Please help me welcome fellow Regency author Anne Cleeland. She is here today to promote her debut novel, Tainted Angel. Anne is also giving away a copy of her book to one lucky commenter. As usual, to be eligible all you have to do it leave your email with a comment.
Ella: Anne you’re a lawyer, what made you decide to write historical romance?
Anne: Technically, I’ve always made my living by writing— but instead of fiction I wrote dry-as-dust legal briefs (adverbs and adjectives strictly prohibited!) I’ve read Regencies all my life, and so I decided to try my hand at writing the kind of stories I love to read. My favorite stories are about ordinary women swept up in extraordinary events, so that’s what I like to write.
Ella: When did your muse first move in? Can you tell us a little about your writing journey?
Anne: I was constantly writing ideas in a spiral notebook, but I was too intimidated to actually sit down and start a serious project. One day I went to listen to Stephanie Laurens speak to my local RWA chapter, and she explained that she doesn’t plot out her books, but writes scene-to-scene. This was exactly what I needed to hear, and I went home and just got started. My advice is to everyone else in the same boat is to do just that—buy a comfortable laptop and bang out a few paragraphs at a time. You’ll be surprised at how easy it really is.
Ella: Now you don’t write the usual Regency romance, yours are mysteries. Would you compare yourself to C.S. Harris?
Anne: I always thought of myself as writing Regency adventure, until I was informed that there was really no such sub-genre. This series combines historical fiction with mystery or adventure—as though alter-egos Jean Plaidy and Victoria Holt collaborated together on a project. My favorite example of this type of story is Georgette Heyer’s The Toll Gate, where the plot arises from a scheme to disrupt England’s treasury. The villains are real and the stakes are high—not the usual romance that Heyer offers up (although I love the romances, too.)
A continuing theme in these books is courage, and how ordinary women react when extraordinary circumstances require them to be brave, come what may. After her terrible experiences in the war, the heroine is content to retreat into her shadowy, solitary work that requires no honesty and where trust is to be avoided at all costs. But despite herself, she finds hidden depths of courage; the courage to face her past, her fears and to fight for a future that she once thought impossible.
Ella: What’s next?
Anne: I have a contemporary British detective series coming out in August, and the first book is called Murder in Thrall, if any of your readers like mysteries. In November, the second historical in this Regency series will come out; Daughter of the God-King. It is about a heroine who travels to Egypt after her famous archeologist parents disappear, only to discover that various factions from the last war are desperate to find her—for reasons that are unclear. She begins to suspect that her love interest is not what he seems, and she doesn’t know whether she can trust him, or trust no one as she uncovers one devastating secret after the other, all while the next war looms on the horizon.
In The Bengal Bridegift, the heroine has grown up in India because her father was a sea captain for the East India Company—unless he wasn’t, and was instead a traitor to the Crown. Meanwhile, the enemy believes she knows where her father hid a cache of diamonds disguised as her bridegift, and they are in ruthless pursuit of her and of this imagined treasure. Her love interest is a former Barbary pirate, who may or may not be after the diamonds himself.
Ella: What five things do you want your readers to know about Tainted Angel?
Anne: Tainted Angel is the first book in a new Regency series that combines romance with adventure—the heroine is swept up in a game of spies, with the fate of the world at stake. Here are five fast facts:
- The story is a Regency version of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, with the hero and the heroine playing a deadly game of cat and mouse.
2. Neither the hero nor the heroine is who they appear to be.
3. The hero is a widower, but the circumstances surrounding his first wife’s death are unclear.
4. Someone is stealing gold shipments meant for the British army on the continent.
5. The climactic scene takes place during a masquerade party on a London river barge—and both the hero and heroine must make the fateful choice between love and allegiance.
Ella: Ok, here’s what you’ve all been waiting for, an excerpt of and buy links for Tainted Angel!
The role of the tender lover was quickly abandoned—much to her relief—and he gave an elliptical answer. “There is much at stake; caution is advised.”
Eying him sidelong, she tried to gauge his thoughts, knowing all the while it was hopeless—he would only reveal what he wished, and if his aim was to arrest her he would reveal precious little. “Will you promise to give me one minute’s warning before I am clapped in irons? I would do the same for you, you know.”
“You will not be clapped in irons,” he said immediately, but she noted he didn’t meet her eye, and hid a flare of alarm.
“No,” she replied with forced lightness. “I would simply disappear, leaving you free to give my wrap to your next mark.”
“Don’t.” He made an involuntary gesture of protest, and the blue eyes finally met hers with a fierce intensity that she could swear was genuine. “But if you know anything of these matters, Vidia, best to say and to say immediately.”
“I cannot decide,” she wondered aloud as they rounded the corner of her street, “whether our interlude that first night was strictly business. If it was, you did a very poor job of pressing for information as opposed to simply pressing.”
He was not fooled by her tone. “You are angry and I cannot blame you. But I assure you it was not strictly business.”
Coming to her town house, she wondered if she was making a monumental mistake—attempting to be honest with him. But she had decided—there on the street with his subtle insincerity grating on her nerves—that she couldn’t continue as she was; not with him. Perhaps he will be my downfall, she thought. But it hardly matters anymore—I am seventeen again, and just as foolish as I was then.
I hope your readers will enjoy Tainted Angel, available on Amazon and at a Barnes & Noble near you. Thank you so much for the opportunity.
Anne Cleeland holds a degree in English from UCLA as well as a degree in law from Pepperdine University, and is a member of the California State Bar. She writes a historical fiction series set in the Regency period as well as a contemporary mystery series set in New Scotland Yard. A member of the Historical Novel Society and Mystery Writers of America, she lives in California and has four children.