My Kensington Books co-author and pal Theresa Romain and I both had books released last week. By sheer coincidence, they’re both Christmas-themed, Regency-set historical romances. Cool! We thought it would be fun to do a joint interview, so that’s what we did. Even better, we’re giving away copies of our books, Season For Surrender and His Mistletoe Bride!
Vanessa: The characters came first. When I started to think of the heroine for this book—the hero had already appeared in a previous book so I knew he was a soldier—I wanted to create a woman who could really stir things up. Phoebe, a gentle but very principled person, was the perfect match for a tough guy like Lucas. The plot then naturally evolved out of the various points of conflict and agreement in their personalities, and it rolled from there. It also helped to have a great example in the previously mentioned classic movie, High Noon.
And since we’re talking about the classic tropes—which I always enjoy—I love the setup for your novel: the rake and the bluestocking. But you brought such a fresh twist to it. Louisa is a woman who loves books and is not shy about that at all, even though it does make her an outsider in aristocratic society. But she doesn’t care, and that’s fabulous. Did you start out wanting to do your own take on the rake and the bluestocking?
Theresa: When I was writing my debut, I knew I wanted to write a follow-up story for Louisa and Xavier. You’re absolutely right that their pairing is a take on the rake and bluestocking romance—though that tale has been done so often, and so well, that I knew I needed a twist on it.
In SEASON FOR SURRENDER, it was a fun challenge not just to bring together these two seeming opposites, but to show how they’re not really opposites at all. As my husband (always one of my first readers, bless him) said about an early draft of SFS, “I don’t see them lasting long-term if Xavier doesn’t like books.” “Keep reading,” I told him. Because I agreed: a true rake and a true bluestocking don’t have much in common, but a rake with an intellectual heart and a bluestocking who’s ready to push her own boundaries can find points to build a relationship on, and they can respect each other’s strengths.
Vanessa: Yes, exactly. He’s really an intellectual masquerading as a rake—so great!
Theresa: Thanks! He actually became more so as I was writing, and I went back and planted clues and hints once I was done. Louisa loves puzzles, and she just can’t figure him out like she expects to.
How about Phoebe and Lucas? They make a good partnership since she balances his sense of duty with a wonderfully warm heart. And she herself is an unusual heroine because of her background. When she was introduced to society, I really enjoyed the way she saw everything from the outside and didn’t take customs for granted. How do you see her fitting into English society? Would it be more of a challenge for her being American, or being a Quaker?
Vanessa: The interesting thing about Phoebe is that she never felt entirely at home in her American Quaker community, either. Although she was raised by a Quaker father, her mother was an English aristocrat who married against her family’s wishes and left her life behind for a new one in America. Subsequently, Phoebe always felt pulled in two directions and she has a driving need to find her true place in the world. After her father dies, she sets out for England to meet her estranged relatives and discover her place in the world once and for all.
Unfortunately, life in London and in the ton feels alien and false to her, so that’s a disappointment. But when she marries Lucas and moves to their estate in the country, that’s when Phoebe comes into her own. She grew up in the country and she understands the quiet beauty of a simpler way of life, while Lucas finds himself struggling to adapt. He’s a very sophisticated man, very used to being in control, and initially he flounders. Phoebe is the one who shows him the way, and helps him reconcile his conflicting emotions about their new life together.
Theresa: Well put. I absolutely loved Phoebe as a heroine, and her romance with Lucas makes for a beautiful holiday story.
Speaking of the holidays, I think we ought to give away some books now. What say?
Vanessa: Excellent idea! Why don’t I give away a copy of HIS MISTLETOE BRIDE on your blog, and you give away a copy of SEASON FOR SURRENDER on my blog? That way, folks have two chances to win the books!
And while we’re in the giving mood, I think it’s time to talk about the spectacular holiday Gala we’re planning for November 30. Along with the fabulous Victoria Alexander and Grace Burrowes, Theresa and I will be hosting an all-day festive gala, Romancing the Holidays, on the romance blog, The Romance Dish. We’ll be giving away prizes every hour, from 9 am to 9 pm ET. All four of us will be blogging throughout the day, talking about our books, the holiday season, and chatting with our readers. We’ll also be giving away some spectacular prizes throughout the day, including a grand prize basket featuring an ereader. Zounds! You do not want to miss that. Dash on over to the Romancing the Holidays website for all the details and to sign up.
Theresa: Zounds is right. There’s a special “giving back” element to this event too: books will be donated to randomly selected libraries or women’s shelters nominated by readers. So readers, please visit the Romancing the Holidays site (holiday-gala.com) by November 30 to enter yourself and your favorite library/shelter for a chance at prizes!
HONOR AMONG ROGUES
Alexander Edgware, Lord Xavier, has quite a reputation—for daring, wagering, and wickedness in all its delightful forms. But the wager before him is hardly his preferred sport: Xavier must persuade a proper young lady to attend his famously naughty Christmas house party—and stay the full, ruinous two weeks. Worse, the lady is Louisa Oliver, a doe-eyed bookworm Xavier finds quite charming. Yet to refuse the challenge is impossible—he will simply have to appoint himself Miss Oliver’s protector…
MISCHIEF AMONG MISSES
Louisa knows her chance for a husband has passed. But she has no desire to retire into spinsterhood without enjoying a few grand adventures first. When Lord Xavier’s invitation arrives, Louisa is more intrigued than insulted. And once inside the rogues’ gallery, she just may have a thing or two to teach her gentlemen friends about daring…
Book order links:
Vanessa, here. I really enjoyed chatting with Theresa today, and I hope you did too. For a chance to win a copy of Season For Surrender, just tell us what you’re doing for the holidays this year – anything from Thanksgiving on through the New Year works. Got any interesting plans, or are you staying close to home? One person who comments will win a copy of Theresa’s fabulous book.
And don’t forget to visit Theresa’s blog for a chance to win a copy of His Mistletoe Bride, if you haven’t already done so. The giveaway on both our sites will end on October 11, and this contest is open to international readers, too!
NEWS ALERT: I’m also participating in another fun event today – Lucy’s Online Reader’s Retreat. There are over 40 authors participating in the retreat, and I’ll be there today at 7 pm, EST. Drop by and say hello!