As winter settles in on chilly Melbourne, over in Texas, my friend Ally Broadfield is sweltering. Don't you love our cyber world?
Ally lives in Texas and is convinced her house is shrinking, possibly because she shares it with three kids, five dogs, a cat, a rabbit, and several reptiles. Oh, and her husband. She likes to curse in Russian and spends most of her spare time letting dogs in and out of the house and shuttling kids around. She writes historical romance set in Regency England and Imperial Russia.
Ally I know you and I share a fascination for Russia (having visited it for the first time last year) so I am eschewing tea today in favour of vodka. “Na zda-ró-vye” (which means “Thank you” and in this context…thank you for being my guest today). Do you have a favourite drink (alchoholic or not!)?
Thank you for hosting me today, Alison!
This choice is heavily influenced by the fact that I live in Texas and it’s summertime, but I’d have to say lemonade. There’s something so refreshing about its tart, sweet taste. I think it would be even better with a splash of vodka. (AS: Definitely improved with vodka... although Ms. Stuart's preference for a hot summer's day would be a gin and tonic or a Pimms)
What or who inspired your love of historical fiction and do you have a particular period that ignites your passion?
I’d have to give credit to author Jennifer Blake for my love of historical fiction. She wrote the first romance I ever read (when I was twelve), Royal Seduction. I like to read in many different periods, but Regency England and Imperial Russia during the reign of Alexander I are my favorites. (AS: It was a fascinating time in Russian history!)
|Ballroom: Catherine's Palace at Tsarkoe Selo|
Like you, I have visited the incredible palaces of St. Petersburg. I thought I had seen the world’s great palaces such as Versailles and Schonnbrun but nothing prepared me for Catherine’s palace at Tsarkoe Selo, even though, sadly, it is now a recreation (the original interiors having been destroyed during World War II) the grandeur was just intimidating. Will we be seeing a story set in Imperial Russia?
|Ally in ST. Petersburg in 1987 (brave woman!)|
It is sad that nearly all of the palaces in St. Petersburg suffered heavy damage during World War II. You will definitely see some future stories from me set in Imperial Russia. For now, I can share that though the setting is Regency England, the sequel to Just a Kiss features Princess Anna Tarasova and a mysterious man from her past.
When you’re not writing, what is a typical day in your life?
I am lucky to be a full time writer, so there are very few days when I don’t write. The bulk of my non-writing time is occupied giving the appropriate amount of attention to my five dogs (as determined by them) and shuttling my three kids around to various activities. I manage to fit in time to read almost every day, and also enjoy watching movies. My oldest son has enlisted us all to watch the 100 greatest movies of all time during our summer break, but since there is some disagreement among experts as to the top 100 films, we will be watching closer to 115. So far we’ve managed to watch six.
Your debut story, JUST A KISS, was released by Entangled Edge on April 28th. What was the inspiration for this story and is it going to be part of a series?
The idea for this story came from a short story I entered into a Jane Austen inspired contest in the spring of 2011. It was a continuation of Sense and Sensibility focusing on the youngest sister, Margaret. I didn’t win the contest, but I loved Sebastian so much I decided to write Just a Kiss so I could expand his story, and Charlotte gladly took over the role of Margaret.
Just a Kiss is part of the It’s in His Kiss series and will be followed by three full length novels. As mentioned above, the second story in the series will feature Princess Tarasova from Just a Kiss, and will release in the spring of 2015.
It is always exciting to get that first sale… What is your “call story”?
My call was an email, but that didn’t make it any less exciting! I happened to stumble across a blog that was hosting a pitch event with editors from Entangled Publishing, so I wrote up a pitch for the story and posted it for the editor who was acquiring historical. She requested the full manuscript and I waited about twelve v-e-r-y l-o-n-g weeks before receiving the message that it had been accepted. The funny part was that I read the email while on my way out the door to take my boys to see Top Gun on Retro Movie Night at the local theater. I’m pretty sure I had a huge, possibly creepy (think The Joker), smile plastered on my face the entire time.
ABOUT JUST A KISS
Charlotte Lightwood has one season to find a husband or she'll be forced to marry her guardian's loathsome cousin. With no title or dowry, she doesn't have much hope of making a good match. Sebastian Wilkinson, the Earl of Marley, has been the most eligible bachelor on the marriage mart for more years than he cares to count and is very aware of his duty to marry a woman who will add to the wealth and stature of his title.
Sebastian makes Charlotte an offer she can't refuse: he will pretend to court her to help her attract more suitors in exchange for her advice about which ladies he should pursue. As they work together, their mutual attraction grows. When they realize they just might be perfect for one another, they must decide whether to bow to the dictates of society or follow their hearts.
EXCERPT from JUST A KISS
Charlotte studied the man standing next to Elizabeth. Something about him instantly drew her to him, something in his confident bearing and the way a mischievous smile played across his lips. Laughter danced in his eyes.
Elizabeth smiled brightly. “Lord Marley, may I present Miss Charlotte Lightwood.” She gestured to Charlotte. “Charlotte, this is Lord Marley.”
Lord Marley took her hand, sending an unfamiliar sensation buzzing through her. They both froze for an instant before he bowed. “It is a pleasure to meet you. Lady Lightwood has assured me you are available for the next dance. Please soothe my nerves by confirming she is not mistaken.”
Elizabeth nudged her, and in a whisper that could surely be heard on the other side of the ballroom, said, “Lord Marley is one of the most eligible bachelors on the market this season. He requested the introduction, though I can’t imagine why.”
Heat rushed to her cheeks. “I am not engaged, my lord.” She surreptitiously glanced around them to see if anyone had heard Elizabeth.
Lord Marley clenched his jaw before leading her onto the dance floor. When the warmth of his touch penetrated the fabric of her gown, she inhaled the scent of sandalwood with a hint of citrus, and her pulse thrummed. She couldn’t prevent herself from flashing him a smile. The noise of the ballroom faded into a harmonious cacophony as they settled into the waltz.
Overly wealthy, overly charming, overly good-looking, he could have any woman he desired. As she lacked both title and dowry, she could think of no reason why Lord Marley would have any interest in her. She narrowed her eyes.
Lord Marley nodded to the couples surrounding them, but when he met her gaze, his serene countenance disappeared. “Why do you look at me with such abhorrence? I assure you I have no nefarious designs upon your person.”
“I’m certain you have no designs, nefarious or otherwise, upon my person.”
He smiled widely, but made no response.
She lifted her brows. “Which begs the question, my lord, why did you request to dance with me?”
He deftly swung her away from a collision with an encroaching couple. “Miss Lightwood, you are one of the most beautiful and sought-after ladies in attendance. I merely seek my turn to be the object of your attention. You must stop frowning at me or everyone shall think I’ve said something inappropriate.” His knee brushed against her leg through the thin silk of her gown, and the intimate touch sent a shiver through her.
Though she couldn’t discern what he might want from her, she knew she couldn’t afford to alienate one of the richest and most powerful men in London. She softened her expression and immediately became lost in his clear blue eyes.
His gaze captured and held hers for several heartbeats before he cleared his throat and spoke again. “I have a proposition for you.”
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