Today we have romance author Maggi Andersen on the blog, with an interview and a blurb and excerpt from her latest release.
Hi Lindsay, thanks for inviting me. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about my latest release, The Reluctant Marquess, coming to Embrace Books on 14th February.
I know you write historical romance. What is it that draws you to the genre?
Although I planned to write contemporary mysteries and crime, I developed a love for historical romance. There's such a wealth of fascinating subjects to draw from for a writer. My historical stories are still mysteries, intrigues or adventurous romps though. I love to read a good mystery in any genre.
Also, is there a particular period of history that you enjoy writing about? Why is that?
My novels are mostly set in the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras. I love the interiors, the architecture, the fashion and food, the historical intrigue and the situations my characters can find themselves in. My current wip is about a Victorian explorer.
How do you create your characters? How do you keep them in period and realistic to the age and at the the same sympathetic to readers?
My characters just evolve, it's a mysterious process, but I think it comes from years of extensive reading and a memory of those characters I most loved. Research helps too. If you study an era extensively it comes more naturally to you as you write. Perhaps there's a bit of an actress in me also. I hope my characters appeal to readers. They are basically decent. They might struggle against adversity and the restrictions of the age, or in the case of the spoilt heroes of the Ton, grow through experience - usually with the help of heroines - into decent loving men.
Have you any scenes that you particularly enjoy writing? First encounters for example, or first kiss.
The scenes I enjoy most writing are the ones filled with conflict. I love my characters to have a good argument, filled with sexual tension of course.
How do you relax when you are not writing?
When I'm not writing, I read, go to the movies, have lunch or dinner with friends. I keep fit swimming and do Wii fitness.
Blurb for The Reluctant Marquess, coming to Embrace Books on 14th February.
Blurb: A country-bred girl, Charity Barlow always intended to marry for love like her parents. She suddenly finds herself married to a marquess, her new husband an aloof stranger determined to keep his thoughts and feelings to himself. She and Lord Robert have been forced by circumstances to marry, and she feels she is not the woman he would have chosen to marry given a choice. He makes it plain that marriage is merely for the procreation of an heir, and once that is achieved, he intends to continue living the life in London he enjoyed before he met her. Charity may then return to the country. While Lord Robert pursues his own interests, Charity wanders the echoing corridors of St Malin House, when she isn't thrown into the midst of the clever and mocking Haute Ton. She's not at all sure she likes them, as they live by their own rules which seem rather shocking. She's not at all sure she likes her new husband either, except for his blue, blue eyes, the panther-like way he walks and the hot expression in his eyes when he looks at her that sets her pulses racing. He is a rake and doesn't deserve her love, but neither does she wish to live alone. Lord Robert appears quite willing to do his duty, but Charity demands love and affection nothing else will do. Will he ever love her? Excerpt:
‘Welcome to Castle St. Malin.’
A man rose from behind a massive mahogany desk strewn with papers in the corner of the room. He crossed the room to greet her. He was not her godfather. She caught her breath. He was tall, his dark hair drawn back in a queue, and there was something of the marquess’ haughty demeanour about his handsome face, but she doubted he’d yet reached thirty.
‘Thank you.’ Charity could only stare at his attire, her gaze locked on his gold silk waistcoat as he bowed before her. He was in mourning, for black crepe graced the sleeve of his emerald green coat. With a sense of foreboding, she curtseyed on wobbly knees. ‘Where is the marquess, if you please?’ She looked around hoping her godfather might pop out of somewhere, but the room was otherwise empty.
‘I am the Marquess of St. Malin. My uncle passed away a short time ago.’
‘Oh. I’m so sorry.’ What she feared was true. Charity had an overwhelming desire to sit and glanced at the damask sofa.
He reacted immediately, taking her arm and escorting her to a chair. ‘Sit by the fire. You look cold and exhausted.’ He turned to the footman. ‘Bring a hot toddy for Miss Barlow.’
Charity sank down gratefully, her modest panniers settling around her.
‘I find the staff here poorly trained,’ he said. ‘I don’t know what my uncle was about.’
‘Why did you send a carriage for me?’ she asked, leaning back against the sofa cushions. ‘I wouldn’t have come had I known.’
‘I thought it best to sort the matter out here and now.’ He rested an elbow on a corner of the mantel and stirred the dog with a foot. ‘Shame on you, Felix. You might accord Miss Barlow a warm welcome.’ He looked at her. ‘My uncle’s dog; he’s mourning his master.’ He raised his brows. ‘Notice of my uncle’s passing appeared in The Daily Universal Register.’
‘We don’t get that newspaperin my village.’
‘You don’t? I wasn’t aware of you until the reading of the will. Then I learned of your parents’ death from my solicitor. I’m very sorry.’
‘Thank you. I’m sorry, too, about your uncle.’
‘My uncle fell ill only a few months ago. He rallied and then …’ The new marquess’ voice faded. He sighed and stared into the fire.
‘You must have been very fond of him,’ Charity said into the quiet pause that followed. Though, if she were honest, she felt surprise that the cool man she remembered could have provoked that level of affection.
He raised his eyes to meet hers and gave a bleak smile. ‘Yes, I was fond of him. He always had my interest at heart, you see.’ He sat in the oxblood leather chair opposite and rested his hands on his knees. ‘I am his acknowledged heir, and the legalities have been processed. I’ve inherited the title and the entailed properties. The rest of his fortune will pass to another family member should I fail to conform to the edicts of his will.’
‘His will?’ Charity gripped her sweaty hands together, she couldn’t concentrate on anything the man said. Her mind whirled, filled with desperate thoughts. With her godfather dead, where would she go from here? Her heart raced as she envisioned riding off along the dark cliffs to join a theatre troupe, or become a tavern wench.
‘This must be difficult for you to take in, and I regret having to tell you tonight before you have rested. But I’m compelled to move quickly as you have no chaperone and have travelled here alone …’
She raised her chin. ‘There was no one to accompany me.’ She would not allow him to make her feel like a poor relation, even though she was quite definitely poor. And alone. She hated that more than anything. What had her godfather left her? She hoped it would allow her some measure of independence and wasn’t just a vase or the family portrait.
The footman entered, carrying a tray with a cup of steaming liquid. Charity took the drink and sipped it gratefully. It was warming and tasted of a spicy spirit. She found it hard to concentrate on his words, as her mind retreated into a fog and her eyes wandered around the room. She finished the drink, which had heated her insides, and allowed her head to loll back against the cushions. Her gaze rested on her host, thinking he would be handsome if he smiled. She was so tired, and the warmth of the fire made her drowsy. What was he saying?
‘It’s the best thing for both of us, don’t you agree?’
She shook her head to try and clear it. ‘I’m sorry, what did you say?’
He frowned. ‘The will states we must marry. Straightaway, I’m afraid.’
‘I … What? I’m to m-marry you?’ Placing her cup down carefully on the table she struggled to her feet, fighting fatigue and the affects of whatever it was she’d just drunk. Smoothing her gown, she glanced at the door through which she intended to depart at any moment. ‘I have no intention …’
His lips pressed together in a thin line. ‘I know it’s perplexing. I didn’t intend to wed for some years. I certainly would have preferred to choose whom I married, as no doubt would you.’
Her jaw dropped. What kind of man was this? She had been raised to believe that marriage was a sacred institution. He made it sound so … inconsequential. She stared at him. ‘The will states I must marry you?’
‘Yes, that’s exactly what it states.’ He rose abruptly with a rustle of silk taffeta and moved closer to the fire. She wondered if he might be as nervous as she. ‘Unless I’m prepared to allow my uncle’s unentailed fortune go to a distant relative. Which I am not. As I have said.’ His careful tone suggested he thought her a simpleton. Under his unsympathetic gaze, she sank back down onto the sofa. ‘You are perfectly within your rights to refuse, but I see very few options open to you. As my wife, you will live in comfort. You may go to London to enjoy the Season. I shall give you a generous allowance for gowns and hats, and things a lady must have.’ His gaze wandered over her cream muslin gown, and she placed a hand on the lace that disguised the small patch near her knee. ‘What do you say?’
She tilted her head. ‘I shall receive an allowance? For gowns, and hats, and things a lady must have.’
‘Exactly,’ he said with a smile, obviously quite pleased with himself. ‘I see we understand each other perfectly. So … do you agree?’
What was wrong with this man? Slowly, Charity released a heavy sigh. She could barely contemplate such a thing as this, and yet he acted as though he’d solved all the problems of the world with fashion accessories. She had hoped for a small stipend, but marriage! And to a complete stranger. She couldn’t! Not for all the gowns and hats on earth. She straightened up in her chair and lifted her chin. Her words were clipped and precise, and she hoped beyond hope he would accept her decision gracefully. ‘I say no, Lord St. Malin.’
‘How disappointing,’ he said quietly.
She gulped as his heavy-lidded eyes continued to study her from head to foot. She was uncomfortably aware that the mist had sent her hair into a riot of untidy curls, and she smoothed it away from her face with both hands as she glanced around the room. She tucked a muddy shoe out of sight beneath her gown and then forced herself to meet his gaze. Might he like anything of what he saw? Her father loved that she had inherited her mother’s tiny waist, and she thought her hands pretty. His lordship’s gaze strayed to her breasts and remained there rather long. She sucked in a breath as her heart beat faster. When their eyes met did she detect a gleam of approval? It only made her more nervous.
I'm Jillian Chantal and I write what I like to call Romantic Adventures with an International Flair. I live near the beach in Florida and have a son that's a surfer. He's pretty laid back when he surfs. Other than that, he's pretty tightly wound. We're all skiers and we have always had a boat. I'm convinced the ocean relaxes people. It does it for me. Even just a stroll on the beach can help when I'm wound up. Because of our love for the water, I wanted for some time to write a story about a surfer. Initially, I wrote a short story about a surfer that was published in Romance Stories Magazine on line. I had so much fun with that one, I decided to write a full length novel with a different hero and heroine than in the short story. Even a different area of the world. The short story takes place in Costa Rica. The full length story takes place in Miami, Bali and London.
This story starts two years after the breakup of Quincy Holt and her lover, Fennimore Smith. He dumped her when he thought she was cheating on him with another surfer on the pro circuit. She nursed a broken heart for a while but finally moved on with a British man she believes is an antiques dealer. She's very wrong about her fiance's career and her former lover, now an agent with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, has come back into her life to tell her he's investigating her fiance and she shouldn't marry him. Quincy travels to Bali for a competition where she ends up in jail for firearms smuggling. Fennimore races to the rescue. Will she let him back in her life? And what about her fiance?
This is categorized as a contemporary romantic suspense with a heat level of sensual. It's available for pre-order now and will be out on February 22, 2011. It's available here: http://www.bookstrand.com/surfer-bride
She turned at the sound, looked around and noticed him in the sand. He tried to stand up. He pushed the heel of his hand into the ground and attempted to leverage himself up. Before he could rise, she walked over and pushed him in the chest with her bare foot. He grabbed her ankle. She lost her balance and fell to the beach. She sat half way up, leaning on her elbows and looked at him. “What the hell you doing here, you prick?” “Don’t act surprised, Q. You knew I’d follow you.” He said as he ran his hand up her ankle to her shin. God, her skin felt good. Smooth. Like he remembered. She jerked her leg from his grasp as if it were on fire. “Keep your paws off me.” She backed off, crab like. Out of reach. He leaned toward her. “Q. Will you hear me out? Can I please talk to you? I have to tell you something. I wouldn’t have come back if it wasn’t important.” She looked at him. She stayed silent. “Really, Quincy. This is vital. I know you’ll be glad I told you. I know you. You need to hear this.” “Fine. If I listen, will you go away? Never try to interfere with me again?” She crossed her arms over her chest. “Fine. I’ll do it. Now, can we get up? I’m not really comfortable down here on the ground.” “I know. That was always part of your problem, Finn.” With no effort, she rose from her seat. What?” he asked as he struggled to get up, bogged down by his agency issued thick-soled black shoes. “Not liking sand in your shorts.” “And that’s a problem, how?” He raised that one eyebrow again. Intimidation tactics didn’t work with her. “Too straitlaced. Anyone who can’t deal with sand in the crack of their butt is too tightly wound for me.” They were standing close. Less than two feet separated them. “I guess we all know where the lack of being straitlaced got you.” The sneer was back. “In bed with Craig Miller.” The crack as she slapped his face was so loud it sounded like an aborted thunder storm. “Wondered how long it’d take for you to bring that up.” “So, you don’t deny it?” “Did you ever give me a chance to deny anything, jerkwad?” “Now’s your shot, Baby. Take it. Let’s see if I believe you.” His face was mottled red, and the spittle flew from his mouth. She looked at him for a full second. Her eyes filled with tears, and she turned away. She walked over, grabbed her board and tucked it under her arm and stalked off the beach to her Jeep. As she stowed the board in the back with the other two, Finn walked up behind her. “Sorry about that, Q. I really didn’t look you up to bring up the past.” She sighed and turned around. “Then why? Why’d you look me up, then? Go ahead and say what you need to say. Then leave. Please. It’s clear to me that you aren’t gonna go till you do.” She stood with her hands on her hips. He looked at her, sad at what he had to tell her. Even after all the lies she’d told him, he still didn’t like to hurt her. “There’s no way to soften the blow, but you need to know. Your fiancé, Percy Hicks, is an arms dealer.” She threw her head back and laughed out loud. “You’re insane, Finn. Yes, he is a dealer. I know that. He’s an antiques dealer. Not arms, antiques. This is what has you in a tizzy?” She slapped her hand on her thigh. “You misheard. But thanks for the warning. If I see a dangerous settee, I’ll be sure to get out of the way.” She laughed so hard, she cried. She bent over double, clutching her stomach. After a while, she stood back up and wiped the tears from her cheeks. It was too much for him. His reawakened feelings for her, her wet panties and her laughing at him sent him over the edge. He grabbed a handful of her wet suit top and jerked her toward him. He lifted her off her feet by the front of the wet suit. He pulled her close, his lips locked on hers, and he rammed his tongue in her mouth and kissed her like he’d wanted to since the day he walked out of her life. His other hand slid down her spine and into her panties where it squeezed her right buttock. It was cold from being in the water. He could feel the sand in her panties. She slid her arms around his neck and returned the kiss for the first couple of seconds. He was hard. She kissed him back until his hand entered her panties. As soon as he squeezed her butt, she jerked away from his grasp and smacked him again. “What are you trying to do, Finn?” “Trying to stop you from marrying an arms dealer.” “By assaulting me?” “That wasn’t an assault.” He grinned at her. “Hey, cop, I know what an assault is, and I bet you do, too. Kissing and pawing a woman without her consent is considered assault in this state.” “Seemed to me you consented.” His smile broadened. “Appearances can be deceiving.” She stopped and smacked her forehead. “Oh yeah, forgot for a moment who I was talking to. Appearances do deceive you. You can be blinder than a dead man. How you ever made detective grade, I’ll never know.” “Nice. That’s real nice, Q.”
My next Kensington medieval romance is due out in July and available now for pre-order. To Touch the Knight is set during the time of the Black Death, when almost a third of the people in Britain died due to the plague. It was a period of massive change and terror, but also, for the survivors, a chance for a better life. You can find more, including an excerpt and buy links, here.