Please join me in welcoming Shana Galen back to Debbie's Book Bag today. Shana's latest book, Lord and Lady Spy features a husband and wife spy team in Regency England. Shana's guest post is called, "Regency Spies." The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for two copies of Shana's book, Lord and Lady Spy, please see details at the end of the post.
By nature, espionage is a secret affair. This was even more true in the Regency Era. Undoubtedly, though the British employed many men, and probably even a handful of women, to glean information about Napoleon’s plans and strategies, these men and women have remained largely unsung.
One reason for this is that spying was not considered a noble profession. With the advent of James Bond, spying became sexy and posh in modern culture, but in the Regency Era it was considered cowardly. A real man fought his enemy face-to-face on the battlefield or on the high seas aboard a man-of-war. Cowards skulked about trying to ferret out information.
In reality, the role of the spy was extremely important to British victory in the Peninsular Wars. One reference I found helpful when writing Lord and Lady Spy, my homage to the film Mr. and Mrs. Smith, was The Man Who Broke Napoleon’s Codes by Mark Urban. Urban tells the story of George Scovall, an engraver’s apprentice who became the Duke of Wellington’s decoder. Scovall deciphered Napoleon’s Great Paris Cipher, which reportedly contained over 1,400 elements.
The interesting thing about Scovall is that he was a commoner. Perhaps this was why “spying” appealed to him. Unlike a higher born man, Scovall could not buy his way to a higher rank in the military. He had to earn it. He did so, eventually, but as was probably common with the British military of the era, he was also passed over for promotion many times.
Information about female spies is even harder to come by. I did find a book titled My Lady Scandalous by Jo Manning about the life of courtesan Grace Dalrymple Elliott. Grace was in Paris at the time of the French Revolution and an avowed royalist sympathizer. These sympathies got her in trouble with the Revolutionary government and she was imprisoned and barely escaped the guillotine. But these dangers did not prevent Grace from acting nobly. She saved the governor of the fallen Tuileries—the French royal family’s residence in Paris, which fell to the revolutionary mobs in 1792 and signaled the beginning of the end of the monarchy. The marquis de Champcenetz was wounded in the siege but managed to survive through extraordinary circumstances. Grace was asked to hide him and agreed, even though many of her household servants were revolutionaries and she knew municipal officers were scouring the city for the marquis and conducting house-to-house searches.
Grace hid the man under a pile of mattresses in her boudoir when the guards knock on her door. The guards told her to get out of bed so they may search it and thrust bayonets into the mattresses, certainly killing the hidden Champcenetz, but Grace—ever the courtesan—jokes with them, flatters them, and flirts with them. They allow her to stay in bed and Champcenetz is not discovered.
But this is not the end of Grace’s bravery. She also traveled to Spa, Belgium, which was a sort of meeting place for spies and couriers of the day, and ferried letters from the imprisoned Marie-Antoinette to the Austrian government, most likely pleading for assistance from the queen’s homeland. That assistance was never to come, but Grace certainly did her part to assist the doomed queen.
In Lord and Lady Spy, I’ve tried to make Adrian and Sophia worthy counterparts to the spies that inspired them. I hope you find reading their adventures as exciting as I did writing about them!
Do you enjoy books about spies? Why do we find spies so sexy?
The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for two copies of Lord and Lady Spy by Shana Galen to be given to two winners from Debbie's Book Bag.
~ You must be a Google Friend Connect follower to participate.
~ US and Canadian Addresses only! (Publisher Request)
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST October 12th.
1. In appreciation to the author please answer Shana's question in the comments (It is right before the giveaway details)
2. Please fill out the FORM.
I love reading about spies. I think they are mysterious.
lag110 at mchsi dot com
Thanks, lag123. It was a lot of fun to research.
This is definitely a great book for you then, Lisa! It's a Regency take on Mr. and Mrs. Smith. I liked it a lot!
Thanks for stopping by Shana, it's always nice when the author stops in!
I think part of the reason why we find spies so sexy is because of the mysterious nature and danger surrounding their work. It adds spice to life:) I very much enjoy books about spies, but just haven't read very many. Thanks for the giveaway!
I cannot wait to read this book! I like spies because they are mysterious. It gives them a whole new quality because you are trying to figure them out. Keeps you on your toes!
Justpeachy36, I've been looking forward to this blog all month!
yadkny, I agree spies are so very mysterious. Mystery=sexy. And who wouldn't like to find out their spouse has a fun little secret. Of course, in real life, it had better be very little.
I just want to mention that if you have an e-reader and don't win the book today, it's $0.89 for Kindle and $0.99 for Nook and iBooks. This is only for a limited time. I confess I just bought a copy of it myself because I couldn't pass up the great deal. LOL!
What an awesome post! As I was reading about the courtesan you were mentioning, it clicked in my mind a movie I saw last year called "Lady and the Duke" and I realized it was about Grace Dalrymple Elliott! Here's the link to it
BTW: Looking forward to Lady Sophie's visit at b2b on 10/10!!! *shameless plug*
Spies live life on the edge; I think that's why they are so appealing.
...and I totally screwed up and forgot to answer the question...so here it is:
It's the intrigue, the 'secret'-ness of their life that attracts me to the spy stories. Their life was lived on the edge every day, and they had NO ONE to lean on but survived by their cunning and using their wits. Their courage inspires, (only the good spies) and their passion intrigues the mind!
I guess that's why we find them so irresistible as well as sexy, I guess!
I love spy stories. They are suspenseful, exciting and a mystery as to success or failure. They hold your attention and make you sit on the edge of your seat.
misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com
Melanie, yes, I have the DVD of The Lady and the Duke. I bought it after reading the book about her. I thought it was so cool how the director used paintings of Revolutionary France for the backdrop. Very realistic seeming.
Susan S., all that on the edge living certainly makes their books fun to write!
Melanie, thanks for that response as well. I really think it sums everything up beautifully!
misskallie2000, what a great answer! i agree 100%. Thanks for the comment.
I agree with everyone that spies are surrounded by intrigue, mystery, danger, and so forth that add to their sexiness. The will to survive must also be strong in a spy or their role would be pointless. I always liked MacGuyver. He wasn't a spy per say, but he was clever and could get out of almost any situation using what he had around. How sexy is that?
But what I really like about spies is that fact that you get to be someone else. I think in a lot of situations the personalities are polar opposites of what is and what could be. Does that make sense? It would be phenomenal to have the skill to be able to masquerade as something entirely different from what I am and have no one be the wiser.
Thanks for the giveaway and good luck to all!
Maybe it's voyeuristic tendencies or the fascination with being the "fly on the wall." Either way, the concept of spies definitely gets one out of the mundane.
Followed via friend connect, filled out the form & spread the word!
Thanks for sharing the great post.. and also your review on the book Debbie!
I've enjoyed some of Shana's previous works. This one sounds great. I do love espionage. As to why I find spies sexy? Hmm about the same reason I find vamps sexy I think... the secrecy, the element of danger...the craft/cunning.
gfc - pams00
pams00 @ aol.com
Kendra, MacGuyver is a great choice. I forgot about him. I would love to write a resourceful character like him or Q from the Bond movies, but I am not that gadget-creative.
Pam S, thanks so much for your comment. And I just saw Debbie's review. Thank you, Debbie!
You're very welcome... I loved the book!
I guess it's the secret identity that makes it sexy... :)
I love books about spies. I think the idea of this time period, plus with a female spy is very interesting!
Great post, I enjoyed reading it!
Spies are fun! There's elements of mystery, adventure, danger & hopefully romance.
sallans d at yahoo dot com
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