Risky Regencies

Guest Christina Brooks

M.O.M knows best … sometimes. We’re thrilled to welcome to the Riskies debut author Christina Brooks with her new release HEIRESS IN LOVE, and she’s offering a signed copy to one lucky commenter!

Christina, welcome and tell us about your book.

Hi Riskies! Hi Janet! Thanks so much for having me with you today. The blurb says it so well:

When the Ministry of Marriage arranges a match, all that matters is power, wealth and prestige. In the business of marriage, there is no room for love. But even the most prudent plans can go awry…

A Convenient Marriage

Jane, Lady Roxdale, has endured one marriage of convenience decreed by the Ministry of Marriage. While she deeply regrets her late husband’s death, she is relieved to be free at last. But when a dissolute rake threatens everything Jane holds dear, she must contemplate marrying a second time…

An Inconvenient Passion

Disgraced libertine Constantine Black inherits his cousin Roxdale’s land and title–while Roxdale’s prim widow is left all the wealth. Constantine is not a marrying man, but wedding Jane is the only way to save the estate from ruin. Jane resists the smoldering heat between them, desperate not to fall in love with an unrepentant rake. But for the first time ever, Constantine wants more than seduction. He wants all of her–body, heart, and soul…

How many books are in the series and who’s up next?

At the moment, I’m contracted to write three books in the Ministry of Marriage series for the Westruther cousins. HEIRESS IN LOVE (Jane’s story, 28 June 2011), MAD ABOUT THE EARL (Rosamund’s story, 3 January 2012) and A DUCHESS TO REMEMBER (Cecily’s story, July 2012). I hope the series goes on for another three books so I can write the Westruther men’s stories, too.

As you know we’re research geeks here, so please share any interesting research that came your way when you were writing the book.

I researched quite a bit about the Cotswold woollen mills, which were surprisingly handsome buildings, and a lot about the region’s sheep which didn’t make it into the book. I’m sure readers will be relieved to hear that! It’s amazing how serendipity plays a part in the writing of novels. It rained non-stop where I live while I was writing this book and the rain found its way into the book itself. I wanted a local disaster to occur and in the course of my research I discovered an interesting tidbit. Often, a number of mills were built along the one stream and some unscrupulous mill owners would dam the stream on their property to stop the water flowing to other mills downstream, thereby putting those other mills out of business. This dovetailed nicely with the incessant rain that was already a theme in the book and the resulting flood is a huge turning point for my hero. I suppose that’s a spoiler but not a fatal one, I hope!

What do you love about the Regency period?

I love the clash between romantic idealism and the importance of making a good match–that’s what Pride and Prejudice is all about, after all. By contrast to modern times, where we all seem to air our every thought and whim on a daily basis through Twitter and Facebook, there is a lot of constraint placed on lovers in the Regency era. I love the intensity of romantic conflict that seems to go hand in hand with that constraint. I also enjoy finding a way for my heroine to be an independent thinker with a sure sense of self-worth without the crutch of a career to fall back on. It forces me to think hard about what it is that makes my heroine–or any woman–fulfilled.

I also admire what you might call ‘Regency style’ — the fashion, the interiors, the classical elegance of the era. And I love the dry wit and banter that seems to fit so well into Regency historicals.

What don‘t you love about the Regency period?

Finding an appropriately foul swear word for dire occasions that is also true to the era is terribly difficult! “Damn” sounds quite tame to the modern reader. I also have an ambivalent relationship with the rigid class structure of the period. Of course, the fantasy of having wealth and servants at one’s command is part of the lure of the Regency historical but sometimes I find the enormity of that disparity uncomfortable. I think perhaps as a result of that, my books focus on the romantic relationship against the backdrop of family, not against the backdrop of wider social concerns. I feel that any ‘solution’ I presented to those social problems would seem trite. And you do need resolution in romance novels, I think, or at least, in the kind of romance novel I write.

What writers have influenced you?

When I was ten or so, I saw the play version of Pride and Prejudice and fell instantly in love with both Austen’s writing and the era. My mother introduced me to the Brontes and Georgette Heyer. Thackeray’s Vanity Fair is a favorite, and Fielding’s Tom Jones, too. I think Susan Elizabeth Phillips writes magnificent heroes and wonderfully satisfying romance. I learn more from her every time I read her books.

What book are you currently reading?

I always have more than one book on the go. At the moment, I’m reading Tess Gerritsen’s STOLEN, Julie Ann Long’s I KISSED AN EARL, Elizabeth Peters’ RIVER IN THE SKY (on audio book) and Donald Maass’s WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL (which I’ve read several times).

What’s your ideal research trip?

Oh, where to start!? My current WIP is set in London, so I think I’d probably begin there. There is an excellent book called something like Georgette Heyer’s Regency London. I’d love to visit every place in that book! I’d probably go up to Scotland, too, as I’ve never been there and my grandmother was half Scot by blood but wholly Scottish in her heart *G*.

Whose portraits did you use for the Westruthers section on your Ministry of Marriage page?

I had to quickly chase these details down again so I hope I have them right! The Duke of Montford is actually William Wilberforce, by Thomas Lawrence. Lady Jane Westruther is the Duchess of Berry (Lawrence), Lady Rosamund Westruther is Jane Digby. I’m not as happy with the men’s portraits. It’s not easy to get men as devastatingly handsome as I imagined my Westruther men! But the Earl of Beckenham and Viscount Lydgate are unknown miniatures I found on the internet (I think) and the Marquis of Steyne is David Lyon by Lawrence. I can’t seem to track down Lady Cecily’s name, just that it is a portrait of a ‘young girl’ again, by Lawrence. That one is my favourite — the young girl’s personality leaps off the page.

Thank you for having me on Risky Regencies today! I would love to ask your readers a question:

If you were a heroine in one of my novels and your marriage was being arranged, what’s the one quality in your husband that is not negotiable? One lucky reader will win a signed copy of HEIRESS IN LOVE!

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oneredboot
11 years ago

Christina, I appreciate your thoughtful discussion of how you respond to economic disparities in the period. The family vs. social backdrop is an interesting mechanism for avoiding modern-sensibility “solutions.” I’m interested to see how you work these ideas in the novel!

As for the non-negotiable: a beard! Unusual for the period, right? Anyone know why?

jcp
jcp
11 years ago

He must be kind.

Kat
Kat
11 years ago

That he know what is truly important in life, and live accordingly.

Barbara E.
11 years ago

It’s hard to say just one quality, because I’d want to specify exactly what I wanted, LOL. But I’d choose a sense of humor. I think you can get through anything if you can laugh with someone about it.

Louisa Cornell
11 years ago

Christina, I really love the premise of this series as it hits on the very real situation in many marriages in the Regency. I can’t wait to read your book.

Hmm. Non-negotiable? Must love animals and children (NOT in the biblical sense!) I can tolerate much in a man who treats children and animals as the marvelous, innocent, helpless creatures they are.

Judy
11 years ago

Great interview! I haven’t read any of Christina’s books, but after reading this, Christina is on my TBR list.

Absolutely non-negotiable: Honorable. Perhaps that’s an understood, but for me it caries a wealth of meaning.

Kirsten
11 years ago

He needs to treat me with respect or how else could I ever (learn to) respect him.

Cathy P
11 years ago

Hi Christina! Did the Ministry of Marriage actual exist? I had never heard of it before, but that doesn’t mean anything. Lol!

There are a lot of non negotiable things I am thinking, and it is hard to pick just one. I guess he would have to be loving honorably towards me and any children we would have.

Jane
11 years ago

Congrats on the new series, Christina. I would want honesty from my husband.

CrystalGB
11 years ago

He would have to be kind and nonviolent. Your series sounds good.

Christine Wells
11 years ago

This comment has been removed by the author.

Christina Brooke
11 years ago

Hi Riskies! I am so terribly sorry to be late to the party. I had a sick child on my hands but now I’m here and we can have fun!

Oneredboot, thank you! I do think that Regency historical romance exists in a world suspended between reality and fantasy. I think the social issues are so great, it would be difficult to do them justice while also writing a satisfying romance. I have seen it done, notably in Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm, which dealt with the treatment of the ‘insane’. But it’s difficult!

Oh, a beard!! I never expected that. I think it was just the fashion–the influence of classical statuary where the Greek gods and heroes were clean-shaven. *G* Perhaps a pair of military whiskers?

Christina Brooke
11 years ago

Hi jcp–I think kindness would be my choice, too!

Christina Brooke
11 years ago

Kat, I like that one–it encompasses a lot.

Christina Brooke
11 years ago

Now, Barbara I think I might have to change my mind because a sense of humor is invaluable, isn’t it? And you sort of think someone with a sense of humor carries all sorts of good things with that.

I think among us all we’re building the perfect man!

Christina Brooke
11 years ago

Louisa, thank you! I do hope you enjoy HEIRESS IN LOVE.

A man who loves animals can’t be bad (laughed about not in the Biblical sense!) That’s so true.

Christina Brooke
11 years ago

Judy, again, a smart woman who is choosing a word that encompasses many things. I can’t write a hero who isn’t honorable at the core. That is essential for me, too.

Thank you, I hope you enjoy HEIRESS IN LOVE.

Just as an aside, there’s a fabulous pack of new release historicals up for grabs on my website. I am ordering double because these are all books I’m dying to read, too!

Christina Brooke
11 years ago

Kirsten, you’re so right–respect is essential. In fact the heroine of my second book, MAD ABOUT THE EARL is on a mission to make her recalcitrant beast of a betrothed respect her before they tie the knot. I had fun with that one, so I hope you like it.

Christina Brooke
11 years ago

Cathy, I like the way you’ve expressed your essential quality. Thank you for commenting!

No, the Ministry of Marriage didn’t exist, as far as I’m aware!

Christina Brooke
11 years ago

Hi Jane! Thank you for the congrats. Honesty–that’s interesting. I have to think about that. Not sure I could live without some little white lies (Does my bottom look big in this? Heck, yes, honey. Elephant city!) But in the big things, definitely, I’d want honesty.

Christina Brooke
11 years ago

Hi CrystalGB! Thank you! Oh, definitely nonviolent. Kindness — yes, I like that one, too.

Christine Shaffer
Christine Shaffer
11 years ago

Kindness towards me, killer abs would be nice and taking his time with me on our honeymoon, after all I am pure. : )

Chrissy6341
chrissy6341 at aol. com

sheila
11 years ago

Kindness was my thought before I looked at everone else’s too.

Christina Brooke
11 years ago

LOL, Christine! I love it!

Christina Brooke
11 years ago

That’s OK, Sheila. You can have kindness too! Thanks for commenting.

Governess4Hire
11 years ago

I would have to say sense of humor. If a guy doesn’t have that, the marriage could be pretty boring. 🙂

lindsey hutchison
11 years ago

congrats huns on the new series and awesome interview.

i would have to say honor. cause honor can be many things. even though im sure i have a list of at least 5 honor is on top

Christina Brooke
11 years ago

Governess4Hire, I agree! A husband without a sense of humor would be pretty dire. Mine certainly needs one, to put up with my craziness!!

Christina Brooke
11 years ago

Hey, Lindsey, great to see you here! Thank you for the congrats.

Smart answer! Honor would be in my top five, too.

krazymama_98
11 years ago

Faithfulness.

Anna Campbell
11 years ago

Hi Christina! Hi Riskies! Wow, you meet the most exclusive company here, don’t you? What a classy joint!

I’ve actually read HEIRESS IN LOVE in manuscript and it’s fantastic. You’ll all love it. Specifically you’ll all love Constantine! I was quite jealous of Jane! He’s delicious. Do I sound like I’m gloating? Well, I guess could say I AM!!!!

Oh, any man who married me would have to have a well developed sense of humor! For all sorts of reasons!

Christina Brooke
11 years ago

Hi Krazymama, that’s a very good one–especially in the Regency era!

Christina Brooke
11 years ago

Haha, Anna! Any man who married you would have to hold his own in the pun wars!

Thank you so much for dropping in today and most particularly for those lovely words about HEIRESS IN LOVE. You helped me enormously by critiquing that book. I have to say, I was pretty jealous of Jane, too! I’m still a little in love with Constantine myself.

Diane D - Florida
11 years ago

Hi Christina. Thanks for an awesome interview.

The one quality that I would be absolutely non-negotiable about is that my husband would have to be there to defend me whenever the need arose.

There’s a lot more qualities that I would like but, as we’re only limited to one, then that is the one above all else that I would choose.

dpd333 at aol dot com

Christina Brooke
11 years ago

Hi Diane! Thank you so much for dropping by today. Glad you liked the interview.

I love protectiveness in a man! I can see why you would choose that one. This has been such an interesting exercise. Hardly anyone has chosen then same quality. And no one has said killer abs:)

KT Wagner
11 years ago

He must be compassionate because it encompasses so many positive qualities.

Christina Brooke
11 years ago

Hi KT! I really like that idea. Compassion implies understanding, kindness and empathy as well. Thank you for your comment!

Dtchycat
11 years ago

One quality that is a must is that he has to be fiercely protective of his family! I absolutely adore those older brothers who cower every single suiter of their sister’s and never thinks anyone is good enough for her!

Christina Brooke
11 years ago

Dtchycat, I love the protective elder brother, too! Good answer! Thank you for commenting.

Winnie
11 years ago

On this Father’s Day, I’d have to say he must have all the qualities that would make a great father.

librarypat
librarypat
11 years ago

He must be an honorable man. There are many other qualities I would like him to have, but if he is honorable, most will be there.

Christina Brooke
11 years ago

Winnie, how appropriate! Great answer!

Christina Brooke
11 years ago

librarypat, I have to say, honor is one of my top priorities, too.

Maureen
11 years ago

I would say the one quality is that he must have a sense of humor.

Christina Brooke
11 years ago

Hi Maureen! Oh, yes, a sense of humor is essential. Thank you for commenting!

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