Author Anna Campbell Gambles With Her Character's Life

Described as being similar to Beauty and the Beast, but with a sexy twist, Anna Campbell's latest historical romp Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed is a Regency tale about Sidonie Forsyth, a young woman who risks it all and must spend seven nights in the bed of a cursed "monster" in order to save her sister. What got her into this mess? A gambling debt, which was quite common during the time period. Today the author shares a little bit about what she learned about gambling during the Regency era and how she weaves it into her latest story.

The Regency was one of the most gambling-mad societies that ever existed (and I’m speaking from gambling-mad Australia!). People then would bet on anything — two flies running up a wall if nothing else was around to throw money at. Suicides or people fleeing the country after a disastrous night of gambling weren’t uncommon occurrences. Whole estates could change hands over a single night at the card tables. And gambling debts were sacrosanct and had to be paid immediately — much more important, according to the aristocratic code, than settling with your long-suffering tailor or wine merchant.

I’ve just finished a book about Shelley and Byron (The Young Romantics by Daisy Hay) where in a drunken moment, the two poets bet £1,000 on who would inherit first. Gambling on other people’s deaths? Classy, boys! Byron’s mother-in-law died soon after and he inherited a fortune but refused to acknowledge the debt to Shelley. This caused long-lasting resentment in their on again, off again friendship. 

The betting books held in gentlemen’s clubs are another fascinating source for the ridiculous heights gambling reached in the Regency. The most famous of these was in White’s Club in St. James’ Street, Beau Brummell’s hangout. A lot of the bets were on who would marry whom, but among the most eccentric was Lord Alvanley’s bet of £3,000 (an enormous amount at the time) on which raindrop trickling down the glass would hit the sill of the famous bow window first. See what I mean about flies on the wall?

With this rich background, how could I resist including the Regency’s gambling mania in my latest historical romance, Seven Nights in A Rogue's Bed, the first in the “Sons of Sin” series?

When our gallant heroine Sidonie Forsyth offers herself to ruthless, scarred and reclusive Jonas Merrick, it’s to repay a gambling debt. She’s not a gambler; her reckless and desperately unhappy sister Roberta is. Roberta is married to the brutish William Merrick, Jonas’s (legitimate) cousin. William inherited the Hillbrook title that Jonas believes is rightfully his and the cousins have loathed each other since boyhood.

Roberta’s only refuge from her husband’s abuse is the card tables, an escape that presents its own dangers when she loses a fortune to her husband’s worst enemy, Jonas. When she can’t pay, Jonas demands she spend a week in his bed (remember gambling debts were sacrosanct). But if William discovers that Roberta has betrayed him with Jonas, there’s a real risk that his violence will escalate to murder. Sidonie offers to take Roberta’s place and arrives at Castle Craven scared, angry and hating the man who could demand such a price for his vengeance.

After that, things don’t go quite as Sidonie expects, although Roberta’s recklessness will continue to create danger and drama. Sidonie soon discovers that gambling with her heart is much more dangerous than any reckless play with the cards.  Does she win? You’ll have to Seven Nights in A Rogue's Bed to find out! 

- Anna Campbell

You can pick up a copy of Seven Nights in A Rogue's Bed, available in stores now! Want more on Anna Campbell's latest? Check out the author's message to readers and an excerpt from the book. Find more historical love stories on our Everything Romance Page!