"While I love all my heroes, the hero of Stranger is one of my all-time favorites. Catullus Graves and generations of his family have been making sophisticated and brilliant inventions for the Blades to use out in the field. He’s basically “Q” in the James Bond films, and that’s where we get the steampunk element—since he doesn’t use magic, just known Victorian science and technology in the design and construction of his devices. But one of the most unique aspects of Catullus as a hero in a historical romance is that he’s a black Briton.
It always seemed odd to me that romance protagonists, especially in historical romance, are so ethnically limited. I really wanted to address the wide variety of experiences and people, particularly given how diverse England truly was and is. The research I did into the history of black people in Britain was fascinating and truly eye-opening. It’s seldom explored in the context of romance. For example, I learned that there were never any anti-miscegenation laws in England, unlike in the United States, which meant it wasn’t illegal for black people to marry white people.
I also learned that the most common interracial relationships from the 18th century to the 19th century were between black men and white women, since migration patterns and other external forces created a larger proportion of black men to black women in Britain. And even though England participated in the slave trade until 1833, there was never a policy of institutionalized racism in the country. That isn’t to say Britain was a paradise of equality, but it was very different from the U.S. All of this impacts Catullus’s character—though he is, first and foremost, a romance hero, which means he’s clever, skilled…and very sexy."
I might go read this when it comes out. And it spurs on my ideas about Mady and her half-Indian Henry...