NO LONGER A GENTLEMAN: Another Dead Hero

Cat 243 Doverby Mary Jo

No Longer a Gentleman, Lost Lords #4, is about to hit bookstores. (April 24th is the official release date.) 

Sometime back I wrote a blog called “Another Dead Hero” because raising NoLongerAGentlemancharacters from presumed death is obviously a plot trope I enjoy.  But Greydon  Sommers, Lord Wyndham, was deader than most.

There are references to him earlier in the series. First, just oblique allusions to a lost and much mourned friend. Gradually it’s revealed that he was in France when the Peace of Amiens ended. 

Treaty of Amiens cartoonThis was a brief truce from March 1802 till May 1803.  The wars between France and the rest of Europe had been going on for almost ten years, and when peace was negotiated, everyone wanted to party,

And Paris is where the party was.  Hordes of well-born Britons poured into the city—including my hero, Grey.  One of the first class of students at the Westerfield Academy for “boys of good birth and bad behavior,” he was the golden lad who was equally adept at getting into mischief and charming his way out of the consequences.

Grey’s father, the Earl of Costain, sent his heir to Westerfield in the hope that the formidable headmistress, Lady Agnes, would be immune to Grey’s charm.  While not immune, she did call him on his behavior, but it wasn’t enough to teach him good sense. 

Which is why consequences finally caught up with Grey in Paris in May 1803, just as the Peace of Amiens ended.  Every British male in France between the ages of 16 and 60 was interned, and most weren’t freed to return home until 1814, after Napoleon abdicated.   

Napoleon's soldiersIn the chaos of renewed war, Grey vanished.  Friends such as Lord Kirkland, even then a budding spymaster, had warned him to return home before war was renewed, but Grey, who’d never been in real danger, lingered until it was too late.

But he wasn’t interned, which is why friends and family back in England didn’t know if he was alive or dead.  Caught in the bed of a French official’s wife, he’d been condemned to solitary confinement in the private dungeon of the lady’s husband.

And there Grey stayed for ten long, harrowing years.  What happens to an extrovert deprived of human company?  To a golden haired charmer whom even close friends doubt has the will and grit to survive a harsh captivity?

Cassie Fox is a half French, half English spy who appeared in Nowhere Near NNR lower resolutionRespectable.  A tough and guarded woman, she lost her whole family to revolutionary violence.  She has spent the last dozen years as one of Kirkland’s most capable operatives, and never expected to survive the war. 

It is Cassie whom Kirkland sends to check out information that an English lordling has been held captive in Castle Durand for ten years.  It is Cassie who frees Grey and must get a crazed, semi-feral man back to England.  And it is Cassie who becomes the one person who can touch Grey’s anguished soul and make him feel safe. 

Dungeon--So—not only a dead hero, but a tortured one.  I loved Grey!  Cassie is also fairly tortured, but Grey’s taut courage and vulnerability begin to crack the barriers around her frozen heart.  This is a romance, so you know that one way or another they’ll work things out, but as always, the journey is the fun—and Grey and Cassie have a lot of journeying before they reach their happy ending.

Here’s a brief excerpt of when Cassie, disguised as an old woman, rescues Grey:

He scrambled to his feet, feasting his eyes on the sight of another human being. Better yet, a clean, normal woman. He impulsively wrapped his arms around her and crushed her warm body into an embrace, his heart pounding.

She swore and shoved at him.

"Please," he said, his voice shaking. "I've been so…so hungry for touch. Only a moment. Please!"

She relaxed and let him hold her. Dear God, she felt good! A warm, breathing woman with a sweet old-lady scent of lavender that made him think of his grandmother. He never wanted to let her go.

Here’s another excerpt that shows what happened just before this snippet.

Map_redIn an extra bit of fun, Kensington did a mini-site for No Longer a  Gentleman.  There’s a map with the four key locations of the story.  Go to the site and click on each star, and you'll get an image, a description, and a bit of music.  Very cool!

I’ve been really delighted by the reviews NLAG has received.  A sampling:

“Romance and wartime espionage mix delightfully in the fourth Lost Lords Regency…The unusually balanced and sensitively depicted romantic duo, suspenseful adventure, and well-researched historical background make this a must for Regency fans.”
 Starred review, Publishers Weekly

“The incomparable Putney returns with a Lost Lords novel that touches readers’ hearts.  No ballrooms or marriage marts appear, but spies and danger, passion and adventure and love and redemption keep readers glued to the pages and immersed in another unforgettable tale.”
 Romantic Times BookClub, Kathe Robin. 4½ star Top Pick.   Romantic Times BookClub KISS designation: “Mary Jo Putney’s Lord Wyndham is No Longer a Gentleman, but he’s all sexy, courageous hero.”

NoLongerAGentleman“With sensitivity and inimitable skill, Putney rescues another lost lord; gives him a brave, resourceful heroine who helps him heal; complicates things with foiling villains, readjusting to society, and falling in love; and weaves it all together in another beautifully written, unforgettable romance.”
 Starred Review, Library Journal, reviewed by John Charles

Considering how I slogged my way through the writing, this is vastly gratifying!

I’m now working on Lost Lords #5, which is scheduled for September 2013.  There will be at least a couple more books beyond that, but I really can’t say how many.  These interesting, tortured fellows just keep turning up….

In the meantime, I’ll give a copy of NLAG to someone who comments between now and Tuesday midnight.  (It will probably be an ARC since I don’t have author’s copies yet.) 

French chateauSo if you've been waiting to read about the mysterious, long missing Wyndham, here he is.  And while admittedly I put Grey through a lot, he thanked me for it in the end.  Really!

Mary Jo

 

Nowhere Near Respectable

Cat 243 Dover by Mary Jo
 It’s been two weeks since Nowhere Near Respectable  (Lost Lords #3, was released, and to all of you who helped put it on the New York  Times list after the first week of sale—THANK YOU!!!! 

Authors often complain about publishers so I want to say that Kensington is doing a great job on my books.  They even did this fun book trailer with the most GORGEOUS guy. He could be any number of my darkr haired Regency heroes.  <G> 

Nowherenearrespect#9E160D 
Books start in different ways.  Sometimes I have a plot and characters must be created to fit.  Sometimes I have a character and need a plot that suits.  (Characters are easier.)

Some characters lurk in the Lizard Brain for years before they get their story. Others just amble into a scene where I need a foil for a protagonist, and suddenly I have a man I simply cannot afford to waste.  (And it’s always a man!)  This is how trilogies become septologies. <g>

In Search of a Hero

Such was the case with Damian Mackenzie, hero of Nowhere Near Respectable.  I was writing the second in the series, Never Less Than a Lady, and I needed the heroine to run into someone when she’s just arrived at a house in Edinburgh and needs a foil. 

My first thought was Will Masterson, who’d already appeared in the first book in the British army uniforms series. (And yes, I have plans for him!)  But Will is a serving army officer and it’s campaign season.  He’d be in Spain.

How about if I give him a “less respectable and much less legitimate half-brother”? Mackenzie was created on the spot.  Mac looks enough like Will to momentarily confuse Julia, yet he’s a mischievous contrast to his quiet, easygoing sibling. 

Will bonded with Mac when both were young and had just lost their mothers.  Since Will refused to be separated from Mac, they were both sent to the Westerfield Academy, a school for boys of “good birth and bad behavior.” 

Crockford's Later, responsible Will joins the army and become a distinguished officer.  Mac joins up and is cashiered.  He now runs a fashionable gambling club and is, indeed, nowhere near respectable.  But a lot of fun.  <G>

In Search of a Heroine

Next step: what sort of heroine should I conjure for my lovable rogue?  There  would be lots of  conflict and contrast if she’s very prim and proper.  A vicar’s daughter, maybe. 

Naahhhh.   Mac thought she sounded pretty boring.  So did I.

How about a heroine who is very high born, but a hellion?  Mac liked that idea a lot a better.  And did I have the girl for him! 

Lady Kiri Lawford is the sister of the hero of the first Lost Lords book.  Like Adam, she is the child of an English gentleman who unexpectedly inherited a dukedom and the Hindu princess he married during his career in India, but Adam and Kiri had very different upbringings. 

Anglo-Inidan lady Raised mostly in England, Adam is an introvert.  Facing disapproval of his mixed blood, he buried the Hindu side of his nature.  In contrast, Kiri was raised in India with wealth, beauty, a loving family, and the extroverted confidence of a golden retriever. 

What Kiri doesn’t have is any interesting marital prospects among the eligible men she’s met in the ton.  Until she meets Mackenzie under highly dramatic circumstances.  By the time they’ve escaped homicidal smugglers, she knows she’s found a smart, funny, brave man who’s a keeper. Yet what can be done with a fellow who may not be respectable, but is too darned honorable?

Parliament state opening Large I needed a reason to throw Kiri and Mac together, and that’s when the royal kidnap plot appeared.  I’d also wanted to write a heroine who was a perfumer, so I made Kiri descendant of a long line of Hindu female perfumers.  I also gave her the equivalent of perfect pitch for scent so she has to be included in the suspense plot.  That gives her the opportunity to practice her wiles.  And Kiri has a lot of wiles!

Prince Regent The Seven Stages of Writing a Book

I am much better known for tortured heroes than lovable rogues, which made NNR something of a challenge to write.  Most books start like a love affair: Angel choirs!  Joy abounding!  This time it will be different!

Alas, that initial excitement rapidly devolves into Disillusionment. Fear. Loathing.  Frantic scrambling as the deadline approaches. Hysterical surrender and submission to editor. 

Ultimately, one hopes, after the sturm und drang of creation, there is Peace.  A belief that the result was all worth it. 

Not least of the problems I had with NNR is that I knew what happened in the first half of the book, but the second half of my synopsis boiled down to “They all go to Bath and Stuff Happens.” 

Princess Charlotte This proved entirely inadequate (not to mention boring), and pretty soon I was researching smugglers, gaming clubs, Princess Charlotte, the Parliamentary Wooksack, royal ceremonies and other fun subjects. And in the end, after the hair-pulling, I like the results.  Peace.

And the crowd goes wild!!!!!!!!

Even better, other people like Nowhere Near Respectable, too.  The book has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal and is a Romantic Times Top Pick. 

“In Kiri, a strikingly beautiful, lethal warrior queen, Putney has created one of her most memorable heroines to date. She pairs her with an honorable, valiant hero and drops them into a fascinating, fact-based dilemma that thoughtfully and realistically addresses some serious social issues and is guaranteed to keep the pages turning. This third “Lost Lords” title is exquisitely and sensitively written. “
    Kristin Ramsdell, Library Journal, Starred review

“With characters so vibrant and real that they leap off the pages and an authentic backdrop, Putney delivers another marvelous, unforgettable story with a clash of the exotic that perfectly merges romance and mystery.  She is one of the brightest of stars in the genre."
    Kathe Robin, Romantic Times BookClub, 4 ½ stars and Top Pick

Naturally, I’m now mired in the murky depths of Lost Lords #4.  It’s called No Longer a Gentleman and it will be out in 2012, probably in May.  (And probably April will see the release of my all time classic book, The Rake, yessssss!) 

NLAG has passed the choirs of angels stage and is well into frantic scrambling to finish the darned thing and send it in.  ‘Twas ever thus in the writer’s life.

Book Giveaway

Woolsack small Here’s a link to an excerpt if you’d like to sample Nowhere Near Respectable. I’ll be giving away a signed copy of the book to one person who comments between now and midnight Thursday.  So comment away!  And tell me if you have some hobby or work that calls forth similar stages of joy and depression to creating a book. <g>

Mary Jo