Welcome to “Sibling Secrets”. Here, you’ll read exclusive material related to my Daughters of Sin series. Frank and sometimes explosive letters between the five sisters will cast a nuanced light upon their complex relationship.
Beyond Rubies (Book 4) of the Daughters of Sin series has just been re-published, so I thought it a timely to remind readers of the relationships in this passionate, interesting, dysfunctional family.
Book 1 (Her Gilded Prison) starts the series with the sizzling tale of Hetty and Araminta’s mother, Lady Partington, who falls in love with a dashing young man, fifteen years her junior. Her lover is the new heir to the estate, dashing Stephen Cranborne, who is expected to make a match with her eldest daughter Araminta.
In book 1, we witness the selfishness of Araminta, as she ruthlessly strips her sweet sister, Hetty of any possibility of happiness from her tentative attempts to win the heart of young Edgar.
Out of all the sisters, it’s Araminta’s story arc that is continued through the entire series. Araminta’s elfishness brings into play all the “bad stuff” that happens to her sisters, as well as to her.
Book 2 (Dangerous Gentlemen) is Hetty’s story and revolves around Hetty getting her heart’s desire with the dashing, dangerous but falsely maligned Sir Aubrey Banks. Araminta’s involvement in the affair is integral to the rest of the book as it leads to a serious consequence – Araminta’s unfortunate pregnancy. I do not want to give out spoilers, but Araminta’s selfishness means she must accept a decision she doesn’t like in Book 3. This is part of her punishment but only a small part of it for first she draws her poor siblings into greater danger and dire situations as she tries to claw her way out of calamity. (And this baby is one of a new generation in a second offshoot series.)
Book 3 (The Mysterious Governess) is the story of Hetty and Araminta’s illegitimate sister, Lissa. She featured briefly in books 1 and 2 but here she is shown as the most hardworking and practical of the sisters – as well as gifted for she is a consummate artist which makes her valuable in a world of espionage.
At the end of the book, Lissa’s love for the charming,worthy but penniless Ralph Tunley, is intense and mutual but the pair must wait for a subsequent book to be able to marry. For now, both Lissa and Ralph are working for the Foreign Office to apprehend a dangerous traitor: Lord Debenham.
Book 4 (Beyond Rubies) has just been published and features Kitty, Lord Partington’s second-born illegitimate daughter who has run away from home to tread the boards at Covent Garden. Kitty’s greatest desire is to be properly married, as her mother was not, but after she becomes mistress to a wealthy, handsome man, she realises that matters of the heart are not always black and white and that compromises must sometimes be made.
I’m now working on Book 5, which continues Kitty’s story as well as Lissa’s, though all the sisters are very much involved with their respective husbands and protectors as they battle for happiness.
Here is the birth order of the sisters.
Araminta (Lord and Lady Partington’s eldest daughter)
Hetty (Lord and Lady Partington’s youngest daughter)
Lissa (Lord Partington’s eldest daughter by his mistress, Mrs Hazlett)
Kitty (Lord Partington’s second daughter by his mistress, Mrs Hazlett)
Celia (the infant child of Lady Partington and Stephen Cranborne, who is Lord Partington’s heir. Celia, however, is acknowledged by Lord Partington as his own).
Below is a letter from Hetty to Araminta, the two sisters who feature in Dangerous Gentlemen. It is written during the height of their sibling rivalry during Araminta’s second London season and Hetty’s first. Most of what Hetty refers to occurs during their childhood and in the first book in the series Her Gilded Prison. (The letter was never received by Araminta.)
Even though I am barely a year younger than you, I have grown up under your shadow. You were the bold and beautiful one whom Papa always brought forward to “show off” to visitors. I can sing, perhaps even better than you, but because you were pretty and knew how to play to an audience, Papa always chose you.
As Uncle said, I was the steady, dependable “donkey” and you the sleek, exciting “stallion”. Is it any wonder I never developed the confidence that guides one through life and which, at this moment, leads you to believe that Sir Aubrey will succumb to your charms, if that’s what you want.
But is it what you want? I mean, is it, for the right reasons? I think you only want Sir Aubrey because you intercepted a look he once sent me. A look that suggested more interest in your little sister than you liked. The truth is, you are jealous of anyone who steals interest from anyone remotely attractive, thinking all admiration should focus on you.
Take, for instance, poor Cousin Edgar. We were playmates when we were children. He was a sweet boy – not bright, for which you derided him – but the moment he returned from the battlefield as Papa’s new heir and showed interest in me, you had to destroy those tender feelings.
And now Edgar is dead. He drowned in Lady Julia Ledger’s arms, in part, because of your treatment, but if you had allowed me to love him, he certainly wouldn’t have drowned in my arms.
Well, for once, Araminta, I intend to follow my heart. I love Sir Aubrey and I will do whatever it takes to win him from you. While it breaks my heart to see him take you on the dance floor and to watch you play up to him, I promise you that I shall conduct my campaign for his love with all the care and thoughtfulness that you have never shown me or any of your previous love interests.
Yes, I shall win Sir Aubrey and I’ll do it as honourably as I am able. Though it might be in a way that would scandalise society, I will do it with as much honesty as I am able. That means I will not force his hand or break his heart, as you did when your poor rejected suitor blew his brains out last season or when Edgar drowned.
No, when I finally achieve my heart’s desire, there will be no casualties to torment me.
For I have a conscience.
Araminta, you will not read these words unless I am dead, for this letter will be among my secret papers where I record those deeper thoughts and finer feelings for which you – and others – give me little credit.
But just because I am small and plain does not mean I do not feel.
Wishing you everything you deserve,
Below, is taken from a blog I wrote recently for Susana’s Parlor. Through the characteristically biased perspective of the vain and spoiled Araminta, the reader can gain a greater understanding of the background to the plot that underpins the series, which begins in 1818 and progresses, in subsequent books, through the 1820s.
The Cato Street Conspiracy and Queen Caroline’s return to England – two Important Events of 1820
Historical Romance Author, Beverley Oakley, recently brought one of her characters, Miss Araminta Partington, to tea. Miss Partington, who has an extremely high opinion of her attractions, and of her knowledge of most matters, elucidated on the background to the new book in which she features called The Mysterious Governess, part of the Daughters of Sin series, which touches on the events before and after the Cato Street Conspiracy of 1820.
Miss Partington: Hello Susana, and thank you so much for inviting me to take a dish of tea in your parlor. I must say, it’s very comforting to know I can sleep at night in the knowledge that those dreadful men –Arthur Thistlewood, Edward Spence and the others – who call themselves “The Society of Spencean Philanthropists”, have been either hanged or transported for life for their parts in the Cato Street Conspiracy.
A delight to have you here, too, Araminta. Yes, what a shock to the public! What do you suppose they were hoping to achieve?
Why, utter madness, in my opinion! Mr. Thistlewood talked of desiring a “Government of the People of
Great Britain,” which would take power out of the hands of Parliament and the landed elite and place it into the hands of the people.” In my opinion, that’s tantamount to stealing Papa’s estate and giving it to Jane, my useless maid, who only last week lost one of my silver hairpins.
Goodness, that does sound dire! I’m referring to the plot, of course. Was there violence?
Fortunately, the only violence was after the Coldstream Guards and Bow Street runners ran into the loft where these miscreants were plotting that night’s intended rampage through the home of the Lord President of His Majesty’s Privy Council, Lord Harrowby. Indeed, they were intending to murder the entire King’s Cabinet before taking to the streets of London to storm the Bank of England and the Tower of London. They hoped to stir up revolution in our country, like in America and France only a few decades ago.
Good Lord! How was it possible that our law enforcement was able to apprehend the plotters?
Well, apparently, the Government knew what they were about and had planted spies in their organization. My Cousin, Stephen Cranbourne, works for the Foreign Office. I’m sure he’d have confided in me had I not been on rather…er…friendly terms with Lord Debenham who is rumored to be associated with the Spenceans. He’s not, of course. I made sure to burn the incriminating letter his cousin wrote before she drank poison. Aren’t the daffodils beautiful at this time of year? I’ve trimmed my bonnet with several bunches. Sir Aubrey does think them fetching. Yes, I’ve transferred my affections to Sir Aubrey as I think he’d be far easier to manage than dangerous Lord Debenham.
Yes, the daffodils are, indeed, beautiful. And I was so sorry to hear about Lord Debenham’s cousin. I believe she was Sir Aubrey’s late wife. But, back to politics, do tell me, when was the Spenceans’ plot brought to nought? My apologies for my ignorance, I’ve been in France for some time.
On February 23, 1820, but of course, it’s not really news any more since the gossip sheets – and indeed, the newspapers – are having much more fun giving us all the thrilling details of George IV’s estranged wife Queen Caroline arriving from continental Europe, a few months afterwards, and attempting to take her place as Queen consort. Personally, I think someone with such atrocious dress sense doesn’t deserve to be queen, but, not everyone agrees with me – which I always find rather odd, really. Of course, the Prince Regent only agreed to marry Princess Caroline of Brunswick back at the end of the last century so his father would clear his debts. £630,000 pounds is rather a lot of money, though I imagine that if I owed such a sum, I might be induced to marry Lord Debenham above Sir Aubrey, despite his wicked reputation and the fact Lord Debenham would be so much more difficult to manage.
Yes, your half-sister, Miss Larissa Hazlett, has inferred the same.
My half-sister? [Miss Partington rises.]Let me assure you, I do not have a half-sister. Any resemblance between that dreary governess and myself is entirely coincidental. Now, if you’ll excuse me… while it has been most pleasant, I must leave now for an appointment I’ve just remembered. Yes, it’s all part of a little plan I’m implementing to put that dreary governess right back in her box!
The Mysterious Governess
Two beautiful sisters – one illegitimate, the other nobly born – compete for love amidst the scandal and intrigue of a Regency London Season.
Lissa Hazlett lives life in the shadows. The beautiful, illegitimate daughter of Viscount Partington earns her living as an overworked governess while her vain and spoiled half sister, Araminta, enjoys London’s social whirl as its most feted debutante.
When Lissa’s rare talent as a portraitist brings her unexpectedly into the bosom of society – and into the midst of a scandal involving Araminta and suspected English traitor Lord Debenham – she finds an unlikely ally: charming and besotted Ralph Tunley, Lord Debenham’s underpaid, enterprising secretary. Ralph can’t afford to leave the employ of the villainous viscount much less keep a wife but he can help Lissa cleverly navigate a perilous web of lies that will ensure everyone gets what they deserve.
Although The Mysterious Governess is about Lissa, who is Araminta’s half-sister, the plot involves them equally. Lissa is hard-working and honourable, the antithesis of Araminta, as you will see below, in this short extract:
“Is everything all right, Miss? Were the fireworks grand? You’re back earlier than I’d ‘spected.” Jane, who was polishing the silver bottles on her mistress’s dressing table, looked up nervously as Araminta entered the room.
Without a word, Araminta brought one arm across the entire surface and sent powder bottles, perfume vials, hairbrushes and jewelry boxes crashing to the floor.
Then she threw herself onto her bed and burst into noisy tears.
“Oh, Miss, I take it things didn’t go to plan,” said Jane, going down on her knees to start to clean up the mess before changing her mind and putting a tentatively soothing hand upon Araminta’s back.
“No, they did not!” Araminta shrieked, beating her fists upon the counterpane.
“So, His Lordship didn’t ask you to marry him, then?”
“Yes he did!” Araminta rolled onto her back and glared at Jane. “He asked me to marry him and then said he had to go away on important business for two months! Two months! Where does that leave me? In an impossible situation, I don’t need to tell you. I might as well throw myself in the river, except the water’s far too cold and I’m hardly about to copy bacon-brained Edgar. There must be another way.”
“I mean to get out of this mess, you stupid girl!” Araminta screamed. Feverishly, she began to bite her fingernails before realizing the damage she was doing to an important asset. “Oh, Jane, don’t look like you’re related to a mule. Come up with a plan, for dear Lord’s sake!”