Today we welcome Avon author Margo Maguire, who has written Medievals, Victorians, Saxons, Celts, Sorcerers, and Regencies, you name it. Today she’s talking about her latest book, in bookstores now, Taken By The Laird.

…There’s something for everyone in this book — romance, sex, ghosts, adventure and mystery….–Linda Roberts, RT Book Reviews

Margo will be giving away two signed books. See the details at the end of the interview.

Welcome, Margo! Tell us about Taken By The Laird.
First of all, thank you for having me on Risky Regencies! I love your site.

Taken by the Laird is the story of Brianna Munro, who flees London rather than staying and marrying the man chosen for her by her callous guardian. She’s impulsive and determined, and when she arrives in Scotland, the weather is brutal. She takes refuge in Castle Glenloch, much of which is in ruins, never expecting to find its laird, Hugh Christie, in residence. Hugh is known in London as a rake and a scoundrel, and all the single young ladies are cautioned against him. Hugh is at Castle Glenloch for the purpose of trying to determine who is sabotaging his smuggling operation. The castle holds terrible memories for Hugh, whose wife committed suicide there some years before. He is now a dedicated bachelor, with absolutely no intention of marrying again. Though he is fairly certain Brianna is lying about her identity – Hugh does not guess that she is the daughter of a viscount, or else he’d get her away from Glenloch immediately.

Taken By The Laird features characters from Wild. Tell us about that book and whether readers should read it first.
No need to read Wild first. Hugh is merely introduced as a friend of Wild’s hero, Anthony Maddox, who was lost in Africa as a child. Here’s the one-line “high concept” that I gave my editor when I proposed this book: The young, female companion to an elderly dowager must become tutor to the woman’s grandson, a young man who was lost while on safari with his father at a young age – who now returns to London to become civilized and take his place in society.was a lot of fun to write. Anthony isn’t exactly a “wild child,” because he’s kept some English artifacts that remind him of home (which also helped to keep the English language alive for him). But he would prefer to return to his perfect environment in Africa. Grace Hawthorne is the starched young companion to Anthony’s grandmother, who finds herself in an untenable situation with a man who has no concept of propriety or decorum. Worse, he doesn’t seem to care that he will hurt his grandmother if he leaves.

We re Risky Regencies. What is “risky” about Taken By The Laird?
For me, the riskiest part of Taken By The Laird was in the writing: balancing the romance with the plot. Smuggling is the reason Hugh is in Scotland in the first place, and someone is obviously stealing from him. There’s a murder, and it has a great deal to do with Hugh’s smuggling operation. I have Brianna, who lies about her identity in order to keep herself concealed from her guardian and bridegroom, and she’s a rather impetuous, unpredictable character. Even I wondered what she was going to do next, and I had a detailed synopsis to work from!

And then there was the ghost. The castle is haunted, but Hugh has never seen the ghost, so he’s always believed the legend was just a ruse to keep people away from the castle … away from the smuggling. But Brianna actually sees it …I had to be relentless in keeping Brianna and Hugh together, and making them irresistible to each other, in spite of everything going on around them. This is a very sexy book!

You set the book in 1829, post-Regency. What drew you to this time period?
This sort of happened by default. Hugh is introduced in Wild, which I’d intended to make a Victorian story, but my editor asked me to move it back, make it earlier. The only problem was that I needed to have the hero, Anthony, lost in Africa some twenty-ish years before, but Englishmen were not going on safari until the late 1700s. They were definitely exploring before then (I think there was a recent Risky blog about Scottish explorer Mungo Park), but I couldn’t imagine Anthony’s father taking him on one of those early expeditions. So I decided he might have brought the boy along on safari in about 1807-08, by which time there’d been a lot of exploration already done, and he could be reasonably sure of the conditions where they were going. Which meant that Wild couldn’t have taken place before about 1829 or so. And since Hugh was introduced in Wild, I had to keep the same time frame for Taken by the Laird.

Did you come across any interesting research while writing the book?
LOL! There is always so much, all the little details, that seem inconsequential. But they’re crucial to a story. For this one, I had to research smuggling (known as free-trading): where it was done, what products were smuggled, how it was financed, who the customs agents were, what kind of ships were used, how the contraband would be stored – and I wanted to know how it would take place in Scotland. Not that all of this information is laid out in Taken by the Laird, but I always have to . Because other factors that do turn up in the book might depend upon the background information that will forever lie hidden in my notes.

What’s next for you?
My next book from Avon is a Regency that will be out in May, 2010, called The Rogue Prince. It’s set in 1817, and was an absolute treat to write. The hero, Thomas Thorne, is a man who was wrongly convicted of a crime and spent years in an Australian penal colony. By a twist of fate, he becomes incredibly wealthy. But when he returns to London to take revenge against the two boys (now men) who accused him, he falls for the woman who is the widow of one, and stepsister of the other.

I also contributed a couple of short stories, one coming out in December in The Mammoth Book of Time Travel Romance and the other in January in The Mammoth Book of Irish Romance. Both were departures from my usual fare, so they were a lot of fun to write!

In honor of my visit here to Risky Regencies AND my birthday, which is this Tuesday, I’d love to give away a copy of Wild, and one of Taken by the Laird.

Thanks for hosting me today, ladies!

Thanks for coming, Margo! Winners will be chosen at random from our commenters, so be sure to ask Margo a question, or tell her what you think about these intriguing books!