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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