Guest Author & Giveaway: Lecia Cornwall featuring Secrets of a Proper Countess

Friday, April 1

Happy April Fool's Day!  

If I were more clever I would have planned something like Sarah @ Smart Bitches usually does on this day (love her!), thankfully I was lucky enough to have debut author Lecia Cornwall accept my invitation to be a guest and save all of you from what more than likely would have been a not so clever post about who knows what.

Lecia Cornwall is my guest today to share her Avon historical romance, Secrets of a Proper Countess, with us.  It officially releases today (Congrats!).  And even though her hero, the Marquess of Blackwood, may play the part of a fool, he is nothing less than the perfect rake hero and lover for his prim but passionate Countess.  Read and enjoy!

Welcome to Seductive Musings Lecia, and congratulations on the release of your debut historical romance!  Please tell us a little bit about yourself and why you became a historical romance writer?

I love history, and I love a good story. Writing historical Romance lets me use real events and fit characters around them, or vice versa. For example, in Secrets of a Proper Countess, Blackwood is investigating a threat to kidnap the exiled French King Louis XVIII. Louis was considered the rightful heir to the French throne by royalists who opposed Napoleon. Louis actually came to England and lived in Buckinghamshire at Hartwell House. Hartwell is actually a hotel now. This era was also a time of smuggling, since the war made the importing of French goods illegal or impossible, and items like brandy and lace were still in high demand. Blackwood drinks whisky, not brandy,  a little clue to his sense of honor.

For you, what makes a romance novel a great love story?  What makes writing historical romances so compellingly seductive to your muse? And what was the last book that you read that you loved and why?

I love a story that leaves me breathless, curls my toes and makes it impossible to guess the ending. Of course romance novels always end well, but it’s the intriguing way the couple reaches their happily ever after that makes a story worth reading. I love couples who appear to be complete opposites at the beginning of a book (such as a dull widow and a notorious rake), and end up as the perfect partners in every aspect of their lives.

My all-time favorite romance is Jude Deveraux’s “A Knight In Shining Armor”. Who wouldn’t want to go back in time to find the perfect hero, or have him come to you. There'd be problems of course...this story makes me cry every time I read it.

The title of your debut novel is SECRETS OF A PROPER COUNTESS.  If you had an opportunity to provide only a two or three sentence "teaser" quote from the book, to grab the attention of potential readers and give them a glimpse and feeling of what the story is about what would it be?

The concept line that sold the story was “Cinderella meets the Scarlet Pimpernel”. Both Isobel and Blackwood have secrets that  govern their lives, as these quotes show:

“Honoria had no idea of Isobel’s little secret. She was entitled to one secret wasn’t she? What harm could it do, wearing silk undergarments instead of linen or wool? What on earth had gotten into her? But she knew the answer to that...Blackwood. Her other secret.” 

“And what of the other lady? The one who stopped you from searching the study?” Adam asked.
“She didn’t stop me exactly. She was simply standing in my way.” Phineas couldn’t resist a grin. “She wanted to play, so we played. There was nothing sinister about her.”
“Need I remind you there’s nothing sinister about you either, to most people? But you are most definitley sinister, aren’t you?”

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 SECRETS OF A PROPER COUNTESS?

On good days, my muse looks like the famous French portrait of Madame Recamier by David. She’s a lovely woman in a white empire gown with bare feet, reclining on a chaise longue. The portrait is unfinished, waiting for completion. She gazes out at me and encourages me to fill in the details, write the story. On a bad day, my muse turns into Archie Bunker in the same dress, sitting sullenly in his ‘man’ chair.

‘Secrets’ started out as a fun little story to write over the summer of 2008, something light, sexy and simple. But I fell in love with the characters, and knew they deserved better—more torment, more fun, more intrigue, the perfect lover. So I added the kidnapping and smuggling plots, gave them depth and danger to make their story a fast paced, breathless read.

For some readers the first sentence of a book is one of the most important moments, maybe even just as important as the last sentence in the story.  What is the first sentence from SECRETS OF A PROPER COUNTESS, and what do you think it says about the story to come?

“Isobel Maitland, the Countess of Ashdown, was staring at the man like a three-penny whore.”

I hoped to show Isobel, a lady and a countess, as a woman secret desires and passions who watched life from the shadows. She knows even staring at Blackwood is dangerous and forbidden, but she’s wearing a masquerade costume, and she’s definitely enjoying the view, which is Blackwood at his sexy, rakish best.

Tell us about your hero, Phineas Archer, the Marquess of Blackwood.  What do you think will make readers, much like his heroine Isobel, fall in love with him despite the danger he presents to her life and all she holds dear? And can you tell us a little bit about their story in SECRETS OF A PROPER COUNTESS?

There’s a wonderful old movie called “The Scarlet Pimpernel.” The hero, Sir Percy, seems to be  a drunken, idiotic fool. His wife is disgusted with his behavior. But under his powdered wig and rouged lips, Sir Percy is a spy. He comes to his wife’s rescue, putting himself in danger, and she cannot help but fall in love with the real Percy, a brave, romantic hero. Similarly Phineas is a man of honor, doing a dishonorable job for the Crown behind his own disguise as a rake. His encounter with Isobel makes him realize that he wants his honor back, and an end to secrets and subterfuge.  He’s determined to find his masked lover, uncover her secrets, but even though he prides himself on being able to see through any disguise, he cannot find her.

Isobel, your heroine, seems to be a woman who is an observer of life, more than a participant.  Words like “prim”, “proper”, “respectable” “controlled” and “rules” seem to rule her life despite her secret desires, which is so very different to words used to describe her hero:  “rake”, “dangerous” “devilish”, “carefree” and “wicked”.  Despite their differences what makes her the perfect woman for her notorious Marquess?  What are some of the qualities that attracts him to her and makes her irresistibly tempting?

They’re opposites, or at least at first glance, and opposites attract. It’s a law of nature. Isobel may be prim by day, but she yearns for love in her life, even though she dare not act openly on her desires for fear of losing her son. Phineas is a dangerous rake on the surface, anything but prim, but he hides a desire for honesty in his life, though he cannot give up his life of secrets just yet. There are also similar values that bring them together, like loyalty, and the love of family.

What's your favorite scene or moment from SECRETS OF A PROPER COUNTESS, and why? Can you describe it (or provide a short excerpt) for us without giving too much away?

Mmm! Cherries with tea at Marianne’s. You’ll see!

What are five fun facts about you or this book, that readers would love to know?
  1. My heroes always have gray eyes. 
  2. My heroines often wear violet perfume, since my mother wore ‘Je Reviens’ and I associate that scent with elegance and special occasions.
  3. Secrets of a Proper Countess was originally meant to be an exercise to help me improve how I wrote sex scenes.
  4. Writing sex scenes is hard!
  5. I build many of my stories around familiar themes from fairy tales
Can you tell us about some of your upcoming releases, or new projects that we can look forward to?

My second book, “The Price of Temptation” is coming from Avon in January 2012! It’s the story of Lady Evelyn Renshaw, hostess of the masquerade ball in ‘Secrets of a Proper Countess’ and the wife of the villain. As the wife of a traitor, Evelyn is scorned by the ton, watched by the Crown, and bullied by her sisters. If ever a lady needed a hero, it’s Evelyn. But Sinjon Rutherford has troubles of his own. With serious charges against him, needs a place to hide. Posing as Lady Evelyn’s footman, he’s sent to spy on her in hopes she’ll lead them to her missing husband, and a chance to prove his own innocence. But Sinjon discovers that Evelyn is not the woman everyone thinks she is. She’s everything a man could ever want in a friend, a lover or an accomplice...

If you could ask readers a question what would it be?

If you could choose one hero to take to a desert Island, who would he/she be? (yes, just one)

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

“Listen to you mother!”

There are secrets we take to the grave...and some we just take to bed.

Cinderella meets the Scarlet Pimpernel...

If Lady Isobel Maitland is caught even speaking to an incorrigible rogue like the Marquess of Blackwood, she stands to lose everything she holds dear. Strict rules in her husband's will ensure that if she remarries or even forms friendships her mother-in-law does not approve of, then she will never see her young son again. But one night, in a dark garden at a masquerade ball, Isobel gives in to temptation, and lets an innocent flirtation turn into seduction.

Phineas Archer, the notorious Marquess of Blackwood, may hold the reputation as the worst rake in London, but as a spy for the crown, he merely plays the role of a fool to learn the most closely guarded secrets of the ton.

As a new threat to England's success in the war against Napoleon emerges, Phineas must foil a plot to kidnap the exiled Bourbon heir to the French crown. Every clue seems to lead to his mysterious lover, but while Phineas can spot trouble a mile off, and see through the cleverest of disguises, he cannot find any trace of his elusive femme fatale. No man alive would imagine the prim widow Maitland could be his dream lover. But behind the mask and the secrets, Isobel is everything Phineas has ever desired....

Read an excerpt & an exclusive bonus excerpt for Musings readers, or Browse Inside Ch 1-3 here

Many thanks Lecia for being my guest today, congratulations on the release of Secrets of a Proper Countess, and Happy Belated Birthday!  I think we can now all understand why Isobel is tempted to be improper with Phineas :)  If you'd like to learn more about author Lecia Cornwall and the books she writes you can visit her at her website, her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.  The official release date is today, April 1st, but some stores may already have it on their shelves.

To celebrate the release of her historical romance debut with Avon, Secrets of a Proper Countess, Lecia 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 Lecia 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)
  • 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)
  • 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 
Rules and disclaimers:
  • This contest is open to US & International addresses
  • You must be at least 18 years or older, or of legal age in your country
  • The contest will end on April 4th at 11:59 pm EST and winner will be posted after they have been selected
  • Winner(s) will be selected using
  • The winner(s) 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
  • Winners will be subject to one copy per household, which means that if you win the same title in two or more contests, that you will only receive one copy of the title in the mail
  • 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 :)


Lecia Cornwall April 1, 2011 at 10:33 AM  

Hello everyone! I'll be dropping by throughout the day to chat, so if you have any questions, fire away!


Bethie April 1, 2011 at 10:38 AM  

If I could take one hero it would be Jamie from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

I follow on GFC

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Lecia Cornwall,  April 1, 2011 at 11:22 AM  

Who can resist a Scottish hero? My husband is a Scot, but no accent, alas!

Maria April 1, 2011 at 1:08 PM  

If I could choose one hero to take on a desert Island it would be Roarke from J.D. Robb's "In Death" series...he's uber sexy and just seems to know what needs to be done to solve he's got that sexy Irish accent...

Lecia- I love the cover to "Secrets of a Proper Coutness" they did a fantastic job! It's very sexy for a historical. I also think it's funny that all of your hero's have grey thre a reason for this:)

I am a GFC Follower


Lecia Cornwall,  April 1, 2011 at 2:41 PM  

Hmm, well, it seems that most of the heroes I like have gray eyes. Vigo Mortensen, for example. He has very sexy eyes. They react to the light so dramatically, too, those pupils expanding with passion...

Danielle Gorman April 1, 2011 at 3:07 PM  

Hmm...such a tough choice. I would pick Zsadist from the BDB by JR Ward. He is such a fierce warrior but also very loving towards those he cares about.
blog follower

Tore April 1, 2011 at 3:21 PM  

I would pick Edward from Twilight to be on a desert island. He is very handsome and hot. Please enter me in contest.

Lecia Cornwall,  April 1, 2011 at 3:43 PM  

Excellent heroes, all of them!

Maureen April 1, 2011 at 4:10 PM  

For a hero I would pick McGyver because he would be perfect for a deserted island. I do like stories where the hero and heroine look to be complete opposites but as you get to know them you realize that they are perfect for each other.
mce1011 AT aol DOT com

Lecia Cornwall,  April 1, 2011 at 6:38 PM  

Oh, the things McGyver could do with a coconut and gym sock!

The characters in Mary Balogh's last "Slightly" book, with Wulfric Bedwyn were opposites and she brought them together so beautifully!

Barbara E. April 1, 2011 at 6:52 PM  

I'd choose Gini Koch's Jeff Martini (Touched by an Alien), because he has alien powers, he's gorgeous, a fantastic lover and fun to be with too.
I'm really looking forward to reading Secrets of a Proper Countess to find out just how Isobel gets out of her horrible situation and finds happiness. I'm dying to find out.

Barbed1951 at aol dot com

Estella April 1, 2011 at 7:30 PM  

Roarke from JD Robb's In Death Series.

Lecia Cornwall,  April 1, 2011 at 8:13 PM  

More fantastic heroes to be stranded with!

I hope you enjoy reading Secrets of a Proper Countess! There' s nothign more satisfying than putting your characters through every misery imaginable and then giving them a happy ending! We all know there's going to be a happy ending, but it's the way they get there that counts!

chey April 1, 2011 at 8:25 PM  

I'd choose Jamie Fraser from the Outlander series.

chey127 at hotmail dot com

Lecia Cornwall,  April 1, 2011 at 8:44 PM  

Wait'll you guys meet Phineas!

Artemis April 1, 2011 at 9:52 PM  

Yes, I am looking forward to meeting Phineas! THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL is one of my favorite movies. I love the character of a fop.

My hero would be McGyver also. I would want someone who could take care of me!

My fortune: If you can read, you can cook!

Mariee April 1, 2011 at 9:57 PM  

I would have to be Christian Montcalm from The Devil Waltz.

Congrats on your new release! Sounds great.

marieimy (at) gmail (dot) com

Lecia Cornwall,  April 1, 2011 at 10:51 PM  

Love that fortune - if you can read, you can cook! My 19 year old son amazes everyone because he can cook. Feeds everyone, invents his own recipes.

Yes, I'd definitely want a hero who could cook on my island!

JenM April 1, 2011 at 11:42 PM  

My first thought was McGyver also. He'd be so useful on the island, and definitely easy on the eyes. I'm very intrigued by your description of the hero and heroine of your book and I'd love to read it.

jen at delux dot com - GFC follower

Lecia Cornwall,  April 2, 2011 at 1:01 AM  

Good to look at, a fabulous cook and useful. What other talents should our hero have? Boat building, perhaps?

Carol L. April 2, 2011 at 3:09 PM  

I really enjoyed reading your post Lecia and have Secrets Of A Proper Countess on my TRL now. :)I also love your name.
Both of my dream men have already been mentioned. Jamie Fraser and Roarke. Love them. So I'll go with one of Karen Marie Moning's McKelter Highlanders.I LOVE highlanders. :)
Carol L.

winnie April 2, 2011 at 10:24 PM  

If I can just pick one hero to take to a desert island with me, it would definitely be Bones from the Night Huntress series! He's sexy and all that :)


mrsshukra April 3, 2011 at 9:06 PM  

Congrats, Lecia!

I would take Hugh Jackman, he looks very capable!


Pam S (pams00),  April 4, 2011 at 1:25 PM  


Congrats on your book! The blurb totally hooked me when I first saw it. Loved the insight and wonderful excerpts that you provided.

A Scot with dark hair and gray eyes is totally sign worthy... so can't wait to read this :)!

Hmm one character ... Connor maybe from Kerrlyn Sparks Vamp novels? He's a 500 + Scot/Highlander vamp so I am sure he could help us survive just fine lol.

Pam S
gfc - pams00
pams00 @

lindseye April 4, 2011 at 4:42 PM  

Bones from Jeaniene Frost's night huntress books, sexy, great accent and has lots to talk about.

GFC follower

linze_e at

Sheree April 4, 2011 at 9:45 PM  

MacGuyer? I need someone who will be handy to have around.

Or perhaps a aquatic shifter of some sort so we could leave the island if necessary? Or he could go for groceries?

GFC follower
ironss [at] gmail [dot] com

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