Risky Regencies

Christine Wells and the Dangerous Duke!

Riskies: Hello, Christine! Welcome back to Risky Regencies. Tell us about your new book, The Dangeroue Duke. Where did the inspiration for this story come from?

Christine: First of all, let me say how delighted I am to be with you all here at Risky Regencies today. I read this blog often. You’re all so knowledgeable and often in surprising ways! Thank you for inviting me.

And here’s the blurb for The Dangerous Duke:

When Lady Kate Fairchild threatens to publish a tell-all politcal diary if her brother isn;t released from jail, she meets a formidable adversary in Max, the Duke of Lyle. Max believes Kate’s brother knows the whereabouts of the rebels who burned his family home. Stealing the diary, he spirits Kate off to a country estate, ransoming her for her brother’s cooperation. But the wrong diary has ended up in Max’s hands–a sizzling account of Kate’s affair with a fantasy lover. And when Max discovers Kate’s sensual desires, he can’t resist exploting them in every way…

I’m talking about this a bit more on our historical author chat on the Berkley/Jove Bulletin Board, but most of the inspiration for this book came from snippets I’ve learned in the course of my research. I wanted to explore the way a woman might wield power in the Regency era. As in any era, there were a lot of women who were heavily involved in politics, even though they couldn’t vote. They filled that ‘woman behind the man’ role, and it’s not stretching the imagination to assume that some of these women were far more intelligent and politically astute than the men they supported.

Lady Kate, my heroine, is comfortable in that politcal arena and her family has influence, which is why her late husband, an aspiring politician, married her. But when Kate is widowed, she’s left without that figurehead. She has to step out and wield that power she has in her own right to save her brother from unjust imprisonment.

As for many historical writers, the story of courtesan Harriette Wilson demanding payment from her former clients to keep their names out of her tell-all memoirs captured my imagination.

So I ended up with a politcal diary full of secrets Kate uses to threaten the government (having exhausted all legal avenues, of course!) and an erotic diary, which was her solace during a loveless marriage.

Lyle desperately wants that political diary. But the two volumes get mixed up with, um, interesting results!

You can read Kate’s diary (edited by Lyle) here.

Riskies: And the hero sounds wonderfully tormented! Tell us a little more about him. Is this your favorite “hero type”?

Christine: Lyle doesn’t think he’s tormented at all, LOL! Others might disagree, however. He’s a man who entered the secret service through neccesity, not out of the thrill of it or even from a desire to save his country, though that is part of what keeps him there. He does what has to be done and his mantra has always been ‘the end justifies the means.’

And then a fire at a family gathering kills the heirs who stand between him and the dukedom. His last case is to find the perpetrators, and then he is going to retire to assume the many duties of his office. But now he has to learn to be a civilian, and it isn’t easy. The last thing he wants is to fall in love with a troublesome woman who has made herself his enemy! But the driving need to earn Kate’s love is what forces him to change.

I do seem to be gravitating toward big alpha men at the moment, but it’s not a conscious decision. It depends on what the story demands. Lyle is incredibly tough, except when it comes to kate wrapping him around her finger!

Riskies: What was the research like for this book?

Christine: It was quite eclectic–from the political and social climate surrounding the first inklings of the Industrial Revolution, and the little we know or surmise about agents, to female boxing in the Regency. I wrote a small article for the Regency Reader about women’s boxing, and I will put it on my website. Or if anyone is interested I can email them more information.

Riskies: What’s next for you?

Christine: I am so excited about my next project, Wicked Little Game! I won’t talk about it too much yet, but it has a wonderfully tortured, big, dark hero and a heroine who is one of the most interesting and difficult women I’ve written. There’s a teaser in the back of The Dangerous Duke under it’s working title Indecent Proposal.

Riskies: And now for something else! Some fun questions I found in designer interviews in “Elle” magazine. 🙂

What’s your favorite color?
Christine: Red!
Riskies: What’s your favorite junk food?
Christine: I have to name just one?? Chocolate chip cookies
Riskies: Who are your favorite fantasy dinner-party guests?
Christine: Dorothy Parker, Georgette Heyer, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, and Richard Armitage (well, you did say fantasy, right? LOL)
Riskies: At age 7, you wanted to be…
Christine: A brain surgeon! What was I thinking?
Riskies: Whose diary would you most like to read?
Christine: My grandmother’s. I regret not asking her more about her youth before she died.
Riskies: If you weren’t writing historical romance, what would you like to write?
Christine: I’m not sure. Maybe romantic comedy or romantic suspense. I don’t think I’m likely to make the switch, though. I love writing historicals!

Thank you for having me here, Riskies! It’s been a pleasure. And to all your readers–do you like your historical heroes dangerous? What about your heroines? Do you like the idea of a woman finding her own power in the Regency era, even if she might not be as physically strong as her mal counterparts?

And I’ll be giving away two signed copies of The Dangerous Duke to lucky commenters!

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Gillian Layne
14 years ago

Good Morning, Christine! Congratulations on all the fabulous buzz surrounding The Dangerous Duke (and the gorgeous cover!). I’m very much looking forward to diving into it.

Any woman with the slightest bit of intelligence has power. I love the intricacies involved in showing the use of that power within the social constraints of any given time period.

Christine, have you always been drawn to historical romance? What’s your favorite part of the writing process?

Louisa Cornell
14 years ago

Hello, Christine!! I have to agree with my dear friend, Gillian – you were blessed by the cover fairy! It is just so delicious and makes the duke look, well dangerous! I am SO looking forward to reading this book as I LOVED your last one!

I do love a dangerous hero, especially if the person in the most danger is the hero himself – his heart, his soul and everything he THOUGHT he had a handle on until he meets the heroine!

Women will always have power – political and otherwise – if they are smart enough to wield it. I think women in the Regency period had a particularly tough time of it, but because of that they became some of the most creative and ultimately powerful creatures in history!

What is it they say “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.”

I have often wondered if the Regency woman had the advantage as they were always underestimated! That is a position of power, if one knows how to use it!

Virginia
14 years ago

Hello Christine! First off let me say the historicals are my favorite read, I just love them. The Dangerous Duke sounds like a fantastic read. I would love to read it.

Yes I like my heros to be a little dangerous, and I like my heroines to be smart and powerful.

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

Hi, Christine! Thank you so much for visiting the Riskies and for sharing more info about The Dangerous Duke.

I love a dangerous hero, although I think when I write mine they are often more tortured than dangerous. And mine tend to be “good guys.”

I, too, think that there were strong women in any age and it is fun to make heroines strong in spite of the constraints of the Regency period. I do prefer to keep to what could have been historically possible, though.

I’m so happy for your success! The Dangerous Duke sounds so wonderfully original and I can’t wait to see how female boxers fit in.

anon1001
anon1001
14 years ago

I prefer reading about widows–they are more interresating.

Lorraine
14 years ago

I adore that illustration of boxing Regency women! Though I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that it was strictly for the lower classes…

Deb Marlowe
14 years ago

Christine, my sister! 🙂

So glad to see you here at the Riskies! I just walked in the house from the weekly family bookstore trip–and now I’ve got the Dangerous Duke in my hot little hand! Whoo hoo!

I do love a dangerous hero. And a strong heroine is a must for me. I’m also particularly fond of a heroine who might not know her own strength at the start of a story, but discovers it through her journey to love.

Now here’s a question for you: You have youngish kids like I do. Any tips for getting the pages done amidst the chaos?

Abby
14 years ago

Hi Christine. I have Scandal’s Daughter and I really enjoyed it. Sounds like you are keeping with the difficult, complex heroines – my absolute favorite. I write them myself. Keep it up!

Abby

Christine Wells
14 years ago

Hi Riskies! Thanks for having me here today. Sorry I’m late–the time difference means I was tucked up in bed when the post went up.

Hi Gillian! Lovely to see you over here:) Thanks for the congratulations.

Yes, I think that there is power in intelligence, but even intelligent women in the Regency era had to bide by a lot of restrictions. It must have been all the more frustrating to an intelligent woman, I think.

YOu asked: have you always been drawn to historical romance? What’s your favorite part of the writing process?

Yes, my father is a history buff who told me about kings and queens and wars as bedtime stories. I lapped it up! I read a lot of historical fiction Geoffrey Trease at a young age and then Austen and Heyer. When I was 11 my mother took me to a play of Pride and Prejudice and from that moment, I was smitten with the Regency era in particular.

The writing process–
I love it when I’m in what I call ‘the zone’–that magical place where the story unfolds in this other world in your head and you just need to type fast enough to keep up with it. I love that. And I’m growing to love the process where I have the first draft down and go back to rework the story.

THanks for your comment!

Christine Wells
14 years ago

Hi Louisa, my dear friend, thank you so much for your kind words. Isn’t the cover pretty? I believe they’re getting the same cover artist for WICKED LITTLE GAME which is out next year, so I’m stoked!

“The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.”

I think there’s a lot of truth in this. Society pays lip service to this idea now but I think even most women don’t really believe it any more. It’s one reason why romance novels are so empowering for women. In romance, the true worth of women as wives, mothers, lovers, friends is acknowledged and celebrated.

And I agree wholeheartedly with the advantage of being underestimated. It’s because Lyle has a healthy respect for Kate that he acts so drastically to silence her. She’s accustomed to running rings around everyone, but in Lyle she’s met her match!

Christine Wells
14 years ago

Hi Virginia, you’re so kind! Thanks for commenting!

I’ve been chatting with Jo Bourne on the Berkley Jove forum about power balance between hero and heroine. It’s a very tricky thing to get it right. But I can’t abide a milksop heroing so it’s not a difficulty that’s going away any time soon.

Christine Wells
14 years ago

Diane, you write fabulous heroes! I love a tortured good guy. I think Lyle is basically a good guy but he is just a bit misguided sometimes.*g*

I do prefer to keep to what could have been historically possible, though.

That’s another challenge, isn’t it, and it’s why I gave Kate the political background rather than kung fu fighting prowess. I think it takes some skilful footwork to create a ‘kick-ass’ heroine in Regency England. Mary Jo Putney and Anne Gracie have done it superbly. My poor Kate can’t even shoot. But even if a heroine can’t be independent, I like her to be independent-*minded* and resourceful, and that’s what Kate is.

Christine Wells
14 years ago

Hi anon1001! I enjoy writing women with more experience under their belts, too. You can get to the heart of the conflict more easily when you can get the maidenly jitters out of the way.

Christine Wells
14 years ago

Hi Lorraine! Yes, it was the lower classes, although one particular countess was known to indulge! I doubt she would have been received in Society, however.

Christine Wells
14 years ago

Hey sis! Deb, now that I’ve met the dreaded deadline, I can’t wait to dive into your books!

Thanks so much for picking up THE DANGEROUS DUKE on your recent book-buying excursion. YOu go weekly??? I think I’d beggar my family if I went to the store that often. I have no restraint!

Oh, yes, I love reading those romances where the heroine starts out a mouse and ends up roaring! Well, perhaps a more dignified Regency version of same, anyway.

As for getting pages done with small children, I have no simple answer. Do you have any ideas?*g* When I was on deadline for The Dangerous Duke I stayed up all night every second night and had a good sleep in between. I do NOT recommend that method! Actually, the hilarious Susan Seyfarth from the Romance Bandits and I wrote an article about this very subject on Romance Novel TV:
http://www.romancenovel.tv/wordpress/2008/01/24/how-not-to-kill-your-darlingswriting-with-children-under-five/
Check it out to see how desperate a writing mother can get!

Christine Wells
14 years ago

Hi Abby! Thanks for your kind words about SCANDAL’S DAUGHTER. I don’t know about you but I always get anxious when I write complex heroines. I think readers are very hard on heroines and it’s a challenge to make them sympathetic.

Anna Campbell
14 years ago

Hiya Riskies! Hiya Christine! Only ever see you in the classiest of joints, my friend.

OK, I’m going to gloat. I read The Dangerous Duke in manuscript and felt like the luckiest little romance reader in the world. It’s fab – sexy and witty and dangerous like the duke. Grab a copy. And isn’t that the prettiest cover you ever saw? So subtle and sexy!

And what a wicked little game teasing us about WICKED LITTLE GAME! By the way, what a way cool title!

Gillian, I 100% agree with you that one of the joys and challenges of writing historical romance is working out how these people achieved happiness and fulfillment in such a rigid social structure. Makes it all VERRRRRY interesting!

Amanda McCabe
14 years ago

Hi Christine! Sorry I’m late popping up to say hello. 🙂 I’m also very looking forward to seeing where boxing comes into the story…

And tormented good guy heroes are the BEST!

Jane
14 years ago

Hi Christine,
Congrats on the release of “The Dangerous Duke.” A dangerous and tortured hero is always appreciated. You want to find out all his secrets and see how the heroine goes about in allaying the hero’s burden and helping him find peace. I always prefer heroines who are strong. As you said, they don’t have to be physically strong, but being mentally strong and intelligent is important. I’m looking forward to reading Kate and Max’s story.

jo robertson
14 years ago

Hi, Christine, great interview. My copy of TDD is wending its way from Amazon any moment. I can’t wait to read it.

Female boxing in the Regency? That’s something I’ve never heard of. Can you tell us more about it? Did they box for money or fame? Were they any good? Did they mainly just wrestle around or did they actually box? You can see I’m intrigued by this subject.

Christine Wells
14 years ago

Hi Anna! Yes, we do meet in the nicest places, don’t we? Thanks for the rave about THE DANGEROUS DUKE. Anna came to my rescue when I was stuck without a critique partner last year and I’ve been offering her my kidneys ever since:)

Actually, as far as the challenge of navigating the period restraints goes, the challenge is a fascinating one, isn’t it? It makes me think a lot about how far women have come in the world and how far we have to go.

Christine Wells
14 years ago

Hi Amanda! Thanks for having me! As far as I can make out, the female boxers were a bit of a spectacle akin to female mud wrestlers today. Not at all respectable, but an interesting snippet, nonetheless.

Christine Wells
14 years ago

Hi Jane, I’m glad you like dangerous and tortured:)
I think physically effective heroines are good fun but it’s much more of a challenge to me as a writer if I have to find another way for my heroine to prevail. Thanks for the congrats on THE DANGEROUS DUKE. It’s a fun story and I hope you enjoy it!

Christine Wells
14 years ago

Jo, from what I gather, these women fought for prize money and it seems it was no holds barred–scratching, hair-pulling, punching the breast, etc. Sometimes they fought bare-breasted, or at least they ended that way. Some took great pride in their skill and weren’t simply there to give the man watching a peep-show/cat-fight. I found a few newspaper advertisements for these fights and they’re phrased as a challenge by one woman (very grandiose and flowery) and the other woman answering the challenge. Often the Irish/English rivalry was played up, too. Then it has the details of where and when, with the added information about what the women will be wearing when they fight. So that gives an idea of the purpose of the spectacle, doesn’t it?*g* Not pretty!

janegeorge
14 years ago

Welcome Christine!

Best of luck with The Dangerous Duke.
The diary mix up sounds classic and very, very fun.

Your book’s on my list.
Jane

Keira Soleore
14 years ago

Ammanda, an excellent format for today’s post: blog + interview.

Christine, love, hope you’re not already asleep. I adored reading your interview, and now, I’m dying even more to read your DUKE.

I’m looking forward to reading about how Lyle deals with the “now he has to learn to be a civilian, and it isn’t easy” part. Mary Balogh did a great job of this in Simply Love, but many authors like to have soldier heroes but gloss over the PTSD and readjustment issues. So, I’m really glad to see you address it and call it out in the interview.

Female boxing in the Regency? (Off to find my eyes that popped out and rolled under the bed.) Tell. Do tell. OMGosh!!

Good to know that you consider Richard Armitage a fantasy dinner guest but not Oscar Wilde or Shaw.

Whose diary would I like to read? Why, Lady Kate’s, of course. No, not the political one, the other one.

Riskies: Methinks, Christine spoke an untruth there. Her favorite junk food isn’t the chocolate chip cookie; it’s Tim Tams!!!!!! The path to heaven is paved in Tim Tams, I tell you.

Christine Wells
14 years ago

Hi Jane! Thanks for dropping in–hope you enjoy The Dangerous Duke.

Christine Wells
14 years ago

Keira, my lovely! How are you? So glad to see you back in Romancelandia.

Yes, female prizefighters! See my comment to Jo above, where I give a bit of a rundown. I must get that article up on my website. Add that to my ever lengthening To Do list!

And doesn’t Mary Balogh do *everything* brilliantly? Sigh. But yes, Lyle has to learn to be civilized again. Well, not *too* civilized, of course. We wouldn’t want that, would we?

Ha, yes, Shaw and Wilde are hardly the objects of THOSE kinds of fantasies! Or not for me, anyway. Thanks for the mention of Lady Kate’s diary. Kate has been a bit slack lately but she’ll have to smarten up her act if she wants to keep her HEA with Lyle. I’ve threatened them with a sequel:)

Oh, and as you know, I give food much thought and I pondered deeply about the Tim Tam vs choc chip cookie conundrum. I’m afraid the CCCs won by a whisker. Home made ones, of course!

So if the road to paradise is paved with Tim Tams, is Nutella the mortar that holds them together? *g*

Tasha Alexander
14 years ago

Christine, great interview and the new book sounds like loads of fun!

Oscar Wilde would be a fabulous dinner guest……

Christine Wells
14 years ago

Hi Tasha, thanks for dropping in! You know, I think if I were at that dinner, I’d just leave the wits to be witty and listen while I stared at Richard:)

jo robertson
14 years ago

Thanks, Christine. Sounds like it was a precursor to women’s mud wrestling LOL. I imagine it was the lower classes (duh!).

They didn’t actually wear boxing gloves then, did they? Actually men didn’t either; wasn’t that pretty much bare knuckles?

I imagine the “audience” were primarily men?

Does the women boxing fit into TDD or was that something you just picked up during your research?

Christine Wells
14 years ago

Hi Jo, yes, the lower classes, although a notorious countess did indulge with her rakehell husband. And yes, I think the spectacle was designed to titillate the male audience, even if it was said that some women showed quite a bit of skill. Of course, they were fighting for the prize money.

Actually, when they were sparring the gentlemen did wear boxing gloves but I think it was generally bare-fisted in a prize-fight. I’d have to check that. But there are engravings of Jackson’s Boxing Saloon with all the boxing gloves hanging neatly by strings in a row on the wall. The women didn’t have gloves, no. They needed nails for scratching and fingers for pulling hair! Ugh!

I do have a scene like this in TDD and an expurgated version of the advertisement I found. Great fun!

M.
M.
14 years ago

as i have commented before, the cover for DD really is pretty, much more appealling to my tastes than many of the current covers out there.

the catfight pic is interesting, paired as it is with the brief description of your next work and the title ‘indecent proposal’. perhaps one lady proposed something/someone/somehow indecent to the other? perhaps the fight broke out because she FAILED to make such a proposal? hmmm.

i recall reading about your first sale story a little while ago at ‘dear author’ (another lovely site – my apologies is it’s bad manners to mention such when posting here) and am trying very hard to let me sincere happiness and admiration for how that came about remain pure and unsullied (ha! segue from the previous post!), untainted by my green-eyed monster. yes, i’ve just received non-congratulatory feedback on my most recent contest entry…

Christine Wells
14 years ago

M, hugs on the contest feedback. We’ve all had our fair share of criticism! Don’t let it stop you writing.

Yes, THE DANGEROUS DUKE has a gorgeous cover, doesn’t it? I like the way Berkley try to give each of their authors an individual look.

As for the cat fight, I can see your writer’s imagination at work there:) But no, my heroine doesn’t strip to her chemise and go head to head with a rival. Sounds like an interesting scene, though…

Thanks for commenting!

Helen
14 years ago

Great interview ladies

I am reading The Dangerous Duke at the moment and am loving it, as to do I like my historical heros dangerous yes I do I am loving Lyle and Lady kate.
Congratulations on a wonderful story Christine

Have Fun
Helen

Keira Soleore
14 years ago

Heh. Heh. But of course. Tim Tams are the stones and Nutella the mortar and I’ll lick my way to heaven. Probably will have to do plenty penance by then in order to gain entrance into the pearly white gates.

Keira Soleore
14 years ago

Helen, don’t run it into us poor sods who’re dying to lay their paws on a copy of TDD.

Christine Wells
14 years ago

Hi Helen, lovely to see you here:) So glad you’re enjoying Lyle and Kate’s story. Thank you so much for stopping by.

Christine Wells
14 years ago

LOL Keira, what a great image!

Christine Wells
14 years ago

Just thought I’d pop back and say thanks for a lovely day, Riskies! I’ve had a lot of fun chatting–you have a great community here.

Elena Greene
14 years ago

Hi, Christine. Sorry I didn’t welcome you earlier, I was out most of the day yesterday. Thanks for the great interview. The Dangerous Duke sounds fascinating and I’m intrigued by that pic of the women boxers–sort of the Regency equivalent of the Ladies of the WWF, it seems…

robynl
14 years ago

Hi Christine and welcome.
LOL, has anyone else noticed that the 2 women don’t even have on boxing gloves; yikes, ouch!! Very interesting.

The book sounds very interesting as I do love a dangerous hero also.

Janet Mullany
14 years ago

Coming in extremely late, Christine, to say ‘hi’ and thanks for a great interview.

kimmyl
14 years ago

Sorry I’m late. Looks like everyone had a gret time. Great post.

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