Diane here, announcing that today Susanna Fraser, one of our new part-time Riskies (posting every third Friday), is here to talk about An Infamous Marriage, her latest book from Carina Press, to be released tomorrow, Nov. 5! 

Susanna has been a long time, frequent commenter to Risky Regencies, even before her first book, The Sergeant’s Lady, was published. She and I share a love of British soldiers–Regency-era, that is–and Wellington.

Reviews for An Infamous Marriage:

“I was happy to read a historical romance in which the time period and setting actually matter…Fans of understated, atmospheric Regencies like those by Carla Kelly and Edith Layton won’t want to miss this. I give An Infamous Marriage 4 stars.” — Willaful Review

“Loved this book! The romance was sweet and passionate and the characters felt so real…An Infamous Marriage is a spectacular historical romance.” — Imagine A World Review

“…an intriguing story with a fast pace…Hours of engrossing page-turning….” — RT Book Reviews

Susanna will give away one download of An Infamous Marriage to one lucky commenter here, but there is more! Commenters here who include their email addresses in the comment (yourname AT yourhost DOT com format) will also be entered for Susanna’s blog tour grand prize, a $50 gift card to the winner’s choice of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Powell’s Books. That grand prize winner will be drawn by Susanna on Nov. 6. 

An Infamous Marriage will also be available in audio format from Audible.com. How cool is that?

Welcome Susanna! I love the premise of this book!

Tell us about An Infamous Marriage.

Jack Armstrong and Elizabeth Hamilton marry out of duty and necessity with no thoughts or expectations of love. They’re quickly separated by Jack’s military duties, and their post-marital courtship by correspondence falls apart when Elizabeth gets words of his amorous exploits an ocean away. When he returns at last after a five-year absence, she’s not in a forgiving mood…but he falls in love with her at second sight.

Northumberland, 1815
At long last, Britain is at peace, and General Jack Armstrong is coming home to the wife he barely knows. Wed for mutual convenience, their union unconsummated, the couple has exchanged only cold, dutiful letters. With no more wars to fight, Jack is ready to attempt a peace treaty of his own.
Elizabeth Armstrong is on the warpath. She never expected fidelity from the husband she knew for only a week, but his scandalous exploits have made her the object of pity for years. Now that he’s back, she has no intention of sharing her bed with him—or providing him with an heir—unless he can earn her forgiveness. No matter what feelings he ignites within her…
Jack is not expecting a spirited, confident woman in place of the meek girl he left behind. As his desire intensifies, he wants much more than a marriage in name only. But winning his wife’s love may be the greatest battle he’s faced yet.

What inspired this story idea?

I realized I’d never yet written a rakish, bad boy sort of hero, so I gave myself the challenge of creating one I could find likable and redeemable. Also, though there’s nothing especially Wellingtonian or Nelsonian about Jack’s personality, I’ve often thought what horrible husbands both of England’s great war heroes were. So I found a certain vicarious satisfaction in taking a powerful, high-ranking officer, marrying him to an outwardly meek and humble woman…and then giving her the chance to humble HIM.

Did you come across any interesting research while writing An Infamous Marriage?

Definitely. Jack spends many years stationed in Canada, including the entire War of 1812. Going into the story, I knew almost nothing about life in Canada much before Anne of Green Gables’ time, and little more about the war beyond what I learned to pass my high school history tests. I am now far less embarrassingly ignorant about my neighbors to the north (and to me in Seattle they really ARE neighbors–depending on how long the line is at the border crossing, I could be in British Columbia in 3-4 hours), and the conduct of the War of 1812. For example, I’d known almost nothing about the extensive interactions between the British and the Native American population, including the alliance between Tecumseh, the great Shawnee leader who tried to unite the tribes to halt American expansion, and the British general Sir Isaac Brock. All that research mostly ended up as mental backstory for Jack, simmering below the surface of the story, but I hope to make fuller use of it in some future tale.

You and I both LOVE Regency soldiers as heroes. What is it about a British soldier that captivates you?

Well, I’d be lying if I didn’t give Sean Bean’s Sharpe some of the credit, not to mention those sexy uniforms in general. 😉 But mostly it’s that while I’m not an Army brat, I come from a family with a tradition of military service. My background gave me an interest in military history, so the aspect of the Regency that naturally fascinates me is the wars.

Willaful Reviews praised your writing as being “actually set in the Regency rather than in that Never Neverland mash-up that’s been dubbed ‘The Recency’ or ‘Almackistan’.” How important is it to you to have your history right in your stories?

I do my best to get the history right because I feel I owe it to the people who actually lived then to portray their world as accurately as I can. Also, to me the joy of historical fiction of any genre is a sort of mental time travel, and I want to make my books the best TARDIS for my readers that I can. 🙂

That said, I don’t think it’s possible to write a 100% accurate story from 200 years’ distance, and eventually I have to let go of my own perfectionism and write. And I worry more about getting my characters’ mindset and attitudes right than the exact number of days it took to travel from Edinburgh to London in a post-chaise in good summer weather or the precise price of a top-quality hunter.

What is next for you?

I’ve just sold a novella to Carina, title and release date still TBD, set in the aftermath of the Battle of Vittoria in 1813–which my fellow military history geeks will recognize as the one where the
British army captured the French baggage train, including assorted royal treasures belonging to Joseph Bonaparte or looted from Madrid.
The plot hinges on a gorgeous ruby necklace plundered from the battlefield. It’s also an interracial romance. The hero is a black British soldier, the son of slaves who escaped from a Virginia plantation during the American Revolution to take the British army’s offer of freedom to slaves who helped their war effort.

What little-known corner of history, Regency or otherwise, would you like to see incorporated in a historical romance?

Thanks, Susan, for being our guest/mini-Risky!

Readers, don’t forget to include your email address in your comment (yourname AT yourhost DOT com) if you want to be added in Susanna’s Blog Tour Grand Prize. All comments here will have a chance to win a download of An Infamous Marriage.