Sally MacKenzie Gets Naked For The Last Time

Welcome back Sally MacKenzie, who is getting Naked for the last time, alas! Sally is taking over the whole blog today because I’m still swamped. The nice thing is, she’s giving away one signed copy of The Naked King to one lucky commenter chosen at random. Here’s Sally!


Hello, Riskies! It’s wonderful to be visiting again. Diane, who I believe is in a bit of deadline hell, invited me to talk about The Naked King, my next and (for now, at least) last Naked novel, as well as the Naked experience in general.

Maybe the first thing to know about the Naked Nobility series–seven books and two novellas–is that it didn’t arise from some grand plan. I sold the first book, The Naked Duke, somewhat by accident in a two book contract. I was over-the-moon excited, but now I had to write a second book. Ulp. It had probably taken me four years or so to write the Duke; my editor was expecting “Historical Romance #2” a bit more promptly than that. What the heck was I going to do?

I turned to the Duke in desperation–fortunately, the hero has two friends. One friend became The Naked Marquis and the other…well, fortunately again the Duke sold well. I got another two-book contract, and the second friend got his story, The Naked Earl. But…there was that fourth book to write, and now I’d run out of heroes. Never fear, the Marquis’s heroine had a sister. And the earl in The Naked Earl had a friend–who had five brothers and sisters! (I wasn’t going to get caught short again.)

Which brings us to The Naked King…are you still with me?

The Naked King is Stephen Parker-Roth. (Not Prinny–that would be horror rather than romance.) Stephen’s first mentioned in the fourth book, The Naked Gentleman. He’s one of that hero’s brothers. By the time I was writing the sixth book, The Naked Viscount–Stephen’s sister’s story–I knew Stephen would get the seventh–and last contracted–book. But what could I call it? “The Naked Gentleman #2” would never do, and I couldn’t just drop a title on Stephen’s head–Regency readers wouldn’t stand for that. Plus we (marketing included) wanted to end the series on a high (in all respects) note. So somehow Stephen had to be a king…

Aha–a nickname! I made the ton call Stephen the “King of Hearts.” He says it’s for his prowess with cards, but the ladies believe it’s for other skills ;).

When The Naked King opens, Stephen is slightly inebriated and in a mud puddle in Hyde Park, having been bowled over by the heroine’s dog. Why is he tipsy? He’s been trying to drown his sorrows. With his brother and sister both married and reproducing, he knows his mama will make him her next project. And, truth be told, he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life as merely “Uncle Stephen.”

Lady Anne Marston has been dragged to the park by Harry, her family’s large dog. She’s a spinster with a Secret who’s been dumped in London by her father and his wife to organize her half sister’s come out. She’s read about Stephen in her papa’s The Gentleman’s Magazine (Stephen is a plant hunter) and, yes, in the newspaper gossip columns, too. She’s half fallen in love with him, even though she knows she has no business harboring such dreams. But in a brief moment of insanity, she lets him kiss her…in broad daylight…on the front step of London’s premier gossip, Lady Dunlee (who will be familiar to Naked readers). Of course, a sham engagement ensues–with her sister making her come out, Anne can’t afford any scandals–but Anne knows she must find a way to end the betrothal when the Season ends. The serious mistake she made many years ago involving the Marquis of Brentwood is a mistake from which there is no recovery.

I enjoyed bringing Stephen and Anne together and watching them fall in love, and I had great fun with my secondary characters–Anne’s half sister and twin half brothers, her eccentric aunt, Stephen’s parents and younger brother. I even got the opportunity to look in on many of my other Naked people. It’s a fine line to walk, making a book stand alone for new readers while offering dedicated Naked fans a glimpse of past characters, but it’s a balancing act I find I like.

Now I’m starting a new series for Kensington, the “Duchess of Love” stories–a novella and three novels about a matchmaking mother and her sons. I’m going to miss the Nakeds. I’ve had fun with them, and readers seemed to enjoy suggesting new folks to get Naked. And as I start from scratch with a new set of characters, I’m realizing how much the next Naked novel was percolating in the back of my mind as I worked on the one before it. But I think it’s time for a new challenge.

And there are still a few other Parker-Roths…I might “get Naked” again some day.

Now here’s my question for the Risky readers: I discovered as I wrote the Naked books that some readers won’t start a series until they can get all the books at once. Are you one of those or do you just jump right in? What series have you really enjoyed? (And if you’re already a Naked reader, which Naked book–or Naked character–is your favorite?)

Comment for a chance to win a signed copy of The Naked King.

About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
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39 Responses to Sally MacKenzie Gets Naked For The Last Time

  1. Jessica says:

    I love reading series, but my only stipulation is that I read them in order. It helps if there are a few out so I can really immerse myself, but I can’t make myself wait for all the books to be out to read the entire series at once.

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  3. I am going to be chortling merrily all day at the thought of a Naked Prinny horror story… 😀

    Maybe that’s the next logical step on from the zombie Austen novels?

  4. Hi, everyone! I’ve just gotten up–I live in the same neck of the woods as Diane. It’s great to see people have stopped by already.

    Jessica, I’m glad you can’t wait for all the books to read a series! What will sometime happen is if the first books don’t sell well, a writer doesn’t get the chance to write all the books she may have planned. And what I found, too, is that my first book became very hard to get after a few years–ebooks have solved that problem, since now all my books are readily available…if you have an e reader (which I confess I don’t yet).

    Jo’s Daughter, that’s happened to me, where I’ll read one book in a continuing series and then go hunting for all of them…which does make it a tad annoying when there are ones I know are coming, but aren’t yet published. Sigh. As a reader, I want writers to write faster–as a writer, I’m on the slow side. I WISH I could write faster.

    Madame Guillotine, maybe you’ve hit on something–even though I shudder. Of course, I don’t really get the zombie thing. Perhaps I should read one.

    As to reading series in order, I sort of threw folks a curve ball. I wrote The Naked Baron 5th, but it actually “happens” around the same time as The Naked Duke-the earliest book. That was because the idea came to me as I wrote The Naked Gentleman.

  5. Joanna says:

    I like to read series in order. If I acquire a book and then find it is, for example second or third in a series, I will get the earlier books before starting to read. However, I cannot made myself wait until all titles in a series are published. One of my favourite series is the Liar’s Club by Celeste Bradley.

  6. Diane Gaston says:

    Good morning, Sally and everyone. Welcome back and thanks for blogging today.

    Now I’m going to go back to the manuscript……almost done!

  7. Ah, now I’m getting a reading list–which I can’t get to until I get my book done–Yay to you, Diane, for being so close to the end.

    Thanks for the recommendation, Joanna.

  8. gamistress66 says:

    I love series but feel no need to wait for all the books before starting (I’m not that patient), besides 😉 I often fall into a series without realizing it – often in the middle and then have to play catchup once hooked on it.

    Love the Naked series and while I’m sad it’s ending, I’m sure the next series will also be great and that I’ll enjoy it as much. Congrats 🙂

  9. Oh I absolutely want to read a series in order. I’ve got a little OCD thing going. If I start with the middle book of the series by an accident of purchase I am the sort of person who will suss out the others and start at the beginning.

    I’ve been reading your Naked series from the start and have loved every minute of it. My favorite, however, has to be The Naked Baron. David and Grace’s story is so much fun, so sweet and so terribly romantic in a quirky way. It is the one book I will pick up and read out of order just for fun of it.

    I can’t wait to get The Naked King and complete my set. I’ll be sad to see it end, but I do look forward to your next series.

  10. Gwynlyn says:

    My aunt is a collector. She gathers a whole series before opening book one and reads them one after the other.

    I, on the other hand, tend to pick up a book to discover it is book two or three (as in the case of the Naked series) of a series then must backtrack. By the end, the entire series resides on my shelves.

  11. Thanks so much, gamistress66 and Louisa! And, Louisa, it’s always fun to hear which Naked book people like best–there seems to be a range of opinion.

    Sometimes folks will ask me which book I like best, and I always say that’s like asking which of my children I like best. I love them all, but they’ve all driven me to distraction at some point! (Fourth son just graduated from college and is back home–we have a revolving door nest, and while I love to have them home, it’s always a surprising period of adjustment when move back–and then another wrench when they leave again.)

  12. Gayle Cochrane says:

    I prefer to read books in order, but recently have tried to just jump in with what I have in hand. You know the saying “A book in the hand is worth two on the shelf.”

  13. How does your aunt know she wants to read the series if she hasn’t read any of the books, Gwynlyn?

    I’m like you–I’ll find a book I like and then search out the rest of the series. This just happened to me with Marjorie Liu’s Dirk & Steele books–which, in googling just now to be sure I spelled it correctly, I discovered has its own web site. Oh, dear. I must resist!

    I actually don’t read much anymore, which is sad, but the problem is, if I get hooked in a book, I have to drop everything to read it–and so my own books don’t get written. This makes my editor unhappy and stressed me out.

  14. LOL, Gayle. Or is it now “100 on your Nook or Kindle”?

  15. If I read a book and enjoy it, then find out it’s part of a series then, I have to absolutely find the rest of the series and start from the beginning.

    Two of my most favorite series have been The Huxtables by Mary Balogh and The Hathaways by Lisa Kleypas. I really enjoyed both series a lot.

    I haven’t read any of your books yet so, this would be a great start for me.

    Thanks for this awesome opportunity you’re offering to all of us to be in with a chance to win your book.


  16. JackieW says:

    I think you should “get naked” with Anne’s twin half-brothers…since I’m a twin I always like to read what other people write about twins.I could give you some ideas on what to have the twins do in the story.

  17. JOYE says:

    Enjoyed reading about getting naked in your writing. I like how you covered your tracks with adding all the brothers and sisters etc. in case you had to write another book. This sounds like a series that I should read. Thanks for the info.

  18. Diane D, I’d love to turn you into a “Naked reader,” LOL! And JackieW, the twins are only 10 years old, so we’ll have to wait a while, but that is an interesting idea. I like twin stories!

  19. Thanks, JOYE. I may get back to those other Parker-Roth children some day. The younger brother, Nick, shows up in the King and is rather interested in Anne’s sister. And the oldest of the two younger girls would have made her come out, except that she singed her eyelashes off in an experiment gone awry.

  20. Hi Sally–

    Best of luck with your Nudist Colony. Hey! Next you could do the NAKED COLONISTS. The Puritans would love that! 🙂 Glad to see I’m not the only one who had to scramble when a sequel was requested. Thank God for characters’ friends and relatives. LOL.


  21. LOL, Sharon. I was always partial to The Naked Butler, actually. The heroine of The Naked Duke is an American–but not a Puritan!

  22. kfdesigns says:

    I’ve only read the naked duke. I must not have realized it was a series. Now I need read the others.

  23. Sheree says:

    It all depends. Many times, I start a series in the middle and I may not go back to read the earlier ones, depending on whether I’m interested in the characters in those books and what the over-reaching story arc is. What really matters to me is whether an individual book in a series ends in a cliffhanger. If so, then I’m not reading it until the next book is out.

  24. Ah, kfdesigns! (Sally chuckles evilly and rubs her hands.) Yes, now you must read them ALL!!

    Sheree, I think it would really annoy me to have a book end in a cliffhanger. A friend had me hooked on some Sherlock Holmes TV series, but it was apparently only a three episode pilot, because it ended in a cliffhanger and then nothing! I was very grumpy about that. I don’t think my series is like that–in fact the Naked books are probably more a collection of connected books than a series. I wouldn’t say they build on each other–you just get to visit some familiar faces. The connectedness, I hope, is more just fun for me and continuing readers–an added attraction, but not something necessary to the stories, if that makes sense.

  25. Jeanne M says:

    Sally –

    Absolutely not! When you release a book I want it NOW! Fortunately I got a Kindle for Christmas since they closed our local bookstore. Now I can get instant download the day it’s released or even pre-order and have it “magically” appear on my Kindle.

    I loved reading your story The Naked Prince in An Invitation to Sin (infact I’veo read loved all your Naked books) and can’t wait to read The Naked King!

  26. Thank you, Jeanne M! I hope you enjoy the King–you got a glimpse of some of the characters in the Prince.

  27. Jane says:

    I usually can’t wait for all the books to be released and so I just jump right in and start reading. I really love Stephanie Laurens’ Bastion Club series and Lisa Kleypas’ Bow Street books.

  28. I’m getting quite the reading list, here. Thanks, Jane.

  29. Cathy P says:

    Hi Sally! You are a new author for me, and your Naked series sounds delightful. I will have to get them to read. I love series books. Right now I am into Beverley Kendall’s and Nicole Jordan’s series. If I find a book in a series and read it, I have got to get the other books before and after it. As far as waiting for them all to come out to begin reading them, I don’t. I wait and savor each one as it is released.

  30. Sandra says:

    Just waiting for the last Book

  31. Oh, I hope you become a “Naked reader,” Cathy P. And Sandra– has already shipped some Kings, but the official release date is Tuesday–only 2 sleeps away!

  32. Barbara E. says:

    I am one of those people who like to read a whole series, but I don’t always wait until the last book before I get started.
    I like the way you came up with the title – using a nickname so the hero didn’t have to actually be a king. I’m looking forward to reading The Naked King, it sounds like a wonderful story.

  33. Thanks, Barbara E!

  34. Hi Sally, it’s always so great to have you visit! I think there are some series you MUST read in sequence–the Sookie Stackhouse series, for instance–but I like series where each book can stand alone.

    (What, no naked Emperor?)

  35. No Naked Emperor, Janet. When the Duke was coming out, I did have one of the swim team moms ask if I was writing a children’s book…uh, no.

    Thanks for having me Riskies! It was great fun. I’m off to bed now, but I’ll check back in the morning to see if anyone in a different time zone popped in whilst I was sleeping.

  36. Diane Gaston says:

    Sally, you are going to bed? And here I just sent Leo’s Story to the editor. Yay!!!!!!!!
    Thanks again for getting Naked with us.

  37. Dtchycat says:

    I love reading series, so when I got my ereader, I was able to buy the ‘naked’ series and fell in love with the whole concept. Then when the naked gentleman came out, I re-read them all…now, with the naked king, I will probably do the same thing!

  38. librarypat says:

    I am afraid I am one of those who prefer to have the whole series before I start reading it. I have been known to read one of a series without the others, but it is usually because I didn’t know it was part of a series. I just read Jennifer Blake’s MASTERS AT ARMS six book series.
    I think recurring characters and an overall story arc make the books a richer reading experience. If I have to wait too long between books, they aren’t as fresh.

  39. Dtchycat, I’m so glad you’re a Naked reader! I hope you enjoy the King.

    Librarypat, as a reader I can certainly understand wanting to read a series all at once. As I was writing The Naked Baron–which “goes back in time” in the series, I thought about how future readers could read the books in any order they wanted–that they wouldn’t haven’t have to wait (a year!) between books. Since the series wasn’t planned, I wonder if–and hope that–all the details are consistent.

    Diane, I am SO jealous. I am in the pit of despair with the book that’s due in August and thinking I may have to groveling for an extension. I’m going to see how much I can get done before RWA.

    Thanks again for having me visit! Off to some other blogs today.

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