Jane Austen

Maggie Robinson chat and contest

I had the great privilege of meeting an online friend in real life this summer–the funny and talented Maggie Robinson, who is just as funny and smart in person. She pressed upon me an ARC of Mistress by Marriage, which I giggled over on the journey home and found was the next best thing to having a conversation with her. So I pressed her into an appearance at the Riskies to talk about her funny, touching, sexy book.

Maggie, welcome. Tell us how Mistress by Marriage came about.

Mistress by Marriage (Kensington Brava, September 2011) was a title first before I ever had a glimmer of an idea. All the Mistress books are Mistress by Something Starting With An M. I’d done Midnight. I’d done Mistake. What else starts with M? Mistress by Menopause just didn’t have the right cachet. When I came up with Marriage, I had a real “aha” moment. What would get a married couple to rekindle their dead romance? How could two totally opposite individuals reconcile and have their HEA? Caroline and Edward had huge obstacles to overcome, both internally and externally. (And of the three Mistress books, this is definitely my favorite.)

This is your third and final book in the Courtesan Court Trilogy. Was it sad for you to say goodbye to the series and your characters?

I feel like I live on Jane Street with all its naughty ladies, LOL. Both my novellas have been set there, too. Actually, my next book, Master of Sin (April 2012) is technically the last book in what Brava is calling the Courtesan Court series. The very unlikely hero Andrew Rossiter is introduced in Marriage, so I expect references to the neighborhood will pop up in the future.

I found both Caroline and Edward such adorable and annoying people. Do you find yourself basing characters, or at least some of their characteristics, on people you know?

You caught me out. Edward and Caroline share some traits with my husband and myself (although John is not quite as proper and uptight as Edward, he always tries to do the right and honorable thing). Caroline tries to make everyone happy around her and doesn’t feel she deserves her own happiness. As a mom of four, I can relate. However, I’m not a gorgeous redhead addicted to jewels, although diamonds are nice if they’re conflict-free.

Ha! I suspected as much. (Has your hubby read it?) Your heroine Caroline is a writer. Did you ever feel that you wanted to be sidetracked into writing her books?

While Caroline and I share an unfortunate addiction to alliteration, I think she’s way more gothic and lurid than I am. And I hope I’m a better writer. Anyone who writes “He advanced toward her, his green eyes glittering like evil glass” needs to go to writing rehab. I had such fun with her titles and blurbs at the beginning of each chapter, though, and was pleased when Publisher’s Weekly said “the most fun derives from the way Caroline skewers society in her novels, with quotes from the books presented at the top of each chapter like bonbons.”

Caroline also uses her books to very conveniently kill off her Edward-like characters. There may be no evil glass, but there is no end to the creativity of her evil mind as she buries the man in mining mishaps and tosses him off mountain tops.

What’s your favorite scene in the book?

I’m very partial to when Edward kidnaps Caroline and introduces her to his “list.” Poor guy.

Tell us about your research on divorce law.

Let me tell you, it was nigh on to impossible to end a marriage, and only a husband could sue his wife for divorce, no matter how awful he might be. Women had NO recourse to throw the bums out, and they had no rights to any children of the marriage. There were three stages—one had to prove infidelity and sue the wife’s paramour (the criminal conversation portion, or crim con), go through the ecclesiastical court and then get a Bill of Divorcement from Parliament. It was a rare, lengthy and expensive procedure. I can see why people remained married even if they hated each other.

You have a novella out this month too. Tell us about the anthology and your contribution.

To Match a Thief is part of Brava’s Improper Gentlemen with Diane Whiteside and Mia Marlowe. All the gentlemen are…improper. 😉 My characters Lucy and Simon are childhood lovers who have changed considerably from their very humble beginnings. They may have been separated for thirteen years, but the spark’s still there, even if Lucy is London’s most fabled courtesan. Or is she? The fun of the novella is that no one is quite who they seem, right down to the singer in Simon’s favorite opera.

What do you like to read for fun?

The Riskies’ books, of course! I’m devoted to nineteenth century-set historical romances, as well as the historical mysteries of Ashley Gardner, C.S. Harris and Deanna Raybourn.

What’s next for you?

As my edgier self Margaret Rowe, I have a story, Wicked Wedding Night, in the Berkley Heat anthology Agony/Ecstasy (December 2011). Three more Maggie Robinson books are contracted through 2013. The new London List series revolves around a Craigslist-like Regency newspaper operated by a very unusual editor. I can’t wait for readers to meet E. Ramsey.

Thanks so much to the Riskies for having me back today! I’m giving away both Improper Gentlemen AND Mistress by Marriage to one commenter who tells me how to kill off an estranged husband in a romance novel! Be as gory as you like. Caroline would approve.

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Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe

Janet and the Riskies, thanks so much for hosting me today! Janet and I drank together at RWA.(diet Coke for her, the Real Thing for me, wild women that we are)

Janet, I’m so glad you liked the book! If anyone could defrost Edward’s heart, it was Caroline. 😉

11 years ago

I love all your books. I can’t wait for Mistress by Marriage. Whenwill you put an exerpt of Wicked Wedding Night? I can’t wait.

11 years ago

Greetings from Italy! It was such a pleasure to read this interview. I laughed out loud about “Mistress by Menopause” 🙂 Regarding the husband, I would bring from the past his ex mistress. She escapes from the mental institution to revenge herself. In order to marry the heroine, he had to get rid of his mistress, who didn’t want to share her man. So he decides to place her in a bedlam. Now she is back & kills him because she has lost her mind & became obsessed with the idea of revenge. Hope this doesn’t sound too crazy 🙂

natalija (dot) shkomare (at) gmail (dot) com

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe

Natalija, the crazier the better, LOL.

Thanks so much, Ora! There is actually an A/E website up from editor Jane Litte with a list of all the stories and excerpts of each. http://agonyecstasyanthology.com/

My verification word is expoppin, which reminds me of Natalija’s plot, LOL.

11 years ago

At a country house party, the estranged husband would be left behind at the picnic. He would attempt to return to the house by foot and be chased by a wild boar into the forest to be trampled and gored. Lying in the forest, bleeding heavily from multiple wounds dies and isn’t found for several days.
None of that simple found in bed with the wrong woman and dies in a duel stuff for me!

Eli Yanti
11 years ago

hi maggie, this is a great interview and then make me know about you and your book is very nice

my idea about kill off an estranged husband is make a meeting with him and then invited him to dinner with me but the thing he don’t know is that i had strew a very dangerous poison in his food and the reaction of this poison is slowly but torment and torture that utimately made him die

eli yanti

11 years ago

Maggie, huge congratulations on your success! I’m so happy for you!

I would invite him to the circus to discuss getting back together and convince him to sneak in very late after all would be asleep. I would then lock him in the big cats’ cage and leave him to enjoy the growling and mauling.

Sarah / skirbo

11 years ago

Hi Maggie,
This was a fun interview. I agree that Mistress by Menopause does not quite have the right ring to it lol, although every woman should have a chance of love. Sounds like these scandalous women are well…quite scandalous in a wonderful way. I’m also looking forward to these men. I like that rekindling a marriage is the issue in Mistress by Marriage. It looks into a relationship after the HEA and I like to root for couples who care enough to give love a second chance. Now as for killing off an estranged husband that is tricky and requires a clever woman…perhaps she partners up with an infuriating, but attractive detective who sets in motion an event that has the ex-husband accidently killing himself. So there’s no blood on anybody’s hands 🙂

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe

What a batch of bloodthirsty wenches you all are, LOL. Love the scenarios, and so would Caroline. Somewhere I have her burying Edward in a mine, “his elegant sinewy body and dark head entombed for all eternity with coal that was as black as his heart.”

Skirbo, waving from the bottom 503!(do I have the # right?)

Thanks so much for visiting, Na,girlygirl and Eli!

Louisa Cornell
11 years ago

I enjoy all of Maggie and Margaret’s books as well! Can’t wait to read this one!

Murdering an ex-husband Regency style!

Have my two strapping young footmen follow Lord Debauched and Depraved (former husband of Lady Far Too Good for the Likes of Him!) on his nightly sojourn into London’s seediest gaming hells and brothels. They kidnap him as he stumbles out of a brothel around dawn. They stuff him blindfolded, gagged, bound and NAKED into a trunk which they load into a carriage. After an hours long, bumpy carriage ride in said trunk, he is dragged out to find he is standing, STILL NAKED, in a copse of trees on the HavemoremoneythanGod Estate where the garden party of the Season is underway. A line of twelve lovely debutantes are practicing their archery skills for an appreciative audience. The ladies draw back their bows. take aim at the targets placed in line with the copse of trees and at the perfect moment the footmen remove the blindfold and shove his lordship in the direction of the targets. He runs for freedom only to be struck by a barrage of arrows from the debutantes’ bows, several of which land in some truly painful and strategic locations. A crowd gathers round to watch his lordship die a slow agonizing death and the last faces he sees are those of his former wife and the two footmen who melted into the background and reappeared at her side.

11 years ago

My first thought was poison but someone has already taken that one so I will have to go with husband hunting in the woods and falls on a bear trap and catches his willie in the trap and slowly bleeds to death in severe pain.

Courtney Herda
11 years ago

Defenestration. There’s nothing better. Was he pushed or did he fall out in a drunken stupor? On what did he land? From where did he fall? The possibilities are limitless…

Barbara E.
11 years ago

All of these bloodthirsty killings of the estranged husband sound fantastic.
I think I’d have the ex walking along a cliff and be pushed over, falling to his death on the rocks below.

11 years ago

Yep, Maggie, it was the 503. My 15 minutes, I’m afraid. lol

Defenestrate is one of the best words ever. I just love it.

Sarah / skirbo

11 years ago

There are already great ways of how to kill an estranged husband mentioned! lol I’d go for food poising because there was no CSI-team back then. 😉 Can’t wait to read your latest book!

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe

Oh, Louisa, I am roaring. You had me at the archery practice. Ouch X 12!!!

Virginia, you are as evil as Caroline. 🙂

Courtney, I can’t be near windows inside tall buildings—am always afraid they’ll pop out & down I’ll go, LOL.

Barbara, works for me. (and Caroline did that, I think)

Thank you, Claudia!Caroline used poison too. “Poison?” The duke clutched at his throat, his long , elegant hand turning into the claw of death. ~ The Dark Duke’s Dilemma

Skirbo, those were the days. 🙂

11 years ago

What a great idea for a story. I like the idea of marriage reconciliation. The marriage of convenience, when well done, is one of my favorite storylines so suspect I’ll enjoy this variation on forced relationship interaction.

Love the lion scenario and the archery. I am not nearly creative enough, but I would do something like hire a mesmerist to hypnotize evil ex into doing a burlesque down Bond St in nothing but a see-through chemise with a big shiny bow around his package (I am thinking maximum humiliation to uber-image conscious regency male) followed by a swan dive off St. Paul’s dome. He would, of course, wake up and recall everything just after take-off. Oooh, possibly better would be a stroll with him through Hyde Park on leash thinking he’s a prissy lap dog…then smeared in fish guts and ripped apart by cats? Hitching him to a donkey cart and driving him to death…

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe

Dee, and you think you’re not creative? Oh, honey, I am laughing. Fish guts. Inspired.

11 years ago

Well, you want Mr. Mean to get his comeuppance, so here’s the scene:
Mrs. Lovely is shopping in London with one of her good friends. They run into Mr. Mean (after not having seen him for a long time), and he starts harrassing her, calling her & her friend nasty names, threatening her family, telling her to get home where he will “deal with her once & for all”. He’s so busy yelling at her that he isn’t aware of the heavy coach being pulled by four very large runaway horses speeding down the road. He gives Mrs. Lovely a final twist of her wrist (which had grabbed & was bruising), and he turns to stride away. She, being the lovely person she is, called to him to watch out, but he, with a supersilious sneer (as if to say he wouldn’t listen to a woman) steps out anyway and is mowed down, trampled, squashed by the horses & carriage. And this is all witnessed by enough people that the heroine cannot blamed for his death, but is even credited for trying to save him (tho all acknowledge the world is a better place without him).

That was fun! Looking forward to M by Marriage; I enjoyed M at Midnight.

sallans d at yahoo dot com

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

Hi, Maggie!! It is wonderful to have you as a Risky guest. Your novella mate, Mia Marlowe, is going to be our guest tomorrow and she’s giving away a book, too!

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe

Hi, Diane! You’ll be doubly improper tomorrow, LOL. All I know is I wish I had the Knack like Mia’s hero does. 🙂

Thanks so much, Di! Hope you like this one too. And I bet your widow doesn’t wear black for long. 😉

Jeanne M
11 years ago

Maggie –
I love all your books as both Maggie and Margaret. You always manage to draw me into the story so that I can’t wait to find out what is going to happen next!

The perfect way to kill off an estranged husband in one of your books is for his soon to be widowed wife get the handsomd stablehand and stuffy valet in league with her. Of course unbeknowst to them said heroine is planning on running off to the continent with the heir apparent, her soon to be dead husband’s younger and much nicer widowed cousin!

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe

Thank you so much, Jeanne! I worry that there will be too many witnesses, LOL.

11 years ago

Kill off a husband. My choice would be by snake poison. One would have to find someone with access to lethally poisonous snakes. A type of syringe was available at this time, so a syringe of poison, not the snake itself, would be all that was needed. As quickly as many venoms kill, it could even be administered in a public venue and he would be dead before being able to tell what had happened or accuse anyone. Since syringes were relatively new, if one were careful, no one would know what happened or how. If it were administered while he was “out” (drunk or drugged), you could make certain that the injection is done in such a way that it won’t show. The symptoms of many venoms are painful. Death can be swift and painful or it can be a long painful death.

I certainly hope this is all research for your future books and your DH has nothing to worry about.

I am looking forward to IMPROPER GENTLEMAN. I love anthologies and this one contains stories by three authors I enjoy. Your stories always have the humor I find enhances a book.
I hope the releases of both MISTRESS BY MARRIAGE and MASTER OF SIN do well. Thanks for an enjoyable post.

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe

LOL, Librarypat, my husband is safe but I’ll let him know you have his welfare in mind. 😉 All of you have been way more creative than Caroline and I were! Thanks so much for your ideas…and happy reading!

Cathy P
11 years ago

The best way to kill off a terrible husband is to confer with his past mistresses. Get him drunk, take off his clothes, and let him walk around town like that. Then one of his mistresses who has taken another lover can say he is trying to get her back with his manly charms. If not that, put strychnine in his food.

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