Today, welcome back Louise Allen, who has visited the Riskies before with other UK authors. We’re delighted we have her all to ourselves to talk about her latest book, The Disgraceful Mr Ravenhurst , her latest Harlequin Historical (July, 2009). Louise is giving away one copy of The Disgraceful Mr Ravenhurst to one lucky commenter. Welcome, Louise!
First of all – thank you for the invitation to Risky Regencies – I’m thrilled to be here!
We’re thrilled to have you. Tell us about your book!
The Disgraceful Mr Ravenhurst (Harlequin July 2009) is set in my favourite region of France – Burgundy. The hero is the black sheep of the Ravenhurst clan, Theophilus, son of a bishop, and in dangerous trouble – as usual. The heroine is Elinor Ravenhurst his bookish spinster cousin touring French cathedrals with her formidable scholarly mother. Theo needs some respectable cover, Elinor needs adventure and between them they end up in the midst of a lethal hunt for a scandalous art treasure, discovering each other and their real feelings in the process.
This is book 4 in your Those Scandalous Ravenhurst series. Tell us about books 1-3
The series features seven cousins in six books. They stand alone, but characters from each occur – and interfere – in the others. The Dangerous Mr Ryder has the mysterious Lord Sebastian Ravenhurst sent to rescue Grand Duchess Eva during Napoleon’s return to France in 1815. The second, The Outrageous Lady Felsham, stars Sebastian’s sister Bel in her search for an exciting lover and includes a polar bear called Horace and a bathing machine at Margate. The third, The Shocking Lord Standon, has a most respectable hero forced by circumstances and the women in his life (including a naked governess in distress, Bel, Eva and Lady Maude, the heroine of the fifth book) to become positively improper. A linked e-book, Disrobed & Dishonored in the Historical Undone series has a number of the Ravenhursts assisting their friend Sarah when she becomes entangled with a very obliging highwayman.
The scheduling of the release of these books was very interesting: July, August and September of 2008, and now July, August and Sept of 2009. Tell us something about the planning for this six book series?
When I was planning I began with Sebastian who had walked, unannounced, into No Place For a Lady in his persona of Jack Ryder, private investigator. I had been expecting an elderly Bow Street Runner, so Jack was a shock and I knew he needed his own book. Looking at the series as a whole I wanted to experiment with different scenarios – a Gothic dungeon, a London drawing room, a pirate ship, a London theatre, the English seaside – and as soon as I began thinking about those settings, Sebastian’s cousins appeared to inhabit their own stories. Before I knew where I was there were six books and a complex family tree.
My editor had originally asked me to think about a brothers and sisters trilogy, so she was startled to be confronted with seven cousins, but she gave me a lot of encouragement and suggested the Undone e-book as well. This was the first series I have written so I didn’t know what to expect with scheduling, but I like the split – it has kept the Ravenhursts in my life for much longer.
What is risky about The Disgraceful Mr. Ravenhurst?
Theo himself thrives on risk and has done since he was expelled from school for gambling. As a bishop’s son he should be in England doing something respectable, not making a very good living on the continent as an antiquities dealer – often on the shady side of the law. Now he has got himself into deep – almost lethal – trouble. It was fun pairing him with a heroine who had never done a risky thing in her life before and watching Elinor rise to the occasion. And Theo is a redhead – I have always been told that readers don’t like redheaded heroes, so that was a risk, but he refused to change colour. Luckily, UK readers who have already met him tell me he’s just fine as he is.
What has been risky about the whole series?
I had never tried a series before, so starting with a six-part one was probably a risk to begin with. Then I wanted to experiment with different types of Regency stories within the series. I thought that might be difficult, but I found it kept the series fresh for me and readers have responded well to that so far.
Juggling the characters, managing their continuing stories and deciding who to bring back, or to introduce, in other books was perhaps the riskiest part of the series as a whole. The Ravenhurst babies were all behaving well and arriving on time – until my editor asked me to review the timescale of The Notorious Mr Hurst. Two weeks, several very overdue babies and much calculation later I managed to sort out the problem!
And tell us about Books 5 and 6: The Notorious Mr. Hurst and The Piratical Miss Ravenhurst.
The Notorious Mr Hurst (Harlequin August 2009) is set in one of London’s smaller theatres. Lady Maude Templeton saw theatre owner Eden Hurst in The Shocking Lord Standon and fell in love at first sight. He has secrets and strong reasons of his own for avoiding an entanglement with a well-bred, wealthy young lady and he doesn’t believe in love – of any kind. But Maude is determined to prove to him that he needs love, and he needs her.
The Piratical Miss Ravenhurst (Harlequin September 2009) is the youngest of the cousins. A Jamaican heiress, Clemence runs from her avaricious guardian uncle straight into the clutches of one of the Caribbean’s nastiest pirates, Red Mathew McTiernan. Her only hope is the ship’s navigator, a renegade naval officer, Nathan Stanier. But just as cabin boy Clem is not what he seems, neither is Mr Stanier. It is a long way home to England, the Ravenhurst clan and true love for Clemence.
Thank you so much for hanging out with the Riskies, Louise. Remember, Louise is giving away a copy to one commenter, chosen at random, so now is your time to ask about her exciting series….or anything else. (Louise is in the UK and may not answer questions while she is sleeping)
Don’t forget to visit Louise’s website! www.louiseallenregency.co.uk And her blog, Historical Romance UK! http://www.historicalromanceuk.blogspot.com/
You must have worked non-stop to get all these stories out in the last year. Your title is so intriguing. I’m wondering what Mr. Ravenhurst has done that’s so disgraceful.
Welcome, Louise, and I am in awe of how you kept all the details straight in a six-book series. How did you do it?
I love the idea of characters embroiled in the clutches of a large, interfering, eccentric-ridden family, something I’m trying to write myself at the moment, tho I find mainly they’re background noise (very noisy!).
I first discovered the Ravenhursts through your Historical Undone, which I loved! Now that I see that there are scandalous art treasures and a polar bear (!) to be found, I’ll definitely be on the look-out for the other books in this series.
After having written longer, interconnected novels, did you find it difficult to tell Jonathan’s story in the short Undone! format?
I admire your discopline as well as your talent.
Hello Louise! I am a long time fan and I really enjoy your books. Thank you for some great reads. This series has it all! Which is more fun, writing a stand alone book or writing a series?
Do you keep a notebook or chart or something to make sure you have all of the relationships and the characters straight as they move from book to book?
What sort of research sources did you use for some of the more specialized aspects of the books?
I’m not bidding for the free book. I’ve already got my copy of Ravenhurst #4 and it’s an absolutely terrific read. Much recommended. As is the Undone!
Louise says she’s a pantser, never knowing quite where the story is going when she starts it, but she’s clearly very organised when it comes to keeping 6 books, and all those characters, in line. I do admire her for that. Having just finished a series of my own (the Aikenhead Honours) which was only 3 books plus an Undone! (out in July) I found it incredibly difficult to keep all my ducks in a row and quacking in tune. (!!)
Looking forward to seeing what Louise has to say about her secrets for doing this. Something we can all learn from. At least, I’m sure I can.
Hi Louise, this story sound like it has a wonderful plot line. I am intrigued by Mr. Ravenhurst, what has he done or not done. Did you have to research each book or did you do the research all at once?
Thanks for all the interest and questions! Maureen – you’ll have to read it to find out, but Theo as been disgraceful since he’s been a schoolboy. His mother, the bishop’s wife, pretends he’s on the continent doing the Grand Tour because she won’t admit what he’s up to.
Janet – vast Excel spreadsheets work for me with a column for each character and dates down the other side with colour coding for interaction with each other.
Lana – it was a challenge to find characters who had a strong enough story to tell but one that could be compressed into a shorter span. But as so often, Jonathan just came riding along when I needed him, complete with plot.
Louisa – I’m getting hooked on series, I must admit, because I can keep finding out what my heroes & heroines are getting up to. Research all depends. Walking the batlefied at Waterloo for Dangerous Mr Ryder,talking to the lovely guys at Margate museum for the bathing machine in Outrageous Lady Felsham, lots of eating and drinking in Burguday (it was hell, but someone has to) for Disgraceful Mr Ravenhurst. Lots of theatre research for Notorious Mr Hurst – and memoirs for Piratical Miss Ravenhurst.
Hi Joanna – and if everyone hasn’t found the Aikenhead Honours trilogy yet, it has fascinating and unusual locations and terrific adventure along with the romance.
Virginia – I researched as I went, although I was able to combine my Waterloo and Burgundy research trips into one holiday
Poor Louise! All that mind-stretching research an author has to do. And in such boring places, too.
I’m joking, I’m joking, honest!
Surprised you only read memoirs for your pirates. I’d have expected you to be out there, with the Jolly Roger flying, taking no prisoners…
Actually, to tell the truth, I’m dying to get my hands on books 5 and 6 of your series. Theatre and pirates… Couldn’t be more intriguing, really.
Ha! I have the theatre book on the top of my TBR pile and can’t wait to get my latest Ravenhurst fix! This series has been a total delight for me. I love the way you’ve created a whole clan, Louise, and we’ve been invited into their world!
Oh, I finished this book yesterday and LOVED it. I’ve read the others and was equally enamored, making my critique partner read them, too. So, so well done. And your red-headed hero is a hunk on the beautiful cover. I loved how the h/h both used art to express themselves when words wouldn’t do. I am a fan!
These books sound like a fantastic adventure to some places I have not been. This is one of the reasons I love reading romance books especially historicals.
I do love books in a series as it gives me the chance to get to know a lot of the characters and always looking forward to the next book.
I will be looking for these books to add to my collection.
Count me as another fan of red-headed heroes! It’s a while since I’ve written one – definitely time for another!
Louise, you had me at art treasure and scholar….must purchase now!
I so love the historical short story undone series that has come out. It really is a great way to try out new authors.
You are probably sleeping, and I was out all day so this is my first chance to say hi!
Thank you for blogging with us!
A belated welcome to RR. Louise! I loved reading your tips on keeping the characters in a series straight–it’s so difficult, and I’ve never even tried a SIX book series! Your Ravenhursts sound marvelous 🙂
Oh, and I must read any book that has a polar bear in it!!!
Hi again – I’ve woken up to a hot sunny morning here!
Thanks for all the lovely comments. Amanda – I’m afraid Horace the polar bear is a bear skin rug, an antique my heroine rescued as a child from her godfather – although he still has all his teeth and is quite capable of felling the hero to the ground.
Nicola – thanks for the vote of confidence in red-headed heroes – and I’ve just started your Scandals of an Innocent – what a hero!
Joanna – I don’t know what came over me – why didn’t I book an immediate flight to Jamaica for pirate research? My husband still gnashes his teeth every time that book is mentioned, poor man.
Hi Louise. Your books sounds wonderful. Beautful covers.
Bel in her search for an exciting lover and includes a polar bear called Horace and a bathing machine at Margate: now who could resist this kind of reading. Very interesting.
I love series books where the characters appear in other books and new characters are introduced.
I’m late getting here but it was worth it for me Louise because I love Historicals and series books. Now I have a whole clan I can read and catch up on. I enjoyed your post.
Thank you everyone – it is so cheering to hear from enthusiastic readers and lovers of Regencies.
Congratulations Mari – and I hope you enjoy the book!