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Archive for May, 2012

An Interview With Lady Cecilia Grant

 I am so pleased today to bring you this interview with new historical romance author Cecilia Grant. I discovered the lovely Lady Cecilia when she commented on a blog posting I had made describing my penchant for unusual plotlines. In point of fact, I was beginning to wonder if I just didn’t fit in, either as an author who tended to write romantic plotlines that revolved around such things as a “syphilis misunderstanding”,  or as a reader who yearned for more than the average Regency ballroom scene. Cecilia was so enthusiastic about some of my described works in progress that I sat up and took notice.  Maybe there was an audience out there for odd ducks like me. Thus, when her debut came out in January, I snatched it up to see what was skittering about Cecilia’s head.


If you missed Cecilia Grant’s incredible debut A Lady Awakened, you quite simply need to be boxed about the ears.  Rectify that travesty immediately, please. Prepare yourself, though. Your expectations of romance and courtship are about to be turned upside down. The first half of the book has some of the most gut-wrenchingly awkward intercourse you are ever going to read. And it is going to make you howl with laughter, even as you cringe for the train wreck unfolding masterfully before your eyes.

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A Witch of a Trial

Witch. The mere uttering of the word was enough to cause a frenzy among the masses during the 15th – 18th centuries in Europe. Thousands of innocent people were sent to their deaths with an almost 100% mortality rate for those accused. They were hauled from their homes in the middle of the night and burned at the stake amid a crowd of blood-thirsty neighbors.



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Nudity and Chocolate


Today I was planning to share some delicious tidbits about the legendary Lady Godiva— because what’s more tantalizing than the tale of a nude noblewoman riding a glorious, high-stepping steed through the streets of Coventry?


Not much, especially when you consider the era in which her journey occurred. The 11th century was not known for its exhibitionist tendencies.


So I promise to tell you a little about that. But as I researched this bold, remarkable woman, I uncovered some historical morsels of a much more delectable nature. And I’d like to tell you about that, too.

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John Keats, Mr. Romantic

We hear about the romantic poets, among them Wordsworth, so sensitive to nature –”I wandered lonely as a cloud,” and the handsome and tempestuous Lord Byron– “She walks in beauty, like the night.” But I think the most romantic of them all was John Keats.

Born in 1795, he lived only twenty-five years but produced an amazing body of work. His beginnings were modest–he was the oldest of five children of a stableman, and by the time he was fourteen, he’d lost both parents. At school he discovered a passion for reading and poetry, and was also adept at fist fighting despite being small (he never grew taller than five feet). Though initially apprenticed to a surgeon as a young man, he gave up medical studies for poetry, and by 1817 had published his first book of poems.

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Working Up Original Ideas That Sell

People often ask published authors how they came up with their first sellable story idea, and what made those stories original enough to stand out  from all of the other boy-meets-girl-loses-girl-gets-girl-back manuscripts. The simple answer is this: Wikipedia. Okay, not really. Although I can spend all day going from link to link on Wikipedia, until my head explodes, I don’t get my story ideas from there. Truthfully, my ideas come from the deep dark recesses of my brain, without any explanation. It’s a mystery.

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Duchess Debut and Giveaway: Darcy Burke

Duchess Darcy Burke makes her curtsey with HER WICKED WAYS! A Golden Heart finalist and Suburban goddess, Darcy brings us the exciting tale of a good boy highwayman and a bad girl aristocrat. NYT Bestselling Author Courtney Milan says HER WICKED WAYS is a “deliciously wicked debut.” 

So call for tea, Darlings, and stay to chat. Who doesn’t want some wicked deliciousness!

Duchess Leigh: I am thrilled to interview you today and let the world know about your fabulous debut, Darcy! Tell us a little about HER WICKED WAYS.


Duchess Darcy Burke: Thanks for having me. The tea is divine and the company even more.

I sometimes describe HER WICKED WAYS as Paris Hilton meets Robin Hood, but Paris Hilton does not evoke a very sympathetic heroine! Miranda is like Paris Hilton in that she’s very wealthy, very popular, very used to getting what she wants, and perhaps not always good at making the right choices. I loved the idea of taking that kind of character and plopping her completely out of her element—sort of like Paris and her friend in that reality show, The Simple Life. (Although, I do love a select few reality shows, I cannot claim to have ever watched that one.) Fox is the perfect foil for Miranda because he’s the good guy that bad girls tend to overlook when they’re attracted to a bad boy. Luckily for Fox, he gets to be both the good guy (orphanage-owning-hero) and bad boy (sexy highwayman).

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Florence Nightingale: Rebel in a Skirt

I find it very interesting that recent discussions on Dear Author and Romance Writers of America (See “Rocking the Mistorical, by the lovely Duchess Valerie Bowman) have focused on the concept of the “mistorical” and whether historical romance today does due diligence to the time periods about which we write. The usual argument against the accuracy of many historical romances is that the heroines some authors create are unbelievable because “upper class women of the day didn’t do that.” That, of course, being things like refusing to marry highly eligible young men. Or defying one’s parents expectations.

Or working.

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Interview With Her Grace, Sherry Thomas

Today, the Duchesses are honored to receive a call from two-time Rita-winner Sherry Thomas. Sherry writes my favorite kind of historical, bursting with deep characters, fraught with tension and written in lovely, lyrical prose with just the right touch of humor.


Ashlyn: I hear you’ve got a new series coming out. Do tell us about it.


Sherry Thomas: I have a trilogy coming out this year, beginning with BEGUILING THE BEAUTY this week, continuing with RAVISHING THE HEIRESS in July, and concluding with TEMPTING THE BRIDE in October.


The stories are connected via the Fitzhugh siblings, Venetia, Fitz, and Helena.  Venetia is the beauty becoming beguiled in book 1, Fitz is set to ravish Millie, his heiress wife in book 2, and Helena will be donning the veil in book 3.

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