Thank you for visiting Manic Readers Bronwen.
Congrats on INVITATION TO RUIN being nominated for Best First Historical Romance in the 2011 RT Reviewers Choice Awards. Bet that was exciting.
Hi everyone. Waving madly from New Zealand. Thanks for having me over today.
My nomination was so unexpected and exciting, I couldn’t believe it. It was more than I’d ever dreamed of for my debut. I think my mum was more thrilled than anyone.
You’re also part-time CEO of a surgical association. I would think that CEO, part- time or not, would be demanding. How do you balance that with writing?
At times it is stressful. Why is it that you always get busy at work when you’re on deadline? Sigh, I shouldn’t complain. I LOVE both of my jobs and I’m extremely lucky to have both of them! I am quite an ‘organized person’ (that’s a polite word for saying I can be a bit anally retentive). I have to be to juggle jobs, promotion, and have a live! I don’t have any children, so that makes my life much easier. I have set routines for the days I don’t work as a CEO. I work Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday writing. At night I do PR and other marketing, and sometimes at the weekend, I write too. It’s busy but I love it. It helps that the surgeons I work for are also busy people. They understand when I have to change days or take time off. It really is a great job.
Can you tell us about your INVITATION TO series, the first INVITATION TO RUIN, and your latest release, INVITATION TO SCANDAL? They sound sooo good. I really like the teaser about Rufus’ struggle with the true meaning of honor.
I have always loved the Regency period and when I decided to write about these four men I thought about what things in the period could have affected each man. I had just seen Amazing Grace (William Wilberforce movie about Abolition) and instantly had a clear picture of what sort of human being could make his living from selling people. Then I imagined what kind of father he would be. For Invitation to Ruin, I imagined a son growing up under such a father, and Anthony Craven was born. Anthony has to battle great cruelty and I think that’s what I love about him the most, his ability to still have a wonderful heart.
Another aspect of the period is honor. Men defended it rigorously and could end up on the dueling field if said honor was maligned. In Invitation to Scandal, Rufus’s late father was accused of treason and so Rufus lives his life all about honor to the point of seeing the world in black and white. So, what would happen if he’s forced to choose between love or honor?
Here’s a snippet about Rufus’s past:
He was so beautiful. His chest and stomach glowed golden in the sun. Her hand rose to touch the sparse auburn hair sprinkling his chest. Only when he was silent did she notice the jagged scar that sliced down his left side, destroying the perfection. She couldn’t imagine any woman wanting to mar such beauty. She had to curl her toes up tight to stop herself stepping forward and planting kisses on the scar’s jagged length.
“Who was she?” Rheda asked in a quiet voice.
The pain drained from his eyes. He quickly lowered his shirt. “She is of no consequence.”
“That’s not true. She hurt you.” She tentatively touched his chest. “Why?”
“Why did she knife you?”
He looked away, his mouth set in a firm line. “Because I was a fool.”
“You’re a fool if you judge all women by one bad experience.”
He tugged at his cuffs. “Says the woman who judges all men by her father’s standards of honor.”
She turned away before he could see the pain in her eyes. “You did not know my father.” Then she swung back to face him. “If you had, you’d probably have liked him. He, too, loved bedding as many women as he could, while never engaging any other emotion than lust.”
Rufus’s lip curled up in disgust. “Lust is an emotion men cannot hide. A woman can see and feel a man’s lust. On the other hand, women can fake lust as easily as they can fake every other emotion. That is what makes women so dangerous.”
Rheda watched the play of emotions roaming his features. She saw hurt, pain, and something that looked a lot like guilt. “The woman who knifed you—you loved her.” It wasn’t a question. “You surprise me, Rufus. I never would have imagined a man like you being capable of love. Interesting . . .”
He narrowed his gaze. “I never make the same mistake twice,” he warned. “Don’t play games with me, Rheda. You won’t like the outcome.”
She moved until her hand pressed against his side where he had been wounded. “Only yesterday you were expertly demonstrating how pleasurable games could be. Why the sudden change of heart?” Her hand crept up his chest until she could feel a beat under her palm. She looked into his warm brown eyes and saw her answer. Her heart suddenly seemed to swell and try to own her chest cavity. Did he have feelings for her? Was that why Rufus was determined that she believe he was not sleeping with Lady Umbridge? She could neither help nor hide her victorious smile. “Perhaps with me more than simply your lust is engaged.”
She could feel the rapid rise and fall of his chest under her hand. His breathing increased, and his pulse raced. She licked her lips and stood on tiptoes to place a gentle kiss upon his sensuous mouth. He groaned and pulled her hard against him. Just as he’d stated, Rufus could not hide his lust for her. But was he hiding other feelings? She longed to find out.
Invitation to Passion, due out early 2013 is Anthony’s twin brother’s story, Richard Craven. Everyone keeps emailing me asking when this story is being released – early 2013! Richard feels like he has to save everyone, because he didn’t protect his brother from their father’s cruelty, while growing up. I also have a fascination with the concept of a lady being compromised and therefore forced to marry. What happens when the compromise is a misunderstanding with your best-friend? How awkward would that be? Richard’s story is a love triangle and a friend to lover journey where Richard learns not everyone can be saved.
For the last book in the series, I wanted a real swashbuckling escape. I was fascinated with the Ottoman Empire and wondered what would have happened to Englishmen when they were caught by the Turks. So finally, in Invitation to Love, I look at the opium trade and addiction. Recovering drug addict, Alex Montford has to return to the Mediterranean to honor a debt. He has to face the demons of his past to save the woman he loves.
There’ve been a lot of intelligent and independent historical heroines, especially of late. Rheda Kerrich is the first I’ve read that wanted to start a business breeding horses. Even with their love of horses and horsemanship, wasn’t this on the scandalous side for a woman at the time?
Unfortunately Rheda already has a blemished reputation; through no fault of her own I should add. But yes, you’re right, it is somewhat unusual and scandalous, although breeding horses for the cavalry was different than breeding race horses for example, which was a men’s club. Women were not allowed to enter horses in the General Stud Book. But cavalry horses are bought by each individual Officer, not the army. Rheda could breed quality horses and discretely sell them. A man’s horse could save his life, so Officer’s would overlook almost anything to ensure a quality mount.
What about your foray into self publishing, the Wicked Wager series novellas? A bit about them and the experience, please?
My agent suggested I release some novellas in-between my novels, I thought it was a great idea. However, I found it hard to write shorter stories and each novella sits at around 39,500 words, almost the size of a short contemporary. I came up with the Wicked Wagers trilogy while watching a TV program where the characters played truth or dare. Suddenly I saw three handsome rakes – To Dare, To Wager and To Challenge. It’s been such an amazing experience. The first novella, To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield, reached #3 on the Amazon Best Seller Books Regency. [CLUE SEVENTEEN REPEAT: CAPTURE]
To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield sees Harlow Telford, Duke of Dangerfield, put in an awkward position. He’s won a house in a card game, only to learn that the house was actually held in trust for the man’s daughter. Caitlin Southall dares the Duke to let her win it back. Throw in the fact Harlow only won the house on behalf of his illegitimate brother (Caitlin’s unknown half-brother), and the fact Harlow is falling in love with Caitlin, and you see why Harlow is now trapped. Someone he loves is going to lose. It’s a hilarious, sensual game of three challenges.
The second novella, To Wager the Marquis of Wolverstone is a classic revenge story. Ten years ago the woman Marcus Danvers loved, eloped with another man. Now she’s back and wants his help. He has her exactly where he wants her. He offers her a wager, he’ll help her and if he succeeds in delivering on the favor she’s requested of him, she becomes his mistress. When he wins, he’ll have Sabine exactly where he wants her—in his bed and at his mercy. However, all is not what it seems. Marcus doesn’t know that by helping Sabine he’ll also be getting his revenge. For there are some secrets best left buried…
The third novella, To Challenge the Earl of Cravenswood is much lighter and a comedic ‘Cinderella’ story. Henry St. Giles, the Earl of Cravenswood, is the only one of the trio still unwed. His two, recently married friends Harlow and Marcus, challenge him to find a wife by the end of the year or marry Amy Shipton (a character in Marcus’s story). A drunken fumble in the dark, a lost earring, two friends who love to interfere and a woman, who is determined to only marry for love, leads Henry on a sensual chase.
I was part of a discussion once where someone said they didn’t need to relate to any of the characters in a book. If I don’t relate to any of the characters, the book doesn’t appeal to me. (Fiction that is, admittedly non-fiction is a whole other ball of wax.) What’s your stance on this?
Well, I can only comment re: romance stories. Romance is the happy ever after. How could I write them if I didn’t think the characters deserved a HEA? I couldn’t even write the book if I didn’t LOVE the characters. As you’re writing or reading, you’re willing and hoping that they find the HEA. Or you should be. If you’re not, then the characters have not grabbed you. And that can happen. Let’s face it, not everyone you meet will end up being your best-friend. Some just become a friend or even an acquaintance. We all have individual tastes.
Would you care to share some of your travel adventures with us? How exciting was it to go to London for 6 months and have it turn into years while you worked and traveled the world?
VERY! I had a huge support network there. My twin sister lived there too (she went to England the year before me) and I had a huge group of friends who I’d been at University in New Zealand with, also living there. However, I fell on my feet when I hit London. I decided I wanted to ‘share’ with English people rather than kiwis, so I answered an advert in the Evening Standard newspaper for a roommate. This led me to Simon, who owned a beautiful flat on the top floor of a mansion block on river in Putney. He’s a property developer. He was from a very wealthy family and I never dreamed he’d agree to the ‘kiwi’ backpacker moving in. Plus, he really only wanted the company and the rent was so low for what I got. I think that might be the reason I stayed so long in England – life was good! Simon and I hit it off (as Aries and Aries often do) and I moved in. I shared with Simon for almost four years, until his marriage to Caroline, his girlfriend who I made friends with. In fact, her sister married a really good friend of mine.
I don’t realize how much travelling etc I have done until people ask me about it and are amazed at where I’ve been in the world and what I’ve seen. I think travelling and seeing different cultures made me a more tolerant person.
One of my most memorable trips was an African game parks safari with my mother and twin sister. Mum’s a biologist and zoologist and it was fascinating travelling in the game parks with her. Mum and I also did Italy one year, and mum took Latin at University so she could read all the old inscriptions at the ancient sights like Pompeii.
I also did a trip through Russia in 1989 which was amazing. There was no MacDonald’s, coke-a-cola or anything like that in Russia at that time. We had to go on designated buses, which had to drive on designated roads. There were queues of people lining up for food and I got mobbed on the street when I brought a can of coke out of my bag. I traded it for Russian doll earrings and caviar. The Russians’ loved anything American!
My camel safari through the Sahara was another memorable trip – big tip – don’t ride a fat camel, they are really uncomfortable. Pick one who looks lean.
Just, WOW….I’d love to do Italy, all that history.
Your list of Auto-buy authors, what one quality of their writing or books put each on your list?
I’m a lover of dark, tortured heroes, who have been really wounded. I prefer these types of stories to more comedic romances. I guess I love the angst in these stories. So, if you give me a hero I can feel for, cry for, lust after, want to be with, then I love your books. One of the books I read over and over again is Princess by Galen Foley. The hero is to die for and the writing sublime.
Really? I’ll have to check that out. Just what I need, another title added to my list…
What’s the easiest and hardest parts of research?
Hardest part is verifying facts. You need to find multiple sources that say the same thing before your sure it’s an actual fact. The easiest thing is how internet and email make this job easier. I find that when I email organizations, and let them know I’m an author seeking information, everyone is very helpful.
When I write a book, I split the job into threes. 1/3 plotting (includes research and character development), 1/3 writing. And 1/3 editing.
The fun part for me is the plotting. I love strategizing the external and internal emotional journeys of my characters. The most satisfying part is when you have finished the book and it’s ready for publication.
The last book you read that left an indelible mark?
How to Please a Pirate, by Mia Marlowe, a fellow Kensington Brava author and one of the authors on www.rockitreads.com. I love a book where the hero is being forced to marry anyone other than the woman he truly loves in order to do his duty. It’s the love conquers all bit I like.
What can we look forward to next from you?
Well, I have a little surprise. I’m releasing a contemporary romance, The Italian Conte’s Reluctant Bride, in the fall, with Entangled Publishing. I’m pretty excited about this. I think the Entangled Publishing business model is very exciting for authors and readers.
I’m very familiar with Entangled. Their proofing is excellent. I didn’t find a single error in the book I read. That’s extremely rare.
Also book three in the Wicked Wager’s series, to Challenge the Earl of Cravenswood, is out August and Invitation to Passion early 2013.
I’ve also just finished book one in a new six book series called the Disgraced Lord’s. My agent has that one so I don’t know what is happening with that yet. Life is busy!!!
You aren’t kidding!
You can learn more about me and my books on my website.
Thanks heaps for taking the time to stop by, Bronwen. I’ve enjoyed it!
Thank you for having me! It’s been fun. Don’t forget, it’s not too late to join the Invitation to Romance blog tour. Closes 30th June.
The Book Tour Grand Prize – A $200 Amazon, or B&N, Voucher PLUS… A Book Basket of 30 ‘SIGNED by the AUTHORS’ books…
Bronwen is generously offering one (1) lucky commenter a copy of INVITATION TO SCANDAL, their choice ebook or print. Giveaway ends @midnight (12am) est July 6th. Winner will be announced shortly thereafter. Good luck!