Today, the Riskies welcome Anthea Lawson! And answer the question below to be entered to win a copy of Passionate.

Anthea Lawson is the pseudonym of a husband-wife writing team whose romances are set in early Victorian England, with a touch of travel to exotic locales. Their second novel, ALL HE DESIRES, has just been released. Their debut novel, PASSIONATE, was nominated for a Best First Book RITA in 2009. Visit their website, for all their latest news!

Far from home and her noble relatives, Miss Caroline Huntington has been injured in a fall from her horse. Called to her side, Alex Trentham knows he must assist her, though he has not practiced as a physician for a long while. Just to see so lovely a woman in a state of undress is a hard test of his self-control. Caroline is all that is warm and feminine, beautiful and pure.

Brave to a fault, she does not flinch under his hands, and soon she is on the mend. Alex struggles to hide his feelings, knowing that his dark past shadows any hope of a future. But Caroline’s radiant innocence is dangerous to a worldly man, and she seems achingly eager to experience all the pleasure he could show her…

“I find this to be a wonderful example of historical romance. Ms. Lawson tells a powerful love story and draws the reader in within the first chapter. This tale comes with a high recommendation from this reviewer.” – Coffee Time Romance
“This husband-and-wife team’s second novel sweeps from the shores of Crete to the streets of London… readers will enjoy the characters and the beautiful descriptions in this nice tale.” –Romantic Times

Please welcome Anthea Lawson:

Q. You two are a couple, AND you write together. What the hell? Are you trying to make all us squabbling married couples look bad? And how do you do it?
Writing together is not squabble-fee, but we’re used to creative collaboration from many years playing in a band, producing CDs and doing other other fun, creative projects together. Each of us brings very different strengths to the process, and we’ve learned to respect our unique talents. When we disagree over something while writing, that is just a signal to search for something better that pleases both of us.

Q. How did you think of writing this particular book? Did it start as a character, a setting, or some other element?
Anthea had the first sentence in her head months before we began writing — “Caroline Huntington was falling.” We also knew we wanted to set the first part of the book on the Isle of Crete. Also, we wanted a moody and dark hero with a haunted past. Things just unfolded from there.

Q. What fascinates you most about the early Victorian period?
The English were all over the globe, invincible in their sense of Empire. Add the burgeoning industrial revolution, the everyman scientist, and you have rich ground to plant all kinds of stories.

Q. How long did it take? Was this an easy or difficult book to write?
We had a little over a year to write this book. Being under a contract deadline was totally different from being able to work at our leisure, like we did with our first novel. ALL HE DESIRES was more stressful to write because of that, plus we were working on deepening the the emotions in our writing. There was (and is) so much left to learn about writing great romances. Our editor left the publishing house partway through, and that also made things a little more complicated.

Q. Tell me more about your characters. What or who inspired them?
Our heroine appears briefly in our first book, PASSIONATE — she’s the sister of that book’s hero. She was an interesting, spunky character, and we had a hunch we’d want to write about her. After that, we spent time figuring out a hero that would be an impossible and stubborn match for her. 🙂

Q. Did you run across anything new and unusual while researching this book?

We got to find out more about erotic Roman frescoes! That was fun. (We posted on this the other day at the Naughty & Spice blog for those interested in reading more.) We also got to immerse ourselves in the history and culture of Crete — though only in a virtual sense. One of our dreams is to be able to travel for extended periods to the exotic places we like to write about.

Q. What do you think is the greatest creative risk you’ve taken in this book? How do you feel about it?
We really wanted to increase the emotional intensity of the story and explore some deeper emotions. We gave our hero a tortured past that he refuses to talk about. His story is slowly revealed to both the reader and the Heroine. Moving him emotionally to a place where he could love freely felt risky. There was definitely some worry that the event that triggered his self-exile from England would be a problem for readers, but so far it seems to not be an issue.

Q. Is there anything you wanted to include in the book that you (or your CPs or editor) felt was too controversial and left out?
One of the best things about working with our publisher was the freedom we had to write the story we wanted. Since we work as a team, the book really has a lot of editing complete before we turn it in. The things we thought might be controversial we left in.

Q. What are you working on next?

We’re working on a series set against the glittering backdrop of 19th century musical celebrity. We’ve been professional musicians for many years, and its so much fun to capture the excitement of performing and make it part of the story. Music is a language of emotion and there is a lot that goes on backstage. We are about half-way through the first novel and we think readers will love this story. The romance is really working.

Q. Is there anything else you would like readers to know about you or your books?
Our first novel, PASSIONATE, was nominated for a 2009 RITA Best First Book. It’s not in most stores now (most romances have only a couple of months on store shelves) but it is available through Amazon, Powell’s, Borders, and other on-line retailers. If you like All He Desires, we would encourage you to give the first novel a read, too!

In fact, to help facilitate that, we’ll be giving away a copy of PASSIONATE to one lucky commenter. So tell us, what kind of risks do you think work – or don’t work – in historical romance?