Guest Author: Sally MacKenzie & Giveaway!


Hooray!  Sally is in the house!  Sally MacKenzie, that is, one of my favorite historical romance authors.  Sally writes USA Today Bestselling Regencies and they are funny, sexy, and just so great to read.  She’s with us today to tell us about her upcoming book, Loving Lord Ash.  Take it away, lady!

Thank you for inviting me to visit, Vanessa. And it’s so cool to be here with the Duchess of Love—er, I mean the books, not you, Vanessa ;)—on Valentine’s Day. Did you know that the Duke of Greycliffe’s family name is Valentine, and that all the boys were born on February 14? So it’s quite the special day, lol!

What fun, Sally!  So, readers are loving your Duchess of Love series.  What’s the premise for it, and how did you come up with such awesome book titles?

I hope everyone’s enjoying Venus and her boys! Venus is the Duchess of Greycliffe, but English society calls her the Duchess of Love because she’s the ton’s premier matchmaker—and, much to her husband’s and sons’ embarrassment, she writes Venus’s Love Notes, pamphlets of marital advice for women. The prequel novella, “The Duchess of Love,” tells how Venus met her duke; the three books—Bedding Lord Ned, Surprising Lord Jack, and Loving Lord Ash—are about her three sons.

Lord Jack

I’m glad you like the book titles. I wanted them to sound like they were part of a series, of course, so I first came up with a pattern they could all follow: a verb and then the son’s name that the book was about. Bed rhymes with Ned, but it also so happens that a bed plays an important role in the story—and not in that way! Or not exactly in that way. Reggie, the duchess’s cat, likes to hide things under Ned’s bed. So that’s how Bedding Lord Ned came about—and the pattern was set.

Darling Mr. M, who is a bit of a jokester, told me I should title Ash’s book Kissing My Ash. Ahem. Mr. M is quite amusing in his own way, but I do not let him near my titles, for obvious reasons.

LOL!  I love Mr. M!  What can you tell us about Loving Lord Ash?

Here’s the back cover blurb:

A Little Misunderstanding…

Kit, the Marquis of Ashton, is in a sticky wicket. He married young and for love—how naïve. He discovered his mistake the very day of his wedding, but he is saddled now with a wife he’s reluctant to trust. And however much evidence he gathers against faithless Jess, he can’t seem to prove her guilt to the final judge—his foolish heart.

Jess knows she’s bobbled her marriage, however innocently. A fairytale wedding makes no difference if she hasn’t got the marquis charmed to show for it. Well, she’s had enough of accidental encounters with naked gentlemen and near misses explaining things to her husband. It’s time to buck up and go win her man back—even if she has to fight very dirty indeed.


Loving Lord Ash is the concluding book in the Duchess of Love series which includes the RITA nominated novella, “The Duchess of Love.” The first two books, Bedding Lord Ned and Surprising Lord Jack, both received starred reviews from Booklist, and Bedding Lord Ned was one of Booklists’ Top Ten Romances of 2012. AND the earlier books should be on sale NOW. Until February 25, the novella should be FREE and Ned’s and Jack’s book only $2.99 each at all major eBook retailers!

Wow!  That’s a great deal, Sally!  So, tell us what’s your favorite thing about the Regency era, especially in terms of writing?

When I was young, I read science fiction and fantasy books—and Georgette Heyer’s Regency-set stories. I guess I was never one for living in the real world 😉 So for me, the Regency is my fantasy world, where the men are mostly titled, wealthy, and in need of a wife. And I’ve always been a bit of a word geek—I love my Oxford English Dictionary. Writing Regencies lets me use words like namby-pamby, brangle, and ninnyhammer. Fun!

Have you ever considered writing in another genre or historical period?

When my kids were very young, I wrote picture book texts. I got some “good” rejections on those and even went through some revisions with one publisher, but nothing came of it. And when my first book, The Naked Duke, sold, I was working on a science fiction romance. Actually, one of my very first manuscripts, pre-kids, was a science fiction romance, now that I think about it. But at least for the foreseeable future, I expect to stay in the Regency.

What’s up next for Sally?

I’m very excited to say I’ve just agreed to do a new series based on our visit to England last September! The stories are set in a small village, Loves Bridge, and revolve around a Spinster House. But I’m just starting book one, so everything is subject to change.

I can’t wait to read your new series!  Thanks so much for joining us today, Sally.  Readers, Sally is giving away one copy of Bedding Lord Ned, and because it’s Valentine’s Day I’m giving away a book, too!  One person who comments today will win both Sally’s book and my latest book, Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard.  Just tell us what you most like (or hate) about Valentine’s Day for a chance to win!

Breaking News!!! Valentine’s Day special on my facebook page.  I’m giving away TWO copies of Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard. So be sure to leave a comment for Sally, and then visit me on my facebook page!


Guest Post: Sally MacKenzie & The Naked King. Giveaway!

I’m thrilled to have a special guest on my blog today – USA Today bestselling author, Sally MacKenzie.  Sally writes the acclaimed Naked series, funny, sexy, Regency-set historical for my publisher, Kensington Zebra.  Her unique blend of humor and passion has been wowing fans over the course of eight books and novellas.  Her last book in the series, The Naked King, is now in stores.  Please join me in welcoming Sally to the blog!

 Hi, Vanessa.  Thanks so much for letting me stop by your blog.

Sally, let’s talk about the Naked seriesHow did you come up with such a great high concept?

Can you hear me laughing?  When I wrote my first Naked book, The Naked Duke, I wouldn’t have known a high concept if it bit me in the derriere.   Frankly, I don’t think I’d know one now, either.

The Naked series had a very low concept beginning.  I decided in grade school that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, and I’d done some writing when my four sons were young, though I hadn’t sold any fiction.  When I entered the carpool years and took over the cub scout pack and the neighborhood swim team at the same time, writing got pushed to the side.  Finally, when our oldest son was getting ready for college, it hit me that I wasn’t getting any younger.  My hands-on mom duties were being phased out, and I needed to figure out how the next chapter of my life was going to read.  Was I finally going to seriously follow my dream of publishing?  If I wasn’t, I needed to find something else to do.

So I sat down and started writing the Duke.  I worked in fits and starts, teaching myself as I went along, but I made myself finish and revise and polish.  I think it took a couple years.  Then a friend who’d once been a NYC editor took her red pen to it.  The pages bled.  My heart sank when I got them back, but I told myself I was going to read them through with an open mind.  If I was serious about this, I needed to get over myself.  I do think that editing job was what took me to the next level.   Somewhere in there she said that my original title was sort of awful.  (And, no, I will not tell you what it was.)

So this is where maybe a glimmer of high concept came in. I thought, well, they always say sex and power sells.  My hero was a duke–that’s the power part–and he happens to meet the heroine when they are both naked.  Voila–The Naked Duke!  My friend liked it, but I had no idea it would catch on the way it has.

I sold the Duke in a two book contract, so I then had to write another book.  Yikes!  The title I came up with for that book was something lame–I don’t remember exactly, but I think it was The Reluctant Earl.  My editor was rightly unimpressed.  So then I thought, oh, what the heck, she likes Naked so much, I’ll stick with that.  The problem was that when the second book opens, the hero (Captain Charles Draysmith, one of the Naked Duke’s friends) has just inherited his brother’s title–Earl of Knightsdale.  Except I already had an earl–foolish me had decided that the other friend, Robbie, the Earl of Westbrooke, would be the hero of my as-yet-uncontracted third book.  I couldn’t have two Naked earls, so I had to “promote” Charles’s brother to marquis before killing him off–and then I had to catch that change up on the Duke page proofs.  Thus The Naked Marquis was born, and my “high concept” idea was launched.

Who are your favorite writers?

Growing up, I read mostly science fiction and fantasy–Lloyd Alexander, Edward Eager, E. Nesbit, Andre Norton, P. L. Travers–and Georgette Heyer.   I was passionate about stories–until I became an English major in college.  That was a bit of a shock.  I didn’t really “get” many of the authors I read–Vonnegut and Barth and Pynchon and Brautigan.  I think my reaction to books has always been emotional–or even spiritual–rather than intellectual, and I just didn’t feel these stories.  After I “retired” to stay home with my sons, I read tons and tons of Regencies while the kids played or while I waited in carpool line.  Some of my favorite Regency authors were Mary Balogh, Marion Chesney, Marion Devon, Edith Layton, Barbara Metzger, Joan Wolf–I could probably go on and on.  My mother and I used to go out to lunch once a month and hit the Borders, buying that month’s Signet Regencies which we shared.  Now I find I don’t read much fiction at all.  I either can’t get into a book or I get so caught up in it, I let my own writing slide.  This just happened to me with Marjorie Liu’s In the Dark of Dreams.  (Shh, don’t tell my editor!)  Not good for a girl on deadline!

What’s up after The Naked King?

I’m working on the Duchess of Love series about a duchess who’s one of the ton’s premier matchmakers–but the matches she’d really like to make involve her three sons.  I’ve written the novella which tells the duke and duchess’s story–sort of a prequel to the trilogy–and now I’m writing book 1.  I actually don’t like to talk much about a book while I’m working on it, so that’s all I’ll say for now.

Great interview, Sally!  Thank you so much!

Sally will be giving away a copy of her latest book, The Naked King, to one lucky commenter.  Just answer the following question:  If you could only take one book on vacation with you this summer, what would it be?