I’m very excited to be here today at Addicted 2 Heroines to
celebrate the release of A Private Duel with Agent Gunn.
Thanks for inviting me!
This series may be called The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard, but the heroines are clever, talented women with a purpose. In order to write a dance and a rehearsal scene for the heroine of A PRIVATE DUEL WITH AGENT GUNN I had to do a bit of research on the early ballet.
About the heroine.
Cate Willoughby, stage name, Catriona de Dovia is the premier danseuse for a traveling company of the Paris Opera Ballet, which has just arrived in London. But Cate might also be a jewel thief, or a clever uncover operative, or...she just might be all three. Scotland Yard wants to know and it is up to Agent Gunn to find out.
Victorian London called them ballet-girls.
And the ballet-girl's day was a long one. It began with barre exercises at ten or eleven o'clock in the morning on a bare stage and went on to dance rehearsal all afternoon. Accompanied by a violinist or pianist, the ballet-master drilled the dancers.
Dance rehearsal research: After the rehearsal, the ballet-girl had two or three hours to herself before returning to the theatre by six o'clock to prepare for the evening performance. As premier danseuse, Cate would have a private dressing compartment, her own looking-glass and wash-basin, powder-dabbers and pots of rouge.
How I used rehearsal research: Cate’s male dance partner (male dancers were there primarily to support the female in lifts and other aerial movements) is late to rehearsal but Agent Gunn shows up and volunteers to partner Cate. She refuses at first, but when Agent Gunn rolls up his sleeves, she relents, teaching him a few basic lifts. In some ways this was a difficult scene to write, but it was well worth it! There are some sexy, sensuous moments, as well as a bit of humor!
Dramatic stage entrance research: When dancers took their positions before a performance, some would climb the staircase to be attached to the hooks of the 'travellers.' Others would arrive on stage through trap-doors, and some collected in groups in the wings.
How I used the dramatic entrance research: I wanted Cate to have a dramatic, and if possible, an aerial entrance for her dance. Imagine my happiness when I discovered the ‘traveller apparatus,’ which I used to effect in an early scene, one where Agent Gunn first recognizes Cate, and then again to dramatic effect at the end of the book.
Green Room research: Between the acts, there was a great flurry and bustling backstage. A few privileged well-dressed gentlemen were allowed to lounge in the green room and flirt with the dancers. When the performance was over, interested gentlemen and sweethearts often brought flowers, gifts and offers of late suppers.
How I used the Green Room research: Cate has a number of ardent fans and prospective suitors who wait for her backstage. Agent Gunn cleverly arranges for a private moment with Cate in her dressing room.
You have to admit the ballet-girl was an extremely hard worker! She would often steal quietly out of the stage door, make her way home, undress quickly and climb into bed, for there was another rehearsal the next morning.
And that is just one aspect of the talented heroine of A PRIVATE DUEL WITH AGENT GUNN. Could she also be a clever cat burglar, as well as an undercover operative? Perhaps even a Spanish anarchist sympathizer? I can say no more. You’ll just have to read the book!
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Prima ballerina Catriona de Dovia lives the glamorous life of a starlet, filled with glittering jewels, sumptuous dinners, and admiring suitors. She’s grown up considerably since losing her heart to Hugh Curzon once upon a time, no longer wasting her emotions on the empty promises of charming gentlemen. On her own since the untimely death of her parents, she will do anything for the only family she has left: her brother, a notorious anarchist.
Scotland Yard Agent Phineas Gunn–sometimes known as Hugh Curzon–receives his new assignment reluctantly. He’s up for something a little more strenuous than playing nanny to a ballerina, until he sees who his charge is. Then, it’s a completely different story, because he’d been unable to forget the trusting, beautiful Cate since he had to leave her behind in Barcelona. And he suspects Cate is more than a ballet girl––in fact, she just might be a jewel thief, or even more arousing––a clever undercover operative.
Finn is determined to find out as the two race across the Continent–by land, by sea, even through the air by zephyr–it becomes uncertain who is keeping tabs on whom, and Finn and Cate must battle the sexual tension that snaps and sizzles between them every step of the way.
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Jillian Stone is the author of the Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator series, which includes The Seduction of Phaeton Black, and the just released, The Moonstone and Miss Jones. The third sequel, The Miss Education of Doctor Exeter, is scheduled to release in summer 2013. Jillian is also the author of The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard series. Watch for A Private Duel with Agent Gunn in late November!