Today we welcome Ann Lethbridge to the Riskies to talk about her latest, The Gamekeeper’s Lady. Frustrated Lady Constance becomes attracted to the virile gamekeeper Mellors and they run around naked in the rain threading flowers through each other’s–NO! Wrong book.

A lovely twist on the Cinderella theme. Her likeable characters entertain….. Romantic Times Ms. Lethbridge has created two wonderfully flawed characters, and whilst they are among the crème de le crème of ton society, each stand out, not for their fair appearance, but rather their honesty, honor, and individuality. Heroes and Heartbreakers

Ann, congrats on the release, and I should mention here that your yummy hero received the Romantic Times K.I.S.S. (Knight in Shining Silver) hero award for May 2011. What was the origin of this book?

Interestingly enough, the book started off being about Robert, the hero. He was such a bad boy in that opening scene. But as the book progressed it clearly became Frederica’s journey. I tend to see a scene and then just follow along with the characters. For this book it was the scene where Robert is in bed with his mistress thinking everything in the garden is perfect, only to have everything go down hill fast. Funnily enough, I wrote that scene by hand in the car on a long journey to visit my daughter at University. On the way home, I read it to my husband. We had driven quite some distance with me reading, when he jerked in his seat, stared out of the window and said, “I have no idea where we are. We missed our turning.” The words were less polite, but that was their meaning.

I thought that was a very good omen.

(Yes, but did he stop and ask for directions?) What’s the appeal of the black sheep character for you?

Redemption, I suppose. I think we all hope to do better, to be better, and the redemption of the black sheep character plays into that basic human desire. They are also fun to write, because they are a bit wicked and never quite lose that charm.

Your heroine is an artist. Were you thinking of any particular artist of the period? eg Elizabeth Vigee Lebrun?

How did you guess? Probably because there were so few well-known female artists at this time. The idea of her being an artist came from the character herself, it was what she wanted to be. Then I had to go and look and see if it was possible. I was thrilled to find Elizabeth and a few others who made the idea a workable proposition. There was an English woman in an earlier century, Anna Maria Sibylla Merian who painted studies from nature, and then Elizabeth who painted mostly portraits.

Do you feel your upbringing in England gives you an insight into the complexities of the class system?

I always said that if I had been born in the Regency, I would have been the upstairs maid, or the tenant farmer’s wife. My grandmother always said we came from British yeoman stock, although l in more recent history my family had a military tradition. That might have been the result of two world wars, however. Coming from there, one certainly tends to understand how British Society works, who fits where and how, but the system itself has never been completely static. I think my upbringing in England gave me a deep-rooted feel for the history of the country and a feel for the countryside and it is that which I tap into for my books.

Did your research for the book turn up anything interesting?

I did quite a bit of research on the role of the gamekeeper which in turn led me to a book in an old bookshop in England on the art of poaching. In the end, it wasn’t relevant, but I was quite fascinated to learn how to tickle a trout. Perhaps it will find its way into a book one of these days. A poacher would have to be a bit of a black sheep — perhaps a gypsy. I do love a good gypsy story. Uh oh.

If you were in charge of casting for the movie version, who would you pick?

For Robert, it would have to be Richard Armitage, he has an edge I really like, but can be sensitive too. For Frederica, I would pick Emily Blunt I think. She carries off the female of the era who goes beyond the normal expectations for a woman very well.

What sort of music do you listen to when you write?

Oh dear, I really don’t. I can manage with a bit background noise if I have to, but my preference is silence. I prefer to listen to the characters in my head. I have been known to use music to drown out other noises in the house when people are home. In that case, I like anything classical without words. Words tend to insinuate their way into my mind and I find myself singing along, instead of writing.

What’s up next for you?

Thank you for asking. I have a follow up book to The Gamekeeper’s Lady out in June. It is about Robert’s brother, Charlie, the responsible twin, and called More than a Mistress. In the Fall some time there is a follow up book to my very first book with Harlequin, another bad-boy brother which is titled Lady Rosabella’s Ruse. Currently, I am working on a story set in the Highlands of Scotland where my characters seem to be engaged in a tale of catch as catch can and I am madly trying to keep up with them.

Thank you so much for inviting me to visit with the Risky Regencies, Janet. Now it is my turn to ask a question of your readers. I would like to know~

Who is your favourite black sheep character? Or what kind of hero do you prefer?

I have a copy of The Gamekeeper’s Lady waiting to wing its way off to a lucky commenter, picked randomly by Janet. Thank you for dropping in and Happy Mother’s Day.