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The Riskies welcome back Miranda Neville who is bringing with her The Wild Marquis, her second Regency Historical from Avon. The Wild Marquis is the first book in her Burgundy Club Series. Remember when Miranda brought us the Regency culinary world in href=””>Never Resist Temptation? Wait until you see what she has in store for us this time!

Neville brings on the sizzle along with an intriguing and unique Regency backdrop — a nobleman’s “addiction” to rare book collecting — in the well-crafted start to the Burgundy series.–RT Book Reviews

Mirana will give away a signed copy of The Wild Marquis to one lucky commenter chosen at random.

Welcome back, Miranda! Tell us about The Wild Marquis.

The Marquis of Chase (known as Cain) is, I think, a delectable hero. He’s a rake with a dark past, but also a lot of fun. He never feels sorry for himself and he loves women, not just as lovers but also as friends. When he finally falls in love, as he does with Juliana, a short and rather grumpy tradeswoman who is mainly interested in her struggling rare book business, he falls hard.
I’ll admit that “rake” is short hand for a hot Regency guy who has had a lot of girlfriends. I’d find it hard to rehabilitate a hardened womanizer, not to mention the hovering threat of venereal disease. Cain isn’t like that and the catalyst for the story is his desire to restore his reputation by buying back a rare medieval manuscript sold by his father. It turns out that Juliana, whose husband was murdered, is in danger. The secrets of both characters’ pasts are entangled in the intrigues of a pair of rival bibliophiles.

The Wild Marquis is your second book, and second books pose their own unique anxieties and challenges. Did you experience “Second Book Syndrome?” What were the unique challenges of writing a second book?
I find this question extremely frightening. I thought “Second Book Syndrome” was when your sophomore effort sucks, disappears in the bookstore, and your career dies on the vine. I am burning logloads of incense to the Bookscan Gods to avert this fate.
Perhaps I’ll avoid it because The Wild Marquis isn’t my second book. Avon refused to buy the sequel to Never Resist Temptation on the grounds that it was about opera and wouldn’t sell. I actually found The Wild Marquis relatively easy to write and the next one, which I just finished, easier still. No, what am I saying? It’s never easy. But with each book I gain confidence in my ability to recognize what works and what doesn’t. Grinding out 90,000 words is as hard as ever and I’m not sure how it ever happens. As the theater manager says in Shakespeare in Love, “it’s a mystery.”

In Never Resist Temptation you brought us a heroine who is an accomplished chef, showing us a glimpse of the Regency’s culinary world and sharing some of your research on Prinny’s chef Carême. What fascinating research did you find in writing The Wild Marquis?
Continuing the theme of heroines with jobs, Juliana owns a rare book shop. The background to the story is the sale of a huge book collection at Sotheby’s. I based it on the sale of the Duke of Roxburghe’s library, the most famous book auction of the nineteenth century. Having worked in Sotheby’s rare books department for several years. I had a good grounding in the basics, but I researched the Regency era book trade. Collecting tastes change over time and I had to make sure the things my characters collected were period appropriate.
A quarto edition of Romeo and Juliet plays an important part in the plot. Had my book been set a hundred years earlier I couldn’t have done that, because it wasn’t fashionable to collect Shakespeare. For my own convenience I have my heroine talk about “good” and “bad” Shakespeare quartos, a distinction that wasn’t made until the early twentieth century. I reasoned (?rationalized) that she could have been brilliantly ahead of her time in judging the bard’s texts.

What is risky about The Wild Marquis?
I’d have to say the setting. I’m crossing my fingers that readers don’t find the whole notion of rare book collecting hopelessly dry and geeky.

What is next for you?
At the end of The Wild Marquis, a group of young men form The Burgundy Club, a society of bibliophiles. The president of the club is Sebastian Iverley, a bespectacled misogynist. When he vetoes the admission of women Juliana, my heroine, swears revenge. In The Dangerous Viscount, coming in October, she gets to see Sebastian fall in love and have a very hard time of it. Avon recently accepted my proposal for two further books in the same series.

In historical romance we see more heroines with jobs these days. I’ve written a pastry cook and now a bookseller. The heroines of my next two books are more conventional: a well born lady of leisure and a governess, respectively. As writers and/or readers do you prefer more independent women, or are you happy to stick with tradition? One commenter will win a signed copy of The Wild Marquis.

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Today we welcome Avon author Margo Maguire, who has written Medievals, Victorians, Saxons, Celts, Sorcerers, and Regencies, you name it. Today she’s talking about her latest book, in bookstores now, Taken By The Laird.

…There’s something for everyone in this book — romance, sex, ghosts, adventure and mystery….–Linda Roberts, RT Book Reviews

Margo will be giving away two signed books. See the details at the end of the interview.

Welcome, Margo! Tell us about Taken By The Laird.
First of all, thank you for having me on Risky Regencies! I love your site.

Taken by the Laird is the story of Brianna Munro, who flees London rather than staying and marrying the man chosen for her by her callous guardian. She’s impulsive and determined, and when she arrives in Scotland, the weather is brutal. She takes refuge in Castle Glenloch, much of which is in ruins, never expecting to find its laird, Hugh Christie, in residence. Hugh is known in London as a rake and a scoundrel, and all the single young ladies are cautioned against him. Hugh is at Castle Glenloch for the purpose of trying to determine who is sabotaging his smuggling operation. The castle holds terrible memories for Hugh, whose wife committed suicide there some years before. He is now a dedicated bachelor, with absolutely no intention of marrying again. Though he is fairly certain Brianna is lying about her identity – Hugh does not guess that she is the daughter of a viscount, or else he’d get her away from Glenloch immediately.

Taken By The Laird features characters from Wild. Tell us about that book and whether readers should read it first.
No need to read Wild first. Hugh is merely introduced as a friend of Wild’s hero, Anthony Maddox, who was lost in Africa as a child. Here’s the one-line “high concept” that I gave my editor when I proposed this book: The young, female companion to an elderly dowager must become tutor to the woman’s grandson, a young man who was lost while on safari with his father at a young age – who now returns to London to become civilized and take his place in society.was a lot of fun to write. Anthony isn’t exactly a “wild child,” because he’s kept some English artifacts that remind him of home (which also helped to keep the English language alive for him). But he would prefer to return to his perfect environment in Africa. Grace Hawthorne is the starched young companion to Anthony’s grandmother, who finds herself in an untenable situation with a man who has no concept of propriety or decorum. Worse, he doesn’t seem to care that he will hurt his grandmother if he leaves.

We re Risky Regencies. What is “risky” about Taken By The Laird?
For me, the riskiest part of Taken By The Laird was in the writing: balancing the romance with the plot. Smuggling is the reason Hugh is in Scotland in the first place, and someone is obviously stealing from him. There’s a murder, and it has a great deal to do with Hugh’s smuggling operation. I have Brianna, who lies about her identity in order to keep herself concealed from her guardian and bridegroom, and she’s a rather impetuous, unpredictable character. Even I wondered what she was going to do next, and I had a detailed synopsis to work from!

And then there was the ghost. The castle is haunted, but Hugh has never seen the ghost, so he’s always believed the legend was just a ruse to keep people away from the castle … away from the smuggling. But Brianna actually sees it …I had to be relentless in keeping Brianna and Hugh together, and making them irresistible to each other, in spite of everything going on around them. This is a very sexy book!

You set the book in 1829, post-Regency. What drew you to this time period?
This sort of happened by default. Hugh is introduced in Wild, which I’d intended to make a Victorian story, but my editor asked me to move it back, make it earlier. The only problem was that I needed to have the hero, Anthony, lost in Africa some twenty-ish years before, but Englishmen were not going on safari until the late 1700s. They were definitely exploring before then (I think there was a recent Risky blog about Scottish explorer Mungo Park), but I couldn’t imagine Anthony’s father taking him on one of those early expeditions. So I decided he might have brought the boy along on safari in about 1807-08, by which time there’d been a lot of exploration already done, and he could be reasonably sure of the conditions where they were going. Which meant that Wild couldn’t have taken place before about 1829 or so. And since Hugh was introduced in Wild, I had to keep the same time frame for Taken by the Laird.

Did you come across any interesting research while writing the book?
LOL! There is always so much, all the little details, that seem inconsequential. But they’re crucial to a story. For this one, I had to research smuggling (known as free-trading): where it was done, what products were smuggled, how it was financed, who the customs agents were, what kind of ships were used, how the contraband would be stored – and I wanted to know how it would take place in Scotland. Not that all of this information is laid out in Taken by the Laird, but I always have to . Because other factors that do turn up in the book might depend upon the background information that will forever lie hidden in my notes.

What’s next for you?
My next book from Avon is a Regency that will be out in May, 2010, called The Rogue Prince. It’s set in 1817, and was an absolute treat to write. The hero, Thomas Thorne, is a man who was wrongly convicted of a crime and spent years in an Australian penal colony. By a twist of fate, he becomes incredibly wealthy. But when he returns to London to take revenge against the two boys (now men) who accused him, he falls for the woman who is the widow of one, and stepsister of the other.

I also contributed a couple of short stories, one coming out in December in The Mammoth Book of Time Travel Romance and the other in January in The Mammoth Book of Irish Romance. Both were departures from my usual fare, so they were a lot of fun to write!

In honor of my visit here to Risky Regencies AND my birthday, which is this Tuesday, I’d love to give away a copy of Wild, and one of Taken by the Laird.

Thanks for hosting me today, ladies!

Thanks for coming, Margo! Winners will be chosen at random from our commenters, so be sure to ask Margo a question, or tell her what you think about these intriguing books!

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