I think I figured out what the problem is on my scene. It’s that the escalation takes place at, during, because of a high-stakes card game. And I know almost nothing about how games were actually played 200 years ago (or now, but especially not 200 years ago).
Sigh. Yet more research that I was not expecting to have to do. First it was the London docks (which it turns out I didn’t even need, once I tossed one of the subplot villains). Then it was women in business at the time. Then it was fashions and fabrics of the year. Then it was the Season, and how it related to the calender year of this year. Then it was regiments and battles in the Napoleonic war. Now types of card games played and specific plays for them? And all of it–all of it–for minor background texture or backstory, because I am just that much of a nerd and a stickler, and I know that if the information is out there I can’t not find it in order to makde the most realistic and plausible setting for the story.
At least this will be information that definitely comes up again in future books, unlike some of it (at least as far as I can see). Still, being that I am just so ready to be DONE with this one, I pretty much feel like a meme right now.