...it's got to be Michelle Styles!
Michelle Styles, seen here at the Mills & Boon Centenary party with author Carol Townend and Harlequin President and Publisher, Donna Hayes, broke new ground for Mills & Boon Historical romance with her first book The Gladiator's Honour, a book about which the Smart Bitches blog said -- "Read this book, read this book..."
I couldn't agree more!
Michelle (in the red) -- can you see the wicked twinkle in her eye -- was the woman urging me to be outrageous with the butlers in the buff -- definitely someone to take along to a party!
When she isn't leading me astray, Michelle is busy writing and will shortly be celebrating a major milestone in her own publishing career, with the publication of her 10th book, Improverished Miss, Convenient Bride, to be published early next year, but she's here today to tell us about her new release, AN IMPULSIVE DEBUTANTE
The floor is yours, Michelle...
There is something indefinable about a Liz Fielding book. She has a sort of magic alchemy with her characters and always manages to create wonderfully sparkling romances, the sort of romances that make you feel better about the world. I always promise myself that I will take it slow. I will make this one last. A little bit a time, but every single time, I end up reading the book in one sitting. Once, memorably boiling the kettle dry. It is a truly wonderful thing that Liz has now reached her fifty book mark. Along the way, she has won many well deserved rewards, but mostly she has provided her readers with characters that linger and plots that fizz. And once you are in the world that she has created, you want to return time and time again.
Now I am supposed to say something about my upcoming release An Impulsive Debutante. And when Liz asked me to take part in her celebrations, I knew that I wanted to highlight this book, as it is a book that I had a lot of fun writing. The heroine, Lottie Charlton is one of my personal favourites. She started out as a minor and in many ways not very nice secondary character in A Christmas Wedding Wager, but my daughter became enamored of her and begged for her story. And basically to keep her quiet and to stop her from bringing the subject, I agreed. So with my editor’s reluctant approval (there were many hmmm’s, ah-ha’s and well’s in the conversation), I began. My daughter had sound instincts and I rapidly fell in love with Lottie’s indomitable spirit and her desire make lemonade out of the lemons that life through at her. She just possessed that certain something. Hopefully, readers will agree.
The following extract is from the first chapter, the hero, Tristan Dyvelston has encountered Lottie for the first time. He is visiting his parents’ grave and she has come to the churchyard partly to see if it is a good place to paint and partly to put in motion her most current scheme – attempting to get her cousin engaged to a local farmer.
A proposal?’ Tristan glanced over his shoulder, fully expecting to see some puffed up dandy or farmer advancing towards them. ‘Tell me where the unfortunate man is and I shall beat a hasty retreat.’
‘Not mine. My cousin’s.’
‘The one who is mistaken about graveyards.’ Tristan said, and struggled to keep his face straight. It made a change to speak about such things other than the state of Gortner Hall’s leaking roof, the fallow fields and the other ravages that his uncle wrecked on the estate.
‘That’s right.’ There was a sort of confidence about the woman, the sort that is easily destroyed later in life. ‘All Frances ever does is read Minerva Press novels and sigh about Mr Shepard’s fine eyes and his gentle manner. What is the good with sighing and not acting positively? She needed some help and advice.’
‘Which you have offered...unasked.’
She held up her hand and her body stilled, an intent expression crossed her face. ‘There, can you hear it?’
The sound of a faint shriek wafted on the breeze. Tristan lifted an eyebrow. ‘It sounds as if someone is strangling a cat. Is this something you are concerned about? Should I investigate?’
‘My cousin Frances, actually. She is busy being rescued from the Cruel Sykes burn.’ She tilted her head, listening and then gave a decided nod. The bow of her mouth tilted upwards. ‘Definitely Cousin Frances. We practiced the shriek a dozen times and she still managed to get it wrong. She needed to gently shriek, and to grab his arm but not to claw it. I do hope she had not pulled him in. That would be insupportable. Truly insupportable.’
‘All this is in aid of?’
‘Her forthcoming marriage to Mr Kent Shepard.’
The woman drew a breath and Tristan noticed the agreeable manner in which she filled out her gingham bodice. But he knew she was also well aware of the picture she created. A minx who should be left alone. Trouble. He would make his excuses and depart before he became ensnared in any of her ill-considered schemes.
‘Cousin Frances has to get engaged. She simply has to. Everything in my life depends on it.’
‘Why should it matter to you?’ His curiosity overcame him.
‘I was unjustly banished.’ The woman wrinkled her nose. ‘It was hardly my fault that Miss Emma Harrison kissed Jack Stanton in a sleigh in full view of any passing stranger.’
‘Jack Stanton is well able to look after himself.’ Tristan gave a laugh. His impression had been correct. She was the sort of woman to stay away from. Trouble with a capital T. ‘I hope your friend was not too inconvenienced, but she picked the wrong man to kiss. Jack is a good friend of mine and not given to observing the niceties of society.’
‘When the occasion demands, I was born a gentleman. But Jack...is immune to such stratagems. It is amazing the lengths some women will go to.’
‘It all ended happily as they were married, just before Christmas.’ Her eyes blazed as she drew herself up to her full height. ‘You obviously do not know your friends as well you think you do.’
‘I have been travelling on the Continent. But if it ended happily, why were you banished?’
‘My brother Henry was furious. He turned a sort of mottle purple and sent me out here to Aunt Alice until I could learn to keep my mouth quiet. Lottie, he said, you have no more sense than a gnat which was a severely unkind thing to say.’
‘And have you? Learnt to keep your mouth quiet?’
My question to help Liz celebrate is: As I know that Liz has written several books with secondary characters as heroes or heroines, is there a Liz Fielding secondary that still needs her story and why? The prize on offer is a copy of A Christmas Wedding Wager and a copy of An Impulsive Debutante.
Thanks, Michelle -- it sounds fabulous. And if you want to know more, you can browse the book here...