Ready, Set, Rogue was released this past Tuesday (January 3rd) and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! If you haven’t already seen it, you can find my review of the book here. See below for more information about the book, an excerpt, a short author bio, and an author Q&A. This was a very good read, I would definitely recommend checking it out! It was a touching and romantic read and I enjoyed it a lot.
WHO WILL WRITE THE BOOK OF LOVE?
When scholarly Miss Ivy Wareham receives word that she’s one of four young ladies who have inherited Lady Celeste Beauchamp’s estate with a magnificent private library, she packs her trunks straightaway. Unfortunately, Lady Celeste’s nephew, the rakish Quill Beauchamp, Marquess of Kerr, is determined to interrupt her studies one way or another…
Bequeathing Beauchamp House to four bluestockings―no matter how lovely they are to look at―is a travesty, and Quill simply won’t have it. But Lady Celeste’s death is not quite as straightforward as it first seemed…and if Quill hopes to solve the mystery behind her demise, he’ll need Ivy’s help. Along the way, he is surprised to learn that bookish Ivy stirs a passion and longing that he has never known. This rogue believes he’s finally met his match―but can Quill convince clever, skeptical Ivy that his love is no fiction?
Don’t miss Ready Set Rogue, the first in Manda Collins’ new series set in Regency England!
BUY THE BOOK HERE
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
AUTHOR BIO: Manda Collins is the author of The Lords of Anarchy series, which includes Good Earl Gone Bad and A Good Rake is Hard to Find, as well as several other Regency-set romances. She spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. Time travel being what it is, she resigned herself to life with electricity and indoor plumbing, and read lots of books. When she’s not writing, she’s helping other people use books, as an academic librarian.
- Do you have any special rituals that you find yourself following when you’re writing? OR Take us through your typical work day.
My typical work day starts around 8 am. I wake up and sit down at my desk to drink my coffee and check email, and tool around on the internet for about 30 minutes to an hour. I do the New York Times Crossword, and then I get started. I’ll draft or edit for a couple of hours, stop for lunch for about thirty minutes, then start working again until around 3, sometimes 4 PM. I’ll write from between 2,000 and 5,000 words a day depending on how close it is to deadline, or whether I’ve got other plans during the week that will make me skip a day. When I’m on deadline, I’ll generally write every day Monday through Friday. Again, I’ll adjust if it’s closer to deadline and I’m running behind. But I try to give myself the weekend to refill the well. And I don’t write past 6 pm generally, just because I’m not a night person. I listen to WMVY, an internet radio station out of Martha’s Vineyard while I work, though sometimes I’ll choose my own playlist depending on my mood. In between writing sprints, I’ll let the dog in and out, let the cats in and out, and take care of small household chores like laundry or the like.
- What do you do to cure writer’s block? Do you have issues with this often or hardly at all?
Before this year I would have said that Writer’s Block isn’t something I typically deal with. But politically, and just in general, 2016 has been hard and there have been moments when I simply could not make myself work. The writer’s brain is a sensitive thing, and when you’re dealing with personal trauma, or depression, it’s almost impossible to make it work. But there have been times when I’ve been on deadline and had no choice. In that case, I find that sitting down, opening my document, and beginning—no matter how much I don’t want to—will generally get the thoughts and words flowing. But you have to have the self-discipline to sit down and stay there long enough for it to work. There’re a lot of little self-deceptions involved in writing as a general rule—“just write a page; okay just one more; you can quit if you want to”—so to get out of a downturn, I might have to employ more of those. Just little fibs I’ll tell myself to get the ball rolling. It’s silly, but it works. And now that I’m writing full time for a living, it’s entirely necessary.
- What (if any) research did you have to do for this novel? What was your favorite piece of research you did for this novel?
Since I’d already visited the South Downs in Sussex, where this new Studies in Scandal series is set, I was able to recall pretty well the landscape of the general area. But I did investigate locations for Beauchamp House, where all four of the books will be set. And for each of the four Bluestocking Heiresses, I had to research enough of their particular academic specialties to make them seem credible. For Ivy in particular, the heroine of READY SET ROGUE, I spent a lot of time familiarizing myself with classical poetry and what fragments of it were available during the Regency era. I was looking in particular for some fragments that would be a bit racier than young ladies would be allowed to read, and I did manage to find quite a few that put even me with my 21st century sensibilities to the blush! I also spent some time investigating poisons that would have been mistaken for common illnesses during the period. I did have some fun imagining what the NSA might think of these particular Google searches!
- Are there any books or authors that have really influenced you and made you want to write? What about those authors inspired or influenced you?
I started reading mysteries—Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie—when I was around nine, and didn’t discover romance until my early teens when I read Jane Austen and Marian Chesney around the same time. This means that at the heart of it, my writing tends toward the mysterious and the romantic, sometimes tending more toward one, and sometimes the other.
Also in my teens I particularly enjoyed Martha Grimes’s Richard Jury series, which were all named after English pubs. One thing I really loved about those books was that despite the fact they dealt with murder and some pretty dark issues, there was always a thread of humor running through them. It’s something I’ve tried to maintain in my own writing, in part because real life is like that. In the midst of your utmost grief, you’ll find yourself laughing at something ridiculous. And I think those moments are what make it possible to get through the dark times. So, I put them in my books as well.
Someone else who has been a big influence is Amanda Quick. I realized at one point, that all of her couples tend to work together on some larger mystery, or task, and the process of doing that is what leads them to their HEA. And I also realized that’s something I do too. I didn’t consciously set out to do this, but I do believe that my own concept of romance has to do with love as a true partnership. I want my hero and heroine to be equal partners in love as well as life, and so my stories also always feature a plot that has them working on some shared goal. They might not start out there, but before the halfway mark they’ll end up there. And realizing that that partnership is part of my core story—ie, the story that I end up telling again and again—has helped me understand what I need to focus on to write my books.
- Is there anything else about you that you’d like your readers to know?
Just that I’m very excited about this new series, because it features my favorite kinds of heroes and heroines: smart women and the men who are strong enough to appreciate and love them. I hope that readers will end up loving them as much as I do.
He’d known she was attractive—had categorized her as such almost as soon as he saw her in the Fox and Pheasant earlier that day—but even that observation hadn’t led him to imagine what she’d look like in such dishabille. Well, that wasn’t quite true, he amended. His mind had conjured her in much fewer clothes than this before he’d realized just who she was. But any such imaginings had been snuffed out as soon as he’d known her destination. The reality of facing her here, now, in her virginal bedclothes, however, with her lovely red hair framing her face like a halo was far more tempting than his fantasy had been.
So, yes. She was disturbing him, but likely in a way she didn’t even comprehend.
Suppressing the urge to tell her just that, he said instead, “I was too restless to sleep. It takes a bit for me to settle in to a new place. So there’s no harm done.”
Moving farther into the room, she set her candle down on one of the large library tables and wrapped her arms across her chest. “It’s chilly in here,” she said frowning. “I hadn’t expected it this close to the sea. I thought it was supposed to be milder here.”
Wordlessly, he looked away from her and moved over to kneel before the fireplace, stoking the embers back into a blaze. “It’s still early spring,” he said on standing, brush- ing his hands together more for something to do than to remove any soot. “The breeze off the channel keeps the air fairly cool until summer.”
But she wasn’t paying him any mind; instead she scanned the shelves that lined the walls behind him.
“Looking for something in particular?” he asked, not- ing the impatience flash in her gaze before she replaced it with polite indifference. “Something to read before sleep, perhaps? Something to steal?”
Her brow furrowed at his question. He’d meant it to be playful, but her response told him that it had come off more sharply than he’d intended.
“I’d hoped you’d decided to stop treating me like an op- portunist here to steal your inheritance from you,” she said, pursing her lips. “I have it on very good authority that you’ve a great many houses as part of the Kerr estate— ones much grander and more impressive than this one. I do not understand why you cannot manage to accept the loss of this one. Unless, of course, like most boys you dis- like sharing your toys.”
She said this last part dismissively over her shoulder as she stepped past him and openly began to read through the shelves on the far wall.
Turning to watch her move from shelf to shelf, he sighed. “I suppose I deserve that after the way I behaved this afternoon. But let me assure you that it’s no petty childhood jealousy that made me distrust you and your compatriots, Miss Wareham.”
This must have surprised her, for she turned and looked at him through narrowed eyes. “No? Then what?”
He thrust a hand through his hair, fighting the urge to look away. “Have you never faced the removal of a child- hood memory?” he asked, finally. “Never wished to hold onto the last bastion of somewhere that gave you comfort?”
Arrested, she tilted her head. “And that’s what this place was for you?” she asked. “A bastion of comfort?”
He wasn’t sure why, but Quill felt more exposed in that moment than he would have if he were stark naked. But he knew he owed her an explanation. Especially after the way he’d treated her earlier. “For me, for Serena, and for my cousin Dalton,” he admitted. “Our own homes were not particularly . . .” He broke off as he tried to think of a word that wouldn’t shock her. He could hardly tell her about the debauchery that had reigned in his own house before his father died. And the circumstances of Serena and Dalton’s upbringing weren’t his to reveal. “Let’s just say that we found our visits to Beauchamp House to be a relief from our own homes.”
Something flashed behind her eyes. Sympathy? Or something else? Quill wasn’t sure, but he couldn’t fail to note the way she squared her shoulders. As if she’d come to a decision.
Abandoning her scan of the bookshelves, she turned fully to face him, her hands clasped before her so tightly that her knuckles were white with it. “Lord Kerr,” she began, her green eyes shadowed with trepidation. “There is something I must tell you.”
Quill felt his stomach drop, and a pang of disappoint- ment ran through him. Now she’d admit that she and the others actually had found some way to trick Aunt Celeste into leaving them Beauchamp House. The whole business of the competition had sounded like a farce, and though he’d known his aunt to possess a playful streak, he’d never guessed it would reveal itself in such a way. Certainly he’d not supposed she would play fast and loose with the dis- position of Beauchamp House, where she’d spent so many happy years.
“Then by all means,” he drawled, allowing every bit of the world-weary ennui that cloaked him in town to settle over him. “Tell me all, Miss Wareham. I confess I am curi- ous to hear how you all managed it, never having set foot in Beauchamp House before. It must have taken a great deal of coordination amongst the four of you.”
But if he’d expected her to surrender completely, he was to be disappointed. “What?” she asked, her nose wrinkled in puzzlement. “I thought we’d just put that behind us. And yet, here you are with accusations again. You are like a dog with a bone, Lord Kerr. Honestly!”
“If not that, then what is it you wish to tell me?” he de- manded, exasperated. He’d never thought himself to be a particularly emotional man, but since he’d met this chit on the road he’d gone through more feelings than a year in London had elicited from him. He must be sickening for something. “You can hardly blame me for jumping to con- clusions when we’ve just been speaking about my earlier suspicions.”
“I can blame you all too easily,” she retorted with a scowl. “But I will not because I am tired of being at cross purposes with you. And I do not believe your aunt would like it.”
Indicating with a wave of his hand that she should go on, Quill waited.
“I found a letter from your aunt waiting for me in my bedchamber,” she said, her fine features marred by worry. “I greatly fear that Lady Celeste was murdered.”
Copyright © 2017 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.