It's fun having these come out every four months, but four months seems to pass awfully quickly! The great news is that the trade paperback format is working so well that my publisher is moving on to reissue my regency historicals that way, so early next year Forbidden Magic will be out that way, and after that, Dragon's Bride.
I do get cover consultation, which is great, but things don't always work out quite right. Perhaps it's something about The Stolen Bride. Way back when, on the Avon paperback, "extremely handsome blond guy" got me Patrick Swayze!
This time I get a sort of surfer dude. The Avon cover did a better job of Sophie -- "Minx with short russet curls" -- but in both cases they clearly couldn't believe I meant short hair.
So welcome to Surfer Dude and Neat-as-a-pin Thoughtful Lady.
Now you might think the loose shirt look is wrong, too, but in fact, no. Randal's a fashionable type, but he's also a rule breaker, and in the country he's much more casual. In addition, this story turns into a wild adventure where he rescues Sophie from extreme danger, so some irregularity of dress is forgivable.
Traditional Regencies in the twenty-first century.
The feedback I'm getting is that the readers accustomed to my more recent books, the historicals, are enjoying the change of pace of the sweet Regencies. At the same time, they wouldn't want to read sweet books all the time. Do you agree with that?
I've been reading through the page proofs of each reissue, revisiting the books after a long time away, and I, too, find a charm in books that involve a courtship circumscribed by the characters being in the midst of society and family and mostly wishing to stay there -- ie, not break too many rules.
The Stanforth Secrets was my only who-dunnit. The Stolen Bride is my only novel with two equal love stories. I was still young and malleable then.
I did the mystery at one editor's strong suggestion, and did the dual-romance book because her successor thought Randal and Sophie's story couldn't carry a novel because it had begun in Lord Wraybourne's Betrothed. I'm not sure if that was true or not, but I would have had trouble making the other love story into a novel. Petite ex-governess Beth Hawley and large Corinthian Sir Marium Fletcher have a sweet love story, but it's fairly straightforward. A novella, perhaps?
A writer's life is never as straightforward as it seems!
Ah, I remember I did another dual-romance, in the medieval The Shattered Rose. That was my own idea and I included Raoul and Aline because Galeran and Jehanne's story seemed very dark. A lot of readers felt Raoul and Aline should have had their own book, but again their story was a straightforward love story that couldn't carry a historical romance.
It could, perhaps, have fit a shorter book, one about 60,000 words, which is about the same length as most traditional Regencies way back when. Does the genre need more short historical romances? Not necessarily "sweet" -- ie without explicit sex, but with fairly uncomplicated stories.
Not that I can claim that The Stolen Bride is an uncomplicated story!
As you'll remember, in Lord Wraybourne's Betrothed we meet Sophie, Lord Wraybourne's sister, and gorgeous rake Lord Randal Ashby, Wraybourne's friend and neighbour. Sophie has adored Randal for years, and now she's in London for a season, she's set her sights on him. He's fending her off as best he can, but she's not an easily deterred young lady. However, she has no intention of forcing his hand. That comes about during the climactic drama of the novel. Compromised, they engage to marry.
The Stolen Bride opens months later, two weeks before the wedding with family and friends gathering at Stenby Castle, Wraybourne's seat, and Tyne Towers, Randal's father's home. Lady Wraybourne has begged her old governess, Beth Hawley, to come to help with the complexities, especially the odd behaviour of Sophie. Beth soon uncovers that Sophie is worrying that she's trapped her adored Randal, because he's still doing his best to avoid her. She's trying to raise the courage to set him free.
Here's a little snippet seen through Beth's eyes during her first dinner at Stenby.
Sophie was about to respond to this
sibling taunt,but Randal turned her head and laid a finger on her lips.
“Behave yourself,” he said with a smile.
“Behave yourself, behave yourself!” Sophie hissed.“That’s all you ever say to me these days.”
Silence fell and the whole table turned to listen.
Randal looked at her, unperturbed. “Do you know that the hippopotamus bleeds itself?”
“What?” Sophie gaped.
“If it has overindulged on grass,” said Randal, lounging back in his chair, “or fish, or whatever a hippopotamus eats, it pierces itself with a sharp reed. When it has bled enough, it patches itself with mud. Read it somewhere. May I help you to more carrots, Sophie?”
“You’re mad,” said Sophie, rather flushed. “What has all that to do with anything?”
“I said something to you other than ‘behave yourself.” He kissed a finger and
brushed it lightly over her lips.
“Randal, behave yourself,” said the duchess firmly, causing a general laugh as everyone picked up their conversations.
Beth however viewed the lovers with concern. She understood Jane’s uneasiness. Something was certainly not right in that quarter.
Then there's the odd woman Jane Wraybourne has housed when she was found on the road, having lost her memory. She seems to be feeding Sophie's doubts.
There's a longer, different excerpt here.
Next In Line
And last of these trads is RITA winning Emiy and the Dark Angel. You'll meet the hero, Piers Verderan, in The Stolen Bride, and in the excerpt you can find by clicking on the link above.
Verderan, is one of my true rakes, but like Randal, mostly reformed before their book. For some reason, reforming rakes doesn't thrill me as a story line. Perhaps I think they should get their act together on their own. I think I worry that my poor heroine might end up as a prop for the rest of their lives.
Do you share that concern, or do you like to see them embroiled in the struggle to change their ways?
Anyway, the Dark Angel is reformed rather than tamed. I like that. :)
Returning to covers, I really like the cover to EATDA The characters look right as does the setting. The book takes place during hunting season in the Melton Mowbray area.
Now it's your turn, and I'll send a copy of The Stolen Bride to a randomly picked comment on the various subjects raised above. And I wish you a better June than ours is shaping up to be. Here in Whitby, it's gray and chilly. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr