In my capacity as occasional contributor to the Teatime Tattler, I was most fortunate to arrange an interview with Corvus, the caricaturist who took London society by storm over a year ago. 

No one knows Corvus’s real name or even what he looks like. For the interview, he was completely screened from my sight. All I could discern, judging by his voice and accent, is that he is an Englishman, likely of the merchant class—educated, but lacking what is known as ton. I am relieved to know that he is not a gentleman of birth, for no such man would stoop to publishing vulgar caricatures, making game of the highest and best of English society—including Lady Rosamund Phipps, one of the stars in the firmament of the beau monde.

Caracaturist and Scandal

As if that were not dreadful enough, some of his caricatures indicate that he has a tendre for Lady Rosamund! When I taxed him with his impudence at coveting a lady so far above him, he gave a chuckle that sent a shiver down my spine. “I wouldn’t let just anyone birch me.”

Horrors! How crass of him to refer to that ghastly drawing in which poor Lady Rosamund is doing just that. Can you conceive of anything more insulting—to expose his bare bottom to the world and suggest that Lady Rosamund would enjoy punishing him in such a way?

Although, I must say, I have it on the best of authority that Lady Rosamund did indeed say that Corvus deserved a birching. I believe we all agree with that, but never that she wished to inflict the punishment in person. Naturally, she would send a burly footman to accomplish such a disagreeable task.

“Why,” I asked him, “do you put your artistic talent to such a base use?” The reason was obvious—filthy lucre.

He laughed again. “Money, of course. That’s what you expected me to say, isn’t it? And it’s true, the caricatures are a valuable means of support for me. But that’s not all.”

“Admiration?” I wished he could see my brows raised in haughty inquiry.

“It is always a pleasure when one’s art is appreciated by others,” he said. “I’m sure you write gossip for the same reason. Deplorable as gossip is, the way you phrase it is a form of art.”

I admit, I didn’t know whether to be offended or complimented. So much for haughtiness.

I sensed his grin at my expense. “I draw to amuse the populace,” he said after a pause. “To show for their delectation the folly, venality, and indifference of the upper classes. Not that they don’t already suffer from this every day of their lives, but to have it displayed for the lower classes to see and laugh at whilst at the same time it embarrasses their so-called betters… Maybe that’s why I do it.”

There ended the interview, gentle readers. I leave it to you to decide what you think of Corvus, and whether you will continue to enjoy—or deplore—his caricatures. However, I believe we all are agreed in wondering who he is, who will unmask him…and what punishment Lady Rosamund will devise for him when that day comes.

About the Book

Lady Rosamund Phipps, daughter of an earl, has a secret. Well, more than one. Such as the fact that she’s so uninterested in sex that she married a man who promised to leave her alone and stick to his mistress. And a secret only her family knows—the mortifying compulsion to check things over and over. Society condemns people like her to asylums. But when she discovers the dead body of a footman on the stairs, everything she’s tried to hide for years may be spilled out in broad daylight.

First the anonymous caricaturist, Corvus, implicates Lady Rosamund in a series of scandalous prints. Worse, though, are the poison pen letters that indicate someone knows the shameful secret of her compulsions. She cannot do detective work on her own without seeming odder than she already is, but she has no choice if she is to unmask both Corvus and the poison pen.

Will Corvus prove to be an ally or an enemy? With the anonymous poison pen still out there, her sanity—and her life—are at stake.

Caracaturist and Scandal

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About the Author

Rumor has it that Barbara Monajem is descended from English aristocrats. If one keeps to verifiable claims, however, her ancestors include London shopkeepers and hardy Canadian pioneers. As far as personal attributes go, she suffers from an annoying tendency to check and recheck anything and everything, usually for no good reason. Hopefully all this helps to explain her decision to write from the point of view of a compulsive English lady with a lot to learn about how the other ninety-nine percent lived in 1811 or so.

As for qualifications, Barbara is the author of over twenty historical romances and a few mysteries, for which she has won several awards. On the other hand, she has no artistic talent and therefore is really stretching it to write about an artist who draws wickedly good caricatures. But she’s doing it anyway, because he’s irresistible. To her, anyway. Not so much to the aristocratic lady. Or at least not yet.

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