by Mary Jo
Today's guest needs no introduction, since she's the Wenches' own Cara/Andrea! Her last Cara Elliott Regency historical, Too Dangerous to Desire, was a RITA finalist as well as a Booksellers Best finalist, so it's a delight to see that the books of her new trilogy, The Hellions of High Street, will be published one after another in January, February, and March.
First up is Scandalously Yours, which I've had the pleasure of reading. An early review describes the book as "Another hit for Cara Elliott!" The story is smart and sexy and has a lightness of touch that reminds me of the Signet Regencies where she and I got our start in publishing. Here's an excerpt.
MJP: Cara, can you tell us a bit about the book?
CE: The series features a trio of unconventional sisters with a passion for writing. Olivia, the eldest, pens political essays, Anna, the middle sister, writes racy romance novels and Caro, who is not quite out of the schoolroom, is a budding poet. But as we all know, proper young ladies of the ton—especially those with very small dowries—aren’t supposed to be passionate about anything except finding a rich, titled husband. So they must keep their passions a secret.
Which naturally leads to Trouble!
A former military commander dubbed The Perfect Hero for his military exploits. Wrexham is also a widower with a young son who is determined to quash his father’s courtship of a lady he dubs The Steel Corset. A resourceful lad, Scottie decides to put an ad in the same newspaper for a mother. Add to the mix a flurry of nom de plume letters crossing paths, and Olivia’s well-meaning sisters trying to help her stay one step ahead of scandal and, well, things get a little complicated . . .
MJP: It’s hard to resist a gentleman called The Perfect Hero! Tell us a little more about him.
CE: Oh, writing Wrexham was such fun! Honorable and duty-minded, he takes his civic and family responsibilities very seriously, so he sees himself as a very disciplined fellow, ruled by reason and self-control. Which is why he’s totally bewildered to find himself attracted to the headstrong, opinionated Olivia. His head keeps telling him it’s all wrong, but his heart—not to speak of the rest of his body—disagrees! Letting his rebellious, playful side slowly break free from his own preconceptions was something I really enjoyed doing.
MJP: I loved the chess sets you described. Are they real, or products of your artist's imagination?
CE: Ha! I’m afraid I let my artistic imagination run a little wild there! I wanted to juxtapose the cerebral elements of the game—the disciplined tactics and strategy—with the tactile and whimsical feel of the chess figures themselves. Both Olivia and John have that dual nature inside them, so the scene where they react to the textures, forms and colors of the different sets in the shop really let me play their thoughts and reactions.
MJP: I love the title "The Hellions of High Street." Where did you get the idea, and what do the future books hold?
CE: I seem incapable of writing normal, well-behaved heroines! <G> So the name seemed a perfect fit for the Sloane sisters. The next book, Sinfully Yours (out in February) features Anna’s story. She’s way behind on her book deadline, so a country house party in a remote Scottish castle seems to offer the perfect interlude of peace and quiet. But little does she know . . . And Passionately Yours (out in March) finds Caro stuck in Bath, while her mother takes the spa cure. She’s ruing the fact that she’ll never write truly passionate poetry if nothing exciting ever happens to her. But when her nemesis from Scotland arrives in town, she quickly finds herself drawn into very dangerous waters . . .
MJP: Your publisher, Grand Central, is putting the Hellions in a new e-book first program. Could you tell us more about how this works?
CE: It’s a new marketing strategy featuring dual release. The e-books come out first, followed in several months by the paperback editions. So for those of you who prefer paper, never fear! The series will be available in that form shortly.
MJP: You're actively involved with indie publishing, including your Signet Regency backlist written as Andrea Pickens. What do you have out there, and what can we look forward to?
CE: Re-releasing my old regencies has been great fun. Three more are being repackaged right now, and will be out in several months, making nine available. But the really exciting news is I’m also self-publishing a brand new, original Regency. I had an unfinished manuscript in my drawer, which I decided to complete. It’s called Pistols at Dawn, and it will be out this spring. And I’ve some other ideas, so may continue to add new titles to the Andrea Pickens library. Self-publishing is such a wonderful opportunity to offer readers books that fall outside the box of the traditional publishers.
MJP: How great that you're exploring the brave new world of self-publishing, and that it includes a new traditional Regency! Thanks for letting me interview you today.
Cara/Andrea will gave away a copy of Scandalously Yours to someone who leaves a comment between now and Saturday midnight. AND the winner will have the choice of an e-book version now, or a print book when it becomes available in the spring.
So--what qualities would you require for a "Perfect Hero?"