Today our guest author is none other than MARY JO PUTNEY!! I’ve already gushed about Mary Jo in my Monday blog, but today Mary Jo is here to discuss her newest book, Loving a Lost Lord. Mary Jo will be giving away a signed copy of Loving a Lost Lord to one lucky commenter, so join the party and ask the incomparable Mary Jo Putney what you’ve always wanted to know.

STARRED REVIEW “The enchanting first Lost Lords novel confirms bestseller Putney as a major force in historical romance. . . . Entrancing characters and a superb plot line catapult this tale into stand-alone status.”– Publisher’s Weekly

RR: Welcome, Mary Jo!

MJP: Let’s hear it for historicals!

RR. Tell us about Loving a Lost Lord.

MJP: LALL is the first of my new Regency historical series. The “lost lords” of the series are men who met at the Westerfield Academy, a school for boys of “good birth and bad behavior.” The school was founded by an eccentric duke’s daughter, and her students are boys who didn’t fit into the rigid expectations of their class. The very first student who sparked the school’s founding was Adam Darshan Lawford, the half-Hindu boy who was wrenched away from his mother after he became the Duke of Ashford.

LALL begins when three of Ashton’s friends report to Lady Agnes Westerfield that Adam has been killed in the explosion of an experimental steam yacht in Scotland. When she learns that his body hasn’t been found, she sends them north to see if they can bring him home for proper burial.

Meanwhile, far in the north, newly orphaned Mariah Clarke could really used a husband as protection against an unwanted suitor, and when a battered man washes up on her beach with no memory, it seems too good an opportunity to pass up….

And it goes on from there. It’s one of my more over-the-top stories!

STARRED REVIEW “Compelling, flawless prose, gentle humor, exotic elements (courtesy of Adam’s half-Hindi heritage), and irresistible characters caught in a sweet, sensual dilemma will leave readers smiling, breathless, and anxiously awaiting the next adventure in Putney’s new “Lost Lords” series. Readers who loved Putney’s “Fallen Angels” series are in for a rare treat; fortunately, there are more delicacies to come! Putney (A Distant Magic) writes some of the most sensitive, exquisite historicals in the field.”–Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal

RR: Loving a Lost Lord marks your return to the Regency era. Can you tell us something about your writer’s journey that brought you back to the Regency?

MJP: The vast majority of my thirty plus books have been set in the Regency, but several years back, I felt that I was on the verge of burnout, so I wrote several contemporaries and then paranormal historicals. Now that I’ve recharged my batteries, I’ve come home.

But the issue of burnout hasn’t gone away, even if it’s temporarily in abeyance. I’ve had people ask me if editorial pressure made me do the fantasy historicals, and the answer is no. I love writing history, fantasy, and romance together. But the combination isn’t as commercially viable as straight historicals, so that’s what I’m doing.

However—I’m delighted to report that recently sold a young adult fantasy historical series to St. Martin’s Press. That will give the chance to get my fantasy fix. I just have to learn to write faster!

RR: What is risky about this book?

MJP: It’s far from my riskiest book, actually. I mean, it starts with the hero presumed dead and he’s a half-Hindu duke, but that’s pretty conservative for me. No alcoholics, epileptics, or abused characters in sight. Definitely middle of the road. I hope long time readers aren’t disappointed.

TOP PICK “If you loved the Fallen Angels, you’ll adore the Lost Lords: men who formed unbreakable bonds while at a school for boys of “good birth and bad behavior.” Only the incomparable Putney could bring them to life and have readers yearning to be close to such dynamic heroes and the women who tame them”–Kathe Robin, RT Book Reviews

RR: Did you come across any interesting research in writing this book?

MJP: This isn’t one of my highest research books. The previous book, A Distant Magic, was hugely research intensive since it was built around the 18th century British abolition movement. I’ve found that after a book like that, I need something simpler on the next book so I can recover.

So LALL is a fairly standard Regency setting—1812, England and Scotland. But I did find some very cool material on diving bells when Ashton’s friends take a salvage ship out to try to recover the wreckage of the sunken steam yacht. Did you know that diving bells were first described by Aristotle, and Alexander the Great went down in one? A bell is heavy and water tight, and it’s lowered directly into the water. The pressure of the air trapped inside keeps water from rising in the bell unless it goes fairly deep.

To quote Wikipedia: “A diving bell was used to salvage more than 50 cannons from the Swedish warship Vasa in the period immediately following its sinking in 1628.” That’s some serious salvage! By the time of the Regency, fresh air could be maintained in the bell with a hose and a pump, so divers could stay under water for quite some time.

Sorry to run on, but you really shouldn’t ask a Regency writer about research!

RR: Precisely why we asked! What is next for you?

MJP: I’ve finished the second Lost Lords book. The hero is Randall, who shows up in LALL, and the book is scheduled for May 2010. Kensington has also bought rights to one of my Fallen Angels books, and it’s scheduled for early 2010. I have at least four other potential heroes I’d like to write about, so this is a pretty open ended series.

In January 2010, I’m part of a paranormal Grail anthology called Chalice of Roses with Jo Beverley, Barbara Samuel, and Karen Harbaugh. (This is the third paranormal anthology the four of us have done together.)

And in Very Cool news, I found this week that Loving A Lost Lord made the extended New York Times list as well as the USAToday list. It’s great that readers still enjoy Regency historicals after all these years!

RR: Wow!! That’s terrific! But not surprising.

Thanks so much for having me here—

Mary Jo Putney

Okay Risky Readers, now’s your chance to ask Mary Jo a question, or make a comment. You might be the one chosen to win a signed copy of Loving a Lost Lord.

Visit Mary Jo often on her website or on her blog, Word Wenches.