Today, darlings, I am thrilled to introduce my friend and sister St. Martin’s Press Regency historical romance author, Manda Collins.
Manda’s highly anticipated debut, How to Dance with a Duke, hits stores and the web on January 31st and you can bet, I have this one pre-ordered.
Not only does it have one of the most beautiful covers I’ve ever seen (swoon/see below), but it’s already racking up a ton of accolades including a 4-star review from Romantic Times!
Manda and I share a publishing house, an editor, and a love of Regency romance novels.
Manda, we really must discuss what else we have in common some time, my dear. I’m sure there is much more.
But I digress. Let’s get to the real fun, your book!
Duchess Valerie: First, please do tell us a little about your debut novel, your grace.
Manda Collins: How to Dance with a Duke is the story of Miss Cecily Hurston and Lucas, the Duke of Winterson. Lucas is searching for his brother, who went missing while on an Egyptian expedition with Cecily’s father. She wants to prove to him that her father didn’t harm his brother, and he just wants to know the truth about what happened on the expedition. They join forces, fight some evil bad guys, turn the tables on some mean girls, and in the process share some adventures and fall in love.
Duchess Valerie: Ooh, sounds delightful. I’m all for sharing some adventures and falling in love! It sounds like your story takes place in more than one country. Have you been to England to research? Tell us about your trip.
Manda Collins: I’ve been to England three times. The first time was in college on a trip to London and at that point I hadn’t started writing yet. But I had some ideas for stories knocking around in my brain. What I remember most about that trip was the sheer joy of actually being there, where Prinny and Beau Brummell and Lady Jersey and Byron had actually breathed the air and walked the streets. I was elated just to be there.
My next trip was a couple of years later, and long story short, it was not a success and I ended up spending several days in hospital. But Anglophile that I was, I LOVED every minute of it. I loved that an aid brought around a tea trolley every couple of hours. I loved being in an actual ward. Where the nurses were called sisters. Except for the male nurses—who I really loved;) So, what should have been awful was pretty awesome. I haven’t written about that particular visit, but it’s still there waiting to be put into story form one of these days.
My last visit was more along the lines of an actual research trip. I went to Chawton Cottage where Jane Austen lived for the last part of her life, which was extraordinary. It was such a humble place, but beautiful in its way. And the gardens were lovely. But the most exciting aspect of this particular trip was the visit to Bath. To actually see the pump room and taste the waters was about as closet to perfection as this traveler has ever come. I have plans to set one of my upcoming books in Bath and that trip will inform my work.
Duchess Valerie: Well, now I’m dying to hear more about the hospital stay (and the male nurses). Chawton Cottage is definitely on my ‘must see’ list and I’m greatly looking forward to your story set in Bath. Such a wonderful historical setting (sigh). Which brings me to my next question, have you ever considered writing something other than a historical?
Manda Collins: Well, it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of romantic suspense, so I have some ideas along those lines. I also would love to write a category romance one of these days. Something set in the south with contemporary characters. But for now I’m happy to be in the Regency era.
Duchess Valerie: Regencies are *my* personal favorites so I do hope you’ll keep writing them. How does your family feel about your writing?
Manda Collins: My family is very supportive of my writing, though for the most part they don’t really “get” it. With a few exceptions, they aren’t big romance readers so while they think it’s amazingly cool that I’m getting published, they aren’t particularly thrilled that my books will have sexytimes. Would they be happier if I wrote straight mystery? Probably, but that I’m writing and getting published at all is pretty cool in their book so it’s all good.
Duchess Valerie: I’ve told my own family, if they don’t want to read those bits, just skip several pages and keep reading (wink). When you become a much-heralded author, I’m sure they’ll be just as proud as if you wrote straight mystery. Do you have a favorite author?
Manda Collins: I have so many that I know I’m going to leave someone important out, but here goes. For sheer linguistic wonder I don’t think you can get much better than Eloisa James. I’ve been reading her since her second book and she’s never disappointed me yet. I also love Julia Quinn for her sense of fun and her brilliant banter. Same goes for Julie Anne Long, who never fails to wow me with the chemistry between her heroes and heroines. In romantic suspense, I am a squeeing fangirl for Karen Rose. For all of the suspense and creepy villains in her books, she writes some of the most subtle and real hero and heroine interactions in Romancelandia. Outside of the romance genre, I love Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series. I just started reading Lisa Gardner, who is fabulous. And I also enjoy Charles Todd’s historical mysteries.
Duchess Valerie: And now for the *really* fun part, please give us the book blurb.
What’s a wallflower to do when she’s suddenly in need of a husband? Use all the pluck and moxie she can muster to get what she wants…
SHE’S IN NEED OF A PARTNER
Miss Cecily Hurston would much rather explore the antiquities of Egypt than the uncharted territory of marriage. But the rules of her father’s exclusive academic society forbid her entrance unless she weds one of its members. To clear her ailing father’s name of a scandalous rumor, Cecily needs to gain admission into the Egyptian Club—and is willing to marry any old dullard to do it.
AND HE HAS ALL THE RIGHT MOVES
Lucas Dalton, Duke of Winterson, is anything but dull. He’s a dashing and decorated war hero determined to help Cecily—even if that means looking the other way when she claims the dance card of Amelia Snow, this season’s most sought-after beauty. But Lucas has a reason for wanting Cecily to join the Egyptian Club: His brother went missing during one of Lord Hurston’s expeditions to Egypt. An alliance with the explorer’s bluestocking daughter could bring Lucas closer to the truth about what happened…or it could lead him to a more dangerous love than either he or Cecily could have imagined….
Duchess Valerie: Again, sounds delicious. Cannot wait to get my hands on it. Thank you so much for stopping by today, your grace, and very, very best of luck with your debut.
Manda Collins: My pleasure.
Have a question for Duchess Manda? She will be sipping tea with us today. One lucky commenter will win a copy of How to Dance with a Duke. You can also visit Manda on the web at www. MandaCollins.comSincerely, Duchess Valerie Bowman (who is counting the days til this dashing debut!)