Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Lair welcomes Kensington Author Carrie Lofty!

by Joan Kayse

Today we welcome Kensington author Carrie Lofty to The Lair. Founder of the multi author blog Unusual Historicals, Carrie brings her love of history to life in her newest release Scoundrel’s Kiss available now at your local booksellers.

Joan: Welcome Carrie!

Carrie: Hello! Thanks so much for inviting me to stop by!

Joan: What was the inspiration for Scoundrel’s Kiss?

Carrie: About my inspiration for Scoundrel's Kiss, I only recall knowing that I wanted to create a warrior monk hero. Maybe it just sounded intriguing and sexy to me at the time. I had no grounding in medieval Spanish history, so it was entirely based on the epic romance of that warrior monk idea. Then my research revealed something else to consider. I knew my heroine, Ada, was going to become an opium addict after leaving England. Opium was available from Chinese and Arab traders throughout the Middle East and North Africa, but the easiest place for an Englishwoman to find accidentally wind up hooked on opium was in Spain. Once those two pieces came together, and after a little bit of research to whet my appetite, I knew that's where I wanted to set Scoundrel's Kiss.

Joan: I adore new and different time periods and this certainly showcases the romance potential. I think this excerpt will too:

Ada of Keyworth stared at the poppy pod, the one the apothecary rolled between his skeletal fingers. "What would you have me do for it?" she asked him in Arabic. Seated, Hamid al-Balansi lolled the pod in his palm, around, around. A halo of sunlight from the doorway at his back left his aged, bearded face in shadow. But she could see his voracious eyes and the arch of his rank smile.

"When was your last taste, inglesa?"

Englishwoman. She licked chapped lips, darting a glance to his wide pupils. "Two evenings ago."

"Ah," Hamid said, his grin widening. "Without your ration, I do not envy your suffering come nightfall."

"Then don't make me suffer. Give me the tincture."

"The question is not what I would have you do for it." His sharp voice held none of the pity she sought. "Instead, I should ask what you are willing to do."

The cramped alcove at the rear of the apothecary's shop pressed closer around her. She cringed, the tapestry-lined walls threatening like ominous sentinels. Angled rays of intense afternoon sunshine illuminated the ragged edges of the tapestry covering the doorway, shining around it like a corona, polluting the air with the stench of heated wool. Seated on a scatter of worn brocade pillows, Ada hugged her knees and concentrated on the pale green seedpod. "Please." The plaintive word grazed the parched tissue of her throat. "I have no money."

"Worse than that, pretty one. You have debts. Bad debts to unsavory men."

Panic caught fire in her chest, at war with the chills. "My debts are no concern of yours."
"Oh, but they are. If I give you the tincture for free, I keep you from asking for another loan." Hamid teased one of the pod's seams with a ragged thumbnail, releasing a drizzle of milky liquid. "Your creditors won't appreciate my taking business away from them."
"Do they have to know?" The grotesque little whisper hardly sounded like her.

"They always know. These people you owe, they are the eyes and ears of Toledo--not the high-minded courtiers you count among your patrons." He raised a bushy white eyebrow. "Why haven't you asked Doña Valdedrona for the money you need?"

"She is at the Alcázar in Segovia with King Alfonso, and most of the household with her," Ada said. "But even if she was here, I could never ask such a favor."

"And you have nothing else to sell?"

She thought of the scrolls, the ones she had pilfered from amongst the belongings of Daniel of Morley, her mentor. The English scholar had helped her and Jacob find patronage with the Condesa de Valdedrona, then spent the better part of a year tutoring Ada in the half dozen languages of Iberia. A ragged bit of her conscience had not let her bring the man's scrolls. They sat in a satchel in her room. Now she wished she had. "No. I have nothing."

He laughed without mirth, the squawk of a crow. "More's the pity. We shall have to come to an agreement, you and me."

His fingers steady and sure despite his age, Hamid picked up a bowl from the squat table at his knee and placed the poppy inside. With a mortar, he crushed the fragile, unripe pod until nothing remained but moss-green filaments bathed in creamy resin. He added two more pods, pulverized them, and sluiced wine over the mash. Deep burgundy muted to a paler shade, swirling around the bowl. After draining the liquid to a flask, he added pinches of cardamom and cloves. Ada absorbed the scene, taking in every familiar movement.

She imagined tasting the foul, stinging tincture, feeling the blissful release of the opium. Relief washed over her. Soon. Soon, she would be free of the wicked torture of unending dreams, that terrible nightly spectacle. The only remaining matter was what Hamid would ask of her. She closed her eyes. A distant part of her mind--the part that hovered above the pain and the insatiable cravings--recalled a very different life. Ada of Keyworth, the scholar. The translator. The woman from England who had once lived for reasons other than opium. But what had those reasons been? She could no longer recall, a failing that only added to her despair. And what would Jacob do when he found out? He had asked her to make one promise, one ridiculously harmless promise for her own safety. And she could not keep it.

Hamid capped the flask. The liquid sloshed as he shook it vigorously, the fluff of his shabby white beard shivering with the movement. Watching, waiting, Ada faced an unassailable truth. She lived in that bottle. She would do anything to have it, devil take the consequences.

"And now the small matter of my fee," he said.

"Whatever you ask. I'll find a way to pay." His rodent grin sent frissons of fear up her arms--or was that the sickness? Anything but the sickness of withdrawal. If need be, she would stab the grizzled apothecary in the neck and steal his goods. She had killed once before, and memories of Sheriff Finch's bloody end revisited her nightly. Finch's ornamented dagger still dangled at her waist, the last item of value she possessed. But she would never part with the macabre souvenir, a talisman against those who would do her further harm.

Tension curled in her muscles. She clutched the hilt, patterns of inlaid jewels and raised scrollwork gouging her damp palm. One quick strike and Hamid would fall dead. One quick strike and she would steal every poppy pod in his shop.Movement at the curtained doorway caught her attention. Two giant men in black robes swished the tapestry aside, blinding her with a stab of bright sunshine. She released the dagger to shield her eyes. When they dropped the faded wool into place, the burly guards stood at either side of Hamid, his bony limbs and parchment skin. And the flask was gone. "Where did it go? The flask? You said we could come to an agreement!"

"But our agreement had naught to do with murder," he said, the dark pools of his eyes alighting on her dagger. "I felt you were liable to become unreasonable."

Fingers, hands, arms--she could not stop shaking. "You know I need it."

Hamid removed the flask from the folds of his white linen robe. He removed the cork and set it on the table at his knee. "Keep your peace, if you would. A hasty move might upset the table, and then your tincture will be no more."

"Please!" Once she had been able to read people very well. Particularly men. She had read them like her beloved languages, knowing just what they needed to hear. But all she heard was a watery streak of hysteria in her own voice.

"Now here is my proposition," he said. "Will you hear it?"

Struggling for a breath, she looked up at the stern guards, their impassive faces and broad shoulders. One wore a massive mace at his hip. They made the tiny alcove seem even more confining. Backed against the rear wall, she would not be able leave without their consent. But she had no desire to escape, not without the tonic. "Yes, I'll hear it," she said flatly. "Name your price."

For the first time, pity washed over the old man's withered features. His toothy grin faded. With steady hands Ada envied, he gestured to the open flask. An invitation. She snatched it from the table. Greedy swallows bathed her tongue in bitter, spiced wine, trailing a path of fire to her gut. The warm wash of opium soothed her tattered spirit and quelled the shakes. Warm. Floating and free. The price he would demand, how she would satisfy her next, inevitable appetite--none of it mattered.

As the tincture enveloped her senses, she smiled and retrieved the dagger from her belt. It was no use, holding onto that grim reminder. "For you. My payment."

Keep your blade, inglesa," he said. "Where you're going, you will need it."

Joan: Ada’s in deep trouble! Tell us about her hero. I’m figuring a warrior monk will have to do more than pray to save her from her fate.

Carrie: During the course of my research, I learned the 13th century was a strange time in the history of the Catholic Church in the kingdoms that now made up modern-day Spain. Leaders were so desperate to recruit skilled young warriors in the fight against the Moors that men were accepted to the Order of Santiago with few of the restrictions we'd associate with monasteries. Men could retain their own property, live outside of the monastery, and even get married! Conjugal chastity was the way to go!

Only, Gavriel isn't a member just yet. He has to pass one final test: help a troubled Englishwoman overcome a deadly addiction. Once the idea fired up inside my imagination, I couldn't let it go. Maybe writing a warrior monk hero just sounded intriguing and sexy to me at the time. Imagine all the training and the hard-earned experience of a warrior, but all the humility and, ahem, self-control of a monk. And my heroine certainly tests him to the limit!

Joan: During the course of your research? Chicken or egg? In other words, do you have a favored time period you like to write in and came upon this aspect, or was the idea for the story there first?

Carrie: With Scoundrel's Kiss, I had a little bit of background because of how we left Ada at the end of What a Scoundrel Wants. She's been abused and tortured, but she's also made some patently unfair demands on her sister. Selfish and hurting, she leaves for Spain. Why Spain? I wanted a warrior monk hero, but I didn't want to go the path of ordinary Templars. Plus, because I wanted Ada to turn to opium for relief, I needed to find a place where she could go to get a steady supply.

Opium was available from Chinese and Arab traders throughout the Middle East and North Africa, but the easiest place for an Englishwoman to accidentally get hooked was in Spain. Once those two pieces came together, I was off and running. I've found that no matter what story idea I have, it's always a matter of tempering it with research. The give and take continues right through revisions as I look for the best story married to the most intriguing facts.

Joan: And why historicals? What draws you to write them? Who are your favorite historical authors?
Carrie: My mom tells me that I used to string words together, trying for sentences and narratives from an early age. I see that now in my older daughter: it's all about expressing what's inside. Some people do it through dance or song, art or theater. My daughter and I, we do it through words. So I suspected that this is what I wanted to do, even when I was pursuing my master's degree in history.

All of my ambitious colleagues wanted to publish their research; I wanted to have an embossed cover with a half-nekkid man on it! As for influences, I love lush, beautiful writing. My favorite romance authors are Candice Procter, Penelope Williamson, Laura Kinsale, and Patricia Gaffney. They all craft such amazing stories, not simply packed with emotion and fascinating characters, but with poetic language to describe every aspect of the hero and heroine's lives. I read those books and knew that's what I wanted to write. Those are the kinds of stories I love to read, so why not give them a try in my own style with my own unique voice?

Joan: Well you’ve done a fantastic job and I know Scoundrel’s Kiss will fly off the shelves! Do you have any questions for our readers?

Carrie: I'd love to know what readers feel about traveling with authors like me to new locales and eras. Are you game for it? Apprehensive? Are there places you'd love to read about, and ones that wouldn't appeal to you at all? Any and all ideas...I'd love to know!

Carrie will select a lucky poster to receive an autographed copy of Scoundrel’s Kiss (US/Canada) or send a copy through the Book Depository for international guests.


mariska said...

may i ?

Joan said...

Only if you say Simon Says Mariska


Of course you may! I stayed up special to welcome our first poster.

Can't wait to get up in the morning to join everyone in welcoming Carrie!

PinkPeony said...

Hey Joan! Welcome, Carrie!

Wow, you book sounds fabulous. Great story line and I love the different locale and the fact the heroine has an opium addiction. It sure doesn't sound like a run-of-the-mill historical and that's great. I'm also a big fan of Candice Proctor and Penelope Williamson.

My mom grew up in Malaysia and her uncle was an opium addict. My grandmother had custody of his daughter and my mom and her cousin were forbidden to visit him but they did anyway. It wasn't until my mom was older that she realized "why" she always felt so good after spending an afternoon with him. It was the smoke from the opium pipe. :)

Congrats on the GR, Mariska.

Helen said...

Congrats Mariska have fun with him

Thank you muchly Joan for inviting Carrie along today. I have heard lots about your book Carrie and have already added both to my must have list (I do like to read books in order)

I love "travelling" around the world with authors I have never travelled much myself. The thought of a trip to Spain sounds great other places I would love to visit anywhere in Europe past or present. With historicals there were lots of little countries that had royalty and I am sure lots of stories could come of them.

Have Fun

mariska said...

Thanks for 'Welcoming me' Joan :)

And Hi Carrie !*waving*
I'd love to travel with Authors to various countries and parts of this world since i believe with reading we're traveling to certain places with our mind ;)

Tasting the sweet of each eras that the Author brings me along with the story, it'll be great.

Looking forward to read your book, but i think the book depository won't come down to my home since i live in Indonesia *dang*

Gillian Layne said...

I love books set in exotic locations, especially Egypt, but reading about somewhere new to me is always a bonus.

Your blog site is amazing. The research posts are always so detailed, I never fail to learn something new.

Caren Crane said...

Carrie, this book sounds fantastic. For me, it's less about the time and setting than it is the story. I love the idea of the addicted heroine who has murdered in the past. Totally intriguing!

I also love the warrior monk. It reminds me of Richard in Claudia Dain's The Marriage Bed. No hero was ever sexier or more tormented than poor Richard, who was an almost-monk. It worked incredibly well.

I can't wait to read this book!

Joan said...

Hey Pink!!!

It IS refreshing to find an historical romance in a new, different and unique time period isn't it? Variety is the spice of life.

I was blown away by Carrie's excerpt. Has this book jumping to the top of my TBR pile for sure.

Wow, on your uncle. I hope he got ok.

Joan said...

Hi Helen, (waving madly)

In a well written, well researched historical you can get a sense of the locale and that is fun. I'd never had a particular curiosity to go to Spain. (It's not Ireland
:-) but now I'm thinking I might need to add that to my list.

Hug all the grandbabies for me!

Joan said...

Gillian, are you talking about Carrie's blog "Unusual Historicals"? You're right that IS amazing and I applaud Carrie for gifting us with it!

Joan said...

I know Caren, isn't Ada so intriguing? Really makes you want to read further and see how this H/H find their Happy Ever After....

Carrie Lofty said...

Good morning, everyone!

First off, a big thank you to Joan who invited me to stop by today. I love talking about my new baby and she's been great in allowing me to do so.

Thanks to everyone for all the sweet comments and enthusiasm. I really appreciate it, especially after taking the chances I did with this book. Spain? Addiction? A monk?? So the response and curiosity I've received so far has been a big sigh of relief.

If you have any questions for me, I'll be around for the duration of the giveaway.

All the best,

Deb said...

Hi, Carrie. I've been on a few other blogs where you have been recently and I like how each interview is different and shows me a little something different about you or SK.

I agree with Joan that it's nice to have a different locale for a story. I usually like having stories set in England and Scotland, but I can't really give a reason why, other than those are typical settings for many historicals.

SCOUNDREL'S KISS sounds like it will be a great story and a great read!

Joan said...

I agree with Joan that it's nice to have a different locale for a story. I usually like having stories set in England and Scotland, but I can't really give a reason why, other than those are typical settings for many historicals.

An editor once shared in a panel discussion that Scotland etc. were what readers want, that's what they buy.

Well...yes...if there is no variety, that is what is bought.

I LOVE historicals set in these time periods but her rationale just doesn't make sense.

So YAY to Carrie and others who are leaping the barriers AND YAY to those publishing houses willing to jump with her!

Carrie Lofty said...

Thanks, Deb. That's something I really tried for with this release. Who likes reading the same old stuff post after post?? :)

skyla11377 said...

The Excerpt Was Awesome. I Was Sorry When It Ended. The Location Is Great As Well. I Am The Type Of Person That If The Story Is Amazing It Doesn't Matter Where The Characters Are. What Made You Decide You Wanted Ada To Be An Opium Addict? I Could Almost Feel Her Suffering. Sounds Like A Really, Really Amazing Book.

Cybercliper said...

I'm not much of a traveler myself so I love traveling to different times and places with authors. Many times I read something and then head to google - and I must say some of the history is almost unbelievably fantastic. So much that I thought was just myth actually occurred. Best of luck on your latest release!

Christie Kelley said...

Welcome to the lair, Carrie! Great interview, Joan.

Carrie, the book sounds fantastic. I love the idea of different locales and really wish publishers would authors produce more of them. I think historical readers crave the different settings and eras. I know when I started reading historicals, I loved the different eras.

We would love to hear your call story if you want to share!

Carrie Lofty said...

@skyla11377: I don't know where I first got the idea to make her an opium addict--that initial niggling thought. But once it was there, the progression seemed very likely. Ada is not exactly a stable character by the end of her appearance in WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS. She's been kidnapped, tortured, and has lost her sister to a marriage she doesn't approve of. She came to me as the kind of personality who wouldn't own up to her own mistakes at first, or slough off a bad past and stride forward. She seemed like she'd wallow a bit. So I let her. SCOUNDREL'S KISS is what happens when she decides to stop wallowing!

@Cybercliper: I think that's why I write these unusual places. It gives me the legitimate opportunity to indulge in research, sightseeing and "travel" that I wouldn't ordinarily get to do!

Carrie Lofty said...

@Christie Kelley: Ann Aguirre and I are good friends (we now write together, too, as Ellen Connor) and we pretty much dared each other to go to Nationals in 2007. I'd finaled in a few contests and thought WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS had a good shot. I was scheduled to pitch to Hilary Sares--my first pitch ever!

My pitch was the first after lunch, so she was a little late in arriving. But these sessions are only eight minutes each, with no rain checks! I'd never been so conscious of time ticking by. When she showed up, I was so relieved. She sat down, took one look at my business card, which featured a 20-word summary of the manuscript, and said, "I want the full."

I got home, made some revisions, and sent that puppy out on a Monday. She called and made an offer on Wednesday. *happy dance*

I think by then I'd already done the hard work, just overcoming my fears and getting to Nationals. Everything fell into place after that!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Welcome to the Lair, Carrie! We're pretty friendly with Kensy authors 'round here, since both Christie Kelley and I are Kensy authors. Grins. We're glad you swung by.

Joan, great interview!

Hey Mariska! He's back with you. You gotta watch out for that bird, you know. What'cha gonna have him doing today?

Carrie, as to new locales, I was thrilled to see that your book was set in Spain. Totally cool that a "new" locale made it through the editorial bottleneck. Grins. I sometimes think readers are eager for new locales and pub houses are reluctant to try it on for size. (Shhhhhh, don't let my editor hear that I said that, because she's pretty game for new stuff!)

I'd love to see a lot more Europe, and the Mediterranean (sp?), even South and Central America. Aus, of course, but I'm game for Greenland too ...hey, you tell me a good story, I'll be there

Barbara Monajem said...

Aaaaaaahhh! What happens next??

I have seldom been so drawn in by an excerpt. Wow. It was so compelling that I *have to* go buy the book.

I am completely happy with new locales and eras -- always, always up to learning something new.

Carrie Lofty said...

@Jeanne: I know what you mean. With regard to the setting and even the opium addiction, I sometimes still wonder how I "slipped it past" everyone :)

Margay said...

Hi, Carrie! I haven't really thought about what places I wouldn't like to read about. Mainly, I just want a good story. As long as the story is good and the characters are engaging, I'm in.

Susan Sey said...

Good morning, Joan & Carrie!

Carrie, your excerpt blew me away--the tension & the language & the way you made it clear this woman was damaged and hurting and worth saving. Brilliant--Scoundrel's Kiss is on my list!

As for time periods that I'm drawn to or shy away from? I'm a total omnivore. It makes me sad, the way the publishing industry sort of railroads authors into all writing about the same time & place. I love it when somebody takes me outside what I already know. I have a deep affection for those giant door stoppers they used to publish in the 80s (The Far Pavillion comes to mind) where the story ranged over continents & generations.

I'd love to see a return to more adventurous locales! And story lines! Yahoo! Bring it on!

Kirsten said...

My health does not allow me to travel far so I LOVE to read about different places and times. It helps me escape my home and situation and makes me enjoy new experiences I would never have in real life. I don't really have a preference. I have a lot of books that take place in England. And love them but I like all countries and places if they are written about in a manner that captures my heart or imagination.

Julie said...

I welcome any and all field trips led by an author. Scenery and environment are very important to me, so the more sensory information, the better!

I've seen plenty novels feature Europe and America, so I'd love to read more Asia-based stories.

Rebekah E. said...

I love reading books that are set throughout the world. It is probably the only way I will get to travel plus there is always a happy ending.

Donna MacMeans said...

Carrie - What is an amazing excerpt! I was right there feeling her panic. Fabulous!

I wish you great success with this story. I would love to see more variety in settings in historicals. Kudos to Kensington and Hilary Sares for recognizing your talent!

MsHellion said...

Hi Carrie!! Great to see you again!

I'd like to read more historicals in Russia, I think. Only I would like them to end more happily than that famous novel...the one featured in Must Love Dogs. Dr. Zhivago...that's it.

I'm generally not game for settings in the Middle East or Africa (though India has an exotic appeal I've found fascinating), but historically, I think with the right author, those settings can be great too.

Virginia said...

Congrats mariska, on the GR!

Great post Carrie! Congrats on your new release! I read your first book and would love to read this one! I love to travel everywhere in books, anything different works for me. It amazes me of all the different places I have visited in my books. Thanks for sharing yours with us today!

Julia Smith said...

Scoundrel's Kiss has seduced me just from the description and the excerpts, Carrie.

I love this:

'All of my ambitious colleagues wanted to publish their research; I wanted to have an embossed cover with a half-nekkid man on it!'


MARIAN said...

Carrie, congrats on your new release! It sounds amazing. Love how you pitched with your card and the sale. Wow! That's awesome! Love redemption!

Maureen said...

Hi Carrie,
I enjoy reading about different times and settings. It is a real pleasure when an author brings the setting alive and shows me something that I don't know anything about because of my aversion to anything related to history during my years of schooling.

Kat Sheridan said...

Carrie, what a powerful excerpt, and what a fantastic concept for a book! Like others, I am so glad to see something new and different. My writer's group was just discussing this very thing over the last couple of days--the love of British set historical pieces, but also the longing for new and different places. So wonderful to see an author willing to kick down that barrier, and a publisher willing to let them take that chance! This has definitely jumped to the top of my to-be-purchased list! May youu have great success with this, and pave the way for other romances to return to the wider world experience of past romances!

Silvia said...

Hi Carrie, For me it does not matter if the H/H are in Scotland or the Mediterranean, Asia or Canada. Even the moon can be interesting I'm sure. If the romance is good it may happen anywhere anytime. I enjoy reading about places I have never been and probably will never visit. Spain sounds good to me!

Cassondra said...

Hello Carrie, and welcome to the lair!

This book sounds as though it has everything I love. Deep, dark soul torture and exquisite characters. The deeper the pain, the more powerful the high when the characters are liberated from it, I think.

And this new and different time period sounds as though it's absolutely full of intrigue. I'm always so impressed when a writer can do what you've done-- believably create a world which none of us has ever visited--because we weren't born. I'm not always a stickler for exact historical accuracy because, frankly, I don't know it. But making me believe we're actually there? That's what grabs me. And you did in your excerpt. Now I want to meet the hero!

Karyn Gerrard AKA~Drew said...

Hi Carrie and Joan!

I ADORE historicals, for some of the reasons you mention, to be swept away to another time, another era, the different rules of society.
I love that your book bucks the trend, it takes place in Spain, the Hero is a self-restrained almost monk, the heroine, tortured, addicted. They must have to really struggle to get their HEA, and from the excerpt, sounds like quite a ride!
Who would you say is tortured more, Ada or Gavriel?

Where would I like a historical set? I will go with my native Canada, but please, no more 'hunky Mounties in the Rockies' bit, LOL! (though, they ARE appealing)

All the success you deserve for your release!


Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Mariska, way to go on the chook!

Joan, thank you so much for inviting Carrie to the lair today. Carrie, I've really been looking forward to your visit. I adore the sound of your new book. I actually used to be a really MEDIEVAL girl (no, rude Sven, that doesn't mean I was born in the 12th century! Sheesh!). And I found Spain in particular fascinating because of the mix of cultures and because there were moments in medieval Spanish history where everybody did get along to the benefit of wider culture. I was lucky enough to visit Spain over 20 years ago and my fascination just grew! So I guess you could say you had me at hello. And a warrior monk? Oh, what a delicious conflict when he meets the woman he wants!

Personally I love going further afield with settings! More power to your right arm, Carrie!

By the way, have you read the C.S. Harris books? C.S. Harris is actually Candice Proctor and they're brilliant!

Minna said...

I love traveling to new locales and eras. Scotland, Finland, Canada, Sweden, Russia, moon, time travel, everything goes.

Lady Gaga - Poker Face - Parody "Outer Space"

Eurythmics - There Must Be An Angel

Back to the Future Tribute -- Back In Time

The Baseballs - Umbrella

Joan said...

Hi everyone! I'm back from seeking my own drug of choice....steroid shot in the hip..Yeeeeow!!!

But it WILL feel better...eventually.

Skyla, wasn't that excerpt fantastic?! It grips you, makes you FEEL as if you're in that back alley den. Even the opium seller is three dimentional...he seems to ALMOST feel sorry for Ada....almost until he wants his money....

Joan said...

Isn't Google great, Cyberclipper? You just type in words in your query like "low hospital census 2009" or history of two toed sloths or well.....suffice to say MANY topics can be Googled :-)

Joan said...

Oh my gosh, Carrie! It seemed so kismetic.

I join in the chorus of WTG Kensington on taking the leap on an Unusual Historical!

Joan said...

Get in line behind me Barbara....this book is a MUST buy for sure.

When Carrie and I were corresponding for this blog post, I'd wondered if it was a bit long. Where should I edit? The excerpt?

But it took all of two seconds to say heck no! I'll edit myself out before I ask Carrie to reduce that wonderful excerpt..

Joan said...

Amen, Margay!

It is the story and the characters interacting with their enviroment, their historical era or place that make the story! A rubber stamp on a certain time period does not ensure a good tale!

Joan said...

Kirsten, that's the beauty of romance novels in particular. A good story teller can take you away from the mundane of situation and exist someplace...some TIME...else.

Joan said...

Julie and Rebekkah...pack your bags...the next field trip leaves in....

Joan said...


This echos what Margay said....the RIGHT story, by the RIGHT author and ANY setting can be successful for the author, the reader AND the publisher....

Leap of faith...often lands you on solid profitable land.

Joan said...


Carrie's first book was great, wasn't it? Isn't it exciting to find a new author to, I mean, I mean enjoy :-)

Joan said...


That's what all we writers want LOL

Joan said...


You, ah...aren't THE Marian are you? I mean Carrie's first book WAS based on Robin Hood tales....

Gillian Layne said...


That must have been one humdinger of a "twenty word summary of the manuscript." Oh, the power of the blurb! Any advice?

Joan said...


Bringing the setting alive is key to making any story wonderful. A challenge sometimes, yes but WONDERFUL gift when it flows out of you onto the pages....

Joan said...


I couldn't have said it I won't try...

What Kat said :-)

Joan said...


The moon? Hmmmmm.....with or without oxygen?

H/H stuck for months inside an artificial enviroment. The only real thing in their lives are...each other!!!

Excuse me while I go jot down some notes VBG

Joan said...

Oh, Mounties? REally?

I'd like them long as they weren't named Dudley..

Joan said...

Now Minna, I fully suspect Lady GaGa of being FROM the moon....

Joan said...

I know Gillian...don't you just want to send your synopsis to Carrie for translation into a twenty word blurb???


limecello said...

Hi Carrie! Thanks for visiting with the Banditas today :) I've heard so many wonderful things about your new book! Congratulations on the great release.

As for new locales... I freely admit I'm a huge classics geek, so something set in Ancient Rome, etc would be really interesting. Those books are rare though, at least for romance. And... difficult to write/have a good market, so I've heard. Ah well - maybe one day, right?

Joan said...

As for new locales... I freely admit I'm a huge classics geek, so something set in Ancient Rome, etc would be really interesting. Those books are rare though, at least for romance. And... difficult to write/have a good market, so I've heard. Ah well - maybe one day, right?

Yay!!! Another Roman fan! From your post to the publishing god's ear!!

catslady said...

I am open to anything. I love variety so anywhere an author wants to go, I'll be glad to follow. Wanted to say I enjoyed the excerpt but I really, really love your cover!!!!

Joan said...

Hey catslady!!!

It IS a gorgeous cover. I have to say growing up, I NEVER saw a monk QUITE like that....and if I did?

It was straight to confession for me!

Mary said...

Carrie--yes, please keep writing about other locales besides the UK. I love Spain in particular and am so disappointed that your new book isn't available for the Kindle! I bought your first one for the Kindle and loved it! Do you know if your publisher plans to release a Kindle version of this new one? Please!

Mary said...

Carrie--one more note about locales. After living in Belgium for 2 years, I'm very attached to that part of the world. Some interesting history there too! But as I mentioned earlier, love Spain! Also love the idea of Russia, as someone else suggested.

Beth said...

Welcome, Carrie! Your book sounds fabulous!

I'm all about the story so I'll gladly follow authors anywhere and to any time period *g*

Thanks so much for being with us today!

Joan said...


It is exciting to read in different locales, isn't it?

I swear to you that reading Nora's earlier Irish trilogy's (Tears of the Moon etc) inspired me to take my first trip to Ireland.

I even thanked her during a booksigning.

Barbara E. said...

Great taste of Scoundrel's Kiss. I love being swept away to exotic locales in a book. It's always refreshing to read a book with something a bit different than the usual Regency, Edwardian, or Victorian era story set in England or maybe France. I think the Spanish setting is a great idea. I enjoy most locales and eras, as long as the story keeps me interested.

Louisa Cornell said...

Yes, but Mariska, before the day is done with the GR, will you WANT TO??

Hello, Carrie! Great interview and great excerpt. This was a really risky leap to have a heroine addicted to opium! Did you have any trouble getting it past your agent or editor?

And your research about Spain is FASCINATING! I don't mind traveling to those off the beaten path places and times as long as the story is exciting, the hero and heroine are fascinating and the research is accurate. I don't have to be inundated with the research, but the subtle interweaving of information - things I never knew or considered before along with spinning a great tale of adventure and romance will hook me every time!

Joan said...

Louisa said: Did you have any trouble getting it past your agent or editor?

Given her call story I'd say not happened in like 10 min, LOL.

An opium addicted heroine shows the skill of the writer. You have to show her motivations and CONVINCE the reader she is salvagable. Not easy but when!

Carrie Lofty said...

Hi everyone!

Sorry it's taken me a few hours to get back. I'm so pleased to see all of you! Thank you for all of the lovely compliments, about the excerpt and about my debut. It really does the writerly ego wonders!

On to a few of the questions:

@ Karyn Gerrard: Who's more tortured? That's a really good question, because Gavriel starts off being the more level-headed of the two. Only as the book progresses do we come to realize how many scars he's hiding. Luckily by then he has something more powerful than hate and revenge to pull him through...

@ Anna Campbell: I got CS Harris's RITA-nominated book last year at Nationals and was so excited because I got to meet Candice in person. Fangirl moment! But then I realized that it's, what, fourth in the series? So I have to get her Sebastian backlist!

Carrie Lofty said...

@ Gillian and Joan: Regarding elevator pitches, I just love coming up with them. Something about the way it's a word puzzle. How to find the heart of the book?? In fact, I'm teaching a workshop on that very trick right now, and will be again later this spring:

The pitch for WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS was:

"Robin Hood's estranged nephew rescues an alchemist who can clear him of murder, but she's blind, obsessed with fire, and sister to the woman he helped kidnap."

Come join me in April!

Carrie Lofty said...

@catslady: It took me a few days to stop petting the cover. It embarrasses the heck out of my dad, but I don't think he's the intended market ;)

@Mary: I'm very frustrated with the Kindle situation, and I've talked to my editor about it. He said it's in process, but who knows how long that will take. Grr! I hope you hang in there!

@Louisa: Honestly, I pitched the concept to my editor when we were discussing my two-book contract, and then mentioned that it would be set in Spain. I said, would that be something we could do. She replied, "F*** yeah!" So maybe I just had the right person on my side for such a daring concept? That said, you'll notice that there's no mention of opium or addition on the back cover blurb. It says she's "lost her way," because it is still rather intense for the average perusing romance reader.

Thanks again to everyone, and best of luck in the drawing!

Carrie Lofty said...

Oh, three quick sites to share with you:

At Unusual Historicals, the multi-author blog I founded in 2006 to celebrate romances set in unusual times and places, we're having a rather in-depth discussion of Spanish history in the comments section. I'm also giving away a copy thru Sunday.

At Borders' True Romance, five copies are up for grabs, plus I have a silly little video about how Richard Armitage helped inspire Gavriel.

And finally, Carina Press--Harlequin's new all-digital venture--is having a poll to determine the title to my upcoming Austrian-set romance. You can also check out the first chapter. So go take a look at the four titles and cast your vote!

Joan said...

I want to thank Carrie for bringing us her wonderful story and addicting, enabling,showing us another "auto buy" author for our TBR piles!

Thanks everyone!

Rebecca Herman said...

I love to read books with unusual historical settings! While I do have a couple favorite settings (I love the medieval era!) I always love to see a historical set in a different and interesting place & time.