Guest Author: Manda Collins & Giveaway!

I’m SO thrilled to have one of my favorite people on the blog today.  She’s Manda Collins, and she writes fabulous and witty historical romance with a dash of mystery to spice things up.  Manda’s debut book, How to Dance with a Duke, will be released by St. Martin’s Press in January, 2012.  It’s a wonderful book, and I predict it will be one of the best Regency-set historical romances of the year.

Without any further ado, I’ll turn the blog over to Manda!

Thank you so much, Vanessa for having me here today!

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Moonlight & Magnolias Writers Conference in Atlanta. I’ve attended the conference, which is one of the best regional romance writers conferences around, before, but this year’s was special. Not only did the fabulous Vanessa Kelly win a Maggie Award for Sex and the Single Earl, but this year’s keynote speech was given by one of my very favorite authors, Eloisa James.  Which, in turn, afforded an opportunity for those of us who were regulars at the now defunct Squawk Radio (a group blog featuring Lisa Kleypas, Christina Dodd, Teresa Medeiros, Eloisa James and Liz Bevarly), and Eloisa’s Bulletin Board with Julia Quinn, to have a mini-reunion.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I get together with old friends there’s a lot of talk about the past, catching up on the present, and prognosticating about the future. And with this particular group of women, we talked again and again about how lucky we all felt to have found each other. What brought us together was our love of romance, but what forged our friendships into lasting ones was, for want of a better term, our “kindred spirits.”

When I got the idea for my Ugly Ducklings trilogy, I wanted to create a world not based on a brotherhood, but instead upon a sisterhood. Not unlike what I have with my friends. Cecily, Juliet and Madeline are cousins who have grown up in the spotlight, but not because of their stunning beauty. Instead, they are compared to their mothers, the Fabulous Featherstone sisters who, a generation earlier, took the ton by storm with their beauty and ensnared three of society’s most eligible bachelors in the parson’s mousetrap, and found wanting. Not only are they not as beautiful as their mothers, they also have bluestocking tendencies. Is it any wonder they find themselves still unmarried? Especially when the season’s toast enjoys nothing better than putting them in their place every chance she gets.

What I love about the friendship between these three women is the way that they support each other. No matter how harebrained the scheme, or how scandalous the scheme, Cecily, Juliet and Madeline can always count on one another.  When an accomplice is needed, they’re there. And when a scold or a stern talking-to is called for, they’re there for that too. They might argue and fuss from time to time, but always, always, they’ve got one another’s backs. Especially when the naysayers of the world try to tell them that they can’t succeed in their chosen fields simply because they had the misfortune to be born women. That really makes us…I mean them angry.

The first book How to Dance with a Duke comes out January 31, 2012.

Here’s a sneak peek at the back cover:

What’s a wallflower to do when she’s suddenly in need of a husband? Use all the pluck and moxie she can muster to get what she wants…


Miss Cecily Hurston would much rather explore the antiquities of Egypt than the uncharted territory of marriage. But the rules of her father’s exclusive academic society forbid her entrance unless she weds one of its members. To clear her ailing father’s name of a scandalous rumor, Cecily needs to gain admission into the Egyptian Club—and is willing to marry any old dullard to do it.


Lucas Dalton, Duke of Winterson, is anything but dull. He’s a dashing and decorated war hero determined to help Cecily—even if that means looking the other way when she claims the dance card of Amelia Snow, this season’s most sought-after beauty. But Lucas has a reason for wanting Cecily to join the Egyptian Club: His brother went missing during one of Lord Hurston’s expeditions to Egypt. An alliance with the explorer’s bluestocking daughter could bring Lucas closer to the truth about what happened…or it could lead him to a more dangerous love than either he or Cecily could have imagined….

So, let’s hear it for the sisterhood! And friendships! What are some of your favorite books about female friendship? Inquiring minds want to know!  Because I’m feeling generous I’m going to give away one of my precious, precious ARCs! So comment for a chance to win!

Wow!!  Vanessa, here.  An Advanced Reader’s Copy of How to Dance with a Duke!  Manda isn’t kidding when she says it’s precious!  I’m also going to throw in a copy of my first book, Mastering The Marquess.  It’s my birthday today, and I want to celebrate that along with Manda’s appearance on the blog.  So, one person who comments will win a copy of Manda’s book AND a copy of  Mastering The Marquess.