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Miranda Neville and The Wild Marquis

The Riskies welcome back Miranda Neville who is bringing with her The Wild Marquis, her second Regency Historical from Avon. The Wild Marquis is the first book in her Burgundy Club Series. Remember when Miranda brought us the Regency culinary world in href=”http://www.mirandaneville.com/books.php”>Never Resist Temptation? Wait until you see what she has in store for us this time!

Neville brings on the sizzle along with an intriguing and unique Regency backdrop — a nobleman’s “addiction” to rare book collecting — in the well-crafted start to the Burgundy series.–RT Book Reviews

Mirana will give away a signed copy of The Wild Marquis to one lucky commenter chosen at random.

Welcome back, Miranda! Tell us about The Wild Marquis.

The Marquis of Chase (known as Cain) is, I think, a delectable hero. He’s a rake with a dark past, but also a lot of fun. He never feels sorry for himself and he loves women, not just as lovers but also as friends. When he finally falls in love, as he does with Juliana, a short and rather grumpy tradeswoman who is mainly interested in her struggling rare book business, he falls hard.
I’ll admit that “rake” is short hand for a hot Regency guy who has had a lot of girlfriends. I’d find it hard to rehabilitate a hardened womanizer, not to mention the hovering threat of venereal disease. Cain isn’t like that and the catalyst for the story is his desire to restore his reputation by buying back a rare medieval manuscript sold by his father. It turns out that Juliana, whose husband was murdered, is in danger. The secrets of both characters’ pasts are entangled in the intrigues of a pair of rival bibliophiles.

The Wild Marquis is your second book, and second books pose their own unique anxieties and challenges. Did you experience “Second Book Syndrome?” What were the unique challenges of writing a second book?
I find this question extremely frightening. I thought “Second Book Syndrome” was when your sophomore effort sucks, disappears in the bookstore, and your career dies on the vine. I am burning logloads of incense to the Bookscan Gods to avert this fate.
Perhaps I’ll avoid it because The Wild Marquis isn’t my second book. Avon refused to buy the sequel to Never Resist Temptation on the grounds that it was about opera and wouldn’t sell. I actually found The Wild Marquis relatively easy to write and the next one, which I just finished, easier still. No, what am I saying? It’s never easy. But with each book I gain confidence in my ability to recognize what works and what doesn’t. Grinding out 90,000 words is as hard as ever and I’m not sure how it ever happens. As the theater manager says in Shakespeare in Love, “it’s a mystery.”

In Never Resist Temptation you brought us a heroine who is an accomplished chef, showing us a glimpse of the Regency’s culinary world and sharing some of your research on Prinny’s chef Carême. What fascinating research did you find in writing The Wild Marquis?
Continuing the theme of heroines with jobs, Juliana owns a rare book shop. The background to the story is the sale of a huge book collection at Sotheby’s. I based it on the sale of the Duke of Roxburghe’s library, the most famous book auction of the nineteenth century. Having worked in Sotheby’s rare books department for several years. I had a good grounding in the basics, but I researched the Regency era book trade. Collecting tastes change over time and I had to make sure the things my characters collected were period appropriate.
A quarto edition of Romeo and Juliet plays an important part in the plot. Had my book been set a hundred years earlier I couldn’t have done that, because it wasn’t fashionable to collect Shakespeare. For my own convenience I have my heroine talk about “good” and “bad” Shakespeare quartos, a distinction that wasn’t made until the early twentieth century. I reasoned (?rationalized) that she could have been brilliantly ahead of her time in judging the bard’s texts.

What is risky about The Wild Marquis?
I’d have to say the setting. I’m crossing my fingers that readers don’t find the whole notion of rare book collecting hopelessly dry and geeky.

What is next for you?
At the end of The Wild Marquis, a group of young men form The Burgundy Club, a society of bibliophiles. The president of the club is Sebastian Iverley, a bespectacled misogynist. When he vetoes the admission of women Juliana, my heroine, swears revenge. In The Dangerous Viscount, coming in October, she gets to see Sebastian fall in love and have a very hard time of it. Avon recently accepted my proposal for two further books in the same series.

In historical romance we see more heroines with jobs these days. I’ve written a pastry cook and now a bookseller. The heroines of my next two books are more conventional: a well born lady of leisure and a governess, respectively. As writers and/or readers do you prefer more independent women, or are you happy to stick with tradition? One commenter will win a signed copy of The Wild Marquis.

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Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Sorry, Miranda and everyone, for posting this so late. I had it set up to go, but when I checked this morning, the html tags were awry and it took me a bit to fix them!

And then it is daylight savings time so I’m even an hour later than I would have been!

Miranda Neville
12 years ago

Thanks for inviting me, Diane. And may I say to all the Riskies that I’m excited about the Venetia read along. I intend to dig out my copy and chime in. What a great idea.

jcp
jcp
12 years ago

I prefer women who are not independent-more believe in most time periods.

Mary
12 years ago

For me it’s the story – as long as that’s good, the author can do no wrong. I’m adding Miranda Neville’s books to my tbr list.

Miranda Neville
12 years ago

jcp: I’m afraid you are correct about dependent women being historically accurate. At the same time, some women – especially those who didn’t come from the upper classes – were forced to support themselves. And there are numerous real life examples of women in occupations throughout history. You just have to dig around a little and accept that they weren’t the norm.

Miranda Neville
12 years ago

Mary: thank you! Hope you enjoy them.

Judy
12 years ago

This sounds like fun, and the fact that you’re well acquainted with the material promises little details that will make the story more real. Your description of both the hero and the heroine have me incredibly curious. I’m adding it to my wish list and looking forward to reading it.

Louisa Cornell
12 years ago

Hello, Miranda ! I am REALLY looking forward to The Wild Marquis. I DO love your heroines with jobs outside the norm for the Regency. While I enjoy the ladies of leisure and the governesses and companions as well, a little variety is always welcome and I love romances where I learn something new about the Regency era.

Being a bit of a bibliophile myself (my brothers are taking bets on when the floors of my house will cave in from the weight of my books) I have always loved characters with a genuine love for books. I find it to be a very telling aspect of their character.

Now Julianna’s revenge sounds TOO PERFECT! What fun !

Have you ever had an editor or agent say the an unusual heroine idea just won’t fly? Are their some professions or hobbies or interests that a woman of Regency England might have that you think a reader just wouldn’t believe or perhaps even wouldn’t want to read about?

Miranda Neville
12 years ago

Thanks, Judy. I had fun with the rare book and auction parts of The Wild Marquis

Miranda Neville
12 years ago

Hi Louisa. The book that didn’t sell was the one with the opera singer heroine (which you were kind enough to help me with). I was told theater and opera settings didn’t fly. Too bad, because I loved that book.

Apart from that, I think an abortionist would be a hard sell, LOL. I think one could make most things work, as long as you can make them convincing for the period.

Katie
Katie
12 years ago

Hello Miranda! I absolutely loved Never Resist Temptation and I can’t wait to read The Wild Marquis. I love that you have the heroine the onwer of a bookshop and a book seller. And I thought it was fabulous that in Never Resist Temptation, Jacobin was a chef. I wanted to ask, how did you come to choose shef and book-seller as occupations for your heroines? I LOVE the deviation from the “traditional” occupations that women usually have in books and I would like to know why you decided to go that route. Thank you!

Miranda Neville
12 years ago

Katie. I started out writing much more traditional Regency plots but felt I needed to do something different to sell. The cook idea came from reading about Antonin Careme and his time as chef for the Prince Regent. The plot of Never Resist Temptation is not, perhaps, very realistic (girl on run gets job in royal kitchen disguised as boy) but the scenes in the Brighton Pavilion are as accurate as I could make them. I am delighted that you enjoyed the book.

With my background the bookseller idea came naturally. I never came across a woman rare bookseller in Regency London, which is not to say none existed. It’s certainly feasible that a widow would continue to run her husband’s business. Curiously, I did find a mention of a black bookseller. Without knowing much about him, I gave him a cameo appearance in my next book.

Daphne
12 years ago

Interesting plot outline! This will have to go on my expanding wishlist. I agree with jcp that the working-for-pay woman wasn’t a “norm” or acceptable choice–at least among the upper class. But, the vast majority of women worked in some way and some of these women worked in non-traditional arenas. What fun to explore that. I remember once reading a story (short or poss novella) set in regency era about a woman working for her mother–a sought-after modiste– who meets a young man selling hot chocolate and pastries at an icefair. They fall for each other but the tension in the story is that she feels he is not acceptable to her social status (counter-boy vs daughter of well-off, respected modiste). Things work out in the end but I really loved the unusual take with the occupations, the glimpse into other lives, and the role reversal there. While the historical woman and societal expectation was to see her under a man’s protection/dominion (biblical etc), it is entertaining to read about how someone might not have fit that role.

Daphne
12 years ago

This comment has been removed by the author.

Louisa Cornell
12 years ago

Wow, I hope they give the opera singer book a second look as I really loved it!

And yes, I would have to agree that an abortionist would definitely not fly.

I’m still trying to understand why an opera singer wouldn’t sell as they were, more often than not, mistresses of wealthy men. Who knew?

Miranda Neville
12 years ago

The story you describe sounds fascinating, Daphne. Always refreshing to read one that doesn’t involve a member of the upper classes.

Because women took their status from their husbands, it was harder for a woman to “marry down,” regardless of the social level. offhand I can’t think of one, though I know it’s been done. I also recall heroines whose mothers have married beneath them, often unhappily. (It’s a convenient plot device because you get an economically disadvantaged heroine with good social connections)

Miranda Neville
12 years ago

Thanks, Louisa. You wouldn’t have any prejudice in favor of an opera singer heroine, would you?

Diane wrote a wonderful book with a singer as a heroine. Not fair!

Louisa Cornell
12 years ago

Moi? Prejudice? Never! LOL! Yes, Diane wrote a fabulous book about a singer!

Anyone who thinks opera singers can’t be wild romantics and have fun just haven’t been talking to the right opera singers!

Alison
12 years ago

How could I not love a book about book-collecting! And the earlier chef title sounds equally fascinating – I definitely like the idea of a stronger career background.

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Miranda, my Innocence and Impropriety was a romance between a Vauxhall singer who aspired to sing opera and a Marquess’s secretary (male, of course). I love to write the unusual heroes and heroines. I hope Avon takes a chance on your opera singer book.

We must be content with book collectors!!! Which I think will be marvelous.

Miranda Neville
12 years ago

Thanks Alison.

“a Marquess’s secretary (male, of course)” : if not that *would* be a departure for you, Diane.

Virginia
12 years ago

I like a little of both! I want to believe the story so it all depends on the time period. I do like the women to at least have some independents! Your book sounds fab and I can’t wait to read it!

lead[at]hotsheet[dot]com

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

“a Marquess’s secretary (male, of course)” : if not that *would* be a departure for you, Diane.

Hahahahahaha!
I’m sure there’s a publisher for that story. Not Avon or Harlequin Historical, though.

Jane Austen
12 years ago

As a librarian and a woman who just inherited a bunch of 19th century books I’m really interested in this book. I did not work in the rare book department of Sotheby’s (what training do you have for that?) I did a research project in library school on rare book theft from libraries. Very interesting.

Miranda Neville
12 years ago

Jane, I didn’t really have any training. I learned on the job from my colleagues. Columbia has a rare book librarian course. There may be others – you might know better than I. Theft is certainly a problem for rare book libraries. It spoils a book to have indelible library stamps in it.

Janet Mullany
12 years ago

Hi Miranda, great to have you here again. I spotted your book in Borders today! I must admit that an opera setting makes me go all weak at the knees. Bring it on!

I hope the book does brilliantly for you.

Amanda McCabe
12 years ago

Welcome back to the Riskies, Miranda! I can’t wait to read about your bookseller heroine, it sounds very intriguing. I’m very sad to hear we won’t be able to read your opera story, though (and that theater stories “don’t sell”). I love a theater setting more than any other. 🙂

Miranda Neville
12 years ago

It’s great to be here, Janey and Amada. I haven’t given up on my opera book – I’ll resurrect it one day. And meantime I’ll happily read such stories by others.

Miranda Neville
12 years ago

BTW Janet. Glad to hear my book was in Borders. I have neurotic fears that there are unopened boxes of it in warehouses and none in the stores

Mary Anne Landers
12 years ago

Thank you for your post, Miranda.

Historical romances with opera/theater backgrounds don’t sell? What are those editors talking about? They were fascinating milieus, full of colorful figures with plenty of plot possibilities.

I for one would love to read such stories. Yes, that includes yours. Maybe someday someone will publish it.

Y’know, all this talk about the rare book business got me to thinking. Back where printed material was the primary repository for information, when the Information Highway was barely a dirt road, someone with a store full of hard-to-find books would have been sitting on a wealth of information that would be difficult if not impossible to access elsewhere. That would make your fictional heroine Juliana Merton and her stock of books sort of like the early-nineteenth-century equivalent of Google. Just a thought . . . .

Which kind of historical-romance heroine do I prefer: the one who fits well into the role society provides her, or the one who pushes the envelope? (Or should I say chafes at the bit? More period-appropriate, maybe.) Actually, I don’t prefer one to the other. Which one works best depends on the overall book.

My idea of an effective romance heroine in any branch of the genre, one I can readily identify with and otherwise relate to, requires that she have something of interest going on in her life. That can happen, or fail to happen, with either kind of heroine.

Good luck with your new release. Keep up the good work!

Miranda Neville
12 years ago

Interesting idea, Mary Anne. Although in my book I’ve concentrated on the collecting side of the rare/used book business, there was a much less sharp divide between new and “old” books and the shops that sold them than there is today. Fewer books were published so a non-fiction work might well be the only one available on a certain subject. A buyer might want to buy a hundred-year-old book for its content not its age and rarity.

Books were also comparatively expensive well into the 19th century. I remember going to a lecture on Ferdinand and Isabella’s library which was thought to be enormous at some 500 volumes (many of them manuscripts of course). Even by the Regency Roxburghe’s library, at about 10,000 titles, was very large. Now it isn’t inconceivable for a person of average means to own that many books. With the ebook revolution – and all those lovely old books downloadable from Google – ordinary people will have gigantic libraries.

robynl
12 years ago

I enjoy both- dependent and independent. Whatever suits the story is fine. I’ve been on both sides myself so both are fine.

I believe the woman shouldn’t have to shoulder all the responsibility of making money though if she is married.

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