Guest Author & Giveaway: Meredith Duran featuring Wicked Becomes You

Tuesday, April 27

***This giveaway has ended, but you should still read the post...it's worth your time:)  Thanks for joining the fun!***

I'm very excited today to have Meredith Duran as my guest today.  I first started hearing about her books last year, but for some reason never got around to reading one of her books.  In fact she was the reason why I added a widget in the sidebar listing the authors I wanted to try this year, so that I wouldn't forget and miss out on a potential new favorite find.

She has a brand new historical romance out today, titled WICKED BECOMES YOU.  I couldn't wait to become "wicked" with the heroine Gwen, and I hope you will too!


Welcome to Seductive Musings Meredith! I am so pleased to have you as my guest today because I am very excited about your new historical romance WICKED BECOMES YOU. For you, what makes a romance novel a great love story, and who are some of your favorite authors to read? Who's your new "favorite find"?

The historicals on my keeper shelf have three things in common: great writing, rich historical detail, and complex, weighty emotional drama. 

My all-time favorites include the Wyckerley trilogy by Patricia Gaffney, everything by Judith Ivory and Sherry Thomas, Connie Brockway’s darker historicals (although I also have a major soft spot for As You Desire), and Mary Jo Putney’s Silk trilogy. 

As far as new discoveries go, I’ve been in India for the last eight months, so I’ve not had a chance to try out many new releases; they’re quite difficult to get here!  My last major discovery amongst historical romances was Julie Anne Long -- Like No Other Lover blew me away. 

Oh!  Also: at the Delhi World Book Fair, I found a book by Larissa Ione, Desire Unchained.  Absolutely loved it.  I’m such a fan of paranormal romance.

If you had to describe WICKED BECOMES YOU and grab the attention of a potential reader in a two sentence teaser what would it be?

Push a nice girl one too many times, and she may just snap.  But it’s hard to try out being naughty when London’s most notorious blackguard is inexplicably determined to protect you from your own experiments with wickedness...

I was reading on your website that you went through sixteen different beginnings for this book.  That's amazing! I am in complete awe of the writing process.  What was it about some of the earlier versions you wrote that didn't quite work for the introduction into Gwen and Alex's love story in WICKED BECOMES YOU?  And what was it about the final version that ended up in the book that made it "the one"?

Most of those sixteen scenes were written from Gwen’s point of view – I was having a great deal of fun figuring out what she thought of Alex before she gave up goodness and decided to go for broke as an Independent Woman.  These scenes gave me some great opportunities to showcase Alex’s wicked streak, which is why I think I had such a hard time abandoning them. 

However, I finally realized that these scenes were the groundwork for a different sort of story, in which a rake provokes and attempts to corrupt a prim and proper young lady. I do love historicals that feature dissolute heroes and upright (and uptight) heroines; I wrote a variation of this narrative in Bound by Your Touch, and I’ll certainly write more of them in the future, because they really are so entertaining.  But that isn’t what Wicked Becomes You is about.  Gwen decides to be wicked of her own accord, albeit with great provocation, and the moment she snaps is when the story really starts. 

Once I realized this, I knew that the first scene needed to take place in that pivotal moment when she says, “The deuces with being nice!”  Namely, I needed to start the book in the church, as she’s preparing to start down the aisle toward the altar.

Tell us about your hero, Alex Ramsey. What do you think will make readers, much like his heroine Gwen, fall in love with him? And can you tell us a little bit about their story in WICKED BECOMES YOU?

At first glance, Alex seems like your standard lone wolf.  But deep down, he’s a profoundly honorable guy.  Despite his best efforts, he loves his family and can’t bring himself to walk away from them.  At the beginning of the book, he’d probably identify this as a very regrettable weakness of character. But falling for Gwen really forces him to reevaluate everything he believes about himself.  Is there anything more romantic than a man who struggles to come to terms with his own better nature—because he knows that the woman he loves deserves no less than the best?

Of course, there’s a fly in the ointment: Gwen doesn’t think she wants the best of Alex.  Done with being a moral exemplar, what she wants of Alex is his wickedest and most dissolute side.  Meanwhile, for her sake, he’s trying his best to become the man who deserves her…

Gwen is such a strong and resilient heroine despite her tragic and scandalous past.   She always seems to be the epitome of propriety and politeness, so what drives her to try wickedness for a change?

So, the simplest answer—the answer that Gwen would give at the beginning of the book—is that being the sweetest, most mannerly girl in London is a social strategy that she has used to overcome and atone for her family’s working-class background.  When a series of misfortunes definitively prove that this strategy isn’t working, she decides to try a new strategy: she’ll live only for herself.

However, what she gradually comes to terms with is the fact that her former routine – her role as a purveyor of sweetness and light – was flawed not because it failed to achieve her goals, but because it required her to ignore her own true feelings and desires.  Gwen really is genuinely nice – she cares for other people’s feelings, and that never changes.  What does change is that Gwen comes to respect her own feelings – and also to acknowledge and confront the fears that led her to ignore those feelings for so long.

What's your favorite scene or moment from Wicked Becomes You, and why? Can you describe it (or provide a short excerpt) for us without giving too much away?

A few passages stand out for various reasons.  First, after a night out at the Moulin Rouge, Alex and Gwen go for a dawn stroll by the banks of the Seine – this is the scene that yielded the title of the book. By now, Alex is rather alarmed at how seriously Gwen is pursuing her own agenda; when she reminds him that she has vowed to be wicked, he replies, uneasily, “Wicked becomes you a bit too well.”  It was a great moment, rereading that scene and suddenly realizing I’d come up with the title without even trying!

Another of my favorites is the first lengthy love scene between them.  I had great fun working in a transitional passage that made use of some research I’d done that turned up a very bizarre corset that was being sold around that time under the name “The Pretty Housemaid.”  But I also just love how the scene begins:

He had the compartment directly next to hers, and the door was not locked. It swung open beneath her hand soundlessly, revealing a direct and immediate view of his bed. He was lying flat on his back, one arm thrown over his head. A clothed arm, by the look of it.

For some reason she had imagined he would be naked.

She crept forward to the bed. Nearby sat a single chair, atop which lay a magazine—The Board of Trade Journal, great ghosts, how awful—and, more intriguingly, something that glinted. She bent down, squinting, and discovered that the glint came from a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles.

Spectacles! She glanced up at him, lips parting in amazement. She also required them to read comfortably. But like him, she never wore them in public.

So we are both a little bit vain. The thought made her smile. It was becoming something of an obsession, uncovering these small things that they had in common. His loyalty to his family. His love for her brother. His disregard for the opinions of idiots and shriveled snobs.

He made a soft noise. She froze. In the moonlight, in slumber, his face looked boyish, almost innocent. He would need to shave on the morrow; she wished she dared to touch the shadow on his chin, to stroke it simply for the pleasure of the texture beneath her fingertips. But as she reached out, her fingers curled into her palm. Some superstitious conviction came over her: if she woke him the wrong way, everything would go wrong. Fairy tales often emphasized this point. There was only one right way to stir a sleeping person if one wanted them to fall in love.

But I do not want him to fall in love with me, she reminded herself. I am not here because I am dreaming of a future with him.

What would a future with him even look like? He had no interest in the country, no taste for England, no care for settling down.

If he fell in love, he would still want to chase the wind. His beloved would simply have to race alongside him.

It did not seem a very restful life.

Some strand of discontent was threading through her resolve now. Of course he would not fall in love. Not with anybody. No need to feel so ill-tempered toward this faceless woman able to race with him when she would never, in fact, exist. Alex was the most determined bachelor known to her.

The thought gave her courage. It was one thing to deny a woman in public. But to find her in his bedroom, at night? Any man would take such an invitation.

Emboldened, she leaned down to inhale the scent of him. Cognac fumes still clung to him, but beneath that was something else—the smell of his bare skin? She pulled in a deeper breath. Yes, that was it. The scent of a warm, healthy, muscular man in his prime. The scent of Alex.

His eyes opened.

She froze.

He studied her for a moment with sleepy, heavy-lidded eyes.

Her heart gave a painful jolt.

The next moment, he came awake. She saw it happen. Saw his expression focus and narrow.

The only sound was the thumping of the wheels over the ties.

Or, no: the breath rasping in her throat seemed embarrassingly loud, too.

“How wicked do you want to be, then?” he murmured.

What’s next for you, what are some of your upcoming releases, or new projects you are working on?

I have another historical from Pocket hitting the shelves next year! Right now, it’s quite angsty, but I’m keeping mum on the story until I’ve passed the crucial hundred-page threshold; until then, anything can change.

If you could ask readers to finish a sentence what would it be?

Oh, this is interesting.  Okay, I’ll ask readers to finish this sentence: “So long as the writing is good and the romance is gripping, I’ll even read a romance with a hero who…”

Finally, just for fun…if you could write the “fortune” in a fortune cookie what would it be?

Being happy is not an opportunity you deserve, earn, or wait for; rather, it is a choice to be made every day, despite numberless reasons to choose otherwise.

(It’s a big fortune cookie, I guess!)



She’s been burned not once but twice by London’s so-call ed gentlemen . . . 

Gwen Maudsley is pretty enough to be popular, and plenty wealthy, too. But what she’s best known and loved for is being so very, very nice. When a cad jilts her at the altar—again—the scandal has her outraged friends calling for blood. Only Gwen has a different plan. If nice no longer works for her, then it’s time to learn to be naughty. Happily, she knows the perfect tutor—Alexander Ramsey, her late brother’s best friend and a notorious rogue. 

So why won’t a confirmed scoundrel let her be as bad as she wants to be? 

Unbeknownst to Gwen, Alex’s aloof demeanor veils his deepest unspoken desire. He has no wish to see her change, nor to tempt himself with her presence when his own secrets make any future between them impossible. But on a wild romp from Paris to the Riviera, their friendship gives way to something hotter, darker, and altogether more dangerous. With Alex’s past and Gwen’s newly unleashed wildness on a collision course, Gwen must convince Alex that his wickedest intentions are exactly what she needs.

(amazon widget)

My many thanks to Meredith Duran for being my guest today and sharing insight into WICKED BECOMES YOU.  You can find out more about Meredith and her books on her website www.meredithduran.com.  She has a "stories behind the story" section for each book on her site that I found fascinating, as well as her research sources, excerpts, and reviews...not to mention her top ten favorite reads.  I couldn't resist taking a peek.

She also shares a blog, Plotters and Manipulators United, with fellow author Sherry Thomas where they are having a giveaway to celebrate Meredith's new book.  Head on over to their blog to check it out (we're talking Godiva and other goodies) before April 30th to enter to win.

But that's not all...to celebrate the today's release of WICKED BECOMES YOU I have two copies of this new historical romance by Meredith Duran to giveaway courtesy of Pocket Books.  Here's how you can enter to win:

Ways to earn entries:
  • MandatoryAnswer the question Meredith posed to readers during the interview (good for 1 entry) 
  • Mandatory:  You MUST be a Google Friend Connect (GFC) follower in order to be eligible to win (unfortunately an email subscriber, or subscription in Google reader, and a follower are not the same thing so make sure you are signed up as a follower if you'd like to win this book)
  • Blog about this author's giveaway on your blog and leave a link with your comment (good for 15 entries)
  • If you don't have a blog, don't worry you can earn extra entries by telling your friends. If they leave a comment on this post and mention that you sent them you can each earn extra entries (good for 5 entries for the referrer and the commenter for each friend) 
  • Purchase any item from the Seductive Musings Amazon store by using this link, or the Amazon widget contained within this post and email a copy of your purchase receipt to me no later than the deadline to enter (email available in sidebar). Sorry purchases made prior to this date do not apply, and link contained in this post must be used. No faxes or snail mail copies are allowed. No purchases are necessary to win. (good for 25 entries, or 50 entries if a purchase is made from the featured author's available titles)
How to enter:
  • You can choose to enter as many different ways that you want, but please place all of your entries in ONE comment
Rules and disclaimers: 
  • This contest is open to US addresses only. (apologies to my international readers)
  • The contest will end on May 1st at 11:59 pm EST and winner will be posted after they have been selected
  • Winners will be selected using Random.org
  • The winners will have THREE days from the date they are posted to provide a mailing address. If you do not contact me within three days a replacement winner will be selected. NO EXCEPTIONS
  • The book(s) will be mailed directly from the publisher or author and no substitutions are allowed
  • Seductive Musings is not responsible for prizes that are not honored, distributed in a timely manner, lost, stolen, or damaged during transit 
  • All giveaways are subject to change/cancellation without prior written notice 
Good Luck!

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*I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small (and I mean very small) referral fee for purchases made using a link on this blog. I don't use Amazon to earn money, I use it because the widgets are cool, easy to use, and serve my purposes to showcase books & such with minimal effort, but most importantly they have great prices and offer both new and used items. As a book addict I love that I can find just about anything I want in one place. If you are going to purchase a featured book anyway, and you know you won't pay more by using the links on this blog than you would by visiting Amazon on your own, I will be eternally grateful for supporting this blog by using the links, and don't forget that the referral fees from your purchases will sponsor the "Reader Rewards" giveaways :)

19 Comments:

jeanette8042 April 27, 2010 at 2:04 AM  

Loved the first chapter and can't wait to get my hands on this book! Loving the concept of it too!

So long as the writing is good and the romance is gripping, I’ll even read a romance with a hero who…acts like a huge ass in the beginning of the story.

GFC follower!

lilazncutie1215 @ yahoo.com

chelleyreads April 27, 2010 at 2:30 AM  

i read duke of shadows last year and i loved it. ms. duran can really write! please count me in for the giveaway, i'd love to read her latest. thanks!

Answer:
So long as the writing is good and the romance is gripping, I’ll even read a romance with a hero who… is described as having chest hair and is a red head with freckles.

i'm a GFC follower.

bookmakeupreview AT gmail DOT com

dyockman April 27, 2010 at 11:41 AM  

So long as the writing is good and the romance is gripping, I’ll even read a romance with a hero who…has everything going for him. I love the dark tortured brooding alpha hero, but I'll read a happy go lucky, everything's-coming-up-roses beta hero if it is done well.

Scorpio M. April 27, 2010 at 11:47 AM  

Oh, I have been waiting for this release. I love the Revenge of the Nice Girls theme! Plus, I've a mjor soft spot for bespectacled, honorable heroes like Alex.

Answer:
So long as the writing is good and the romance is gripping, I’ll even read a romance with a hero who…is afraid of the dark.

I am a GFC follower.

I rec'd a friend to your blog (IsabeLeeta).

jenma76(at)hotmail(dot)com

Thanks as always. I always enjoy your guest authors but this one was topnotch! :-)

Amanda April 27, 2010 at 11:56 AM  

I'll even read a romance with a hero who is just a little bit bad ;)

jedisakora April 27, 2010 at 1:53 PM  

Hi,

The first chapter sounds wonderful. I have to echo everyone else here when they said as long as the writing is good i'll read about a hero that is a complete jerk. Course in the course of the book i'd like to have the jerk have what's coming to him. ~o^

Melissa

Estella April 27, 2010 at 3:58 PM  

a hero who is a bit of a villain.

GFC follower

kissinoak at verizon dot net

Jane April 27, 2010 at 5:00 PM  

Happy Release Day, Meredith.

I'll even read a romance with a hero who aloof and overbearing. It's okay as long as he has redeeming qualities.

I'm a GFC follower.

Maureen April 27, 2010 at 5:37 PM  

So long as the writing is good and the romance is gripping, I’ll even read a romance with a hero who ... annoys me.

I am a follower.

mce1011 AT aol DOT com

chey April 27, 2010 at 7:00 PM  

So long as the writing is good and the romance is gripping, I’ll even read a romance with a hero who…is a chauvinist.

gfc follower

chey127 at hotmail dot com

throuthehaze April 27, 2010 at 7:18 PM  

So long as the writing is good and the romance is gripping, I’ll even read a romance with a hero who…is a snob.
I am a follower.

throuthehaze at gmail dot com

scottsgal April 27, 2010 at 7:57 PM  

So long as the writing is good and the romance is gripping, I’ll even read a romance with a hero who…is a bit of a nerd

msboatgal at aol.com

etirv April 28, 2010 at 2:47 AM  

So long as the writing is good and the romance is gripping, I’ll even read a romance with a hero who... cries!

Google follower!

delilah0180(at)yahoo(dot)com

Christine H April 28, 2010 at 7:29 PM  

So long as the writing is good and the romance is gripping, I’ll even read a romance with a hero who can be a bit of a jerk. I couldn't put up with much from my hero's.

I'm a Google Friend Connect (GFC) follower

chirth7@yahoo.com

Mitzi H. April 28, 2010 at 8:50 PM  

“So long as the writing is good and the romance is gripping, I’ll even read a romance with a hero who…”Is A Beast".....so long as the heroine can tame him.

I'm a Google Friend Connect follower

mitzihinkey at sbcglobal dot net

IsabeLeeta April 28, 2010 at 11:08 PM  

Hi, Scorpio M. sent me!

So long as the writing is good and the romance is gripping, I'll even read a romance with a hero who...isn't quite that confident.

I am a GFC follower.

Thanks!

Meredith Duran April 29, 2010 at 1:06 AM  

Hey y'all, thanks so much for these awesome answers to my question. I'm having a lot of fun reading them!

Meredith

Anita Yancey April 29, 2010 at 11:23 AM  

"So long as the writing is good and the romance is gripping, I'll even read a romance with a hero who...is a cad". I would love to read this book. Please enter me. Thanks!

I am a Google Friend Connect Follower!

ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

Stuff Rhys Likes April 29, 2010 at 12:03 PM  

So long as the writing is good and the romance is gripping, I'll even read a romance with a hero who deliberately ruins the heroine.

I'm a follower.

I also posted this blog entry on my Facebook profile. :)

~Lindy

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