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)