Bridgerton meets The Da Vinci Code in the most page-turning book you will read in 2024!

You don’t dabble in satanism. You sell your soul to the devil or not at all.

1812

Deep below the hills of the Buckinghamshire countryside, the infamous Hellfire Caves house a pleasure palace for the idle rich – a secret society steeped in satanism, opium and debauchery of the highest order.

When the club’s warden, Antony Pennington, is brutally murdered, his bastard sister, Dora, must follow the clues to decode who the killer is, aided by an unexpected ally – ex-Army officer, former opium addict and son of a Viscount, Dr Jacob Sandys.

As a shadow dogs their every footstep, Dora and Jacob find themselves in the midst of a shocking conspiracy, caught between the legendary Illuminati and the Hell Fire Club. With time running out, they must fight against both the most influential gentleman of the ton – and the undeniable attraction they feel towards each other…

The Elgin Conspiracy #2

The second part of the series is out on 24th October. 

You have probably heard about the ongoing kerfuffle over the Parthenon marbles but the 1812 story is even more fascinating. Meet Lord Elgin and enjoy uncovering the conspiracy around his collection.

Dora and Jacob return. Find out how their partnership develops now they have a second mystery to solve.

 

 

Historical Background

About the Hell Fire Club

The Hellfire Caves

One of the most important locations in the book is the Hellfire Caves. These started as a charitable endeavour, providing much needed local employment between 1748-1752 as they were dug to provide coal for a new road from West Wycombe to nearby High Wycombe. They run for a quarter of mile into the hill and go 300 feet below ground.

Once dug, what was an enterprising, party-loving land owner to do but to hold risqué parties in them? For the purposes of my story, I've imagined the habit carried in with future generations with darker purposes...

You can visit them today and see what it was like to party like it's 1812.

Sir Francis Dashwood

Sir Francis Dashwood, one of the leading members of the Hell Fire Club is a fascinatingly complex figure. He demonstrates how the desire to lampoon (see the portrait above) and colour well over the lines of respectable behaviour went hand in hand with a serious life in politics and culture. He was Chancellor of the Exchequer and Post-Master General - both important roles in the British government. As a local landowner, he remodelled his houses and estates to reflect his interests in architecture and how it 'spoke' to those looking upon it. The caves are his dark side, whereas the nearby house of West Wycombe celebrates the Palladian style, with sweeping vistas and a garden full of temples and follies .

He was also a friend of Benjamin Franklin and together they worked on a revision of the prayer book. Ben Franklin also came to the parties in the caves...

By the time of my story, the house is let to tenants, allowing me to imagine a new generation of (fictional) hellfire raisers.

Medmenham Abbey

Not far from West Wycombe is the second party venue for the Hell Fire Club. Medmenham Abbey. This was a Cistercian Abbey on the banks of the Thames near Henley. Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1547. Medmenham passed into the hands of the Duffield Family from whom Sir Francis leased it for his parties. Wild parties with guests dressed as monks and nuns took place in this gothic surrounding. It fitted well with the theme of religious parody that made the Hell Fire Club so titillating to its members.

It's now a private residence with very little of the original building still visible.