Friday, September 16, 2011

In the Arms of the Marquess

posted by Nancy
Katherine Ashe's latest debut, Swept Away by a Kiss, was a Romantic Times Top Pick and a nominee for Best First Historical Romance in the Reviewers Choice Best Book Awards. In the Arms of A Marquess, her latest release, received 4.5 stars from Romantic Times along with a K.I.S.S. award for its hero, Lord Ben Dorée.

Welcome back, Katharine!

The description of In the Arms of a Marquess on your website implies Ben and Octavia, the hero and heroine, have a past. Please tell us about it.


Ben and Octavia do indeed have a past together — a past in which their young, passionate, and forbidden love ended in heartbreak. I can’t say much more without giving spoilers, but most assuredly neither of them forgot that love affair… or ever truly believed it was over.

What's the biggest obstacle for each of them when they're reunited?

Both of them play roles now that don’t suit their souls. Lord Ben Doreé, a marquess but also lord of an empire of sorts — a secret organization that spreads its net far beyond England — holds enormous responsibility over many people. His duties to this empire rule him, though all he wishes is to escape it in the company of the girl he once loved.

Miss Octavia Pierce is a naturally adventuresome lady with a frank, honest approach to society. But since her heartbreak years earlier she has learned to withhold her emotions and not to fully trust. The greatest obstacles they face in reuniting are their own wounded hearts. Their fierce desire for one another, not to mention villains plotting against them, makes healing those hearts a tumultuous matter indeed.

The book is partially set in India. Do you think more exotic settings are coming back to the romance genre?

The book takes place in England, although there are a few scenes — memories from the past — set in India where Ben and Octavia first met.

I don’t know about the romance genre as a whole embracing more unusual settings these days. Perhaps, and I hope! (I’m particularly excited about Anna Randol’s upcoming debut set in Constantinople.) But I certainly like to take advantage of Britain’s vast, rich and exciting empire in writing my books. I adore throwing my heroes and heroines into each other’s arms in London ballrooms as much as locking them in embraces aboard ship decks and beneath palm trees.

It’s such fun contrasting the rules and regulations of propriety in Regency society with the vital danger and adventure of the rest of the world that society depended upon for its wealth. And honestly, I just can’t get enough of a hero who is a highly cultured gentleman in one role and a man of action in his other role. The Scarlett Pimpernel will remain one of my favorite heroes of all time. I love heroes with secret identities, and the complexity and richness of the British Empire during this era just begs me to write them.

Did you have to do a lot of research?

I’ve been researching sea travel, piracy, smuggling and mercantile business in the Georgian through Victorian eras for over a decade. I’ve long adored the history of India in particular, especially under British rule. For this book I began with what I already knew as a starting point to develop the plot broadly, then I interviewed my university colleagues who are scholars of India and British India as to the best direction for my research, then after I researched and wrote the book I checked the details with them. I loved every bit of the reading I did for this story, and I’m very fortunate to have experts in the field amongst my family and friends.

Would you like to share an excerpt?

This is a bit of a scene that happens shortly after Ben and Octavia meet again in England after seven years apart.

Ben pushed to his feet in the gin-soaked pub. His clogged head spun.

Styles laid a hand on his shoulder. “I’ll take you to Hauterive’s. Why you came in here when the company there would welcome you, I haven’t the slightest.”

“No. I’m for home.” He started toward the door.

“You disappeared from Lady Ashford’s party so swiftly I hadn’t an idea of it until you were gone. If I’d have known you were heading here I would have dissuaded you.”

“Couldn’t have.” Ben pushed through the lollers at the tavern’s entry and headed toward the mews down the alley with bleary eyes but hound-like precision. If he hadn’t trekked this path hundreds of times in his university days, he would be lost now. Lost in London’s hells and lost in confounded memories, neither of which locations he particularly wished to be.

“Who was that girl you were dancing with, the one that looked like an Irish Athena, all sublime figure and eyes of soft steel?”

Ben blinked to shut out the image of Octavia’s body wrapped in the shimmering gown, her soft lips, pinkened cheeks, and the sensation of her trembling fingers within his. But behind his lids the image was even stronger, and his hand still felt hot where hers had lain.

“Good God, Walker,” he grunted, “you and Constance would make a perfect pair, both of you curious as a couple of magpies.”

“Lady Constance asked about the girl too? Is she jealous?”

“Only of your paramours.”

“Then the lady at Ashford’s is a paramour?”

Ben shook his head, his stomach rolling. “Not mine.” Not any longer.

He moved across the street in unsteady strides.

But why not? No one controlled his destiny now. His life was his own. Why not seduce a beautiful, deceitful woman, a woman whose flavor yet remained upon his tongue? Why not take pleasure where he wished?

Because he could not then and still could not believe in her deceit, although he had tried to convince himself of it again and again. To absolve himself of guilt.

He stumbled into the stable and pressed his face into his horse’s satiny neck. Taking to the bottle tonight had been a mistake. He needed clarity. A pitcher of icy water over his head would do it, just as her smile had earlier, so brief it seemed she didn’t even know she smiled, washing his vision clear for an instant as it always had…


An enticing peek, thanks!

Please tell us about the K.I.S.S. and Teal campaign.


Through its K.I.S.S. and Teal campaign Avon Books wants to raise awareness about the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer. The symptoms are quiet, so Ovarian Cancer has often been called the whispering disease; women don’t know they have it until it’s too late. There is still no screening test for Ovarian Cancer. Avon has donated an initial $25,000 to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance in the hopes that by raising awareness and funds for OC research, a screening test will be developed. 25 cents from the sale of each of the seven K.I.S.S. and Teal titles, up to an additional $25,000, will go to the OCNA. Please spread the word about these symptoms and help us shout against the whisper!

For the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer: http://www.ovariancancer.org/about-ovarian-cancer/symptoms. Readers can learn more about K.I.S.S. and Teal at http://www.kissandteal.com. To enter a sweepstakes by pledging to tell friends about Ovarian Cancer (and win great prizes, including books and Amazon gift cards!), please visit http://www.facebook.com/ShoutAgainsttheWhisper.

To learn more about Katharine and her work, check out her website or visit her at The Ballroom Blog.

Who are your favorite couple reunited after a painful past encounter? Who's your favorite unconventional heroine? What's your favorite setting for a romance?

51 comments:

Helen said...

Is he coming to my place

Have Fun
Helen

Helen said...

Well it has been very warm here today so I think relaxing with some Tim Tams and a good book is the way to go.

Katharine
I loved Swept Away with a Kiss such a great read and this new one is on my wish list already I can't wait to read it. I love Regency stories that include countries other than England I do love to travel this way :)

One of my great couples with a past is Keiren Krammer's Harry and Molly from When Harry Met Molly loved this couple and the story. I am thinking that one of my unconventional Heroines is Verity from Anna Campbell's CTC. I don't think I have a favourite setting for a romance I like to see lots of the world this way LOL so I am happy with any setting as long as there is a HEA.

Thanks Nancy for inviting Katharin along today. Katharine it must be wonderful to have one of your books as part of the K.I.S.S and Teal programme a great way to raise funds for a very worthy cause.

Have Fun
Helen

Anna Campbell said...

Helen, I must have treated him too well yesterday. He clearly wants to stay in Oz! Or perhaps he was disappointed that I had no Tim Tams so he's trying again.

Welcome back, Katharine! And I wish you all the best with In the Arms of the Marquess. Hmm, perhaps I should test out the marquess's arms just to make sure they're the right shape for your heroine!

marybelle said...

Reading the questions Rhett & Scarlett just gave screaming into the room.

Give me a Highland setting & I am one very happy camper - unless it's a Regency Ballroom or a tropical island or ...

Kim in Hawaii said...

Hawaiian folklore offers several separated couples who come back to earth as beautiful flowers and reunite with their lovers as co-vegetation.

Christina Brooke said...

Hi Katharine, welcome to the lair! Thanks for hosting Katharine, Nancy. In the Arms of a Marquess sounds like a great read.

I always enjoy lovers reunited. One of my faves is a Mary Jo Putney one and I'll get the name wrong but it was one of the silk books where the estranged husband and wife meet again where she is a chieftan in the middle east somewhere. Powerful stuff!

congrats on the bird, Helen! Wonder if he is sporting some new platform shoes after helping Fo clean out her cupboard yesterday:)

Anna Campbell said...

Christina, I think his platform shoes are very becoming. And he balances on them MUCH better than I ever did. I must say that 70s flannelette shirt leaves something to be desired, though. And he's started asking for a panel van to go with it!

June M. said...

Katharine~
I love that part of your story takes place in India. Gaelen Foley had a little bit of India in her Knight and Spice series and that really interested me. I am very eager to read your book now. There are so many books that feature couples who were separted by events/deceipt by others. I could not pick just one. Settings wise, I love England and Scotland, but I love lesser used areas too, such as Ireland, India, South America, etc.

Ora said...

Two of my favorite reunited couples is Rafe and Margot in Petals of the Storm by Mary Jo Putney and also Kat Martin's The Handmaiden's Necklace.
For me it doesn't matter where it takes place as long as the plot of the story draws me to it. I have never decided not to read a book because of the location it takes place.

Katharine Ashe said...

Good morning, ladies! Thank you, Nancy, for hosting me today. It's such a pleasure to be here.

Katharine Ashe said...

Hi, Helen. Thanks for your lovely words! I adore Kieran and Anna's characters too -- so wonderfully fun and interesting. :)

Katharine Ashe said...

Anna, thank you for having me here today. It's always such fun to visit the Bandits!

Katharine Ashe said...

Hi, marybelle. I'm with you... ballrooms, highlands, tropical paradises... I love them all as long as there's a nice steamy romance involved. :)

Katharine Ashe said...

Kim, how beautiful is that?! Love it!

Katharine Ashe said...

Hi, Christina. It's always such fun to visit you ladies here. Thanks! I adore Mary Jo Putney. I'm going to look that one up!

Katharine Ashe said...

Hi, June. Thank you. I had a lot of fun writing this book, intertwining the history and culture of the East Indies at that time with the Regency world.

Katharine Ashe said...

Ora, I'm with you there. As long as the romance is powerful and draws me along, it doesn't matter where or when the book is set.

Nancy said...

Helen, congrats on the bird! "Relaxing" and the GR seem an odd match, but I'm sure you can handle him.

Nancy said...

Helen, I also loved When Harry Met Molly, and I always love Anna's heroines.

Nancy said...

Anna, let us know how the marquess's arms are! *g*

Nancy said...

Marybelle, Scarlett is certainly unconventional! I'd like to see more romances with tropical settings. They're just so romantic.

Except in RS when they're in the jungle with snakes and bugs and bad guys. Then they're stakes-raising.

Nancy said...

Hi, Kim--

That's a beautiful legend. Someday I'm going to see the beauty of the islands, too.

Nancy said...

Christina, I think I've read that Putney, but I can't remember the title, either.

Nancy said...

June, exotic settings used to be much more common than they are now. Sabrina Jeffries had a book, one of her princes series, with a hero who'd been in India, though the book took place in England.

I have a book on the women of the Raj somewhere in all these stacked volumes waiting to be read.

Nancy said...

Ora wrote: I have never decided not to read a book because of the location it takes place.

Yet publishers believe setting matters a lot. As does the time period of a historical. I think there are a lot of us open to unusual settings, though maybe not enough for the industry to bank on.

I loved Petals in the Storm.

Lisa said...

Hi Katharine! :) As you know, I absolutely LOVED Marquess and Ben and Tavy captured my heart completely!

One of my favorite couples reunited after a painful past would be Meredith Bancroft and Matthew Farrell in Judith McNaught's Paradise. This was a couple torn by misunderstandings and a controlling domineering father. But like Ben and Tavy, they never forgot each other, and going along on their journey as they moved past their painful history and move forward to a wonderful future in paradise was lovely. I also liked Eloisa's An Affair Before Christmas when Poppy and Fletcher had to work through their problems in the bedroom to get their relationship and marriage back on track. More specifically, Poppy had to stop letting her horrid mother interfere with her life and marriage!

An unconventional heroine to me is someone who stays true to who she is and doesn't allow societal restrictions stop her. I loved Amanda in Lisa Kleypas's Suddenly You because not only did she end up marrying a younger man (Egads!) she also ends up the editor of a major influential literary magazine. Go Amanda! :)

Janga said...

Congratulations on another wonderful book, Katharine.

Reunited lovers is my favorite trope in romance, and so I find it difficult to choose one favorite. Mary Jo Putney's Silk and Secrets is on my list of favorites too, Christine. Eloisa James's story of Jemma and Elijah kept me enthralled for five books through their HEA in This Duchess of Mine. Another favorite is Kathleen Gilles Seidel's Till the Stars Fall, which I've reread more times than I can count.

Jessica Trent from Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels is my all-time favorite unconventional heroine. I'm open to all kinds of settings so long as they are more than painted backdrops.

Beth Andrews said...

Welcome Katharine. Loved the excerpt - thanks for sharing! And congrats on all the wonderful reviews of In the Arms of A Marquess. Sounds like a fabulous story *g*

One of my favorite reunited couples is Mel and Jake from Sweet Home Alabama. I just never get tired of that movie *g*

Louisa Cornell said...

Yes, he does tend to meander around Oz once he gets down there, doesn't he? The search for Tim Tams goes on!

Hello, Katharine!

Loved Swept Away by a Kiss !! And I have In the Arms of Marquess on the TBR tower as we speak. In fact I have ALL of the K.I.S.S. and Teal books that are currently out on my TBR tower. Such a worthwhile cause! Tessa Dare gave me one of the armbands in New York and I have worn it ever since. It has helped to get the conversation started at work, and as most of the people with whom I work are women it's definitely helped to get the message out there. AND it has helped to sell some books. (I work at Walmart and I've pointed out the K&T books on the shelves.)

I am an old stick in the mud when it comes to locations. I prefer my historical romances to take place in the UK as I consider it my second home. BUT !! A well-told tale that catches from the start definitely makes me forget so much about the location and concentrate on the romance. Which is the point, of course!

Nancy said...

Lisa, I remember that Judith McNaught. I loved that book, too. And An Affair Before Christmas was also great. I haven't read the Kleypas.

Nancy said...

Janga, I also love stories of reunited lovers. Till the Stars Fall was my introduction to Kathleen Gilles Seidel, and it remains on my keeper shelf. I also loved the one that came after that and was set on a Regency soap opera, Again.

Nancy said...

Hi, Louisa! You've really put that armband to good use. Maybe today's blog will also move some more books.

I have a bias toward UK settings, but I'm also open to others if the story hooks me.

Katharine Ashe said...

Hi, Lisa. Thanks again! I'm so glad you enjoyed Ben and Tavy's story. You've mentioned some of my favorites too!

Katharine Ashe said...

Thank you, Janga! I'm with you on the no "painted backdrops" settings. When I'm reading I love to feel immersed in a setting -- to feel and smell it and taste it -- even if it's just a typical Regency ballroom.

Katharine Ashe said...

Hi, Beth. Thanks for your kind welcome. :) Sweet Home Alabama was really terrific. I loved it that he didn't tell her about what he'd done and become, and that she had to discover it the way she did. He was a wonderful hero.

Katharine Ashe said...

Hi, Louisa. Thanks so much for supporting the K.I.S.S. and Teal campaign as you've been doing! It's exciting how many women are learning about this and fortifying and protecting themselves with information. Yay!

Minna said...

Well, there was this couple in the Three Sisters Island series.

Nancy said...

Minna, that was the third 3 Sisters book, wasn't it? I loved that book.

Nancy said...

Uh, I guess it would help to mention that the third book in the Three Sisters Island Trilogy is Face the Fire (Mia and Sam's story).

Katharine Ashe said...

Minna, I haven't read that trilogy yet. It shall go on my list right now! :)

Sonali said...

Hi Katherine, Just wanted to pop by and say CONGRATULATIONS on receiving 4.5 stars from RT.

Danielle Gorman said...

That is really hard to choose. That is my favorite trope to read so I always love those couples. One of the first couples that come to mine are Gigi and Camden from Sherry Thomas' Private Arrangements.

Nancy said...

Sonali, thanks for stopping in!

Nancy said...

Hi, Danielle--I like reunited lovers, too. Private Arrangements is on my TBR pile. :-)

Sheree said...

Ooh, another wonderful excerpt!

Nancy said...

Sheree, it was a great excerpt, wasn't it?

Katharine Ashe said...

Thanks, Sheree! :)

Katharine Ashe said...

I'm signing out for the day, ladies. Nancy, thanks again for hosting me so kindly.

Happy romance and adventure!

:)

Cassondra said...

Wooot! Helen, he's back with you...You KNOW you're one of his favorite Tim Tam goddesses...

;0)

Cassondra said...

Welcome Katharine!

Thanks for visiting with us.

This was already on my wish list, so you've just pretty much shoved the TBR pile ever higher. Ah well...it's the way of it, isn't it?

Nancy, I'll get you for bringing an author with such tempting books to the lair...

LilMissMolly said...

I've bought a few of Avon' Kiss and Teal campaign books, and two of them were authors I've never read before. I think to think that a little of what I'm buying is going to good.