Love Is Blind?!

Antoinette George
Antoinette George Author Interview

Gambling Lion follows a talented but haunted man who meets a mysterious woman that changes his life. What were some sources that informed this novels development?

Gambling Lion is Part 1 of the tale of Nicholas de Bresancourt, my main character, an impoverished French noble who has grown up in England and hates what has happened to France, and for a variety of reasons joins the British Army and is recruited to become an undercover agent for the British against his former countrymen in the interminable war that has been going on in Europe. I’m very familiar with this period of history, and have always found it particularly interesting, hence the background to this story’s prequel, Behind The Shadow, where we meet Nicky as a small boy, just escaped from the French Revolution. Also, being a closet James Bond fan, I tried to imagine what an equivalent spying department might have been like back in 1812, along with an M equivalent and his assistant – however being 1812, it wouldn’t be a Moneypenny unless it was a Mr Moneypenny!

But more seriously, I always thought the Napoleonic Wars fascinating, as is Napoleon himself, and his megalomania until he went a step too far and invaded Russia, underestimating what he would be up against there, not to mention the terrible weather in winter. Hitler never learned from history – if he had he might have thought twice about invading Russia. But there you are, another megalomaniac, except far, far worse than Napoleon of course. Also, when I visited the battlefield site of Waterloo (battle scenes referred to in Part 4 of The Pride of Lions set) I was stunned and tried to picture what went on there. Anyone who understands what historical battles were like,and the sheer carnage, will know what I mean. Men and horses alike. Terrible. But that epic battle kept Europe peaceful for decades after that… until everyone went to war again in 1914. Finally, I always think heroes who are perfect, or infallible, or one-dimensional, are boring; so depicting a man with issues, as a result of terrible abuse back in his childhood, along with PTSD from his military undercover work and interaction with the villain of the story, which compounds his already fragile mental state, makes him more interesting and realistic… well as far as anyone who is a James Bond type character can be. After all, this is a historical romance at the end of the day, just like James Bond gets the girl in the end!

Your characters are interesting, but I really enjoyed the relationship between characters. What were some driving ideals behind your characters and their relationships?

The story is very much about misplaced pride, and also, how people are often not quite how they appear. It’s about how women were still repressed at that time in history, but starting to assert themselves, and not all men believed them to be either frivolous nor brainless. Also, the hero was impoverished so has to make the best of what his attributes are to make his way in the world … eg his good looks and charm lend themselves to his line of work, and later in the series the reader gets to find out what else he has been up to in this regard. And finally, didn’t they always say that love is blind?!

What kind of research did you undertake to ensure the historical aspects in the novel are accurate?

As mentioned above, this period of history has always interested me, and I have to own up, I’ve always been a bit of a history geek, so knew a lot already about the period and subject matter, including visiting Waterloo before I even came up with the story. But I read a lot about what went on during the Peninsular campaign to check my facts, and was interested by how Napoleon left his Marshals to run most of it for him. Who knows what would have happened if he’d stayed there himself instead of leaving to sort out eastern Europe and then go into Russia. Now there’s a question! The Duke of Wellington finally came into his own in Spain, and the whole episode is fascinating to study as his battle successes during his time there ebbed and flowed and he learned a lot as a result of this, especially how the French fought and the capability of the French Marshals he came up against. Experts (not me) say he really made the most of that learning to put to use when he finally arrived at Waterloo. (Apologies for history lesson!)

This is book one in The Pride of Lions series. What can readers expect in book two?

Book 2, Undercover Lion, carries on with Nicky, our hero, deep in tracking down the villain of the piece, the clever and malicious French agent, Frederick Bernheim, son of the man who originally murdered his parents and was responsible for the horrific events of his childhood before he escaped to England. He’s now in Madrid, cut off from the British forces and on his own, but finds help from an unexpected quarter, and finally runs his enemy to earth,… but I won’t tell you any more than that, other than, being a spy story in true James Bond style, there’s a villainous woman involved along the line as well who needs dealing with….

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Soldier and secret agent during the latter part of the Napoleonic wars and present at the epic Battle of Waterloo in 1815; he was handsome, charming and lover of many women, but saddled with a wife he neither loved nor wanted. Nicholas de Bresancourt, Duc de Valenciennes, was a complex man of many talents, but also a tormented one. Memories of his horrific experiences as a small boy in France before he escaped from the Revolution continued to haunt him.
London. June 1812.
He was carrying important dispatches from the British Army HQ in the Peninsula to the War Ministry in London and hadn’t been home for a year.

While waiting for confidential and urgent documents to take back to the Army high command, Nicholas de Bresancourt is taken to meet an inscrutable gentleman in the innocuous-sounding Department of Information in Whitehall. Lord Ashcroft wants to utilize his talents to track down a dangerous French agent who has been causing trouble for those still battling Bonaparte across Europe, and has now turned up in Spain. Meanwhile, Nicky also takes the opportunity to catch up with his adoptive relations, including the dying family matriarch, the nearest thing he’s ever had to a grandmother, as well as the wife he was inveigled into marrying and now wants rid of.

Unsurprisingly, being Nicky, he decides to take a few hours off for a bit of personal R&R, away from the stresses of family matters and work. Good looking, charismatic and a consummate lothario, he heads out on the Town with a few regimental friends and they take him to a new gambling salon in Mayfair which is all the rage: Le Lion D’Or, owned by a mysterious masked woman who calls herself La Lionesse. Inexplicably fascinated by the lady, who in turn seems very taken with the handsome soldier, she asks him up to her private quarters to continue their game of cards and he accepts, and that’s when she raises the stakes…

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on January 22, 2022, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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