Today we welcome Ann Lethbridge to the Riskies to talk about her latest, The Gamekeeper’s Lady. Frustrated Lady Constance becomes attracted to the virile gamekeeper Mellors and they run around naked in the rain threading flowers through each other’s–NO! Wrong book.
A lovely twist on the Cinderella theme. Her likeable characters entertain….. Romantic Times Ms. Lethbridge has created two wonderfully flawed characters, and whilst they are among the crème de le crème of ton society, each stand out, not for their fair appearance, but rather their honesty, honor, and individuality. Heroes and Heartbreakers
Ann, congrats on the release, and I should mention here that your yummy hero received the Romantic Times K.I.S.S. (Knight in Shining Silver) hero award for May 2011. What was the origin of this book?
Interestingly enough, the book started off being about Robert, the hero. He was such a bad boy in that opening scene. But as the book progressed it clearly became Frederica’s journey. I tend to see a scene and then just follow along with the characters. For this book it was the scene where Robert is in bed with his mistress thinking everything in the garden is perfect, only to have everything go down hill fast. Funnily enough, I wrote that scene by hand in the car on a long journey to visit my daughter at University. On the way home, I read it to my husband. We had driven quite some distance with me reading, when he jerked in his seat, stared out of the window and said, “I have no idea where we are. We missed our turning.” The words were less polite, but that was their meaning.
I thought that was a very good omen.
(Yes, but did he stop and ask for directions?) What’s the appeal of the black sheep character for you?
Redemption, I suppose. I think we all hope to do better, to be better, and the redemption of the black sheep character plays into that basic human desire. They are also fun to write, because they are a bit wicked and never quite lose that charm.
Your heroine is an artist. Were you thinking of any particular artist of the period? eg Elizabeth Vigee Lebrun?
How did you guess? Probably because there were so few well-known female artists at this time. The idea of her being an artist came from the character herself, it was what she wanted to be. Then I had to go and look and see if it was possible. I was thrilled to find Elizabeth and a few others who made the idea a workable proposition. There was an English woman in an earlier century, Anna Maria Sibylla Merian who painted studies from nature, and then Elizabeth who painted mostly portraits.
Do you feel your upbringing in England gives you an insight into the complexities of the class system?
I always said that if I had been born in the Regency, I would have been the upstairs maid, or the tenant farmer’s wife. My grandmother always said we came from British yeoman stock, although l in more recent history my family had a military tradition. That might have been the result of two world wars, however. Coming from there, one certainly tends to understand how British Society works, who fits where and how, but the system itself has never been completely static. I think my upbringing in England gave me a deep-rooted feel for the history of the country and a feel for the countryside and it is that which I tap into for my books.
Did your research for the book turn up anything interesting?
I did quite a bit of research on the role of the gamekeeper which in turn led me to a book in an old bookshop in England on the art of poaching. In the end, it wasn’t relevant, but I was quite fascinated to learn how to tickle a trout. Perhaps it will find its way into a book one of these days. A poacher would have to be a bit of a black sheep — perhaps a gypsy. I do love a good gypsy story. Uh oh.
If you were in charge of casting for the movie version, who would you pick?
For Robert, it would have to be Richard Armitage, he has an edge I really like, but can be sensitive too. For Frederica, I would pick Emily Blunt I think. She carries off the female of the era who goes beyond the normal expectations for a woman very well.
What sort of music do you listen to when you write?
Oh dear, I really don’t. I can manage with a bit background noise if I have to, but my preference is silence. I prefer to listen to the characters in my head. I have been known to use music to drown out other noises in the house when people are home. In that case, I like anything classical without words. Words tend to insinuate their way into my mind and I find myself singing along, instead of writing.
What’s up next for you?
Thank you for asking. I have a follow up book to The Gamekeeper’s Lady out in June. It is about Robert’s brother, Charlie, the responsible twin, and called More than a Mistress. In the Fall some time there is a follow up book to my very first book with Harlequin, another bad-boy brother which is titled Lady Rosabella’s Ruse. Currently, I am working on a story set in the Highlands of Scotland where my characters seem to be engaged in a tale of catch as catch can and I am madly trying to keep up with them.
Thank you so much for inviting me to visit with the Risky Regencies, Janet. Now it is my turn to ask a question of your readers. I would like to know~
Who is your favourite black sheep character? Or what kind of hero do you prefer?
I have a copy of The Gamekeeper’s Lady waiting to wing its way off to a lucky commenter, picked randomly by Janet. Thank you for dropping in and Happy Mother’s Day.
This sounds like a great story. I enjoyed the author’s remark that in the regency era she would have been the upstairs maid. I like novels in which the main characters are from the working class. As far as black sheep, I immediately thought of Rhett Butler. Thanks for the giveaway.
Welcome to the Riskies, Ann!! It is so nice to see another Harlequin Historicals author here, especially for such a great book. I’m thrilled Gameskeepers Lady is getting such great buzz!
Janet, I can remember reading Lady Chatterly’s Lover in college and being blown away by it. It led to my choosing an independent study of DH Lawrence.
I do like a hero with a bit of a dark side – as long as he isn’t a total jerk to the heroine. But if he’s been hurt in love before and doesn’t trust her at first, that works for me! I love to read about how he learns to love and trust again.
Linda, mmm Rhett Butler, a great black sheep hero, too bad there was not happy ending, though.
Diane, thank you so much for having me here. You have a great blog. These days it is hard to see why Lady Chatterly was so “out there”. How far we have come.
Margay, thank you for coming by. You are so right, no jerks. Happily I think I struck the right note with this one, given RT’s Knight in Shining Silver award. whew!
My favorite heros? The bad bad boys who are really marshmallows inside when they find the right woma.
Hi, Ann! Loved your post! Especially the part where you were coming back from visiting your daughter and was reading to your husband, and he got lost. Lol! That’s a tribute to your writing. Congrats on the RT’s Knight in Shining Silver award. Your book sounds wonderful. I like the heroes in all the books I read, so besides Rhett Butler, I don’t have a favorite one. I don’t care whether they are alpha or beta, but they have to have redeeming qualities and be a sucker for the heroine.
Sheila, and it is finding that soft centre that is so much fune, isn’t it?
Cathy P, good point. We have to like these guys, don’t we?
Don’t enter me in the draw as my copy of this books is safely ensconced on my KEEPER SHELF !!
Ann, I believe I have already been quite vocal in my appreciation of The Gamekeeper’s Lady! I recommend it everywhere I go.
Anyone who has not read it you have missed a real treat. I started it one morning intending to get a few chapters in and then break off to run errands. When I looked up I had finished the book and it was afternoon! No errands for me, but well worth it!
Robert is definitely a bad boy, black sheep AND a perfect example of the K.I.S.S. But you are right, it really is Frederica’s journey as much as it is his. I cannot WAIT to read Charlie’s story!
Robert Mountford is definitely one of my favorite bad boys. As is Dain from Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels. Ivan from Rexanne Bechnel’s Dangerous to Love.
Kylemore from Anna Campbell’s Claiming the Courtesan. Christian from Flowers from the Storm. And Eileen Dreyer’s two bad boys Diccan and Jack from her Drake’s Rakes series. Sebastian St. Vincent from Lisa Kleypas’s Devil in Winter. Yes, I do like bad boys!
Thank you, Ann, for a truly wonderful read!
One of my favorite black sheep was Clive McClintock posing as Stuart Edwards in Karen Robards’ MORNING SONG. It’s an oldie but a goodie. I like very Alpha heroes, who usually have to “make it up” to the heroine later for being so pig-headed.
Sounds like my kind of story to read. That is so awesome your hubby got that caught up in your story he lost track of where you were. That is a definitely good plug for your story.
Best of luck with lots of sales. Nice meeting you today. 🙂
Another intriguing book to find…my list grows longer. My favorite bad boy heroes include Loretta Chase’s Dain and Kleypas’ Sebastian St. Vincent, but I would also add Villiers from Eloisa James’ Duchess series. They are so delicious when they find that one woman who stops them cold in their tracks.
Louisa, thank you so much! And thanks for all the other recommendations for bad boys. We will all be checking them out.
Janie, some of those favorite oldies are really golden, aren’t they. Thank you for stopping in.
Paisley, Lovely to meet you too. So glad you liked my story. Dh and I have laughed about that together quite a few times.
TxDee, Villiers is interesting, isn’t he, for the longest time I thought he was the villain of the piece so his redemption made him all the sweeter.
I like my heroes to be the knight in shining armor; the cowboy riding the white horse; the Rhett Butler of the South type of guy. Enjoyed the blog today. Thanks for the info on the book…I’m adding it to my TBR list.
Well I didn’t spell check and miss pelled my own name…should be JackieW instead of Jakie
I like the strong silent-type of hero who has a good heart underneath all that macho exterior.
Congratulations & good luck w/the release of The Gamekeeper’s Lady!! it sounds like something i would enjoy reading, Ann!!!
thank you for giveaway, as well!!!
I love a black sheep hero. I can’t think of an example off the top of my head but some of my favorites are a bit of a rogue in one book as friend to the hero and then manage to turn it around and deserve a great girl in the next book.
I also love an artist heroine so am looking forward to this story.
Dear Jackie, typos are my friends, or at least that is what I tell myself, lol. Thanks for coming by. Yes the Knignt in shining armour is a dream come true.
Joye, I think sometimes while they don’t say much, we know there is lots going on beneath the surface.
Cynthia, thanks for dropping in and on Mother’s Day too, hope you are all enjoying the day, either as or with. My girls are here today, cooking dinner, with daddy. They seem to being doing well. It is lovely to see them. It makes me feel special.
Amy, my heroine really is an artist, and I think my black sheep is very intrigued because she is not like the women he is used to. Robert’s best friend will be appearing in a short story, an Undone called Deliciously Debauched by the Rake.
My favorite black sheep character would have to be Jon Snow from George R.R. Martin’s A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE.
As to heroes that I like best? I must say that I always like a hero who has a little bit of a dark background….squeaky clean heroes are boring!
Kimberly Sue, I agree, unless they are squeaky clean for some reason, some dark secret from the past!
I always enjoy the rakish bad boy, the black sheep, the flawed and tortured hero. Someone with a bit of baggage and history to overcome, and have his chance at happiness.
Barbed1951 at aol dot com
Barbara, I could not have said it better myself!
Ah…Louisa and I have the same taste in our bad boys! Loved Sebastian – oh, and Eileen Dreyer’s Diccan! This sounds like a great story, I especially love that you gave us Armistaid and Blunt as examples for who we can visualize the hero/heroine as – I love them both!
dtchycat at charter dot net
I laughed when I read that you distracted your husband while driving. That’s great! Definitely promises a fun read!
I like tortured hero who has been wounded, either in body or in spirit. They react to the wounding so many different ways that it opens doors to all sorts of story ideas.
THE GAMEKEEPER’S LADY sounds like it will be an enjoyable read. Congratulations on your Knights In Shining silver award. I like the sound of your upcoming books.
This promises to be a great story. I’m curious about the scene that caused you and your husband to get lost. And if Robert looks like Richard Armitage.. well you can’t go wrong with that 😀
My favourite black sheep/bad boy hero is Jasper, Lord Damerel, from Venetia by Georgette Heyer. He knows what he is (Heyer even suggests he is not merely a rake but a full-fledged libertine) and thinks he is irredeemable, yet shows his noble side when he tries to give up Venetia, who refuses to let him.
Hi Ann… congrats for the release of The Gamekeeper’s Lady.
Looking forward to read it ^^
And to the ladies who came by after my bedtime here in the east, thank you so much for your comments and more bad boys too. Now I have to dash off and read Venetia again.
What a fun visit I have had, thanks everyone!
I love all bad boys or black sheep in my reading (not so much in real life lol). I especially enjoy the ones in historicals! Your book sounds intriguing!