Please help me in welcoming my guest author today, the fabulous, best-selling Cara Elliott who also writes mysteries under the name Andrea Penrose. (applause) Today Cara will be giving away a copy of her latest release Too Dangerous to Desire. To be eligible for the drawing, please leave your email address.
Ella: Cara, thank you so much for being here today. Tell us a bit about yourself and what made you decide to start writing?
Cara: I actually started writing at age five. My mother lovingly preserved my first manuscript in a family scrapbook—it was a Western, lavishly illustrated with colorful drawings of cowboys and range horses.
So as you can see, books have always been an important part of my life. I have always been a voracious reader, and I have always had a very vivid imagination . . . so much so that I think at times it worried my parents that I was so happy in my own little world, drawing pictures and creating stories. My teachers will also tell you that I was the class history geek, even in grade school. I don’t really know why, but I have always been fascinated with the past.
When I went to college, I majored in art—though I took enough history courses to have majored in that subject as well—and then went on to get a MFA in Graphic Design t, concentrating in publication design. So I guess you could say I have always had a left brain-right brain sort of love affair with the printed page.
It was about 12 years ago that the Muse began whispering in my ear, so I sat myself down and started writing stories again. I was lucky enough to sell one of my first tries to the old Signet regency line, and from there was able to move into mass market historicals.
Ella: You write in to genres. Please talk a little about them and how it happened.
Cara: I’ve always loved mysteries and have had fun weaving a mystery element into my romances. But I really wanted to try my hand at a story where the mystery was the main plot, not the romance between the hero and heroine. One of the reasons I love the Regency era is because with all the upheavals in society, and the intrigue of the Napoleonic wars, there are so many interesting possibilities that lend themselves to creating a tantalizing plot.
I find it a nice change of pace to write in two different genres. The different perspectives and tropes keep things fresh.
Ella: While researching one of your books, you made a wonderful discovery concerning chocolate, which I’m shamelessly using in one of my books. Tell us about it.
Cara: It came about totally by accident! For my day job as the Creative Director for a lifesytle magazine in New York City, I interviewed an executive from a very chic French boutique chocolate company, Debauve & Gallet, that was opening a small shop on Madison Avenue. He started telling me about the history of the company and how it was founded by Sulpice Debauve, a pharmacist to King Louis XVI. As you can imagine, I was fascinated when he said that on one of Debauve’s visits to the royal family, Marie Antoinette complained about the unpleasant taste of her medicines. So Debauve came up with the idea mixing it into a solid form of chocolate—a pistole or wafer-like disc that the Queen is said to have adored. (The company still offers Pistoles De Marie Antoinette . . . a 1.7 lb box costs the princely sum of $200.)
The executive went on to tell me that Debauve went on to open his first chocolate shop in Paris in 1800. Edible chocolate during the Regency period? I was inspired to some more research on the subject and I ended up using a lot of the information in my mystery series, which features two amateur sleuths whose arsenal of formidable skills includes an expertise in chocolate. (You can read more about chocolate and the series at my alter ego’s website: www.andreapenrose.com)
Ella: In November you completed your Lords of Midnight series, which, I might add, was fabulous, what was the inspiration or first thoughts that started the books.
Cara: Thank so much! I really enjoyed writing this trilogy because I’d never done a series revolving around my heroes. I began playing with some concepts and liked the idea of taking three hardbitten rogues—the three friends are known as the Hellhounds—and having them tamed by love.
Ella: Now, the question everyone is dying to know, what’s next?
Cara: In my last few books, I’ve had siblings play a secondary role in the stories and it was such a kick writing them that I decided to do a new trilogy revolving around three sisters—something I’ve never done before. I’ve just turned in the first book, and I am really having such fun with the concept! The stories revolve around three unconventional sisters who share a passion for writing. Olivia, the eldest, pens fiery political essays, Anna, the middle sister, writes racy romance novels, and Caro, who is not quite out of the schoolroom, is a budding poet. However, they must keep their passions a secret from Society. But as we all know, secret passions can get a girl into trouble . . .
We haven’t set a release date yet for the first book yet, but I’ll keep readers posted on my website (www.caraelliott.com)
Ella: Without more to do, here are the blurb and excerpt of Too Dangerous to Desire
Can A Flame from the Past be Rekindled?
Long ago, Sophie Lawrance chose prudence over passion, rejecting a rebellious young rogue for the sake of her family-no matter the ache it left in her heart. But after a specter from her father’s past threatens to destroy all she holds dear, she knows there is only one man whose shadowy skills can save her . . .
Or Is It Too Dangerous To Play With Fire?
Cameron Daggett is a man of many secrets . . . and many sins. He’s never forgotten the pain of losing Sophie. But now, with a chance to win her back, Cameron sets aside his anger and agrees to help Sophie save her father’s honor. Together they must battle a cunning adversary—and their own burning desires. Will they be consumed by the flames? Or can they prove that true love conquers all?
“I—I assure you, sir,” said Sophie tightly. “I am not in the habit of coming to…depraved places like this.”
“Oh?” Skepticism shaded the man’s voice. “Then what brings you here tonight, if not a craving for danger?”
“That, sir, is none of your business.” Lifting her chin, she ventured a look at him, trying to make out some identifying feature. Do I know you? It was absurd, of course, but something felt hauntingly familiar about him…
However, he had his hat pulled low, the wide brim shading his face. In the swirl of murky alleyway shadows, Sophie could make out naught but the vague shapes of a straight nose, a sensual mouth. The only clearcut view was of long, raven-dark hair and the rakish glimmer of a gold earring.
Danger. His last word seemed a deliberately tickling, taunting challenge. Sophie sucked in her breath, suddenly aware of a strange prickling taking hold of her body, as if daggerpoints were dancing over every inch of her flesh. “In another few minutes I shall be safe from danger. That is…” Another glance at the earring. “…unless I’ve had the misfortune to cross paths with a pirate,” she said, trying to mask her emotions by matching his cynical tone.
A smile curled on the corners of his mouth, half mocking, half…
Sophie couldn’t put a name to the flicker of emotion. It was gone in the blink of the eye, so perhaps she had merely imagined it.
“A pirate?” he repeated, making her feel slightly absurd. Like a silly schoolgirl who swooned over novels of swashbuckling heroes rescuing damsels in distress. His voice then took on a sharper edge. “Isn’t that just a romantic name for a ruthless cutthroat and a conniving thief?”
Sophie swallowed hard, feeling a shiver skate down her spine. “Who are you, sir?” she demanded.
“Why do you ask?” he countered. “Do you think we might be acquainted?” The question quivered for a moment in the chill night air. “Old friends, perhaps?”
“Impossible,” she whispered.