A Matter of Grave Concern by Brenda Novak
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Length: 338 Pages
Genre: Historical Romance
Bestselling author Brenda Novak unearths love in the darkest of places.
When Maximillian Wilder hides his noble identity and joins the notorious body snatchers known as the London Supply Company, the last thing on his mind is love. He’s worried about Madeline, his vanished half sister, who was last seen in the company of Jack Hurtsill, the gang’s conscienceless leader. Raiding graveyards, stealing corpses, and selling them to medical colleges as dissection material is dirty work, but Max knows he must gain Jack’s trust. He’s determined to find out what happened to Madeline—and to bring Jack to justice if she was murdered for the coin her body could earn.
Beautiful, spirited Abigail Hale, daughter of the surgeon at Aldersgate School of Medicine, detests the challenging, hard-bargaining Max almost as much as Jack. But she must procure the necessary specimens if she is to save the college and her father’s career. She believes she is going to be successful—until Jack double-crosses her. Then she’s swept into a plot of danger and intrigue, one where Max must intervene to protect her, no matter the risk to his plan…or his heart.
I am so happy to welcome Brenda Novak to my blog today!
Rest in peace? by Brenda Novak
I love that A MATTER OF GRAVE CONCERN is coming out in October. It’s ideal for Halloween. Not that this book is horror. I set out to create a tender love story. But it does contain a few creepy elements—like the fact that the hero is posing as a resurrection man (also known as a body snatcher). He’s part of a gang of men that roam the London churchyards, digging up freshly buried bodies to sell to anatomical colleges. Problem is…with the loved ones of the recently deceased doing everything possible to defend against this deplorable practice (by setting booby traps or guarding their dead until they are too decomposed to do the “sack ’em up men” any good), it becomes more and more difficult to whisk away these corpses, which only makes the price go up. Short supply, high demand. You know what happens then. Some gangs turn to alternative means of procurement. (Hey, where there’s incentive, right?)
The most famous incidence of this happening was the case of William Burke and William Hare, who murdered sixteen people (in Edinburgh) so they could sell their bodies to Dr. Robert Knox as dissection material, which is why the practice also came be to known as “burking.”
Bodysnatching isn’t a very appealing profession for a hero of a romance novel. Fortunately, my hero, Maximillian Wilder is actually Lucien Cavendish, the Duke of Rowenberry, and he is bent on a most noble mission—to find his poor, unfortunate half-sister (the bastard child of his father), who has gone missing. She was last seen in the company of Jack Hurtsill, the nefarious leader of the gang Max has joined, so that’s where Max is determined to look for her. He feels as if he’s making great inroads, until Jack takes an immediate interest in the headstrong daughter of the surgeon at St. Aldersgate School of Medicine. That puts him in danger, because Max knows if he has to act to protect Abby, he’ll blow his cover.
As any intelligent man would do, he takes steps to make sure she stays out of the way. But Abby has her own agenda—one that throws her right back in his path and forces her to pretend to be something she isn’t, too (at various points in the story). Do you see why I say this is the perfect Halloween read? Not only is the bodysnatching element a trifle chilling (mostly because it’s based on things that really happened), it’s involves a wee bit of role playing and dressing up.
Dressing up as a historically correct body snatcher would be a fabulous idea for Halloween. In 2010, the BBC developed a dark comedy about serial killers Burke & Hare. Below are some of the pictures of the stars dressed up in costume. Resurrection men toted along big sacks in which they carried the corpses they stole, so putting a dummy in a large canvas sack would certainly add to the ensemble.
It was a shocking experience that jump-started Brenda Novak’s career as a bestselling author–she caught her day-care provider drugging her children with cough syrup to get them to sleep all day. That was when Brenda decided she needed to quit her job as a loan officer and help make a living from home.
“When I first got the idea to become a novelist, it took me five years to teach myself the craft and finish my first book,” Brenda says. But she sold that book, and the rest is history. Her novels have made the New York Times, USA Today and Borders/Waldenbooks bestseller lists and won many awards, including three Rita nominations, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Book Seller’s Best and the National Reader’s Choice Award.
Brenda and her husband, Ted, live in Sacramento and are proud parents of five children–three girls and two boys. When she’s not spending time with her family or writing, Brenda is usually working on her annual fund-raiser for diabetes research–an online auction held on her Web site (www.brendanovak.com) every May. Brenda has raised over $1.6 million to date.
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