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A darkly erotic tale of prostitution, murder, and medical science in Victorian England
Lydia Ketch is a young woman whose life some would call immoral and shameful. But with the death of her mother and the prospect of the obscene conditions of the workhouse looming before her, Lydia chooses to enter into the “trade” in order to shield herself (and, more to the point, her sweet younger sister) from life’s ravages and give them a chance at something better. Her education, working in the 'introduction house' of Kathleen Tanner, has given her some very unusual skills and an income few others could match.
When Lydia meets Henry Shadwell, a young surgeon with a passionate interest in biology—and in Lydia's shadowy world—the chemistry between the two is instant. Their relationship deepens when Henry discovers that Lydia possesses a nimble intellect. He soon enlists Lydia's help in his underground sidelines, first as a model for pornographic photography: then as an assistant in procuring corpses for medical experimentation.
With the dangers of her own line of work becoming clearer by the day, and her newfound delight in her own sexuality burgeoning, Lydia becomes disillusioned with her life as a prostitute.
It soon become evident that her trade--and Henry's--are even more dangerous than either had imagined.
Trades of the Flesh is a gripping novel about the body and its desires, from a precocious voice in historical fiction.