The Riskies are happy to welcome Ann Lethbridge, whose first Harlequin Historical title, The Rake’s Inherited Courtesan, hits the shelves–now! Visit her website for more info…
Riskies: Welcome to RR, Ann! I see on your website that you were born in England–do you go back often? What are some of your favorite sites there?
Ann: We try to go back at least once a year! Both my husband and I are from England and our families call us homing pigeons. One of my favorite places to visit is Bath, with its association with Jane Austen, and of course London and York for sheer grandeur. There is so much history all over the British Isles every village and town holds its own fascination. We try to see new and lesser-known places on each visit, and I write about my travels on the Regency Ramble Blog. I have developed a real “thing” for ice houses. I collect them (visually). Yes, deep chilly holes in the ground! And castles. I once got to spend the night in a castle, now transformed into a hotel. A dream come true.
Fortunately, our families are very understanding, and happily seek out new places to tempt us.
Riskies: I also see that you have a Maltese that stays close to your desk! Does he help with your writing? (I, Amanda, also have a Poodle that sits under my desk while I work–she thinks there should be more dogs in books…)
Ann: Teaser is my constant companion! He likes to sit on my papers or my lap if I work on the couch. We have some severe arguments about it. He also gets me up and out of my chair in the middle of the day for a walk around the neighborhood. Good for both of us, and I usually come home with a plot point solved, or a new line of dialogue. I think Teaser would agree that more dogs in stories are a good thing, but most of my characters seem to dash about too much to be good pet-owning material–so far at least.
Riskies: Tell us about The Rake’s Inherited Courtesan! (Lovely cover, btw). Where did you get the inspiration for this story? Did you come across any interesting research tidbits?
Ann: Thank you! I, too, love the cover.
Inspiration is an odd thing, isn’t it? It pops up in the oddest places for me. The idea for The Rake’s Inherited Courtesan came from a visit to Dover, where my father was born. The sight of a house at the edge of the White Cliffs overlooking the English Channel struck me with its loneliness. The feeling there was a woman looking out one of the windows at France wouldn’t go away, and the story of who she was and she was there began to play itself out.
Christopher was so deliciously unwilling a hero when I first met him in the library of that house on the cliffs, I couldn’t resist him. He was perfect for Sylvia, even though neither of them would have agreed with that at the beginning of the book.
The story is set in Dover, Tunbridge Wells, London, with a brief trip to Calais–lots of dashing about! I lived near Tunbridge Wells in my courting days and enjoyed a beer or two with friends at the pubs in and around the Pantiles, so was fascinated to learn the history behind the spa and to look for old maps and buildings that were around in the Regency. And of course I just had to visit again. The beer tasted just the way I remembered. The Wells, as it’s known by locals, had long passed its prime by Regency times, but there were still elderly afficionados driving down from London and taking the waters (yucky, let me tell you!)
Riskies: And tell us about your Undone, The Rake’s Intimate Encounter! Will we see more stories of this rakish ladies’ club?
Ann: The short story, The Rake’s Intimate Encounter, introduces us to the two male leads in The Rake’s Inherited Courtesan, and provides an unexpected afternoon of delight for their best friend Anthony. No one is more surprised than Tony, let me tell you.
Ah, the club. I thought it time the ladies had a club of their own that wasn’t for bluestockings! It certainly has lots of potential for more stories, and there is an idea or two glimmering in the dark recesses of my brain. Whether any will come to fruition is a crystal ball question. Suffice it to say, I hope so.
(Undone ebooks can be ordered at eharlequin)
Riskies: What are some of your favorite romance novels?
Ann: I love romances, primarily historicals, but also fantasy and paranormal. My first romances were those of Georgette Heyer, introduced to me by my military father. A romantic at heart, for sure. I still love to read her books and especially These Old Shades. Something about girls disguised as boys gets me every time. And they did do it, you know. There are lots of real examples in history. One of my favorite books of all times is Laura Kinsale’s Flowers in the Storm. More recently I have been wowed by Joanna Bourne and Elizabeth Hoyt, because they have stretched the boundaries in Regencies, as JR Ward has in her paranormals. There are lots more favorites. I am slowly building a list on my website.
Riskies: And what’s next for you?
Ann: I’ve handed in my next Regency to my editor at the Richmond office, but don’t have a date or title yet. I’ve been filling in the Art Fact Sheets in anticipation of it being popped into the schedule sometime soon. My heroine has taken to the High Toby to save her family fortune, but it all goes dreadfully wrong. I hope to see it in print either later this year or early next. I am also working on another Undone.
Riskies: Thanks so much for visiting with us today!
Ann: Thank you for the invitation! It’s been an honor and a delight to be here at Risky Regencies. I would love to give away one signed copy of The Rake’s Inherited Courtesan to one of your guests who comments!
You heard her, everyone! Comment for a chance to win a signed copy…
Congratulations on the book. I am wondering if you could give us more info on your story and your hero and heroine.
Maureen, thanks for coming by. the story is set at the end of the war with France. Here is the back cover description.
Daughter of a Parisian courtesan, Sylvia Boisette longs for respectability, though gossips say she is nothing more than a gentleman’s paramour. Now, with her guardian dead, she finds herself in a shocking situation….
Christopher Evernden is appalled by his uncle’s will—Mademoiselle Boisette is now his courtesan! Although his body responds to Sylvia’s tempting sensuality, he knows he should rid himself of his disreputable charge. But, surprisingly, Sylvia has a vulnerability to match her exceptional beauty. Perhaps his inherited mistress could become his rightful bride.
The greatest threat to their happiness is Sylvia’s background, but not quite what you might expect.
Hi Ann! I am a huge fan of your Regency Ramble blog, such detailed and fascinating information.
I am loving The Rake’s Inherited Courtesan, only about 40 pages in so far. 🙂 I was really captured by the first three pages, which was how far I got standing in the Walmart book section before I tossed it in my cart and moved on to the rest of my (boring) shopping. I know how important it is to have the beginning of a book grab a reader. Did you have different beginnings for this book, or did Sylvia’s story always start there?
Great premise, Ann! It’s wonderful to have you here.
Gotta say, the Undones (including mine) are available at other ebook vendors, like Kindle, Fictionwise, etc.
Amanda, Deb Marlowe and I visited Tunbridge Wells in 2003. It is one of the places I’d like to see again.
Hello, Ann and congrats on your debut. I am looking forward to reading your book! I was fascinated to hear your inspiration for The Rake’s Inherited Courtesan. I had a similar sort of inspiration for my second book via a photograph of the are around Dunwich. The story of the town that literally dropped into the sea has always fascinated me and in doing research I found a fabulous black and white photo of a tree-lined drive disappearing into the fog.
What are your favorite research sources when writing about the Regency?
It sounds as if you have an interesting twist at the end of your book. Is that something you knew all along or something you learned as you wrote the book? Do your characters ever surprise you and does that change how you write?
Ann! Your blog Regency Rambles is wonderful. I know I’ve visited before when you’ve mentioned a certain topic (flora and fauna, I think)but it somehow escaped me what a treasure trove of Regency info it is!
I signed on as a friend!
Welcome to RR, Ann! I do love your inspiration (I had a similar flash when I recently saw a pic of a very remote Irish cottage), and envy your travels. Are there any non-fiction research sources you find helpful when you can’t get back to England?
Hello Ann, congrats on the book. 🙂
Gillian, great question. Actually I had three different beginnings, first the church, then the grave side and then where it is now. Right where I think the conflict begins. So glad you liked it.
Thanks for the reminder Diane. I really should be better at making it easier for people to find things.
So glad you liked the Wells. There is so much around that area of Kent and Sussex to see, sometimes its hard to choose.
Loisa and Amanda, because fiction is mostly about characters, it really depends what they do as to where I need to go looking, but I think there are two or three general books to help the beginner. After that the library is your oyster.
The writer’s guide to everyday life in Regency and Victorian England, from 1811-1901
Georgette Heyer’s Regency England
Then there are maps and paintings…Oops, starting to get carried away.
I also can’t recommend joining The Beaumonde highly enough. A great resource.
Hey Milka, thanks for dropping by!
Hi Ann. Congrats on the book. Love your blog as well. It’s great to see how you get your ideas and how a book evolves from small kernals/ideas. I’m toying with a Regency/Napolionic spy story at the moment. It centres around a true story of a planned assassination attempt on Napoleons life by one of his mistress a Madame Foure who was marroed to a british intelligence officer apparently. I’m sure there must be a story in there somewhere. I just need my muse to come and sort it out for me! Caroline x
We’re talking about Regency sources? I have to plug Dee Hendrickson’s Regency Reference Book, which she now sells on CD, which makes it searchable!!
If anyone is interested in Dee’s book, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Another great title to add to the TBR pile:)
Caroline, sounds like an amazing idea. Good luck with it.
Can’t wait to get my hands on this new book. Also will have to check out the Undone books too.
I’ve read 2 of your stories under your other name with the latest on my TBR pile (must get to that one soon). What would you say are the main differences in the stories you write under your 2 names?
Hi Ann! So happy to ‘see’ you!
I picked up my copy of The Rake’s Inherited Courtesan just yesterday. Love the premise. I’m really looking forward to it!
How lovely that you get to go home so often. I’d love to travel to England once a year.
Ann,nice to see you here! Congrats on your new book! Great interview! I love interviews, it tell me something about the author. I know you said you visit England once a year, but do you get home sick through out the year? There is just no place like home.
Welcome, Ms Lethbridge!
I have been wondering about this novel since I first saw the title–interesting premise, isn’t it?
Best of luck with it!
Hey jcp, thanks for visiting.
Karen, good question. I just wish I could answer it! All of my full-length books have been regencies, they are all on the adventurous side, but perhaps for Harlequin a heavier focus on the romance. Although the others were pretty romantic too.
That is probably as close as I can get.
I must say I do find your “Courtesan” book intriguing and have learned a lot from your Regency Rambles. Keep up the rambling and the writing! Thanks, Kit Donner
Hi Deb, Yes I am a bit spoiled with the traveling, but it is the only way we will see some family members at this stage of their lives. And it is a great way to confirm a particular point in a story.
Virginia, as for getting homesick, well not so much any more, but there is always the wonderful feeling when we fly in over the coastline and see England’s green and pleasant land, that is like nothing else.
Thank you for the welcome Aztec lady. Very happy to be here.
Kit, It is really nice to know people enjoy my rambling on about the stuff I love. Thank you.
Okay…here’s my question…how can you keep your historical novel from getting bogged down with too much research?
Whenever I start working on my regency era book, I get caught up in trying to make the details authentic and I get distracted from actually getting the words down on the page.
Kerri, This is my advice ~ focus strictly on the story. Only mention what your characters sees in the way that they see it and mention it in the way it impacts on them as a person.
Does your male character see and describe the herioine in “a rich Paris-brown French silk shawl robe, with short full sleeves, made to sit very much off the shoulders; worn over a white satin body with long sleeves. Persian scarf of green silk; white satin shoes; and white kid gloves”
Or does he notice that she is wearing a dark red gown that shows her breasts off to perfection.
Her friend might say, “Oh I do like than new style of shawl dress, but that color is a mite too dark for you,” but that might be it.
And will your heroine say to hero, “Oh my word, that speech the prime minister gave on November fifth about all the starving children in London and how he plans to put them all in workhouses….”whatever it was. In other words repeating the speech to someone who has read it or heard it. No. She would say. “I’ve brought one of the orphans home. Let Mr. Prime Minister put him in one of his horrid workhouses.” So you get the history, but it is part of your story. Not a history lesson.
I made that all up on the fly, but hopefully you find it helpful. I’d be happy to talk about it some more off line.
Others here may also have some tips.
Hi Ann – wise words on how not to “info dump” in your Historicals. it is SO SO easy to put all your research into your novel – trust me I know! Don’t know how many times I have to get the red edit pen out. I read something the other day which helps me – “flavour your ms with bits and pieces of historical information. Thinks of it as a meal – a delicous appetiser, rather than a heavy main course.” Caroline x
Waving Hi Ann
This book sounds so good do you know when it will be released in Australia?
It must be lovely visiting England and visiting places that can be used in your books that is one place I would love to visit.
Teaser sounds so lovely I have a little mini fox terrier named Tootsie she was my Mums dog and wherever I go she goes when I am reading a book she is on my lap with me.
Hi, Ann! Congratulations on your first Harlequin Historical release! I love historical romances! The premise of your book sounds so intriguing. I enjoyed reading about how you got the inspiration for The Rake’s Inherited Courtesan. England and France sound so lovely! It would be a dream come true to visit there someday. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy “visiting” there through your books and your Regency Ramble Blog. Thank you so much for blogging here today!
a very informative interview; I’d love to visit England and see the places you and others have mentioned. An inherited mistress, sounds interesting.
Caroline, couldn’t agree more!
Hi, Helen, waving back! Lovely to see you here. Booktopia has it listed, but when it will be in bricks and mortar I don’t know. It is out in May in Britain. Still learning how all of that works.
Yes Teaser is my best friend, until daddy gets home. Those guys!
Deborah and Robynl, lovely to hear from you. Thank you for dropping in. this has been quite a party.
Off to finish making dinner, I’ll pop back later.
Ann, belatedly dropping in to say welcome and hi and congrats on the book.
Just one dog, Ann? I have two chihuahuas and two dachshunds who think their purposed in life is to sit on my feet or in my lap while I am writing. Frodo, Vito, Adelaide and Sassafras are part of my writing team. And like your Teaser they persuade me to get up from time to time and go outside to enjoy the roses (and every other shrub on my five acres!)
Hi Janet, great to see you here.
Louisa, just one dog, but he’s so loving, he’s all we need. Your dogs sound adorable. We only have a small backyard and Teaser insist on a full block’s worth of walking three times per and any extra times he can con out of us.
your book sounds wonderful
Hi Ann! So great to meet you! As I adore reading historicals, I too love my favorite authors and love reading debut and new to me authors! I find it exciting as I am already with yours! I’ve never been to England but some day I would love to! I always love to picture it as I do in the books and eventhough time has changed alot! I’d love to visit that castle!
I saw that you have another book in. Is it related to this current book, like with the characters or settings? I had read some Heyer books but don’t remember which in HS! So I’ve started to read some recently, one being THE BLACK MOTH. Historicals are a great comfort for me. Great to meet you.
Congratulations on the book! It sounds like a great add to my long wishlist, thanks!
Ann, I’m so excited about your debut Harlequin book. Can’t wait to read it. The more new historicals for us all to read, the better the world is. It was fantastic to see you in Australia before you head off for more exciting visits to the UK.
Good heavens !
Whenever I have to say who my favourite historical author is, the answer is Georgette Heyer.
This always makes me feel very ancient as it seems many of the younger readers have never read or even heard of her.
But now I feel a lot better knowing that you are also a fan of hers who grew up on her books.