Someone who always makes me laugh at her wit, both in person and in print, is the wonderful Miranda Neville. I’m delighted today to host her for a return visit to the lair. She’s here to tell us about the fourth book in her wonderful Wild Quartet, THE DUKE OF DARK DESIRES.
Just a quick alert – I’m travelling today so will only be able to pop in intermittently (hoping I can get onto the internet). In the meantime, I’ll leave you in Miranda’s capable hands.
Here’s the blurb:
Wanted: Governess able to keep all hours . . .
Rebellious Julian Fortescue never expected to inherit a dukedom, nor to find himself guardian to three young half-sisters. Now in the market for a governess, he lays eyes on Jane Grey and knows immediately she is qualified–to become his mistress. Yet the alluring woman appears impervious to him. Somehow Julian must find a way to make her succumb to temptation . . . without losing his heart and revealing the haunting mistakes of his past.
Lady Jeanne de Falleron didn’t seek a position as a governess simply to fall into bed with the Duke of Denford. Under the alias of Jane Grey, she must learn which of the duke’s relatives is responsible for the death of her family–and take her revenge. She certainly can’t afford the distraction of her darkly irresistible employer, or the smoldering desire he ignites within her.
But as Jane discovers more clues about the villain she seeks, she’s faced with a possibility more disturbing than her growing feelings for Julian: What will she do if the man she loves is also the man she’s sworn to kill?
Ooh, doesn’t that sound intriguing? You can find out more about Miranda and her wonderful books at her website: www.mirandaneville.com
Miranda, a very warm welcome back to the Romance Bandits. It’s been a while between drinks. Lovely to have you back in the lair. Firstly, can you tell us about your new release from Avon, THE DUKE OF DARK DESIRES? Fabulous cover, by the way.
The Cover Gods, to whom writers make regular obeisance, have mostly been good to me; in this case they earned a slew of extra votive candles. My shriek of delight when I saw this baby could probably be heard in Australia.
What were the inspirations behind this story?
Julian, Duke of Denford, has appeared in the previous three books of The Wild Quartet series. I always had a plan for him and I’ve dropped vague hints about his traumatic past, but the details didn’t come into focus until I started his book, THE DUKE OF DARK DESIRES. All I knew is that he was haunted by the betrayal and execution of an aristocratic family during the French Revolution. His heroine would be a survivor of that family, out for revenge.
The back story of the French Revolutionary Terror is, of course, heavily influenced by Dickens’ A TALE OF TWO CITIES and the Scarlet Pimpernel stories. In researching the history I learned that there were many English in Paris when the Bastille fell in 1789 and they continued to visit for the next few years until it became too dangerous and France and Great Britain went to war. At that point Julian Fortescue was a mere mister and making his way in life as a dealer in paintings. Later he inherited the dukedom from a third cousin, as so often happens in historical romance! When the story starts he has also inherited the guardianship of three young half sisters. Enter our heroine Jeanne de Falleron, aka Jane Grey, the governess with murder on her mind. But she doesn’t know that the “Mr. Fortescue” she seeks is actually her employer the duke. She falls in love with him before she knows she wants to kill him. Awkward.
Jeanne/Jane’s family owned a fabulous collection of art that is now in Julian’s possession. When the collection is finally revealed I had a marvellous time ransacking the art galleries of the world to find paintings that were similar to the Falleron collection, including those illustrating this blog.
Love it when you talk art, my friend! What’s coming up next?
I’m working on a new historical series but I’m not ready to reveal any details. I have an “under-the-bed” book about an opera singer that’s a labor of love for me – you and I share a love of classical music, Anna. I hope to find time to revise and self-publish it this year. (I also planned to do it last year so don’t hold your breath, ladies.)
I notice you have a story “The Best Laid Planner” out in the recent anthology AT THE BILLIONAIRE’S WEDDING. I’d love to hear more about this! It seems to be a slight departure from your usual territory.
In 2013 Maya Rodale, Caroline Linden, Katharine Ashe and I published an anthology of connected stories called AT THE DUKE’S WEDDING. We wanted to collaborate again and it turned out we all had a hankering to tackle something contemporary. That’s the beauty of self-publishing—you can do anything you want. Maya had written a series of novellas about a Bad Boy Billionaire Duke Austen and his historical romance writing girlfriend Jane. She kindly lent us her characters and we set the stories around their wedding—in an English stately home, naturally. My heroine Arwen (yay, I got to pick a LORD OF THE RINGS name instead of being limited to Regency appropriate monikers) is the New York wedding planner who has to pull together an event in a foreign country at very short notice. In this she is helped and sometimes hindered by Harry Compton, who seems to know everything about Brampton House. Is he merely the handyman or does he own the place? Either way he’s hot as hell and a distraction Arwen doesn’t need.
Writing contemporary was enormous fun and very challenging. Never say it doesn’t require research! If you read the anthology you’ll know why I never want to hear the words “internet connection” again. With an American heroine and an English hero I had to watch the language with every line of dialogue or point of view switch. And while it was relaxing not to have to police myself for modernisms, I had the opposite problem with my characters tending to lapse into Regency speak.
That sounds like great fun. Seeing it’s so close to new year, what are your plans apart from your writing for 2015?
Funny you should ask that. My big plan for the year comes in October when I’m going to London with my writer friends Megan Mulry and Anne Calhoun to see Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet. A little bird told me that I might overlap with a certain Australian romance writer while I’m there!
I hear that Aussie romance writer is a real jet setter! Do you have a question to get the conversation rolling, Miranda?
Do you have travel plans for 2015? London? Paris? Timbuktoo? Dayton, Ohio? What’s getting you into your car or onto a plane this year?
Get commenting, people! Miranda has very generously offered someone who responds to her post today a copy of THE DUKE OF DARK DESIRES (international). Good luck!
It’s always a delight to host the wonderful Miranda Neville in the lair, especially if she’s here to tell us about one of her delicious new releases.
I love Miranda’s books and I’m so looking forward to reading her latest, THE RUIN OF A ROGUE(from that cover, it looks to me like he’s having a very nice time being ruined – and she doesn’t look like she’s complaining either!). RT Book Reviews loved TROAR, saying, “Neville’s heiress vs. fortune hunter plot has enough clever twists and witty repartée to be unpredictable and delightful. Driven by dialogue and well-motivated, smart characters, here’s a romance to spark both imaginations and emotions.”
Here’s the blurb:
Charm, wit, and nerves of steel have helped Marcus Lithgow gamble his way across the Continent. But when his heart is at stake, all bets are off for this most perfect of rogues…
Anne Brotherton is tired of being an heiress. Why can’t men like her for her sharp mind and kind heart rather than her impressive dowry? When she meets Marcus Lithgow she thinks she’s found the right man, until she learns he’s nothing but an unscrupulous fortune hunter.
It’s been years since Marcus set foot in England—why toy with the ton when he can fleece wealthy fools in Paris and Rome? Everything changes when he inherits a ramshackle estate. Marcus’s first and only chance at a respectable life needs funding…the kind Anne Brotherton can provide. Such a wallflower should be ripe for the picking. So why does Marcus feel like he’s the one hanging by a thread?
She nearly falls for Marcus’s smooth seduction. But when Anne realizes she’s being strung along, a lust for revenge empowers her like never before. Two can play at the game of deception. The game of love, however, has its own rules…
Miranda, welcome back to the lair! We love it when you visit us!
Thanks so much for inviting me back to the lair, Anna. As always I have my bathing suit and suntan lotion, plus a hard hat for when things get wild, as they most likely will.
The cabana boys are already excited! Miranda, huge congratulations on your new release from Avon, THE RUIN OF A ROGUE, book 2 of the Wild Quartet. Can you tell us about your story?
The hero, Marcus Lithgow is a very bad boy. In my previous book, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING WICKED, he was very bad indeed, trying to nick a friend’s Titian. But Marcus has a big problem: a professional gambler, he has mysteriously lost his luck and is flat broke. Marriage to super-heiress Anne Brotherton is the only answer. Anne is a very good girl. She is sick of fortune hunters but finds Lord Lithgow exceedingly attractive, especially since he shares her obsession with Roman history. Anne is no dummy though; she soon figures Marcus out and plots revenge. Stuff happens (as we professional writers say in our synopses) and we learn the answers to several important questions. Will Anne ever get to dig up a ruin? (The title contains a hint.) Do heiresses make good housemaids? Can Marcus milk a cow? Will he be reformed? (And how much reform do we want to see?) Would you rather read a love scene set in a ruin, a folly, or both?
Hmm, all of the above? What were the inspirations behind this book?
I love bringing apparent opposites together and proving to myself – and hopefully my readers – that a mismatched pair are made for each other. The joy of a badly flawed hero is seeing how the heroine helps him change, and vice versa. Anne has always felt defined by her money, an accident of birth with nothing to do with her as an individual. In foiling Marcus’s schemes and then falling in love with the better man he becomes, Anne defies her heritage and her upbringing. Marcus journeys from outright rogue to respectable gentleman while Anne makes the trip in the other direction. In a way they meet in the middle.
The Roman villa that Anne discovers gave me an opportunity for the kind of historical research I always enjoy. I found a 1786 monograph in the British Library describing a Roman excavation in Northamptonshire and used it as inspiration. I moved it to Wiltshire, however, so that Marcus and Anne could visit Fonthill Abbey, the home of the eccentric millionaire William Beckford. Their visit is based on an account of Beckford’s entertainment of Nelson and Lady Hamilton at Fonthill.
What nefarious plans does Miranda Neville have for the rest of the Wild Quartet?
I’m just finishing up Book 3 now but the title’s under the hatches until it’s official. The Earl of Windermere returns from a diplomatic mission to Persia, intending to make up with his estranged wife, Cynthia. But London is full of rumors that she is having an affair with the Duke of Denford, who just happens to be his former best friend. After that (spoiler alert!) it’s Denford’s book. He has some trouble in his background that will come back and bite him in the series finale.
Sounds yummy! Our spies on the Regency ground tell us that you recently had a novella out as part of what looks like a delicious anthology, AT THE DUKE’S WEDDING.Can you tell us about this story?
The anthology is a co-production with Maya Rodale,Caroline Linden, and Katharine Ashe with four stories set during a wedding house party. Though each novella is self-contained, our characters pop into other stories, and we have several common threads. P.S. I LOVE YOU is my take on Cyrano de Bergerac. Inarticulate Frank Newnham asks for his cousin Christian’s help when he woos Rosanne Lacy by letter. Rosanne falls for Frank’s delicious prose, but when they meet in person at the duke’s wedding party, Rosanne can’t understand why Frank seems so dull. Instead she is drawn to the brooding Earl of Bruton, with his scarred face and air of melancholy. I loved writing the story, and working on the whole project with three really amazing friends and writers. By the way, grottos (as well as ruins and follies) are great locations for kisses.
And now for the most important question – as you know, Ernie, your rather obstreperous kitty, has quite a fan club (I’m a lifetime member). Can you give us life according to Ernie as it stands today?
Poor, poor Ernie. His life has been ruined by the introduction of Emma, my daughter’s impertinent female tabby. I tried to persuade him to make another book trailer, but he flatly refused to do it with Emma as a co-star. I’m working on him, however. With a combination of threats and bribery they may yet make it to You Tube.
For anyone who missed it or who wants to see it again, Ernie’s brilliance is CAT-tured in celuloid here:
We love hearing about your travels here in the lair. Been anywhere interesting lately? Any exciting trips in the pipeline?
I’m off to England later this month, mostly to see family but I’m definitely going to Bath. My daughter is coming with me and she has never been there. I’ve been kind of a homebody this year – too many deadlines. I’m really looking forward to the RT Convention in New Orleans next year. I love that city! Hopefully I shall see some of the Banditas and their readers.
You should definitely trip over a Bandita or two. Thanks so much, Miranda. Do you have a question for the Banditas and Bandita Buddies today?
New Orleans makes me think of food. One of my guilty pleasures is cooking competitions on TV and my latest discovery is MASTERCHEF UK, PROFESSIONAL EDITION. Michel Roux Jr. is the hottest TV chef ever. I could go on for hours about his beautiful hands and the twinkle in his eye.
So let’s dish about TV cooking shows. Which ones do you like? What do you think of Gordon Ramsey and Tom Colicchio? If you’re not a cooking show fan, what’s your favorite TV guilty pleasure?
Miranda has very generously offered a copy of THE RUIN OF A ROGUE (print or e-book international) to someone who comments today. So good luck, people!
I’m always delighted to host the sparkling Miranda Neville in the lair – not only because she’s darn good company and a wonderful guest, but also because it means she’s got another one of her wonderful books for me to read. Even better, today’s book THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING WICKEDlaunches a new series based around some art-loving and very scandalous aristocrats.
This story is already creating great buzz around Romancelandia – for example, RT Book Reviews called it “deliciously wicked” and Publishers Weekly chose this book as one of their top 10 romances of the Fall.
Here’s the blurb:
The rules of society don’t apply to Caro and her coterie of bold men and daring women. But when passions flare, even the strongest will surrender to the law of love….
Thomas, Duke of Castleton, has every intention of wedding a prim and proper heiress. That is, until he sets eyes on the heiress’s cousin, easily the least proper woman he’s ever met. His devotion to family duty is no defense against the red-headed vixen whose greatest asset seems to be a talent for trouble…
Caroline Townsend has no patience for the oh-so-suitable (and boring) men of the ton. So when the handsome but stuffy duke arrives at her doorstep, she decides to put him to the test. But her scandalous exploits awaken a desire in Thomas he never knew he had. Suddenly Caro finds herself falling for this most proper duke…while Thomas discovers there’s a great deal of fun in a little bit of wickedness.
Miranda, absolutely lovely to have you back again! You’re a favorite in the lair.
Thanks, Anna. A day with the Bandits is always a highlight of any blog tour.
Congratulations on THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING WICKED which is out TODAY! Can you tell us about this story?
This is the tale of two people who instantly fancy each other like mad but appear to be totally unsuited. Thomas, Duke of Castleton is an aggressively conventional man. He wants to marry an heiress, both because that’s what dukes do (amazingly they aren’t that anxious to wed courtesans and governesses) and because he’s suffering a temporary cash flow problem. His designated heiress is staying in London with her Cousin Caro, a wild widow on the edge of financial ruin. Neither is at all pleased by their mutual attraction. Gradually Thomas learns to loosen up and Caro leans to appreciate a reliable guy. I have to let myself gush a little about Thomas. Against his better judgment he lets Caro lead him into doing all sorts of naughty things–and thoroughly enjoys himself. But he never loses his inner compass and in my humble opinion is just adorable: the kind of guy we should all have as a husband (as well as being incredibly hawt).
What were the inspirations behind this book?
My previous books were set in the late Regency. I wanted to go back to the aftermath of the French Revolution, which had huge repercussions on English life and politics. The transitional period between Georgian and Regency is also a bit socially looser and the ground hasn’t been covered so extensively in historical romance. Also, I love the clothes. The 1790s are about big hair and big hats, giving way to the high-waisted look that came over from France. Caro favors particularly skimpy examples of the new styles. THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING WICKED is set in 1800, a date I picked because of a specific historical event that’s coming up in book two of the series.
I notice your latest series, The Wild Quartet, is built around art collectors. I love that theme. Can you tell us a little bit about the forthcoming books?
It’s a bit complicated to explain (evidently I have no understanding of High Concept). Four young men met at Oxford and were thrown out of the university. They went on a tear around England the Continent, gaining bad reputations and worse habits. Caro’s first husband, Robert, was one of the four and the others are the heroes of the next three books. But The Wild Quartet isn’t a happy group-of-friends series. Their relationships are complex and not always cordial and the resolution of their issues is part of the story arc as they grow up and find their heroines.
One of the things that drew the quartet together was an interest in art. The eighteenth century nobility had an unquenchable lust for art and antiquities which spread to the middle classes. All sort of aesthetic theories were bandied about and London was full of artists. Caro keeps a kind of salon for young artists and you can imagine what her stuffy duke thinks of that! Robert gave her a Titian for a wedding present and she has it stashed away to hide it from her creditors. Thomas is more of a horse and dog man when it comes to paintings.
Horse and dog man? Love it! What’s next for The Wild Quartet?
Art will play a part in subsequent books, not so much in the second book of the series, AN IDEAL SCOUNDREL. I won’t say much about it because it’s not quite finished–it’s due in about ten minutes. It features Caro’s heiress cousin Anne and Marcus Lithgow, who shows himself to be a very bad boy in THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING WICKED.
Any chance of your art collectors and the bibliophiles from your marvellous Burgundy Club series crossing paths?
Not unless we meet them as children! If I can find a role for him, I may introduce Lord Hugo Hartley, an elderly connoisseur who has appeared in several of my books.
A treat for readers, a delicious novella appeared in October to launch this series. Can you tell us about THE SECOND SEDUCTION OF A LADY?
Set seven years earlier, the novella introduces Caro when she’s falling in love with Robert (who later dies). But the story is about Robert’s guardian Max Quinton and the woman he loved and lost. Eleanor dumped him when she learned he’d taken part in a bet over her with friends, but when they meet again by chance, Max is determined not to let her get away again. This is my first shot at the reunited lovers trope, but it won’t be my last.
I’m intrigued to know whether you see any particular trends in historical romance at the moment (apart from luscious, romantic covers!).
I think it’s a very exciting time to be writing historical romance. Scandalous, sinful, seductive Regency dukes aren’t going away (neither would I wish them to!) but we’re seeing more variety. Although nineteenth-century England and Scotland are still the most popular settings, we’re seeing more characters from different classes and greater scope for quirky stories and characters. While the self-publishing movement hasn’t yet affected historicals as much as it has some other subgenres, I feel a kind of buoyancy and sense of possibility among authors, a willingness to experiment. I’d be very curious to know if other writers agree–and if readers are finding and enjoying new kinds of stories.
I had so much fun researching the art background to this book. Surfing the internet for paintings is my idea of a good time. (Visiting museums with Anna Campbell is even more fun, but darn it she lives too far away!) What kind of art do you enjoy? Do you have favorite artists or art galleries?
Ah, Miranda, I still have fond memories of the guards at the National Gallery of Art wanting to throw us out because we were being too naughty. Too long since we’ve done that!
OK, everyone, Miranda has very kindly offered TWO prizes today (international). Print editions of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING WICKED and THE SECOND SEDUCTION OF A LADY. Yum! Get commenting!