Congratulations on your book release, Diana!
What a great cover. Let's hear a little about your inspiration and the story.
On New Year’s Day 2008, I sat on the couch trying to figure out who to write about next, and decided on Hamilton (this was WAY pre-Hamilton, the musical). The story centers on Hamilton, his wife and mistress—the love triangle that became the nation's first sex scandal, The Reynolds Affair. It went through several incarnations, rewrites and revisions. My friend, best selling thriller writer Brian Porter, wrote a chilling subplot about a serial killer on the dark Philadelphia streets.
As the United States struggled in 1791, James and Maria Reynolds also struggled, flat broke. James, well aware of the strong attraction between his wife and Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, hatched a plan to blackmail Hamilton and get rich. James sent Maria to seduce Hamilton and extort hush money from him. The Reynolds Affair lasted almost two years. James got plenty of hush money. But he never counted on the two of them falling in love.
What follows is a novel, but some facts can’t be ignored.
In 1791, Alexander Hamilton, married with five children, began an affair with the beautiful 23-year-old Maria Reynolds of Philadelphia. “The Reynolds Affair,” the country’s first sex scandal, lasted two years. They indulged their passion either in Maria’s boarding house or in Hamilton’s home when his wife and children were away. Not only did the forbidden trysts titillate the tabloid readers of the time, but news later broke that Hamilton was paying Maria’s husband James hush money. James, a con artist, lived by his wits and scams. When he began extorting hundreds of dollars from Hamilton under threat of ruining his reputation as Treasury Secretary, Hamilton had no choice but to continue paying James while carrying on with Maria. Hamilton and Maria eventually fell in love, but being married to others, knew they had no future together.
The affair ended two years later when Hamilton, after a Congressional investigation, published The Reynolds Pamphlet, admitting that his dishonesty was “an amorous entanglement”, not embezzlement from the United States treasury. His wife Eliza, pregnant with their sixth child, forgave him, and his sterling reputation emerged untarnished. But it forever ruined his chances of the presidency.
Meanwhile, behind the romantic and political machinations, a vicious serial killer stalked the city by night. Having arrived in the New World from London, Dr. Severus Black, specialist in ‘women’s medicine’ and friend of the Hamiltons, had a penchant for the darker side of life. He managed to combine tending to Mrs. Hamilton during her pregnancies with a series of vicious murders of young women. One hundred years later these scenes were echoed on the streets of London by another killer who was never caught—Jack the Ripper. Mrs. Hamilton grew very fond of the handsome debonair young doctor, who in turn, returned an affinity for his patient. Blissfully unaware of his nocturnal activities, she continued her friendship with Dr. Black, but she sensed a secret grief, a bitter repentance, under his outward displays of charm and cordiality.
After a few run-ins with the law, Dr. Black made good his escape from Philadelphia when the police investigation drew too close for comfort. He settled in South Africa under a new name, where he found more than one use for his medical skills.
Apart from Dr. Black’s scenes, the story is told from the alternating viewpoints of the aristocratic Eliza Schuyler Hamilton and the lower-born but wily Maria Reynolds. It will tell the reader, in these women’s own words and intimate detail, about being in love with the same man during a critical period for the young nation.
While researching this book, I became fascinated with Aaron Burr, who makes a cameo appearance in the story as Maria Reynolds's divorce lawyer. I found the Aaron Burr Association on the internet, and have been a member ever since.
Visit their website at http://www.aaronburrassociation.org/
And on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AaronBurrAssociation/
My fascination with Aaron led to my next bio novel, about his last wife Eliza Jumel, which I'm happy to announce will be published November 24.
Purchase SHARING HAMILTON