Highlighting Historical Romance with Samara Parish and the facts behind her current release, How to Survive a Scandal.
Writing my first historical romance novel was a lot of fun and there was so much to learn. In addition to researching the period and trying to make the book feel authentic, my hero was an engineer. Specifically, he worked on steam engines and so there was a fair amount of research I needed to do into how engines worked, what the timeline for development of the engines was, and—most fun of all—how to sabotage them.
Luckily, I was browsing the tables at a charity book fair when I came across JB Snells, Railways: Mechanical Engineering. Written for engineers and published in 1973, this one little book that I stumbled across by chance had all the detail that I was struggling so hard to find on the Internet. I’ll admit, some of it went over my head and I needed to get my husband, who is an engineer, to translate into everyday language.
What I discovered was that the first few iterations of steam trains we are incredibly dangerous. There was a moving part situated at head level that moved back-and-forth with great force. Unfortunately, this was at the same spot where a person had to stand in order to shovel coal into the engine. They were more than a handful of beheadings. As soon as I read this, I knew that this would be a part of the steam engine process that my hero would be working to improve.
There were a few other details that I included to make the book more authentic. For example in the early days of steam trains there were two types of tracks been developed. The rack and pinion rails had teeth the wheels grabbed onto to move forward. Initially, this was done because the engineers didn’t believe that a track without teeth would securely keep the train on it. It took some time before other engineers could prove that a smooth track was not only just the safe as the rack and pinion pinion, but resulted in less wear in tear to both the track and the wheels, ultimately being cheaper to maintain.
But by far, the most fun part of researching steam engines just working out how to break them. This was not included call in the little book that I found—perhaps engineers aren’t so interested in sabotage, but given how many appliances my husband has pulled apart, I’m not convinced of that. YouTube, however, came to the rescue. I was saved Newton’s Laws of Inertia.
It takes an enormous amount of force to get a steam engine moving and the slightest force in the opposite direction will stop it from happening. Incredibly, a coin wedged between a front wheel and the track is enough to stop a steam engine from starting to move (if the steam engine is already moving, the coin will be flattened). In addition, the reason train carts were joined by chains is because the engine only had enough power to initially get the first section moving. If you shortened the chains so there was no slack, the train wouldn’t move!
So, there you have it for the next time you need to sabotage a steam engine 😉
About the Book: How to Survive a Scandal
In this whirlwind regency romance, perfect for fans of Netflix’s Bridgerton, a near-death experience leads to a marriage of convenience for two unsuspecting strangers, but will their unusual meeting lead them to true love?
Lady Amelia was raised to be the perfect duchess, accomplished in embroidery, floral arrangement, and managing a massive household. But when an innocent mistake forces her and the uncouth, untitled Benedict Asterly into a marriage of convenience, all her training appears to be for naught. Even worse, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to this man no finishing school could have prepared her for.
Benedict Asterly never dreamed saving Amelia’s life would lead to him exchanging vows with the hoity society miss. Benedict was taught to distrust the aristocracy at a young age, so when news of his marriage endangers a business deal, Benedict is wary of Amelia’s offer to help. But his quick-witted, elegant bride defies all his expectations . . . and if he’s not careful, she’ll break down the walls around his guarded heart.
Where to buy it
Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/3wQ40Yr
Apple Books: https://apple.co/2QjFy0I
Google Play: https://bit.ly/321ZzvE
Libro.fm (audiobook): https://bit.ly/3ta3MsR
About the Author
As an Australian army brat in the ‘80s, Samara grew up moving from city to city—always with plenty of book boxes (to the movers’ annoyance). Romance novels have been a big part of her life for years. She used them as her ‘escape’ during the trials and tribulations that are working, dating, and living in your 20s before going on to write them in her 30s.
She is now living in Canberra with her husband (a true romance hero) and her menagerie of pets. When she’s not writing, she’s tending to her absurdly large garden, which is a challenge given she historically could not keep a cactus alive.
You can follow her adventures through her newsletter (sign up and you get a free novelette) and on social media
Benedict took a deep breath as he dismounted. Bringing Amelia to Asterly, Barnesworth & Co. shouldn’t be a terrifying prospect. They would walk in, he’d introduce everyone, do a quick tour, and she could say what she liked about the place and wrinkle her nose in whatever manner she wanted. The firm would survive without her approval.
He took her by the waist and helped her off her horse, the scent of jasmine and pear oddly helping to calm his frayed nerves. He held on a fraction longer than he needed to.
“So this is where you…work.” Amelia surveyed the collection of colossal stone buildings in front of them. There was no open expression of distaste; it was more a look of suspicion, maybe a touch of uncertainty.
From inside, his beloved engine let loose a shrill squeal, ear-piercing even through the wall of rock. Amelia covered her ears—her expression of uncertainty devolving into alarm.
“What in heaven’s name is that?” she yelled over the noise.
He bent close to her, putting a hand to the small of her back to let her know that he was right behind her. And also because he just liked touching her. “You’ll see.”
Drawing her hand into the crook of his arm, he pulled her close, taking pleasure in the way she pressed up against him. A streak of protectiveness shot through him.
He paused when they reached the door, allowing her the room to change her mind, to back out if she wanted to.
But damn, he was glad she didn’t. He’d never had the occasion to show the firm off to anyone. Cassandra had practically grown up in it, and taking potential investors through was more about business than pride. This was the first time he was emotionally invested in what someone thought about the place he’d spent a lifetime building.
One glance at her face made his stomach flip. Gone was the often-present detached façade she kept in place whenever she was uncomfortable. Instead, she looked around with curiosity as she walked in, her interest roaming from the scaffolding that covered the walls and the roof to the workers grouped around evenly spaced workbenches.
Eventually, they walked through the giant doors that comprised one side of the building. Outside stood his pride and joy, rocking slightly and shooting steam.
Jeremy was feeding the engine with coal, his hands black from the sooty, sandy material, black streaks across his forehead and cheeks where he’d wiped away sweat.
Benedict had become accustomed to the buffeting force of heat near the engine, but Amelia shrank away, putting her hands up against the hot air.
He bent close to be heard over the roar. “This is Ten Tonne Tessie.”
“Tessie? You’ve named it?”