Sunday, February 6, 2011

Janet Mullany is in the lair

Today we welcome back another favorite in the lair, my critique partner Janet Mullany. She's here to talk about her latest book, Mr. Bishop and the Actress.

Here's the back cover blurb:

What could be more important than a lady’s reputation?

Although initially alarmed by their unconventional ways, straight-laced Harry Bishop is content in the service of Lord Shad and his family. But when he is sent to London to rescue Shad’s wayward relation from debt and self-destruction, he also has the dubious honour of dealing with the man’s mistress – troublesome actress Sophie Wallace.

A man of dignity and decorum, Mr. Bishop is desperate to disassociate himself fro
m the scandalous Sophie. Unfortunately, avoiding her proves harder than he could ever have imagined and soon she’s causing him all kinds of bother…

A rollicking Regency tale of manners, mischief and behaving disgracefully

Thanks for having me back, Banditas, to talk about my latest release Mr Bishop and the Actress. Always a pleasure to be here (as the actress said to the bishop)! While thinking about fixing to get ready to start beginning this blog post I wanted to come up with a quick definition of what the book is about. And yes, the book is a sequel (sort of) to Improper Relations, so we get to see Shad and Charlotte happily married and having babies.

I came to the conclusion it was a love story, yadda yadda yadda, but it was also a story about misfits finding their place—people who, for one reason or another, don’t quite fit in, or are compelled by circumstances to go beyond their comfort zone. So we have the following characters:

The hero, Mr. Harry Bishop:
For all he looks like a gentleman, there are certain indications—his accent, the borrowed coat—that mark him as a servant, and of course my neighbors knew him for what he was immediately. An educated and gentlemanly servant, it is true, but someone who ascends the slippery slope of social advancement on his own talent and wits. No wonder he is so nervous around me. He does not want to be associated with a woman of ill repute.

The heroine, Mrs. Sophie Wallace, a discarded courtesan:
A new profession. Bishop’s words echo in my head. I cannot saunter to a club and, over brandy and cards with my privileged friends, reveal that I am in need of a position, some gentlemanly sinecure without a hint of labor or trade. The possibilities for a female, particularly a female of middling origins and poor reputation, are dire. With a loan I could maybe start a shop; with luck, and some fabrication of references, I might take on a new identity as a genteel sort of servant. My experience of marriage is such that I do not wish to repeat it, even if I were to find a gentleman willing to take me on, and neither of the above professions open to a woman in my circumstances hold much appeal for me.
I think the issue of social advancement—or decline—is one of the most fascinating features of the Regency. This was a time of great social flux, from displaced country workers leaving the villages where their families had lived for centuries and heading for the great new industrial centers, to the nouveau riche, the owners of those factories or the nabobs returning from India. In Pride and Prejudice Austen hints that Darcy is old money, Bingley comes from the manufacturing classes.

In addition, a burgeoning middle class aspired to gentility. The Duchess and her tenant farmer’s wife could now both afford a pianoforte—the great instrument maker Broadwood had a piano for every (middle class and above) income level, with instruments starting at twenty guineas. As comparison, Jane Austen paid thirty guineas for her piano in 1810 (although we don’t know who the maker was) and twelve shillings for a pair of silk stockings: in other words, her piano cost the equivalent of about fifty pairs of silk stockings.

Do you think we’re too hung up on those at the top of the heap—the earls and dukes? Because there’s some very interesting stuff going on further down (as the actress said to the bishop). What do you think?

The Banditas will pick a winner who’ll receive a signed copy of the book and I look forward to chatting with you! And please visit my website at for more excerpts and a contest, and is the best place to buy my Little Black Dress books, which have no US distribution.

The comment link is below the healthy heart tip for today and the AHA BetterU information.

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Slush said...

Cock a doodle doo!

Slush said...

Welcome back Janet! I love Regency... get a little swept away by it in fact. I think your new story is exactly what I have been looking for.

The earls and dukes are fun. I will admit when money's not a concern for at least the hero or the heroine then the book is easier to write and enjoy.

But I always wondered about those in the middle. What happens when those not quite at the highest levels fall in love? Do they find success? So, I admit while I like the top of the heap I want to know about those below.
Now that you have a book out about it, I am going to devour it with a hearty appetite.

barb said...

Well done Slush... have a good day with GR

Hi Janet.. I love reading regency whether it be earls and dukes or the lower classes. I am going to have to put this on my list as it sounds really interesting. As long as there is romance and a HEA I will read it

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Slush!!!! I couldn't control him at all yesterday. I hope you have better luck.

Janet, what a treat to have another book from you! I adore your writing - you have such a great comic talent. Still snicker about NOT those Wellesleys.

I agree with you about the mobility or lack of it in Regency society being one of the really interesting elements. I actually think a lot of my books deal directly with this subject - although I must say you have MUCH better jokes!

Good luck with the new story. Can't wait to read it!

Slush said...

Not to steal Janet's Thunder... but Anna, I just finished My Reckless Surrender about 30 minutes ago!

All I can say is yum and thank you!

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, Slush, how lovely are you? See? This is why I sent you the chook. Oh, that's right - he's not such a prize! This is why you should send the chook BACK!!!! Thank you!

Donna MacMeans said...

Hey Slush - weren't you wishing the other day for an opportunity to spend the day with the GR? Wishes do come true!

Janet - this story sounds wonderful, your characters unique and original. I'm be watching for this book.

As to the question - I think there's a certain American fascination with titles, something we don't necessarily have here. And, of course, it helps to be have the money not to need to toil in a factory, but I think it's time for stories with the emerging middle class. This one sounds great.

Kim in Hawaii said...

Aloha, Janet! You ask an intriguing question about social status. Indeed, there is interesting stuff going down underneath, even here in Hawaii. During the Regency period, the Hawaiian monarchy welcomed the foreign traders and adapted to Western standards. It would be easy for a salty sailor who had a silver tongue to advance with Hawaiian society. This was the case for two stranded seamen who advised King Kamehameha from the Big Island of Hawaii on how to use Western weapons to conquer the reaming 7 islands, which he did to form the Kingdom of Hawaii.

Foreigners well below Earls married into the Royal Family, gained key positions, and even fathered a Princess!

Looking forward to reading your new book!

Helen said...

Well done Slush have fun with him make him behave LOL


I do so love your stories and this one sounds like another winner to me. I love reading regencys and of course Dukes Earls etc are fun but I really like reading about the other classes as well that is the class I probably stem from LOL. Even though they don't always have the money the Ton have they sure know how to have fun together.

I Look forward to reading this one. Christie thanks for inviting Janet back today

Have Fun

Danielle Gorman said...

I like reading about all of the classes. Don't get me wrong, I still have a fascination with earls and dukes, but it is refreshing to see a story with normal people.
I can't wait to read this book. I have had it on my wishlist for months now.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Janet, it's always a pleasure to have you in the Bandit Lair!

I love knowing what the not so top of the heap group is up to. Lorraine Heath's series with the Oliver Twist kids all grown up was a very good look at letting us see this world.

I'll be looking forward to reading what Mr. Bishop and the Actress get up to! :)

Maureen said...

Congratulations on the new book Janet! I do enjoy stories with dukes and earls and viscounts with their immense wealth and prestige but I do also enjoy stories with characters from more moderate circumstances. It's interesting to see what someone must do to advance their place in society.

Margay said...

Hi, Janet! The new book looks awesome - can't wait to get my hands on a copy! As for the question, yes, I do think we're too hung up on titles and prestige - in real life as well as books. It would be nice to read about some of the more common folk, like the "gentleman farmer," as the actress said to the bishop.

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Slush, congrats on the GR. I think you'll Janet's book. She does an awesome job of writing about the non-titled in Regency England.

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Barb, I think Janet's books will satisfy your needs in a book.

Christie Kelley said...

Anna, I didn't realize the GR is out of control again. Slush, you may need to put him to work to settle him down.

Christie Kelley said...

Donna, I agree that Americans are probably more obsessed with the idea of a title and the money that usually goes with it.

Christie Kelley said...

Kim, what an interesting story about Hawaii! I don't know much about the history of Hawaii, it just isn't talked about much in History class.

Christie Kelley said...

Thanks, Helen. I think you'll enjoy this one. The parts that I read for critique were awesome!

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Danielle, as Donna pointed out, I do think we Americans are more fascinated with the English titles/classes since we don't really have them.

PJ said...

Hi Janet! Welcome back!

A well-written book is a joy to read, whether the main characters are titled or not. While I love my Dukes and Earls, I'm just as interested in reading about working class heroes and heroines. Your Mr. Bishop and Sophie sound fascinating!

Janet Mullany said...

Yikes! Don't you guys ever sleep?? (No, don't answer that!)

Good morning: @Slush, proud holder of the uh, male bird, @barb, @Anna, @Donna, @Kim, @Helen, @Danielle, @Suzanne, @Maureen, @Margay, @PJ, and @Christie (who allowed me to invite myself back), and thanks for having me as a guest!

I have to admit a threw a few things I'd always wanted to write about into this book since it's my last book for LBD--sadly, the line is closing. So the hero is an upper servant, the heroine becomes one too, and there's also a mention of the abolitionist movement, something I'm researching at the moment.

And oh gosh, yes, Americans luuurve titles. Hysteria over the royal wedding is reported to be higher on this side of the Atlantic. In the UK people enjoy the excuse for a party and then return to their usual routine, badmouthing and making rude jokes about the royals.

Kirsten said...

The higher ranks have more free time, money, women chasig after them, parties and possessions...
More of everthing and all is at hand.

I guess this is why their romances are more fun to read. I know others are just as deserving of the HEA but reading about hunger, humiliation by higher class, lost of jobs or sickness in families isn't half the fun. I wish to escape and dream of better things.

Trace said...

I think we can all agree that the handsome rogue duke has been done to death. I'd love a good story with mere Mister. And I would love to read a story about a servant that wasn't a duke in disguise. ;) Just how many 'devastatingly handsome' Dukes/Earls were there?

Lorelle said...

Hey Janet!

Somehow I missed the release of this one! Ack! I'm a big fan girl of your work. I can't wait to read about Mr. Bishop.

Nancy said...

Slush, congrats on the bird. Don't let him give you any trouble!

Janet, welcome back! I do sometimes think historicals are too hung up on the nobility. I guess that's part of the Cinderella aspect of romance reading. There have been some exceptions to that--Bow Street runners (it IS Bow Street, isn't it? I'm sort of blanking on the name), barristers, governesses--but those are less common.

catslady said...

I love variety and enjoy reading about all the classes. I think we tend to pay more attention to the upper classes (like the movie stars and royalty today) because we think we'd like to live like them but in reality, they have problems too lol.

jo robertson said...

Welcome back to the Lair, Janet! I do love the title of your recent release. It says so much with so few words LOL.

Interesting question. I just watched the BBC four-part series DOWNTON ABBY. Such a great piece for showing the different attitudes of the established upper-class and the evolving and restless working class.

Nancy said...

Trace wrote: Just how many 'devastatingly handsome' Dukes/Earls were there?

So true. *g* Trace, I once read that if you took all the earls--just the earls--in Regency fiction and lumped them together, they would fill Shea stadium, while there actually were only 12 earldoms. Twelve.

I would bet the number who were "devastatingly handsome" would be even smaller.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Welcome back, Janet!
SO glad to have you back in the Lair and BIG THANX to Christie for hosting you today!

Your new book sounds delish, can't wait to get my hands on it! I do find it interesting that readers prefer stories about nobility, since there were obviously far fewer of them than us ordinary folk. :-P I suppose the mystique of those rich and powerful are what makes their stories fun. But I'm thrilled you are giving non-nobility their turn. I'm sure Mr. Bishop and Sophie will be very entertaining.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Congrats on the GR, Slush! See? Persistence pays off, though in this case, your reward is questionable. ;-)

And LOL Trace! Gotta wonder the same thing, how many devastatingly handsome earls and dukes could there have been? Kinda like why are all those people who believe in past lives royalty in previous incarnations?


Slush said...

I know the reward is not the most lovable... but he is behaving for me!

@Janet... I love how you put that!

@Aunt Cindy thank you!

@Anna I will be happy to send him back! After today of course lol!
@Nancy, thanks and I can't believe there were only 12 earldoms! But I did wonder.

Anna Sugden said...

Hey Janet - welcome back to the Lair! *waving*

Look forward to picking up your latest - is this the one you were talking about in Greenwich?

Having been among the real thing - dukes and earls etc - I'm less excited by them than most people *g*. I didn't read historicals set in the UK for a long time because of it - but the Banditas got me back reading again and I enjoy them (probably more than the real thing *g*).

I'm all for seeing stories focusing on other than the titled men.

Anna Sugden said...

Ooh Jo - I missed Downton Abbey and am hoping to catch up on it via DVD. Everyone's been raving about it. Of course, you can't go wrong with Maggie Smith in anything!

Louisa Cornell said...

Yay Slush! Enjoy your visit with the GR !!Hide the booze! And the chocolate!

Hello Janet!

Your books are SO much fun to read! This one sounds like another splendid romp.

There does seem to be an overabundance of beautiful aristocrats when it comes to Regency romance. Looking at some of the modern descendants of the British aristocracy it does rather stretch credulity, doesn't it!

There were so many interesting nooks and crannies of the population during the early nineteenth century I love that you are exploring them and I wish more people would. Just finished a book on Regency era boxers that opened an entirely fascinating world to me!

Christie Kelley said...

Suz, what Lorraine Heath series was that? It sounds very interesting.

Rosie Hong said...

I think I would like to see more romances with main characters other than lords and ladies - the middle or working class.

Christie Kelley said...

Kirsten, I read to escape too. I think that's why I tend to read (and write) more of the titled gentlemen.

Christie Kelley said...

Trace said...

Just how many 'devastatingly handsome' Dukes/Earls were there?

Not that many in real life. :)

Jeanne M said...

Although I think it's fascinating to reach about the aristocrats I love when the characters are based on a greater segment of the society at thesophie time. I can't wait to read about Sophie and Harry and see how there story progresses!e

I love stories that include characters that are Bow Steet runners especially if their characters are an important part of the stories.

Okay I admit I do love when a "Lord Hastings" appears in a story because my middle name is Hastings and it's a family name but we still haven't been able to find the complete link while doing our ancestry!

Kaetrin said...

What a lovely change to read about an untitled gentleman!

Can's wait to read this - have loved the earlier books!

Janet Mullany said...

Hi everyone--I'm back and it's late and I wanted to thank you all for your great enthusiasm and comments, and to Christie for pouring tea and passing the cucumber sandwiches in my absence. It's always such a treat to visit the Banditas. Thanks for having me (as the actress said to the bishop).

June M. said...

I like the books that deal with the upper class (Dukes, Earls, etc). THis is an important part of society in England in the 1800's. I like reading about the upper society and can never get enough of it!

Luthien84 said...

I still like reading about the nobility class because there held the power and money of England's coffers. I do not object if to a good historical fiction about the lower classes.