Risky Regencies

Mary Blayney and Stranger’s Kiss

Today our guest author is my very good friend Mary Blayney, who also happens to be one of my favorite Regency authors! Out this month is the third book in Mary’s Penniston series, Stranger’s Kiss (already on my Kindle just waiting for me!). Mary is giving away one signed copy of Stranger’s Kiss to one lucky commenter.


Following the acclaimed Traitor’s Kiss and Lover’s Kiss, the new installment in the Pennistan saga is an emotionally charged story of revenge, loss, passion and redemption. Blayney plays readers like a virtuoso, allowing laughter, tears and every emotion in between to claim your heart–Kathe Robin, RT Book Reviews–4 1/2 Stars and a Top Pick

1. Tell us about Stranger’s Kiss.
This is my favorite part. Talking about a new book is like bragging about one of my kids.
Stranger’s Kiss is Lyn Pennistan’s story. He’s the third Duke of Meryon and (obviously) the oldest of the family that are at the heart of the series I am doing for Bantam.

The duke takes his responsibilities seriously, very seriously and really must learn to have fun. Elena Verano comes to England from Italy after the death of her husband. In the first chapter (after a prologue) Lyn and Elena meet, by accident, in a dark room at the first social event they attend since coming out of mourning. They connect in a meaningful way and not only because they share one almost-innocent kiss. Lyn is more honest than he ever is when among the ton. Elena thinks she has met a man of great sensibility. When they meet again, she finds him the complete opposite.

2. Stranger’s Kiss continues the Pennistan Saga. Tell us something about the plotting of this series. Did you know each story before you began? Do you need to read Traitor’s Kiss and Lover’s Kiss first?
The plotting of the series? Hmmm. I knew there were four boys and one girl in this generation of the Pennistan family. That was it for awhile. Then it all began to take shape.

I discovered that the duke, married in the first book, would be a widower by the end of the second book. I knew that the youngest, Gabriel, was in prison in France. His brother, David just returned from the dead having been missing for seven years and the third son, Jessup, was estranged from the family because of a gambling addiction. Olivia is a spoiled darling who, despite being overly indulged, is one of the most generous souls in England. The first book Traitor’s Kiss is Gabriel’s story and the second book, Lover’s Kiss is Olivia’s.

That was all I knew, but knowing the characters is what is key for me. Once they are in my head the story takes shape – not always the way I imagine. For example, I had an important secondary character in the first book that turned out to be the hero in the second book. I had no idea! And the woman in the second book who I thought was Jessup’s true love is not.

Each book stands alone, but the family as a whole are important secondary characters in succeeding novels. It adds depth and interest if you know the people I am writing about.

3. Did you run across any interesting research when writing this book?
I always find intriguing details when I am researching. I read the details of the arguments
In Parliament in 1818. I learned all about private bills in Parliament to remove land from an entail and to replace it with another parcel, all while looking for a revenge element that would fit into the story. Most of these proved much too esoteric.

I learned the dueling itself was not against the law but killing someone was. That was a very helpful tidbit. I had great fun researching the architecture for the house that the duke kept for his mistress. I copied an actual French pavilion and then made up the inside. I love observing (or designing) how interior space is used and would move into this charming cottage in an instant.

4. What’s risky about Stranger’s Kiss?
Writing about a duke’s life. As I say in my author’s note, a duke was a cross between a US Senator and a big name Hollywood star. I wanted to show that his life is filled with responsibility up to and including who he marries and how much time he spends in London. I hope I convinced readers that a duke’s life is not easy (and not always happy) despite all the privilege.

5. You write very entertaining secondary characters. Where do they come from?
Most of my secondary characters just will not shut up. And as a writer I get to experiment with these intruders. In Stranger’s Kiss, Viscount William Bendasbrook who first showed up in Lover’s Kiss reappears and is even more central to the story than his brief appearance in Book Two. The boy, Alan Wilson is another secondary character that I have not seen the last of. (BTW, I used my neighbors name and now have a new fan)

6. I happen to know that you’ve stayed in Nora Roberts’ Inn in Boonsboro. What’s it like?
Inn Boonsboro is the best. In case Risky fans do not know, Nora Roberts fulfilled a dream
when she was able to buy the oldest building (a hotel) in Boonsboro, MD and restored it
to its former glory. It opened last February as a Bed and Breakfast. Each room is named for a couple who lived happily ever after, including JD Robb’s Eve and Roarke from the In Death series.

My goal is to stay in all eight rooms. I’ve stayed in five so far. Suzanne
is a great innkeeper. The kind who makes a note when you ask for something
(in my case herbal tea) and then has it for you the next time you come. One of my
favorite moments was when I stayed in Eve and Roarke and found a grey button on the dresser. I thought someone left it behind. Then I remembered the button from Eve’s “awful” suit that Roarke carries with him all the time. Nora did a fabulous job on the place and is obviously very into detail!

7. What’s next for you?
I am six weeks away from THE END for the next Pennistan novel, Courtesan’s Kiss which introduces readers to David Pennistan. He is full of mystery and remorse and needs to find an outlet for the passion he keeps under such tight control.

But before Courtesan’s Kiss comes out, hopefully at the end of June 2010, my next novella in the anthology The Lost will be published – end of November 2009. With Nora writing as JD Robb, the books will be everywhere and I hope you all have a chance to read “Lost in Paradise.” It’s my version of Beauty and Beast, a modern day fairy tale about a man cursed to live on a Caribbean Island for 200 years–until a nurse with a generous spirit arrives and changes everything. It’s less than one hundred pages so you can fit it in between shopping and gift wrapping and decorating for the holidays.

Thanks to the Riskies for giving me a chance to chat – I’ll be around all day and check back often.

Comment for a chance to win a copy of Stranger’s Kiss. Ask Mary whatever you like!

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13 years ago

Thank you for having Mary Blayney on your site & thank you Mary for the great interview.
All the best,

Caroline Storer
13 years ago

Great blog Risky’s and Mary. How interesting that Nora Roberts was able to fulfill her dream about opening a B&B – it looks a great place to visit. Take care. Caroline x

13 years ago

Congratulations Mary on your new book. Do you have a set number of books in the series or is it open ended?

Mary Blayney
13 years ago

Thanks, RK. Caroline, one of the amazing things about Nora is the way she makes her dreams come true. Something we can all take to heart.

Maureen, the series was originally set at five book, one for each sibling. And I am running up against the end of the Regency period. I’ll be at 1820 for Jess’s story and that is the year George III died, which was the political end of the Regency. So I am not sure where I go next. Of course it all depends on Bantam’s interest…..

13 years ago

Who is your favorite author to read and your favorite title by the author?

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

Good morning, Mary!!! Welcome back to the Risky Regencies. I’m delighted to have you back again and I CAN’T WAIT to read Stranger’s Kiss.

13 years ago

I always love a duke’s story and this is a great one. What made you decide to put it in the middle of the series instead of as the last book?

Mary Blayney
13 years ago

Hey, annonymous, does it have to be just one? Besides everyone on this blog my current favorite author is Joanna Bourne. Also love the erotic/intellectual novels by this year’s other historical RITA winner Pam Rosenthal.

Books I have read more than once. Lots of the JD Robb In Death series and Lois McMaster Bujold who writes the best character driven science fiction I have ever read .. for a great romance try CORDELIA’S HONOR.

Hi Lavinia, I did the duke’s story in the middle because I think it builds up too much pressure on the writer to save it for the end. I also did it just to be different.

Thanks Diane. We do have a mutual admiration society, don’t we?

Janet Mullany
13 years ago

Hi Mary, great to have you visit again!

13 years ago

Now this sounds like another series I’ll have to pick up!

Louisa Cornell
13 years ago

Hello, Mary, my afternoon tea companion! You know I am a huge fan of this series and can’t wait to read Stranger’s Kiss. I find this particular duke fascinating and I am so glad you didn’t wait until the end of the series to tell his story. Of course the entire family is just rife with romance fodder!

How neat that you have stayed in Nora Roberts B&B! It sounds absolutely lovely.

I love your description of a duke – part US Senator and part Hollywood celebrity – perfect description. I found Turner’s Amazing Grace – The Great Days of the Dukes to be an interesting source and take on what it meant to be a duke.

What are your favorite Regency research sources and do you ever find yourself obsessed with researching something once you get started?

Mary Blayney
13 years ago

Hi Louisa — always great to run into you — online or in person!

I’ve not read turner’s book and have made a note to find it. Thanks.

Architectural research is my favorite and I spend way too many hours thinking and researching the houses where my characters live. I have many more books than I need on the subject.

I can also get very engrossed in what type of art my characters have on their wall. Canaletto was the biggie for STRANGER’S KISS (and the novella in the anthology DEAD OF NIGHT)

The second Duke of Pennistan had a bust done by Houdon — one of my favorite sculptors ever — which gave the hero of LOVERS KISS a idea of just how powerful a man Olivia’s father was. That is as much a tribute to Houdon’s artistry as it is to the second duke.

See…I can just go on and on about my favorites.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse)

Hi Mary! Hi Diane! So great to see you guesting here Mary. How exciting to have already managed five of the eight rooms at Inn at Boonsboro! I’m hoping to take a “Retreat” weekend there at some point with my husband. :> Great place to do it if there ever was one, right?

I love your descriptions of how your characters came to be and that some of your secondaries are people who “just wouldn’t shut up.” Ha!

*Waving at the Riskies* Great post, ladies!

cheryl c
13 years ago

Congrats on the new release, Mary! I can’t wait to read it. I loved Traitor’s Kiss and Lover’s Kiss. I hope that you are able to write all the stories to finish the series.

Mary Blayney
13 years ago

Waving back at you, Jeanne. IBB is just the place for a weekend retreat. If you like spaghetti the restaurant next door (Palettie?) has some of the best I have ever eaten and Vesta has pizza that is the best.
So go hungry!

Cheryl, thanks for the kind words about TK/LK. I am lucky to have a contract with Bantam that will take me through the end of the Pennistan Saga. It’s up to book buyers (aka sales) to see if Bantam will continue giving me contracts so I can start all over.

13 years ago

Stranger’s Kiss sounds like a book I’d like to read!

13 years ago

Hi Mary, congrats on your new release. I love your books. Do you spend a lot of time on reseach for your books?

Linda Banche
13 years ago

I love your Penniston books, Mary. Keep ’em coming.

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

Waving back to Jeanne!!!!!

Mary Blayney
13 years ago

Thanks Virginia — I do a lot of research but will create elements to fit the story so always be sure to read my author’s note to separate fact from fiction. For example, in STRANGER’S KISS all the musicians (except Beethoven)are fictitious.

Linda, glad you like the Pennistans. Personally I think both the duke and David would intimidate me if I had met them in the Regency. But Gabriel and Jess would be so much fun…

13 years ago

hi and welcome Mary; congrats on the new book.

I love series so hopefully you can keep on writing them.

13 years ago

Wonderful blog today, thanks for being here Mary, I’m looking forward to your new book
luvhistoricalromance at gmail dot com

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