Tuesday, March 22
Dark and tortured heroes...I have to admit they are my favorite type of alpha hero. Hands down. I think it's because things haven't been handed to them, that they've overcome adversity, or at least are struggling to overcome their personal demons...however hard it may be. Sometimes they're ruthless and demanding, and sometimes they even try to drive away the women that love them in a misguided sense of saving her from his darkness. The heroines don't necessarily save them, but their love for each other lets them weather the storm together and find a measure of peace, as well as happiness. When I think of my favorite heroes, the most memorable ones...they are almost always the tortured hero. Pretty much 90% of them (this is a guesstimate, but I bet if I went back and tried to make a list it would be pretty close to accurate).
Author Bronwen Evans is my guest today to share her debut historical romance from Brava, Invitation to Ruin with us today...and guess what? Her hero is dark and tortured :) Read and enjoy!
Welcome to Seductive Musings Bronwen! For you, what makes a romance novel a great love story? What makes writing historical romances so compellingly seductive to your muse? And what’s the last romance you read that you loved?
A great love story - I have to fall in love with the hero and heroine – right from the very first page. If I don’t care about them as individuals, then I won’t care about them as a couple. The story and the conflict have to be compelling too. I’d rather have a strong storyline than strong writing. It’s the journey of the two characters that grabs me and the desperate need generated in me, the reader, to see the couple get their HEA. If I don’t care how the story ends, then it’s not a gripping romance.
Why do I write Regency historical stories - I get asked this a lot. I love bad boys – rakes – who have the power to do anything, be anything, but who are actually wonderful alpha males with huge hearts. Heroines have to be very clever to survive and compete in their world. This makes for very interesting characters and fabulous conflicts. The alpha male facing off against an intelligent woman, there is something so compelling about that. I love the Regency period in particular because so much was happening at the time such as Napoleon, India, American unrest etc...
My latest romance read. There are two actually. I have just read my first Eloisa James book, When Beauty Tamed the Beast – I have to say the book is fabulous. I can’t wait to read more of her books. And I have just finished Kresley Cole’s Pleasure of a Dark Prince – which I also loved. I really enjoy the darker books.
Your newest novel, INVITATION TO RUIN is the first book in your "Invitation To" series. Can you tell us a little bit about the books in this series, how many there might be, and how they will all be connected?
The ‘Invitation To’ series has four books in total, of which two have been contracted. The ‘Invitation To’ series is about four friends (twin brothers and two others) who all had problems with their fathers while growing up. The books highlight how their childhoods shaped the men they became and what type of woman can heal their wounds and introduce them to love.
Invitation to Ruin is Anthony James Craven, the Earl of Wickham’s story. His father was a slave trader and it’s a pretty dark story. The second book, Invitation to Scandal, is Rufus Knight, Viscount Strathmore’s story. He is introduced in book one. Rufus’s father was deemed a traitor and Rufus is determined to clear his father’s name.
Book three is about Anthony’s twin brother, Richard John Craven. Richard tries to save everyone because he didn’t protect Anthony from their father. He tries to protect Madeline Knight, Rufus’s sister and it all goes horribly wrong!
Book four is Alexander Smythe, Earl of Montford who you meet in book two. Alex was an only son and Alex’s father smothered him. He was known as a mother’s boy so he to prove his ‘manhood’ he puts himself in dangerous situations. So much so, that as a youth he joined the secret service, and spent two years as a captive of the most ruthless Turkish Sultan. To keep him tame, the Sultan turned him into a raving opium addict. Alex now indulges in all manners of pleasure to escape his sordid memories. Of course it takes a determined woman to save him from himself.
I did say that I liked my heroes dark and tortured!
If you had an opportunity to provide only a two or three sentence "teaser" quote from INVITATION TO RUIN, to grab the attention of potential readers and give them a glimpse and feeling of what the story is about what would it be?
Anthony exhaled. “You best watch what you say about the lady beside me before I decide to teach you some manners.”
“I think we’ve both learned she is no lady.”
Despite his nakedness Anthony leapt out of bed, his fingers wrapping around Christopher’s throat, a dark rage engulfing him.
A familiar voice said, “As you seem to have such strong protective feelings for the lady, it would seem it’s to be the special license.”
His brother’s calm voice broke through his haze of anger. Anthony shoved Christopher Goodly aside and stalked towards Richard. “So you were behind all of this.” In a deadly voice he said, “Do you know what you have done?”
“I have saved you from years of torment.” Richard smugly replied. “I’ve stopped father from destroying the rest of your life.”
Anthony stood looking at his brother as if he were a total stranger. “No. You have simply ensured Miss Goodly will endure a life of misery.”
Tell us about your hero, Anthony Craven, Earl of Wickham, aka “The Lord of Wicked”. What do you think will make readers, much like his heroine Melissa, fall in love with him despite it being a marriage of necessity after being compromised? And can you tell us a little bit about their story in INVITATION TO RUIN?
I hope the readers will fall in love with his humanity. After the horror of his upbringing, he is a man who is much damaged. Anthony fiercely shields his heart, afraid he is incapable of love and a danger to anyone who gets too close to him. Believing he is as evil as his father, a slave trader, Anthony chooses not to marry. His twin brother will provide the much needed heir. Richard, his brother, looks like their mother and hasn’t an evil bone in his body. Unfortunately, Richard is determined his brother will marry and have joy and happiness in his life. So he sets Anthony up to compromise Melissa.
Melissa is attracted to Anthony the handsome rake, and has been from the first moment she met him. She recognises a kindred soul. A person who’s had a loveless upbringing like her. Although it is only when she marries into his family she learns how badly he was treated as a child. Her heart fills with compassion for this gloriously but damaged man. When they are forced to marry, Melissa is determined to earn his love. For once in her life she will have someone who can’t live without her.
As she gets to know Anthony, Melissa learns that Anthony is nothing like his father and is in fact a good person. He helps her save some slaves from being sold and finds them jobs. They have a lot in common, and her desire for her handsome husband grows. However, Anthony shows no interest in her at all. Melissa doesn’t understand why he will not come to her bed. So she instigates a series of seductions.
Enter the villain, Anthony’s once upon a time friend, and a current slave trader, and suddenly Melissa is in danger. I really like my villain. He had the same upbringing as Anthony, yet while Anthony has overcome his childhood and chooses to turn his back on slave trading, the villain embraced evil. The comparison helps show how Anthony is, in essence, a good man.
Tell us about your impoverished and somewhat desperate heroine, Melissa Goodly, and what makes her the perfect woman for avowed bachelor Anthony? What are some of the qualities that attracts him to her and makes her irresistibly tempting despite his thoughts that she will be a naive and convenient bride ?
Anthony is drawn to Melissa’s compassionate nature. She runs the Women’s Freedom League, an organisation that buys slaves their freedom and finds them employment. In one scene Melissa is prepared to let Anthony think the worst of her in order to save slaves. He admires her dedication and self sacrifice. He recognises how pure and good she is, and deep down he hopes some of it will rub off on him and perhaps save him.
Melissa is intelligent and determined. Anthony may be avoiding sharing her bed but she’s not about to take that lying down (excuse the pun). Anthony finds he cannot resist her schooled seduction. But Melissa knows desire does not equal love. But it’s a good start...
What's your favorite scene or moment from INVITATION TO RUIN, and why? Can you describe it (or provide a short excerpt) for us without giving too much away?
My favourite scene is when Anthony realises he does have the capacity to love. I won’t tell you about the scene because it is a pivotal point in the book.
My second favourite scene is when Melissa first tries to seduce Anthony and you see just what a wonderful man he actually is. Here is an excerpt:
He stepped from the tub and grabbed a towel to hide the evidence of his need. “This is not the time or place to discuss such matters...”
She dropped her head and her voice wobbled. “It’s me. There is something wrong with me.”
Bloody hell, he was a cad. She thought there was something wrong with her. He was such a coward and now he’d upset her. All he’d really wanted to do was keep her away so he could resist the temptation of her abundant charms. How could she think it was her?
Anthony let out an oath. Melissa gave a heart-wrenching sob. He felt like a piece of turd stuck on his boot. “There is nothing wrong with you, Melissa. You are a beautiful woman. You can see I desire you.”
She shook her head. “I should not have interrupted you. I just thought… didn’t you enjoy the kiss?”
Her gaze flew to his. The pleading look in her eyes hurt more than his aching need for release. He could do it now. He could destroy her with a simple word and never have to worry about fending her off again.
He hesitated. The splash of water, dripping from her ebony hair into the tub, was the only sound in the room.
She gave another sob. “Never mind. I was wrong.”
He couldn’t do it. When he looked upon her heart-shaped face, full of innocent anxiousness, he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t bring himself to be so cruel.
“Yes I want you. I did. I do… However, I meant it when I said this was not the right time.”
Most authors have a synopsis, outline or idea of what the story they are about to write will be. However, sometimes during the writing process your “Muse” might speak to you and lead you in a different or unplanned direction. What surprised or changed the most from your original intent of INVITATION TO RUIN?
Hmmm – I actually plan out the full book in detail before I start writing it, so it is not often my muse takes me in different directions. My muse is in action as I plan the book. I use Karen Wiesner’s, First Draft in 30 Days. I am usually pretty happy with the story before I start writing. However, I did change the ending slightly. I toned down the villain and also made Anthony realise the only person he needed to forgive was himself.
What are five fun facts about you or this book, that readers would love to know?
- I found the research interesting. England hides its slave trading past rather well and it was difficult to find information on things like the price of slaves. I found it ironic that they did not ban slavery until 1833 but passed the Slave Trade Act in 1807 – the act made it illegal for British ships to carry slaves. An astute political compromise.
- I wanted to have Anthony be a twin because I’m a twin. I have a twin sister and thought it would be interesting to have one good twin and one bad. Leigh and I were pretty similar and neither of us was particularly bad – in case you were wondering.
- I have run my own public company in NZ and it made me wonder what life would be like for an intelligent woman in Regency times. What did she do with her time? Keeping house seems a bit dull. To me, having no rights except those bestowed on you by father, brother or husband, made me compare it to a form of slavery. That is how I developed Melissa. I decided that given her situation, she would find slavery repugnant and do everything she could to help slaves.
- How does an innocent seduce a rake? I decided that an intelligent woman, who knew nothing about sex, would find a way to educate herself. So I had Melissa uncover a book written by a courtesan. I chose a real life courtesan, Madam du Barry, the last mistress of King Louis XV of France, who was guillotined in the French revolution. But Madam du Barry’s book is fiction.
- My villain was the most fun to create. I got a bit carried away with how evil I would make him and Megan, my editor, made me tone down the ending a bit.
Can you tell us about some of your upcoming releases, or new projects that we can look forward to?
Invitation to Scandal is my next release and it is due out early 2012. It’s Rufus Knight, Viscount Strathmore’s story. He is in Deal, Kent, trying to find a French spy who can help clear his father of treason. But instead he finds a wilful, wild beauty called Rheda. Rheda infuriates him. She is hiding things from him and he is beginning to desire her more than finding the truth. Rheda is the sister of a Baron and he knows that to make love to her would have to be followed with a marriage proposal. He cannot possibly marry her. The Strathmore name has to be protected from further scandal and Miss Rheda Kerrich is totally unsuitable. Little does he know just how unsuitable she actually is...
If you could ask readers a question, or have them finish a sentence what would it be?
If a wife is to seduce her husband, what is the first thing she should do...
Finally, just for fun…if you could write the “fortune” in a fortune cookie what would it be?
Love is freely given but priceless when received.
The only thing Miss Melissa Goodly has ever wanted out of a marriage is love. But any hope of that dissolves one wild night, when she loses herself in the arms of the most irresistible—and unobtainable—man in all of England. For when they are discovered in a position as compromising as it is pleasurable, she has no choice but to accept his proposal.
Avowed bachelor Anthony Craven, Earl of Wickham, never meant to seduce an innocent like Melissa. Yet now that the damage is done, it does seem like she’d make a very convenient wife. After all, she is so naive he won’t have to worry about ever being tempted. Or so he thinks, until the vows are spoken and they are left alone—and his new bride reveals a streak just as brazen and unrestrained as his own…
Read Ch. 1, a bit more, and even more here, and finally an exclusive excerpt for Musings readers
Congratulations Bronwen and thank you for being my guest today at Seductive Musings! I can't wait to read Anthony and Melissa's story, especially since RT Book Reviews gave it 4.5 stars. Anthony sounds like my kind of hero, and Melissa...I love that she tries to seduce her rake, not to mention her Women's Freedom League. I can begin to see why Anthony admires her so much.
If you'd like to learn more about author Bronwen Evans and the dark, gritty, sensuous romances that she writes you can find her at her website www.bronwenevans.com, her blog Regency Seductions, Twitter, and Facebook.
To celebrate the release of her Kensington Brava historical romance debut, Invitation to Ruin, Bronwen would like to giveaway a signed copy of her book to one lucky Musings follower. Here's how you can enter to win...
Ways to earn entries:
- Mandatory: Answer the question Bronwen posed to readers in her post AND please show her some comment love by leaving a meaningful comment or question for her. (good for 1 entry)
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- If you have a blog, or even if you don't, you can earn extra entries by telling your friends. If they successfully enter to win and mention that you sent them you can each earn extra entries. You can blog about it with a link to this post, post it on Facebook, Twitter, email...or even word of mouth (good for 5 entries for the referrer and the commenter for each friend) . Please note that to earn the points they must mention your GFC name so that I can match you.
- 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
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