Today we welcome Shelley Munro and her new release Mistress of Merrivale to the Riskies. Shelley is giving away two digital copies of one of her historical backlist books, and there are a zillion ways to enter (see below!)
A marriage of convenience…full of inconvenient secrets.
Jocelyn Townsend’s life as a courtesan bears no resemblance to the life she envisioned in girlish dreams. But it allows her and her eccentric mother to live in relative security—until her protector marries and no longer requires her services.
Desperate to find a new benefactor, one kind enough to accept her mother’s increasingly mad flights of fancy, Jocelyn is nearly overwhelmed with uncertainty when a lifeline comes from an unexpected source.
Leo Sherbourne’s requirements for a wife are few. She must mother his young daughter, run his household, and warm his bed. All in a calm, dignified manner with a full measure of common sense. After his late wife’s histrionics and infidelity, he craves a simpler, quieter life.
As they embark on their arrangement, Leo and Jocelyn discover an attraction that heats their bedroom and a mutual admiration that warms their days. But it isn’t long before gossip regarding the fate of Leo’s first wife, and his frequent, unexplained absences, make Jocelyn wonder if the secrets of Merrivale Manor are rooted in murder…
Warning: Contains mysterious incidents, a mad mother who screeches without provocation, scheming relatives, and a captivating husband who blows scorching hot and suspiciously cold. All is not as it seems…and isn’t that delicious?
OK, I’ll bite. Tell us about the screeching mother.
Thanks so much for having me to visit today.
Jocelyn’s mother has a form of dementia, a disease that would be diagnosed as Alzheimer’s during our modern times. Her memory is gradually going, and her behavior is becoming erratic. Jocelyn’s two older sisters want to send Elizabeth Townsend to Bedlam, but Jocelyn hates the thought of her mother in a place like that, and she takes measures to keep her remaining parent safe with her.
Elizabeth isn’t above screaming when she wants attention, and she screeches when she doesn’t get her way. She’s very trying at times, yet Jocelyn gets the odd glimpses of her mother of old and she keeps hoping her parent will improve. She never does.
You’ve written so many books and in so many subgenres–what got you into writing historicals?
My first love as a reader was always historical romances, but gradually I started reading other genres. Once I started writing, I followed the same path. I tend to get bored writing the same genre all the time. While this isn’t the best plan, I need to enjoy the process of writing too, hence my dipping into the historical romance arena.
I do have a super-secret idea for a new historical series, and I hope to start working on that later in the year.
What is it that attracts you about the Regency?
My favored period is actually the 18th century, which I like because I think they were a little naughtier than the Regency era. It was a time of great change, which makes it interesting, and lastly, I adore the clothes.
You have a courtesan heroine. How difficult was it to make this trope fresh?
I didn’t think about making the trope fresh. It was more a case of writing my heroine the way I thought she should be written, and my story, the Mistress of Merrivale, emerged. Can you tell I’m a pantser rather than a plotter?
What’s your favorite scene in the book?
I like the scene when Leo and Jocelyn have their first meal together after being reunited and consummate their marriage. They both want their marriage, and they’re attracted to each other, but everything is new and strange for both of them. This makes for fun scene as they learn about each other.
What was the most difficult part of the book to write?
When I first wrote this book it ended up at just over 50K words. I subbed it to one of my editors and received a rejection. I never give up, and I liked this story a lot. Since I was about to go on holiday, I set the story aside. On my return I reread it, and decided I needed more plot to make the story stronger and be true to my characters. In the end Mistress of Merrivale ended up at 86K words. Working out what to add and how to do it was the tough bit, but it was worth it. I’m pleased with the end result.
What are you working on right now?
I’m percolating my super-secret historical series idea in my head while I’m working on a sci-fi series which is contracted with another publisher. I’m busy writing the third book in this series and the words are stuck in a swamp in the depths of my brain. At least that’s what it feels like today!
What are you reading right now/last great book you read?
I’m listening to an audio book at present – Shades of Gray by Maya Banks. As for the last great book I read, I can’t tell you the name of the author or the title since it was one of the books I judged in the RITA. I love it when I discover new authors, especially if they come with a back list!
Your task: Enter the contest via the magic of Rafflecopter, or ask Shelley a question about her book, or, since she lives in New Zealand, you could ask her about, for instance, rugby players. Or Lord of the Rings. Or, share with us a new author you’ve discovered recently.
We welcome Shelley Munro all the way from New Zealand here at the Riskies today with her new release from Carina Press, The Spurned Viscountess. Your question or comment could win you a free download, so let’s get chatting.
Cursed with the sight and rumors of witchcraft, Rosalind’s only chance at an ordinary life is marriage to Lucien, Viscount Hastings. She doesn’t expect love, only security and children of her own. Determined to go through with the wedding, she allows nothing she encounters at the gloomy Castle St. Clare to dissuade her.
Recently returned from the Continent, Lucien has no time for the English mouse his family has arranged for him to marry, not when he’s plotting to avenge the murder of his beloved Francesca. He has no intention of bedding Rosalind, not even to sire an heir.
Though spurned by her bridegroom, Rosalind turns to him for protection when she is plagued by a series of mysterious accidents and haunted by terrifying visions. Forced to keep Rosalind close, and tempted into passionate kisses, Lucien soon finds himself in grave danger of falling in love with his own wife…
Thank so much for having me to visit today. The Spurned Viscountess is my first historical, and my story came about after I participated in a writing exercise at the Auckland chapter meeting. I’m a member of Romance Writers of New Zealand and we used to have writing exercises each month. I forget what the topic was now, but the first scene in my story came from this exercise.
I wrote about a long lost son who has found his way home after a long absence but he has no memory of his family. He’s scarred in mind and body and all he wants is to discover the identity of his wife’s killer. The last thing he needs is an arranged marriage foisted on him. He tries to scare off his intended bride, but the move to Castle St. Clare is a fresh start for Rosalind, one she’s determined to embrace.
Once I had my first scene, I needed to know what happened next. Eventually I ended up with a complete novel. This is the second home for The Spurned Viscountess, and I was thrilled to join Carina Press.
The Spurned Viscountess is set in 1720. What is it about the Georgian period you like and why did you choose it as a setting?
In my pre-published days, Jo Beverley was one of my favorite authors. I enjoyed her Malloren series, which is set during the 1700s. I find the Georgia era a little bit naughtier than the Regency era, and I adore the clothing from the Eighteenth century. 1720 England allowed me to use smugglers in my plot as well. I really wanted to write about smugglers.
What are your favorite research books for the period?
I did a lot of research, but some of my favorite books include: Historical Fashion in Detail by Avril Hart and Susan North, The Art of Dining – a history of cooking and eating by Sara Paston Williams, and The Art of Dress, Clothes & Society by Jane Ashelford. I also find Liza Picard’s books Restoration London and Dr. Johnson’s London very useful and interesting, although they didn’t quite fit my chosen time period.
I was really impressed by how much you’ve published. How hard was it to make the switch from contemporary/paranormal erotic romance to a historical romance?
I’ve always read different romance genres rather than concentrating on one so it seemed natural to me to swap around a little bit when it came to writing. It’s much easier to experiment in the e-pub world so experiment I did. I tend to write mainly contemporary and paranormal stories but recently my interest in historicals has fired to life. I’ve concentrated on the Georgian era (18th century) and World War II England, two time periods I find very interesting.
I think that swapping genres helps keep my writing fresh because I’m constantly challenging myself.
If you had to hire actors for a movie version of your book, who would they be?
This is a really hard question. I’m a real Sean Bean fan, but he doesn’t quite fit for my hero, Lucien. Joseph Fiennes would work, I think. Keira Knightley or Catherine Zeta-Jones would both make a very good Rosalind. Maybe even Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame would work for Rosalind.
What’s your favorite scene in the book?
I’m partial to the very first scene in The Spurned Viscountess since this was how my story started. It’s a short one.
East Sussex, England, 1720
“Hastings, the carriage is coming. Your betrothed has arrived.”
Lucien rose from a square-backed chair, flicked the lace at his cuffs and studied the elderly man stepping away from the window—the man who claimed him as son. “My name is Lucien.”
The earl ruffled up like a feisty bantam cock. “Stuff and nonsense! George is your christened name. If it’s good enough for the king, it’s good enough for you.”
Lucien strolled past shelves of books and paused to finger an amber figurine from the Orient. From what he’d heard since his arrival in England, people disapproved of the king, who hailed from Hanover. The man didn’t even speak English. Lucien looked the earl straight in the eye. “My name is Lucien,” he repeated, his tone implacable and determined. “Lucien. Not George or Hastings.”
“Damn it, boy, why do you persist with your gainsaying?” The Earl of St. Clare’s voice held a trace of pleading. “Can’t you see the likeness in the family portraits?”
Lucien grimaced. If he studied the portraits with one eye shut and the other squinted—certainly there were similarities. He replaced the figurine and stalked across a blue Persian rug to gaze out a window overlooking the courtyard.
The family and the faithful servants all backed up the Earl of St. Clare’s assertion, but the role didn’t feel right to Lucien. Living in the gloomy pile of rocks called Castle St. Clare made him edgy and apprehensive.
They were all mistaken.
He was not the Earl of St. Clare’s son.
The idea was laughable. Him—the long lost heir, Viscount Hastings. He didn’t recall any of the stories they told him of his childhood or growing up at the castle.
The study door flew open. Lucien spun around in a defensive stance, only relaxing when the honorable Charles Soulden bounded into the room. “Hastings…” He faltered when he intercepted Lucien’s glare. “I mean, Lucien! Your betrothed comes.”
“So I’m told.” Lucien sauntered toward Charles, his newly discovered cousin. “By all means, let us greet the woman brave enough to wed a man with no memory.”
What’s next for you?
I’m juggling several projects at present. I’m writing the final story in my Middlemarch Mates series (a group of feline shapeshifters who live in the small country town of Middlemarch), I’m working on a follow-up to my contemporary The Bottom Line and I’m busy plotting/researching my next Gothic historical romance. I like to keep busy.
Let’s get chatting! I’m dying to know the story behind the camel pic…