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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!

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I’m taking Megan’s slot today on account of on Sunday the Riskies are having a Celebration of Cats and a Super Secret Cool visit from Liz Carlyle (squeeee!!!!). Her publisher will be donating to a cat rescue non profit so you’ll want to stop by to leave a comment this coming Sunday.  In the meantime, since I haz kitties and Megan does not, I am sharing stories and pics of the Jewel household cats.

First up: Jake.

Jake was born under the neighbor’s barn at the bottom of our driveway. There were two litters of kittens, but we were able to find homes for them all. I was living in San Francisco and the time and I took the smallest kitten because I wanted, doh, a small cat to keep my other cat, Jasper (AKA Devil Cat) company.

Jake is 15 pounds of adorable lap cat. The vet believes he must be at least part Maine Coon cat.  This past February, he lost his best buddy, my 22 year old Tonkinese, Jasper. After Jasper died– I am still sad about that, but he had a very long life — Jake slept by the food for 5 days, thinking, I believe, that Jasper would eventually show up there.  On the 6th day, Jake moved out of my room and basically lived in the kitchen for 3 months where he demanded (and got) lots of love and attention from everyone.  Just about when I’d given up on him ever setting paw in my room again, he staked out my printer as the place to be.  And my lap.

Here’s Jasper when he was younger, my friend and companion for 22 years:

Jasper (Devil Cat)

Jasper is the only purebred cat I’ve ever had. The Tonkinese is a cross between Siamese and Burmese and as you can see from this picture, he took after the Siamese in him.  He was very inexpensive as Tonks go because his eyes were not quite the neon blue they should have been. The lady advertised them as “Personality Plus” which he was! He earned the nickname Devil Cat. But he was also extremely affectionate. ALWAYS on my lap! He knew when I was due home from work (said those who were already home) and waited by the door for me.

Left to right:
Missy Mara — Jake’s mother, a feral cat who we finally managed to trap and get to the vet to treat a badly wounded eye and get spayed. For a year she lived in the box spring of the mattress in this room but finally decided people were OK. She rarely leaves this room, actually.

Whiskers aka Nightmare: Whiskers is another rescued cat. At about 3 weeks old she got separated from her mother at the ranch where my son was taking Aikido. She had such a loud meow that some of the students heard her and found where she’d been trapped in a woodpile. And yes, I showed up with my son in time for his class and came home with a kitten . . . small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. She had to be bottle fed and manually stimulated so she could eliminate.

Tiger:  My son’s cat. He’d wanted a cat of his own for a very long time, but none of the cats and kittens we saw were right for him. At a soccer tournament, we had time between games and we went to a nearby mall for lunch and some window shopping. We came home with Tiger.  She is an odd little cat who doesn’t know she’s a cat. She plays with my dog.

Do you have cats or did you? In the comments, tell us about your cat(s). Bonus points for linking your story to the Regency.  And come back Sunday for the Cat Extravaganza!

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Bibliophile and Barbara E., you’re the winners. Please send your snailmail address to my cat, elailah AT yahoo DOT com, and congrats.

In celebration of receiving my author copies of BESPELLING JANE AUSTEN, I’m giving away two copies, here, today! I’ll pick winners at midnight EST (groan, I’m sure I’ll still be up) and post them at the top of this post, so check back in.

To enter, tell me what sort of Regency character your pet would be.

This is by way of a build up to a terrific event this Sunday, September 19, when Liz Carlyle visits here on her charity blogtour, not only giving away a signed copy of her latest ONE TOUCH OF SCANDAL, but HarperCollins has generously offered to donate up to $3,000 ($1 per person per post on the entire blogtour) to Liz’s favorite cat rescue charity, Cat Angels. Wow!

So, here’s my cat. (Liz’s, I assure you, are much cuter and there will be pics of them on Sunday).

This is her usual unpleasant expression, as she expresses concern that the landing really does need to be painted (I put undercoat on about ten years ago. You don’t want to rush these things). She was a stray who, as soon as she realized she was getting three squares a day, ignored us for the next eight years or so except when she was hungry.

You think she looks cuddly? Ha.

But she almost died a few years ago and suddenly got friendlier, realizing that possibly I had something to do with her recovery.

As she ages she is getting slightly friendlier and although not a big sitter on laps (or a “real cat” in my terminology) likes to cuddle up next to you. Every morning she wakes me by affectionately digging her claws into my face and then accompanies me to the bathroom where she gnaws on my shins while I tell her to stop it. When I put food in her dish, which I gather is the whole point of the claws, biting etc. she walks away and sits staring into space.

If you stroke her in the wrong way, absentmindedly, or too much, she bites. Sometimes she just bites for the hell of it. She is absolutely terrified of everyone except me, my husband, my daughter, and inexplicably one of my daughter’s friends a few years ago, who was photographed holding her. (He was also wearing my daughter’s prom dress. It was a strange evening, I guess.)

I think she’d make a good old-style virginal Regency heroine who lives in a gothic mansion. One of those shy ones who then gets mad and throws things. Yep, timid but morphing into a feisty, passionate one with fish breath.

What sort of Regency character would your pet be?

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