Today, I’m excited to announce that we have the pleasure of welcoming her grace, Vanessa Kelly, to the duchesses’ drawing room.
Vanessa Kelly writes Regency romance that sizzles. She was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.” Her romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. Her latest book, My Favorite Countess, was nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Regency Historical Romance.
So please do draw up a chair and have a cup of tea, as we hear from Vanessa on rascally smugglers and help from her friend.
When I began writing the first draft of what is now His Mistletoe Bride, I envisioned something different from the finished version of the book. Like the other stories in my Stanton Family Series, I planned to incorporate an element of danger and mystery, one that would put my leading characters in a very tight spot. Rubbing my hands with glee, I came up with a plan of action, which included the creation of a band of nasty smugglers who would raise all kinds of hell and probably kidnap my heroine.
Then my editor called. He suggested I write a Christmas book instead, since holiday romances are much loved by readers. Great, I replied. Sounds like fun! Then I got off the phone and went into panic mode. I had the whole darn plot worked out, with mayhem, kidnappings, and even attempted murder, and now I had to change everything? To write a Christmas book?!
After several hours spent on the couch in a fetal position, I finally emailed a writer friend, asking for advice. What should I do with my evil smugglers? Half the book was built around these dastardly characters, and they were absolutely essential to the conflict between my heroine and my hero. But those kinds of characters hardly seemed right for a warm-hearted, Christmas-themed romance.
My friend—the talented historical romance writer Kris Kennedy—agreed that nefarious smugglers were probably not conducive to holiday cheer. But instead of giving them up completely, she suggested, why not turn the idea on its head. Instead of evil smugglers why not rascally, good-natured smugglers, men who had a very rational reason for engaging in their illegal activities?
Well, I loved the idea because it fit right into the conflict I wanted to create between my hero and heroine. My smugglers did what they did because it was the only way they could support the families in their very poor, tumbledown village—the same village my hero Lucas inherits, along with an earldom. I just knew that Lucas, an ex-soldier and law-and-order kind of guy, would be determined to stop the smugglers from using his estate as one of their routes. My heroine Phoebe, on the other hand, is a Quaker, and would insist that Lucas forgive the men and help them, instead of turning them over to the law.
Ergo, a perfect conflict for my hero and heroine, since they would disagree both practically and morally on how to fix the problem. Once I clarified that essential element, the rest of the plot fell into place and I was able to write a book that may be a little short on danger, but has warmth, fun, and a lot of holiday cheer.
And, of course, a very sexy romance, all set under the mistletoe!
Have you ever been faced by a surprising situation and needed a little help from a friend to solve? Do you often turn to friends and family for advice when facing a difficult challenge? How does that work for you? One person who comments will win a copy of my previous book, My Favorite Countess, and another commenter will win a copy of my first book, Mastering The Marquess.