by Caren Crane
My darling Banditas and Buddies, I am thrilled to welcome one of my very favorite people (and authors), Deb Marlowe, back to the Lair. Welcome, Deb!
Thank you for having me. You know I love you and the Banditas!
Believe me, the love is entirely mutual. I am very excited about your May 1 release, How To Marry a Rake. Tell us a bit about the hero and heroine of this new Regency delight.
Stephen Manning is one of the Fitzmanning Miscellany, the scandalous Regency family introduced in The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor. He’s not the same rakish boy we saw growing up in the anthology. He’s had some hard knocks and has had to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around him, as many young men do. He’s spent the last few years building a racetrack on his mother’s destitute estate, and he’s come to Newmarket determined to set his tenants’ lives back on course by bringing it to the attention of the racing world.
Mae Halford has spent the intervening years abroad, mending her heart and broadening her horizons after Stephen’s rejection broke her heart. She’s in Newmarket, too, where her father is determined to find a stud for both his brood mare and his daughter. Mae’s ready to launch her Marriage Campaign, an effort to have a say in what sort of husband she ends up with. The last man on earth she wishes to see is Stephen—which makes it a certainty that he is the first one she bumps into!
Deb, Mae and Stephen have a long history together before the book begins. Was it just a deeply hidden sadistic streak that had you fling Mae and Stephen together again?
Would you be surprised if the answer was yes? :-) I think all writers have to have a sadistic streak. We create characters we love and admire and in whom we see such great potential for growth—but unless we put them in difficult and uncomfortable situations, then there is no spur for growth and change—or for the chance at true love!
It seems that Mae and Stephen had a serious falling out before she left England. Will Stephen find Mae much changed after her European tour?
Yes! In many interesting and frustrating ways. Mae has grown up. She's the same in that she knows her own mind, but she's learned how to be subtle in going after it. Also, she truly feels that she's over her feelings for Stephen. And he, being typically male, doesn't want her to want him, but is taken aback when she doesn't.
So tell me, is the theme of friends becoming lovers one you have wanted to explore? It was one I found most intriguing when I was a teenager and I find myself, here in my dotage, interested in it still. It seems being friends could both aid and hinder the development of a romance.
Friends to lovers is one of my very favorite themes. It's a classic fantasy, isn't it? I think many of us have an old friend we might wonder about, or think about in terms of what if? But it's also a theme that lends itself to greater and more immediate intimacy and one which can make for a rich, emotional story. The stakes are higher when someone knows all the scoop and scandal, strengths and weaknesses of your past, but I think the payoff can be that much bigger.
Do you have a bit of How To Marry a Rake you would care to share?
Well, if you insist...
Stephen was happy. She felt his contentment flow into her, warming her blood, crawling into her very sinews and bones. It was beautiful. It made her feel beautiful, and whole.
Her eyes slid closed. For long minutes she lost herself to the glory of the music and the moment. Stephen gave in to it as well; she could feel his surrender in the grip of his hands, in the intimate press of her legs to hers, and in the graceful, floating ease with which he guided them about the dance floor.
And that was when she knew she’d come full circle. Her campaign was forgotten, her plans and strategies left behind. Here she was, right back where she’d started, two years ago, wanting Stephen Manning with all of her heart.
Yet, thankfully, not everything remained the same. There were new levels to their friendship, their partnership. So easily had he come to share his victory with her tonight. So naturally had he assumed she would take part in the next step. He was the one who gifted her with appreciation and acceptance and passion and all the things she’d vowed to have in a husband.
Perhaps she needed a new campaign, with new strategies designed to win his heart. Because she longed for it, and for his unfathomable blue eyes and his maddening imperious ways and his warm acceptance and his heated kisses.
But there was one other thing that was different now, too. She wasn’t that young girl anymore, happy to accept whatever part of himself Stephen was willing or able to give. She wanted all of him. And no campaign of hers was going to be successful in flushing it out. She sighed. He had to choose to give it.
Oh, my! It sounds like Stephen won't stand a chance against the woman Mae has become. I do believe Mae will get her man! I hope everyone will run out and snap up a copy of How To Marry a Rake. Many of us have been waiting for the 'sibling' books to the The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor for ages! Deb, thank you so much for giving us the inside scoop on Stephen and Mae's book. (And here, for your delectation, is a dude Deb thinks should totally play Stephen in a movie version of How To Marry a Rake!)
Now, do you have a question you would like to pose to our Banditas and Buddies today?
But of course I do!
Do you guys have someone in your past who makes you go What If? Do you like friends-to-lovers-themed romances? Can you name a favorite "Friends to Lovers" couple? A randomly selected commenter will win a copy of How To Marry a Rake!
Ooh, we do love a giveaway! Deb, thank you so much for being with us today. I'm off to search my memory banks for my very favorite pair of Friends Who Discovered Benefits!