AND NOW FOR A HISTORY LESSON...
My guest this week is HQN author Nicola Cornick who lit up Times Square earlier this year with UNMASKED.
Nicola talks about our first meeting below, but I remember it vividly. It was the second international "Author Day" held by Harlequin and Mills and Boon in London. there were authors from all over the world attending and having met my editor I was looking around for a friendly face and saw Nicola standing on her own. I introduced myself and asked her what she wrote and that's when she told me she'd just sold her first book. Now she's a star and I'm delighted to welcome her here to tell you about a new eBook project just launched by Harlequin.
Over to you, Nicola!
Thank you so much for inviting me to blog today, Liz, and many congratulations on your fabulous fifty books! I’ve just been re-reading your short story The Temp and the Tycoon, re-issued as part of the Mills & Boon Centenary celebrations, and I’ve been loving it as much this time round as when it was first in print!
I’ve never forgotten when I first met Liz – it was at an author lunch and I hadn’t even been published at that point. Mills & Boon had just signed me up as a brand new author and I was totally over-awed to be meeting in person so many writers whose books I had on my keeper shelves at home! Actually I was terrified – and Liz took me under her wing and I have never forgotten her kindness.
Since that moment eleven years ago I’ve written 25 books for Mills & Boon and this month sees the publication of my latest Regency novella The Unmasking of Lady Loveless, a historical short story that is very hot, sweet and sexy! The Unmasking of Lady Loveless is one of the launch titles for Harlequin Historicals new e-book programme. It is set in the same fictional Yorkshire village, Peacock Oak, that I used for the background for my July HQN release Unmasked and also features some of the same characters. I wanted to write a Christmas story and the idea of the beautiful Yorkshire countryside under the snow seemed the perfect setting!
Here is the beginning of the story, slightly censored because this is a very sexy book indeed:
When Lord Alexander Beaumont entered Whites that night the entire room fell silent. No man would meet his eyes; their gazes slid away to study the pattern on the carpet or the brandy in their glasses. Throats were cleared, cuffs inspected with startling intensity.
“Gentlemen?” He raised one quizzical dark brow. “Would anyone care to enlighten me as to what is wrong?”
There was silence.
“Charles?” He prompted.
“Devil take it, Alex,” his friend Charles Wheeler complained, “I knew you would ask me.”
“That’s what friends are for, Charles,” Alex smoothly. “Well?”
Charles stood up. He loosened his neck cloth, palpably ill at ease. “Don’t know where to start, old fellow.”
“Try the beginning,” Alex advised.
“Good luck, Charlie,” someone said, sotto voce.
“It’s Lady Melicent,” Wheeler blurted out. “Your wife.”
No one ever spoke to Lord Alexander Robert Jon Beaumont about his wife.
“Thank you, Charles,” Alex said. “We may have been apart for a couple of years now, but I am still aware of whom Melicent is.”
Wheeler winced. Several men drew in their breath in sympathy.
“She’s… She’s written a book,” Wheeler said. “Several books. This is the most recent.” He grabbed a slim tome from the hands of a man at a nearby table.
"Steady on, Charlie,” the man protested. “I was enjoying that!”
“Bentley…” Wheeler said in a warning tone. The man’s eyes flickered to Alex’s hard face and he fell silent.
“The Adventures of a Woman of Pleasure by Lady Loveless,” Alex read aloud the gold lettering aloud. He flicked open the book:
“Being naked kindled so great a rapture in her that she lay in wanton pleasure waiting for him to-”
A great harrumphing and clearing of throats followed. Alex closed the book softly and looked at his friend. “You are claiming that Melicent, my wife, is this Lady … Loveless?”
“Yes! Don’t call me out,” Wheeler added, as Alex took a purposeful step towards him, murder in his eyes. “Bentley bribed the publisher and found out that the manuscripts are sent from someone called Mrs Durham, from Peacock Oak in Yorkshire…” He made a pleading gesture. “You know that was Lady Melicent’s maiden name and that she resides there now.” He shook his head. “She has to be stopped, Alex. She bases the characters in her books on members of the Ton and they are too accurately portrayed for comfort.” He gestured to the Bentley again. “Will’s betrothal to Miss Flynn was ruined because there is a scene in the book where a character called Bill Gentley ravishes an actress in a box at the theatre during a performance!”
“We all know that happened,” Alex said dryly.
“That isn’t the point!” Bentley piped up.
“Bentley lost an heiress worth sixty thousand,” Wheeler said. “Lady Loveless’s sources are impeccable. Which is why she has to be stopped.”
Alex tapped the book thoughtfully against the palm of his hand. “She will be.”
“What are you going to do?” Wheeler asked.
“I am going to Yorkshire,” Alex said. He smiled at the look of horror on his friend’s face. “No need to fear, Charles, it is the North of England, not the North Pole.”
“Yorkshire in winter,” Wheeler spluttered.
“Yes,” Alex said, “and I will take this with me.” He raised the book and the candlelight gleamed on the golden lettered name, Lady Loveless, on the cover. “It will prove useful… for research purposes.”
“Devil take it, Alex,” Bentley called, “I was reading that!” But he spoke to thin air.
To win a copy of The Unmasking of Lady Loveless Undone e-book, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (including your full name and address) to tell me the answer to the following question:
What is the name of the book that Lady Loveless has written?
I’ll put the answers in a hat and pick out a winner next week!