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Tag Archives: Laurel McKee

CountessCoverThis week I am doing a fun new project related to one of my favorite holidays–St. Patrick’s Day!  (and no, I don’t love it because it’s an excuse to drink too much, sing “I’ll Tell Me Ma,” and wear a green plastic tiara that says “Irish Princess” and lights up–that’s just a perk…)  My local RWA chapter, OKRWA, is doing a series of free short-short stories called “The Luck of the Irish” centered around a pub called the Rose and Shamrock, and a leprechaun’s search for his lost gold.

My own story, “The Start of the Rainbow,” is historical (though most of them will be contemporary) and is related to my Laurel McKee “Daughters of Erin” series.  (My story went up yesterday, and there will be a new one each day until Sunday–you can find the site here…)

I’ve done short stories before, novellas for Christmas anthologies and The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor along with Risky Diane, and some stories for the Harlequin Historical Undone line, but those were all anywhere from 15,000-25,000ish words.  This time I was trying something very different–a REALLY short story, less than 2500 words.  I wasn’t sure about it at first.  I had to not only come up with an actual story, I had to set up the series and somehow connect it to my Laurel books (I found a girl who was a friend to Lady Caroline, heroine of Lady of Seduction, Lady Allison Bennett, to be the heroine).  At first I wasn’t sure it was even possible.   But in the end it was a lot of fun!  It made me wish there was a Rose and Shamrock in my town too…

Do you enjoy short stories?  What are you doing for St. Patrick’s Day??


Between all the holiday madness/eating/parade watching/deadlines/revisions/last-minute wedding plans, I realized I have a book out now!!!  It was available November 20, and, if I do say so myself, it would make a great holiday present for any romance reader. 🙂

The Scandalous St. Claires series is one to follow. In a genre best known for it’s fairly rigid underpinnings it is refreshing to find an author who so skillfully colors outside the lines.
Fresh Fiction review

Two Sinful Secrets is the second in my “Scandalous St. Claires” series by my slightly naughtier other half Laurel McKee.  I’ve loved working on this series–it gives me the chance to delve into the Victorian period, both the glitzy side of wealth and fashion and the seamier side of theaters, brothels, and gambling clubs, thanks to the feud between the ducal Huntingtons and the theater owning St. Claires.  In the first book, One Naughty Night, I used the quietest member of the St. Claire family, Lily, as my heroine–now I use the most outgoing, flamboyant, charming sibling, Dominic (who has a much darker side).  I loved seeing him gobsmacked by love with the beautiful, independent Sophia Huntington!  She really took me by surprise in so many ways….

Laurel McKee is a truly talented author, bringing to life her characters in this awesome tale.
Under the Covers review

Ms McKee writes a very Shakespeareanesq novel.. it is hard to describe how her characters face life in ways that only Shakespeare could really understand. She has dark and sinister villains, complex heroes, feuding families and yes great romance. I liked how she intertwined these themes with the fact that her characters were a family of actors..

This was a wonderful story and many times I had tears in my eyes.. I wanted so much for Sophia, I wanted her to have it all.. and it was wonderful to watch her work for it.
–Bodice Rippers, Femme Fatales, and Fantasy 

I have to say, I think this cover is one of my most favorite ever.  And I got to set the first half of the book in Paris!!  What could be more romantic than Victorian Paris? 🙂

So I’m giving away a signed copy today to one lucky commenter!  Do you like family feud romances?  Heroes from the wrong side of the (Victorian) tracks?  Independent heroines??   What do you look for in a holiday read?

My site

Last week, Blogger was being a pain, so I wasn’t able to post. I know you all missed me!

So I have been writing (although a snail would mock me at how slowly I’m going!), and reading, and such, and I was pondering just why I read so much fantasy and paranormal in addition to my previous inhalation of historical romance:

It’s the world-building.

I read historical and PNR/UF novels for the same reason: I like to escape the everyday world into a fantastical one, whether it’s populated by men in waistcoats and cravats or men in leather and armor. I like the authors’ world-building, which is likely why anachronisms and tweaking of the ‘real’ history in Regency-set novels doesn’t bother me as much as it does some people.

Right now, I am reading A Feast for Crows, the fourth novel in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (currently showing on HBO as Game of Thrones). I’ve got Laurel McKee’s next book on its way, as well as Carolyn Jewel’s (and wouldn’t it be neat if they came in the same package?), both of whom are incredible at creating their particular worlds. Laurel’s book is set in Georgian Ireland, while Carolyn’s is sets sort of now, but with demons and mages and magic.

Two completely different books with a common thread of world-building.

That’s why, with a few exceptions, I don’t read contemporary romance. I don’t find it compelling to read about the world in which I do, or could theoretically, live. I like escapism, fantasy, elegance, the occasional dose of magic.

Could that be why you read historical romance? Or other genres that include world-building?

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Today I’m so excited to welcome my friend and fellow Harlequin author Nicola Cornick back to the blog so we can chat about our December books! My own release is my second Laurel McKee book, Duchess of Sin, Anna’s story, and Nicola’s is the third of her back-to-back releases, Scandalous Women of the Ton! I’ve been waiting for Merryn’s story ever since the first book came out, and now it’s here in Mistress by Midnight. We sit down to tea and cakes to chat about hunky dukes, intelligent heroines, and history….

“A one-of-a-kind read! Truly an amazing tale, a love to warm the heart and an adventure that never ended. I found myself enraptured by Conlan and Lady Anna, by the surprising love I felt for the Angel of Kildare, and the strong desire for the next story.” –Fresh Fiction, on Duchess of Sin

“(An) emotionally charged romance and a powerful love story!” –RT Book Reviews on Mistress by Midnight

Amanda (pouring the tea and helping herself to a chocolate cake): Welcome to the Riskies today, Nicola! I’m so excited to see the last book of your new trilogy on the shelves. Tell us about it!

Nicola (sipping tea, and trying to ignore that Amanda took the only chocolate cake): Thanks for having me here today! Well, my new series, The Scandalous Women of the Ton, is all about heroines doing outrageous things–traveling to the far-flung corners of the globe, working for a living, marrying five times. Each of my heroines manages to shock society’s sensibilities in a different way.

Merryn, the heroine of my December book Mistress by Midnight, is a bluestocking, very unfashionable, with total scorn for everything she sees as superficial about society. She prefers to attend lectures rather than balls and even has a job, although she has to keep this a secret. Merryn is a sweet girl but she does tend to see everything in black and white and a lot of the book is about how she learns that often the truth is nowhere near as straightforward as she thinks. She’s on a mission to ruin Garrick, Duke of Farne, because she holds him responsible for her brother’s death. But she hasn’t taken into account her raging attraction to Garrick or that fact that he’s out to stop her from revealing the truth!

Amanda: I do love scandalous heroines! Anna Blacknall, heroine of Duchess of Sin, doesn’t have a job like Merryn, but she does like a good party–a lot. She likes to dance, ride her horse fast, and find places she’s not meant to be. She also likes to sneak out of the house and look for adventure, something different from her constrained life as belle of the Dublin social season. But she’s also trying to cover up her deep-seated fears and some bad memories from the Uprising of two years ago. She’s looking for acceptance for who she really is, and she wants to find something useful in life beyond being a Diamond. She’s also looking for a strong man to match her, though she doesn’t know at first that she’s already found him…

Nicola: Oooh, a yummy dark hero! My hero Garrick, is a total sweetie to my mind (I do admit to a bias!). He’s a very honorable hero. I love heroes who are strong protectors and Garrick has made it his life’s work to protect those who are weaker than he is and who need him. When he meets Merryn he has a terrible conflict because she threatens to reveal all the secrets he has kept for years as part of his role as defender. He is very attracted to Merryn and he wants to help her too, but he cannot tell her the truth without betraying others. He’s completely torn.

Amanda: He sounds so much like my own hero, Conlan, Duke of Adair! Besides both being dukes, that is. Conlan’s whole life is dedicated to protecting his people from all the dangers of Irish life, and he’ll do anything to fulfill that responsibility. The last thing he needs is a beautiful Ascendancy lady finding out all his secrets! But Anna needs him too–and he needs her. They’re true soul-mates, it just takes them a while (and several dangerous adventures) to find that out! It doesn’t help that Anna is being courted by Conlan’s villainous cousin, either.

One thing I love to do is find actors or models that look like my idea of my characters, and then I make character collages. (It’s not time wasting procrastination, it’s Very Important Research!). Conlan looked to me like a dark manly-man, like Richard Armitage or Gerard Butler (sorry, Diane! I borrowed him for a bit…). Anna is an aristocratic blonde, like Gywneth Paltrow or Diane Kruger. What about your characters? Who did you “see” while you were writing?

Nicola: Well, one of the things I love about Garrick is that he has auburn hair. I know red-haired heroes aren’t every reader’s cup of tea, but I think a man with red hair can be very sexy. My inspirations for Garrick were Damian Lewis, Prince Harry, and Toby Stephens in his Mr. Rochester guise! If I was to cast Merryn, I think Kate Winslet would be a good choice to play her.

Amanda: Yummy inspirations all! I know that, like me, you enjoy doing research and finding historical tidbits to put into stories. What can we look for in this book?

Nicola: Mistress by Midnight is set against the background of the London Beer Flood of 1814, a real event in which 7 people died. It was a freak accident. the vat on the top of the brewery in Tottenham Court Road exploded, setting off a chain reaction from the other vats and releasing a tidal wave of beer that swamped the surrounding streets. Several people drowned, some were crushed by falling masonry, and one died from drinking too much alcohol. It was all reported in The Times newspaper of the day.

Amanda: OMG, how have I never heard of this??? A real beer flood? There’s no flood of booze in my book, but there is a visit to a pub. I set Duchess of Sin around the upheaval concerning the Act of Union of 1801. Things had calmed down (though the atmosphere was still very tense) after the Uprising of 2 years before, but this political act was like setting a match to gunpowder again. Conlan is right in the middle of the fray, of course, and Anna finds herself embroiled in it as well. I talked about the historical background last week on your own Word Wenches blog!

Nicola: I love how your Daughters of Erin trilogy captures the wildness and spirit of Georgian Ireland. What inspired you to write a book there?

Amanda: I’ve always wanted to do an Irish book, but I just had to find the right characters! You’re so right that Georgian Ireland was full of a wild spirit. It was a place of contrasts, between high fashion and gorgeous architecture (much of which can still be seen), and hot tempers and a love of partying. There’s also so much conflict, it’s ideal for a book! And I also love an Irish Christmas, so I was excited to find out this was to be a holiday release.

Nicola: Did you have an idea of what your heroines were going to be like when you started writing? The Blacknall sisters are all strong characters, but very different from each other.

Amanda: I was so lucky! Each sister kind of sprang into the story fully-formed. Eliza is the eldest sister, very strong and sure of herself, very protective of the others, but also idealistic and strong-minded. Anna was the middle one, the beauty, whose intelligence was sometimes disregarded as she grew up. She feels she has something to prove, to the world and to herself. And Caroline is my bluestocking, the quiet one who prefers reading to dancing. But she finds herself embroiled in quite an adventure with an unlikely hero in her own story, Lady of Seduction (June 2011)! I love each of them, by this point they feel a bit like my own sisters.

Nicola: I feel the same about my Scandalous Women! After all this time, I feel as if I know them so well.

Amanda: And what’s next for you?

Nicola: Next is the fourth book in the Scandalous Women of the Ton, Notorious, in August 2011!

Amanda: Wonderful! Have some more tea. We can toast to gorgeous heroes and the scandalous heroines who love them.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our little tea-table chat today! Comment or ask a question for a chance to win both Duchess of Sin and Mistress by Midnight, and be sure to visit our websites for excerpts, more historical background, and contests. You can find me here, and Nicola here!

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