I’m thrilled to have my good friend and talented historical romance author Manda Collins on the blog today. Mandy writes witty and charming Regency-set historical romance with a dash of mystery. Her first book, How to Dance With a Duke, debuted to great reviews and spent several weeks on the Bookscan bestseller list. Let’s have a chat with Manda, and see what she’s up to with her latest book, How To Romance A Rake.
Your series is called The Ugly Ducklings. Can you tell us a little bit about it and what inspired the premise?
The concept of three cousins who are considered ugly compared to their glamorous mothers grew out of a story I read somewhere about the famous Gunning Sisters. They were real life Regency characters who came from no-one knows where and took the ton by storm with their beauty and married very, very well. I did a “what if” and wondered what it would be like to be the daughter of such a famed beauty–especially a daughter who suffers by comparison. I came up with the Fabulous Featherstone sisters and out of that grew their daughters, the Ugly Ducklings.
The heroine of How to Romance a Rake, a tremendously appealing character, is not your conventional Regency miss. Can you tell us a little bit about her?
Juliet Shelby is the daughter of Rose, Viscountess Shelby, who is, unfortunately, the vainest of the Featherstone sisters. And when Juliet suffers a disfiguring accident in her teens, Rose thinks not of how awful it must be for Juliet, instead she thinks of how having a daughter who is less than perfect will reflect upon her. So she does her best to make sure that Juliet gets very little notice from the ton. Along with her cousins, Cecily and Maddie, Juliet spends a lot of time sitting out dances with the other wallflowers. But despite her mother’s restrictions, Juliet has managed to become an accomplished pianist. And when her music teacher goes missing Juliet joins forces with swoony Lord Deveril to search for her.
Your stories often revolve around a mystery element. What do you like about combining mystery and romance?
I really like having a strong external conflict for my hero and heroine to work together to solve. My favorite romances are the ones where there is teamwork between the main couple, and what better way to put them to work than in solving a mystery in which the stakes are high for one or both of them?
You’ve recently ventured into the realm of indie publishing. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
In May, I self-published a contemporary novella called LEGALLY YOURS. It’s a reunited lovers story about two former law school classmates who meet again years later. One is a corporate lawyer and the other, who didn’t finish law school is working as a paralegal. Sparks fly, and one thing leads to another and…well, you get the idea. I hope to publish a follow up story in the coming months but it depends on my historical writing schedule. I’ll keep you posted!
What’s up next for Manda?
In January, the third and final Ugly Ducklings story, HOW TO ENTICE AN EARL will be released. It’s Maddie and Monteith’s story and I think readers are really going to love seeing these two together. I know I had a lot of fun writing them!
Thanks so much for being with us today, girlfriend! And here’s the blurb for How to Romance a Rake:
Dancing with Danger
What’s a nice girl like Miss Juliet Shelby doing in 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…
Playing with Fire
Lord Alec Deveril has never felt such a spark of attraction for an unmarried lady before. Unlike the “fashionable” women 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 …
Sounds great, doesn’t it? I had the good fortune to read this book in advance, and I can tell you it’s a tremendously charming and heartfelt book. If you enjoy Amanda Quick’s historical mysteries, you’ll love Manda’s books. And for my readers today, Manda is giving away a copy of her first book, How to Dance With a Duke to one person who comments. Just tell us about one of your favorite mystery or suspense books for a chance to win.
And don’t forget to check out Manda’s website for excerpts and more interesting stuff!