A big Riskies welcome today to Liz Carlyle and her Best Furred Friends.

Today your comments and questions are very important. Not only will you have fun and enter to win the drawing for a copy of Liz’s book, but Avon has very generously agreed to donate $1 per comment to Cat Angels, Liz’s favorite animal rescue organization. HarperCollins will donate up to $3,000, but you will only be counted once in the entire blog tour, not by the number of comments you make. But please don’t let that inhibit you today!
Get talking and become a furry godmother.

Grace’s tenacity, wit, and compassion make her a very believable, multidimensional character and the perfect match for Ruthveyn’s brooding and dark secrets. The romance sizzles, its unpredictability propelling this complex story far beyond its contemporaries. Starred review, Publishers Weekly.

First, let’s talk cats. Are there any cats in the book?

I do love to have animal characters in my books, and Lord Ruthveyn is definitely a cat person. So I gave him a pair of solid silver tabbies, in honor of Pelham and Mary, two of our rescue cats. Ruthveyn’s silver cats are named Silk and Satin. They sleep on his bed, and love only him — isn’t that so cat-typical? Here’s a picture of Pel and Mary just a few days after they came to us as terrified feral kittens. They have really blossomed since, but I think they will always be a little more shy than most cats.

(Aaaw) And these other adorable critters belong to Liz. What are they gazing at so intently? But let’s get to the book: Tell us the story behind the story of ONE TOUCH OF SCANDAL. What sparked the original idea for the trilogy?

I think the spark came from spending too much time in the British Museum, and reading too many books. But I’ve always been fascinated by psychic gifts, and the many forms such talents can take across the broad sweep of world cultures. One of my older novels—THREE LITTLE SECRETS—was about a young boy who had inherited “the Gift” from his Scottish ancestors, and he is the character around whom this new series is very loosely built. His book is the second in the series, ONE WICKED GLANCE, which will be out in late May, I believe.

What’s your favorite scene in the book?

Strangely, I think it’s a quiet little scene in Hyde Park where Grace and Ruthveyn must confront their mutual doubt and distrust. For the first time in his life, Ruthveyn has found himself in a relationship in which he is “blind”—he cannot read Grace, which is at once a relief to him, and a bit unsettling. He realizes he has reached a turning point in his life; that he must learn to trust his ordinary human instincts, which tell him that Grace is a woman he can believe in. A woman he can love. This is all very new for him. It makes for a very emotional scene; a moment of bonding, if you will.

What’s the appeal of the Victorian age for you?

It is the Age of Empire, so we still have the elegant society of the Regency with dashes of expansionism and intellectualism. Science was becoming fashionable, India was exploding, steam and train travel were shrinking the world, we had a woman on the throne again, the Continent was in constant political turmoil—and then, oh my!—the clothes! Crinolines, corsets, bustles—and then there’s the incredible jewelry! Really, what’s not to like?

What do you find particularly challenging about the Victorian age?

I’m not quite as well-versed in the history of the era as I was the earlier third of the 19th century, so my research takes a little longer. The Victorian era spanned over six decades, a period of time during which almost everything we knew—society, science, literature, the role of women, the primacy of the aristocracy, even our cultural mores—was in flux. The phrase “it’s complicated” was probably coined in the Victorian era. It really is a lot to take on!

Tell us about your research and any favorite research books you use.

My fall-back source is always the good old Encyclopedia Britannica, but a fairly old edition, one which leaves out all the unnecessary stuff—like most of the twentieth century. My mother-in-law was a professor of European History, so I inherited a vast library from her. Over the years I’ve bought a lot of reference books from the National Trust—particularly in their shops around the UK, and I keep a membership with them which includes some wonderful periodicals that are always chock-full of inspiration. But there’s nothing like seeing something firsthand, so I travel as much as possible.

What the buildings are on your website banner–they’re gorgeous!

That is a sort of mini-montage of photographs I shot several years ago in Castle Combe, an absolutely breathtaking village in Wiltshire on the edge of the Cotswolds. (I used to be quite the photographer, but digital has thrown me a bit.) Castle Combe is a little off the beaten path, but well worth the drive. It really is like visiting another century—which is just the sort of experience I aspire to give my readers. If you don’t like driving on the left, you can visit Castle Combe here!

What’s next for you?

Oh, I’m so excited! Next I’ll be finishing the third book in the Fraternitas series, which will feature the impenitent scoundrel of the bunch—Lord Lazonby, a man who takes very little of life seriously. He’s served a long tour of duty in the French Foreign Legion, and spent several years in prison for murder. He also has a nasty—and somewhat undeserved—reputation as a bit of a card sharp. My critique partner Deb Marlow says Lazonby is the most unrepentant bad boy she’s seen in a while. But I’ve got just the character to flog Lazonby into shape—perhaps literally, if that’s what it takes. It’s too soon to tell yet, but I’ve got the whip to hand.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to visit with the Riskies!