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I’m excited. Our guest today is Harlequin Historical author and pal Deb Marlowe, talking about her March release, Tall, Dark and Disreputable. Deb, Amanda, and I have known each other for years, even before Deb and I had books out, but we became especially good friends after the 2003 Regency Tour to England. When Harlequin gave the three of us an anthology, The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor was born, complete with its spin-off books and short stories. (the last of the Welbourne Manor books, A Not So Respectable Gentleman? is mine, coming out in August, by the way)

Deb will be giving away one signed copy of Tall, Dark and Disreputable to one lucky commenter, chosen at random.

In Tall, Dark and Disreputable, Deb again brings her unique characters, a mystery to be solved, and rich historical detail to a great story, but don’t just take my word for it. Look at what the reviews say:

Marlowe pens another winner full of memorable characters, authentic historical details and lots of action, mystery and passion. Regency historical fans are in for a treat–RTBook Reviews.

A beautifully written tale of two people’s struggle for independence and freedom of choice, Tall, Dark and Disreputable turns into so much more–Cataromance

I didn’t want to put this book down. The pace is fast and the chemistry between Portia and Mateo sizzles off the page–Rakehell

Welcome back to Risky Regencies, Deb. Tell us about Tall, Dark and Disreputable.
Tall, Dark and Disreputable started because I fell in love with a character in my first book.  Mateo Cardea is a charmer!  He’s an American of Sicilian descent, a former privateer, and the  smooth talking Captain of a merchant ship.  I couldn’t wait to set him loose on Regency England!  At the start of TDD he’s returned to England because he’s found that his family legacy–the shipping company he’s prepared his whole life to take over–has been willed to someone else.  And not just anyone else, but to the woman he refused to marry long ago!  He arrives in England furious, but he finds Portia Tofton is in trouble too.  She needs his help to save the estate that her late husband gambled away  They find that they have to work together to unravel a family legend–and their feelings for each other.
How did you come up with the idea for Tall, Dark, and Disreputable?
I wanted to explore the idea of a family curse or legend and how it might affect the lives of the people who came after.  It’s hardly fair, is it, that they would have to deal with a situation brought on by others?  But isn’t that what we do?  We thrust our characters into difficult and unfair situations that they must make the best of, then sit back and watch!
What is risky about the book?
I suppose it is risky because Mateo is not a Duke, a Lord, or even an Englishman.  And Portia is the daughter of an Earl, but she’s turned her back on her early life.  It’s a story of two people who want to live according to their own dictates in a time that it was difficult to do so.
Did you come across any interesting research when you were writing the book?
Portia is a gardener and a lover of landscape design.  I had a grand time researching all of the rich history associated with gardening in the period.  So many estates had such lovely grounds and gardens and I immersed myself in the world of Capability Brown and Humpry Repton.  In fact, I have an article about Regency Gardens on my website.  You can check it out at
Tall, Dark, and Disreputable was released in the UK in 2010. What is it like to promote a book that you probably moved on from two years ago? Did you have to reread the book to remember it? (I would have)
Well, I did get it out to revisit, but it didn’t take long to bring it all back!  I absolutely adore the cover for the NA release–it really lives up to the title!  I’m so thrilled that it has come to North America at last–I really loved writing Portia and Mateo’s story and I’m having a blast reliving it again!
What’s next for you?

In June I have a new release:  Unbuttoning Miss Hardwick.  It’s the tale of a reclusive nobleman and the woman he hires to help him organize and display his incredible weapons collection. It’s a rollicking story with such disparate elements as a mysterious Hindu spear, party planning, an obsession with men in boots and the very difficult feat of dropping the masks we hide behind in order to embrace love.

Question for Readers:  Portia and Mateo both have pressing needs that seem to preclude any chance at them having a real relationship.  They are not sure they can trust each other, let alone give up their most important dreams for a chance at love.  What about you?  Have you ever made a sacrifice in the name of love?  Or known anyone who did?  Did it work out?Comment for a chance to win a signed copy of Tall, Dark and Disreputable. Winner will be announced Monday night.

Today’s my day to talk about The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor and, remember, comment for a chance to win a copy of the book! Deb did a great job yesterday of explaining how the anthology came about.

Here is how I introduced the anthology on my website:

When the Duke of Manning ran off with Lady Linwall it had been the scandal of its day. Did they care? Not at all. Their home, Welbourne Manor, soon housed a happy miscellany of his and theirs—but not hers, not the young son she left behind. Now all the children are grown, this estranged son is on their doorstep, and all their lives are about to change.

Riskies: What did it mean to you to write an anthology with two friends?
Oh, this has been my BEST writing experience by far! Amanda, Deb and I have been friends for years. In fact, Amanda was my first mentor! She had just sold to Signet and, as part of the Beau Monde (Regency) Chapter of RWA, she volunteered to mentor somebody. Lucky me! We mostly became friends and when Patty Suchy of Novel Explorations designed a Regency Tour of England, we decided to go. That’s where we befriended Deb.(here’s a photo of us in Brighton). I can’t tell you how happy I was for Amanda and Deb to become Harlequin Historical authors. What is wonderful about the Harlequin Historical team is that they knew we were friends and that’s why they offered us the anthology.

Riskies: What was it like to write connected stories? What was the most difficult?
It was sooooo much fun. First we had this great time wandering all around Colonial Williamsburg, soaking in the history. We spent a long time at the printing press, which was great because I learned what I needed to know for Scandalizing the Ton. When we finally went back to the hotel (and saw Deb’s first book, Scandalous Lord, Rebellious Miss), the story idea for the anthology came very quickly. I knew exactly whose story I wanted to tell. It was as if Brenner, hero of Justine and the Noble Viscount, was telling me his story.

What was hard was to make sure we got all the details right. I was especially worried about getting Charlotte’s and Annalise’s characters right, because I wanted them to seem like the same people in my story as they became in their own.

Riskies: Tell us about Justine and the Noble Viscount.
Justine and the Noble Viscount is the first story in the anthology. Brenner, the “Noble Viscount,” arrives at Welbourne Manor, the responsibility of his half-siblings, the children his mother had not abandoned, thrust upon his shoulders. Almost immediately Brenner meets Justine, another illegitimate daughter of the duke and a French woman and the two of them recognize in each other a similar pain deep inside. Each of them knows exactly what the other needs. For Brenner, though, it is impossible to contemplate falling in love with the daughter of a man he has hated his whole life and to be connected to a family from whose sphere he’s been excluded.

Riskies: What was risky about your story?
I had to make Justine and Brenner fall in love in the midst of significant grief and emotional upheaval, which is not the best circumstance for romance. It made me uneasy to try to create a love story in this atmosphere, but I totally believed in the story Brenner was telling me!

Riskies: What’s next for you?
The first book, as yet untitled, of my “Soldiers’ Trilogy” will be released December 2009. Three soldiers–an ensign, a lieutenant, and a captain–share a ghastly and distressing experience after the battle of Badajoz, an experience they agree to keep secret. It affects the rest of their lives. The first book is the ensign’s story and you get a peek of two of the minor characters in my Undone, The Unlacing of Miss Leigh. (Hint: my heroine in the book is an actress)

So, what do you think? Do you believe two people can fall in love in the midst of grief and emotional upheaval? Do you think it’s wise of them to do so?

Comment for a chance to win a signed copy of The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor!

This just in!
Thanks to Deb’s reminder, the Fitzmanning Family diagram is now added to my Behind the Book feature for Justine and the Noble Viscount.

and don’t forget to visit eHarlequin for Deb’s Online Read, The Journey to Welbourne Manor.

Thanks to the Riskies for having me today! I’m so excited to be here, and even more thrilled to be kicking off a three-day Welbourne Manor event!

In case there are any Riskies out there who might not know —The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor is an anthology that Diane, Amanda and I wrote together. We were given free reign to come up with an idea or theme—which was exciting and a little daunting! We decided to meet for a plotting/planning weekend in Williamsburg and it was there, amidst the historical touring, shopping—and lunching—that the scandalous Fitzmannings were born.
We were inspired by the blended families of the Duchess of Devonshire and her sister Lady Bessborough and also the Elizabethan family of Lettice Deveraux, Countess of Essex that Amanda had been reading about. We were intrigued with the notion—What might happen if a Duke left his wife for his vivacious, married mistress, and lived happily with her for the rest of their days? Such a decision would have far reaching consequences for their children, both his, hers and theirs together—and we were off! The result is The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor, which chronicles the story of the three daughters of this mixed family and their difficulties as they grow to a marriageable age.

Now that I’ve introduced you to our fascinating family, on to the interview questions!

Riskies: What did it mean to you to write an anthology with two friends?
It made the whole process so much easier and a lot of fun! We were comfortable bouncing ideas off of each other and not shy about saying what we thought would work and what might not. The three of us have been friends a long time and have a history of pulling for each other. Because there was already a foundation of trust and friendship, we were free to let loose and give our imaginations free reign. Plus, now we get to spend time doing promo together! We don’t have to worry if one of us writing the Sunday blog on Saturday—LOL! And we get to go to NYC for a weekend together at Book Expo America and go to the ballet and cocktail parties—What’s not to love?

Riskies: What was it like to write connected stories? What was the most difficult?
One of the best things about this anthology is how the stories are interconnected. We sent a lot of emails after that initial weekend and it was very easy to ask each other to include something that would spark an event or affect a character in one of the other stories. I truly think it adds to the richness of the world we have created.

One of the best things is that we have all had the opportunity to do additional, related projects. I’m sure you all know that Diane’s related Undone, The Unlacing of Miss Leigh, has been burning up the bestseller charts at eHarlequin! Also at eHarlequin, I have a free, online read taking place through the month of May. Journey to Welbourne Manor is the story of a distant relation, and provides a peek at the original scandal of the Duke of Manning and his married Countess.
The most difficult thing will be saying goodbye to this family and their world, but I have hope that Stephen and I will be spending a significant amount of time together soon!

Riskies: Tell us about Annalise and the Scandalous Rake.
Annalise is the most sensitive of the Fitzmanning sisters. She prefers the isolation of her studio to worrying about Society’s scorn. She is perfectly happy pouring her emotions into her painting—until Ned Milford is invited to a Welbourne house party. What no one knows is that Ned is also Prattle, a famous, and anonymous, caricaturist bent on exposing her family’s secrets. Many obstacles litter their path to love, including a pompous suitor, a slightly scandalous scavenger hunt and a devastating artistic duel. I truly loved the time I spent with Annalise and Ned—I hope readers will too!

Riskies: What was risky about your story?
I think the riskiest aspect was having a hero who is artistic. I know that my editor expressed the worry that an artist wouldn’t be masculine enough to appeal to readers, but I believe he turned out incredibly hunky and adorable!

Riskies: What’s next for you?
Coming in October I am very excited about the North American release of Her Cinderella Season! Jack Alden was the scholarly brother of Charles Alden, Viscount Dayle in my first release, Scandalous Lord, Rebellious Miss. Jack also played a vital role in solving the mystery of the Pharoah’s Lost Jewel in An Improper Aristocrat. Now, at last, he has his own story!
He was somewhat shocked to find himself in the midst of an ancient mystery and a kidnapping plot in AIA. The experience shook him up—and shook loose a few demons, too. He’ll need the help of Lily Beecham to confront them. The daughter of Evangelical reformers, she’s determined to experience something of life at last—even if she has to drag Jack Alden along with her!

So, what do you think about The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor? Do you have any questions for Deb?
Comment for a chance to win a signed copy of The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor! And come back tomorrow for Day Two and prize two.

*Deb’s author photo is by Trevor Borchelt of Borchelt Photography

Having Deb Marlowe (shown here at Wilton House) with us yesterday reminded me of our 2003 Regency Tour of England and made me think again about friends. I’ve said over and over that the real gift Romance Writing has given me is the gift of friendship from so many people all over the world, including the ladies who came with us on the trip..and everyone in our Risky Regencies community.

The gift keeps on giving.

When my children were small and I was finishing up my Masters in Social Work, I gave up sending Christmas cards and, as a result, I lost touch with my very dear college friends from Ohio University. In the last year or so, however, my college friends Eileen and Linda (here in our college dorm room) found me again because of the Romance Writing, because I’m on the web and was mentioned in our Alumni magazine. I even discovered that my friend Linda’s daughter lives not even five miles from me-close enough that I was able to have lunch with Linda, now living in Texas, when she visited her daughter.

This past week, however, takes the cake. I had a phone call from my old college boyfriend, Nigel (Yes, that’s Nigel and me, back in the distant past). I haven’t heard from Nigel in a brazillion years. He phoned me from a distant overseas location, where he is doing the sort of important work he’d always wanted to do. Nigel had been in England a couple of years ago and had seen one of my books, and later another one when he’d been in the States. (Nigel, as you can guess by his name, was born in England, but grew up in the US)

I love it that my Romance writing has put me back in touch with old friends.

I just watched Miss Austen Regrets (Don’t forget. We discuss Miss Austen Regrets tomorrow on Cara’s blog), and it ended with her sister Cassandra basically saying that her sister Jane was her best friend. This got me thinking of other Regency friends.

My Regency heroes often have a close male friend, a friend for whom he will do anything. Brummell had Alvanley. Wellington was a good friend to Castlereagh. Earlier there is the strange friendship between Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, and Elizabeth Foster, who became the Duke’s mistress. Elizabeth’s and Georgiana’s children by the Duke all grew up together. And the friendship, as fellow writers, of Mary Robinson (The Prince Regent’s ‘Perdita’) and Mary Wollstonecraft.

I wonder if the Patronesses of Almack’s were friends….

Do you have any Romance Writing friendship stories to tell?

Can you think of any other Regency era friendships that I’ve forgotten?

Don’t forget to join us tomorrow when the JANE AUSTEN MOVIE CLUB discusses Miss Austen Regrets!

You writers among us, come join the discussion of CHARACTER all this month on the Wet Noodle Posse Blog . There are prizes.

Speaking of prizes, come visit my website and enter my contest. My friend Kathryn Caskie, whose How To Propose To A Prince is due out Feb 26, and I are each giving away signed copies of the books that started our series. From Kathy, it will be How to Seduce A Duke, and from me, The Mysterious Miss M.

And that is the end of the commercials and my blog!

The fun continues in Williamsburg, Virginia! On Friday Amanda and I took a break from sightseeing and went shopping. Book Shopping, especially at the William and Mary Bookstore where I’ll be joining other authors (including Harlequin Historical author Michelle Willingham, whom we met for dinner on Thurs) for a Romance booksigning on Sept 15.

On Saturday we met our friend and fellow Harlequin Historical author Deb Marlowe (Scandalous Lord, Rebellious Miss, Nov 2007 in the UK, Feb 2008 in North America-her debut book!) for a day of sightseeing and working. Amanda, Deb, and I are going to do a Regency Anthology to come out in 2009 (so start saving your pence now!). The photo is of us at the Kings Arms for Sunday lunch, the same restaurant where we ate with Michelle Willingham (The Warriors Touch, Sept 2007) .

At Williamsburg there are reenactments all day long starting with the Governor arriving in a carriage at the Capitol where he addresses the people after word arrived about the Boston Tea Party, and dissolves the House of Burgesses. Well, what was the man to do? These pesky Colonials and their addlebrained ideas of Independence. It was enough to make George III go mad….well, maybe that wasn’t what made him go mad…

Anyway, we had a terrific time working our way from exhibit to exhibit and gift shop to gift shop all the way to the other end of the Historic area. One of the exhibits was the Print Shop, where we watched the Reenactor run the press and I learned things I need for the book I just turned in. I’ll add them during Revision time. We also visited the Milliner who was making stays and the Apothecary, the Silversmith, the Blacksmith. We even worked a little.

Sunday Amanda and I returned to Jamestown, this time to the actual site. We could not see much of the archaeological work that is ongoing because it was all covered over in case of rain, but we toured the museum and walked where John Smith walked all those years ago. Then we met Deb for lunch and then…..we had to drive home. I’ll take Amanda to the airport today.

It was a very excellent adventure, indeed!

What were you all doing while we were in Williamsburg??

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