SS: Thanks so much for having me back on the Lady Scribes blog today! I love being a guest here. It’s always so lively and fun!
CG: I know you’re a huge Disney fan. What’s your favorite Disney tale?
SS: Yup, it seems like my Disney shows all the time LOL By far, Beauty and the Beast is my favorite. I’ve written two stories with various BATB “themes” so far.
CG: You're far from the only Disney fan in these parts! My all time favorite is probably Sleeping Beauty, but so many of the newer ones have become favorites due to my nephew (Hello, Cars and Toy Story!) Sticking with the Disney theme, I am also aware you have often vacationed to Disney World with your husband. If you could only ever visit one Disney theme park for the rest of your life, which would it be and why?
SS: Oh, that’s a tough one! While I adore the Magic Kingdom for its slant on fantasy and storybook happily ever afters and dreams come true, I also really love Epcot. The food is amazing and I love being able to walk around the “world” in one day.
CG: You’re quite the cook, and I know some of your kitchen experience has worked its way into your books. Have you ever tried making a new recipe so you could accurately describe it in your stories? (Our own Duchess of Delight, Erin Knightley, famously has attempted many of the Regency treats her latest heroine baked. YUM.) Do you have any professional experience in a kitchen?
SS: LOL oh my. I used to be a caterer, so I’m intimately acquainted with everything in and around a kitchen. And yes, when I first started out as an author, I did put cooking and recipes into all of my books. As time went by I’ve gotten away from that, but every once in a while food will play a big part in my stories. And yes, sometimes I do create recipes just to feature into books!
CG: What is the one dish you wish someone would make for you?
SS: I’d love a nice, silky tomato bisque or a decadently cheesy gourmet mac and cheese.
CG: Gourmet mac and cheese? Count me in! Which is the more romantic idea to you: dinner at a nice restaurant, or cooking at home with your partner taking care of the dishes?
SS: Both have their own merits, but since I’m sort of a curmudgeon when it comes to money, I’d rather take a portion of the cash and buy ingredients to make a meal at home. Of course, I’d probably keel over from witnessing the miracle of my husband actually doing the dishes but hope springs eternal.
CG: You’ve always been a writer who has jumped freely from one subgenre to another. While you’ve written historical romance in the past, you’ve always shied away from stories set during the Regency—until very recently. Can you tell us what changed your mind or drew you in?
SS: That’s right. My first Regency romance released this past June. The funny thing is, I’ve already read widely in the Regency genre. In fact, those were the first romances I cut my “adult” romance reading teeth on. For the longest time I was intimidated by writing in the genre because the fans are so rabid. I thought I’d just leave it to the experts. Then one day, I wanted to challenge myself—I’m a big fan of writers challenging themselves to do something different and to not grow complacent. So I wrote Lady Parker’s Grand Affair… wherein my editor promptly cut it to ribbons and sent it back to me. LOL Since the beginning of this year I’ve learned so much about the Regency world I’ve become fascinated. Of course, my Regency stories come with my own brand of humor and spin so they’re not typical.
CG: You’ve often mentioned that your husband reads and edits some of your work. Does he take part in all of your books, or are there certain subgenres he is more adept at handling? How did this partnership come about?
SS: Oh goodness, the man will only read sci-fi and even then it can’t have any “lovey dovey” stuff in it LOL I’ll never forget the day when he had to put an excerpt up on my website (he’s my web guy). It was for a holiday contemporary romance and he read through saying “Wow, you really can write.” *snort* Well duh. He’s also my go-to guy if I have male POV questions and things like that. The partnership came about after I’d written my 3rd sci-fi piece and he was interested in the plot. Right now, I have a partially completed sci-fi (light on the romance) he’s crazy about LOL
CG: Many of your historical pieces are focused on the turn-of-the-century era. What is it that speaks to you most about that time period?
SS: The fact the nation was in flux. Everything and everyone was on the cusp of big change. Women were coming into their own and it was okay for them to be more daring. In fact, I have a planned series… but I need more time to write everything I’m interested in LOL
CG: Your next release is THE BRIDE'S GAMBIT, part of your Scandal in Surrey series. Can you tell us a little more about it?
SS: Gladly! The heroine is a runaway bride. She’s currently fleeing from her fifth would-be groom and in the process she runs right into the arms of a highwayman—well, a viscount in disguise really. He’s got a disfigurement that makes him skittish around everyone, but when the heroine asks him to clearly and specifically ruin her, what can a man do? Plus, they’re both avid fans of the game of chess, so that plays into their interactions too.
CG: The blurb makes it sound a bit like a retelling of The Runaway Bride, with a historical twist. Have you ever taken contemporary, familiar stories and reset them before?
SS: Hmm, I hadn’t made that connection with this book, but that’s funny, and only vaguely true. However, yes, I have taken popular stories or themes and rewritten them. I did a historical take on the Bachelor once and have often redone fairy tales.
Time for some quick answers!
- Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla
- Jeans or sweats? Jeans
- Coffee or tea? Tea
- Keep me cool, or warm me up? Cool
- Breakfast for dinner, or leftover dinner for breakfast? Breakfast for dinner
- Spontaneous or planned? Planned, mostly
- Plotter or pantser? Plotter—unless I’m working on a short story
- Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Trek (CG interruption: Star Wars!!! Come on. LOL)
- Pride and Prejudice: Colin Firth version or Keira Knightley version? Neither. Not a fan of the story (I know, shocking, right?) But did love Colin in Nanny MacPhee LOL
- Cats or dogs? Cats
CG: Sandra, thanks again for joining us today. Can you tell our readers a bit more about THE BRIDE'S GAMBIT?
SS: Sure! Here's the blurb:
She wants a dashing, courageous man…Vanessa Underhill is on the run from her fifth would-be groom. She doesn’t care for any of the men her father has picked--none engaged her mentally or physically. Hunger for a man who will stir her imagination fires her virginal fantasies.
He wants understanding… When he’s bored with his role as Viscount Blackpool, Collin Northington becomes a highwayman to gain anonymity and solace. With his face scarred fulfilling his military duty in India, he hides behind the brigand mask and persona. What he really desires is a woman who will look beyond outward appearances and take a chance.
If only for one night… In lieu of payment, Collin kidnaps Vanessa from the northern-bound stage. The more time they spend together—and in each other’s arms—the more they find they have in common beyond heated desire. When Collin delivers an impromptu marriage proposal, Vanessa unmasks more than his scarred face, but will his true identity and her penchant for fleeing grooms ruin what could very well be love?
And a little excerpt to get you excited: (at the time of this interview I’m still waiting on final edits to come back so forgive any errors or awkward phrasing)
She cleared her throat and put any scattered thoughts of potential danger from her mind. “Excuse me, sir, but have you a weapon? If so, perhaps showing it would persuade my travel companions to move more quickly.”
“I beg your pardon?” His question rang with incredulity.
She stifled the urge to shiver with pleasure. Did the highwayman’s voice affect the other woman in the same manner? Vanessa slid a glance to the younger woman. No, she still cowered against the seat. Is it the thrill of being robbed that plays havoc with my insides?
“While I dearly want to follow your order, I cannot access the doorway until this gentleman moves, and obviously, he’s not prepossessed of any sort of gumption to do so without incentive.” The fact she only wanted out of the vehicle so she could get a look at the ruffian caused her face to heat. Did his physical appearance match the authority in his voice? What sort of man chose thievery as a profession? What drove him to such desperation?
A rich chuckle came from the highwayman. “I do indeed possess a pistol as well as a dagger. If need be, I throw a tight right hook.” He stuck his head into the coach, but the gathering twilight as well as his mask and a worn, low-crowned hat hid his face from view. “Which one of you spoke?”
The words echoed with culture not in keeping with the picture she’d envisioned from such a criminal. Vanessa waved a hand. “I did, but if you’re hoping to gain valuable trinkets from me, I’m afraid I have none. I… I left rather suddenly.” She cursed her lack of preparedness as she traced her pitifully thin reticule on the seat.
“That is quite all right. There are other things of value you might possess. Fortunately, I know exactly how to make that assessment.”
What did he mean? What secret wealth could she possess? Surely she had nothing of value a highwayman could want. Flutters tickled her belly. No man of her acquaintance had provoked such a reaction, so why now, did an unknown, and a criminal at that, make her want to discover his secrets and hers?
He jutted a strong chin toward the man who still stood in the aisle. “This is your lucky day, sir. I’m letting you and your ladybird go without molestation.”
The man reclaimed the seat next to his wife. “What of her?” He pointed to Vanessa.
She shot him a glare, though she doubted he saw it, and her estimation of men sank another notch. Whatever happened to standing up for a woman’s honor on principle?
“That is not for you to know, but if I were you, I’d thank her until your dying day that I spared your life.” The highwayman extended a hand. “Let me help you out, miss.”
The next moments ticked by in pregnant silence. This was her choice, a step onto a new path. She could remain inside and stay safe for a while, or she could go outside into unknown danger and ruin. A slow smile parted her lips. It was time to live for herself, to discover who she was, outside of her parents’ wishes and home, and damn the consequences. If Papa couldn’t choose a decent man for her and she’d already proclaimed most dim-witted and uninteresting, maybe she needed an indecent one. She suspected the highwayman could do nicely.
“Thank you, sir.” She slipped her hand into his. The instant his gloved fingers closed around hers, warmth ebbed upward to her elbow. Heat continued to bloom when she moved to the door and he placed his hands on her waist before lifting her out. For one breath-stealing moment she was crushed against the hard wall of his chest. “Oh my.” She slid her hands over the wide breadth of his shoulders and past a scarlet waistcoat decorated with black embroidery then her feet found purchase on the road and he released her.
I’d love to connect with you around the web! Here’s where you can find me: Website, Believing is Seeing blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.
Once again, I'd like to thank Sandra for joining us. So, Lady Scribes readers, tell us: Star Wars or Star Trek?