Blatant self-promotion: PETALS IN THE STORM

Petals150_dpi Okay, I know you really want to know about the books we’re flogging, right?  You lucky people, I have two—count them, two!—releases in June.  I’ve already posted on THE MARRIAGE SPELL, and I thank all of you who’ve made such lovely comments about the story.

But I haven’t said much about PETALS IN THE STORM.  Granted, it’s a reissue with roots that go way back, but I’m the sort who tends to care about people and things indefinitely, so I’m still very fond of the characters and story.  In fact, Petals (I don’t like to use initials for this book because that would be PITS <g>) started life as a very long Signet Regency.  THE CONTROVERSIAL COUNTESS was the fourth traditional Regency I’d written, and the one where I realized that the longer, more adventurous Regency historical was really where I belonged.  (Two of my first four Signet Regencies, nominally 75K words, had drafted around 120K.  And the plots tended to be pretty active.) 

Controversial_countess The hero of Petals, Rafael Whitbourne, Duke of Candover, had a walk-on role in my previous book, The Would-Be Widow.  He was your basic dark, disdainful duke, but in his last scene, he showed a flash of vulnerability that intrigued me.  He was a man who had loved and lost, so naturally I wanted to write a book about him.

I adore the smoldering intensity of lost-love-regained stories (later I learned they’re called reunion stories, but I like my name better), so I sent Rafe off to the Paris peace conference that was held after Waterloo to decide what to do about France since Napoleon had blown up the hard work of the Congress of Vienna after he escaped from Elba.  Rafe could move in the highest circles, so he was asked to listen to what was said and pass information to British intelligence.  He’s told to work with a mysterious and highly talented Hungarian countess called Magda Janos, who spies for the British.

He meets the countess—and finds that she’s the very British Margot Ashton–the only woman he’d ever loved, and whom he’d thought dead for a dozen years.  They’d parted on very bad terms, with anger and recriminations.  But stubborn, rather arrogant, Rafe learns that the past isn’t what he thought, and dammit, Maggie is still the only woman he’s ever loved.  After a lot of adventures and major humbling on Rafe’s part, they work out their problems. 

Even though the book was published as a Signet Regency, it had the plot and soul of a historical.  So several years later, when I was writing historicals and decided to do my Fallen Angels trilogy (yes, this is the seven book trilogy <g>), I was thinking about archangel names and wishing I could use Rafael, because it’s a good name and Rafe would fit right in with this crowd. 

Bingo!  Because NAL was crash publishing the first Fallen Angels book, THUNDER AND ROSES, to launch their Topaz imprint, I was going to have a gap between books.  So I suggested to my editor that I revise The Controversial Countess into a Fallen Angels book.  She thought that was a fine idea, and the result was Petals.  Editing the book into a historical took less time than writing a new one, which was good for my scheduling, and indeed, Rafe fit in beautifully with the other Fallen Angels.  The revision polished the writing, removed some Regency-isms, and became a little sexier.  It was the same story and characters, but better suited to publication as a historical romance.

I had two main thoughts in mind as I wrote the original story.  English aristocratic males were often raised in ways that would make them fairly harsh and unlovable in real life.  At the least, they would tend to have trouble expressing themselves emotionally.  This is one reason my heroes have often suffered greatly: to increase their empathy and make them more believable as romantic heroes. (Besides, torturing heroes is fun.  <eg>)  In Petals, Rafe starts as the typical dark, arrogant tempered duke, and is greatly improved by learning some painful truths.

For Margot, the heroine, I was interested in contemplating the aftereffects of serious trauma.  She has also suffered greatly, and become stronger in the mended places.  Nonetheless, it takes Rafe’s love and acceptance to complete the last bit of healing.  And lest you think that her recovery is too improbable—something all too similar to Maggie’s trauma happened to a friend of mine.  Yes, healing is possible. (Some of Margot’s thoughts reflect things I learned from my friend.) 

So I still love the book and Margot and Rafe, and if you haven’t read it and think you might like the story by all means, read it! 

As an aside, when I first started writing the story, I needed a foil for Maggie, so in a finger snap, I created Robin Andreville, the blond, enigmatic English spy who has been her friend and mentor.  He intrigued me so much that I went on to write him into the book that became The Rogue and the Runaway, and later ANGEL ROGUE.  AR will be reissued in November, the last Fallen Angels book to be reissued.  But that’s a story for another day. 

Mary Jo, thinking back on how researching this book pre-internet was a lot of hard work!

27 thoughts on “Blatant self-promotion: PETALS IN THE STORM”

  1. Hi MJ:
    On break from my tree house and had to check out WW’s.
    Wow! “Flogging books”… and I though I wrote dark stuff. 🙂
    Love your blatant self promotion. You (and all the wenches) have every right to ring your respective bells. You all put out some great work.
    Petals sounds intriquing. I love to hear writers talk about their work. They do it with such passion.
    My daughter and I have a Borders trip scheduled for July — mainly to pick up a soft copy Stolen Magic to go with my copy of KOF. I’m adding Petals to the list.
    Well, it’s back to my tree house with me.
    Nina, refusing to flog books… but people ::evil cackle::

    Reply
  2. Hi MJ:
    On break from my tree house and had to check out WW’s.
    Wow! “Flogging books”… and I though I wrote dark stuff. 🙂
    Love your blatant self promotion. You (and all the wenches) have every right to ring your respective bells. You all put out some great work.
    Petals sounds intriquing. I love to hear writers talk about their work. They do it with such passion.
    My daughter and I have a Borders trip scheduled for July — mainly to pick up a soft copy Stolen Magic to go with my copy of KOF. I’m adding Petals to the list.
    Well, it’s back to my tree house with me.
    Nina, refusing to flog books… but people ::evil cackle::

    Reply
  3. Hi MJ:
    On break from my tree house and had to check out WW’s.
    Wow! “Flogging books”… and I though I wrote dark stuff. 🙂
    Love your blatant self promotion. You (and all the wenches) have every right to ring your respective bells. You all put out some great work.
    Petals sounds intriquing. I love to hear writers talk about their work. They do it with such passion.
    My daughter and I have a Borders trip scheduled for July — mainly to pick up a soft copy Stolen Magic to go with my copy of KOF. I’m adding Petals to the list.
    Well, it’s back to my tree house with me.
    Nina, refusing to flog books… but people ::evil cackle::

    Reply
  4. I am all for blatant self-promotion. 🙂 Both The Controversial Countess and Petals in the Storm have homes on one of my keeper shelves, but the pink cover of my copy of Petals is half off, and some of the pages are loose. I need a new copy. Rereading is hard on paperbacks, so I am almost as excited when one of my favorite titles is re-issued as I am by the new titles.

    Reply
  5. I am all for blatant self-promotion. 🙂 Both The Controversial Countess and Petals in the Storm have homes on one of my keeper shelves, but the pink cover of my copy of Petals is half off, and some of the pages are loose. I need a new copy. Rereading is hard on paperbacks, so I am almost as excited when one of my favorite titles is re-issued as I am by the new titles.

    Reply
  6. I am all for blatant self-promotion. 🙂 Both The Controversial Countess and Petals in the Storm have homes on one of my keeper shelves, but the pink cover of my copy of Petals is half off, and some of the pages are loose. I need a new copy. Rereading is hard on paperbacks, so I am almost as excited when one of my favorite titles is re-issued as I am by the new titles.

    Reply
  7. From Sherrie …
    Oh dear. Mary Jo, I was reading your post, doing just fine, and then I read why you don’t like to just use initials for Petals in the Storm (PITS). I am now wiping tea off my monitor. You got me good.
    When the Wenches were talking about blogging before the site went live, some of you were concerned that humor doesn’t come to you naturally. Well, that worry has been put to rest.
    I have laughed out loud so many times reading all the Wench posts. This is humor from the heart, unforced and natural, and all the more funny for it. And I’m not just saying that because I’m the site manager. You guys have laid me out flat more times than I can count.
    Sherrie Holmes
    http://www.holmesedit.com

    Reply
  8. From Sherrie …
    Oh dear. Mary Jo, I was reading your post, doing just fine, and then I read why you don’t like to just use initials for Petals in the Storm (PITS). I am now wiping tea off my monitor. You got me good.
    When the Wenches were talking about blogging before the site went live, some of you were concerned that humor doesn’t come to you naturally. Well, that worry has been put to rest.
    I have laughed out loud so many times reading all the Wench posts. This is humor from the heart, unforced and natural, and all the more funny for it. And I’m not just saying that because I’m the site manager. You guys have laid me out flat more times than I can count.
    Sherrie Holmes
    http://www.holmesedit.com

    Reply
  9. From Sherrie …
    Oh dear. Mary Jo, I was reading your post, doing just fine, and then I read why you don’t like to just use initials for Petals in the Storm (PITS). I am now wiping tea off my monitor. You got me good.
    When the Wenches were talking about blogging before the site went live, some of you were concerned that humor doesn’t come to you naturally. Well, that worry has been put to rest.
    I have laughed out loud so many times reading all the Wench posts. This is humor from the heart, unforced and natural, and all the more funny for it. And I’m not just saying that because I’m the site manager. You guys have laid me out flat more times than I can count.
    Sherrie Holmes
    http://www.holmesedit.com

    Reply
  10. From Mary Jo:
    Nina, have fun flogging people in your books. 🙂
    Sherrie, I’m glad you got a good laugh out of this, but really, you have such a good sense of humor that making you laugh is like shooting fish in a barrel. 🙂
    Wylene, let me contratulate you on the quality of your keeper shelf!!! Major thanks for buying the story more than once.
    Michelle, I’m with you–Robin is possibly my favorite hero. Probably because his sense of humor was inspired by my SO.
    I do like revisiting older stories. I recently reread One Perfect Rose and was surprised how good it was. 🙂
    MJP

    Reply
  11. From Mary Jo:
    Nina, have fun flogging people in your books. 🙂
    Sherrie, I’m glad you got a good laugh out of this, but really, you have such a good sense of humor that making you laugh is like shooting fish in a barrel. 🙂
    Wylene, let me contratulate you on the quality of your keeper shelf!!! Major thanks for buying the story more than once.
    Michelle, I’m with you–Robin is possibly my favorite hero. Probably because his sense of humor was inspired by my SO.
    I do like revisiting older stories. I recently reread One Perfect Rose and was surprised how good it was. 🙂
    MJP

    Reply
  12. From Mary Jo:
    Nina, have fun flogging people in your books. 🙂
    Sherrie, I’m glad you got a good laugh out of this, but really, you have such a good sense of humor that making you laugh is like shooting fish in a barrel. 🙂
    Wylene, let me contratulate you on the quality of your keeper shelf!!! Major thanks for buying the story more than once.
    Michelle, I’m with you–Robin is possibly my favorite hero. Probably because his sense of humor was inspired by my SO.
    I do like revisiting older stories. I recently reread One Perfect Rose and was surprised how good it was. 🙂
    MJP

    Reply
  13. This comment isn’t about an individual book, but about you as a writer, Mary Jo! I came to Regencies through reading Georgette Heyer, as so many have, and you were one of my favorite authors from the beginning. I had picked up some historicals in the 1980s and just couldn’t make it through them. Your migration to historicals was one of the big reasons I tried them again, because I knew the longer stories would be as good (if not better!) than the shorter ones. I’ve always dearly loved Jo Beverley’s work too, and along with Mary Balogh, you three comprised my first foray into “the big romances”. I still read the short ones, but the historicals make up the bulk of my romance reading now. Along the way I discovered the other Word Wenches, so imagine my delight at finding your blog!
    As for the longer story developed from the shorter, there are a lot of Regencies I put down thinking, “I could have done with more of that story”. Thank you for actually giving us that very thing!

    Reply
  14. This comment isn’t about an individual book, but about you as a writer, Mary Jo! I came to Regencies through reading Georgette Heyer, as so many have, and you were one of my favorite authors from the beginning. I had picked up some historicals in the 1980s and just couldn’t make it through them. Your migration to historicals was one of the big reasons I tried them again, because I knew the longer stories would be as good (if not better!) than the shorter ones. I’ve always dearly loved Jo Beverley’s work too, and along with Mary Balogh, you three comprised my first foray into “the big romances”. I still read the short ones, but the historicals make up the bulk of my romance reading now. Along the way I discovered the other Word Wenches, so imagine my delight at finding your blog!
    As for the longer story developed from the shorter, there are a lot of Regencies I put down thinking, “I could have done with more of that story”. Thank you for actually giving us that very thing!

    Reply
  15. This comment isn’t about an individual book, but about you as a writer, Mary Jo! I came to Regencies through reading Georgette Heyer, as so many have, and you were one of my favorite authors from the beginning. I had picked up some historicals in the 1980s and just couldn’t make it through them. Your migration to historicals was one of the big reasons I tried them again, because I knew the longer stories would be as good (if not better!) than the shorter ones. I’ve always dearly loved Jo Beverley’s work too, and along with Mary Balogh, you three comprised my first foray into “the big romances”. I still read the short ones, but the historicals make up the bulk of my romance reading now. Along the way I discovered the other Word Wenches, so imagine my delight at finding your blog!
    As for the longer story developed from the shorter, there are a lot of Regencies I put down thinking, “I could have done with more of that story”. Thank you for actually giving us that very thing!

    Reply
  16. Susanna, I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed my stories both short and long. I ended up revising four of my Regencies into historicals, but have only done that where I thought it would strengthen the book. I didn’t do it for several of my Signet Regencies that just seemed too inherently Regency to make good historicals. (My first book, The Diabolical Baron, is in that category.
    BTW, because of the similarities in names, people regularly confuse me, Jo, and Mary Balogh. I’ve often received compliments on my Rogue series. I accept them graciously on Jo’s behalf. 🙂
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  17. Susanna, I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed my stories both short and long. I ended up revising four of my Regencies into historicals, but have only done that where I thought it would strengthen the book. I didn’t do it for several of my Signet Regencies that just seemed too inherently Regency to make good historicals. (My first book, The Diabolical Baron, is in that category.
    BTW, because of the similarities in names, people regularly confuse me, Jo, and Mary Balogh. I’ve often received compliments on my Rogue series. I accept them graciously on Jo’s behalf. 🙂
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  18. Susanna, I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed my stories both short and long. I ended up revising four of my Regencies into historicals, but have only done that where I thought it would strengthen the book. I didn’t do it for several of my Signet Regencies that just seemed too inherently Regency to make good historicals. (My first book, The Diabolical Baron, is in that category.
    BTW, because of the similarities in names, people regularly confuse me, Jo, and Mary Balogh. I’ve often received compliments on my Rogue series. I accept them graciously on Jo’s behalf. 🙂
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  19. I’m with the previous writers. Mary Jo, Jo, and Mary Balogh are the writers with prominent place on my shelves. I think of you as the true daughters of Jane Austen. As for the confusion between rogue series– one can think of the fallen angels as your rogue series –they knew each other in school. I’m looking forward to the next series after reading the Marriage Spell.
    Merry

    Reply
  20. I’m with the previous writers. Mary Jo, Jo, and Mary Balogh are the writers with prominent place on my shelves. I think of you as the true daughters of Jane Austen. As for the confusion between rogue series– one can think of the fallen angels as your rogue series –they knew each other in school. I’m looking forward to the next series after reading the Marriage Spell.
    Merry

    Reply
  21. I’m with the previous writers. Mary Jo, Jo, and Mary Balogh are the writers with prominent place on my shelves. I think of you as the true daughters of Jane Austen. As for the confusion between rogue series– one can think of the fallen angels as your rogue series –they knew each other in school. I’m looking forward to the next series after reading the Marriage Spell.
    Merry

    Reply
  22. Merry–there’s something very sexy about male friendship. Usually women do friendship better, but Jo and I independently came up with the idea of young men who bonded for self-defense during tough school days. It’s still a good idea, even all these books later. 🙂
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  23. Merry–there’s something very sexy about male friendship. Usually women do friendship better, but Jo and I independently came up with the idea of young men who bonded for self-defense during tough school days. It’s still a good idea, even all these books later. 🙂
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  24. Merry–there’s something very sexy about male friendship. Usually women do friendship better, but Jo and I independently came up with the idea of young men who bonded for self-defense during tough school days. It’s still a good idea, even all these books later. 🙂
    Mary Jo

    Reply

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