~ SALLY MACKENZIE ~
Hi Sally! Welcome to UTC’s Historical Romance event! Can you please introduce yourself to the crowd and perhaps tell us a few things about yourself that readers wouldn’t know?
Thanks so much for inviting me to stop by. It’s great to be here!
I live outside Washington, D.C., with my husband. Three of my four grown sons are in the area—the other son married a west coast girl and lives in San Francisco. Sigh. My loss is her family’s gain, so I can’t complain too much. (Well, okay, I can, but I try not to!) My books are set in the Regency period, but after the Napoleonic Wars, so between 1816 and about 1820. My first book, The Naked Duke, led to the Naked Nobility series and my favorite giveaway—a button that said “I’m a Naked reader.” Now I’m finishing up the Duchess of Love series.
As to things you might not know about me…
- I love heights. I was dying (though not literally) to get onto the Ledge at the Willis Tower Skydeck when I was at the 2012 Romantic Times convention in Chicago. And I scrambled up to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, leaving my heights-hating husband a few levels down.
- I hate rollercoasters. When I was a child, I felt like I was going to fly out of the seat—this was before modern safety harnesses—and that soured me on them for life. A few years ago, I did go on some rollercoaster-like rides at Disneyland because my pals were riding them, and I discovered now I don’t like the way they throw my body around. It bothers my neck.
- I’ll drink coffee when I’m away from home, but to make it palatable, I’ll add four or five packets of sugar and four little creamers—or half a pitcher of half and half. At home I drink instant Maxwell House International Café Swiss Mocha, which my Starbucks-loving friend says doesn’t count as coffee. And I drink lots of decaf tea.
Tell us a bit about the Duchess of Love series – what’s it about? How many books are in the series? Must they be read in order?
The Duchess of Love is Venus Valentine, the Duchess of Greycliffe. She’s the ton’s premier matchmaker, but the matches she most wants and can’t manage to make or fix are those of her three sons. The first story, “The Duchess of Love” is actually set in the late 1700s and is a prequel novella that tells how Venus met her duke. The books are set thirty years later. Bedding Lord Ned is the second son’s story; Surprising Lord Jack is the third son’s; and Loving Lord Ash is the oldest son’s.
I don’t think they have to be read in order, but it’s probably best if they are. The main focus of each book is that son’s love story, but there are references and developments with the other characters that carry through the books, so reading them in order probably makes those things more enjoyable. And if you haven’t read the earlier stories, this is a great time to do so, because they are on SALE until February 25 at major eBook retailers. (At least, according to plan. I’m writing this before the sale starts, so sometimes things change.) “The Duchess of Love” novella is FREE (!!); Bedding Lord Ned and Surprising Lord Jack are each only $2.99.
The next book, LOVING LORD ASH, is set to release in March. Could you tell us a bit more about Jess and Ash?
Lord Ashton—Ash to his friends, but Kit to his wife—is one of my favorite sorts of hero. He is almost too principled for his own good. He has loved Jess since she arrived at Greycliffe Castle as a young girl, but he’s never acted on his feelings. When he finds her in an extremely compromising situation with his childhood enemy, Sir Percy Headley, he is furious, but when Percy refuses to marry Jess and Ash sees the desperation in her eyes, he can’t keep from offering for her himself. And then he’s stuck with a wife he loves but cannot trust. He abandons her on a distant estate and tries to ignore the problem. Impossible. Finally, when he turns thirty, he forces himself to go to her, hoping to work out a compromise that will allow him to get his heir, and he finds her again in the arms—the naked arms—of another man. Divorce seems the only solution.
Jess knows she made a serious mistake with Percy. In her defense, she was still in shock from her father’s death. And she knows she should never have taken advantage of Kit’s kindness and married him. She’s only a groom’s daughter, after all. She had no business marrying a duke, as all of England would be happy to tell her. But she loves her husband—has loved him since they were children—and when she sees him again, she realizes she can no longer leave things to fate. She has to go after him and try to mend things between them, so she takes her very large dog and does just that.
Compared to the other books in the series, was this more difficult or easier to write?
I have to say, I’ve yet to have a book that was easy to write. I think each one becomes harder than the last because I’m always trying to improve and make the story better than any I’ve written before. But Loving Lord Ash was especially difficult. I knew my dedicated readers wanted Ash and Jess to get together and were wondering what was keeping them apart. I was wondering, too! I don’t plot my series in advance; I trust my characters to lead me—but Ash was being a little difficult about giving up his secrets. We had to spend a long time together, “chatting” about things before I could write the first word of his book. And then besides working things out between Ash and Jess, I had to tie up any loose ends—like the issue of poor Miss Wharton and the extremely disagreeable Sir Percy.
Do you have a heroine you’ve written that you identify with the most?
I have to say I identify most with Venus, the Duchess of Greycliffe—aka, the Duchess of Love. I’m not a matchmaker, but I am the mother of four grown sons. While, in general, my life is very different from the lives of my characters, I confess to channeling a little of my mother-of-sons feelings in Venus. And Venus would like some grandchildren. When I was writing these books, I was beginning to think I might like some grandchildren, too—and lo and behold, after Ash’s book was done and handed in, our oldest son and his wife presented us with twin grandbabies! Yay!
Since it’s Historical month at UTC, we want to know why you love the era in which you write in and perhaps share with us one or two of your favourite books that explore that time period.
The Regency is a very interesting time period when King George III was mad and his son ruled as Prince Regent. War and the Industrial Revolution were changing English society. But history isn’t what attracted me to the Regency. I first discovered the period when I was around middle school age and a friendly librarian introduced me to Georgette Heyer. Georgette is the reason I write stories set in the Regency. I loved her books—the balls, the romance, her independent heroines and brave—and, okay, usually wealthy, titled—heroes. I loved her humor and wonderful dialogue.
As far as research books go, the one I turn to most often—besides my Oxford English Dictionary—is former Regency writer Emily Hendrickson’s The Regency Reference Book. It answers so many basic Regency questions, and it has a great Regency lexicon and Regency thesaurus. For any story set in London, I often turn to The London Encyclopaedia edited by Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert and my various maps of London. And whenever I visit England, I always buy the guidebook for whatever historic site I’m touring.
For anyone who’s terribly interested, I list some of my favorite research sources on the “Extras” page of my web site.
Historical Romance heroes can be one of the hottest across all genres. Tell us who your all-time favourite Historical Romance hero is and explain why you adore him so much.
First I have to confess that I don’t read much historical romance any more. I guess I spend so much time in my own version of the Regency, I like to read something else when I’m not working. I also find I don’t read the way I used to before I started writing. I’m always analyzing on some level now. However, I’ve just been going through my old books—I need to start pruning my collection—so I thought I’d revisit some of my favorites from when I was “just” a reader. Ah, what fun!
So here are two heroes I love, both from books published in the early 1980s, written by Joan Wolf: Adrian, Duke of Hastings in The American Duchess and Diccon, Earl of Leyburn in Fool’s Masquerade. They are both sinfully handsome, powerful, independent, brilliant men who take their responsibilities seriously, putting their people and their lands before their self-interest. Men admire them, and women lust after them. And they come to love their heroine with incredible passion and intensity. Sigh.
A Duke In Disguise…
The day was as hot as the pond was inviting. It’s not as if anyone in Little Huffington was going to happen upon a secluded vale on the Duke of Greycliffe’s lands. And Venus Collingswood didn’t want to get her shift all wet. It was the perfect setting in which to plan her lovely bookworm of a sister’s betrothal to the mysterious new duke arriving seven days hence. If only she had a suitable accomplice…
Andrew Valentine, Duke of Greycliffe, never thought arriving at his own household a week early would cause so much trouble. The housekeeper thinks he’s his own cousin. Actually, the chance to not be the duke for a while is a pleasant opportunity indeed. It might even help him interrogate the delectable little nymph he’s discovered swimming in his pond—if he can manage to get a word in edgewise…
Pleasure Is On Her Dance Card
Determined to find a husband, Miss Eleanor “Ellie” Bowman attends a ball put on by the Duchess of Greycliffe, fondly referred to as the Duchess of Love. But she roundly dismisses the suitors the matchmaking hostess has invited on her behalf. For it’s the duchess’ dashing son, Ned, Lord Edward, who long ago captured Ellie’s heart—and roused her desire. All it takes is a pair of conveniently misplaced silky red bloomers to set the handsome widower’s gaze on this unusual girl who is clearly more than meets the eye.
After four years of mourning, Ned must find a wife. At first glance, the birthday ball his mother has thrown in his honor is decidedly lacking in suitable mistresses. But he senses something unexpectedly alluring beneath the veil of Ellie’s plain exterior—and suddenly she’s invading his dreams in a decidedly scandalous manner.
One naughty little masquerade can’t hurt…
Frances Hadley has managed her family’s estate for years. So why can’t she request her own dowry? She’ll have to go to London herself and knock some sense into the men interfering in her life. With the nonsense she’s dealt with lately, though, there’s no way she’s going as a woman. A pair of breeches and a quick chop of her red curls, and she’ll have much less to worry about…
Jack Valentine, third son of the famous Duchess of Love, is through being pursued by pushy young ladies. One particularly determined miss has run him out of his own house party. Luckily the inn has one bed left—Jack just has to share with a rather entertaining red-headed youth. Perhaps the two of them should ride to London together. It will make a pleasant escape from his mother’s matchmaking melodrama!
A Little Misunderstanding. . .
Kit, the Marquis of Ashton, is in a sticky wicket. He married young and for love—how naïve. He discovered his mistake the very day of his wedding, but he is saddled now with a wife he’s reluctant to trust. And however much evidence he gathers against faithless Jess, he can’t seem to prove her guilt to the final judge—his foolish heart.
Jessica knows she’s bobbled her marriage, however innocently. A fairytale wedding makes no difference if she hasn’t got the marquis charmed to show for it. Well, she’s had enough of accidental encounters with naked gentlemen and near misses explaining things to her husband. It’s time to buck up and go win her man back—even if she has to fight very dirty indeed.
Sally has a copy of BEDDING LORD NED up for grabs! US ONLY!