Guest Author Manda Collins and How To Dance With A Duke

I’m delighted to introduce our guest today, debut author Manda Collins whose How To Dance With A Duke is getting some nice buzz!

When I first met Manda, she was a reader and a reviewer who was wonderful enough to say nice things about my books. Now I’m thrilled that she is here as our guest author and is receiving some of the same.

“Collins’ debut delivers a fast-paced, adventurous love story that will enthrall readers. Her dynamic characters, a murder and passion combine with the perfect amount of lively repartee.” RT Book Reviews

“With sparkling Regency wit, a dash of mystery, and just the right amount of steam, How to Dance with a Duke is an enchanting debut, sure to sweep readers off their feet!” —Tessa Dare

Manda is giving away a signed copy of How To Dance With A Duke to one lucky commenter chosen at random.

Welcome, Manda! Tell us about How To Dance With A Duke.

This is my debut novel, and it’s the first in a trilogy about three wallflower cousins who must do battle with a Regency mean girl, solve mysteries, and find true love–all in the space of a season. In this story, Miss Cecily Hurston, an Egyptologist, must join forces with the newly minted Duke of Winterson to find her father’s travel diaries and Winterson’s missing brother. Think Agatha Christie meets Jane Austen. Or old school Amanda Quick.

We love a debut author! Tell us a little about your journey to publication and what it was like to get “The Call.”

I’ve been writing since my teen years, but didn’t do so with a serious eye toward publication until 2007 or so. I wrote one novel, a Victorian set in country house, that landed me an agent, but alas, did not sell. So I regrouped, licked my wounds, and decided to return to my first love–Regency romance. Since I’ve been reading Regency in one form or other since I was a pre-teen, it was like going home. I wrote How to Dance with a Duke, my agent loved it, and it sold five months later.

I got the call one morning while I was brushing my teeth. But because I am suspicious and didn’t want to tempt fate, I hadn’t programmed my agent’s number into my phone, so I thought it was a wrong number and let it go to voicemail. On the way to work though something kept niggling me about that call. So as soon as I go to the office I checked my email, and sure enough there was a message from my agent, Holly Root, telling me to call her. And when I looked through the rest of my email, I saw that Holly Blanck, the editor at St. Martin’s who was reading my MS, had followed me on Twtitter. I knew then that the news was good. I called Agent Holly back, she told me that Holly Blanck had offered me a three book contract and I’ve been grinning like a crazy person ever since.

You’ve been active in the Romance Writing community for a long time. What was it like to move from reader and reviewer to author?

It’s been kind of strange at times. I have never had a shortage of opinions on various issues in the community, so there have been some moments since I made the transition from reader to author when I’ve had to forcibly remind myself to just keep quiet. It’s not that I don’t think authors should have a place at the table–I actually get twitchy when it feels like the blogosphere would rather we just shut up and write–but there are times when as an author it’s just common sense not to get involved. If someone doesn’t like my book and writes a review about it, there’s just no good way–with a few rare exceptions–for an author to join that conversation and have it end well. On the other hand, I feel like getting published has given me insider knowledge that I can use to help other writers who are just starting on the road to publication, so it’s not all a matter of biting my tongue. And I still review every now and then. I’ve always been one of those “only if I have something good to say about it” reviewers anyway so that hasn’t really changed. Though I don’t really have as much time for it as I used to.

Why did you decide to write a Regency Historical?

As I said earlier, I’ve been reading Regency, both trad and historicals, since I was in middle school, so I was Regency before it was the hottest thing going. Which I sometimes feel like I have to defend since there seems to be a backlash in some quarters against the period. But I adore it. The social customs, the witty banter, the sense that society is kicking up a dust before the coming strictures of the Victorian period. Plus, as some of you may know, I am a sucker for a dandy and sadly there were very few of them in the latter part of the century.

What is risky about the book?

Believe it or not, the mystery element. Again and again while I was on submission I got rejections from editors who loved the story but were unsure of how to sell it because it felt like neither fish nor fowl. Fortunately Editor Holly has a fondness for mystery mixed with romance so when it landed on her desk she snapped it up. Or that’s how I imagine it. She might very well have carefully lifted it.

What is next for you?

Next up is the next book in the trilogy, How to Romance a Rake, which comes out this summer in late July. And just last week I accepted another three book contract from St. Martin’s Press for a trilogy with the tagline I Know What You Did Last Season. So I have plenty to keep me occupied writing-wise for the next few years or so.

And now I have a question for you. Do you like a bit of mystery mixed with your romance? What are some of your favorite examples?

Comment for a chance to win a signed copy of How To Dance With A Duke.


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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34 Responses to Guest Author Manda Collins and How To Dance With A Duke

  1. This sounds like the perfect book for me to read. I love a little mystery with my historical romance. Congrats on your recent release and well done on the new contracts!

    Let me see – one mystery/romance historical I’ve enjoyed is Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey series.

  2. Lois says:

    Hi! 🙂 And I certainly do not mind a mystery with my romances, as well. Given I’m ready for a nap, though, the only other author that I can think of that does the same thing is the Amanda Quick regencies… oh, and I guess you can say Lauren Willig’s books… but I know I have more that just aren’t coming right now. LOL Oh, and congrats on the first book! 🙂


  3. Quilt Lady says:

    I have been hearing a lot of good things about this book, would love to read it.

  4. Isabelle F says:

    This soundes excellent, the mystery element sounds like it will be a refreshing and enjoyable read! Well done!

  5. I never heard anything about the author or the book but would love to read it.Congrats and good luck.

  6. Na says:

    I think it’s how wonderful how Manda describes writing in her genre as going home. She’s writing what she already loves to read and that sounds fun. Congratulations on your debut. A Regency mean girl and some mysteries is interesting.

    I like mystery mixed with romance. Some of my favorites is the Deadly series by Brenda Joyce.


  7. Barbara E. says:

    I’ve been hearing a lot about How to Dance With a Duke and I’m really looking forward to reading it. Yes, I like a bit of mystery mixed with my romance at times. I can’t think of many examples, but a couple I’ve just read were from Allison Chase’s Her Majesty’s Secret Servants series – Most Eagerly Yours and Outrageously Yours. And of course, Shana Galen’s historical spy romance, Lord and Lady Spy, which was awesome.

  8. Yay! I’m so glad to be here today at Risky Regencies!

    Shelley–I adore the Lady Julia Grey series! I was so blown away by that first book, and Raybourn just keeps getting better.

    Lois–I’ve had my writing compared to old school Amanda Quick:) And I am a huge Lauren Willig fan. HUGE! A nap sounds really good about now… 😉

    Quilt Lady–cool you’ve heard good things about it. Hope it lives up to the hype!

    Thanks, Isabelle–I love mystery and romance mixed together.

    Thanks for the good wishes, Gloria!

    Na–it really does feel wonderful to be back in the Regency world I’ve always loved. Hope you think so when you read the book;)

    Thanks everybody for the well wishes!

  9. krazymama_98 says:

    Me too, I love debut authors. Lovely cover, sounds like a good read. Good luck to you!!

  10. Thanks, Barbara! I haven’t read the Allison Chase or the Shana Galen books but I’ve heard great things about them. Blog visits are so tough because I always end up adding a ton of books to my TBR pile!

    Thanks, Krazymama! I love the cover too:)

  11. @Monikarw says:

    I love mistery in my romance! Love Amanda Quick’s books 🙂
    I’ve heard great things about your book, Manda! Congrats xoxo 🙂

  12. Cool! Thanks, Monika!

  13. Diane Gaston says:

    Manda! It is so wonderful to have you as a Risky Regencies guest!!!

  14. Jane says:

    Congrats on your debut release, Manda. I do like a little mystery mixed in with the romance like Katy Madison’s “Tainted by Temptation.”

  15. Thank you, Diane! It’s a dream come true! (And I’m not even kidding!)

    Thanks for the good wishes, Jane! I’ll have to try that Katy Madison book!

  16. Hello Manda my Avon FanLit Friend! We HAVE been at this a while, haven’t we? I am SO THRILLED to see your debut book on the shelves! It didn’t stay on the shelves long at the Walmart where I work because I told all of my romance reading coworkers it was a MUST BUY! (I have my own copy so don’t enter me in the drawing!)

    I LOVE a little (or even a lot) of mystery in my Regency romances. That edge of danger and the unknown is just the right excuse to throw the hero and heroine into each others arms!

    Haven’t read How to Dance with a Duke yet. Saving it for when I finish my latest WIP and I cannot wait for your next book to come out! HUGE CONGRATS from one Bama Girl to Another!

  17. May says:

    Hmmm…. Well… Julia Quinn has a semi-mystery in the Bridgerton series about who Lady Whistleton really is. And I read J.D. Robb for the romance AND the mystery….

    Your book sounds terrific! I read lots of good reviews about it on lots of blog already!

  18. catslady says:

    I really enjoy debut books and finding new authors. I’ve also been hearing a lot about your book – all good things! I do enjoy mystery in my writing – keeps you turning those pages and not want to stop!

  19. Louisa! We definitely have been slogging away at this for a long time now. Thanks so much for turning your customers on to my book! Hope they like it! Good luck on finishing your WIP. I know all about holding books back for a reward:) Go Bama girls!

    May, I’m listening to the first JD Robb book right now on audio. I’m loving it so far:)

    I so agree, catslady! Though I guess that’s obvious since it’s what I tried to do in my book;)

  20. chey says:

    Sounds great! I like mystery and historical romance!

  21. Terry P. says:

    If its like old style Quick, then I’ll definitely be reading. That is my kind of regency.

  22. Hope you like it, Terry!

  23. Shelley B says:

    I like mysteries in my romance. I like Charolette Featherstone’s new historicals – the Brethern Guardians. I’ve also read all of Lisa Kleypas Bow Street books. Congratulations and Thanks!

  24. bn100 says:

    Congratulations on your book! It sounds very good.


  25. Thanks, Shelley! I’m a big fan of Kleypas’ Bow Street series too.

    Thanks for the congrats, Bn100!

  26. Oregon Kimm says:

    It must feel so lovely to reach such a goal. So fabulous for you!! I cannot wait to read it. I love debut stories!!

  27. Susan/DC says:

    I began reading mysteries when quite young. My mother loved them, so I think it was both genetic and the simple fact that there were mysteries all over the house. When I added romances to my reading as an adult, I was happy to discover some novels that combined both genres. Andrea Penrose has a series (two books so far) that not only has a romance and mysteries but also chocolate recipes — a reading trifecta.

  28. Kim says:

    Congratulations on your debut. I do like a little mystery in my romance reading, but only if it’s done well. As someone mentioned, Deanna Raybourn writes very good mystery romances.


  29. Anonymous says:

    I love mystery with romance – classics are Jane Eyre…

  30. I’ll have to try Andrea Penrose, Susan. Especially since she adds chocolate recipes to the mix! What’s not to love?

    Thanks, Kim! Another Raybourn fan, I’m glad to see:)

    Anon, Jane Eyre is one of my favorites. So many mystery threads in that one!

  31. librarypat says:

    Congratulations on your books and your contract for another trilogy.

    As for mystery, it is a necessity of sorts in the books I like to read. Stories that are just relationship stories with little else going on are a bit flat. I like a bit of intrigue, danger, excitement in the stories. For most of us life is a bit routine. We’ll have to get the mystery and suspense from what we read.

    I second the comments on Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey series.

  32. I’m in total agreement, LibraryPat! My favorite stories are always the ones with adventures attached:) I won’t say that I never like stories without a mystery attached, but I much prefer writing them with a bit of intrigue.

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