It’s time to welcome in the 2021 series, the Rebellious Sisterhood. The series features three female artists looking to make a mark on the world and live life on their own terms. Book 1 features Artemisia Stansfield, a woman seeking promotion to the rank of RA (Royal Academician) at the Royal Academy of the Arts. Set in primarily in 1820, after the death of one of the original Academy founders, Mary Moser in early 1819, Artemisia struggles to overcome gender barriers despite her talent. The second book, Revealing the True Miss Stansfield, features Adelaide, Artemisia’s younger sister (March 1, 2021) and the third book, A Wager to Tempt the Runaway, features an itinerant artist named Josefina Ricci who is caught in a bet between Artemisia and Sir Aldred Gray (whom we meet in book 1 so keep an eye on that scapegrace) (release date is May 2021).
The stories are set in Seasalter on the Kent coast. I want to introduce you to Seasalter as it was in 1820 when it was not much at all. Its primary industries were oysters and smuggling. It’s the perfect place for Artemisia to escape to when she turns her back on Society and rusticates. I want to acknowledge the Blue Anchor Corner as a source I turned to for information about Seasalter in the 1820s. If you are interested in the site, you can access it here: https://seasaltercross.com/
Seasalter contained a few outlying farmhouses like the one Artemisia inherited from her aunt, St. Alphege’s church, the Crown inn and a handful of fishing huts. The inn features in all three books so let me say a little something about it. The Crown Inn was later renamed the Blue Anchor, and it wasn’t clear to me exactly when the re-naming happened, so I stuck with calling it The Crown for the series. I did embellish the town teeny bit with the invention of a bakery next door to the Crown where Elianora makes her delicious ginger biscuits on Fridays (featured throughout the series and in the free Harlequin online read for Dec. 2020). But in truth, there was no bakery. Seasalter relied on the close proximity of Faversham and the larger village of Whitstable for what might pass as ‘shops’ in that rural area. There is no High Street in Seasalter. It was a very bleak place, which made it the perfect hide-away for Artemisia.
Geographically, Seasalter is set in a marshy area that provides an estuary for birds. From Seasalter, one can see the Isle of Sheppey and the oyster beds are about a mile from the shore. I took some liberty with the oyster harvest in the books. It’s not a main plot, merely a mention in book one. However, I do want to note that oysters can be harvested year round—that doesn’t mean they should be, just that they can be. In Seasalter, where the fictional Owen Gann is the Oyster King of Kent, oysters are sometimes not harvested in the late winter (which Owen explains in book 3 as an invention of his own). And Owen chooses not to harvest between May and October for reproductive reasons and keeping the beds healthy. There is some merit in that although not everyone will agree (just in case an avid oyster farmer reads the series for something other than the romance).
It was interesting to learn that Seasalter had relatively temperate winters. They were not tropical by any means, but winters had a mild quality to them (45 degrees and rainy) which made it possible for an intrepid soul to tramp the marsh, beach and shingle year long if they so desired. This is important to Artemisia who spent a lot of her time outdoors sketching the wildlife and there are several scenes where Artemisia and Darius make good use of the isolated outdoors in winter to talk over campfires bundled up in blankets.
Ihope you enjoyed this quick look at Seasalter. I love to connect with readers on Bookbub and on my Facebook page.