Today the Risky Regencies interview one of their own. Diane has a new release, The Vanishing Viscountess, out this month in North America from Harlequin Historical and the UK from Mills & Boon.

Diane will randomly select one lucky commenter to receive a special prize–the Mills & Boon version of The Vanishing Viscountess. Mills & Boon selected The Vanishing Viscountess to be a special release celebrating the 100th birthday of Mills & Boon. This edition has a gold embossed cover, special interview features, and a bonus book—The Mysterious Miss M

The Vanishing Viscountess truly is a beautiful love story. Filled with danger, passion and love. Immediately one is swept away in this exciting road adventure.–MP, Barnes & Noble reader review

1. Diane, welcome to the Risky Regencies interview. Tell us about The Vanishing Viscountess

First of all, thank you so much for having me at your wonderful Risky Regencies blog. I feel right at home here! But let me talk about my book.

The Vanishing Viscountess is the Marquess of Tannerton’s story. Remember Tanner from Innocence and Impropriety? While writing I&I, I made a deal with him. If he stopped trying to take over Flynn and Rose’s story, I’d write him a story of his own. I got back at him, though. In Innocence & Impropriety, Tanner depended upon his money, title, and connections to solve all his problems. In his own story, I stripped him of all those trappings and made him survive using his wits and resourcefulness.

I gave Tanner a damsel in distress, a fugitive from the law, the Vanishing Viscountess, Marlena Parronley, unjustly accused of murder and on the run. Tanner rescues her from a shipwreck and insists upon escorting her to safety in Scotland, even though he has very little money and must pretend not to be a marquis. Tanner and Marlena must travel across Great Britain from the Anglesey coast to Edinburgh, Scotland without Tanner’s use of his title, his connections, or his wealth.

And, of course, danger pursues them the whole way.

2. How did you get the idea for this story?

Besides from Tanner himself, whose character was imbedded in my mind, I’d been fascinated by news accounts of real shipwrecks that I’d read in my Annual Registers, a set of books of the time period that are a little like almanacs (I own 1810 to 1820, but they are in terrible shape). The Annual Registers contain summaries of the proceedings of parliament, lists of marriages and births of peers, and month-by-month selection of news stories of the previous year. (You can find an online copy of The Annual Register of 1814 here ).

Sadly in all of the accounts I’ve read of shipwrecks around the English coast, all the women and children died.

I like to start my books with something exciting if I can and a shipwreck seemed to fit the bill. From Tanner and a shipwreck the rest of the story just grew.

3. What was risky about this story?

This was my first “Road Story” plot. When I conceived the idea for Tanner’s story, I didn’t realize I was writing a Road Story. It meant I had to research many settings, not just one, because the characters travel to a different place almost every day. I also had to come up with a believable route and find realistic places the characters could stop. I had to make certain that I described the terrain in a realistic way. I used Google Maps and Google Earth to help me. I wrote about this for the January 2008 RT. You can also read more about it and find my Google Map on my website here.

Another thing that I think was risky was that my heroine, Marlena, withholds information from Tanner, even as they become lovers. I hope that I gave her sufficient motivation for virtually lying to Tanner. I’ll have to see what readers think.

4. You always tell us that you write about the Regency Underworld, the seamy side of the Regency. How was The Vanishing Viscountess the seamy side when your hero is a Marquis and your heroine a Viscountess?

It is always a challenge to me to include a “Regency Underworld” element to my stories. In The Vanishing Viscountess, I tried to put Tanner and Marlena in situations lords and ladies do not usually face, like surviving a shipwreck, being the victims of wreckers, traveling as ordinary people, having to buy and wear ordinary clothes. I also give readers a glimpse of the seamier side of being a servant in the backstory of the secondary heroine, Fia, who has been coerced into her employer’s bed.

5. What’s next?
My next book is Scandalizing the Ton, scheduled for release in October 2008.

It is my Regency Paparazzi story! I got to wondering what it would be like for a Regency lady to be hounded by the press, like Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, or Paris Hilton are today. And what if the Regency lady became pregnant and no one knew who the father of the baby was, like poor Anna Nicole Smith? My heroine, though, has done nothing to bring this media attention onto herself. She only had one brief moment of indiscretion.

Readers briefly met the hero of Scandalizing the Ton in Innocence and Impropriety and he is mentioned in The Vanishing Viscountess. The hero is Tanner’s friend Adrian Pomroy, now Viscount Cavanley, and even he does not know who the father of the baby is….

I couldn’t put it down. What a story! It grabs you and doesn’t let go. Emotion, love, danger, sensual beautiful love scenes, and realism to the max… who could ask for more? A super-keeper of a book. This is one of Diane’s best, and I’ve read all of them!–MK, Barnes & Noble reader review

I hope you all will put The Vanishing Viscountess on the top of your TBR piles and make it a New Year’s resolution to read it. Be sure to let me know what you think of it.