Diane here! It is my pleasure to introduce our guest bloggers today. As you may know, Harlequin Historicals are edited by the Mills and Boon offices in the UK. One of the pleasures of writing for them is getting to know the UK authors. These are women who live on moors, shop in London, visit stately homes. Sigh! I envy them! Today please welcome three of them who have an exciting series to tell you about (and a mystery goody bag to give away to one lucky commenter). Here they are!
Put any three romance writers together with a glass or two of wine and, if they are friends and have interests in common, sooner or later one of them will say, “I’ve had a great idea… Shall we collaborate on it?” On this occasion we were the three writers in question – Sarah Mallory, Annie Burrows and Louise Allen.
It was Sarah who had the idea – she’d just visited Waterloo and had been very moved by the stories that were bound up with that momentous battle. Knowing the bicentenary would be a very important occasion she wanted to do something personal to mark it and suggested three linked books to Annie and Louise.
We’ve been friends for years, and we all write Regency historicals, so Waterloo is a familiar background for all of us. Fortunately Sarah had her brainwave with plenty of time to plan, so we waylaid the senior Harlequin Mills & Boon Historicals editor at a conference and pitched the idea. When she accepted the concept of the Brides of Waterloo trilogy the hard work began!
We had all worked on collaborations and linked books before, and we knew it was essential to be able to discuss ideas and to negotiate over what did and didn’t work for us and our characters. Fortunately we soon agreed that our three stories would overlap in action and in time, but would also stand alone as complete stories in their own right.
It only took a few emails for us to agree what we wanted to write and after that we began to plan our books, each using a character from the artillery unit we had created, affectionately known as Randall’s Rogues (think of a Regency Dirty Dozen!) Sarah’s story begins before the battle, Annie’s starts as it is being fought and Louise’s begins the morning after, on the battlefield. Our characters are linked by blood – Sarah’s hero and Annie’s heroine are brother and sister, Louise’s hero is their half-brother.
Most of our communication was by email, although we did meet up occasionally at Romantic Novelists’ Association events. Emails flew thick and fast and we started to use spreadsheets to plot the timelines and to keep a note of our characters. Modern technology was hugely important in our collaboration, although on one memorable occasion Annie and Sarah did get together in the café of a large bookshop to work out one of the battle scenes with the use of the cruet set, sugar basin and napkins. That attracted a few bemused looks from other customers!
All three of us have been researching the Regency period for years, but this trilogy meant we needed to find out more about the military aspects of the battle. The personal stories of our three heroes were paramount, of course, but we had to set them in the right background. We read books on Waterloo by respected military historians, visited exhibitions and talked to re-enactors, as well as contacting a Waterloo tour guide who has made the battle his life study.
Sarah’s hero in A Lady For Lord Randall is Justin Latymor, Lord Randall, the colonel of the artillery unit. He is a career soldier with no time for romance, until he meets Mary Endacott, a radical young teacher who challenges his authority. She is opposed to everything Lord Randall represents and not afraid to say so, but once she falls in love with Randall she proves herself to be every bit as courageous as her man.
Annie’s hero is the unit’s resident rake, Major Tom Bartlett, in A Mistress For Major Bartlett. Left for dead on the battlefield he finds himself being nursed by darling of the ton, Lady Sarah Latymor – his commanding officer’s precious sister. He knows the right thing is to send her away, but Sarah is going to defy everyone in order to stay with him, even if she ruins herself in the process.
In A Rose For Major Flint, Major Adam Flint is Louise’s hero. He’s Randall’s illegitimate half-brother, he’s fought himself out of the gutter and become an officer – but he’s tough, rough and definitely not respectable. When he rescues the traumatised young woman he calls “Rose” on the battlefield he believes her to be a camp follower. But Rose is not what she seems and Flint’s hard-won honour is soon put to the test.
It was a challenge fitting the three stories into the framework of the historical facts, but that was also a strength, because it gave us so many wonderful situations to exploit – the Duchess of Richmond’s legendary ball, for one. It also led Louise into producing a non-fiction book about the first Waterloo tourists in their own words – they began appearing on the battlefield the morning afterwards and haven’t stopped visiting since! (The Road to Waterloo: The First Waterloo Tourists 1815-1816).
To reflect the timescale of the books we have been given three gorgeous covers. All show the little chateau of Hougoumont in the background. It was the key to the western end of the British front line and the covers show it intact before the battle, burning during it and in ruins afterwards.
We’d love to hear your comments about our series and to answer any questions you might have. We would also like to ask you a question – Just what is it about men in uniform that is so attractive? And which uniforms do you go for – the Roman legionary? The medieval knight? The British redcoat or the American GI, perhaps? It has been great having the opportunity to visit Risky Regencies and to celebrate we’re offering a mystery goody bag to the writer of one answer, chosen at random.
A Lady For Lord Randall:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0263247775/ & http://www.amazon.com/dp/0263247775/
A Mistress For Major Bartlett:
A Rose for Major Flint:
The Road to Waterloo:
Oh my goodness! Welcome Sarah, Annie, and Louise! I can not tell you how amazing these look! I saw them on the review and upcomings listings and still can’t believe I didn’t know they were part of this amazing author trilogy you ladies put together. I definitely can’t wait! I may even have to get them (in UK print) while I’m studying in England just to feel the festivities there for the 200th anniversary~
As for our love for men in uniform….. I guess I love the feeling of being protected and small. The British redcoats are what I Love and the style of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery Sergeant would look great on any men!
But my questions is, Why did you ladies decide to release them on different dates?
Ki! You are going to study in England???? How lucky for you!
I know Diane! I’m going back! It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up just like with our tour. But this time it’s for an internship in learning the works of curatoring, preserving, and use of space in museums, castles, and stately homes.
I’m super excited for this and thankfully I’m not going to be there alone for other interns will be there too.
Oh how I wish y’all were going with me!
I’m coming a bit late to the party – I was driving back from London yesterday – so the others will have picked up some of my replies. great to be here now! Spreading the books allowed us to cover not just the timescale over which they were set, but also to take in all the commemorations that are going on this year for the battle
I’ve been aware of this trilogy for a while and am looking forward to it. I bet some of your fellow writers wish that they’d been there during that first drink and could have made this more than a trilogy!
I’d have loved to have been there, HJ, not only to be in England again, but to be in the company of these ladies AND I’d have loved to have added a 4th book, but I suspect a trilogy was the perfect number.
I’ve collaborated on an eight-books series, along with Annie – Regency Silk & Scandal – s I know what fun it is working with other authors one likes and admires. This one just felt right as a trilogy (not sure we could have coped with any more gorgeous men!)
Thank you for dropping by, Ki Pha and HJ. We had a ball writing this trilogy, and yes, I am sure it could have expanded to a whole library with all the talented authors here! As to the different publishing dates, that was the publishers’ decision – gives the reader time to digest each delicious book before moving on to the next 🙂
This trilogy is one I have been looking forward to reading. As an avid gobbler upper of history, my question is this…if you weren’t writing regency, what period would you like to write for and what period of history has been underwritten for romance-wise?
What an interesting question, Amanda, thank you for that.
In my writing I am drawn to the past – I have tried writing contemporary romance but I seem to need to bring in history and they turn into dual time or time-slip novels. I love the Regency and Georgian periods and consequently I have researched them most, but I also love Tudor times and have a thing about WWII aircraft (my alter ego, Melinda Hammond has even written a short time-slip love story about a Spitfire pilot). I may explore these eras more one day.
As for which period of history is underwritten? That’s a difficult one, I have read romances from every period of history, but mainly set in England, I confess. Perhaps there should be more romances written about the early days of the Americas, what do you think?
Hi, Amanda. I’ve written covering 1770-1820 mainly, but my very first (when I was writing as Francesca Shaw) was set during the English Civil War and I’ve also written one set AD410. I’ve got plans for a Second World War one as well
Apologies for turning up so late! Thanks for all your questions.
Amanda, I would love to write a story set in the days of the Restoration. All that conflict between supporters of Royalty and Parliament, as the country tries to rebuild.
I have written a story set in early Tudor England with similar conflict set up for the hero and heroine. One a Lancastrian, and one a Yorkist as Henry VII takes the throne…
Great blog and I can’t wait to read the books.
Thanks, Kim, the wait is almost over (for the first one, anyway!)
Such a fabulous idea to collaborate on a trilogy for the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo. I wish I could read all three in one go!
Well, Henri, you could wait until July and read them all then, but I couldn’t possibly wait that long to get started!
I think Sarah’s right, Henri – you’ll just have to save them all up. Willpower!
confession Henriette – I sometimes save up books from a series and read them all in one go!
Congratulations on coming up with such a brilliant idea and bringing it to life. This series sounds fantastic!
Thanks, Elena, we were so thrilled when Harlequin Mills & Boon accepted the idea and they have been very supportive. It was such a pleasure to write this (aren’t we lucky to be doing something we love so much?)
It was Sarah’s Big Idea, so kudos to her. I’d already got my hero (rough, tough Adam Flint) so I was thrilled to find the right setting for him
Yep – it was Sarah’s idea. I felt very honoured to be included in a series with two such brilliant writers.
Aw shucks, ladies, you are making me blush. We all knew Waterloo was coming, one of us HAD to suggest it 🙂
It was an honour to work with two such talented writers, I learned such a lot.
Hello, Sarah, Annie, & Louise! So lovely to have you here!
Your series sounds absolutely wonderful (LOL about working out the battle scene with the sugar basin & co!), and I LOVE the covers you’ve been given. They are gorgeous!
Sandra and Diane – thanks for the welcome, it is delightful to be able to share our trilogy with you. The covers are brilliant, aren’t they? We were so happy when the publishers came up with the idea of having Hougoumont in the background. The struggle there was such a vital part of the Battle of Waterloo and although it doesn’t feature heavily in our books it is mentioned, and the three covers, depicting the building in its three stages conveys a little of the sheer horror and devastation of war that we should never forget, even though we write romance and the enduring message we want to leave with our readers is one of hope.
Thanks everyone who has commented so far – lovely to hear from you. I’m really sulking about missing out on the sugar basin strategy session (although I do have a little model gun crew to play with…)
I absolutely adore my cover for A Mistress for Major Bartlett. The expression on his face alone as he gazes up at her is so completely right for the relationship inside the covers.
Welcome, ladies and thanks to our commenters! This is a brilliant idea for a series and I LOVE the covers!!!
Welcome, ladies, and congrats on your series! It sounds wonderful, and I can’t wait to read it! I, too, love the covers you were given. Having the stories be stand-alone but linked sounds wonderful. It’s clear that you all enjoyed creating them and the process of coordinating –that enjoyment is sure to carry through into the stories for the rest of us to enjoy. Thank you for sharing that! And thanks for visiting us here!
Thanks, Gail! Thanks to you and everyone else for dropping by, it is wonderful to have such a positive response to our trilogy.
This is awesome ladies