Today I am excited to join in the celebration of USA Today Bestselling Author Ruth A. Casie’s newest release, The Lady and Her Duke. This is the third standalone regency romance novel in the Ladies of Sommer by the Sea.
The Lady and Her Duke
Lady Katherine Thornton has no interest in men after an indiscretion at her disastrous Season in London. No man can be trusted. Instead, she indulges in her fascination for gears and all things mechanical. Her unique drafting skill is an asset to her uncle Bennett Sutton, who is automating his textile factory. She doesn’t need anything else.
Lord Ian Wallace, the 4th Duke of Blackhall, is a retired military officer. An accidental duke after the deaths of his father and brother, he retreats from society and the clawing mothers and debutantes who stalk him. He’s focused all his energy on his partnership with Sutton. He’s satisfied and needs nothing else.
An oath to marry, a family legend to preserve, an uprising of the factory workers, and Sutton’s murder, throw Katherine and Wallace together to find a blackmailer and murderer.
They also will find two things neither knew they were missing…each other and their happily ever after.
Read an Excerpt
“We thought we were close, no secrets between us. We understand you’re under a great deal of strain with your uncle’s death. But this?”
Katherine took a breath, then began to get angry. “I clearly have no idea what the three of you are talking about. I do not keep secrets from you, just as you do not keep them from me.”
Effie got to her feet so quickly Katherine stepped back. Her friend handed her the London Gazette, a circle drawn around an article.
She took the newspaper and read the noted item.
“The very eligible and handsome Lord Wallace, 4th Duke of Blackhall, is finally off the market. He’s made his vow. Does Lady Ivy-Rose T. even know she snagged the wealthiest and handsomest man in London? And does Lady RH realize she’s missed her opportunity? This should be something to watch unfold. All the best to the happy (?) couple. No matter who becomes the next Duchess of Blackhall.”
Katherine slowly sank down into the chair. Her friends looked at each other than at her.
“You’re the only Lady Ivy-Rose T. we know. And Lord Wallace is mentioned.”
“Hush,” Hattie snapped and elbowed Effie. “Eat a biscuit.”
Katherine re-read the article a second, then a third time. Who is Lady RH? Did someone else have his heart? Her breath came in spurts.
“Are you all right? You haven’t said a word.” Anna knelt next to her.
Katherine clenched her hands, her fingernails digging into her palms. She turned and stared at her close friend.
Anna studied Katherine’s face.
“You had no idea, did you?” Anna’s voice faded to a hushed silence. Her expression changed from hurt to horror.
Lady Katherine’s Fascination with Locks
All the Ladies attending The Sommer-by-the-Sea Female Seminary have very special, unique skills for women of their time. Lady Alicia is a brilliant author. Lady Patrice is excellent at solving puzzles. Just what is Lady Katherine’s specialty? Lockpicking.
Her foray into the ‘art’ started innocently enough. Her Uncle Bennett, only several years her senior, used to taunt her with his hidden treasures.
“When I was young, Bennett kept his secret things in a locked box which I couldn’t open. However, he kept getting into mine. No matter what I did, he’d find my case, open it, and leave me a note claiming victory. He didn’t bother to hide his precious box. He taunted me, leaving it in full view for everyone to see.
“I decided to give him a taste of his own medicine. I learned to pick the lock. It took me a while, but when I did, I left him a short, succinct note. Victory is mine.” She laughed at the memory. “Bennett wasn’t angry. On the contrary, he was quite proud of me. I enjoyed the challenge, but it was the workings of the lock that fascinated me.”
In our story, The Lady and Her Duke, Mrs. Bainbridge invited the renown locksmith and machinist, Mr. Bramah to be a guest speaker at the seminary. Bramah Locks were well known for their integrity and security. After speaking with Lady Katherine and experiencing her enthusiasm and interest in locks, he gave her a special lock that his father had developed. The Challenge Lock. For years no one had been able to open it. He offered 200 Guineas to anyone who could open the hasp.
In actuality, this was a well-known challenge and used as a marketing tool in Bramah’s lock and security business.
In 1784, Joseph Bramah established his locksmith business at 124 Piccadilly, in London. Mr. Bramah’s technical achievement and level of security were well known. His locks were in such demand that he could not keep up with demand. In 1789, he hired Henry Maudslay, at the recommendation of his employees. The 18-year-old soon became Bramah’s chief engineer.
In 1790, Maudslay created a padlock so secure and un-pickable that it could only be opened by the lock’s own unique key. Bramah was impressed. With a great deal of confidence, Bramah placed the lock in his shop window and issued a challenge: ‘The artist who can make an instrument that will pick or open this lock shall receive 200 Guineas [approximately $35,000 in today’s money] the moment it is produced’.
Recreation of Bramah’s shop front at 124 Piccadilly, London, with the ‘Challenge Lock’ on display. Also. A close up look at the Challenge Lock. Picture from the Science Museum in London.
Joseph Bramah died in 1814. He never had to pay out the reward, but his son, Timothy, continued the business. Despite one failed attempt documented in 1817, Bramah’s Challenge Lock remained as a unique item gathering dust in their shop window.
At the Great Exhibition of 1851, Alfred Charles Hobbs, a sales representative of Day & Newell, a New York locksmith brought a lock to the fair that won a prize. He was a good locksmith and salesman. He thought the best way to sell his lock was to point out the short comings of the competition, Joseph Bramah’s Challenge Lock. Hobbs contacted Bramah on July 2, 1851, advising him he was taking on the challenge.
On July 24, 1851, the Challenge lock was removed from the Bramah’s shop window and placed in one of the rooms in the shop where Hobbs began his work. On August 23, 1851, after much ado, Hobbs displayed the Challenge Lock with its hasp open. It took Hobbs over 51 hours spread over 16 days to open the Challenge Lock.
Controversy abounded. It is believed that the oversight committee that was to monitor Mr. Hobbs may not have been very diligent. When the lock was returned, Bramah found that while there was no damage of any concern to the internal mechanism, some of the parts had been bent and restraighten while others were almost completely filed through.
In the end, Bramah conceded and gave Hobbs the reward. Bramah stated that an extremely accomplished locksmith using the tools of the day, took 51 hours and 16 days to open a lock that hadn’t had its design updated in 34 years.
Katherine’s fascination with locks have a deeper meaning. She has kept her heart locked away for some time. So has Lord Wallace. Neither thought they would ever love… they just needed to find the right lockpick… the right key! It may have taken 34 years for Bramah’s lock to finally be opened. Thankfully, it took less time for Lady Katherine and Lord Wallace to find the key to their happily ever after.
Enter to win a $25.00 Amazon gift card. Giveaway ends July 20, 2022. Open to anyone who can accept a US gift card.