Welcome back Sally MacKenzie, who is getting Naked for the last time, alas! Sally is taking over the whole blog today because I’m still swamped. The nice thing is, she’s giving away one signed copy of The Naked King to one lucky commenter chosen at random. Here’s Sally!
Hello, Riskies! It’s wonderful to be visiting again. Diane, who I believe is in a bit of deadline hell, invited me to talk about The Naked King, my next and (for now, at least) last Naked novel, as well as the Naked experience in general.
Maybe the first thing to know about the Naked Nobility series–seven books and two novellas–is that it didn’t arise from some grand plan. I sold the first book, The Naked Duke, somewhat by accident in a two book contract. I was over-the-moon excited, but now I had to write a second book. Ulp. It had probably taken me four years or so to write the Duke; my editor was expecting “Historical Romance #2” a bit more promptly than that. What the heck was I going to do?
I turned to the Duke in desperation–fortunately, the hero has two friends. One friend became The Naked Marquis and the other…well, fortunately again the Duke sold well. I got another two-book contract, and the second friend got his story, The Naked Earl. But…there was that fourth book to write, and now I’d run out of heroes. Never fear, the Marquis’s heroine had a sister. And the earl in The Naked Earl had a friend–who had five brothers and sisters! (I wasn’t going to get caught short again.)
Which brings us to The Naked King…are you still with me?
The Naked King is Stephen Parker-Roth. (Not Prinny–that would be horror rather than romance.) Stephen’s first mentioned in the fourth book, The Naked Gentleman. He’s one of that hero’s brothers. By the time I was writing the sixth book, The Naked Viscount–Stephen’s sister’s story–I knew Stephen would get the seventh–and last contracted–book. But what could I call it? “The Naked Gentleman #2” would never do, and I couldn’t just drop a title on Stephen’s head–Regency readers wouldn’t stand for that. Plus we (marketing included) wanted to end the series on a high (in all respects) note. So somehow Stephen had to be a king…
Aha–a nickname! I made the ton call Stephen the “King of Hearts.” He says it’s for his prowess with cards, but the ladies believe it’s for other skills ;).
When The Naked King opens, Stephen is slightly inebriated and in a mud puddle in Hyde Park, having been bowled over by the heroine’s dog. Why is he tipsy? He’s been trying to drown his sorrows. With his brother and sister both married and reproducing, he knows his mama will make him her next project. And, truth be told, he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life as merely “Uncle Stephen.”
Lady Anne Marston has been dragged to the park by Harry, her family’s large dog. She’s a spinster with a Secret who’s been dumped in London by her father and his wife to organize her half sister’s come out. She’s read about Stephen in her papa’s The Gentleman’s Magazine (Stephen is a plant hunter) and, yes, in the newspaper gossip columns, too. She’s half fallen in love with him, even though she knows she has no business harboring such dreams. But in a brief moment of insanity, she lets him kiss her…in broad daylight…on the front step of London’s premier gossip, Lady Dunlee (who will be familiar to Naked readers). Of course, a sham engagement ensues–with her sister making her come out, Anne can’t afford any scandals–but Anne knows she must find a way to end the betrothal when the Season ends. The serious mistake she made many years ago involving the Marquis of Brentwood is a mistake from which there is no recovery.
I enjoyed bringing Stephen and Anne together and watching them fall in love, and I had great fun with my secondary characters–Anne’s half sister and twin half brothers, her eccentric aunt, Stephen’s parents and younger brother. I even got the opportunity to look in on many of my other Naked people. It’s a fine line to walk, making a book stand alone for new readers while offering dedicated Naked fans a glimpse of past characters, but it’s a balancing act I find I like.
Now I’m starting a new series for Kensington, the “Duchess of Love” stories–a novella and three novels about a matchmaking mother and her sons. I’m going to miss the Nakeds. I’ve had fun with them, and readers seemed to enjoy suggesting new folks to get Naked. And as I start from scratch with a new set of characters, I’m realizing how much the next Naked novel was percolating in the back of my mind as I worked on the one before it. But I think it’s time for a new challenge.
And there are still a few other Parker-Roths…I might “get Naked” again some day.
Now here’s my question for the Risky readers: I discovered as I wrote the Naked books that some readers won’t start a series until they can get all the books at once. Are you one of those or do you just jump right in? What series have you really enjoyed? (And if you’re already a Naked reader, which Naked book–or Naked character–is your favorite?)