Isabel Wilde: A Woman Ahead of Her Time

by Holly West, author of Mistress of Fortune (Carina Press)

My debut historical mystery, Mistress of Fortune, features an atypical heroine. Isabel, Lady Wilde, is a mistress to King Charles II who secretly makes her living as a fortuneteller named Mistress Ruby. When a popular London magistrate seeks her counsel about a plot to murder the king, both of her worlds collide in a tale of lust, political intrigue, and brutal murder.

5 Reasons Isabel Wilde is a woman ahead of her time:

1)        She’s a 17th century feminist
Harsh experience has taught her that woman have few advantages in her world, so she uses those she has wisely. In eschewing the usual roles available to women at the time (wife, servant, prostitute), she’s reached a level of independence rarely achieved by women in late Stuart London.

2)        She might be a charlatan, but she’s a healer at heart.
She makes no pretenses about her role as a fortuneteller; her expertise as a soothsayer consists mostly of keen intuition and skillful manipulation rather than actual divination. But it quickly becomes clear that her attempts to assist her customers are sincere. Unless, of course, you’ve in some way crossed her. Then, all bets are off.

 

3)        She abhors violence toward women and will fight against it at every turn, even if it means putting herself at risk.
When a seemingly barren young woman visits her marked with wounds inflicted by an abusive husband, Isabel provides some unusual—but nevertheless effective—advice.

 

4)        She values compassion over convention.
Isabel’s household includes a reformed thief and a disgraced chambermaid. She values loyalty above all else and she doesn’t mind flaunting convention if it means helping others or protecting her family.

 

5)        She’s not afraid to stand up to her man.
She’s carried on a tumultuous affair with King Charles II for fifteen years and though they’ve had their share of ups and downs, she loves him. That said, she doesn’t hesitate to confront him when she feels he’s being hypocritical or unjust, even if he is the king of England.

 

These are just some of Isabel’s strengths. Can you identify with any of them?

 

About Mistress of Fortune:

mistressoffortuneLondon, 1678

Isabel, Lady Wilde, a mistress to King Charles II, has a secret: she makes her living disguised as Mistress Ruby, a fortune-teller who caters to London’s elite. It’s a dangerous life among the charlatans, rogues and swindlers who lurk in the city’s dark corners, but to Isabel, the risk is worth the reward.

Until magistrate Sir Edmund Godfrey seeks Mistress Ruby’s counsel and reveals his unwitting involvement in a plot to kill the king. When Isabel’s diary containing dangerous details of his confession is stolen, she knows she must find it before anyone connects her to Mistress Ruby. Especially after Sir Edmund’s corpse is discovered a few days later…

Isabel is sure that whoever stole her diary is Sir Edmund’s killer–and could be part of a conspiracy that leads all the way to the throne. But as she delves deeper into the mystery, not even the king himself may be able to save her.

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