It is my enormous pleasure to introduce debut historical author and all round good egg Elizabeth Essex.
EE (as I am privileged to call her!) is a lot of fun and her books are wonderful. I was lucky enough to read the first and the third as ARCs and they're absolute treats. Witty, clever, sensual, romantic, full of intrigue.
Here's the blurb for THE PURSUIT OF PLEASURE:
Lizzie Paxton's dream in life is to be a widow - if only she could skip the wedding and the husband. When her childhood friend Captain James Marlowe proposes a marriage in name only, she accepts, knowing she'll have the independence she craves once he sets sail.
Though James is the only man Lizzie trusts, she doesn't trust the scintillating desire he evokes in her. James knows he shouldn't get involved with anyone, especially with his uncertain future. But he just can't help himself when he overhears Lizzie's declaration. Though he's promised her a marriage of convenience, he wastes no time in seducing her and taking her over the precipice of desire.
Yet not even his beautiful wife can deter him from his cause. But when Lizzie discovers her husband has deceived her, James must choose between devotion to duty and loyalty to the woman he cannot live without...
You can read an excerpt from THE PURSUIT OF PLEASURE on Elizabeth's website.
So let's give Elizabeth a rousing Bandita welcome!
Elizabeth, welcome to the lair! The cabana boys and gladiators are frothing at the mouth. Don’t worry, they just do that. What’s that? Apparently this is special froth because you’re a debut author arriving fresh for them to torture! Oh, man, these boys get their thrills in obscure ways! Ignore them and please tell us about your brilliant first book THE PURSUIT OF PLEASURE.
Anna, first I want to thank you, and all the Romance Bandits, so very much for having me in the lair.
And I must confess straight away - I can’t possibly willfully ignore a Cabana boys.
Too many good things in my life have been brought by wayward cabana boys!
But I must say, I’m rather thrilled to be offered as gladiator fodder. I’ve been quite looking forward to it - it’s the most excitement I’ve had in quite some time!
But as to the story: THE PURSUIT of PLEASURE is a Georgian-era historical romance set in Dartmouth, England in 1794. It’s the story of Lizzie Paxton and Jameson Marlowe, who meet again after many years separation and the sparks immediately begin to fly.
Captain Jameson Marlowe has come home to Dartmouth on a special assignment from the Admiralty, to solve the murder of his lieutenant and to stop the illicit trade of arms and information between the Devon coast and Revolutionary France.
When he overhears his childhood friend and nemesis, Lizzie Paxton, declare, “I do say I’ll never marry, but I have always wanted to be a widow,” he jumps at the opportunity to revenge old wrongs.
Lizzie Paxton is bored, too bright for her own good, and very, very used to getting her own way. She can’t resist Jamie’s offer of “a marriage without the man.” But instead of happily lazing away her days at her lovely, empty estate, she finds herself thrown into prison, and embarking upon a crazy foray into a world filled with gun runners, idealist politicians, murderers and husbands who only pretend to be dead.
What’s coming up next?
My next book, A SENSE OF SIN, is due out in April. It is the story of a secondary character in THE PURSUIT OF PLEASURE, the Ravishing Miss Celia Burke.
He could be her ruin...
After a shocking letter and then a mysterious warning about the dangers of unworthy men, Celia Burke is on edge. With her precarious position in society, the merest look could tear her reputations to tatters. And the roguish viscount pursuing her seems interested in far more than just a look …
She could be his salvation...
Rupert Delacorte, Viscount Darling, believes the ravishing Miss Celia Burke played some part in his beloved sister’s death. Looking for revenge, he swears he’ll seduce and ruin her – without actually touching her. Yet to win Celia’s trust and ignite her passions, Delacorte must open his hardened heart to her – and in the process, risk falling for the very woman he hoped to destroy.
Ooh, Viscount Darling sounds positively...DARLING! You have a wonderful facility with language and I love the way your characters speak in a way that reflects their background and history. Can you tell us something about the research you did for these stories?
I am thrilled you think so! I must say I work hard to get deep into the point of view of my characters, and I try to make their reactions and their language unique to them. My heroes tend to be military men, mostly naval captains, so I try to filter their reactions to everything, including the heroine, through the particular prism of their naval careers. For instance, in THE PURSUIT OF PLEASURE, Marlowe refers to Lizzie as, “as sharp and lethal as a handspike.” Instead of just saying that she’s dangerous, I try to use words that convey, in his experience, what he would think was particularly dangerous.
I did do some specific research on the time period, especially on the political writings of the day, but my academic background is in Nautical Archaeology, which is the archaeology of shipwrecks. For most of my archaeology career I worked with shipwrecks of the historical period in North America, from the Revolutionary War, through the War of 1812 and up to the Civil War. During those years I conducted extensive research into the periods, people and customs of the particular projects I worked on, so it just seemed a natural progression for me to write fiction about the period. It think all that research is also what drove me to write romance - when I was an archaeologist I already knew how the story had ended - they had already ended badly on the bottom of the sea! So I really wanted to write stories with a happy ending.
Wow, that's fascinating! Can you tell us about your writing journey?
My writing journey was more of a big old leap of faith. My jump to fiction came after I did some historical and archaeological research on a particular navy ship for the author Clive Cussler. I wrote a scholarly article about that research for an academic journal, and Mr. Cussler was kind enough to call and compliment me on it. He said I had a flair for historic narrative, and asked if I had ever thought of writing fiction. I was a stay-at-home-mom at the time, and it was just the push I needed to sit down at the computer and get started.
But I honestly believe the best way for anyone to become a writer is to be a reader. I have a deep love of words, and the worlds they can create, that I think was fostered by having wonderful books, like Kenneth Grahame’s THE WIND ON THE WILLOWS, read to me as a child. A love of stories that could transport me to different continents and time periods has continued all through my life, and I think is what ultimately inspired me to give fiction a try.
Here in the lair, we LOVE call stories. Can you share yours with us?
I think my ‘call’ was really more like a series of calls, each one leading directly to the next, and ultimately to one asking to buy the book.
The manuscript that became THE PURSUIT OF PLEASURE was my second manuscript. I entered it in a series of contests - the Beau Monde’s Royal Ascot, the Gotcha! Contest and the Golden Heart - and I was fortunate to get those exciting phone calls telling me I was a finalist, especially the call from Madeline Hunter telling me I was a finalist for Regency romance in the 2009 Golden Heart Contest. Each phone call and ‘final’ in those contests spurred me to go back to the manuscript, and work to try and make it better, so when my terrific editor Megan Records from Kensington called to ask for the full manuscript, I was more than ready to send it along. A short time later, she called back to ask if I wanted to be a Brava girl, and I said yes. I don’t recall much else about that moment, other than a strange, but pleasant numbness and an abiding sense of accomplishment. I sold to Kensington in a three-book contract right before the 2009 RWA convention.
Congratulations! Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?
Write every day. I find my brain is like a muscle – it needs regular exercise to stay in shape and perform usefully. Take a laptop, or an ipad, or just a pad of paper and a pen with you everywhere you go, so even if you are in the middle of the grocery store, the words that just popped into your head won’t get lost. Read your work out loud. I don’t care if the people in my house think I’m crazy for talking to imaginary characters! It helps me to get more deeply into my characters’ points of view to understand the way they talk. Since I write with ‘accented’ characters in mind, the cadence of their speech is very important. I also find I catch most of my typos and clichéd word choices while I am reading aloud. And my final, super sassy secret weapon – use it very carefully – is the Wine Spectator. Finding new ways to describe the emotions and, quite frankly, the romantic choreography of love scenes can get hard. (No pun intended). One evening, after a particularly trying day of writing, I was seeking solace amongst the bottles on display at my local grocers, and I heard a wine vendor describe a wine as having ‘an opulent silkiness in the mouth. I thought that was a perfect description of a kiss (or several other things which I’m too shy and retiring to mention on such an august forum as the lair) and I immediately wrote it down. (See above!) So there you have it. When you are stuck for sensory laden descriptions, check out the wine reviews!
Now I’m going to give away copies of THE PURSUIT OF PLEASURE to three random commenters, but one lucky commenter will also win an audiobook of Georgette Heyer’s THE CONVENIENT MARRIAGE read by Richard Armitage (SWOON!), because THE PURSUIT OF PLEASURE is essentially a ‘marriage of convenience’ story.
What’s your favourite example of this kind of story? Or if it’s not your favourite type of story, what is? The duck out of water? The injured hero? The toga-less gladiator? I’m dying to know!
Hmm, plenty of toga-less gladiators in the lair! A girl doesn't know where to look sometimes! That's incredibly generous of you, Elizabeth! Thank you! I'm sure the Bandita buddies will be on you like sails on a cutter in a fresh breeze! Good luck, everyone! Get commenting!
And there's more! Goodness me, they'll stop calling us Banditas and start calling us Santa soon!
It's FINALLY here!
The Romance Bandits 12 Days of Christmas Booty. Every day between now and Christmas, one lucky commenter per day will win a daily prize and on some days, additional goodies from that day's blogging Bandita or guest. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we'll give away more booty including autographed books, GR mugs and much more! Come join us! Tell your friends! Let's make the Season BRIGHT!