Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lord Lightning is Off and Running!

Lord Lightning came out on September 28th, though it took another ten days or so for it to make it to shelves in bookstores around the country. It's fully stocked now, and people have spotted it in stores from New England to Hawaii and even in Canada.

Because I live out in the middle of nowhere with very few chain bookstores anywhere nearby and wanted to see my book on real life bookstore shelves I put together a contest where people could upload photos when they spotted Lord Lightning. Several lucky spotters will win prizes.

You can see the spottings--including the one by the guy wearing a kilt--on this page:

Where's Lord Lightning?

But to tell the truth, it's been nerve-wracking couple weeks as I wait to see how my brand new first novel will do in the marketplace. I finally heard from my editor this week, and she tells me that sales have been very good. That was a huge relief.

I'm also starting to get some fan mail, which is very heartening, though I'm also starting to get the occasional extremely negative review, which my friends who have a lot of books under their belts tell me is normal. Hopefully the people who love Lord Lightning will outnumber those who hate it. If you liked it, do let me know!

While waiting for news over these past weeks, I've occupied my time by posting on quite a few romance blogs whose owners were generous enough to ask me to drop by.

You can find the whole list of guest blog posts and links to the blogs where they appear on this page: Jenny Brown's Blog Tour.

Among my favorite blog appearances were two interviews. One appears at Not Another Romance Blog . Another I enjoyed greatly was hosted by the pirates over at Romance Writer's Revenge .

Christina Phillips, whose debut romance, Forbidden has the most gorgeous cover you'd ever want to see and features an intensely erotic story set in one of my favorite settings, Roman Britain, interviewed me at her blog, Christina Phillips.

Finally, fellow Avon author and friend Miranda Neville and I interviewed each other over on The Season Blog.
Miranda writes witty Regency-set historical romances that stand out from the crowd. I love the way she respects the history of the period and how she takes her stories away from those boring ballrooms and shows us nooks and crannies of the Regency world we haven't seen before. The Dangerous Viscount (Avon) is her latest. Don't miss it!

In another week it will be time for me to turn away from the exciting life of the published author and get back to what it is that published authors mostly do--which is to sit at their desks typing while the house around them deteriorates into total decrepitude since stopping to clean would interfere with the creative process.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Must the Rake Be Tamed?

There’s no getting around the appeal of the bad boy hero: Dark and dangerous, the most infamous rake in England, an abandoned libertine--if you’re like me, you need only see these words on a cover blurb to reach for your wallet. While others may prefer spies or wealthy dukes, no hero interests me more than the man who, heedless of society’s strictures explores the outer limits of his sexuality.

So when I set out to write the Regency set novel that became Lord Lightning that was the kind of hero I chose to write about. The man society has nicknamed Lord Lightning in tribute to his shocking behavior has behaved so badly he is forever barred from polite society. He is famed for his cold heart and his boast that he will never give his heart to a woman for even a single moment. He is also, like most bad boy heroes, witty and devastatingly charming, exuding sexual power from every pore.

But what sets him apart from a thousand other heroes of historical romance is this: My hero really is a rake, and as Lord Lightning unfolds he continues to act like one. Unlike so many supposedly rakish heroes, he is not a very nice man pretending to be a rake. He is not misunderstood. The transgressions for which society has excluded him are real.

Nor does he instantly fall in love as soon as the heroine, the gently bred amateur astrologer, Eliza Farrell, appears on his horizon. For from it. Her confidence that his astrological chart shows him to be a man who needs to love and be loved annoys him, and he sets out at once to prove her wrong. This should be easy, as Eliza is destitute and easily lured into his bed.

It should be a simple matter to seduce and abandon her, but even her trusting response to his sexual predation does not make him fall in love with her. We are not following the usual script here at all.

It is only when Eliza gives Lord Lightning a taste of his own medicine—and behaves in ways that are not what he expects-–and shows herself as capable as he is of outrageous behavior—that he begins to find her interesting. But even then, it is a toss up whether Eliza’s astrological art will transform the notorious rake into a better man or his seductive skills that will transform her.

It’s always been a pet peeve of mine that in most rake stories the heroine falls in love with the bad boy hero and joins him in an adventure filled with forbidden, edgy sex, but by the end of the story this wild, exciting man’s love for the heroine traps them both in a conventional marriage. We find them in the sequel dwelling in their comfortable home surrounded by perfect children—living the same life the heroine would have had if she’d married a nice man who had never thumbed his nose at the rules of the society.

The author may wish us to believe this domesticated pair is still having the same kind of earth shaking sex they had when they were strangers taking bold sexual risks, but I don’t buy it. So that isn’t kind of ending you’ll find in Lord Lightning. Though the delicious man who loves to shock will, by the end of the story, find happiness with his Eliza, it won’t be because she’s turned him into a nice suburban husband.

For before Eliza can finally find happiness, she will have to accept that she loves Lord Lightning for what he has always been—in all his rakish glory—as much as she loves the “better” man he has become. And I hope that when you read Lord Lightning you will, too!
This post originally appeared as a guest post at The Sisterhood of the Jaunty Quills.

The illustrations accompanying it are Plate 3 of Hogarth's series of paintings, "The Rake's Progress" and portraits of the infamous Lord Byron and self-dramatizing rake and dreadful husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley.