Please welcome Janet Mullany, author of HIDDEN PARADISE, to Novel Reflections. Janet is here today as part of her virtual blog tour to talk about her latest release via Harlequin– and giveaway some goodies!
CALL IT SENSE AND
Louisa Connelly, a recently widowed Jane Austen scholar, needs some relief from her stifling world. When a friend calls to offer her a temporary escape from her Montana ranch, she is whisked into a dizzying world of sumptuous food, flowing wine…and endless temptation.
She’s an honored guest at Paradise Hall, an English resort boasting the full experience of an authentic Georgian country-house weekend. Liveried servants tend to the every need of house guests clad in meticulous period costume: snug breeches, low-cut silken gowns and negligible undergarments.
It’s Mac Salazar, a journalist immersing himself fully, deeply, lustily in the naughty pleasures of upstairs-downstairs dalliances, who piques Louisa’s curiosity-and libido-most. He’s a dilettante straight out of a novel: uninhibited, unapologetic and nearly insatiable. But Lou’s not romantic about this much, at least: Paradise Hall is a gorgeous fantasy, nothing more. A lover like Mac is pure fiction. And the real world beckons….
What inspired you to write this book?
I really wanted to write about the things I know from writing historicals–Jane Austen and details of Regency life–but in a contemporary setting. I’m not the first person to write about people dressing up and trying to live the lifestyle of two centuries ago, but the book wasn’t about serious historical reenactment (and historical reenactors are very, very serious about their fun). It was more the concept of getting a bunch of characters in a place where they could behave badly! And Regency clothes are so great–the underwear isn’t particularly exciting but there isn’t much of it. I also like playing around with different voices and four characters in the book narrate their overlapping stories–the hero and heroine, Rob the footman, and Peter, one of the owners of Paradise Hall.
Were any of the characters a challenge to write?
My character Peter is my first overtly gay character and there is some m/m lovemaking, although it’s fairly tame. I know that a lot of romance readers have certain expectations when it comes to m/m and I knew I was going to fail them miserably by not having two hot young guys. Sorry! Peter is having marital troubles with his partner (who has issues of his own) and falls hopelessly in love with a young, mostly straight guy who can’t reciprocate.
Was there a character you enjoyed writing the most?
I love writing about servants, and to do so through the point of view a young, modern character was a joy. Rob is the head footman at Paradise Hall, and he learns a lot about being a servant, and about himself, during the course of the book. He’s part of the whole downstairs community and they fantasize about the “upstairs” guests and give them rude nicknames. I also liked writing about men together, not in a sexual sense (at least in this part of the book) but in exploring their camaraderie and friendships.
What was one of the most interesting things you learned in researching your book?
Absolutely, the great untapped resource of historical writers: that footmen were hired according to height and appearance. The idea was to get a “matched team,” pretty much as you’d do if you were buying carriage horses. Now doesn’t that lead you to some interesting possibilities!
Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book/series? Were there challenges or obstacles you had to overcome?
There was quite a bit of worldbuilding in this even though it isn’t a paranormal. Paradise Hall is a resort where the characters dress up in Regency clothes and enjoy the good things of Regency life–great food, a beautiful setting, dancing, a grand ball. I had to figure out how it would work: for instance, the food is fairly authentic but cooked in a modern kitchen; the beds are modern to withstand “heavy bonking” as one of the characters says. Who makes and maintains the clothes, schedules the activities, looks after the house and the horses, and how much is the 21st century allowed to intrude on the characters?
Is there anything from your daily “real life” that has played a fundamental role in the inspiration or creation of the story line or characters?
I’ve done some historical reenactment! I do actually own a Regency gown, shift and corset which I wear occasionally–just last weekend, in fact, at the JASNA-AGM, a fabulous conference for Austen enthusiasts that culminates in a grand ball for which a lot of the participants dress up. I also have a very lovely feather headdress and fan. So I know what it feels like to wear the clothes; for instance, although my corset is only waist length I can’t bend over or see my feet. (I do wear underwear, though. I know you were wondering.)
Anything else you’d like to share with readers?
Please share this and encourage your online friends to comment! As you know, nothing says hot romance like a water buffalo.
Can you leave readers with a teaser?
“It’s certainly not the sort of meet cute Austen wrote about.” He might talk of discretion but his eyes shone with mischief and energy. An attractive man, she thought, and not only because she’d seen him half naked and lustily enjoying sex.
He grinned. “Chris and Peter told me a lot about you.”
“Yes, we’re good friends. Where are you from?”
“Chicago by way of London. I got this commission to do an advance piece on the house, so here I am. What are you doing in…Montana, I think Peter said?”
“Oh, long story.” She sipped her champagne. “My husband and I lived on a ranch and we taught at a school a couple of hours away. He died suddenly last year.” She could say it now, the short version, stark and matter-of-fact.
“I’m sorry. Do you think you’ll stay there?”
“I don’t know.” Her glass was empty. “Don’t you want to ask me about historical authenticity at Paradise?”
“I guess so. After you’ve settled in, we should set up a time for an interview. It’s an interesting concept, time travel with no chance of getting stuck in the past, or treading on a bug and changing the course of history.”
“It’s a very sexy period.” She was halfway down another glass now and the room was beginning to take on a subtle, mellow glow that was half sunset, half alcohol. “Mainly because of popular culture, of course. People say there’s no sex in Austen. They’re wrong. Her books are full of sex, but it’s all subsex. Subtext.”
“That’s the champagne talking.” He took her glass from her hand.
Janet Mullany, granddaughter of an Edwardian housemaid, was born in England but now lives near Washington, DC. Her debut book was Dedication, the only Signet Regency to have two bondage scenes (and which was reissued with even more sex in April 2012 from Loose-Id). Her next book, The Rules of Gentility (HarperCollins 2007) was acquired by Little Black Dress (UK) for whom she wrote three more Regency chicklits, A Most Lamentable Comedy, Improper Relations, and Mr. Bishop and the Actress. Her career as a writer who does terrible things to Jane Austen began in 2010 with the publication of Jane and the Damned (HarperCollins), and Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion (2011) about Jane as a vampire, and a modern retelling of Emma, Little to Hex Her, in the anthology Bespelling Jane Austen headlined by Mary Balogh. She also writes contemporary erotic fiction for Harlequin, Tell Me More (2011) and Hidden Paradise (September, 2012).
Book Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bixcPDj8JKA
- Janet will pledge $1 for every comment made on the blog tour to Heifer International (which has absolutely nothing to do with the book but is one of her favorite nonprofits), up to $250. Additionally, she’ll award the choice of the following eBooks from her backlist to one randomly drawn commenter at every stop: Forbidden Shores (erotic historical romance w/a Jane Lockwood), or Tell Me More (contemporary erotica) or The Rules of Gentility (funny sexy Regency).
- Please leave a comment along with your broken up email addy.
- Contest is open the duration of the tour.
- Winner will be randomly selected and notified via email.
The tour dates can be found here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2012/05/virtual-book-tour-hidden-paradise-by.html