Today our guest is Miranda Neville who offers us a tasty new Regency treat in Never Resist Temptation. Miranda originally hails from the UK but now lives and writes in Vermont. Her Avon debut promises to whet our appetites for more! Please give Miranda a delicious Risky welcome and one lucky commenter, chosen at random, will win an autographed copy of Never Resist Temptation.
1. This is your debut novel! Tell us about your book.
First, thank you so much for inviting me to visit the Riskies. A copy of Never Resist Temptation will go to one commenter.
Never Resist Temptation starts with that old romance staple—one I never get tired of—the heroine who is lost at cards by her wicked uncle. Jacobin, being a feisty lady, runs away and goes to work as a pastry cook at the Brighton Pavilion. Then her uncle is poisoned by a dessert she made and she’s on the run again. The good news is she’s been offered another job; the bad that her new employer is the winner of that card game. Anthony, the Earl of Storrington, has his own reasons for employing a pastry chef. He’s unaware of her true identity but things soon heat up between them.
“…genuine, lusty and fun.” Publisher’s Weekly
“…a delicious and delightful read.” Romantic Times 4 Stars
“I adored Never Resist Temptation.” Michelle Buonfiglio’s Romance B(u)y The Book
“Don’t resist the temptation – pick up the book!” Romance Novel TV
2. We love to hear about a new author’s journey to publication. Tell us about yours and include your “The Call” story!
I went into this as clueless as anyone. I’d always had the yen to write an historical romance so I did. Once I joined the RWA and tried to sell the book I discovered all the things that were wrong, like 10,000 words of backstory in the first three chapters. I did get some encouraging words on my writing from agents, editors and contest judges, but I gradually realized even the slimmed down version was unlikely to sell: it was too “traditional Regency.” I abandoned it, along with its half finished sequel, and spent a weekend thinking about a plot and characters that worked in what I’d learned about the current romance market.
I can’t really describe how the story evolved but it really came together. The first draft took six months and I enjoyed (almost) every moment. Then I went the usual route: appointments at conferences, contests, agent queries, and garnered my fair share of rejections. Once I won a contest and had an editor request the full, I began to get some interest from agents. Meredith Bernstein (what a great woman!) took me on and sold the book in three weeks. She called me one morning to say a couple of publishers had turned me down, then the same afternoon to relay an offer from Avon (thank you, most wonderful Lucia Macro). I went from wild despair to swilling champagne in a matter of hours.
2. Who can’t love a book that includes pastries? Tell us something about your research for the book, especially the cooking part.
Reading Ian Kelley’s biography of the great French chef Antonin Carême was the catalyst for the story. I wanted to incorporate his tenure as the Prince Regent’s chef. I was intrigued that female cooks were much more prevalent in England than on the continent. Carême didn’t like employing women as cooks and didn’t appreciate the female cooks who worked for Prinny. This gave me the idea of having Jacobin disguised as a young man. Cross-dressing roles are such fun, and Anthony is very confused by his initial attraction when he thinks she’s a boy. Most of the recipes described (and in some cases quoted) in the book come from Carême’s cookbooks. I tracked down details about period kitchens, stoves, utensils and so forth, though much of it never made it into the story.
4. We’re all about being risky here. What was risky about your book?
Hmm. I like to use a lot of humor, even in the sex scenes. Is that risky? And talking of risk, I am always aware of the chance of conception and I think the intelligent hero and heroine should be too. I like to see sex followed by pregnancy or fear of pregnancy, or use of some preventive measure. The rather crude forms of contraception available back then are perhaps given too much credence in romances, but that’s OK. I was nervous having my 88-year-old father read the book but he took it very well (of course, he thinks his daughter deserves a Pulitzer). We had an interesting discussion about coitus interruptus!
5. What is it about the Regency era that drew you to it?
My favorite historical eras have two things in common: great power and great clothes. The Regency saw Britain established as Top Country and its aristocrats wielded enormous influence. Masters of the Universe in fabulous costumes (yes, I loved Colin Firth in the wet shirt).
6. What’s next for you?
I’m contracted for two more books at Avon. The series (hopefully eventually a trilogy) is set in the world of Regency book collectors. Bibliophilia is a strange obsession, inspiring rivalries, murderous skullduggery and (a fact sadly absent from the historical record) sexual passion! I worked in Sotheby’s rare books department for several years so I’m returning to my roots here.
Miranda will be stopping by so feel free to ask her questions about Never Resist Temptation, French cooking, or working in Sotheby’s rare books department. And remember. One lucky commenter will win an autographed copy of Never Resist Temptation.
Skullduggery in the stacks! What fun, Miranda, and welcome to the Riskies.
Will you be covering the recovery of rare books or also restoration in your new duo for Avon?
Is your hero’s name inspired by Careme or was it a coincidence?
Your father is quite the risk-taker in the family, discussing such risque topics with his daughter. 🙂
Congratulations once again on your debut!
I love it when authors weave real historical characters and events in their books. Way to go!!
Wow, Ms Deville! I’m in awe at your courage–and your father is certainly an incredible person. I wish I could have heard that conversation! 😀
Best of luck with the book!
Hi and welcome Miranda.
Never would I have had that same conversation with my Dad; you go girl!!!
Glad to hear that you like using humor in your books; this is GOOD.
Hi Miranda, welcome to the Riskies!
I loved Ian Kelly’s book on Careme–what a fascinating character. Have you tried some of his recipes–what are your favorites? What other sources did you use for period recipes?
Welcome to RR, Miranda!! Count me as another fan of the Careme bio, so I can’t wait to read about a pastry chef heroine. (And how did you come up with her name?? Was her family French revolutionaries?)
Hey Keira – nice to see you again. You know I only realized about the Antonin/Anthony thing 2 days ago! So the answer is no. There is an explanation for Anthony’s Christian name given in NRT (as there is for Jacobin)
Diane – thanks for the interview. Carême himself doesn’t make an appearance. The plot demanded he get sick (which happened to him a lot – those kitchens were unhealthy places). But I did base the Brighton sequence as closely as possible on what I knew about the chef’s time there.
Aztec and Robyn. Yes, my dad is very cool – old age seems to have helped him drop his English inhibitions (though he now insists you aren’t old until you are 90). He also happens to be a meticulous proof reader so it was great having him read my galleys.
Hi Miranda ! Can’t wait for my copy of Never Resist Temptation to arrive. I won it on another blog, Riskies, so don’t enter me in this one. Thanks, Miranda!
I also loved the Careme biography. It was fascinating.
I am really looking forward to the series on the bibliophiles, Miranda! Isn’t it odd how people can become obsessed with certain things to the exclusion of all others, even to the point of murder?
Are there some famous book collections in England, in stately home perhaps, that are considered extremely important and / or valuable?
Hi Janet and Amanda
The Kelly Careme book was great. (I have to admit I thought much better than his Brummell). I must disclose that I’m not a great baker – too precise for me. I am from the “throw whatever’s in the house into a pot and see what happens” school. So when I read the books I just copied down any recipes that sounded interesting and delicious. Some of the recipes (mostly somewhat abbreviated) are given in NRT, others are mentioned and I’ve put the recipes on my website. All of them are Careme’s because French pastry is what the heroine knows how to cook.
In general, if I need to describe a meal in a book, I check a period cook book to find dishes. Eliza Smith, though earlier, was endlessly reprinted and I happen to have a facsimile edition, so I’ve used her often. I also try and bear in mind what foods are in season. I made a boo-boo in NRT, having them eat asparagus in November (maybe it was pickled). I have some notes on Elizabeth Raffald and Hannah Robertson’s books so I must have read them at some point. Also for interest – Amelia Simmons, the first American cookbook (1798)
Hi Miranda! I’m looking forward to reading your book, especially after hearing such fabulous things about it all over cyber-land. I like your heroine’s unusual occupation (at the time) of pastry chef. I love to bake so, naturally, I feel a connection to her. Did you kitchen test any of the recipes you found?
I love humor in my books and humor during sex is good too. What fun it would have been to be a fly on the wall for that conversation you had with your dad. Good for him! And you! 🙂
I have been asked about Jacobin’s name so often. All I can say is that the name is fully explained in the book (and not near the beginning either!). I picked it because my parents had a friend called Jacobin, I liked it, and I came up with a story.
Hi Louisa. You’re stalking me – but in a good way.
I’m not going to get into plot details on the rare book stuff (partly because it’s still evolving). But you Regency buffs will have heard of the Duke of Roxburghe’s sale in 1812, possibly the greatest book auction of the 19th century and one that heralded a new age of bibliophilia. The most prestigious London book collecting club is the Roxburghe, founded after that sale. The Marquis of Blandford outbid Lord Spencer, spending over 2000 guineas on the Valdarfer Boccaccio, arguably still the most expensive book ever sold if one adjusts for inflation. (later Blandford needed to raise some cash and sold it to Spencer for half as much).
Anyway, my next book is concerned with events surrounding an auction inspired by Roxburghe. Then a group of guys are going to start a club. You see where the series is coming from…
Did I mention that all my book collectors are really hot? Just like real life..
Loved the interview. Your book is on my BTB list. It sounds really good and I’m looking forward to reading it.
“Did I mention that all my book collectors are really hot? Just like real life”
LOL!! A hot book collector–that’s definitely my kind of hero 🙂
I do love research books on period cookery and dining, though I am not much of a cook in real life. I have a wonderful book called “Food and Feast in Tudor England,” but would never attempt any of those recipes! (not sure where to find a swan anyway…) I wonder if Regency recipes would be any easier to recreate?
You know Amanda, by this time the food is quite recognizable. None of those weird renaissance meals with larks stuffed in turtle doves, or whatever. I did notice that chocolate was not yet a big deal, except as a drink. In Careme chocolate is usually mentioned as an alternative ingredient. Some of the flavors sound a bit strange – especially desserts flavored with flowers.
I once tasted swan. Can’t remember how it happened because when I was a child all swans belonged to the Queen (which I suppose is a slightly quaint way of saying they were protected). Anyway, someone I knew had got hold of a swan and it was a really big deal. WOOOO we are are going to taste swan.
The only thing I’ve ever eaten that was more disgusting was raccoon at a wild game supper in Vermont.
Congratulations on your new book. The plot sounds interesting but I’m wondering if you could describe your hero and heroine.
Hello and welcome Miranda.
Your pastry chef heroine sounds REALLY interesting like the whole book. I’m Really looking forward to read it. 🙂
Hi Maureen & Milka
Jacobin, my heroine, is half French and half English. She spent her childhood in Revolutionary France and has a distinctly unconventional outlook. She can be impulsive and a bit of a drama queen, but also smart and inventive. Anthony, my hero, wants to avenge the death of his mother and intends to use Jacobin as the instrument. He doesn’t always make sympathetic choices or behave well but, I like to think, redeems himself in the end.
For myself, I always prefer flawed characters who overcome their own worst instincts with the help of falling in love.
I love the distinction between chefs (male) and cooks (female) in your post. While researching something else I ran across a bit about a French chef’s tirade on finding a woman in his kitchen. I wonder how his mom felt about that. LOL
Your book sounds like a bit of a romp. I look forward to reading it.
Miranda–I have trouble using your pen name–hope your book signing went well yesterday!
I’m reading 17th century newspapers for my w-i-p and almost weekly there’s an announcement that a “gentleman” or a “nobleman” is offering his books for sale. I always want to know why. Bookcases too full? Running out of money?
Nice to see you here.
Hi Miranda, welcome to the Riskies! Congrats on your new release! I have been hearing so much about your book that I can’t wait to read it. You write my type of book, I just love a good historical. Keep up the good work! How long did it take you to get published?
Gwynlyn – that’s really interesting about the ant-female French chef. Do you know what date? It figures that in France the job of chef was more prestigious than in England and therefore reserved for men. In England they just had cooks so it was OK for poor, despised, underpaid women!
Margaret. Fancy running into you here. I would theorize that one reason for selling books (besides not having enough shelves LOL) was that the loss is less obvious than having to get rid of furniture or paintings. And if you wanted to keep your library looking full, you could buy what in the business we used to call “books by the yard,” sets of books that look good but don’t have any special rarity value.
However this explanation doesn’t feel right for the 17th century. The practice of book collecting was much less advanced then and there was less distinction between a “rare” book and just a book.(There were great collectors: John Evelyn whose library was sold in the 1970s comes to mind). If a “gentleman” sold his library it could be lack of space, need of cash, change in interests, or perhaps an heir who wasn’t a reader.
In the late 19th and 20th centuries English nobleman sold off their books like crazy – to the benefit of great American collectors like Morgan, Huntington and Folger.
I do envy your time at Sotheby’s…although as a book collector myself (rare bindings, 18th & 19th century memoir and all things theatrical) it would’ve been torture!
Always looked down on those “books by the yard” folks. I love the look of fine bindings…but I can also say I’ve read everything I’ve purchased!
Hi Virginia. Glad you like a good historical! Having said that, my books aren’t overloaded with historical detail – the romance is very much the focus. I’m indulging myself today with the scholarly Riskies.
Good for you Margaret for reading your books! I can assure you this is NOT so of all collectors. I had a friend, a book dealer, who specialized in English novels. He could reel off every bibliographic point of the early editions of, say Pride and Prejudice, but he’d never read a word of Austen. I actually have some fun with this attitude in my WIP.
I didn’t answer Viginia’s publication question. I’m estimating that from the time I typed CHAPTER 1 on my first novel, until publication date of NRT (not my first novel!) was about six and a half years.
Hi again! 🙂 Silly me realized at the other blog with all the choices you posed that I forgot to say congrats on the debut and I just loved the sound of it when I happened on your site somewhere along the way. Can’t wait to read it! 🙂 And love the idea of the book collecting too. 🙂
IF–capital letters of late–I recall correctly, the time would have been late 18th, early 19th century. Sorry, can’t narrow it down any further, but that was would align with the question I was researching.
Thanks Lois and Gwynlyn
Hi Miranda! Congratulations on your debut novel! How fascinating that the catalyst for your story was a great French chef! I love to cook and bake so I find this extremely interesting. I’m really looking forward to reading this one! Thank you for the wonderful interview!
Passion and puff pastry, what fun!
Congrats on this and your next books!
Thanks Margie. And if you bake any of the Careme recipes let me know how they come out! I make profiteroles, which play a special role in my book, and described my somewhat haphazard attempt on my website.
Hi Jane. Thanks so much.
And thanks to the Riskies for inviting me. I’ve truly enjoyed myself. Great questions and comments. I’ll pick a winner at random tomorrow and let you know. Ciao.
Congratulations on your debut release! I love storylines that highlight food – just finished the very enjoyable contemporary ‘Hungry for More’ by Diana Holquist, so the thought of a foodie historical is a nice variation.
(Please don’t enter my name – my TRB toppleth over…)