Susana, I’m so pleased to be invited to post on your blog today. You do great service to us Regency romance writers and readers.
The first thing I heard when I set out to become an author was, “Write what you know.” Tough to do since the Regency occurred about 200 years ago, but I’ve always been accused of having an old soul. I feel most comfortable around antique things – furniture that shows the dents and cracks of use, books marred by the crayon scrawls of children. Signs of life thrill me. So the challenge I set myself when I wrote Lord Monroe’s Dark Tower was to make it seem “lived in.” To this end, my heroine, Claire was inspired by my sister Jenny, and the book’s hero, Flavian, by a feline who was everything she ever wanted in a man (except shedding).
Flavian was a striped tabby who walked like a truck driver but meowed like a soprano – all high and tweety. You will not find these character traits in the book, but you will find other similarities.
We always had a running tab of two to three dogs and four to five cats in the house along with four excitable girls and my excitable parents. At dinner the whole mess of us would crowd into the kitchen. My mother would feed us the human food and the animals would square off over their bowls. Dogs growled, cats hissed—but Flavian was unflappable. If he wanted Friskies, he just walked up to the bowl, nudged whoever was in the way, and got it. No fuss, no buss. All the animals respected Flavian, not because they were afraid, but because he exuded that kind of authority.
Jenny was mad for Flavian and he was mad for her. If he needed a warm lap she was there; if the night were cold, her bed was where he’d find warmth; should he need a treat, she’d give it to him, and when she required a dead mouse, he would provide it.
In the early stages of writing Lord Monroe’s Dark Tower, I thought, what would it be like if Jenny could have her ideal love without four legs and a tail? What would that man be like and how would my sweet, quiet sister, who, like Claire, is a healer, react to such a person? And so, the love story was born.
Now that I’ve confessed the origins of Lord Monroe’s main characters, for a chance at winning a free download of the novel, I’d like to know, have you ever had a pet you wished were human?
About Lord Monroe’s Dark Tower
Two years of bewildering silence have passed since Claire Albright’s passions were first inflamed by powerful, brooding, Lord Flavian Monroe. On the brink of her London debut he unexpectedly summons her, asking for help to cure his ward’s hoarding. Embroiled in a desperate attempt to curb the child’s destructive madness, Claire struggles to understand why Flavian’s kisses veer from burning desire to icy rejection. Can she reach his heart before the child’s insanity undoes their chance at love?
When he was fourteen, Flavian made a mistake so devastating it ruined all hope for happiness. Years later, he’s still paying for his sin. But before his ward’s troubled mind destroys his home and family, he must see Claire once more. Vowing to keep their relationship professional—she the healer, he the guardian—he finds the bonds of his resolve snapping. Somehow, he must content himself with the love that could have been, but he cannot resist . . . one final embrace . . .
Available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble
A Snippet From Lord Monroe’s Dark Tower
“Claire!” Half way around the lake, he finally heard her answering call. His heart lurched when he caught sight of her. Dressed in pale green, she stood surrounded by a sea of yellow flowers. A straw bonnet shaded the perfect oval of her face. His eyes scrolled down her bodice. Between her breasts, she’d tucked a tiny bouquet of wild flowers: purple, pink, yellow, and white. He swallowed.
As he strode toward her, she said, “This spot has enough St. John’s wort to supply…” He crushed the end of her sentence with a kiss. All the frustration, all the passion he’d whipped back since she’d come to Bingham Hall, broke free the instant his mouth met hers. He tipped her till her bonnet came off and dangled by the string around her throat. His tongue parted her reluctance and demanded her participation while he explored the wet grotto of her mouth.
On the verge of lowering her to the ground, she put both hands to his shoulders and pushed. “Flavian, wait.” Her cool fingers went to each side of his face, and her gaze burrowed into the furthest recesses of his mind. He felt the question in her body, the beseeching touch of her fingertips: ‘I am the lamb, you, the lion. What will you do with me?’ He understood the question, but couldn’t bring himself to answer. Valencia’s eyes, like black bottomless pools, flickered in his thoughts. So many years ago, he’d asked that same question of her. Being a lion, she consumed him. And then, when she so desperately needed his help, he’d been powerless . . . worse, he’d been reluctant. He stepped out of Claire’s grasp. “I wasn’t thinking.”
Fire leapt in her eyes. “Not thinking?” She ran several paces away. Pointing at him, she cried, “You make a mockery of my heart. One moment your lips burn against mine, the next, you ignore me.”
“I . . . I’m sorry.”
Doubled over with frustration, she yanked on the skirts of her dress. “I don’t want your apology. I want your love.”
“You have it.” Before he could retract the words, they hovered in the air between them. All went still. Even the birds ceased their song. Claire clutched her heart. “Why would you say that?”
“I love you.” He stepped toward her, though his chest ached and his throat went dry. “God help you, but I love you.” At her feet he dropped to his knees, hat in hand. “I love you.”
About the Author
Elf Ahearn, yes, that is her real name, lives in New York with her wonderful husband and a pesky (yet irresistible) cat. She came to romance late in life because she had to meet the right guy before any of that love stuff made sense. Before meeting the man of her dreams, Elf was a journalist, a corporate communications specialist, an actor, an insurance underwriter (which amuses her friends because she can’t add two numbers together to save her life), and a Lithuanian vampiress. (Not really but if you’re still reading I wanted to give you a thrill.) Like many romance authors, Elf was nuts for horses, though now she’s turned to cats. (They’re not as easy to ride, but they eat less hay.) In fact, the temptation to write a horse story is what lured her into romance writing in the first place. (See A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing, the first book in the Albright Sisters series; there’s a really hot stallion in it.) Thanks for taking the time to read this post, and I hope you win the free download of Lord Monroe’s Dark Tower!
Elf’s Previous Post on Susana’s Parlour:
Regency Romance With a Gothic Twist:
Elf Ahearn and “A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing”