Today our guest author is my very good friend Mary Blayney, who also happens to be one of my favorite Regency authors! Out this month is the third book in Mary’s Penniston series, Stranger’s Kiss (already on my Kindle just waiting for me!). Mary is giving away one signed copy of Stranger’s Kiss to one lucky commenter.


Following the acclaimed Traitor’s Kiss and Lover’s Kiss, the new installment in the Pennistan saga is an emotionally charged story of revenge, loss, passion and redemption. Blayney plays readers like a virtuoso, allowing laughter, tears and every emotion in between to claim your heart–Kathe Robin, RT Book Reviews–4 1/2 Stars and a Top Pick

1. Tell us about Stranger’s Kiss.
This is my favorite part. Talking about a new book is like bragging about one of my kids.
Stranger’s Kiss is Lyn Pennistan’s story. He’s the third Duke of Meryon and (obviously) the oldest of the family that are at the heart of the series I am doing for Bantam.

The duke takes his responsibilities seriously, very seriously and really must learn to have fun. Elena Verano comes to England from Italy after the death of her husband. In the first chapter (after a prologue) Lyn and Elena meet, by accident, in a dark room at the first social event they attend since coming out of mourning. They connect in a meaningful way and not only because they share one almost-innocent kiss. Lyn is more honest than he ever is when among the ton. Elena thinks she has met a man of great sensibility. When they meet again, she finds him the complete opposite.

2. Stranger’s Kiss continues the Pennistan Saga. Tell us something about the plotting of this series. Did you know each story before you began? Do you need to read Traitor’s Kiss and Lover’s Kiss first?
The plotting of the series? Hmmm. I knew there were four boys and one girl in this generation of the Pennistan family. That was it for awhile. Then it all began to take shape.

I discovered that the duke, married in the first book, would be a widower by the end of the second book. I knew that the youngest, Gabriel, was in prison in France. His brother, David just returned from the dead having been missing for seven years and the third son, Jessup, was estranged from the family because of a gambling addiction. Olivia is a spoiled darling who, despite being overly indulged, is one of the most generous souls in England. The first book Traitor’s Kiss is Gabriel’s story and the second book, Lover’s Kiss is Olivia’s.

That was all I knew, but knowing the characters is what is key for me. Once they are in my head the story takes shape – not always the way I imagine. For example, I had an important secondary character in the first book that turned out to be the hero in the second book. I had no idea! And the woman in the second book who I thought was Jessup’s true love is not.

Each book stands alone, but the family as a whole are important secondary characters in succeeding novels. It adds depth and interest if you know the people I am writing about.

3. Did you run across any interesting research when writing this book?
I always find intriguing details when I am researching. I read the details of the arguments
In Parliament in 1818. I learned all about private bills in Parliament to remove land from an entail and to replace it with another parcel, all while looking for a revenge element that would fit into the story. Most of these proved much too esoteric.

I learned the dueling itself was not against the law but killing someone was. That was a very helpful tidbit. I had great fun researching the architecture for the house that the duke kept for his mistress. I copied an actual French pavilion and then made up the inside. I love observing (or designing) how interior space is used and would move into this charming cottage in an instant.

4. What’s risky about Stranger’s Kiss?
Writing about a duke’s life. As I say in my author’s note, a duke was a cross between a US Senator and a big name Hollywood star. I wanted to show that his life is filled with responsibility up to and including who he marries and how much time he spends in London. I hope I convinced readers that a duke’s life is not easy (and not always happy) despite all the privilege.

5. You write very entertaining secondary characters. Where do they come from?
Most of my secondary characters just will not shut up. And as a writer I get to experiment with these intruders. In Stranger’s Kiss, Viscount William Bendasbrook who first showed up in Lover’s Kiss reappears and is even more central to the story than his brief appearance in Book Two. The boy, Alan Wilson is another secondary character that I have not seen the last of. (BTW, I used my neighbors name and now have a new fan)

6. I happen to know that you’ve stayed in Nora Roberts’ Inn in Boonsboro. What’s it like?
Inn Boonsboro is the best. In case Risky fans do not know, Nora Roberts fulfilled a dream
when she was able to buy the oldest building (a hotel) in Boonsboro, MD and restored it
to its former glory. It opened last February as a Bed and Breakfast. Each room is named for a couple who lived happily ever after, including JD Robb’s Eve and Roarke from the In Death series.

My goal is to stay in all eight rooms. I’ve stayed in five so far. Suzanne
is a great innkeeper. The kind who makes a note when you ask for something
(in my case herbal tea) and then has it for you the next time you come. One of my
favorite moments was when I stayed in Eve and Roarke and found a grey button on the dresser. I thought someone left it behind. Then I remembered the button from Eve’s “awful” suit that Roarke carries with him all the time. Nora did a fabulous job on the place and is obviously very into detail!

7. What’s next for you?
I am six weeks away from THE END for the next Pennistan novel, Courtesan’s Kiss which introduces readers to David Pennistan. He is full of mystery and remorse and needs to find an outlet for the passion he keeps under such tight control.

But before Courtesan’s Kiss comes out, hopefully at the end of June 2010, my next novella in the anthology The Lost will be published – end of November 2009. With Nora writing as JD Robb, the books will be everywhere and I hope you all have a chance to read “Lost in Paradise.” It’s my version of Beauty and Beast, a modern day fairy tale about a man cursed to live on a Caribbean Island for 200 years–until a nurse with a generous spirit arrives and changes everything. It’s less than one hundred pages so you can fit it in between shopping and gift wrapping and decorating for the holidays.

Thanks to the Riskies for giving me a chance to chat – I’ll be around all day and check back often.

Comment for a chance to win a copy of Stranger’s Kiss. Ask Mary whatever you like!