Diane and I, and many others from the tour, including Amanda McCabe, kept in touch after that trip. We got together as often as we could at the RWA National Conference. And eventually, Diane and Amanda and I ended up writing an anthology and a series together. But I'll let Diane tell us about it!
A Not So Respectable Gentleman is the final installment in the series about the Fitzmanning Miscellany, begun in the Diamonds of Welbourne Manor anthology. Will you tell the story of how it all began?
I’ll be delighted to! It began at a dinner during an RWA conference. Then Mills and Boon/Harlequin Historical editor Maddie Rowe invited you, Amanda McCabe and me out to dinner, which we all thought was merely a-nice-thing-to-do. But Maddie offered the three of us an anthology and each a book connected to the anthology. Harlequin Historical gave us carte blanche to do it any way we wanted as long as the stories were set in the Regency.
Later that year the three of us met in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, to decided what we wanted to do. Except we spent most of our time touring the historic sites, just like on our trip to England! When we stopped for lunch, we started to talk about the anthology. We quickly agreed that we wanted connecting stories, rather than, say, stories connected by theme.
In a surprisingly short time, a matter of only a couple of hours, we created the Fitzmanning Miscellany, a mix of legitimate and illegitimate sons and daughters of a duke and his lover, a countess who left her husband to cohabitate with him.
It seemed to me that our characters just rose up in our imaginations fully formed. I know that I knew immediately which members of our motley family I wanted to write about and so did you and Amanda. As I recall, we even immediately knew their names. It was magical, The whole experience of writing the anthology remains my favorite writing experience to date.
Which is why A Not So Respectable Gentleman? is dedicated to you, Deb Marlowe, and to Amanda McCabe.
We had a lot of fun doing this series, starting with the margaritas we had at dinner that night, as I recall, and on through such fun at Williamsburg--I remember the sheer excitement of lolling about that hotel room, brainstorming the Fitzmannings--and continuing through about a million emails as we wrote.
I'm sad to see the end of the series, but so excited to see our unruly family again and especially to read Leo's story! Tell us about him and Mariel Covendale, his heroine.
I loved revisiting "our" family. And I was so fortunate to have the last book so that I could bring the whole Miscellany back together again.
Leo doesn’t really figure much in your book or Amanda’s, but that was because he was trying to find his place in the world. He thought he’d figured it all out when he discovered Mariel Covendale, childhood friend of his sisters, had grown into a beautiful woman. But his dreams literally go up in smoke and, even worse, he hears she has chosen a respectable lord over him. He flees to the Continent for a life befitting a bastard son, becoming an adventurer and a gambler and developing a scandalous reputation.
Now one of his clandestine business deals brings him back to London, where he keeps his seat at the card table warm, his pockets full of winnings and his mind off the raven-haired heiress who betrayed him. But then he hears whispers at the gaming hell that Mariel had not married those years ago, but is now being forced into marriage with an unscrupulous fortune hunter!
Leo thought nothing would entice him back into the society he now detests, but he feels duty-bound to help her before returning to his clandestine existence. The problem is, he hasn’t counted on Mariel having grown even more achingly beautiful than he remembered. Soon Leo realizes there is nothing respectable about his reasons for stopping Mariel’s marriage.
Every family member we created that day in Williamsburg returns to play their part in bringing Leo his happy ending. Nothing less would do for the last Diamonds of Welbourne Manor story.
Did the fact that Leo is illegitimate add a challenge as you set out to write his story?
I don't know if I'd say it was a challenge. It was more the inspiration for his character! When we invented the family, I immediately wondered what it would be like to be the one illegitimate son. Certainly his feelings about himself would be different from his brothers. No matter how much his family loved him, he could never be what his brothers were. Unlike the others, he could never be a part of the aristocracy, no matter what he did or who he married.
Leo and Mariel's story features one of my favorite tropes--the second chance at love. As a writer, what do you like about a reunion story?
I think the emotions in a reunion story are intensified over other kinds of love stories. You know the hero and heroine have already been through that heady experience of first falling in love--and they've lost it. How painful is that? And by reuniting the lovers, you force them to risk that pain again. The romance genre is all about emotions and a reunion story gives the author plenty to explore.
Diane is known for writing fabulous stories about the darker sides of the Regency. Can you tell us what you have coming next?
I'm so excited. My next book, Born to Scandal, is coming very soon! December, 2012, and should be available as early as November 13. Born to Scandal is my first governess story and is my homage to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. Like Jane Eyre, it is a story of secrets and betrayals, with a governess at the center. It features a half-Irish marquess, who is determined to give his children the respectability always denied him, but he falls in love with his new governess whose birth is even more scandalous than his own.
Okay, I can't resist. Here's a slightly naughty pic I took of Diane at Apsley House, the Duke of Wellington's house in London. :-)
Thank you for visiting with us at Lady Scribes, Diane. We wish you and Leo all the best!
Thank you so much for having me as your guest on Lady Scribes and giving me the chance to relive the whole Diamonds of Welbourne Manor experience!
In honor of Diane and Leo, we are having a giveaway! Tell us, have you ever gone into a situation alone and come out with lifelong friends? Like Leo, have you had to figure out where you fit in with friends and family? Have you ever posted a slightly naughty picture of a friend on the internet for all the world to see? Share with us and one randomly selected winner will win a copy of A Not So Respectable Gentleman!