I was delighted to get an early reading of Marry in Haste so I could interview Anne about the book. Marriages of convenience are such a popular trope in historical romance that they have their own abbreviation: MOC. And in Marry in Haste, Anne Gracie launches a new Marriage of Convenience series. The book released from Berkley on May 2, and it's received rave reviews.
From Romantic Times: "Gracie utilizes the ever-popular “marriage of convenience” theme to her advantage in the first of a new series. It isn’t just the premise, but the marvelous cast of characters, that will keep readers entranced…. A totally delightful read!"
And here's a rare starred review from Library Journal:
"With deep character insight, subtle humor matched with rapier wit, and brilliant repartee, Gracie puts a refreshing spin on a classic romance trope and delivers another knockout Regency that will keep fans enthralled."
Plus, All About Romance has given Marry in Haste their coveted Desert Island Keeper (DIK) rating, calling it "a gorgeously romantic read."
MJP: Anne, can you tell us about your premise for the series, and how you came up with it? (If you remember how!)
AG: Marry In Haste is about a soldier who returns to England on the trail of an assassin, only to find that he’s unexpectedly inherited a title and the responsibility for a variety of female relatives, including his unruly young half-sisters. He needs an older female to take control of them, so he can get on with his real job. A simple matter he thinks . . .
How I came up with it? I was tossing up between a hero-linked series and doing another “sisters” series. I always have a number of story ideas buzzing around my head, so I started writing down shreds to see what would emerge, and what popped up was a man struggling to manage young girls, and a woman who’d given up all hope of love, marriage and children. And so, Marry In Haste. Most of the story takes place in beautiful Bath, and I'm including pictures of the city, which was a fashionable spa town.
MJP: Cal is an army officer, used to giving orders and being obeyed. Did you ever feel guilty for tossing him into a gaggle of headstrong young females? <G>
AG: Not in the least! I enjoyed every minute of it, and I hope readers will, too. Poor Cal — he’s used to getting instant obedience from the soldiers under his command, but in this story he discovers that females, especially female relations, are quite a different matter. And besides, heroes need to learn. <g>
AG: I loved being a teacher. In my early years I taught in high schools, and for a large chunk of that I was in a girls’ high school, and that certainly has informed part of this story. And as I keep bumping into former students, so does Emm, my heroine.
As for whether I can quell at a glance any more, I’m not sure. I suspect my quelling days are over, and in any case, I think a lot of my discipline was based as much on humor and mutual respect as any quelling powers.
MJP: Your last series starred an eccentric and beloved old lady, Lady Beatrice. In this one you have two old ladies, but they’re quite different.
AG: I do love writing old ladies, I confess. I think I’ve had at least one old lady in almost every book I’ve written. This time I have two. They’re sisters but they’re chalk and cheese. Aunt Dottie is sweet and round and cuddly and apparently vague, and Aunt Agatha is thin, critical, severely fashionable, and with a tongue sharp enough to slice bread.
MJP: A beloved character from the Chance Sisters series showed up toward the end. Would you care to mention that, or would you prefer to leave the surprise for readers?
AG: That was serendipity, rather than advance planning. Emm and the girls needed a London modiste, and the one recommended by their dragon relative, Aunt Agatha, was not one that suited them. Lily, the younger of Cal’s half-sisters, is a little plump and a little shy, and they needed a clever dressmaker who would appreciate her unique qualities. I think readers of my Chance sisters series can guess who they found.
AG: Here’s a bit where Cal’s Aunt Agatha is expressing her great delight in Cal’s choice of bride.
"Now explain to me, Ashendon, if you please, the reason for this disgracefully hasty marriage to a complete and utter nobody! Did you give any consideration to what you owe your name? Obviously not!”
“I beg your pardon?” said Cal, outraged by this description of his wife.
“Apology accepted,” Aunt Agatha said regally, “but you still haven’t explained yourself.”
“My wife,” he began stiffly, “is not a nobody. She is—”
“Oh, pish tosh, of course she is. Nobody has ever heard of her, and those that have know nothing good of her. A governess, Ashendon! Could you find anyone less distinguished? A washerwoman, perhaps, or a milkmaid? Milkmaids have good skin, or so I’ve heard—does she have good
skin, at least?”
Cal leashed his temper. “My wife is well educated, well born and—”
“Well born? Nonsense! According to my sources she is a nobody, a spinster long past her prime with neither background nor looks to recommend her.”
“Rubbish!” snapped Cal. “She is the daughter of a baronet—”
“Exactly—not even a member of the nobility!”
MJP: I assume you're working on the second Marriage of Convenience book. Will you tell us something about that?
AG: I am indeed. Traditionally, the oldest girl would marry first, but in this instance, it’s the youngest, Lily, who will marry next. Lily isn’t ambitious, doesn’t care about titles or a fortune or anything like that; she's a little plump, a little shy and she dreams only of love. But disaster overtakes her, and she’s forced into a marriage of convenience with a well known rake. That book is called Marry In Scandal and will be out next year.
AG: Thank you, Mary Jo, you’re very kind.
There are more snippets on Anne’s website: www.annegracie.com. Anne will give away a copy of Marry in Haste to one person who comments between now and Thursday midnight. (This giveaway is world wide.)
Here's a question Anne wants to ask you: "Did you ever have a teacher who could quell you with a glance? Tell us about that special teacher!"