Today the Riskies welcome Regina Jeffers, the author of several Jane Austen adaptations including Darcy’s Passions, Darcy’s Temptation,Vampire Darcy’s Desire, The Phantom of Pemberley and Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion. Her latest release, The Scandal of Lady Eleanor, described by Publishers Weekly as “a knockout,” is a departure from her Austen-generated works, and she’s here to talk about the book and give away a signed copy! So please jump in and chat.

Welcome, Regina! After five successful Jane Austen related novels, how do you feel about leaving Miss Austen behind?

Well, first, I am certainly not deserting my Austen sequels and adaptations. I have an Austen short story coming out in the soon-to-be-released The Road to Pemberley, and I am currently writing a Christmas-themed Pride and Prejudice sequel. Yet, I must admit that it was liberating to write a story from beginning to end, without a framework in place. When an author tackles an Austen storyline, he must stay somewhat true to the original characters or “suffer the ire” of Janeites. In my Austen books, I work in her original wording and use what I know of the lady. With this series, I could create the characters and the conflict without my readers having a preconceived idea of how the story should go. Plus, when I returned to my current Austen book, I was happy to see “my old friends” again. Absence makes the heart grow fonder rather than out of sight, out of mind.

The Scandal of Lady Eleanor is the first book in the “Realm” series. Tell us about the Realm.

The Realm is a covert group working for the British government during the Regency Period. They rescue British citizens, bring about diplomatic portals, etc. Its members are titled aristocrats and minor sons–therefore, the name “the Realm.” The members in this series number seven: James Kerrington, Viscount Worthing (and future Earl of Linworth); Brantley Fowler, the Duke of Thornhill; Gabriel Crowden, Marquis of Godown; Aidan Kimbolt, Viscount Lexford; Marcus Wellston, the Earl of Berwick; Baron John Swenton, and Carter Lowery, the youngest son of Baron Blakehell. These men have served together for several years in India and Persia, and they possess a stout camaraderie. Each holds reason for fleeing his home and title, and each must reclaim his place in Society, while still occasionally executing a mission in the name of the government. Unfortunately, not only must these men fight their own demons, they must foil the plans of Shaheed Mir, a Baloch warlord, who believes one of them has stolen a fist-sized emerald; and Mir means to have it back.

Specifically, tell us about The Scandal of Lady Eleanor.

James Kerrington, the future Earl of Linworth and a key member of the Realm, never expected to find love again after the loss of his beloved wife, Elizabeth. But upon his return home, Kerrington’s world shifts on its axis when Eleanor Fowler, literally, stumbles into his arms. However, not all is as it seems with Eleanor, as she hides a deep secret. She had hoped the death of her father, William Fowler, the Duke of Thornhill, would offer her family a chance at redemption from their dark past, but when Sir Louis Levering produces proof of Eleanor’s father’s debauchery, she is thrown into a web of immorality and blackmail. It is up to Kerrington and his friends in the Realm to free Eleanor from Levering’s hold.

Why have you chosen to include very “modern” issues in a Regency-based romance?

Just because life appears “simpler” does not mean Regency England did not reek of scandal. Women lacked options. Even women of a wealthier class were the property of first their fathers and then their husbands. As such, Lady Eleanor Fowler is no exception. When her mother dies, her father’s debauched lifestyle invades her privacy, and she is sucked into a situation because she “loves” a parent who does not really understand the meaning of the word. Eleanor’s brother Brantley escaped the Duke of Thornhill’s hold on his household, but Eleanor is left behind to cope in the only way she knows how: Survive.

If this series were brought to film, whom would you choose to play the roles?

I have been a Matthew Macfadyen fan long before he played Mr. Darcy in the 2005 film – back to his days in Wuthering Heights, Warriors, and The Way We Live Now. He is always the Darcy in my head when I write my Austen pieces, and he is the man I see and hear in my other works. In this series, Macfadyen is James Kerrington. James Mcavoy is Carter Lowery; James Scott is Aidan Kimbolt; Matthew Goode is Brantley Fowler; Toby Stephens (as he was in Jane Eyre) is Marcus Wellston, and Alex O’Loughlin faces Gabriel Crowden. As weird as it may sound, I do not have famous women in my head when I choose the females. I see their faces and recognize their movements, but they are ordinary women. In this series, Velvet Aldridge came to mind because I fondly remembered a former student named “Velvet.” I stole Brantley Fowler’s name from a young man I met at an Enterprise Rental Car outlet. I told him I would make him famous. Inherently, I suspect, there is something wrong with me.

Thanks Regina, and congratulations on the release! Questions and comments, please, and isn’t that a gorgeous cover! We’ll pick a winner on Monday!