Highlighting Historical Romance with Cerise Deland and the facts behind Ravishing Camille.
Selecting the right details to put in a historical novel is always a challenge! Illuminating certain facts and making them meaningful in romance is a bigger one because we authors wish to be prudent too.
In RAVISHING CAMILLE, my hope was to illuminate readers about the joys and sorrows of being a Westerner in China during the reign of the Chinese emperors. To be sure, Chinese leaders were reluctant to embrace western culture, machines and commercial concepts. The problems created by the Western dominance of Chinese trade were so upsetting to the Chinese people that, one might argue, they suffer from the reaction to that to this day.
My hope in CAMILLE was to illustrate a few of those challenges. In the person of my hero’s friend, Lee Warren Macfarlane, we see how a man who is part Chinese and part Scottish makes his way among the British in 1888. We see that Macfarlane is more cosmopolitan than many and less prejudiced because he has dealt with such challenges in Shanghai himself.
We see some of this in an excerpt from CAMILLE when he views The Mikado, the operetta about the Japanese.
Excerpt, Copyright, 2021, Cerise DeLand. RAVISHING CAMILLE.
From the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of the other passengers hastening down the gangplank. Among them was his best friend from Shanghai and he hailed the man to join them. “Here’s a friend I want you to meet!”
Li Wa-Ren Macfarlane owned one of the biggest and most prosperous export-import companies in the British sector of Shanghai. One-quarter Han Chinese, Lee Warren—as he Anglicized his name when dealing with Westerners—was the son of a Scottish tai-pan and his half-Chinese wife. Lee had joined the Manchu Empress in Venice, and from there, the two men had spent the voyage by entertaining each other with stories of past adventures. They’d also devised a new business proposal to sell steel to a progressive Confucian viceroy who wanted to modernize the southern Kwangtung countryside near Hong Kong and Macao by building railroads.
“Lee! I’d like you to meet my father and my step-sister.”
A tall reed-like fellow, Lee strode forward with delight written on his long face. He wore a superbly cut suit, this one of midnight black. Beneath, he wore a jade silk brocade waistcoat embroidered with yellow and red dragons, the symbols of the Wa-ren-Macfarlane House.
“Allow me to present my friend, Mister Lee Warren Macfarlane. My step-sister, Miss Camille Bereston. And my father, Mister Killian Hanniford.”
“I am most honored to meet you both.” He doffed his hat and shook hands with them. With serene blue eyes, he smiled at Killian and Camille.
“Are you abroad for a long time?” Pierce’s father was always keen to meet other entrepreneurs.
“A few weeks here in London, yes.” Lee spoke with a British accent.
Pierce could see the wheels turning in both his father’s and Camille’s heads. Pierce could bet that his father wanted to learn more about the man’s business. Camille wanted to learn more about the man’s background.
“Then I visit Paris and Berlin for a few weeks each before I return here, then sail to New York.”
Killian grinned. “If you are here in Southhampton for a few days, we would like to have you to our house in Brighton for dinner.”
“I am most appreciative.” He glanced to one side as his young Chinese manservant presented himself for instructions for his luggage. “Perhaps I might come another time as I am on a train to London this afternoon.”
“We will see you in the city then,” Camille chimed in.
Later, they take Lee to the theater to see The Mikado and Camille offers this to Pierce:
“I wondered that you chose The Mikado. I fear Mister Macfarlane may be offended.”
“When I telephoned, I told him I’d purchased tickets for this. But I also said if he preferred to see Sarah Bernhardt, I’d change them. He’s heard of the ‘Divine Sarah’. And of Gilbert and Sullivan, too. But he told me he wanted to see the parody of Japanese society. He knows what he faces here, Camille. We have prejudice in Shanghai, too, you see. And it’s worse there against those who straddle two cultures.”
Money cures few ills, her mother always said. “Yet he seems to rise above it and does well in business.”
Pierce’s face was a study in pride in his friend. “Very well. He knows many discount his abilities. He’s learned to show them he is their equal. His father has taught him the western way. His mother, the Chinese. In truth, I have watched him to learn finer methods.”
She let her admiration show.
He must have understood because he said, “A man can always learn new things.”
She nodded as the bright gold tapestry curtain rose. “A woman too.”
I hope you enjoy my glimpse of Lee and of the contrast between Chinese acceptance of the West and the Japanese acceptance. Of course, I hope you love the romance of Camille and Pierce!
About the Book
Pierce Hanniford returns to England after tripling his fortune in China. He’s come for business. Not pleasure. And definitely not for love.
Camille Bereston decided years ago that Pierce was not for her. He’s her step-brother, infamous, restless, a savvy Shanghai taipan and a menace…to her heart. She has ambitions to marry. Funny that none of her candidates seems good enough.
But Camille lures him from his ruthless business pursuits. And his kisses destroy her appreciation for any other man. But should such an older, experienced rogue become her lover…and remain her only love?
About the Author
Cerise DeLand loves to write about dashing heroes and the sassy women they adore. Whether she’s penning historical romances or contemporaries, she’s praised for her poetic elegance and accuracy of detail.
An award-winning author of more than 60 novels, she’s been published since 1990 by Pocket Books, St. Martin’s Press, Kensington and independent presses. Her books have been monthly selections of the Doubleday Book Club, Rhapsody Book Club and the Mystery Guild. Plus she’s won countless 4, 4.5 and 5 star rave reviews from Romantic Times, Affair de Coeur, Publishers Weekly and more.
To research, she’ll dive into the oldest texts and dustiest library shelves. She’ll also travel abroad, trusty notebook and pen in hand, to visit the chateaux and country homes she loves to people with her own imaginary characters.
And at home every day? She loves to cook, hates to dust, lives to travel and go to Jazz class once a week!