Risky Regencies is thrilled to welcome back Nicola Cornick, to tell us all about her new trilogy from HQN! (Out May, June, and July) For more information on these and upcoming stories, you can check out her website here–and be sure and comment on today’s post for a chance to win a copy of The Scandals of an Innocent!

Thank you so much for inviting me to visit the Riskies today. It’s always such a pleasure to visit this blog! Amanda very kindly invited me along to talk about my new Regency series, The Brides of Fortune, the first two books of which are currently in the shops. And as this is Risky Regencies I thought I should focus on what is risky and different in these stories!

The idea for the overall Brides of Fortune trilogy was sparked by something I read in the newspapers. Even though I write historical fiction I get a lot of my ideas from contemporary papers and magazines. That in itself is a risky if rewarding approach because you have to make sure that in taking a modern idea and adapting it to a Regency context you aren’t doing anything anachronistic. But the more I research, the more I realize that there are so many themes and ideas that are fundamentally the same now as they were in the Regency period and perhaps throughout history. One of these was the idea of the rights and laws associated with the title of Lord of the Manor. This sparked the Brides of Fortune series. A couple of years ago I read about a village in England where someone had bought the title of Lord of the Manor and then discovered that he could impose lots of ancient taxes on the villagers. He started to charge them for walking their dogs on the village green and for parking their cars when they went shopping. Naturally there was uproar with the villagers rebelling. I thought this would be great idea to explore in a Regency series and so the Brides of Fortune trilogy was born! Sir Montague Fortune imposes an ancient tax on the villagers that means that every lady has to marry or lose half of her dowry. Penniless gentlemen come flocking to the village and so Fortune’s Folly becomes the marriage mart of England!

The first book in the series is called The Confessions of a Duchess and it tells the story of Laura, Dowager Duchess of Cole, who featured in my previous book for HQN, Unmasked. After Unmasked came out I had so many emails from readers asking for Laura’s story that I couldn’t resist. Confessions of a Duchess is set four years after Unmasked and Laura has retired to live quietly in the country with her young daughter Hattie. Then her former lover, Dexter Anstruther, comes back into Laura’s life and turns everything upside down. Dexter and Laura parted on bad terms and now he has to marry a rich heiress to save his family but despite knowing that he has to marry for duty, Dexter finds it hard to resist his attraction to Laura. There are so many secrets keeping them apart and so many reasons why they cannot be together, not least that Laura is eight years Dexter’s senior and she thinks that to have a toy boy lover is totally scandalous! I absolutely loved writing a book with an age difference between the hero and heroine. Laura is quite a risky heroine – she’s a former highwaywoman for a start and as Dexter works for the government to keep law and order, he’s not that thrilled when he finds out!

This month the second book is out and it is called The Scandals of an Innocent. The trilogy heroines are all friends and this is Alice’s story. Alice is a former housemaid who inherited her late employer’s money so she is struggling with the snobbish attitudes of some members of society towards her – they look down on her socially even though they’d quite like to have her fortune! One of Fortune Folly’s penniless adventurers, Miles Vickery, decides to blackmail Alice into marriage and sets out to seduce her. Miles is an out and out rake, a real scoundrel, but Alice is determined to reform him so it is a battle of hearts. I have to confess that Miles is probably my favorite of the trilogy heroes! Although I love heroes who have integrity and a strong code of honor, I am a total sucker for rake heroes and Miles is a very, very bad boy indeed. He totally does not want to reform and fights really hard against it but Alice is no pampered society miss, she’s got a tough background, and she’s not going to just let Miles walk in and take what he wants! The risky thing about this book… Alice’s rose tattoo! Tattoos for women were rare during the Regency period and not at all the done thing for a respectable female. In her fabulous series about Mrs. Merlin’s Academy for Select Young Ladies my fellow Word Wench Andrea Pickens also has heroines with tattoos, which perfectly fits the racy ambiance of her lady spies! In Alice’s case it’s yet another thing that marks her out as deeply unrespectable!

And for book 3, The Undoing of a Lady, the risk I took, I think, was to create a heroine, Lizzie Scarlet, who is so outrageous that I suspect some readers may feel she goes too far. Lizzie starts the book off by exercising her droit de seigneur over the hero and goes on from there! It can be difficult to write a young heroine who is a bad girl and yet who still commands a reader’s sympathy. My editor described Lizzie’s characterization as “brave” which made me very nervous! Hopefully to understand Lizzie and her background will be to love her. She is right on the edge of control – just when you think she couldn’t possibly behave in a worse fashion she goes off and does something even more shocking. But I loved Lizzie to bits and felt enormous compassion for her (after all, being the half sister of the wicked village squire and his even more appalling brother is no picnic!) So I hope that readers will love her too. And she does have a very, very strong man as her hero – he needs to be!

I hope that in Fortune’s Folly I have created a “Regency world” that readers can step into. There is an e-book prequel to the series, The Secrets of a Courtesan, which is available to download from e-harlequin. It sets the scene and introduces some of the characters and is also a steamy love story! And I deliberately left a few story threads loose at the end of The Undoing of a Lady because I don’t think I wanted to let go of the Fortune’s Folly trilogy completely. I have a sneaking feeling I will want to go back there sometime and find out what has happened to a few of the characters! In the meantime I’m working on a new series for HQN. The first book is set in London and the Arctic. Now that really is risky!