Brandy Smugglers

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Highlighting Historical Romance with Barbara Monajem on Smuggling and her newest release.

When I first read Georgette Heyer’s The Talisman Ring (eons ago, when I was in my teens), I was particularly taken with the brandy smugglers, who are vivid, rather charming secondary characters.  When I decided to write historical romances, a book about smuggling was high on my list. I like adventure stories, and smuggling offered plenty of that – a dangerous occupation which involved sneaking around on the darkest nights with packs of ponies carrying illicit brandy from the shore to hiding places, all while evading the revenue officers!

The reason for smuggling brandy (and many other goods, such as tea, lace, tobacco, and other spirits) into England was simple: the customs and excise taxes were far too high. People deemed them unfair—even intolerable—and did their best to avoid paying them. During the heyday of smuggling in the 18th century, whole communities were involved in smuggling—from the sailors and fishermen who brought the contraband from France or elsewhere, to the land smugglers who transported the goods from the shore to their destination, to others who acted as decoys or simply turned the other way when smugglers sneaked past. Smugglers earned far more this way than by ordinary work, and sometimes smuggling was all that kept them and their families from starvation.

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The Smugglers by George Morland 1793

The smuggling trade was often financed by consortiums of individuals with capital to invest—and protect. This led to the formation of large, violent gangs on England’s south coast, who were prepared to murder anyone who got in their way. There were also plenty of independent smugglers running their own businesses, too.

In The Smuggler’s Escape, the heroine, Noelle de Vallon, invests her small amount of capital with the smugglers in her Sussex village, but she also gets involved with the trade itself, doubling their business with her clever strategies. The smugglers she works with are rough and ready but likeable, while the revenue agents are more violent—with good reason from their point of view, because if they don’t seize the contraband, they miss out on rewards.

During the long years of war with France, spies took advantage of the smuggling trade to send information back and forth. Noelle’s French heritage and her connection with smuggling put her in danger of being accused of spying.

It wasn’t until the first half of the 19th Century that the smuggling trade began to lessen, first because of more successful blockades by the government, and then by the reduction of import duties to acceptable levels.

About the book

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After escaping the guillotine, Noelle de Vallon takes refuge with her aunt in England. Determined to make her own way, she joins the local smugglers, but when their plans are uncovered, Richard, Lord Boltwood steps out of the shadows to save her. Too bad he’s the last man on earth she ever wanted to see again.

Years ago, Richard Boltwood’s plan to marry Noelle was foiled when his ruthless father shipped him to the Continent to work in espionage. But with the old man at death’s door, Richard returns to England with one final mission: to catch a spy. And Noelle is the prime suspect.

Noelle needs Richard’s help, but how can she ever trust the man who abandoned her? And how can Richard catch the real culprit while protecting the woman who stole his heart and won’t forgive him for breaking hers?

Buy links:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon Canada
Amazon Australia

Giveaway and Exclusive Content

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$10 Amazon (WW) , Paperback + Socks Swag Set (US & CA only) – 1 winner each

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About the Author

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Barbara Monajem wrote her first story at eight years old about apple tree gnomes. She published a middle-grade fantasy when her children were young, then moved on to paranormal mysteries and Regency romances with intrepid heroines and long-suffering heroes (or vice versa). Regency mysteries are next on the agenda.

Barbara loves to cook, especially soups. She used to have two items on her bucket list: to make asparagus pudding (because it was too weird to resist) and to succeed at knitting socks. She managed the first (it was dreadful) but doubts she’ll ever accomplish the second. This is not a bid for immortality but merely the dismal truth. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.

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Contact Info

Caroline Warfield, Author

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