Posted by Anna Campbell Aug 2 2012, 12:02 am in Anna Campbell, Bandita Booty, historical romance, How to Dance with a Duke, How to Entice an Earl, How to Romance a Rake, interviews, Legally Yours, Manda Collins, series, Ugly Ducklings
by Anna Campbell
I’m delighted today to bring back to the lair the thoroughly delightful Manda Collins who is here to tell us about the second book in her acclaimed “Ugly Ducklings” trilogy, HOW TO ROMANCE A RAKE.
Manda visited us back in January to talk about her debut HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE here: http://romancebandits.com/whistle-while-you-work-manda-collins-on-her-how-to-dance-with-a-duke-playlist/ Like HTDWAD, HOW TO ROMANCE A RAKE is getting lots of love from reviewers and readers. RT Book Reviews said:
Collins’ second installment of the Ugly Duckling trilogy is both a lovely, sensitive romance and a taut thriller. Collins brings a dashing hero and a wounded wallflower together in the type of love story readers take to heart. With compassion and perception, she delves into the issues faced by those who survive physical and emotional trauma. Brava to Collins!
Here’s the blurb:
You can lead a wallflower to the ball, but you can’t make her bloom–unless one daring young bachelor turns up the heat…
What’s a nice girl like Miss Juliet Shelby doing at a place like Lord Deveril’s ballroom? With her shy demeanor, she’s a total stranger to the dance floor and a source of mockery for the ton. So imagine her surprise when Deveril gallantly comes to her defense–and offers to teach her to dance! Juliet can hardly believe the most handsome bachelor in London would notice her, until he takes her in his arms and sets her heart ablaze…
Lord Alec Deveril has never felt such a spark of attraction for an unmarried lady before. Unlike the “fashionable” ladies he’s accustomed to, Juliet possesses a generous spirit, a fiery intelligence–and an explosive secret. Deep in the London underworld, a dear friend has vanished, and Juliet fears the worst. Deveril insists on helping, escorting her through the darkest alleys in town. But he too is hiding a shocking secret–and the only way he can defeat the devil in his past is to seduce the angel in his arms…
You can find out more about Manda and read excerpts from her books on her website: http://www.mandacollins.com/
Manda, welcome back to the lair! Congratulations on the success of HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE, the first book of your “Ugly Ducklings” trilogy. Now the second book HOW TO ROMANCE A RAKE has been released. Can you tell us about this story?
Thank you so much for having me, Anna! I’m thrilled to be here with the Bandits again! You guys rock! Now, on to the story! HOW TO ROMANCE A RAKE is your basic dandy/wallflower romance with a mystery plot thrown in for good measure. Juliet is the quietest of the Ugly Ducklings and has been schooled harshly by her mother to stay out of the spotlight because of her infirmity. The only place where she feels free to let herself go is when she’s at the piano. When her music teacher—her mentor—goes missing, Alec, Lord Deveril, offers to help her find out where she’s gone. He’s basically the most sought after bachelor in the Beau Monde, but he’s carrying around a secret from his past that he’s desperate to keep to himself. Together these two unravel the mystery of the missing music teacher, and fall in love in the process.
What were the inspirations behind this book?
I’ve always been a fan of the dandy, who I think of as the Regency equivalent of ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man.” So when it came time to write my trilogy I knew one of my heroes would be a man with a penchant for a perfectly starched cravat.
For Juliet, I wanted to take a risk. I know there’s a tradition in romance novels to have heroes with physical disabilities, but I wanted to write a heroine who is truly disabled. And who won’t be magically cured by the end of the novel. I wanted to capture some of the reality of what it’s like to be disabled, like I am. Juliet is NOT me by a long shot. But I did use some of my own experiences as an amputee to create her character.
As for the mystery plot, it was actually inspired by an episode of LAW AND ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT. (I’m a huge Bobby Goren fangirl.) Though it involved photography rather than painting.
I notice that book three in the series, HOW TO ENTICE AN EARL, is available next February. Can you give us a sneak peek at this story?
HOW TO ENTICE AN EARL is the story of Lady Madeline Essex and Christian Monteith, who has just been elevated to the Earl of Gresham. To gather research for her novel, Maddie blackmails her brother into taking her to a gaming hell. But once there she stumbles upon (literally) a dead body. And who else should be there, but Christian, who is not best pleased to find the woman he’s only recently begun to notice as…you know…a woman, stumbling upon dead bodies in gaming hells. Mystery and romance ensues.
You’ve got a sexy contemporary LEGALLY YOURS out right now. Can you tell us about this story? What differences do you find between writing Regency and contemporary romance? Are there more contemporaries coming?
LEGALLY YOURS is something of a departure for me, and is my first attempt at a contemporary. It’s a secret crush/reunion story about former law school classmates Julie Streeter and Matt Ellis. Unbeknownst to either of them, Juliet and Matt were crushing on one another back in law school. But nothing ever happened because Julie had to drop out suddenly. Now, years later, they meet again at the firm where Julie is working as a paralegal and Matt is visiting corporate counsel. When Matt finds Julie’s list of things she’d like to do before her upcoming 30th birthday, he’s more than happy to offer his help in her quest to check them off—especially the sexy ones!
I’d say the most different thing between writing Regency and writing Contemporary is the language. They require completely different sets of vocabularies and sentence structures. And of course there are the social mores of each time period to be considered, which affect character motivation more than anything else.
I’m hoping to release another contemporary novella in the coming months. It all depends on my Regency writing schedule, since those are the ones I’m under contract for and come first!
Manda Collins, Élodie Michels, Anna Campbell and Dianne Gaston at the RITA after party in San Francisco in 2008.
Your first book HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE came out in January, 2012. What have your first months as a published author been like? Any surprises?
I’d love to be able to say that as soon as my book went on sale I was transformed into a glamorous, feather-boa wearing, caviar eating diva, but the naked truth of it is that life is basically the same. I think like any other big event in life, becoming a published author has been remarkable in its unremarkability. It’s sort of like waiting for a big birthday. And then you wake up and you don’t really feel any different than you did before. You still have to do laundry, put gas in the car, and eat breakfast. Even so, it’s been lovely to finally have my book out there in the wild, being read by complete strangers. And the best part is that many of them seem to have actually liked it!
We’d love to have a glimpse into your writing life. What’s a day like for the fabulous Manda Collins?
Since I’m still working the day-job, most days start off with me getting dressed and going to work! I try to get some writing in during lunch breaks and sometimes after work, but for the most part my writing is done on the weekends. Mostly with my cat Stephen (named for Stephen Colbert) overseeing my work. I like to listen to WMVY, an independent radio station broadcasting out of Martha’s Vineyard—where I’ve never been, incidentally—or I’ll put on a playlist for that particular book I’m working on and listen to it in a constant loop. It’s been different for each book so far. In fact, I could say that about everything from book to book. Now that I’m working on my fifth manuscript, I’ve realized that the only dependable thing about writing a novel is that no two novels are written via the same process. Which can be frustrating, but now that I know not to expect that whatever trick I used to get the previous book finished will work on the present book, I’m philosophical about it. And I can’t help but admit that the unpredictability of it keeps me on my toes!
I have to wonder whether you call your cat a “cah” if he’s named after Stephen Colbert (colbair!). Thanks for your great answers to my questions. I love a dandy in romance – I’m currently writing one myself and having great fun with him (so does my heroine – EVENTUALLY!). Do you have a question for the Banditas and Bandita buddies?
What are some of your favorite romances featuring dandies? Just to get things started I’ll toss out one of mine: THE FAMOUS HEROINE by Mary Balogh. Francis is wonderful in his utter devotion to his own fashion point of view. And in his devotion to Cora!
Manda has very generously offered a copy of HOW TO ROMANCE A RAKE for one commenter today. Good luck!