Hi everyone, waving from a warm and sunny summer in New Zealand, (be it with a stitched and bandaged hand, don’t ask! I tried to catch a metal shelf I’d tipped over in the garage and sliced my hand open instead). I hope it’s not too cold where you are.
I’ve been pretty busy, writing as usual, but also promoting the release of my latest Regency romance, A KISS OF LIES, book #1 in my new Disgraced Lords series. The series focuses on six men, all school chums whom Society has named, for obvious reasons, the Libertine Scholars. There are six books in total.
People have been writing very nice reviews and readers have been asking me loads of questions about what makes this book so different. What’s the secret to A KISS OF LIES popularity?
As the author it’s hard to say, it’s just a book I loved to write. I have tried to look at the story dispassionately and here’s my view on why this book is a bit different from your normal Regency romances.
1. Unusual Setting – America, Canada, Jamaica, England
A KISS OF LIES does start in England, but by the end of the first chapter Christian Trent, the Earl of Markham, finds himself shanghaied to York (now called Toronto), Canada. My heroine, Sarah Cooper, also begins her journey in England. However, newly married husband takes her to the Americas–Virginia. To learn how she ended up in York, Canada you’ll have to read the story.
Christian’s driving need is to return to England to clear his name of a crime he did not commit. However, when one of his fellow libertine scholars request his help, he detours to Jamaica. Only once he has helped his friend, does the ship continue on to England.
2. Physically wounded hero
Christian was badly burned in the battle of Waterloo. There is a free prequel on my websites that details what happened to him during the battle. It took him many months to recover physically, but at the start of the book emotionally. he’s a mess. For a man who cruised through life on his looks, the burn scars on his face amplify his insecurities. This is compounded by his mistress leaving him, along with the fact mothers with marriageable daughters now avoid him. So, you can imagine how insecure he was upon first meeting Sarah Cooper, a stunningly gorgeous woman.
3. Regency Feminism – abuse, marital rape etc
Sarah hides scars too. They may not be visible, but they cut deep. Her husband was a sadist. He beat her, took the lash to her, and genuinely made her life a living hell. She was simply a piece of property that he owned. Is it any wonder that she ran all the way to Canada seeking her freedom? Only when she wins the role of governess in Christian’s household does she began to feel safe.
4. Over-arching villain for the series
I thought I’d write a different type of series. I wanted this series to have all Libertine Scholars participating in every story. I wanted the six men to have to work together in order to uncover the identity of the villain. Therefore, the six men face a common enemy. However, within each of the stories, there is a secondary villain. Each secondary villain is exposed and identified within each of the six individual stories making up the Disgraced Lords series. The identity of the main villain remains a secret right up until the last book. I’m hoping the readers work out who the main villain is at the same time as the six men.
5. The hero and heroine truly save each other
They don’t just save each other emotionally, they save each other physically. Between Christian being accused of rape, Sarah accused of murdering her husband, Christian being challenged to a duel, and a villain set on killing them both, the two of them had to work together to stay one step ahead.
I’ll leave you with an excerpt – Christian has been acting like a jealous fool, his insecurities crippling him:
“May I come in and explain?”
Sarah was about to shake her head, but his eyes, reminding her of a lost puppy’s, tugged at her heart. Would it hurt her to listen?
“You may enter, but the door stays open.”
“Of course.” He entered her room and moved to the windows. He stood with his back to her, his hands moving nervously, his shoulders tense. Why didn’t he speak? What was he waiting for? Perhaps he was still trying to find an excuse?
“When I came back from town this afternoon, I was informed you were still down at the beach.”
Sarah barely managed to stop the “Oh, no!” from slipping out of her mouth. He’d seen her with Sebastian! Understanding dawned bright on her face. He turned at her muffled squeak of comprehension.
An elegant eyebrow rose. “Precisely! When I saw Sebastian walk naked—”
“Naked? He was never naked.” She felt heat flare in her face. “At least, not while I was present.”
“I didn’t know that. I—”
She finished for him. “Jumped to the wrong conclusion.” He nodded. “Your display of bad manners this evening was what, jealousy?” she asked incredulously.
Christian’s face flooded with color, and he looked sheepish. “I thought what we shared the other evening was special. When I thought you’d been with Sebastian I was shocked, hurt, and angry. I thought you did not feel the same about . . .”
Anger slid over her, hanging about her body for protection. “You obviously think very little of me if you thought I could share myself so readily with another man one night after allowing you into my bed.” The room reverberated with the harsh, accusatory tones of her voice. “Did you think my reluctance and terror at intimacy were all an act?”
He turned his face toward her and struggled to express himself. “Since my burns, no woman has willingly shared my bed. I have to pay them. Even then they usually have to fill themselves with alcohol in order to bear my touch. I could not—” He paused, and she could see his Adam’s apple moving. “I still cannot believe you welcomed me into your bed, especially given the circumstances.” His shoulders straightened and he stood tall. “I am telling you this to gain not your pity or forgiveness but your understanding.”
And just like that, he crushed her bitter anger into little pieces. She’d been focused on her hurt and her injuries, but it appeared his injuries ran just as deep. His scars hid deeper internal wounds that he kept hidden from the world. He was a proud man, and she realized what it had cost him to admit this to her.
She reached out and stroked the battle-injured face, the face she could very easily learn to love. “The fact that I gave myself to you and trusted you not to hurt me should have told you how much I value your friendship. Didn’t that make you wonder why a man like Sebastian would appeal to me?”
He ran a finger under his cravat. “I used to be a man like Sebastian. I know what appeals to him.”
“I’m talking about me.”
He hung his head, reminding her of a naughty schoolboy. “I didn’t consider your feelings. A man with Sebastian’s experience knows how to seduce. And you’re a beautiful woman.”
She sighed. “Even I can see Sebastian has eyes only for Margarita.”
He looked even more sheepish. “I only noticed that tonight. I’d been too busy noticing you to see what was before me. I’m sorry.”
Heat flared in her cheeks. Inwardly she was flattered he noticed her more than a woman as beautiful as Margarita. “Apology accepted.” She saw relief wash over his handsome features, although he still looked nervous. She added, “Your behavior tonight proves that perhaps we are moving into our relationship too fast. You obviously don’t know me.” She shivered. “Unlike consummate rakes, I could never—that is, I would never—have an affair with more than one man at a time.”
Book #2 A Promise of More is available for pre-order coming 15 April, 2014.
In the second novel in Bronwen Evans’s sexy new Disgraced Lords series, two very independent souls find themselves fighting to resist a deepening passion.
When Beatrice Hennessey sets out to confront Lord Coldhurst, the notorious rogue who killed her brother in a duel, her intent is to save her family from destitution. She’s determined to blackmail the man into a loveless marriage. She’ll make the wealthy Lord Coldhurst pay for the rest of his life. But while greeting his ship, Beatrice takes a tumble into the Thames—only to be fished out by a pair of strong masculine arms that tempt her to stay locked in their heated embrace forever. That is, until she realizes those arms belong to Sebastian Hawkestone, Lord Coldhurst himself.
The little drowned mermaid has an interesting proposition indeed; one that Sebastian is surprised to find quite agreeable. Although he’s had women more beautiful, she is pleasing to the eye, and besides, it’s time he fathered an heir. Beatrice promises to be the ideal wife; a woman who hates him with an all-consuming passion is far too sensible to expect romance. However, it isn’t long before Sebastian’s plan for a marriage of convenience unravels, and he’s caught up in the exhilarating undertow of seduction.
Best-selling author Bronwen Evans grew up loving books. She has always indulged her love of storytelling and is constantly gobbling up movies, books, and theater. Is it any wonder she’s a proud romance writer? Evans is a two-time winner of the RomCon Readers’ Crown and has been nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award. She lives in Wellington, New Zealand.