We welcome Shelley Munro all the way from New Zealand here at the Riskies today with her new release from Carina Press, The Spurned Viscountess. Your question or comment could win you a free download, so let’s get chatting.
Cursed with the sight and rumors of witchcraft, Rosalind’s only chance at an ordinary life is marriage to Lucien, Viscount Hastings. She doesn’t expect love, only security and children of her own. Determined to go through with the wedding, she allows nothing she encounters at the gloomy Castle St. Clare to dissuade her.
Recently returned from the Continent, Lucien has no time for the English mouse his family has arranged for him to marry, not when he’s plotting to avenge the murder of his beloved Francesca. He has no intention of bedding Rosalind, not even to sire an heir.
Though spurned by her bridegroom, Rosalind turns to him for protection when she is plagued by a series of mysterious accidents and haunted by terrifying visions. Forced to keep Rosalind close, and tempted into passionate kisses, Lucien soon finds himself in grave danger of falling in love with his own wife…
Shelley, welcome! Tell us about the book–your inspiration and how you came to write it. (And what a gorgeous cover!)
Thank so much for having me to visit today. The Spurned Viscountess is my first historical, and my story came about after I participated in a writing exercise at the Auckland chapter meeting. I’m a member of Romance Writers of New Zealand and we used to have writing exercises each month. I forget what the topic was now, but the first scene in my story came from this exercise.
I wrote about a long lost son who has found his way home after a long absence but he has no memory of his family. He’s scarred in mind and body and all he wants is to discover the identity of his wife’s killer. The last thing he needs is an arranged marriage foisted on him. He tries to scare off his intended bride, but the move to Castle St. Clare is a fresh start for Rosalind, one she’s determined to embrace.
Once I had my first scene, I needed to know what happened next. Eventually I ended up with a complete novel. This is the second home for The Spurned Viscountess, and I was thrilled to join Carina Press.
The Spurned Viscountess is set in 1720. What is it about the Georgian period you like and why did you choose it as a setting?
In my pre-published days, Jo Beverley was one of my favorite authors. I enjoyed her Malloren series, which is set during the 1700s. I find the Georgia era a little bit naughtier than the Regency era, and I adore the clothing from the Eighteenth century. 1720 England allowed me to use smugglers in my plot as well. I really wanted to write about smugglers.
What are your favorite research books for the period?
I did a lot of research, but some of my favorite books include: Historical Fashion in Detail by Avril Hart and Susan North, The Art of Dining – a history of cooking and eating by Sara Paston Williams, and The Art of Dress, Clothes & Society by Jane Ashelford. I also find Liza Picard’s books Restoration London and Dr. Johnson’s London very useful and interesting, although they didn’t quite fit my chosen time period.
I was really impressed by how much you’ve published. How hard was it to make the switch from contemporary/paranormal erotic romance to a historical romance?
I’ve always read different romance genres rather than concentrating on one so it seemed natural to me to swap around a little bit when it came to writing. It’s much easier to experiment in the e-pub world so experiment I did. I tend to write mainly contemporary and paranormal stories but recently my interest in historicals has fired to life. I’ve concentrated on the Georgian era (18th century) and World War II England, two time periods I find very interesting.
I think that swapping genres helps keep my writing fresh because I’m constantly challenging myself.
If you had to hire actors for a movie version of your book, who would they be?
This is a really hard question. I’m a real Sean Bean fan, but he doesn’t quite fit for my hero, Lucien. Joseph Fiennes would work, I think. Keira Knightley or Catherine Zeta-Jones would both make a very good Rosalind. Maybe even Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame would work for Rosalind.
What’s your favorite scene in the book?
I’m partial to the very first scene in The Spurned Viscountess since this was how my story started. It’s a short one.
East Sussex, England, 1720
“Hastings, the carriage is coming. Your betrothed has arrived.”
Lucien rose from a square-backed chair, flicked the lace at his cuffs and studied the elderly man stepping away from the window—the man who claimed him as son. “My name is Lucien.”
The earl ruffled up like a feisty bantam cock. “Stuff and nonsense! George is your christened name. If it’s good enough for the king, it’s good enough for you.”
Lucien strolled past shelves of books and paused to finger an amber figurine from the Orient. From what he’d heard since his arrival in England, people disapproved of the king, who hailed from Hanover. The man didn’t even speak English. Lucien looked the earl straight in the eye. “My name is Lucien,” he repeated, his tone implacable and determined. “Lucien. Not George or Hastings.”
“Damn it, boy, why do you persist with your gainsaying?” The Earl of St. Clare’s voice held a trace of pleading. “Can’t you see the likeness in the family portraits?”
Lucien grimaced. If he studied the portraits with one eye shut and the other squinted—certainly there were similarities. He replaced the figurine and stalked across a blue Persian rug to gaze out a window overlooking the courtyard.
The family and the faithful servants all backed up the Earl of St. Clare’s assertion, but the role didn’t feel right to Lucien. Living in the gloomy pile of rocks called Castle St. Clare made him edgy and apprehensive.
They were all mistaken.
He was not the Earl of St. Clare’s son.
The idea was laughable. Him—the long lost heir, Viscount Hastings. He didn’t recall any of the stories they told him of his childhood or growing up at the castle.
The study door flew open. Lucien spun around in a defensive stance, only relaxing when the honorable Charles Soulden bounded into the room. “Hastings…” He faltered when he intercepted Lucien’s glare. “I mean, Lucien! Your betrothed comes.”
“So I’m told.” Lucien sauntered toward Charles, his newly discovered cousin. “By all means, let us greet the woman brave enough to wed a man with no memory.”
What’s next for you?
I’m juggling several projects at present. I’m writing the final story in my Middlemarch Mates series (a group of feline shapeshifters who live in the small country town of Middlemarch), I’m working on a follow-up to my contemporary The Bottom Line and I’m busy plotting/researching my next Gothic historical romance. I like to keep busy.
Let’s get chatting! I’m dying to know the story behind the camel pic…
OK. Tell us about the camel, Shelley!
Were you in Australia for the camel pic?
I can’t wait to read your new book. It is different than the norm and since I am an avid reader, I can’t wait to see how your characters develop.
Hi Shelley, nice to see a fellow Kiwi on here.
Your book does sound facinating. I’ve also loved anything to do with smuggling ever since I saw “Poldark” in my teens, and btw, the cover looks wonderful.
THE SPURNED VISCOUNTESS looks like a great book. It is definitely one I’d like to read. I love books with not only romance, but lots of action.
Definitely, I would love to know what’s the story with that camel!
And I agree wholeheartedly with Ms Mullany, that’s a gorgeous cover!
I like the title – really makes you want to read more!
The more I read about the Spurned Viscountess, the more I can’t wait to read it! Thanks for the excerpt.
Hi, Shelley, welcome to the Riskies!
Your story seems to have gothic elements – did you intend that?
So glad to see another Carina Press book here.
And another question, do you know Frances Housden?
I love the notion that Lucien has no memory of his supposed heritage – which hints at some cataclysm should the recall of his past return. An actor I’d like to see in the role would be Andrew Buchan – dark, over six feet tall and able to play icily controlled yet passionate roles.
Shelley! I still haven’t read this one yet (sorry.)but I have it on the calendar for next weekend. I love this opening scene and it just whets my appetite. Can’t wait for more Middle March! And where is my American Cougar shifter? Short story maybe? PLEASE! As to the camel questions that was from your big OE with hubby right? Anywho, love you lots!
book sounds wonderful, and I love Sean Bean too! He doesn’t exactly fit Sharpe’s physical description, but he pulls it off!
And I second ‘POLDARK’ I still love it! (got it on DVD!!)
All the best for your release!
Hi, sorry I’m a little late. It’s just turned morning here in NZ.
My hubby and I love to travel and this photo was taken in Egypt while we were preparing for our camel ride. This ride was a little different since it was a group of female camels and youngsters. We rode the adults and the youngsters followed beside us. This one was very curious and was trying to sniff me. It was a fun few hours. 🙂
Hi Sheree – I have ridden camels in Australia (near Hervey Bay) but this one was in Egypt. I adore camels but some of them do tend to be a bit cranky. Let’s just say they have attitude!
Charlene – thanks! That’s me all right. A bit different from the norm 🙂
Hi Kim – *waves*
I adored Poldark when I first saw it. A couple of weeks ago I saw the entire series on DVD at Whitcoulls. I snapped it up and look forward to watching it. A DVD blitz can be my reward for completing my current WIP.
Thanks, Rhoda. There’s definitely lots of adventure in this one. I hope you get a chance to read about Rosalind and Lucien.
Azteclady – Angela Waters did my cover, and I think she did a wonderful job. I really love it.
Camel story above 🙂
Oh, BTW – if anyone is interested in seeing photos of some of my travels or checking out a couple of travel essays check my website. I have an account of our visit to see the gorillas in Rwanda under the Extras For Reader section.
Alison – LOL – the title was in doubt for a while, but I thought it was a great description of the story problem. 🙂
J – thanks very much. I’m glad you enjoyed the excerpt. 🙂
Diane – Thank you. I fell in love with Victoria Holt’s stories when I was a teenager. I definitely have a liking for the Gothic elements. That’s probably the reason it slipped into my story.
Yes, I know Frances 🙂
Sarah – poor Lucien does have a lot of problems. I was very mean to him.
I don’t know Andrew, but from your description he’d fit the part very well. I’m off to Google in a second.
Hi Amy. It’s great to see you here. 🙂
Middlemarch is coming along, as is another historical romance. I just need to complete a few other projects so I can concentrate!
Yes, the camel visit was during one of our trips. We’re busy saving for our next holiday, which is a cruise to some of the Pacific Islands we didn’t visit last time. We have to wait until next year though. I’m waiting impatiently – as usual 🙂
Karyn – Sean Bean is great, isn’t he? Hubby and I have been watching Sharpe on TV here in NZ. We have all the DVDs but we’re rewatching the movies each Friday. We’re big Sharpe fans.
Great interview. Your book sounds awesome! Too bad you couldn’t cast Sean Bean (sigh). I guess Joseph Fiennes will have to do 🙂
Susanna – A real shame. I do like Sean Bean. 🙂
I love historicals with gothic overtones. Mystery, danger, something or somebody lurking in the shadows, and romance – what more could we want (shifters not included). A little touch of the paranormal certainly doesn’t hurt.
Best of luck with the release. I look forward to reading it.
librarypat – thank you very much.