Guest Author: Sally MacKenzie & Giveaway!

Woot!  Sally is in the house!  That would be USA Today bestselling author Sally MacKenzie.  She writes funny, hot, Regency-set books for Kensington Zebra. Her Naked Nobility series concluded (at least for the time being) with The Naked King, which was named one of ALA Booklist’s top ten romances for 2011.  Sally also happens to be one of my favorite historical romance authors.

Let’s ask Sally some questions about her new series, shall we?

Your latest book is the second in your new Duchess of Love series. What’s the idea for the series, and what inspired you to come up with it?

The idea is pretty simple: The Duchess of Greycliffe was a matchmaker even back in the boring village of Little Huffington before she married her duke. Now she’s the premier matchmaker for the ton, but the only matches she can’t make or mend are those of her three sons.

As to how I came up with the idea…that’s a little more convoluted. Unlike some authors, I’m not bristling with story ideas. And I’m what romance writers like to call a “pantser”–I write by the seat of my pants, making stuff up as I go along rather than following a detailed outline. (I prefer to think of it as letting my characters lead me, but whatever.)

So, my publisher wanted a synopsis for the new series–a narrative outline of what’s going to happen over the three books. O-kay. Synopses make me break out in a cold sweat, but they’re a necessary evil, I guess–and I think (I hope) my editor realizes mine rarely bear a lot of resemblance to the finished project. So I brainstormed with my agent and pieces of a plan fell into place. I had an elaborate back story, part of which had Venus, the duchess, a widow. She was going to develop her own love interest over the course of the series.

And then we had the idea to write the novella telling the story of how the duchess met her duke. But…I couldn’t kill off the duke after getting to know him! (No Downton Abbey downers for me!) So the plan changed, but long after the synopsis was done.

I realized a few weeks ago that I needed to update things when I got a payment for delivering the first few chapters of Ash’s story, and the check stub said it was for Loving the Duke. Oops. Ash was indeed the duke when I wrote the synopsis, but he can’t be now because I didn’t kill off his dad! Historicals are like that. So we changed the title to Loving Lord Ash. Glad I caught that before anyone worked on the cover!

One aspect of the series has a little basis in reality: Each chapter starts with a quote from “Venus’s Love Notes,” a leaflet of marital advice that the duchess shares with the female members of the ton. This publication mortifies her sons–they’d rather poke their eyes out than read one word of it…much as my romance novels cause my sons to flinch and run for cover.

Surprising Lord Jack–I love the title! What’s your new book about?

It’s about Jack, the duchess’s youngest son, and it begins in the ballroom around the time Ned’s book is ending.

In writing Ned, I discovered Jack knew how to fight dirty, which told me he knew his way around the seedier sections of London. (Jack, unlike his brothers, lives in Town.) His family also considers him a bit irresponsible, a devil-may-care sort of fellow, which of course meant he was nothing of the kind. So…I decided he had a secret life. He had charities connected with the stews which he didn’t want the ton to know about; thus he pretended to be a rake as a cover for his true interests. And when someone starts slashing the lightskirts’ throats à la Jack the Ripper, Jack feels it’s his job to get to the bottom of it, since most of the ton don’t care about what they consider the dregs of society.

Miss Frances Hadley is a completely new character–she doesn’t appear in Ned. She’s extremely independent and strong willed, and she’s been running her family’s estate since she was fourteen. Her mother died when Frances was young, her father took off even before she was born, and her twin brother left as soon as he could. Now her aunt is trying to trick her into marriage. Frances is not about to stand for that, so she cuts her hair, puts on some of her brother’s castoffs, and sets off in disguise for London to demand the money she feels is hers from her family’s man of business.

Unfortunately bad roads–a result of the blizzard that occurs in Ned–force her to take refuge in an inn. The innkeeper’s wife pities the “boy” and gives Frances the only open room, the one usually saved for Jack and his brothers. But then Jack shows up. Not wanting to roust the sleeping boy and send him down to the common room, Jack decides to share the bed. It’s large enough, and the lad seems to be a quiet sleeper.

When Jack finally discovers Frances’s true gender, he is not happy, but he’s resigned to do the right thing and offer marriage. Frances, however, is having no part of that–she came to London to avoid that exact fate. It takes a while–and some help from the Duchess of Love–for these two strong, independent and somewhat stubborn people to fall in love, but they do! (Are you surprised?)

Oh, and there’s a dog. Did I mention Shakespeare? He’s full of tricks and a hero in his own right.

Everyone has different reasons for loving the Regency period. What are some of yours?

I came to the Regency via Georgette Heyer. I think I was around middle school age when I first read her books. They were so funny and witty and romantic, though I confess I was young enough to think her thirty-year-old heroes really old.

And if I can be rather shallow, I’ll admit I like the ballrooms and the lavish estates and even the whole nobility thing, which seems very un-American. Of course my nobles aren’t stuffy and condescending.

What’s next in Sally’s writing life?

I’ve finished the first draft of the last book in the trilogy–Loving Lord Ash–and now I’m deep into revising and polishing. It’s scheduled to come out in Spring 2014. Once I send it off to my editor, it’s time to go back to the idea patch and pick a few good ones for a new series.

Thanks so much for being with us today, girlfriend!  Readers, Sally is graciously giving away a copy of The Naked King.  Let’s talk some more about historical romance–what are some of your favorite historicals, old school or new?  One person who comments will win a copy of Sally’s book.


52 thoughts on “Guest Author: Sally MacKenzie & Giveaway!”

  1. I must re-read some Georgette Heyer. They were my introduction into the world of courting & balls. Always a treat I must say.

  2. I would say my favorite is Julie Garwood’s Saving Grace. First historical I ever read and boy did I fall in love with this genre hard! Thanks for the giveaway 🙂 I love the Naked Nobility series!!

  3. Okay now I will have to read Sally Mackenzie now that I’ve read the synopses for the stories in her series! I started reading historical romance novels at the end of 2011 (this, after being for years, a Jane Austen student!). I enjoy so many historical romance novelists including Sherry Thomas, Lorraine Heath, Nicola Cornick…I could go on and on.

  4. This was a very fun, enjoyable book. Somehow, I actually have missed all of your books, and will now have to go back and read them! I have too many series, from too many wonderful authors I love to be able to name

  5. Hi, everyone! My favorite historical authors–besides you, Vanessa, and my writer pals go back to when I was “just” a reader: Mary Balogh, Marion Chesney, Joan Wolf, Marian Devon…those are just a few names.

    So glad you’ve enjoyed the Naked nobles, Ada H!

    Lisa Kleypas is a sweetheart in person, Filia. I got to meet her in person. Eloisa James–who’d I’d asked for a cover quote, but who’d had to turn me down (I nabbed her later for the Earl, lol) introduced me to Lisa at a book signing we were at and she graciously agreed to give me a blurb.

    I hope you enjoy the books, Maria, if you get the chance to give them a read.

    So glad you enjoyed the book, Nancy. And (rubbing hands together) we authors LOVE to hook readers on a series. Though I admit I live in fear that readers will discover I’ve made continuity errors. I mostly keep the details in my head, and sometimes my head is less that accurate 🙂

  6. I was introduced to Georgette Heyer back around 2000 or so, and I have a WHOLE bunch of her books TBR! They are so cool! I LOVE Regency stories and they are among my favorite historicals. The very first Regency story I read was back in 1979, when I was in 10th grade – Felicia by Leonora Blythe – obviously, the title caught my eye – LOL – and then I was totally hooked by the story and time period!

  7. Can’t pick just one- but love all my authors…..Eloisa James, Anna Campbell, of course the wonderful Vanessa Kelly….

  8. What an awesome F/C!!! I would love to win this book!! I have added it to my “TO BUY” list…. but how much more awesome it would be to win a copy!! TY for the opportunity.

  9. I have loved everything that Sally has written. I can’t wait to read Jack’s story. I just wish I could read fast enough to read all the books that I want to read.

  10. Congrats to Sally on the new release! Thanks so much for sharing! I think I’d have to go back to my gateway into reading HR. Julie Garwood will always be near and dear to my HR heart. I’m very disappointed that she stopped writing historicals.

  11. Oh..I loved Vanessa’s book, His Mistletoe Bride. I also loved Sabrina Jeffries’ Hellions of Hallstead series.

    This series sounds fun and is gong on the TBR list!


  12. I literally “cut my teeth” on Victoria Holt and from then on was totally hooked on Victorian and Regency romances. I also love humor so chick lit is always fun.

    I so enjoyed reading “Bedding Lord Ned” and cannot wait to read “Surprising Lord Jack.” The humor you add to your novels is so much fun. When I reviewed “Ned” on Goodreads, I remember saying how I couldn’t wait for your next novel to come out and here it is! Wahoo!

    Congratulations on your terrific successes, Sally!

    • Oh, thank you, Connie! I hope you enjoy Jack!

      And your mention of Victoria Holt reminded me of Mary Stewart! I loved her books growing up, but I seem to remember that they weren’t the kind that I really liked re-reading–unlike Georgette Heyer. Though that might just have been me, of course.

      And I just noticed I can comment directly to posts like this…I think. Yes, I’m sort of a Luddite.

  13. Yay, Sandi! I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the books–and I wish I could write as fast as readers read, even “slow” readers!

    You all are coming up with a wonderful list of authors. The funny thing is now that I hang out with writers, I think of them as people (and I sadly don’t tend to read historicals any more.) I shared a cab to the Denver airport with Courtney Milan and have been on a couple panels with her. And I dragged Anna Campbell outside to see prairie dogs–hmm, that might have been the same conference as the cab ride with Courtney. And I’ve had dinner with Sabrina. It’s really fun, but you know, when I was “just” a reader, I never really had any desire to meet the authors of the books I loved, so I’m always a bit surprised when people seem excited to meet me!

  14. I have already read Loveing Lord Ned, so please do not enter me in the contest. I love your books and can’t believe you are goingot make us wait until next year for Ash’s book.
    I love Lisa Kleypas’s Hathaway and Wallflower series.

  15. I just love “The Bride” and “The Wedding” by Julie Garwood. I like to enjoy books by Liz Carlyle, Jillian Hunter, Suzanne Enoch, Julia Quinn, and Monica McCarty. But I’m forever adding new authors to my library, and after reading the about “Jack and Frances”, Sally MacKenzie will have to be added.

  16. Reading Surprising Lord Jack now! I have to go back and read Ned’s story after this book since I haven’t done that.
    But I know what you mean about killing off a character. I love Stephanie Laurens’ the Bar Cynster series and she did just that although he wasn’t a major character. But then that book “The Promise in a Kiss” came after his son’s story as a back story to how his -the son’s- parents met, which I love still. Although it was a back story to how the whole clan came to be, it still hurt because you got to know and love them for a bit.

  17. Oh, Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn, Julie Deveraux among others.. I´ve got too many favs to remember *blushes*
    Happy Thursday!

  18. I love Julia Ross/Jean Ross Ewing’s historicals. I enjoy Julie Garwood’s romantic suspenses, but I wish she would go back to writing historical romances.

  19. Oh, my goodness. I adore historical romance. My absolute favorite is The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley.

  20. I love both old school and the new ones. I am big into historical romance. They are my favorite read.

    I am sorry to say I have not read your work Sally but I will be checking it out.

  21. I have all the books in this series on my ereader (along with the prequel novella, Sally. I just haven’t read them yet. LOL

    One favorite book of mine is YOURS UNTIL DAWN by Teresa Medeiros.

    Another is CANDLE IN THE WINDOW by Christina Dodd.

    There are just so many I love. LOL

    • Oh, thank you, Marcy! I hope you enjoy them when you get to them. I have a huge TBR pile myself. Well, it’s more of a clutter than a pile. I haven’t yet switched to reading on an ereader yet.

  22. Just wanted to stop back by and say thank you to Vanessa (who just made the USA Today list under her V. K. Sykes name!!) for inviting me to be here. I was great meeting you all–thanks for commenting. Happy reading! There certainly are a lot of wonderful historicals to enjoy these days.


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