Monthly Archives: August 2013

Devils, Presidents & Secret D.C. Sex Clubs

DIANA BELCHASE

Allison Leotta is a former federal sex crimes prosecutor.  AllisonLeotta-portrait-150x150That brings to mind a stereotypical image of a hardened woman, more male than female, tough enough to toe it with the big boys, and able to stomp down on the revulsion most of us would feel when confronted with the atrocities she had to face every day.

Well, the last two may be correct, but when meeting Allison, she’s more soccer mom than calculating crime fighter.  She is Barbie doll-pretty, tows her kids to book signings, and uses words like funnest.  Over all, Allison Leotta is adorable.

She is also one of the best authors out there.  Kind to a fault and always willing to give a hand to newer authors.

Gosh I admire this woman.

And shel’ll be giving away a copy of her book to readers who leave a comment HERE or at the bottom of the…

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Downton Abbey Meets Sherlock Holmes

WDSID

“Your Grace,” Lady Isabella Wharton coaxed, from the other side of the Ormonde library, “really, you must put the knife down. Whatever will your grandmamma think?”

But the Duke of Ormonde, accustomed to ignoring his family’s dictates, didn’t lower the knife at his wife’s throat.

As Amazon would say: If you like PBS’s Downton Abbey and Sherlock Holmes you’ll love the Wicked Widow Series by Manda Collins.

In the first of the trilogy, Why Dukes Say I Do, Manda artfully mixes murder, blackmail, sabotage and a who-done-it mystery with genteel life on a country estate.

The hero, Trevor is a newly titled Duke who wants nothing to do with the responsibility the title holds, especially since it means leaving his land and tenants for the chaos of London. The heroine, Isabella is blackmailed by her godmother (the hero’s grandmother) into forcing Trevor to do exactly that.Neither can afford to lose, which makes for a lovely clash of wills. As Isabella experiences the drama of ‘laid back life’ on Trevor’s country estate it struck me that this was deliciously similar to my favorite show Downton Abbey.
So I asked Manda about it:

Would you describe your heroine’s personality traits more like a Mary, Edith or Sybil?

Hmm. I’d say she’s a Mary from probably the second or third season. Once she’s softened up a bit and acknowledged that human frailty exists and is okay. Not the First Season “hellish beyotch” Mary.

If you had to cast your Dowager Duchess of Ormonde for a Hollywood movie, who would you choose?

I think Judi Dench could pull it off quite well. Or maybe Gemma Jones (the mother in Sense & Sensibility). But definitely the Dowager Duchess of Ormonde shares some traits with the DD of Grantham!

Robert Crawley is a laid-back Earl, who rarely capitalizes on his title. I would even call him a reluctant Earl, more interested in country-life at Downton Abbey and keeping his tenants happy than dealing with the politics and social mayhem of London society. As an audience, we generally gravitate towards mayhem for entertainment, yet both you and Julian Fellowes make this trait seem heroic and keep us enthralled. How did you do this and why do you think we are fascinated by the slower pace of life on a country estate?

 I think there is something enthralling and noble about a high-ranking person choosing to devote themselves to actually tending to their responsibilities. We’ve seen time and time again the hellraising Rake or politically active peer spending all their time in London carousing or trying to get some legislation to pass the Lords. Not to say that politics don’t have their place. But that gentleman who really cares about his tenants satisfies–at least for me–a need to see someone doing the right thing.

As to how I did this? I have no idea! I’m totally an organic writer. I might tinker with the prose or make changes my editor suggests, but I don’t consciously think–oh, he needs to look more sympathetic here…I wish it were that easy!

In both the TV series and your novel there is a ‘confidant’ relationship between the main characters and their servants. In your research do you believe this was so in the Regency period/early 20th Century? (Like we have with our hairdressers/bartenders today?)

Manda Collins

Manda Collins

I do. As much as we’d like to think that all people in the upper echelons of society saw their servants as furniture, I just can’t believe all of them were so callous to the people around them that they didn’t share some part of themselves with their closest servants like maids and valets and the like. Do I think that it was all jolly and Mary Poppins and happiness all the time between them? Of course not! But I do think, in some cases there were confidant relationships between them. And the servant would then use that reputation for discretion if they needed to get another position. It was as great a commodity as a letter of reference!

The murder, sabotage and blackmail is right out of a Sherlock Holmes plot and not usually seen in historical romances.  What made you blend genres (tricky at best) and are you finding a captive audience?

Well, thank you for the compliment, but I certainly do not see myself as the second coming of Conan Doyle (though wouldn’t that be awesome?) Like most writers I write what I like to read. And what I like to read most are Regency Historicals and Mysteries. So what I’m trying to do is blend together some combination of the two.

Sometimes I think it works better than others. I do know that my mystery plots aren’t always as complex or difficult to figure out as a true mystery–I think that’s because I sacrifice a bit of the mystery to the romance. After all, it’s not much of a romance if your hero and heroine never talk about anything but the mystery they’re trying to solve. And also there MUST be some sexy times! I insist upon it! So you get what I like to think of as Nancy Drew meets Jane Austen–or maybe Georgette Heyer if you want to be more precise.

As far as captive audiences, I don’t know! The number of positive reviews outnumber the negatives. But of course it’s the negatives I remember. And let me tell you, there is at least one person who DOES NOT like to have mystery mixed in with her romance! But that just means my books aren’t for her. Which is absolutely okay! There are enough books out there for everyone to find something they enjoy!

Can you give us a hint about the next novel in the series?

The next novel in the Wicked Widows Series is called WHY EARLS FALL IN LOVE Why-Earls-Fall-In-Love-by-Manda-Collins300x490and it is the story of Isabella’s friend Georgie, who also suffered a not so great marriage. The hero is the Earl of Coniston. He’s mentioned briefly in WDSID but is never onstage. The action of this one takes place in Bath and let us just say that our blackmailer is back in full force! Lots of adventures all over the spa-town!  It will be released the last week of January 2014.

OOOO! Scanty cover…Looking forward to another great read, Manda!

K&T Audience: to read an excerpt of Why Dukes Say I Do please click herehttp://www.mandacollins.com/why-dukes-say-i-do/#read-an-excerpt
For more information on Manda please visit www.MandaCollins.com or www.facebook.com/mandacollinsauthor

One lucky commenter will win a digital or paperback copy of Why Dukes Say I Do. Question: Who is your favorite Downton Abbey character and why? Check back on Thursday to see if we picked your name. (Paperback only available to mail in the continental states.)

*****

Join us tomorrow for Diana Belchase’s video interview of Allison Leotta and a preview of Allison’s latest book!
Allison Leotta

Allison Leotta

Body of Evidence Winner!

Rachel, thanks so much for giving us the low down on your newest release! I loved the book and can’t wait for other readers to discover it!

Congratulations to Heather Ashby for winning a copy of  Body of Evidence!

Be sure to contact us with your email address and your ebook preference–kindle or nook–within 10 days

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Be sure to join us on Tuesday, when our very own Manda Collins is up with an interview about her newest Regency romance Why Dukes Say I Do. This is the first book in her newest series that’s filled with romance, gothic suspense, and the lovely prose Manda is known for.

Why Dukes Say I Do (5)

Go Ahead, Judge a Book By Its Cover: Rachel Grant’s Body of Evidence

That’s one awesome cover, right? And it captures the essence of the book so well. Smart. Sexy. Desperate. Political.

Body of Evidence is a fantastic read that will challenge you, inspire you, terrify you, and lift you up in the end. I always learn so much when I read a Rachel Grant book, but I’m entertained in the process and don’t notice. This is an unputdownable, intense romantic thrill ride that cements Rachel Grant’s place in the vanguard of new romantic thriller authors.

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. Here’s the low down on

BODY OF EVIDENCE

“Top-notch page turner! The perfect mix of suspense and romance.”~ Jill Barnett, New York Times Bestselling Author

And she thought facing a firing squad was bad…

When archaeologist Mara Garrett traveled to North Korea to retrieve the remains of GIs lost in combat, she never imagined she’d be arrested, convicted of spying, and sentenced to death. Her only hope is Curt Dominick, the powerful, ambitious, and infuriatingly sexy US attorney prosecuting her uncle, a former vice president of the United States.Diamond Head

What starts off as a rescue mission quickly morphs into a race across the Pacific. Someone is after Mara, and they’ll risk everything to stop her from reaching Washington DC. With betrayal around every corner, Curt and Mara have little reason to trust each other and every reason to deny the sparks between them that blaze hotter than the Hawaiian sun. Still, desire clashes with loyalty when they discover a conspiracy that threatens not only their lives but the national security of the United States.

Turnabout is Fair Play.

Now let’s ask Rachel some of the same questions she likes to ask her victims, er, I mean the authors she interviews.

Carey: What published author (any genre) turns you into a total fangirl?  Is there a particular book or is this based on their entire body of work?

Rachel: I think I could meet most if not all of the authors I discovered as an adult and keep my cool, but there are three authors I discovered in my teens, who, if I were to meet them in person, would turn me into a blithering, dumbstruck fool:

Dean Koontz – I read WHISPERS at age 12 or 13 (1983, I think) and was blown away. From that moment forward, I was done reading kids books.

Elizabeth Peters – it’s her fault I became an archaeologist. The first book I read by her was THE CAMELOT CAPER. Pure pleasure.

Mary Higgins Clark – I discovered her at the same time I discovered Dean Koontz, and started with THE CRADLE WILL FALL. Dean Koontz made me a reader, Elizabeth Peters made me want to be an archaeologist, Mary Higgins Clark made me want to be a writer.

Carey: Have you ever written fan fiction, and if so, what work was it based on?  If you haven’t, what would you be tempted to write fan fiction about?

Rachel: I’ve never written fan fiction, but I think my writing developed from the desire to take the kinds of books I enjoy—romance, mysteries, and thrillers—and write the kind of book I want to read—a suspense heavy romance, or a romance heavy thriller.

I’ve read my share of thrillers that I thought would have been better with the emotional impact of a romance, and plenty of romance that I would have loved if there were more focus on the suspense.

Carey: I’m with you on that front! Facebook or Twitter?

Rachel: Twitter.

Carey: Once again, I’m with  you! I love the instant interaction of Twitter. What is the strangest weapon you’ve used to kill off a character, either on or off-scene?

Rachel: I haven’t gotten creative in this area, although, in Concrete Evidence, my heroine does defend herself with a sharp Marshalltown trowel. Does that count?

(And yes, archaeologists do speak about trowels by brand name—as long as the brand is Marshalltown [Goldblatt isn’t worth mentioning in my opinion]. Also, I’ve been to the Marshalltown trowel company’s headquarters in Marshalltown, Iowa. Yeah, archaeologists, we’re that cool.)

After reading this to my husband he pointed out that in CONCRETE EVIDENCE a character is killed with a refrigerator.

Carey: LOL. Tell us about Body of Evidence.

Rachel: BODY OF EVIDENCE was a gift. From the moment the concept hit me—an archaeologist working for JPAC in North Korea sentenced to death by firing squad, her only hope for rescue, a US Attorney on the verge of prosecuting the biggest case of his career—I knew I HAD to write it. But the year following the initial inspiration was a difficult one on a personal level, and my writing was derailed for about ten months. Finally, when I got back to the story, writing was a way to process grief and move forward. I wrote the last half of the book (50k words) in 15 days, and found my voice again as a writer.

Writing this book was exactly what I needed. I got to escape into Mara and Curt’s problems. I got to write my favorite kind of hero and heroine—smart people who get caught up in an extraordinary situation—and give them the happy ending I wish we all could have.

I loved writing Mara’s understandable but conflicted hero worship of Curt, and Curt’s legendary control slowly crumbling. I wish every couple, every conflict, came to me this clearly.

Carey: Thanks so much Rachel. I loved this book and I know our readers will too!

Body of Evidence opens in North Korea and then races across the Pacific. What settings, exotic or otherwise are your favorites for romantic suspense? One lucky commenter will win a digital copy of BODY OF EVIDENCE!

Connect with Rachel!

Website Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads

 Books by Rachel Grant

Juliette Sobanet’s Winners for Dancing with Paris and Midnight Train to Paris!!!

JS Thank you so much, Juliette, for spending the day with us. We hope you’ll come back soon!

Sobanet FINAL-Dancing with Paris

Congratulations to jdh2690 for winning a copy of Dancing with Paris

Be sure to contact us with your email address and your ebook preference–kindle or nook–within 10 days.

Sobanet_MidnightTrain_front_cvr_FINAL-1

And congratulations to Sunnymay for winning a copy of Midnight Train to Paris.

Be sure to contact us with your email address and your ebook preference–kindle or nook–within 10 days.

Since our busy, busy “Summer of Reading” is far from over, we have some wonderful interviews, previews, and exciting news to share in the next few weeks. First up, tomorrow our very own Rachel Grant is celebrating the release of her third romantic suspense book (and a Golden Heart Finalist!) Body of Evidence. It’s a fast-paced, chilling read which will keep you glued to your couch, hammock, or beach chair.

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Then, next Tuesday, our very own Manda Collins is up with an interview about her newest Regency romance (which came out yesterday!) Why Dukes Say I Do. This is the first book in her newest series that’s filled with romance, gothic suspense, and the lovely prose Manda is known for.

Why Dukes Say I Do (5)

Congratulations Manda and Rachel!

We are so proud of both of you!!!!!