Back to Top

Tag Archives: A Marriage of Inconvenience

Whenever I’m asked to list my favorite couples from my lifetime of reading, one of the pairs I always include is Jennie and Alick from Elisabeth Ogilivie’s Jennie trilogy (Jennie About to Be, The World of Jennie G., and Jennie Glenroy). And in all the years I’ve listed them, I’ve yet to encounter anyone who’s so much as heard of them, let alone another fan to gush with over what a lovely story it is and how dreamy a hero Alick is.

The trilogy is historical fiction rather than romance, but reading the first two books as an impressionable young teen fed my later love of romance–and even some of the settings and story types I gravitate toward. The first book opens in London in 1808 with the orphaned heroine seeking a good marriage under her aunt’s chaperonage, so I’m pretty sure it’s the first Regency I ever read. But the setting quickly moves to the Scottish Highlands and eventually to America (the coast of Maine, to be specific). There’s history and action and angst, a richly developed community of characters, and did I mention the poignant cross-class central love story and how much impressionable teen me wanted my very own Alick?

So I’m trying one more time! Has anyone else read this series? Anyone? Anyone? And do you love a book or series no one else has ever heard of that you’d like to recommend?

AMOI on sale at iBooks

Also, a quick word of self-promotion. My second published novel, A Marriage of Inconvenience, is on sale for $1.99 exclusively at iBooks through the end of the month.

Greetings! I’m Susanna Fraser, and Elena Greene was kind enough to invite me to be a guest poster here with the Riskies on the third Friday of every month. So I suppose I should begin by telling y’all a little about myself.

It’s all Sean Bean’s fault.

Eleven years ago now, when I was busy writing my first, extremely rough draft of the book that eventually became my second published novel, A Marriage of Inconvenience, my dear Mr. Fraser and I went to see Fellowship of the Ring on its opening weekend at Seattle Cinerama. I loved everything about the movie, but above all I just couldn’t take my eyes off one character.

When I got home, I went straight to the Buffy board that was then my main internet community and said, “WHO is that actor who plays Boromir?”

One of my friends, knowing I was working on a Regency romance, said, “Oh, honey, are you ever in for a treat!” and pointed me straight at the Sharpe’s Rifles series. So I rented them, one by one–I think most of them were videotapes rather than DVDs, since this was Ye Olden Days. Once that was done, I read the Sharpe books and the Aubrey-Maturin series, and, as is my custom since I’m that much of a history geek, decided I needed to learn more about the real history behind my new favorite books.

I haven’t looked back. Every book I’ve written since has had a military hero, and for the second book I wrote (and the first to be published), The Sergeant’s Lady, I couldn’t resist the temptation to make my hero a rifleman. Next thing I knew, my research bookshelves started to look like this…

…and I found myself developing something of a historical crush on this gentleman:

That’s right, Diane Gaston and Kristine Hughes! Consider yourself put on notice that I will not allow you to monopolize my dear Artie’s affections.

I look forward to future posts, when I shall probably talk food, music, football, baseball, and my next book, among other things. But in the meantime, I’ll leave you with some Five Favorites lists. Please feel free to share your favorites in the comments so I can get to know you, too.

My Five Favorite Current TV Shows:
1) The Legend of Korra
2) Castle
3) Game of Thrones
4) The Daily Show
5) Chopped

My Five Favorite Romances Read (but not necessarily published) This Year
1) Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance (not out till November, but I bought the eARC)
2) Catching Jordan
3) Doukakis’s Apprentice
4) The Wives of Bowie Stone
5) My Fair Concubine

Five Authors I Love
1) Jane Austen
2) Lois McMaster Bujold
3) Dorothy Sayers
4) Julia Spencer-Fleming
5) Jacqueline Carey

Five Fictional Crushes
1) Aral Vorkosigan (from Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga)
2) Lord Peter Wimsey (from Dorothy Sayers’ mysteries)
3) Marcus Didius Falco (from Lindsey Davis’s mysteries)
4) Joscelin Verreuil (from Carey’s Kushiel series)
5) Tenzin (from Legend of Korra)

Finally, a warning that I may be a little slow on commenting. I have a day job with little non-work internet access, and my dear Mr. Fraser turns 40 tomorrow. Tonight Miss Fraser (age 8) and I are taking him to a Mariners game, and tomorrow is his party.

Hi, I’m Susanna, and I have trouble with titles.

Not the aristocratic kind. I’ve spent enough time reading and writing the Regency over the past decade that how to speak of dukes, earls, and their relations no longer mystifies me. No, I struggle to name my books.

I’ve now sold four manuscripts, and I’ve yet to have a single one go on sale wearing the first working title to grace my hard drive’s work-in-progress file.

The first book I wrote (the second I sold) began life as Lucy and Mr. Wright. In its first draft, it was a traditional Regency, and the hero was a wealthy but untitled gentleman. Upon further consideration, I promoted James to baronet and renamed the book Lady Wright. Then I realized I wanted to bump James yet higher on the totem pole, so he became James Wright-Gordon, Viscount Selsley. Unfortunately this meant no more clever puns on “Wright,” so I went with The Inconvenient Bride. Years later, as I prepared to submit it to Carina, I decided the title needed a little more oomph and changed it to A Marriage of Inconvenience.

When I started my next manuscript, I was still hung up on those trad-Regency-style titles, so I called it Anna and the Sergeant. However, I quickly realized it just wasn’t a trad story and switched to Soldier’s Lady. Which isn’t a bad title, but it didn’t say, “Get your forbidden star-crossed cross-class lovers here!” quite as loudly as I wanted it to. Hence, The Sergeant’s Lady.

Carina published both those books under the titles I used for submission–possibly because I’d had so long to think them over that I’d actually come up with something good. With my next two sales, my editor’s acceptance email basically read: “Congratulations! We love your book! Your title? NSM. Here’s a worksheet to fill out so we can work together to find something better.”

My November 5 release began life as The General’s Mouse. The hero, Jack, marries the heroine, Elizabeth, upon minimal acquaintance to fulfill a deathbed promise to his best friend. At the time he isn’t seeing her at her best, and he glumly reflects that he’s married a mouse. The rest of the book is all about proving that his so-called mouse has a mighty roar. Clever? Maybe. Based on the title alone, does it sound like a cute kid’s fantasy book about a talking mouse who befriends one of history’s great commanders? Absolutely.

So I brainstormed with my critique partners and filled out the title worksheet. Carina chose one of my suggestions, An Infamous Marriage, which I fully acknowledge is much better than my first choice.

Just this month Carina acquired my first-ever novella. (It took several tries, but eventually my muse accepted that stories can come in sizes other than 90,000 words.) It’s an interracial romance set in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Vittoria in 1813, where some British soldiers made fortunes by plundering the captured French baggage train. The plot revolves around a particularly fine ruby necklace my recently widowed heroine is trying to conceal from the soldiers surrounding her so she can go home to England, sell it secretly, and use the proceeds to buy a happy, secure life for herself and her young son.

At first, I called it Widow’s Fortune. But I soon decided that was too prosaic and changed it to Far Above Rubies, which I thought sounded particularly evocative. It comes from Proverbs 31:10, “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” I saw it as both a literal reference to how the hero cherishes the heroine and a symbol for the characters’ dreams of a better life and how they’re able to fulfill them together.

The editorial team, however, thinks it sounds more like a fantasy than a historical…and I figure they’re the experts, so it’s back to the title worksheet for me!

I’ve come to a place of acceptance where I don’t expect my first idea or two to work. In fact, my current ideas in various stages of brainstorming or drafting go by Home Run Blast from the Past (time travel!), Hell, Frozen Over (a winter survival tale), and The One With the Battle of New Orleans (which opens at–wait for it–the Battle of New Orleans). Now I just have to think of something presentable before they go anywhere near my editor’s inbox…

Over to you–what makes a title good or bad? What are some of your favorites and least favorites?

Everyone, welcome back our Risky friend, Susanna Fraser, who has been a faithful commenter on Risky Regencies even before her acclaimed debut, The Sergeant’s Lady, was released by Carina Press. Today, however, Susanna is here to talk about her exciting second book, A Marriage of Inconvenience.

“…this was a very enjoyable, mildly angsty romance with just a tiny hint of kink.”

The Romanceaholic

“it’s steamy and defiantly gives you the chills with how much detail is given. James is very much the tall dark and handsome man that you want to read about.”

1. Tell us about A Marriage of Inconvenience. Is it connected to The Sergeant’s Lady (which I loved!)?

Yes, it’s a prequel. The hero, James, is the brother of Anna, the heroine of The Sergeant’s Lady, and the heroine, Lucy, is a poor relation of Sebastian, Anna’s first husband.

Lucy Jones is a nobody. As an orphan she was reluctantly taken in by her wealthy relatives, the Arringtons, on the condition that she be silent and obedient, always. When her lifelong infatuation with her cousin Sebastian is rewarded by a proposal of marriage, she’s happy and grateful, even though the family finds excuses to keep the engagement a secret.

James Wright-Gordon has always had the benefits of money and a high station in society, but he is no snob. He’s very close to his sister, Anna, who quickly falls for the dashing Sebastian when the families are brought together at a wedding party. Meanwhile, James is struck by Lucy’s quiet intelligence, and drawn to her despite their different circumstances in life.
Lucy suspects that Sebastian has fallen for Anna, but before she can set him free, a terrible secret is revealed that shakes both families. Will James come to her rescue—or abandon her to poverty?

2. What sparked the idea for A Marriage of Inconvenience?

It got its start as a Mansfield Park adaptation, believe it or not. I saw the 1999 version a couple years after it came out, and for the next day all I could do was talk to my husband about how I would adapt Mansfield Park. Instead of changing Fanny’s character to be more palatable for a modern audience, I wanted to go inside her head and show a modern audience what would make a naturally spirited and intelligent woman act as meek and yielding as Fanny.

This was before I’d ever completed a manuscript. I started them all the time, but I would get three or four chapters in and then get bored and quit. By the time I got this idea, I’d given up thinking I’d ever finish a book. But weeks went by, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how I would adapt Mansfield Park. Eventually I started writing, thinking that I would get bored soon and give up. That never happened. Since I was a writer and not a filmmaker, I knew I couldn’t use Austen’s exact characters and plot unless I wanted it to be fanfic. So I started making changes.

The most obvious change was to make the Henry Crawford figure the hero. So I gave him more integrity than Henry, but he was still the type of man a sheltered, innocent girl would think of as an intimidating rake. I made what turned out to be a fateful decision to make the Edmund Bertram figure, Sebastian, an officer instead of a clergyman. The more I wrote, the more the story changed, but when I finished the very first draft of the book in 2003, its Mansfield Park roots still showed.

I was shocked that I had finished a whole book. Not for the world would I show anyone that version of the manuscript now. It was 150,000 words long. It rambled. It was written in first person from the heroine’s point of view. Nevertheless, I did send the book to a few agents. It got soundly rejected.

One of the ways my story had drifted away from its roots was that my Mary Crawford placeholder character, Anna, had grown on me as I wrote. And Sebastian had turned out far more villainous than Edmund Bertram ever thought about being on his worst day. (Edmund is by far my least favorite of Austen’s heroes, but compared to Sebastian Arrington, he’s a paragon.) So I knew I needed to tell Anna’s story and give her a chance to find someone worthy of her. Since I’d made Sebastian a soldier during a war, he was wonderfully easy to kill off. And that’s how The Sergeant’s Lady came to be.

After I finished The Sergeant’s Lady, I decided to revisit James and Lucy’s story. I added additional points of view and started thinking of it as these characters’ story rather than my dialogue with Mansfield Park. The story turned out so different from my original concept that I don’t think of it as my first manuscript anymore. It’s my third manuscript, which just happens to be loosely based on my first one.

3. What is risky about A Marriage Of Inconvenience?

Quite a few things. For starters, James is short. I never explicitly state his height in the book, but I’ll do so now: he’s 5’6”. (He’s still half a foot taller than Lucy, though. One of these days I’ll get really daring and write a romance where the heroine is taller than the hero.) Also, James and Lucy are quite a young couple by current romance standards–James is 24 and Lucy, 18.

Another risk I took was to show the development of Anna and Sebastian’s marriage and how it went wrong. It’s integral to the story and has a major impact on Lucy and James’s growing relationship, but usually romances with a secondary couple use that couple for light comic relief rather than as a source of darkness and angst. I’m hoping that readers will forgive me once they discover that there is a sequel out there. And I did make sure to mention in the epilogue that Sebastian is dead and Anna is happy with someone else.

Last but far from least, James and Lucy don’t find instant sexual bliss after they marry. Lucy has certain mental blocks about letting go and experiencing pleasure, and the solution they discover takes them into somewhat kinky territory.

4. Did you come across any interesting research tidbits while writing the

I had a lot of fun planning the setting. I found a book called Life in the English Country House, by Mark Girouard–which, incidentally, I highly recommend to anyone researching the era–and I enjoyed contrasting families with old titles who lived in ancient piles with James’s new money and the playful, whimsical castle his father had built.

5. What is next for you?

That is a vexed question. I’m coming out of a five-month battle with carpal tunnel syndrome, which has unfortunately slowed my writing process. I don’t have any other books currently under contract, but I’m working on a novella set during the Peninsular War where both the hero and heroine are common, as well as a Napoleonic-era historical fantasy that I hope will be the first of a series. The heroine’s unusual background and paranormal abilities lead to her becoming the only woman officer in Wellington’s army. I’ve often said that every historical author has a chick-in-pants story somewhere in her imagination, and this is mine.

Fortunately my hand is finally starting to heal, and I’m learning to use DragonDictate so I can keep writing even when my wrists won’t cooperate. I’ve written this post using Dragon, as a matter of fact. So with any luck, my new stories will be finished soon and I can start finding homes for them.

6. Tell us how to purchase A Marriage of Inconvenience.

It’s only available electronically. You can buy it direct from the publisher, Carina Press, from Amazon, from Barnes & Noble, from Apple’s iBooks store, etc.––really, most anywhere e-books are sold.

If you are trying an e-book for the first time, I recommend making it easy on yourself. If you don’t have an e-reader, you can read e-books on your computer or your smartphone. Amazon and Barnes & Noble offer free versions of the Kindle and Nook apps you can download onto your computer, iPad, or phone. Once you’ve done that, it’s a straightforward process to purchase books from their sites and read on your device of choice.

And now I have some questions for you. Writers, have you ever used a classic story as inspiration? Readers, are there stories you’d like to see your favorite authors adapt? One commenter will win a free download of A Marriage of Inconvenience.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 18 Replies
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By