Sunday, September 23, 2007
Lady be Bad by Candice Hern
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Candice Hern is the award-winning author of 13 historical romance novels set during the English Regency, a period she knows well through years of collecting antiques and fashion prints of the era. She travels to England regularly, always in search of more historical and local color to help bring her books to life, and prides herself on the detailed research that goes into each novel. Her books have won praise for their "intelligence and elegant romantic sensibility" (Romantic Times) as well as "delicious wit and luscious sensuality" (Booklist). Her first book was published in 1995, the result of winning a writing contest.
Originally from Texas, Candice grew up in California and lives in San Francisco. She has degrees in Art History from the University of California. She spent many years in high tech marketing, specifically database marketing, and her last position was as Director of Marketing Operations for a software company. She now writes fulltime. Her award-winning website is often cited for its Collections and its Regency era information. It is the only author website listed among the online resources at the Jane Austen Centre in England.
Why did you become a writer? Was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?
Writing fiction never occurred to me until late in life. I've been a voracious reader since I was a kid, and have always had a love for words and language. I guess I just never thought that my love of reading could be transferred to a love of writing. But if I'd been paying attention, I should have suspected that I would eventually enter a profession based on words. I was one of those kids who loved to diagram sentences, and once hunted out the longest sentence I could find, in a translation of a 19th century Russian novel, and diagrammed it on a huge piece of butcher paper. Forty years later, I'm making a living constructing sentences. It's all very symmetrical, I suppose.
What do you love about being an author? Is there anything you dislike?
The best part is that I make my own hours, so I can indulge in my natural nightowlish tendencies. And I can go to work in my pajamas with no make-up. How can you beat that? The actual process of writing is never easy or fun. Because I love language so much, I tend to struggle over each sentence. I almost never have manic bouts of fast writing, even when a deadline looms. I write very slowly and edit as I go. I tend to hate the initial getting-something-on-the-page part. Once I've done that, I really enjoy the editing and revising part, where I can find ways to make the prose better. So the whole process is a love-hate affair.
How do you balance your personal and writing time?
I don't have kids or pets, so my time is pretty much my own and I can divide it up however it suits me.
How do you write? Do your characters come to you first or the plot or the world of the story?
I almost always start with character. Usually one of the protagonists comes into my mind somewhat fully formed. If it's the heroine, then I concoct a hero who is generally her opposite in some way -- as in my new book, LADY BE BAD, where the heroine is a prim and proper widow of a famous bishop, and the hero is an infamous libertine. Once I know who the players are, I need to plop them into a story, and this is the most painful part for me because I'm terrible at plotting. But I have a plotting/brainstorming group that helps me tremendously in coming up with story ideas.
What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
So far I have only written historical set during the Regency. I started out writing traditional Regencies, but moved on to longer books some years ago. The English Regency was a favorite period of mine long before I discovered Regency romances (rather late in life). I've always loved the books of Jane Austen and Fanny Burney and other women writers of the period, plus I collect antiques of the period. I have always felt at home in ther Regency. So what better setting to write about?
What is the biggest misconception about being an author?
There are loads of misconceptions about ROMANCE authors. A great many people think we write trash, that it's all based on a strict formula and all romances are alike, and that we're all hack writers. None of those perceptions is true, of course, and yet we romance writers, and readers, are faced with those negative images every day.
Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
I suppose all characters are based on something known. A personality quirk of one person, the body language of another, the idiomatic language of yet another. I've never based an entire character on one person. But bits and pieces from lots of real people help to flesh out the fictional characters.
Out of all the characters that you've written, who is your favorite and why?
My favorite character is from a book from 2003 called ONCE A SCOUNDREL. I really loved Edwina, the heroine of that book. I wanted her to be unconventional, a sort of pre-feminist, and yet I did not want her to seem to be a modern woman in period dress. So I did a lot of research on women who'd been very politically and socially outspoken at the end of the 18th century, women who supported the French Revolution in its early days and went to France to join the cause. I created Edwina to be one of these women. A true bluestocking with an independent spirit and sexual past that made sense to me, she just grew into a character than seemed very genuine. I am very proud of having created Edwina.
If you were writing a script for the big screen, who would you want to act in your movie?
Depends on the story. Do you mean a script from one of my books? I've always thought THE BRIDE SALE would translate well to the screen, and I can absolutely see Clive Owen as the hero. :-)
What would you want readers to take away from your books?
I want them to be entertained. To feel that have enjoyed the time spent reading my books. I try to keep my focus on a good, solid love story without a lot of external conflict (villains, murders, mysteries, etc). I love to read books with those elements, but I don't want to write them. I want to write good old-fashioned love stories, and that's what I hope I am delivering to readers, and what they can always expect from my books. I also hope that I provide them with just enough historical detail to bring them comfortably in to the period without hammering them over the head with research.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers in regards to writing a book?
Sit your butt in the chair and write. Stop reading how-to books and going to workshops and planning how you're going to write. Just write!
Who are your favorite authors?
In Romance, I love Mary Balogh and Lisa Kleypas and Judith Ivory and too many more to mention. In Mystery, my favorites are Anne Perry, Elizabeth Peters, and Elizabeth George. In historical fiction I love Dorothy Dunnett and Patrick O'Brian.
What are you reading right now?
THE RIVER KNOWS by Amanda Quick.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
John Grayston, seventh Viscount Rochdale, has never refused a wager, especially one that involves enticing a beautiful woman into his bed. He’s willing to stake his most prized possession that there’s not a single woman in all of England immune to his charms. But when the object of the wager is the prim and proper Grace Marlowe, he has to turn on the full force of his seductive charm to woo her.
Grace, the widow of a famous bishop, finds her stalwart virtue put to the test when the infamous rake shows an unexpected interest in her. Outraged, flattered, and reluctantly attracted, she soon finds herself falling under the spell of the man behind the scandalous reputation. Rochdale, in turn, is delighted to discover a fiery passion beneath the widow’s prudish façade. But when hearts and lives become tangled in the gamble, the truth of his seduction could ruin everything ...
He lifted her hand and his lips grazed ever so softly against the knuckles, then brushed butterfly kisses on each fingertip. Dear God. Every nerve in her body thrummed. This was the last straw. She jerked her hand away.
He gave a deep-throated chuckle, and Grace chided herself for allowing him to believe he had flustered her. She was not flustered. She was simply unaccustomed to having a man touch her like that, kiss her like that. She might be forgiven for the involuntary tingling deep in her belly, and lower, brought on by the sensation of his unexpectedly soft lips. This was something altogether new and she'd been unprepared, that was all. But it was surely wicked, so she made a greater effort to regain composure, for she'd be damned before allowing him to know what she felt. She would no doubt be damned in any case, for having such wayward feelings.
No one had a more powerful resolve, however, than Grace Marlowe, and this horrid man would never get past it.
"You promised me your hand," he said in that velvety voice.
"I promised no such thing."
"But you did not refuse it to me when I gave you the chance, so I take that as sufficient approval." He reached over and took her hand again, easily accomplished since she had not tucked it out of sight, as she ought to have done. "There, you see? Nothing to be so anxious about. It is merely a hand, not your virtue. And I promise not to bite it off. I may take leave to kiss it now and then, however." And he did so.
Grace bit down on her back teeth so hard she felt the muscles of her neck grow rigid. At least she wasn't trembling. "I wish you would not," she murmured.
He lifted his head and arched an eyebrow, a decided twinkle in his scoundrel eyes. "Why? You like it. I can tell."
"I do not like it."
"Yes, you do. Oh, please do not give me that face, Mrs. Marlowe. All that frowning mars your perfect brow. And do not deny that you like to have your hand kissed. Of course you do. And why shouldn't you? It is not sinful, after all."
Yes, it was. It made her feel sinful — all that tingling, her skin prickling into goose flesh — and he knew it. It was not at all proper. But what could one expect from such a man?
Grace hated being so aware of him. She certainly did not wish for the physical response he so expertly drew from her with the practiced skill of a seducer. She disliked him. Loathed him, even.
She must do something to divert his attention. Bore him. Disgust him. Anything to distract him from her hand, where he was once again drawing little circles on her palm. She ripped her attention from his wicked touch and concentrated on the sounds around her, allowing the ordinary chorus of travel to soothe her nearly shattered nerves. The steady rhythmic hoof beats of the team of horses. The jangle and clank of the harnesses. Bits of dirt and gravel thrown up from the wheels and pinging against the window glass. The outside lamps swinging back and forth with a continual two-note screech. The rattle of the raised shades against the side windows. The occasional shout of Jenkins, who rode postillion on the lead horse. The constant creak and grind as the carriage swayed and bounced along the road.
Carriage travel was a noisy business, but it somehow quieted her busy brain and allowed her to think more clearly. And all at once, she was truck by an idea that was bound to send Lord Rochdale scooting as far away from her as possible.
"I have another project that occupies a great deal of my time," she said.
"Oh? And what is that?"
"I am editing the bishop's sermons."
That did it. Or almost. He did not scoot away, but ceased drawing circles, those strangely intimate caresses, and stared at her.
"The bishop's sermons?"
"Yes. Not his parliamentary addresses, which are well documented, but his church sermons. They are most instructive."
Grace's husband, Bishop Ignatius Marlowe, had been an important man and a great orator. As Bishop of London, he'd sat in the House of Lords as one of the Lords Spiritual where he had famously addressed the issue of Catholic emancipation, and from his pulpit at St Paul's he'd given spectacular and stirring sermons on the plight of the poor and the need for social reform. In fact, he'd often been called upon to speak at less official gatherings, where the general populace could benefit from his views. Grace had been so proud of him. But he'd also preached from the pulpits at several of the Royal Chapels, and those sermons were more personal. He had written them out before delivering them, and it was from those notes that Grace was putting together a collection of his work for publication.
It had so far been a project of immense personal satisfaction for Grace, something of value she could do for the bishop, in appreciation of all he'd done for her. The only negative aspect had been the reaction of his daughter, Margaret, who'd never liked Grace and made it clear she did not approve of her rummaging through the bishop's papers. Margaret was very protective of her father's memory, and Grace did her best to convince her step-daughter of her good intentions. She feared, however, that she would never win the woman over, but did not allow that to deter her efforts in editing the sermons.
"I am sure they are full to bursting with useful instruction," Rochdale said in a sarcastic tone, and Grace could swear his gaze rolled to the ceiling briefly.
She smiled. "They are truly wonderful sermons that teach how to live one's life in the best possible way through selfless acts and the avoidance of sin. But I don't suppose such instruction would be of interest to you, my lord."
He uttered a disdainful snort. "You suppose correctly. Besides, the last thing any of us needs is another book of sermons from some old ... I beg your pardon, Mrs. Marlowe, but it should come as no surprise to you that I found your late husband to be a pompous old windbag."
"Lord Rochdale! I will not have you speak of the bishop in such terms to me."
He waved away her objection ... with the hand that was no longer holding hers. She had won that battle, at least.
"I am certain he was a good man and a saintly husband," he said, "but his views on reform were naïve and impractical and altogether too self-righteous."
"What do you m—"
"He loved to talk about helping the poor, but he had a very narrow definition of the deserving poor. His implication was always that most of them were lazy and stupid."
"If I had to hear one more harangue on how gin was the cause of all misery in London and the manufacture of it should be outlawed, I swear I would have to run screaming through the streets."
"But you have to admit that —"
"If only he'd put more of his persuasive powers into relieving some of the miserable conditions that drive those poor souls to gin, then I'd have had more respect for him. As it was ... Oh, confound it all. I beg your pardon. He was your husband, and I should keep my opinions to myself."
"Yes, perhaps you should," Grace said sharply. She had never heard anyone speak of the bishop with anything other than admiration and respect. It shocked her to hear Lord Rochdale, of all people, take him to task. And she was quite certain it had not been said to deliberately upset her, as all his other actions had been. He'd really meant it. To think that anyone could have such an opinion of Bishop Marlowe shook her totally off balance.
"I do apologize." He took her hand again and his voice returned to the more usual deep timbre, spilling over her thick as honey. "That was rude of me. And quite spoiled my mood. Let us have no more talk of the bishop and his reforms." He began to softly caress her fingers again.
"But I never mentioned his ideas of reform," Grace said, determined to hang onto the one subject that seemed to take his mind off seduction. "I am working on his church sermons, which are quite different. He liked to take a verse from Proverbs, for example, and build a whole sermon around its lesson. Why, just yesterday I found his notes for a sermon based on the Proverb: Pride goeth before a fall. It is most enlightening."
"And wrong, if that's how he quoted it."
Grace furrowed her brow. "What do you mean, wrong? Proverbs 16:18. 'Pride goeth before a fall.'"
"Exquisitely sensual, brilliantly plotted, and laced with wicked wit, this latest addition to Hern's "Merry Widows" series sparkles with rare fire as its sheltered heroine comes into her own in the arms of a charming rascal and learns just how rewarding it is to be 'bad'."
-- Library Journal
"As a long time fan of Regency historical romances, I’ve come to realize that author Candice Hern is in the top echelon of writers whose research into the period combined with a succinctly divine cast of characters will keep readers glued to the pages. In LADY BE BAD, Ms. Hern has brought to a close her spectacular “Merry Widows” series in a dazzling and heartwarming finale. ... Sensual with a perfectly scrumptious love story, Ms. Hern continues to gift her readers with another fantastic Regency tale in LADY BE BAD. Be prepared to savor every word and passionate embrace."
-- Marilyn Rondeau, Historical Romance Writers
"As far as John Grayson, Viscount Rochdale, is concerned, there isn’t a woman in London he can’t successfully seduce. So when Lord Sheane poses the challenge to find one female immune to his legendary charms, Grayson immediately accepts. That woman turns out to be Grace Marlowe, an eminently proper bishop’s widow who is dedicated to charity and good works. Melting the widow’s icy reserve proves to be delightfully challenging, but what begins as a simple wager soon becomes something much more complicated as Grayson realizes that he is falling in love. Hern’s signature richly nuanced characters, wickedly subtle wit, and elegantly sensual style are in place in the third book of her superbly entertaining Merry Widows series. "
Lady be Bad by Candice Hern
Book 3 of the Merry Widows Trilogy
Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Release Date: August 7, 2007
Genre: Historical Romance
$6.99 from Amazon.com
Purchase Lady be Bad by Candice Hern HERE!!!