I had the great privilege of meeting an online friend in real life this summer–the funny and talented Maggie Robinson, who is just as funny and smart in person. She pressed upon me an ARC of Mistress by Marriage, which I giggled over on the journey home and found was the next best thing to having a conversation with her. So I pressed her into an appearance at the Riskies to talk about her funny, touching, sexy book.

Maggie, welcome. Tell us how Mistress by Marriage came about.

Mistress by Marriage (Kensington Brava, September 2011) was a title first before I ever had a glimmer of an idea. All the Mistress books are Mistress by Something Starting With An M. I’d done Midnight. I’d done Mistake. What else starts with M? Mistress by Menopause just didn’t have the right cachet. When I came up with Marriage, I had a real “aha” moment. What would get a married couple to rekindle their dead romance? How could two totally opposite individuals reconcile and have their HEA? Caroline and Edward had huge obstacles to overcome, both internally and externally. (And of the three Mistress books, this is definitely my favorite.)

This is your third and final book in the Courtesan Court Trilogy. Was it sad for you to say goodbye to the series and your characters?

I feel like I live on Jane Street with all its naughty ladies, LOL. Both my novellas have been set there, too. Actually, my next book, Master of Sin (April 2012) is technically the last book in what Brava is calling the Courtesan Court series. The very unlikely hero Andrew Rossiter is introduced in Marriage, so I expect references to the neighborhood will pop up in the future.

I found both Caroline and Edward such adorable and annoying people. Do you find yourself basing characters, or at least some of their characteristics, on people you know?

You caught me out. Edward and Caroline share some traits with my husband and myself (although John is not quite as proper and uptight as Edward, he always tries to do the right and honorable thing). Caroline tries to make everyone happy around her and doesn’t feel she deserves her own happiness. As a mom of four, I can relate. However, I’m not a gorgeous redhead addicted to jewels, although diamonds are nice if they’re conflict-free.

Ha! I suspected as much. (Has your hubby read it?) Your heroine Caroline is a writer. Did you ever feel that you wanted to be sidetracked into writing her books?

While Caroline and I share an unfortunate addiction to alliteration, I think she’s way more gothic and lurid than I am. And I hope I’m a better writer. Anyone who writes “He advanced toward her, his green eyes glittering like evil glass” needs to go to writing rehab. I had such fun with her titles and blurbs at the beginning of each chapter, though, and was pleased when Publisher’s Weekly said “the most fun derives from the way Caroline skewers society in her novels, with quotes from the books presented at the top of each chapter like bonbons.”

Caroline also uses her books to very conveniently kill off her Edward-like characters. There may be no evil glass, but there is no end to the creativity of her evil mind as she buries the man in mining mishaps and tosses him off mountain tops.

What’s your favorite scene in the book?

I’m very partial to when Edward kidnaps Caroline and introduces her to his “list.” Poor guy.

Tell us about your research on divorce law.

Let me tell you, it was nigh on to impossible to end a marriage, and only a husband could sue his wife for divorce, no matter how awful he might be. Women had NO recourse to throw the bums out, and they had no rights to any children of the marriage. There were three stages—one had to prove infidelity and sue the wife’s paramour (the criminal conversation portion, or crim con), go through the ecclesiastical court and then get a Bill of Divorcement from Parliament. It was a rare, lengthy and expensive procedure. I can see why people remained married even if they hated each other.

You have a novella out this month too. Tell us about the anthology and your contribution.

To Match a Thief is part of Brava’s Improper Gentlemen with Diane Whiteside and Mia Marlowe. All the gentlemen are…improper. 😉 My characters Lucy and Simon are childhood lovers who have changed considerably from their very humble beginnings. They may have been separated for thirteen years, but the spark’s still there, even if Lucy is London’s most fabled courtesan. Or is she? The fun of the novella is that no one is quite who they seem, right down to the singer in Simon’s favorite opera.

What do you like to read for fun?

The Riskies’ books, of course! I’m devoted to nineteenth century-set historical romances, as well as the historical mysteries of Ashley Gardner, C.S. Harris and Deanna Raybourn.

What’s next for you?

As my edgier self Margaret Rowe, I have a story, Wicked Wedding Night, in the Berkley Heat anthology Agony/Ecstasy (December 2011). Three more Maggie Robinson books are contracted through 2013. The new London List series revolves around a Craigslist-like Regency newspaper operated by a very unusual editor. I can’t wait for readers to meet E. Ramsey.

Thanks so much to the Riskies for having me back today! I’m giving away both Improper Gentlemen AND Mistress by Marriage to one commenter who tells me how to kill off an estranged husband in a romance novel! Be as gory as you like. Caroline would approve.