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Today, welcome back Louise Allen, who has visited the Riskies before with other UK authors. We’re delighted we have her all to ourselves to talk about her latest book, The Disgraceful Mr Ravenhurst , her latest Harlequin Historical (July, 2009). Louise is giving away one copy of The Disgraceful Mr Ravenhurst to one lucky commenter. Welcome, Louise!

First of all – thank you for the invitation to Risky Regencies – I’m thrilled to be here!

We’re thrilled to have you. Tell us about your book!
The Disgraceful Mr Ravenhurst (Harlequin July 2009) is set in my favourite region of France – Burgundy. The hero is the black sheep of the Ravenhurst clan, Theophilus, son of a bishop, and in dangerous trouble – as usual. The heroine is Elinor Ravenhurst his bookish spinster cousin touring French cathedrals with her formidable scholarly mother. Theo needs some respectable cover, Elinor needs adventure and between them they end up in the midst of a lethal hunt for a scandalous art treasure, discovering each other and their real feelings in the process.

This is book 4 in your Those Scandalous Ravenhurst series. Tell us about books 1-3
The series features seven cousins in six books. They stand alone, but characters from each occur – and interfere – in the others. The Dangerous Mr Ryder has the mysterious Lord Sebastian Ravenhurst sent to rescue Grand Duchess Eva during Napoleon’s return to France in 1815. The second, The Outrageous Lady Felsham, stars Sebastian’s sister Bel in her search for an exciting lover and includes a polar bear called Horace and a bathing machine at Margate. The third, The Shocking Lord Standon, has a most respectable hero forced by circumstances and the women in his life (including a naked governess in distress, Bel, Eva and Lady Maude, the heroine of the fifth book) to become positively improper. A linked e-book, Disrobed & Dishonored in the Historical Undone series has a number of the Ravenhursts assisting their friend Sarah when she becomes entangled with a very obliging highwayman.

The scheduling of the release of these books was very interesting: July, August and September of 2008, and now July, August and Sept of 2009. Tell us something about the planning for this six book series?
When I was planning I began with Sebastian who had walked, unannounced, into No Place For a Lady in his persona of Jack Ryder, private investigator. I had been expecting an elderly Bow Street Runner, so Jack was a shock and I knew he needed his own book. Looking at the series as a whole I wanted to experiment with different scenarios – a Gothic dungeon, a London drawing room, a pirate ship, a London theatre, the English seaside – and as soon as I began thinking about those settings, Sebastian’s cousins appeared to inhabit their own stories. Before I knew where I was there were six books and a complex family tree.
My editor had originally asked me to think about a brothers and sisters trilogy, so she was startled to be confronted with seven cousins, but she gave me a lot of encouragement and suggested the Undone e-book as well. This was the first series I have written so I didn’t know what to expect with scheduling, but I like the split – it has kept the Ravenhursts in my life for much longer.

What is risky about The Disgraceful Mr. Ravenhurst?
Theo himself thrives on risk and has done since he was expelled from school for gambling. As a bishop’s son he should be in England doing something respectable, not making a very good living on the continent as an antiquities dealer – often on the shady side of the law. Now he has got himself into deep – almost lethal – trouble. It was fun pairing him with a heroine who had never done a risky thing in her life before and watching Elinor rise to the occasion. And Theo is a redhead – I have always been told that readers don’t like redheaded heroes, so that was a risk, but he refused to change colour. Luckily, UK readers who have already met him tell me he’s just fine as he is.

What has been risky about the whole series?
I had never tried a series before, so starting with a six-part one was probably a risk to begin with. Then I wanted to experiment with different types of Regency stories within the series. I thought that might be difficult, but I found it kept the series fresh for me and readers have responded well to that so far.
Juggling the characters, managing their continuing stories and deciding who to bring back, or to introduce, in other books was perhaps the riskiest part of the series as a whole. The Ravenhurst babies were all behaving well and arriving on time – until my editor asked me to review the timescale of The Notorious Mr Hurst. Two weeks, several very overdue babies and much calculation later I managed to sort out the problem!

And tell us about Books 5 and 6: The Notorious Mr. Hurst and The Piratical Miss Ravenhurst.
The Notorious Mr Hurst (Harlequin August 2009) is set in one of London’s smaller theatres. Lady Maude Templeton saw theatre owner Eden Hurst in The Shocking Lord Standon and fell in love at first sight. He has secrets and strong reasons of his own for avoiding an entanglement with a well-bred, wealthy young lady and he doesn’t believe in love – of any kind. But Maude is determined to prove to him that he needs love, and he needs her.
The Piratical Miss Ravenhurst (Harlequin September 2009) is the youngest of the cousins. A Jamaican heiress, Clemence runs from her avaricious guardian uncle straight into the clutches of one of the Caribbean’s nastiest pirates, Red Mathew McTiernan. Her only hope is the ship’s navigator, a renegade naval officer, Nathan Stanier. But just as cabin boy Clem is not what he seems, neither is Mr Stanier. It is a long way home to England, the Ravenhurst clan and true love for Clemence.

Thank you so much for hanging out with the Riskies, Louise. Remember, Louise is giving away a copy to one commenter, chosen at random, so now is your time to ask about her exciting series….or anything else. (Louise is in the UK and may not answer questions while she is sleeping)

Don’t forget to visit Louise’s website! And her blog, Historical Romance UK!

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I’m obsessed by food…
The reason? I’m back on my diet after months of uncontrolled eating that included jelly beans, skittles, pretzels, triskets, and whatever else I wanted to eat. The result? Gaining back all I’d lost last year and then some.

I’ve been reading about different kinds of diets, even though I know I’ll go back to using to count calories. I was reminded of Lord Byron making a vinegar diet all the rage. I never believed the vinegar story. I thought that was something he just made up. The following reminiscence of Samuel Rogers supported that idea:

When we sat down to dinner, I asked Byron if he would take soup ? ” No ; he never took soup.”—Would he take some fish ? ” No ; he never took fish.”— Presently I asked if he would eat some mutton ? ” No ; he never ate mutton.”—I then asked if he would take a glass of wine ? ” No ; he never tasted wine.”—It was now necessary to inquire what he did eat and drink ; and the answer was, ” Nothing but hard biscuits and soda-water.” Unfortunately, neither hard biscuits nor soda-water were at hand ; and he dined upon potatoes bruised down on his plate and drenched with vinegar.—My guests stayed till very late, discussing the merits of Walter Scott and Joanna Baillie.—Some days after, meeting Hobhouse, I said to him, ” How long will Lord Byron persevere in his present diet ? ” He replied, “Just as long as you continue to notice it.”—I did not then know, what I now know to be a fact,— that Byron, after leaving my house, had gone to a Club in St. James’s Street and eaten a hearty meat- supper. Reminiscences and Table-talk of Samuel Rogers

This fits perfectly with my impression of Lord Byron as being narcissistic and needing to call attention to himself.

But it turns out Byron suffered the same struggles as I’m facing. He was taller than I imagined at 5’10” and his weight fluctuated between 133 pounds, which sounds very thin (this is not like me), to 200 pounds (I’m not there yet). His battle with weight began when he entered Cambridge. In 1811 he began using cider vinegar to lose weight. Turns out Hippocrates used vinegar as a health tonic, so Byron’s use of it was not original.

Throughout his life Byron alternated between severely restricted eating to gorging himself. He most certainly had an eating disorder. In 1816, when in Switzerland with the Shelleys, his diet was:

A thin slice of bread, with tea, at breakfast — a light, vegetable dinner, with a bottle or two of Seltzer water, tinged with vin de Grave, and in the evening, a cup of green tea, without milk or sugar, formed the whole of his sustenance. The pangs of hunger he appeased by privately chewing tobacco and smoking cigars.

His diet may have been a factor in his death. He experienced a “fit” which he believed could be prevented by a strict diet of toast, vegetables, and cheese. Instead it may have weakened him.

I certainly will not be following such a rigid diet. I record my eating at and stay within their caloric guidelines.

Byron did have advice for women dieting. He said:

A woman should never be seen eating or drinking, unless it be lobster salad and Champagne, the only true feminine and becoming viands.

Lobster salad and champagne??
I am sooo there.

This Wednesday The Unlacing of Miss Leigh, my Undone eShort Story, will be available at Get it now!

Keira reminded me I should say that The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor will be available on on Weds, April 1. They always release a month early for mail order.

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Funny that we should have been discussing so many movies watched over the holidays and over the past year. This past week I made use of the “On Demand” function of my cable service and watched movies instead of reruns of Clean House (my favorite show).

These were all historical movies, two I’d never seen before.

1. Emma, the Gwynth Paltrow one, not my favorite, but it was the only Regency movie I could discover and I like to see the settings and costumes, if not Paltrow’s performance.

2. Amazing Grace. Can you believe I never saw this movie before? I did like it very much. Such a wonderful message. Ioan Gruffudd, older than his Hornblower days, is quite an appealing man. And his singing voice! Sigh. The hymn Amazing Grace is special to me; it was a comfort in the days my mother was ill (almost twenty years ago). I still cry when I hear it.

3. Miss Potter. What a charming film. I did not mind American Renee Zelwegger playing the English part nearly as much as I minded Gwynth Paltrow, although I did wish she had not scrunched her mouth up quite as much. The scenery was beautiful, as was the story and I loved the use of animation. What one of us does not believe our characters aren’t really real?

I’m turning in the revisions of my Undone story, the one you helped me with. You forgot to tell me to make it sexier….What a hard job this is!

Next I turn to my book revisions…..status check: Where are you in your writing or reading or simply living now that we are in the new year?

Did I tell you my The Mysterious Miss M is included in Romantic Times Readers Forum list of 1001 Books We Must Read Before We Die? See this and more on my website. Enter my contest for a chance to win a copy of my backlist.

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I am caught unprepared!

First of all, I stayed up all night to finish my Undone. You know, the one you all helped me with on 11/24/08. (janegeorge, I still promise to write about my writing routine…..someday).

Now before you feel sorry for me; it was my own fault that I didn’t use my time more efficiently. This story was only 10,000 to 15,000 words and I should have been able to write that in a week or two.

And I didn’t spend a great deal of time on the holidays except for one marathon 5 1/2 hour binge of shopping for everything last Tuesday.

New Year’s resolution–MAKE BETTER USE OF MY TIME!

Anyway I wound up pleased with the story and here is hoping Linda Fildew likes it, too. At least this time I did not accidentally delete it before sending it, like I did last summer when I stayed up all night to meet a deadline.

BUT…What I really wanted to blog about was my very favorite Christmas gift. My IPhone!

On Christmas eve my husband decided to get himself an IPhone for Christmas, which was fine with me, because what I got him was very unexciting and I was sick of hearing him discuss the pros and cons of various phones. To me this was an extravagance that we didn’t really need, but, let’s face it, I caved.

He came back with an IPhone for me, too!!!
Mine is white (as you can see) and I’ve fallen in love with it.

I can read my email anytime, anywhere, and even answer it, although the keyboard is a bit tedious. I used it to respond to Megan’s and Amanda’s blogs! I can read our Risky Regencies blog anytime, anywhere. It already has my calendar and my addresses and my ITunes. It has GAMES and YouTube! Plus it is a breeze to use.

Needless to say, I spent a lot of time playing with my IPhone when I should have been writing. I also enjoyed my family who all came for Christmas dinner here, my kids, my sisters, my brother-in-law and niece. My sister said the magic words a few days before Christmas, “Why don’t you get a ham?” Yay! No turkey to cook!

What was your favorite Christmas gift?

By the way, The Wet Noodle Posse will be back after Jan 1.
There is still a contest on my website and updates to be made very soon.

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Megan, bless her heart, suggested I talk about what I’m working on next. I’m delighted to do that!
(janegeorge, I’ll eventually get around to that blog about how my writing routine has changed. I just need to summon the courage….)

Here’s what is next:

My lovely editor, Linda Fildew (whom you will meet, I hope, when the Harlequin Historical editors blog with us next Monday, Dec 1!!) offered me an Undone. You know, the eHarlequin eShort Story like Amanda, Nicola Cornick, Bronwyn Scott, and Michelle Willingham recently blogged about.

My Undone will be released right before our anthology, The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor, so Linda asked if I could give our Duke and Duchess a cameo appearance. “Sure,” I said.

Then I, always story-idea-challenged, started mulling this around in my head, thinking things like, “How the devil do I write a short story?” (only I didn’t say “devil”) or “I’ll never have another story idea in my life!”

But whoo hoo! I finally came up with an idea, a sexy idea, and it is all Janet’s fault for writing about personal ads. I can hardly wait to start writing.

In this short story, I must remember to have the duke and duchess appear.

And, come to think of it, Drury Lane Theatre figures in my next book, so why not have it figure in my short story, too?

Then the personal ads must play a part.

Why not set part of the story in Vauxhall? I love Vauxhall.

And I have to mention the war!

There must be something else to include……..
I know! Phantom of the Opera!!!!

Can you think of anything else I should include???? I have all of 15,000 words or 50 pages.

Give me your ideas today, because I’m starting to write this story tomorrow.

(and don’t forget to join in on our LOLRegency challenge! See the whole deal here)

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