Wednesday, January 23, 2008


January progresses at a dizzying speed. This week I finally braved the incessant rain to return a Christmas present (my fault, I chose it, then decided it really wasn't me). I bought a copy of Writers News while I was out and there's an article about Mills & Boon with bags of advice from the delightful Fiona Harper.

Then the dh and I spent the afternoon putting up the new bed. We've finally decided we've reached an age -- and girth -- where we needed something a little bigger than a standard double. We went for a superking -- getting the mattress up the stairs caused a few hairy moments -- but it looks fabulous. I'll be having a lavender scented bath, then it's early to bed for me. :)

Then this afternoon I heard the very sad news about Heath Ledger who utterly enchanted me in The Knight's Tale. One just feels for his family.

Now, though, I have a lovely task, to introduce you to the delightful, award winning Regency author, Elizabeth Rolls, who is my guest this week. Elizabeth has always loved writing, but was drawn to the Regency romance by the Queen of the genre, Georgette Heyer and the story of how she sold her very first book is on her website. But here's Elizabeth to tell you about her new book, A COMPROMISED LADY.

It’s a huge honour being asked by Liz to help celebrate her fiftieth book. Fifty! Wow! If I ever have that many written it will be a major miracle. Coming in the same year as Mills & Boon’s Centenary it’s a double pleasure. Anyway Liz has been kind enough to spread her joy around and she’s asked me to tell you a little bit about my latest UK release A Compromised Lady, available in February. And I’m thrilled to say that it has just won a Cataromance Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Harlequin Historical.

To be perfectly honest, it was the Book From Hell to write. I started it after finishing His Lady Mistress and I told myself that there had been enough angst already in that one. This time I was going to write A Romp. Have Fun. Be Frivolous. Yeah, right. The idea that came to me was of a very shy woman who completely out of the blue inherits a large amount of money and has to run the gauntlet of society as an heiress. A real fish-out-of-water story. I had an opening that I thought was absolutely the bee’s knees and it was all buzzing along merrily.

Then my editor persuaded me to put it aside to work on a collaborative project with Joanna Maitland and Nicola Cornick. That definitely sounded like a lot of fun, so I shelved the book and dived into A Regency Invitation exchanging hundreds of emails with Joanna and Nicola in the process. By the time we finished it and I returned to my Romp, I’d been on a hiking holiday in New Zealand and the DH and I had moved house half way across the country with two children, two dogs and two cats to an idyllic location. A lovely, green valley full of apple and cherry orchards, a peaceful, shady garden . . . perfect for a writer, wouldn’t you think?

Only the dratted book didn’t want to be written. Not the way I’d conceived it anyway. My bee’s knees opening now sounded contrived and wooden. The problem was my hero, Richard Blakehurst, the twin brother of Max, the hero in His Lady Mistress. Richard was quite familiar to me. He was a much quieter, but no less passionate man, than his twin. Scholarly, private and very much in control of his life and choices. But he also had a very strong, must-slay-the-dragon streak of chivalry in him and the story and heroine I was forcing on him didn’t interest him at all. He kept on walking back into his library and slamming the door in my face, a sure sign that I had got things wrong. That and the fact that everything I’d written felt “weary, stale, flat and unprofitable” to quote Hamlet.

I once heard the Editorial Director at Mills & Boon, Karin Stoecker, say, ‘Start with your characters.’ Believe me, you have to listen to them as well!

When finally Thea arrived in my head complete with secrets, fears and enough emotional baggage to sink a ship, I cursed. With Thea on board the plot was shaping up to be just as angst-ridden as His Lady Mistress. Not what I wanted at all. Richard however put his head around the library door, took one look and started co-operating. So I bowed to the inevitable. Start with your characters and then listen to them.

Some of the original concept remained, like Thea’s inheritance and their mutual, interfering godmother Lady Arnsworth who is desperate to arrange a match between them. But in the end none of this was enough for a story. Not for Richard’s story anyway, which is bizarre in way because so much of the story is about Thea and the revelation of her past. I had to dig deep to find out why Thea’s inheritance was so unwelcome to her initially and why she did not want to come to London. I guess that was what Richard was trying to tell me all along. He was a slay-the-dragon sort of fellow and he didn’t want me to waste his story.

In the end Richard didn’t get it all his own way and slay all the dragons. It was Thea’s story and she had to find the strength and courage to sort out her own life and Richard had to support her while she did that. Not that he wasn’t willing to slay all the dragons, but he realised when it was time to stand back and let Thea confront her final nemesis.

Do I regret the Romp? No. Not in the least. What I regret is that I forced myself through about 30 000 words of it before I worked out what was wrong!

Excerpt from A Compromised Lady

Thea took a deep breath and asked huskily, ‘Would you kiss me again?’

He stopped dead in his tracks.

‘I beg your pardon?’

Stubbornly she met his disbelieving gaze. ‘Please . . . if you wouldn’t mind . . . would you kiss me again. P . . . p . . . properly this time.’

He was having difficulty just breathing, but he managed to say, ‘I think I might just about be able to cope.’ Dear God in heaven – what the hell did she mean by properly? Unfortunately, the way – all the ways - he wanted to kiss Thea Winslow came under the heading Improper. Extremely improper. Now was probably not the right moment to point out that he’d been wanting to kiss her properly for sometime. And it certainly wasn’t the right moment to lose all control. She had refused even to listen to his last offer of marriage. So why in Hades did she want him to kiss her?

‘Here?’ he suggested, keeping his voice very neutral. At least his voice was under control. It was about the only part of him that was. Apparently the shreds of his control had been used up keeping that last kiss within the bounds of propriety.

She looked about. ‘Y . . . yes. Here would be nice.’

Nice? Richard took a shuddering breath. Here would be perfect. He suspected that here, in the sun-dappled green of the beech woods, was about to become the most wonderful place on earth. Slowly, he raised a hand and brushed his fingers along the elegant line of her throat and jaw. So soft. So silky. He couldn’t remember any woman’s skin ever being that soft. He couldn’t remember any other woman at all for that matter. She, and only she, filled his memories, his heart, his soul. And she had asked him to kiss her. Just kiss her. If anyone had ever offered him anything sweeter, he didn’t remember that, either. Carefully he cradled her jaw, smoothing his thumb over her lips. They parted on a soft gasp and heat shot through him.
Just a kiss, he reminded himself.

Thea waited, shivering in wonder at his touch, her mind reeling with shock, that she had actually done something so outrageous as to ask a gentleman to kiss her. Properly. Only . . . having asked him to kiss her, she now had absolutely no idea what the next move should be. She didn’t even know what properly involved. Fortunately it was obvious that Richard did know.

His fingers, light and caressing, drew tingling magic from deep within her, melting her shyness in the warmth of his tenderness. Gentle, feather light kisses caressed her temples, her closed eyes. Controlled strength drew her closer, nestling her against his body as that teasing mouth brushed fire along the line of her jaw, until, in sudden frustration, she turned, clumsily capturing his lips with her own.

A moment’s stillness as their mouths met, then his lips moved in a heart shaking entreaty, the silky heat of his tongue tasting, teasing her own lips open. So different, a melding this, and she responded to the heat spreading within her, parting her lips, opening her mouth in acceptance.
His tongue slid deep, stroking, and heat burst inside her as she felt the aching pulse deep within, echoing the possessive surge and retreat of his tongue.

He took, but he also gave. And she could sense his restraint. In the taut strength of his arms, cradling her so tenderly. In the low groan deep in his throat as she tentatively returned his kiss, tasting, probing with her own tongue.

Her bones melted. Every fibre softened in delight and she clung, pressing against him, closer than sunlight, feeling joy and love pour through her, illuminating every dark corner, flinging back the shadows.

Finally, far too soon, he drew back, releasing her mouth and settling her cheek against his chest. She could hear his heart hammering. Beating to the same wild, burning rhythm as her own. His hand stroked her hair, soothing, gentle.
His voice came, utterly calm. ‘Was that what you meant by properly?’

Question for an autographed copy of A Compromised Lady.

What is the name of Lady Arnsworth’s butler? (You’ll need to go to the excerpt on my website for that.)

And for a bonus book from my backlist: Check out the photos page on my website and count how many different creatures we have!

Back to Liz...

Thank you so much, Elizabeth, that's so generous. And since, clearly, we can't have the answers on the comment section, please email your answers to me at liz with Elizabeth Rolls in the subject line, adding your name and address in the body of the email along with your answers. But do come and talk to Elizabeth, too. About the Regency, writing and her life in Australia.

Meanwhile, if you can't wait until February to buy A Compromised Lady, you'll find it online at Mills & Boon website -- there's a link on the sidebar.


Cryna said...

I loved the excerpt. You could just feel the feelings that Thea was feeling when she was being kissed by Richard. Hmmmm, so nice.

I so enjoyed your photos over on your website, it looks to be such beautiful, peaceful country. I would love to visit Australia one day.

catslady said...

I just wanted to let you know how very much I enjoyed His Lady Mistress and A Compromised Lady sounds wonderful!

Annie West said...

Elizabeth, it's great to see you here. Thanks for sharing that excerpt. As you know, I'm a fan of your other books and am looking forward to this one. What a kiss. I was disappointed when the excerpt ended.

Laughing at the idea of Richard sneaking a peak from the library and finally deciding to cooperate. Obviously a man with a mind of his own!


Snookie said...

I really enjoyed reading A Compromised Lady, I think it came out as a Harlequin Historical last fall sometime. I remember thinking I needed to go find a copy of Max's story. Will have to go hunt through used bookstores again :)

Liz Fielding said...

Cryna, you are so right. That kiss was beautiful.

juliemt said...

Hi Elizabeth,
I read the book as a Harlequin Historical and it was absolutely wonderful.

You mentioned that Georgette Heyer introduced you to the Regency, but I was wondering who are your other favourite writers of Regency romance?

Michelle Douglas said...

Ooh, Elizabeth, I didn't discover Georgette Heyer until my mid-twenties (I kind of inherited a whole boxful) and I devoured them. Do you have a favourite? I have to admit I find it hard to go past Faro's Daughter or The Grand Sophy.

I don't think I've read another regency romance since that time. Your excerpt, though, has convinced me to test the waters again and A Compromised Lady will be at the top of my shopping list.

peggy said...

conggratulations,on your book
i have yet to read. a compromised
lady. i love reading regency.
there just something about that time zone.and its history.that draws me to it ,i cant wait to read your book

Carol Townend said...

Great excerpt, can't wait to read it! And I know what you mean about the difficulties when characters Go Their Own Way. It sounds as though it has worked out wonderfully though, and you have pinned them on that page.
Best wishes

Eva said...

Loved the excerpts, Thanks!

Elizabeth Rolls said...

Hi Everyone. I'm sorry to be late coming on board, but I took my sons to the beach for a few days. Gorgeous weather. We went to a place on the South Australian coast called Victor Harbour. It's just lovely. Turquoise ocean, seals, Fairy Penguins - it's got the lot.

Catslady, it's great to hear you enjoyed His Lady Mistress. I hope A Compromised Lady is as good for you.

Hi Annie! I didn't expect you at all. Glad you liked the kiss. The way the story turned out there wasn't a great deal of kissing done, so I had to make what did happen count.

Cryna, Australia is lovely. Do come down one day. You'll love it.

Snookie, ACL did come out in Harlequin Historicals last autumn. It's the first time my HH release has been before the M&B release.

Juliemt, I have many favourites, but for a few; I love Nicola Cornick, Joanna Maitland, Anne Gracie, Jo Beverley, Mary Balogh, Diane Gaston, the list goes on and on.

Michelle and Peggy, I hope you enjoy it.



Liz Fielding said...

Hi Elizabeth! Your trip sounds absolutely wonderful -- could do with a little of that sunshine around here right now. And penguins... What is it about penguins that makes them so appealing?

Elizabeth Rolls said...

I think it's the little tux and the waddle, Liz. Fairy Penguins only stand about 30 cm high. I always thought they just had burrows near the beach but we went out to Granite Island at desk to watch them come home from the sea and the tour guide showed us burrows that needed some serious climbing to reach. Metres up these rocky cliffs! You think of penguins as being cute and rather clownish, but these little guys are really tough.
At the moment they're mostly as fat as butter because they're about to moult and won't be able to go to sea for nearly a month.

It was an amazing evening. There were a couple of seals hanging around the shore hoping to have a penguin supper and we saw one late chick coming out to greet the parent and be fed. Just lovely.



Dena said...

Hi Elizabeth, I've never read any of your books,and I have been missing out on some wonderful stories I can see by your excerpt from A Compromised Lady.I'm putting you on my TBR pile right away. thanks for sharing.

CrystalGB said...

Great excerpt and beautiful cover. I enjoyed viewing Ms. Rolls website.

Maureen said...

I like your book and your her must really know his mind.

catslady said...

Oh Elizabeth maybe you saw MY penguin. I actually won a penguin for a year from the Penguin publishers - they paid for his upkeep for one year in my name :)

Elizabeth Rolls said...

Catslady, if you have a penguin on Granite Island then it's quite possible I saw him. Or her. Sexing a penguin is a tad tricky I'm told. I took my sons to the open range zoo out at Monarto a couple of weeks back. They are now pestering me to adopt a cheetah in the wild . . . Eldest son is also hanging out for his 12th birthday so he can have a contact experience with the cheetah mascots at the zoo. They have some hand-reared ones that you can actually go in with the keeper to handle. The money goes to conservation so it's a good cause. We'll probably do it together for his birthday when he's old enough.

Crystal, it is a lovely cover, but actually that's the US cover. The UK cover is even prettier I think. You can check it out on the M&B website.

Dena, most of my books seem to be available one way or another at either or Amazon UK, depending on where you are. Good luck!

Michelle, I think my favourite Heyer is Venetia. I just love Damerel! But Miles Calverleigh in Black Sheep runs him very, very close.

Maureen, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Richard really did know his own mind. It surprised me when I realised that he was the one giving me most of the trouble because Thea was the one with all the baggage.



Liz Fielding said...

Adopting animals is such a great gift, especially in this somewhat grabby age, Elizabeth. I like to sound of your son!

My daughter (much older) had a Zoo Day as a birthday gift a couple of years ago from her soon to be husband. The keeprs were impressed that she brought her own Wellingtons -- most girls turn up in high heels apparently! Apart from the delights of "mucking out", she got to cuddle a tarantula and a snake. The cheetah sounds a lot more appealing!

Elizabeth Rolls said...

Your daughter's husband-to-be sounds like the right sort, but you can count me out on the tarantula, Liz. In fact I'd be out for the count, period! The snake wouldn't bother me so much because they don't freak me out in the same way. I'm not happy to find one close to the house because around here they are, without exception deadly, but large spiders have creep factor thrown in. I once arrived at work to discover the half eaten corpse of a huntsman spider (very large, if harmless, Australian spider) on my desk. From the size I figured it was the loser in a fight, or possibly an obsolete male and started looking for the winner. Sure enough, there she was - a real whopper. The silly thing is that ever since I read Charlotte's Web as a child I can't bring myself to kill them. I have to catch them in a cup and take them outside. EB White has a LOT to answer for. I've got to the point where I can cope with them in the house, but not up close. I can handle a snake but you'd have to put a gun to my head to get me to touch a large spider.

We were thinking of a zoo sleep over as a present for our older son for his birthday this year. I must say I do like the idea of our own cheetah in the wild. Apparently it has a radio transmitter and you can log on to the internet and find out where your cheetah is at any time. How cool is that?



Liz Fielding said...

Eeeek! A half eaten spider on your desk, Elizbeth. I think I'd have fainted dead away. We had hunting spiders in Africa and I loathed them. I don't know how dangerous they were to humans -- the lads used to tell horrible stories, but you never knew when they were just winding you up!

I always thought Amy was terrified of the little beasts, but she said the spider was okay. She didn't like the snake much, but knew better than to let anyone see.

Despite the fact that I've always been terrified of them, I've never been able to kill one and I'm the one who has to dispose of the occasional one that turns up in the bath. What would we do without a glass and a piece of card? :)

Liz Fielding said...

And Venetia is my favourite Georgette Heyer, too. That scene with the kittens. Absolutely perfect.

Elizabeth Rolls said...

LOL Liz! I'm all creeped out over the spider and Amy was uneasy over the snake. Talk about different strokes. We're together though on not letting it show. I knew when I started teaching that if my students ever realised how much I disliked spiders that I was dead in the water. As you say, a cup and piece of card - wonderful. The funny thing is that once I forced myself to deal with a couple I became less scared. I still don't like them, but they don't bother me quite as much as they used to. Shall we change the subject? I think we've frightened everyone away!

Isn't Venetia wonderful? I love the kittens too, but the moment that I go back to time and time again is that final scene when Venetia's uncle tries to warn her against the marriage and she asks Damerel if she would enjoy his orgies and he says that she will have an orgy of her own and enjoy it very much. So much acceptance and tenderness hidden in their banter. And of course her uncle nearly expiring on the spot is the perfect counterpoint.

Elizabeth Rolls said...

Carol! I just spotted your post! I'm so sorry. My eyes need checking. Characters going their own way can be the pits. But when you manage to get a handle on them they come across all the stronger in the end, I think.