Friday, February 27, 2009
Hello Terra and everyone at Yankeeromancereviewers.com!
Thanks so much for inviting me to join the party on this great site. I must admit that I’ve surfed around a bit and found some wonderful archived blogs and interviews. It’s always fun to get a little behind the scenes peek at what authors think about their own work and how they go about the job of writing.
With that in mind, I thought I’d talk a little bit about how I got started in romance. It all began a long time ago—more than twenty years now. Back when I was in my third year of law school, my mom was suffering through breast cancer. Every day after classes I would go up to the hospital and spend time with her. One day I was complaining about one of my professors, and she calmly said, “That’s too bad, honey, but you know you’re going to be a writer, so it’s not all that important.”
A writer? I was going to be a writer? Hardly. I had never written a word of fiction in my life.
My mom was nothing if not determined, however. After much discussion, we decided to write a romance novel together. (I had voted for horror). At that point, the only romances I had ever read were by Kathleen Woodiwiss and Laurie McBain. But my mom was on a mission. She handed me a list of names. LaVyrle Spencer, Judith McNaught, Sandra Brown, Jayne Ann Krentz, Jude Devereaux. I was to find as many books by these authors as possible, read them, and return with my thoughts.
And I fell in love with love stories. Just like that. In those pages, I discovered stories that swept me away and made me happy and proved that love was worth fighting for. Before I knew it, we were working on a historical romance together.
Sadly, that part of the story doesn’t have a big, happy ending. We didn’t actually write a book together, but the seed was planted. Years later, when I found myself in need of a dream, there it was: the gift from my mother. I was going to be a writer.
As with everything, the decision to begin was the hardest part. It’s tough to reach for a dream that seems to be beyond your grasp. But I dove in. I didn’t have much knowledge about fiction writing, and certainly no discernable talent; I didn’t care. I had a dream and time to make it happen. It took a lot of years of studying and practicing and starting over, but I gradually began to see improvement. I finally got “the call” in 1990. The same year I won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart award. That was the beginning.
And now, more than twenty years later, I have written what I believe to be my most romantic novel ever. It’s not technically a romance novel—it’s more a family drama—but it’s still is the best love story I’ve done.
True Colors is a deeply emotional story about sisters, betrayal, rivalry, forgiveness, redemption, and what it really means to be a family. It is my greatest hope that once you’ve read it, you’ll want to call your sister and tell her how much she means to you.
The book came out three weeks ago, and I’m proud to say that it shot right up on the New York Times list for me. After all these years, that’s a pretty new thing for me, and it’s definitely champagne worthy. For those of you who haven’t read it, here’s a little sneak peek into the story: Set on a horse ranch in Western Washington, True Colors is about three sisters whose lives were shaped by the loss of their mother when they were young. Raised by a distant, disapproving father, they banded together and became best friends. There’s Winona, who has spent a lifetime struggling with her weight and trying desperately to gain her father’s approval…and Aurora, the middle child, who is the family peacekeeper and wants everyone to be happy, even as she hides her own secret pain…and Vivi Ann, the beautiful, romantic dreamer, for whom everything seems to come easily, her father’s love most of all, until a stranger comes to town. When Vivi Ann makes a fateful decision to follow her heart, rather than the course of a dutiful daughter, events are set in motion that will change everything for the Greys. A shocking crime will shatter both the once close family and the town in which they live. It’s a story about how easily a family can be broken, and how hard it can sometimes be to put the pieces back together, and ultimately about how deceiving appearances can be. I really hope it’s a book you won’t be able to put down…or forget.
One of the best new discoveries of this last year for me has been book clubs. I have been incredibly fortunate to speak with dozens of readers’ groups by phone over the last few months, and I can honestly say that each one has been a treat. So if you belong to a book club, and would like to consider True Colors, please see the details on this site about how to schedule a talk with me. I will do my very best to talk to all the groups I can.
Thanks again, Terra, for this great opportunity to talk to your readers. I’ll be happy to answer any questions that come my way. And please, anyone who wants to, feel free to jump into the blog on my website. We have a lot of fun over there.
True Colors is New York Times bestselling author Kristin Hannah’s most provocative, compelling, and heart-wrenching story yet. With the luminous writing and unforgettable characters that are her trademarks, she tells the story of three sisters whose once-solid world is broken apart by jealousy, betrayal, and the kind of passion that rarely comes along.
The Grey sisters have always been close. After their mother’s death, the girls banded together, becoming best friends. Their stern, disapproving father cares less about his children than about his reputation. To Henry Grey, appearances are everything, and years later, he still demands that his daughters reflect his standing in the community.
Winona, the oldest, needs her father’s approval most of all. An overweight bookworm who never felt at home on the sprawling horse ranch that has been in her family for three generations, she knows that she doesn’t have the qualities her father values. But as the best lawyer in town, she’s determined to someday find a way to prove her worth to him.
Aurora, the middle sister, is the family peacemaker. She brokers every dispute and tries to keep them all happy, even as she hides her own secret pain.
Vivi Ann is the undisputed star of the family. A stunningly beautiful dreamer with a heart as big as the ocean in front of her house, she is adored by all who know her. Everything comes easily for Vivi Ann, until a stranger comes to town…
In a matter of moments, everything will change. The Grey sisters will be pitted against one another in ways that none could have imagined. Loyalties will be tested and secrets revealed, and a terrible, shocking crime will shatter both their family and their beloved town.
With breathtaking pace and penetrating emotional insight, True Colors is an unforgettable novel about sisters, rivalry, forgiveness, redemption---and ultimately, what it means to be a family.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Thank You Maya for taking the time today to do this interview!
Thank you Terry for inviting me and for providing original and interesting questions that are a treat to answer!
Terra: What was your inspiration behind having our hero, a very well known scoundrel, to be dropped off at an abbey after being found seriously wounded?
Maya: At first, I thought a rake in an abbey would be funny. But then as I considered it further, I thought it would be a perfect place for a rake's reformation. All those women, and none of them are open to seduction (well, one of them is). Plus, such a sparse setting with limited options for activities leant itself to a really deep exploration of the emotional lives of these characters and I could place the interaction between the heroine is front and center.
Terra: Is it just me or is Lord Frost really so delusional as to not even consider how our heroine might feel about him since he is the one who ruined her in the eyes of the ton and her family?
Maya: You read it right, Lucas Frost is absolutely delusional. Because of the trauma he experienced--his loss of Angela, and then the loss of his wife (and that one other spoiler-thing I dare not mention!)--he goes a bit insane.
Terra: Having our hero be an identical twin, was it harder to form the storyline scenes around the two of them? Also, did you find yourself at any time during these scenes getting confused with their identities?
Maya: Yes! It's why Phillip has a broken nose. Because I got annoyed at the difficulties of keeping them straight because of their identical appearance, I gave Phillip a broken nose (Well, his twin, Devon, did). After that, they no longer looked exactly alike.
Keeping track of the twins was much more difficult in The Heir And The Spare (the first book) because they were both courting the same woman so I was more confused than with The Rogue And The Rival when Phillip was the only man around.
Terra: Do you think that there is a man out there that would go to the lengths that our hero does to show the woman he loves that what he is offering her is real and not just a empty words?
Maya: I do! Even if he doesn't go on a grand expedition to apologize to his past lovers the way Phillip did, just being there for a girl day after day is showing her real love. Without all the bells and whistles, that is what Phillip did for Angela--he showed up for her and stayed with her (even if he got smacked with a bouquet of roses).
Terra: Do you have any plans to write a story about any of Angela’s siblings? Most especially her brother possibly getting caught up in their matchmaking aunt’s web?
Maya: I definitely considered it, but it's not on the agenda at the moment.
Terra: I do think the two scenes I had the most fun reading about were 1. When the chapel roof caught fire and 2. When Angela decided to take out her frustrations on Phillip with the roses. Those were truly hysterical moments. Was your inspiration behind them something you just thought of or were they possibly personal experiences from your past?
Maya: No personal experiences there, just my sense of humor :) How many times do we read that a rake was so wicked that he can't go to Church lest it catch on fire? I read that in a few different novels over the years, and when writing The Rogue And The Rival, I knew it had to happen.
As for the scene with the roses--that was one of my favorites! Again, it was just something I thought would be funny. Phillip shows up after breaking Angela's heart, and flowers are supposed to mend everything!?!
Terra: Lady Katherine is the head of the abbey so why is it that everyone still refers to her as Lady instead of the more traditional Sister or Mother? Has she or hasn’t she taken her orders?
Maya: Lady Katherine was the Abbess, so she had definitely taken her vows. When closely acquainted with people, as Lady Katherine was with the main female characters in the abbey, it was acceptable to give the liberty to use a given name. She was, however, high ranking and in a position of authority, which is why I had the characters address her as Lady Katherine. It shows their deference and respect while acknowledging a familiarity.
Terra: Our hero Phillip and our heroine Angela have been away from their families for quite a long time for very different reasons, do you think that real people of that time period would have been welcomed them back into the family fold with open arms such as they have considering the circumstances?
Maya: In all of my research, I'm often struck by how much things haven't changed between today and "days of yore". Yes, we've had technological innovations, but people seem pretty much the same. So I'd imagine that for the most part, people would welcome back their long long family members. At least, I hope they would.
Terra: If you were transported back to this particular time period, what type of character could you picture yourself ending up as and why?
Maya: Oooh, this is a great question! And a tough one. I like to think that I would still be myself--writing romance novels, alternating between pants and pretty dresses, and chatting with with my friends over tea--so I would a bit of an eccentric if I lived during the Regency era.
Terra: What are your future plans as a romance author?
Maya: I'm working on a new book now--it'll launch a new series. It's still too early to chat about it, but as soon as I'm ready I'll post the details on my website, www.mayarodale.com!
Terra: I have to say that after having read The Rogue and the Rival that you my dear are a very talented writer and I do hope to read many more novels from you.
Maya: Thank you so much, Terry! These questions were fantastic!
Leave a question or comment about the interview for Maya along with your email addy and be entered to win a signed copy of The Rogue And The Rival.
The original title was Love Among The Ruined. My editor was wary of a negative word like “ruined” in the title, so we agreed on The Rogue And The Rival, which you must admit goes very well with it’s companion book, The Heir And The Spare.
I’ve said before that I put a little bit of myself in my characters. Angela is described as always making a racket with everything she does, particularly in the kitchen. According to my mother, this is one of my habits. She says the house gets so much noisier when I am home.
The scene where Lady Palmerston and Phillip meet again in her drawing room (page 200) was one of the first that I wrote for this book. I was struck by a burst of inspiration during class, and hoped everyone thought I was taking copious notes while I was handwriting it.
For the record: The heroine’s name is Angela Sullivan not Angela Palmerston, as many sources are reporting. Lord only knows how that happened! I now expect that my heroine will forever be known as Angela Palmerston. That’s fine. Has a ring to it. But in case you were wondering, I decided on Angela’s original last name while reading the People magazine article on Patrick Dempsey’s twins. They are named Darby and Sullivan and I thought that the latter fit my heroine nicely.
Readers of both books featuring Phillip Kensington, Marquis Huntley may notice that he frequently drinks to excess, and is never without a flask. But no hero of mine was going to be stinking of brandy or forgetting tender moments with the heroine because he was sloshed. So Lord Huntley had to sober up. If you or someone you know needs help with an alcohol problem, you don’t have to do it alone like Phillip. Alcoholics Anonymous can help. You can always call 1-800-662-HELP for information about treatment options in your community.
Some songs were on heavy rotation during the writing of this book: Green Eyes, by Coldplay. Just Might (Make Me Believe) by Sugarland, and This Is Not The End by The Bravery.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Hello, all! First off, I want to extend my thanks to Terra and all the gang here at Yankee Romance Viewers. I’m excited to be here, and doubly excited because Bride of a Wicked Scotsman, my new release, has just hit the bookstores!
Bride of a Wicked Scotsman is the third book in the McBride family series. Alec, Duke of Gleneden. Annabell (or Annie as she’s called) kicked off the series in The Secret Passion of Simon Blackwell. The second book is The Seduction of an Unknown Lady, with hero Aidan McBride. Third in line is Alec’s story in Bride of a Wicked Scotsman. I have wanted to use Alec as a hero’s name for ages! But the name has to fit the character. And I knew, from the very beginning, that Alec would be . . . well, Alec. Alec has already appeared in the first two books. He’s been standing in the sidelines, ready to make the leap to hero.
Though it’s third in the series, in several ways, Bride of a Wicked Scotsman is, in several ways, a book of “firsts”. You see, Alec is the first duke I’ve written about. In the same way that I knew Alec would be my hero, I knew he just HAD to be a duke. A confession here: before I started writing, my nose was forever in a book. In a romance (my, but who would have guessed??) My husband once noted that every book I read had “duke” in the title.
Well, not quite every book. But it’s true that dukes abounded. Pirates abounded. So, in a sense, I’ve gone back to my roots. I’ve always wanted to write about dukes and pirates. Why not write about a duke who’s a pirate? Or a pirate who’s duke. In Alec, I had my duke. But Alec’s character was already established in the first two books in the trilogy. I couldn’t make Alec my pirate, so I did the next best thing. I rattled some skeletons in the closet. Voila, there he was – a McBride family ancestor who was a pirate. A pirate called the Black Scotsman.
We’ve seen numerous romances with Scottish and English hero/heroines pitted against each other. I’ve written several books with Scots vs. Scots. So, there he was, Alec, my Scottish duke. I knew he wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than a strong woman. Who better to pair him with than a spirited Irish firebrand? Add a bit of good-natured rivalry, Irish vs. Scots, and there were my leads.
I was further convinced during my research trip to Ireland, where I learned about Grace O’Malley, a sixteenth century lady-pirate. Meant to be, yes? Yes. It was karma. I had my duke, my pirate – even though it extends back a ways -- and there I was, in a land of legends and myths, all of which played right into my hand. Add to the mix an ancient curse. A deathbed promise, and thus was born Bride of a Wicked Scotsman.
I’m giving away the first book in this series, The Secret Passion of Simon Blackwell. For a preview of Bride of a Wicked Scotsman, drop by my website to read an excerpt. As a special treat for readers, you can read an extended excerpt on the HarperCollins website. You can also read 100% of# Gabriel's Bride free on the HarperCollins website.
I invite you to come, sit and have a chat!
Make sure and leave a comment for Samantha along with your email addy to be entered for the giveaway.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
That’s how Stasi Romanov felt when she was served with legal papers stating a human was suing her in wizard’s court for giving the woman a hexed sachet. She’s the sweet witch. She’s the one who smiles and is always ready to help anyone. So why would anyone think that Stasi would hex a silk sachet, so a customer’s cheating husband doesn’t return? Or did she? And just why does she hiccup iridescent bubbles? What can I say? You’ll have to read the book to find out.
And Trevor Barnes, wizard attorney with sexy surfer looks. Is there a reason why he has red hearts circling his head? The same red hearts that are dancing around Stasi’s head? Once again, you have to read the book.
Beautiful Moonstone Lake the town is named after isn’t so beautiful or serene now. An invisible barrier keeps the witches out and flames lick along the barrier. Clues to what’s tainting the lake are there, but not apparent. Can you guess what did it? Yes, read the book. :}
Ghosts are affected by something that’s moving through the town that’s now cut off from the outside world due to a snowstorm and power outage, the human residents are panicking and when seeing Stasi, whispering the word witch and not in a nice way. Fear and anger are like a disease and another problem that Stasi has to solve before she loses her life. But to find out if she saves the day you’ll have to … let’s say it all together … read the book!
Bogie, Stasi’s dog, is based on my wonderful wonderful Chihuahua/Yorkie, Bogie, except that her Bogie floats instead of walks and disappears if he gets nervous. He isn’t fond of sharing his space with Fluff and Puff when they visit.
And then there’s Horace, Stasi’s gargoyle who hangs out in the shop because he enjoys watching women try on lingerie and guessing their bra sizes. He speaks his mind, gets into trouble at the drop of a hat, but in his own way, you have to love him. Just don’t hug him if you’re wearing a low cut top.
So let’s recap this, shall we? Stasi’s being sued and the plaintiff’s attorney is sexy and magickal. The town is infected with fear and blaming Stasi and her witchy friend Blair for what’s happening. Trev is falling hard for Stasi and needs to find a way to make the lawsuit go away. Jazz, Nick and Irma, and yes, Fluff and Puff, are there to help make things right and hopefully it happens before three witches die.
Want to know more?
Read the book.
Wicked By Any Other Name was a blast to write and I hope you’ll agree. Of course, for that to happen you will have to buy the book. :}
Sunday, February 22, 2009
It was just your average ordinary snowy Monday afternoon on Long Island. I was rattling around the house, trying not to think about the manuscript I had shipped off to the brand new Harlequin offices on Third Avenue four days earlier.
Did you ever try to not think about something? It's like trying not to talk about the pink elephant in the room. I was obsessed with the fact that my first book was maybe right now on Vivian Stephens's desk waiting for its turn to be read.
And if the writers magazines I devoured on a monthly basis were any indication, my manuscript was going to have a long wait. Definitely longer than four days. Four weeks maybe? I guess it was possible. Four months? That was more like it.
So when the phone rang a few minutes after two o'clock I figured it was my mom checking in or my husband calling from work or maybe one of those annoying telemarketers that drove everyone crazy.
Except it wasn't.
It was Vivian Stephens and she wanted to buy my book. "We start everyone with a $6000 advance," she said, "and it goes up $500 with each sale."
Six thousand dollars? Was she serious? I'd never earned six thousand dollars in one year in my life and Vivian was going to give me six grand for doing something I'd happily do for free?
I was a high school graduate who had never known a writer in her life. I didn't have an agent. I'd never met an editor. Everything I knew about writing I'd pulled from magazines and how-to books and the thousands of novels and short stories I inhaled like oxygen.
Did you ever have a real live out-of-body experience? I did that afternoon. I swear to you I separated from my thirty-one year old body and floated somewhere up around the ceiling like a life-sized helium balloon. Two years ago I was in a hospital room having radiation treatment for uterine cancer. Two months ago I was typing data entry records for piecework prices. Two weeks ago I was hunched over my Smith-Corona portable typewriter, spilling my dreams onto the page. Good grief, just four days ago I was standing in line at the North Babylon Post Office at Sunset City waiting to ship off my package!
Oh, I sounded all cool and collected as we talked about contracts and publishing schedules and all of those wonderful amazing things. You would have thought I sold a first book every day of the week.
Well, except for the fact that I threw up on my shoes after Vivian and I said goodbye, then burst into tears.
I wanted to tell the world. I wanted to run out into the snowy street and shout my news at the top of my lungs.
But I didn't. I waited until my husband pulled into the driveway later that night and I met him at the door with a bottle of champagne and two glasses. I didn't have to say a word. The look of joy and pride in his eyes still makes me smile, long after that juicy advance faded into memory.
My life changed forever that day. Thanks to Vivian and Harlequin, I was able to take the first step toward living the dream I'd held since childhood. My name was going to be on the spine of a real live book.
I was a writer.
And because today is the twenty-seventh anniversary of the day I got The Call, I'd like to celebrate by offering one Yankee Romance Reviewers reader a baker's dozen of my books. All you have to do is send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with YANKEE in the subject header and I'll use my hand-dandy random number generator to pick the winner on Friday February 27th. Good luck!
Thank you, Barbara, for sharing this special day with us!
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
First of all, I would like to thank Terra and the Yankee Romance Reviewers blog for inviting me to talk about my upcoming historical romance release, Fire at Midnight, and about writing in general, a topic near and dear to my heart.
Lisa Marie Wilkinson on “The Hook.”
A good friend of mine once told me she reads the first two pages of a book, and if she isn’t immediately drawn into the story, she doesn’t read any further. The challenge of capturing a reader’s attention in an age where we can sneeze and Twitter will instantly communicate the news that we’ve caught a cold to everyone following our activities is a daunting one.
The need to hit the ground running in terms of engaging the reader is one a wise writer should never ignore. While we writers sometimes get side-tracked by the sheer beauty of our prose, most readers –on the other hand—are expecting to be entertained. Readers are looking for “the hook,” which is a connection to the story achieved by the writer through character development, sensory detail, and/or an immediate crisis facing a sympathetic character in the opening pages of the story.
Writers agonize over “the hook.” Writing classes include the concept of “the hook” as a basic building block of story structure, and writing organizations like Romance Writers of America even hold contests such as the Silicon Valley RWA chapter’s “Gotcha!” contest in order to help budding writers evaluate the effectiveness of their “hook.”
So, what is a good hook? What makes your heart pound, elevates your blood pressure, and engages your emotions within the first few pages of a novel? What keeps you reading? Even more important, what keeps you reading well into the wee hours of the morning? I know I’m in the thrall of a competent story teller when I sacrifice sleep because I simply cannot put the book down!
The reason I have the privilege of guest-blogging today is because I’m promoting the release of my debut novel, Fire at Midnight. Since I’ve chosen to talk about the importance of “the hook,” I’m going to include my opening pages for your scrutiny and hope I’ve been able to achieve that indefinable bit of magic that will hold your interest and keep you reading.
Read the opening to Fire at Midnight and ask yourself if you’d keep reading if the story continued beyond the excerpt posted here. If you would, I’ve done my job.
Fire at Midnight, Chapter One
St. Mary’s of Bethlehem Hospital (“Bedlam”), London, England 1703
“I am sane.”
The sound of her own voice anchored her. It kept her from going mad. “I am eight and ten. I am called Rachael Penrose. I have been here nine days. My brother was called James—” She stifled a sob. “My brother is called James.” Even the tinctures they fed her did not dull the pain of not knowing the fate of her baby brother, James.
She froze when she heard the scratch of claws on stone. A rat, attracted by crumbs of moldy bread, began a stealthy approach. She shared her meager rations with the rats because they displayed less interest in her when their bellies were full.
There had been no hearing, and no formal declaration of insanity. An exchange of gold from one greedy hand to another sealed her in this place. With no blanket, she shivered in the bitter cold. Beneath the thin shift she wore, faint and fresh bruises mottled her skin. The sound of the rumbling of her stomach was loud in the quiet of the small chamber.
Rachael tensed as metal creaked. The door to her cell swung open. Freezing air rushed in, and she trembled as the strong scent of citrus cologne, a harbinger of her uncle, mingled with the foul, musty odor of the cell.
Victor Brightmore handed a gold coin to the guard accompanying him. “Her doctor and I require privacy.” Victor lifted the hem of his cloak to prevent it from sweeping the floor of the filthy cell as he entered.
The attendant checked the chain securing her right leg to the straw-filled pallet upon which she lay. He tested the iron ring riveted around her neck and the circular iron waist bar holding her arms pinioned to her sides. Rachael suppressed a shudder when his hands lingered over her breasts and followed the double link to its point of origin at the wall. Powerless against the intimacy, she gritted her teeth and stared at the gray stone ceiling above her. Apparently satisfied with the security of her restraints, the attendant withdrew, leaving Victor and the doctor with her.
Rachael remained silent while Victor angled the shaft of the candle he held until the flickering yellow light illuminated her face. Victor leaned toward her, his blue-gray eyes glittering with malice. She looked into the face of pure evil. Tall, with burnished gold hair and even features, his pleasing exterior concealed his twisted nature. As he watched her, shadows played over the upward cast of his lips.
“You cling to life with such tenacity, Rachael.”
He moved the flame along the length of her jaw inch by agonizing inch, stopping near her eye. The light from the candle was painfully bright, and her breath quickened as she struggled to hide her terror.
Oh, God, is he going to blind me? Gasping, she shrank from him, but the linkage of chain held fast. She was at the mercy of a man who had none. How she despised him!
“Victor!” The candle wobbled on its perch as his companion jerked it away from her face. “How would I account for burns on her body?”
“Her eyes mock me, Elliot.” He peered down at her, scowling.
“She is feverish,” Elliot said. “She is in the grip of the drug. We can speak freely.”
“It appears I have need of your help once again, good doctor. Keeping my niece isolated is not the permanent solution I seek.”
It did not bode well that he spoke so openly in front of her. With both her parents dead, once Victor succeeded in his plan to dispose of her, there would be no one left to protect James. Victor was desperate to inherit, but he was also crafty and cautious. He would not risk the hangman.
Elliot peered down at her. “Perhaps her food might be—”
“The attendant told me she tests
her food on the rats. Besides, we dare not risk poison now.”
“I can keep her indefinitely,” Elliot said. “Her whereabouts are unknown. No one here will believe anything she says.”
“Tarry Morgan knows the truth.” Victor searched within the folds of his cloak. His hand shook as he withdrew a letter. The edges of the parchment gaped where the wax seal had been broken.
Her heart sank at the sight and she felt lightheaded with despair.
“This letter details her discovery of my plan to poison James. She sent it to Morgan, one of the few allies she has left. She must have dashed it off before we brought her here.” Victor glowered in Rachael’s direction. “The fact that James must die before I will inherit is clear motive to anyone who would investigate.”
“So, is Morgan dead?”
Rachael stopped breathing as she waited for Victor’s response.
“No. His servants were rousing; I barely escaped with the letter. I was only able to wound him.”
“Can you buy his silence?”
“Morgan cannot be bought.” Victor crumpled the letter in his hand and began to pace the floor. “He is her loyal little lap dog. He remains silent because I have taken the proof and threatened Rachael’s life. He has delusions he will rescue her, but he won’t remain silent for long. We must dispose of them both.”
The weight of her terror squeezed the air from her lungs. She would never forgive herself if she brought harm to her childhood friend.
“And what about her brother?”
“My nephew is sickly,” Victor said. “His nanny has often commented on his frailty. With your help, I’ll be rich. When I am rich, I will be generous.”
“Monster!” Rachael sobbed. She screamed in outrage and struggled against the restraints. The tortured souls in the adjacent cells heard her and added their voices to hers. Hearing them, she fell silent. Screams of torment are routine in this place. I’m just another Bess O’ Bedlam. No help will come.
Victor spun to face Elliot. “‘Senseless,’ you promised. ‘Incoherent.’ ‘Her mind will be incapable of coping with her surroundings.’”
“Having her wits about her in this place is an added torment, not an advantage,” Elliot said. “We will dose her with laudanum to keep her quiet, and she will be released into your custody.”
“Released? You seem a likely candidate for a strait-waistcoat yourself.”
“Victor,” Elliot said patiently, “we must remove Rachael from Bedlam. Morgan is searching for her, and he has the resources to find her. I will have her transferred to Bethnal Green.”
“She will be no less dangerous to me in a private asylum.”
“She will never reach Bethnal Green,” Elliot said. “You, of course, must appear distraught over your loss.”
Rachael locked gazes with Victor. He nodded vigorously. His smile told her time was running out.
“Doctor, I believe you have arrangements to make on my behalf.” He leaned down to Rachael and added, “While I joyously prepare to grieve.”
Now that you’ve finished reading the excerpt from Fire at Midnight, please think about your own experience when you’ve read a book and the author’s story hooked you immediately. Can you share the reason why? How did the author manage to hold your interest? What was happening in the story to make it so compelling you just had to keep reading?
Lisa Marie is giving away an autographed copy of Fire at Midnight. For a chance to win, leave a comment for Lisa Marie, along with your e-mail addy.