I LOVE historical romances. They are my alltime favourites, a good, romantic HR just warms my heart. But when I read Diana Quincy‘s debut novel Seducing Charlotte I got an even better and more complex experience: it was a witty, intelligent and captivating romance I couldn’t resist, so I couldn’t have been happier to learn it was the first novel in a brand new series! Now book#2 just got released and to celebrate the release of Tempting Bella I got to interview Diana Quincy and quiz her about the series, weird research findings and favourite time periods. So take a seat and join us, you could even win some great prizes at the end! ;-)
Stella: Hi Diana, welcome to Book Lovers Inc! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Diana: Hi Stella, thanks for having me! Let’s see…I’m a former television reporter who decided to start writing romance novels after falling in love with the genre upon discovering it about six years ago. I live on the East Coast and am married with two sons. I also still work in journalism, as a Web Editor for an international news organization.
Stella: Are you a planner or pantser? Can you tell us a bit about your writing process? How do your novels come to life?
Diana: I was a total pantser when I started out but then I entered a number of unpublished contests which required a synopsis that outlined the entire novel. That’s when I started planning the story basics before writing the book. Now, I think I’m a little of both. I start out with an outline but sometimes the pantser in me comes out and takes the plot in a different, and usually better, direction.
Stella: What do you think is the difference between a reader and a real Book Lover?
Diana: A reader is someone who picks up a book from time to time and is not in any big hurry to finish it. A book lover is someone who borders on the obsessive, who must always be reading something and who chooses to read a book over TV, movies and pretty much anything else most of the time.
Stella: What made you become an author? And why did you decide to pen historical romance stories?
Diana: I’ve loved to write for as long as I can remember and, as a journalist, that’s been something I’ve done throughout my career. I’ve always thought it would be great to be a writer but I never had any idea of what type of book I could write. However, once I discovered historical romance novels, something clicked in me and I thought, “I want to write this.”
Stella: Do you have a favourite time period? And why that one?
Diana: I enjoy all time periods. I love to read medieval romances but I’m not sure I could write one well. I am very drawn to the Regency period, which is why Tempting Bella, and the other books in the series, are all based in this time period. I’m fascinated by the social rules and restrictions of this time period, and also by the decadence and extravagance.
Stella: Your first novel, Seducing Charlotte was published by Entangled Publishing in April (and I just LOVED it!!), with Book #2 Tempting Bella having been released just last month, congratulations! Can you tell us a bit about your Accidental Peers series? And why this name for the series, what is the meaning/inspiration behind it?
Diana: Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed Seducing Charlotte. The Accidental Peers series is about a group of brothers and their cousin, who seem to stumble into peerages on their way to finding true love. Each title related directly to the plot of the book.
In Tempting Bella, the hero tries to tempt Bella into giving him a chance to be the husband she deserves. In Seducing Charlotte, the hero plots to seduce Charlotte so that she will have to marry him. In Compromising Willa, the heroine fights the stigma of being a “ruined” woman and finds herself compromised into a betrothal she does not want. In Engaging the Earl, the heroine fights for her first love, who feels he is no longer worthy of her because he has returned from war a changed and–he believes–damaged man.
Stella: And what can our readers expect of Tempting Bella in particular?
Diana: Sebastian and Bella are forced to marry in order to settle a gaming debt between their fathers. They must overcome these less-than-ideal circumstances, including mutual suspicion and distrust, to achieve their happily ever after. But it is not an easy road. Bella lashes out in a show of independence and Sebastian will only be pushed so far.
Here’s a quick excerpt that gives you a taste of that battle:
Uttering an uncharacteristically terse thank you to the butler, Sebastian took Bella’s arm to escort her above stairs. His rigid posture, the intransigent set of his expansive shoulders, the very deliberate click of each boot step, all belied that otherwise calm exterior.
He was angry. Furious even.
The hair on the back of her neck tingled. She’d never seen him truly out of sorts. His demeanor brought to mind that ominous lull before a natural disaster strikes.
He hastened his steps, practically dragging her up the stairs. When they reached her chamber, he did not leave her as he usually did. Instead he stepped in behind her.
“Thank you, Louisa, that will be all,” he said to the sleepy girl, who’d waited up for her mistress. “Go and seek your bed.”
As soon as he closed the door behind the maid, Bella spun around to face him, her heart clamoring. “I did not give you leave to enter my bedchamber. Please show me the courtesy of departing at once.”
He pulled off his cravat and folded it in a slow deliberate manner, as though he hadn’t heard her. Removing his tailcoat, he placed it neatly over the back of a chair.
Alarm trilled down her spine. “Why are you disrobing?”
Unbuttoning his waistcoat, he said, “Take off that dress.”
“I beg your pardon?”
He advanced toward her, the muscles in his thighs flexing powerfully as he did so. “You heard me.”
Hugging herself, she stepped back from him. “I will do no such thing. Leave or I will scream.”
Cold anger glittered in his eyes. “Take if off or I will take it off for you.”
Stella: Could you introduce the hero and heroine of Tempting Bella to us?
Diana: Sebastian is a beta hero, which you don’t see very much of in romance novels, but I absolutely adore him. He is all about restrained passion and emanates a quiet, controlled strength. He’s a hero who is secure enough in his manhood that he doesn’t try to force Bella into his way of thinking. Although he marries his wife as a child and doesn’t consummate the marriage until years later, he honors his marital vows, which earns him the nickname “the Saint” among his family and friends. But like all good beta heroes, Sebastian has some alpha in him, and when it comes out, it can be something! (See the excerpt above)
In many ways, Bella is the opposite of Sebastian. She’s beautiful and she knows it. She isn’t shy about flouting convention and is headstrong, emotional, and often acts without considering the consequences. Bella has serious abandonment issues which she takes out on Sebastian. She’s also extremely intelligent, determined and loyal, traits she does share with Sebastian.
Stella: Do you remember how the story(characters) came to be? Any specific event/moment that inspired it?
Diana: I absolutely do! Tempting Bella was inspired by a romantic true story I came across during my research for another book. It is the story of Lady Sara Cadogan and Charles Lennox, the Earl of March, who later became the Duke of Richmond.
At the age of thirteen, Sara was forced to marry the heir to the dukedom in order to settle a gaming debt between their fathers. The groom was very unhappy about being forced to marry the plain girl but he went through with it. After the ceremony, the bride and groom went their separate ways. He took his Grand Tour of the continent while the bride returned to her mother.
Years later, after returning from abroad, March spied an enchanting beauty at the opera and was thrilled to learn she was his wife. The two went on to have a very happy marriage. They had twelve children. The duke died in his late forties and the duchess died one year later. Those who knew the couple said she died of a broken heart.
It was such a romantic story that I had to put my own twist on it!
Stella: Usually authors do some (extensive) research for historical romance novels, so I wonder, what is the most interesting/weird/surprising tidbit you came across while doing research?
Diana: I was very surprised to learn that chamber pots were kept in the dining room during Regency times, and that gentlemen made regular use of them when no ladies were present. Can you imagine how messy things got once the gentlemen had imbibed a little too much? I found the practice so distasteful that I couldn’t resist having the villain relieve himself in this way after supper for my next book, Compromising Willa.
Stella: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read Tempting Bella?
Diana: It’s unpredictable, heart-wrenching, and inspired by one of the most romantic true stories I’ve ever come across.
Stella: Could you please summarize Tempting Bella for us Twitter-style (in 140 characters or less)?
Diana: Forced to marry as children to settle a gaming debt, Bella & Sebastian battle suspicion & misunderstanding to find their way to true love.
Stella: Could you tell us any “behind the scenes secret” related to the writing of Tempting Bella (a real life moment/person inspiring a scene, something that didn’t make the final edits, a character who went through changes, etc.)?
Diana: Tempting Bella originally had a stalker-like storyline threaded through it that put the heroine at risk. One of her closest friends was revealed to be the culprit. That entire secondary storyline was cut during revisions and Bella’s good friend remains just that!
Stella: What is next on your schedule? Any future plans you’d like to share with us? How many novels are you planning on writing in the Accidental Peers series?
Diana: Thank you for asking! I have the two books I mentioned earlier coming out for my Accidental Peers series. Compromising Willa will be available this December, to be followed by Engaging the Earl (Edward’s story) in April 2014. Readers have asked me if the other Stanhope brothers will be getting their own stories. There are no plans for more books in this series at the moment, but I do have a storyline in mind for Basil, the wise-cracking, wickedly handsome youngest Stanhope brother. So it could happen at some point.
Stella: Could you share with us something, a trivia that not many people know about you?
Diana: I’m a Redskins fan which, if you follow football, is a pretty sad experience these days (and for most of the last 20 years). Watching the games with my teenage son is a weekly tradition that’s very special to me because I know it probably won’t be long before he abandons me to go watch the game with his friends.
Book#2 in the Accidental Peers series
Mirabella can hardly remember the man she married as a girl to settle a gaming debt between their fathers. And it’s just as well. She feels nothing but contempt for the man who married her for her fortune and promptly forgot she existed.
Sebastian has been apart from his child bride since their wedding day, after a teenaged marriage forced upon him to rescue his family from certain ruin. His attempt to honor his vows to his absent wife has earned him the nickname, “The Saint.” But when he encounters an enchanting beauty at the opera, Sebastian cannot resist learning who she is and is thrilled to find she is none other than his long-ago bride.
Already resentful of his early abandonment, Bella is suspicious of her husband’s unusual activities—mysterious midnight outings and apparent liaisons with pretty servant girls. Then there is the mounting evidence that Sebastian is not who he claims to be.
Guarding the painful secret of his true identity, Sebastian is entranced by Bella and is eager to make her his wife in truth. But he soon realizes the beguiling lady has no intention of coming meekly to the marriage bed!
Sebastian Stanhope’s first glimpse of his future wife came minutes before they were bound for all eternity.
He’d rushed from university in a haze of disbelief after receiving the urgent summons from his father. His father now sat across from him during the long carriage journey to the bride’s ancestral home, barely acknowledging his son’s presence, his open disdain crowding the closed space.
Sebastian sucked air into his lungs, his unease growing as the coach-and-four closed the distance between him and the stranger with whom he would be forever intertwined. He should be grateful. Being joined to the daughter of a duke was a much better match than he, a mere mister, had a right to expect. And, more importantly, the alliance would save his family from certain financial ruin.
A mammoth baroque edifice rose into view, dwarfing the surrounding landscape, its numerous chimneys, towers, and domes sprawling across a blue, cloudless sky. Sebastian’s stomach loosened, a faint cramp deep in his belly.
The fortress hovered over them as the carriage jerked to a full stop on the circular drive. The heavy front doors gaped open. Sebastian alighted and strode into the clutches of a murky future, barely noticing the stone-faced butler who showed them in. Squaring his shoulders, he walked ahead of his father through the mirrored hall. His black Hessians clicked a protest against the marble floor, the sound echoing high into the endless ceilings before trembling away.
His hand went to his cravat, adjusting it even though it had been perfectly wrought that morning. He always took care with his grooming because his appearance was not extraordinary. He stood only average in height, lacking the towering elegance of his four brothers. He’d always been different from the rest of the family. His powerful build and dark features lacked the gilded radiance of his lithe brothers. And their father.
They were shown into a massive receiving room that smelled of beeswax and lemon. Wood surfaces shimmered, reflecting shards of sunlight from tall arched windows at the far end of the chamber. Formal furniture in the French empire style crowded the space, lions’ faces carved into the mahogany side tables seemed to mock him. He surveyed the chamber, every muscle in his body taut, and caught sight of a girl sitting in a window seat by the arched windows. Swinging her hanging legs to and fro, she regarded them with an expression of mild curiosity.
He looked at the butler, acknowledging the portly man for the first time. “Will Lady Mirabella be joining us?”
The butler nodded in the direction of the girl. “This is Lady Mirabella. His Grace will join you presently.” He bowed out of the chamber.
For a moment, his mind went blank. Feeling the blood drain from his face, he turned to his father and murmured, “You cannot be serious.”
Interested? Check out the first chapter, the wedding scene, by clicking here.
Diana Quincy is an award-winning former television journalist who decided she’d rather make up stories where a happy ending is always guaranteed. Growing up as a foreign service brat, Diana lived in many countries and is now settled in Virginia with her husband and two sons. When not bent over her laptop or trying to keep up with laundry, she enjoys reading, spending time with her family and dreams of traveling much more than her current schedule (and budget) allows.
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