Please help me in welcoming my guest author today, the lovely, multi-talented, best-selling Miranda Neville. (applause) I go completely fan-girl over Miranda, which is embarrassing for both of us. Actually, I was barely able to say hello. After you read her excerpt, I think you’ll understand why.
Miranda will be giving one lucky commenter a copy of her newest release The Importance of Being Wicked. All you have to do is leave your email, spaced out of course, to be eligible.
Ella: Miranda, thank you so much for being here today. You are originally from England, tell us a bit about yourself and what made you decide to start writing?
Miranda: I didn’t always want to be a writer. My childhood ambition was to be an actress. The peak of my theatrical career was the key role of Mary in the Nativity Play (Britspeak for Christmas Pageant). After that a lamentable lack of talent saw me relegated to minor roles, spear carriers, etc. so I nimbly switched my aspiration to museum curator. After studying history in college, I learned that entry-level museum positions require a move to The Provinces while I wanted to live in London, the center of the known universe. I ended up cataloging rare books and manuscript for Sotheby’s, first in London, then in New York (the other center of the known universe), a job that required precise research and terse prose. Along the way I married and moved to Vermont, a place so not the center of the universe that it is, at least, highly unlikely to be targeted by bomb-wielding terrorists. I continued writing non-fiction–as a journalist for a local paper. About seven or eight years ago I took it into my head to have a go at fiction. It was hugely liberating to throw off the nitpicking restraints of factual accuracy and be allowed to make stuff up. Having no desire (or aptitude) to write an Important Novel, I decided it would be fun to write the kind of popular fiction I enjoy reading: romance. Strangely it wasn’t the first time I tried. A few years ago, in a box of papers in my parents’ house, I found the opening chapters of several romances (both contemporary and historical), dating from my teens. I still have no recollection of writing them. For the record, these juvenile works display meager a complete inability to control back story, something that till plagues me.
Ella: What drew you to historicals?
Miranda: I’ve always been a history nut. I’d read all the Jean Plaidy type of historical fiction in the local library when my mother, in desperation, brought me home Powder and Patch, my first Georgette Heyer. I scarfed all those down and loved the romance. Fast forward more years than I care to count, and I picked up a modern Regency romance – a Catherine Coulter, I think. Woo hoo! Georgette Heyer with sex! (Heyer was far too stingy with the kisses IMO.) When I decided to try my hand at writing a romance, historical was my only choice. I picked Regencies because I’d read a lot of biographies, letters, and memoirs of the period and had a head start when it came to research. I’ll confess that I love French history as much as English and wish there was a market for French-set romances.
Ella: The Importance of Being Wicked is your first book in your Wild Quartet series, what was the inspiration or first thoughts that started the books.
Miranda: I wanted to take a break from the book collectors of the Burgundy Club and liked the idea of going twenty years earlier, to the turn of the century. Although we think of the French Revolution as 1789, a lot of English travelers hung out in Paris for some years, until the Terror really took hold. (See, I’m sneaking some French history in here). I got the idea of a group of rather wild young men who’d been tossed out of Oxford and had various adventures in Europe. The group falls apart, they have rows and troubles, and one of them is dead. Ten years later we find them dealing with the consequences of their past. I’m interested in the way people deal with the sins of their youth once they grow up. The quartet shared an interest in art so collecting plays a part in the series, though not in all the books. The Importance of Being Wicked is about Caro Townsend, widow of the one of the group. An Ideal Scoundrel, coming in September, features Marcus Lithgow, who was quite bad in the first book and needs reforming.
Ella: Without further to do, let’s go to the blurb and excerpt of The Importance of Being Wicked.
Thomas, Duke of Castleton, has every intention of wedding a prim and proper heiress. That is, until he sets eyes on the heiress’s cousin, easily the least proper woman he’s ever met. His devotion to family duty is no defense against the red-headed vixen whose greatest asset seems to be a talent for trouble…
Caroline Townsend has no patience for the oh-so-suitable (and boring) men of the ton. So when the handsome but stuffy duke arrives at her doorstep, she decides to put him to the test. But her scandalous exploits awaken a desire in Thomas he never knew he had. Suddenly Caro finds herself falling for this most proper duke…while Thomas discovers there’s a great deal of fun in a little bit of wickedness.
Despite the fact that he’d never been asked to dance by a lady, Thomas wasn’t unwilling. They would indeed look awkward fighting through the throng, which wasn’t arranged in neat lines as at a proper ball. Couples whirled around together like fledgling pheasants summoned for feeding time, bumping and jostling with the object, he guessed, of achieving as much physical contact between men and women as possible. He offered her his arm and almost became entangled with the small cloth bag that hung on strings from her wrist.
“What is this?” he asked.
“My reticule,” she said. “There’s no room for pockets in the new fashions.”
That he could well believe. There was hardly room for a small woman in the skimpy gown.
He led Mrs. Townsend through the doors into the melee, her hand on his arm as though they were entering a more exclusive ballroom. Maintaining a proper distance was not easy, as other arrivals competed for space. Still, he flattered himself that he made an example of dignified behavior to the revelers–if they cared–until someone crashed into his back. The jolt made it necessary to embrace her to keep them both upright.
She was warm and soft and fit perfectly against his body, odd since he was a giant in comparison. He looked down at the jaunty curls hugging her skull and spilling over onto her brow, then the tender curves of her bosom, almost as pale as her gown against the burgundy and silver of his coat and embroidered waistcoat. He stared with fascination at a single freckle, like a birthmark, centered with exquisite precision between her breasts. He wanted, quite desperately, to touch it. Better still to kiss it. To discover how it would feel on the tip of his tongue …
Sternly, he wrenched his eyes from the spot and his mind from the errant thought. Neither lips nor tongue would ever approach the vicinity of Mrs. Townsend’s breasts. Instead, he looked at her face, and that was a mistake. Her gaze spoke eloquently to him of indecent, bedroom thoughts. Brown eyes glowed like gold fire, and carmine lips parted in a gentle invitation. A dull roar drowned out any thought but an incoherent urge to possess.
Miranda Neville grew up in England and studied history at Oxford University. She moved from London to New York City then married and ended up in Vermont. She has one daughter and a large ginger cat named Ernie who made a book book trailer for The Importance of Being Wicked. You may learn more about Miranda on her website, Facebook, and Twitter