“The perilous action and the elegance of the writing…allowed me to thoroughly enjoy an unusual and fascinating story of an intriguing era” —Romance Reviews Today

Amanda (standing in as RR): Why, hello, Amanda! Such a surprise to see you here, at your own computer and all. Tell us about A Sinful Alliance! How does this fit into the “Renaissance Trilogy”?

Amanda (as herself): I’m so glad you asked! I am soooo excited about this book. The hero Nicolai (who was a KISS–Knight in Shining Silver–in the April RT, so yay him! I think he’s the first of my characters to win their very own award) was the hero’s friend in A Notorious Woman. As so often happens with these pesky secondary characters, I hadn’t actually intended to write a whole book for him (though he was a hottie). But I really fell for him, and I found a very beautiful, but troubled and lonely, heroine, who really needed his kind of magic–Marguerite Dumas, a French spy.

Trouble was, she once tried to kill him. Bit of a rocky start there. They meet up a few months after this little incident at the court of Henry VIII at Greenwich, still on opposite sides of ever-shifting political alliances. This event was a real historical happening, a meeting in early 1527 between King Henry and a French delegation seeking a marriage between young Princess Mary and King Francois’s younger son. This weeks-long meeting was filled with lavish banquets, balls, jousts, and masques, with specially built theaters and banquet halls. England’s old alliance with Spain is faltering, thanks to Henry’s new infatuation with Anne Boleyn and Katherine of Aragon’s loss of influence, so it made the perfect setting for an illicit, dangerous affair. And also some really great clothes! (Stay tuned next week for more research info on this stuff)

And it’s the second of the trilogy. The third (which I’m just finishing!) is about Balthazar Grattiano, who is now a ship’s captain in the Caribbean!

A as RR: Did you run across anything new or interesting while researching this story?

A as A: Tons! Besides the actual events of this English/French meeting (the Spanish were there, too–never count out the Spanish!), I researched Tudor clothes, tennis, jousts, hunting, Greenwich Palace (plus Fontainebleau Palace, for one scene), sword fighting, theater, fashion. It was way too much fun!

A as RR: Have you always been interested in this time period?

A as A: When I was a kid, I loved watching old movies with my grandmother. One afternoon we watched a Tudor marathon–Anne of the Thousand Days and A Man For All Seasons. I loved them, and immediately started reading all I could about the Tudors! Anne Boleyn particularly intrigued me. The juxtaposition of such splendor and luxury with such terrible danger and intrigue really interests me, and hopefully I brought all that into A Sinful Alliance.

(And hopefully, judging from the popularity of The Other Boleyn Girl and Showtime’s weird The Tudors, other people are intrigued, too!)

A as RR: What was the biggest challenge of this story?

A as A: The challenge was also the part I enjoyed the most–the history! There was so much going on in this short space of time, and I didn’t want to let it overwhelm the characters and their romance. Luckily for me, Nicolai and Marguerite were strong characters, and they basically ran with their own story. I had a clear picture of them in my head (they looked a lot like Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish, though not so modern as in this pic, of course!), and they had such complex pasts and personalities that made them perfect for each other. I just created the historical backdrop, and let them go! 🙂

A as RR: Okay, we always have to ask–what’s ‘risky” about A Sinful Alliance???

A as A: Well, the setting is pretty risky! You don’t find 1527 England on the shelf everyday, but I hope there is interest in it. It’s a fantastic time period. And the fact that the hero is Russian, and the heroine is a French spy. But so far Harlequin hasn’t told me “you can’t do that” on anything, so yay!

A as RR: What’s next for you?

A as A: I’m just finishing up Balthazar’s story now! Then it’s on to the third (and last) of my Regency-set The Muses of Mayfair trilogy (watch for them next year!). Then an Elizabethan story inspired by Dancing With the Stars (which just proves inspiration can strike anywhere!). And in 2010, the first of my “Daughters of Ireland” series with Grand Central Publishing! Now, I have to go get to work…

BTW, if you don’t win the autographed copy of A Sinful Alliance here, I will be visiting a few other blogs! On April 2, I’ll be at the Romance Vagabonds; April 4 at the Romance Bandits; and on April 6 at Unusual Historicals. Please drop by and leave comments, so I won’t feel too lonely! And visit my website to read an excerpt…