantasies of being a detective in the Victorian era scared my mother half to death, especially when I acquired books about Jack the Ripper, Lizzie Borden, and famous poisoners of the period. On my first trip to London more than a decade ago, one of my first stops was The London Dungeon, a sort of live theater walk through performance that features Whitechapel and Jack the Ripper experiences, including convincing, period-costumed actors and piped in smells of stale beer and burnt sausages. Is it any wonder Victorian London's dark elements found their way into my stories when I set out to write a romance series? 

Mysteries, almost as much as romance, fascinate me, and the still unsolved mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity is a conundrum I still spend time reading about. Each new theory is interesting, if only to highlight the lure of solving a mystery, no matter how old. At the time, that mystery of his identity created a social anxiety, a fear he could be anyone and anywhere. That tension seemed an intriguing backdrop for my stories.

Like many who lived in and around Whitechapel in 1888, my characters work and struggle and fall in love. Some stories will touch on the murders more than others due to characters' involvement in the police force or journalism. But all will live or work in or be familiar with a place and period that still fascinates many of us to this day. If nothing else, the recent BBC televisions series, Ripper Street and Whitechapel, attest to that. 

My first novella in the Whitechapel Wagers Series, Scandalous Wager, released over the weekend and pits a devoted suffragist and Whitechapel charity worker, Lizzy Ainsworth, against Ian Reed, a detective inspector caught up in the Ripper investigation. Lizzy wagers with him for one night of passion, but he's not willing to settle for just one night.

Upcoming titles in the series include:

Dangerous Wager - Investigative journalist Jack Wynter bets his colleagues he can catch the Ripper, but his forays into Whitechapel only bring him face to face with the obstinate woman reporter whose heart he broke years before.

Wicked Wager - Lucy Lennox makes a bargain with the king of thieves, Derek Bellamy, and finds the greatest danger she faces in the Whitechapel underworld is losing her heart.

Wanton Wager - When scarred Afghan War veteran William Selsby agrees to take a friend's mistress off his hands, the woman he encounters in Whitechapel, Ada Hamilton, overturns all of his expectations and may be the one person who sees beyond his wounds.


  1. The mystery around Jack the Ripper is fascinating, and your first entry into your series sounds wonderful. Best of luck with it. Barb Bettis

  2. Thanks so much, Barbara! I really appreciate you taking the time to comment.

  3. I love the Whitechapel era, and those movies made around this time. Like From Hell with Johnny Depp.

    Great post!

    1. Thanks, Carole! Oh, yes, From Hell is a great movie (and graphic novel). An interesting theory on the murders too. Thanks for your comment. :)

  4. I'm late to the party but thoroughly enjoyed your post! Love this era as well, Christy! Can't wait to read your story!

  5. Are any of your books available for kindle???