I’m delighted to interview Word Wench Anne on her new release, The Autumn Bride. (Okay, I begged a little in order to get an advance reading copy. <G>)
The book has received excellent advance notices, including this starred review in Publishers Weekly:
***“Gracie (His Captive Lady) charms and entices with this launch of the Regency-era Chance Sisters series….Abby’s warmth and caring nature shine from the first moment, and Max’s dedication to his family and friends make him worthy of her love. Layers of secrets and deft characterization make for a deep, rich story that will leave readers starry-eyed.”
Plus, a four and a half star review from Romantic Times BookClub:
“Readers will want to take a chance on this delightful, heartwarming series about sisters of the heart, family, friends, and the fun and passion of romance. Gracie lifts readers' spirits, creating a delightful cast of characters, tender moments and lighthearted repartee designed to tug at the heart. Keep a hankie handy for tears of laughter and joy.” Review by Kathe Robin.
MJP: Anne, I really enjoyed The Autumn Bride. In particular, I enjoyed the set up. Will you describe how you created the Chance sisters?
AG: Thanks, Mary Jo, and thanks for doing this interview. The book, like so many of my stories, started with a kind of half-awake dream, a scene rolling in my head like a movie. It involved a respectable but desperate young woman, breaking into a mansion and finding an aristocratic, bedridden, badly neglected old lady. It stayed in my head for months, nagging at me with questions. Then I had to dig around to find the story.
My heroine, Abby, sprang to life from the first — she's a worrier, a protector, loyal and impetuous — and once the story started moving, so did the other girls; Jane, Damaris and Daisy. I love it when characters arrive on the page almost fully formed; it doesn't feel like I'm 'creating' them as much as meeting them.
MJP: Tell us something about your hero, Max, Lord Davenham.
AG: Max is my kind of hero — alpha male, but not alpha-jerk. He takes care of his own — he's been doing it since he was eighteen and inherited a title and a mound of debts. He's sacrificed his youth to do what's right and he prides himself on being a man of his word. But he's just a little too duty-bound; he's forgotten to live for himself and when he finds his aunt's house has been taken over by an impostor, claiming to be her niece— a charming impostor who he grudgingly admits is taking excellent care of his aunt— it throws all his beliefs about himself and what's right into chaos.
MJP: Your last series, the Devil Rider books, was built around four friends who were cavalry officers together in the Peninsula, and are now rather restlessly retired to postwar life. Before that, you had the Merridew Sisters. Do you find any difference in writing a series that’s built around the men vs. one built around women?
AG: I have to say, I enjoy both. I like the sisterly interaction of a girls-linked series —I have sisters myself. I also enjoy it when the guys get together — I adore the way guys will rib each other but quietly stand shoulder to shoulder when danger threatens. This time I'm trying to put all four sisters and all four guys on the page together (more or less) and yet still have the stories stand-alone. It's fun but also tricky.
MJP: A key character in the book is one of your splendidly feisty little old ladies the unconventional and sometimes outrageous Lady Beatrice. Since she’s the widow of a baron, Lord Davenham, her usual title would have been Lady Davenham. How did she come to be Lady Beatrice?
AG: She was born the only daughter of the Earl of Fenton, so she's had the title of Lady Beatrice since she was a baby. When she married Lord Davenham, a mere baron, convention dictated that she be called Lady Davenham, but in the early months of her marriage people sometimes forgot and called her Lady Beatrice, and it annoyed her mother-in-law so much, she decided to keep on being Lady Beatrice. She's a bit of a law unto herself, Lady Beatrice. *g*
MJP: Could you give us a bit of an excerpt?
AG: Here's part of what came from that original dream/scene I talked about:
“Have you come to kill me?” The hoarse whisper coming out of the darkness almost stopped Abby’s heart. She swung around, scanning the room, braced to flee. Nothing moved, only shadows outlined by the faint shimmer of moonlight from the windows where she’d pulled back the curtains. No sign of anyone.
“I said, have you come to kill me?” It came from the bed. Sounding more irritated than frightened.
“No, of course not!” Abby whispered back. She tiptoed closer to the bed, straining her eyes in the darkness. What she’d taken for a bundle of clothes piled on the bed was an old woman lying awkwardly, fallen between her pillows, her bedclothes rumpled in a twist.
“You’re a gel. Wearing breeches, but I can still tell you’re a gel.”
“Yes.” Abby waited. If the woman screamed or tried to raise the alarm she’d dive out of the window. It was risky, but better than being hanged or transported.
“You’re not here to kill me?”
Abby blinked. “Pity?”
The actual start of the story is here.
MJP: And now for the big question: who’s next?!!! Max’s friends are coming to London, and there are three single Chance sisters. I expect sparks!
AG: Then sparks you shall have! Next up is Max's friend Freddy, a marriage-allergic, muffin-avoiding, charming rake about town, who is about to get caught in a trap of his own devising, along with Damaris, also marriage-allergic, though for very different reasons.
MJP: Anne, thanks so much for telling us about your new book. Already I’m hungry for the next!
I’ll end with one more review: This from Nightowl Reviews:
"I honestly can't remember the last time I've enjoyed a book quite this much. The Autumn Bride is a story for readers who like their romance with just the right touch of humor along with a bit of intrigue to keep it exciting. I predict The Autumn Bride is going to be “THE” book to add to the TBR list of Historical Romance fans everywhere."
Mary Jo, adding the Australian cover of The Autumn Bride on the left. The official release date is February 5th, but it might show up in some stores earlier.