This week we are Highlighting Historical author Cari Davis, and her research into poisons.
One of the things I love about writing historical romances is discovering interesting tidbits during my research, like the use of arsenic as a beauty aid during the 1800s. For my novel, Fool’s Gold, I knew the villain would use arsenic to poison his victims, so I needed to learn all I could about the substance.
While studying up on the subject, I came across a vintage ad for Dr. Campbell’s Safe Arsenic Complexion Wafers. These wafers were marketed as a miracle remedy for blemishes and dull, sallow skin. I also found that prior to the widespread use of the complexion wafers, many women used Fowler’s solution, a tonic containing 1% potassium arsenite, to achieve clear skin and brighter complexions.
To be sure, arsenic isn’t the only deadly substance ever used for the sake of beauty. Lead and mercury have been popular in cosmetics throughout the ages. Ammonia was used as a remedy for bad breath. Dilated pupils from belladonna drops were once all the rage. Even in the modern age, I bet most people would be surprised by the ingredients in their makeup bag.
In the early phases of writing Fool’s Gold, I decided to include the use of Fowler’s solution. When I took that section into my writers’ critique group, one of the ladies mentioned her surprise and asked why anyone would use a known poison for the sake of beauty. I glanced at her brow, smooth from a recent Botox treatment, and said, “Perhaps, you could tell me.”
About the Book: Fool’s Gold
Penniless and estranged from her wealthy family in New Orleans, Widow Doña Melissa Bertrand de Cabrillo must barter her way from California to Louisiana in order to save her niece, even if it means posing as the wife of a perfect stranger.
Gold miner and banker Sebastian Henderson needs to find a wife soon—or at least a woman willing to play the role. Doña Melissa provides the perfect solution, but sharing a cabin with the tempting southern belle proves more challenging than their bargain—and more dangerous—after a passenger aboard their steamship is murdered. Melissa is convinced the death is connected to her family’s events in New Orleans.
Thrown together by necessity, united by love, Melissa and Sebastian must unravel a murderous scheme threatening to tear them apart.
About the Author
Author of historical romantic suspense, Cari Davis creates tales of love, crime, and adventure in 19th century America. She resides with her husband in the state of Washington.