I have received a free e-copy of the book The Wicked Marquis by Mary Lancaster to review. You may find out more about the author on her website.
Here is the book blurb.
The lady meets her match – and he’s hopelessly ineligible.
Poverty stricken marquis, Lord Tamar, is regarded in Blackhaven as an amiable eccentric and a gifted painter, rather than as a wicked man. But Tamar has secrets that he dare not reveal to anyone, let alone to the delightful Lady Serena, the Earl of Braithwaite’s sister, who suddenly lights up his world.
To Serena, fed up with London etiquette and sent home to her family castle in disgrace after her engagement is broken, the fascinating Tamar is a breath of fresh air. Accepting his help with the mystery of the strange barrels in the castle cellar, she is soon in the midst of danger involving smugglers and spies and a friend’s broken heart.
But it is her own heart which is in most danger, as she falls swiftly and desperately in love. And neither her family nor Tamar himself would ever countenance a marriage between them. Moreover, the marquis turns out to have committed a far more shocking crime than mere poverty.
This is the fifth book in the Blackhaven Brides series. I haven’t read any of the previous titles, but found that this worked well as a stand-alone read.
This historical Regency read begins with Lady Serena having been sent back in disgrace from London, after the break off of her engagement, to the family country estate Braithwaite Castle on the Cumbrian coast. With only her younger sisters and their governess for company, she is bored. Supposedly not even allowed out of the castle, she dashes into the orchard, where she encounters a trespassing artist, who asks her to stop whilst he paints her picture. He then kisses her.
She wakes in the middle of the night to spot smugglers with a barrel in the courtyard. Up early the next morning, she disturbs the smugglers brazenly still there. She gives chase and then panics when she realises one is threatening her with a knife. Luckily she escapes, running slap bang into the mysterious artist.
It doesn’t take many more encounters for them to fall in love, but Tamar hasn’t yet revealed that he is an impoverished Marquis. Is he a fortune hunter? And is Serena still in danger from the smugglers?
The Wicked Marquis is available on Amazon, currently priced at £2.13 in Kindle format. The fifth book in the Blackhaven Brides series. This is a great romantic read, with plenty of other strands to the storyline.
You’ll see in the interview with the author below, that the sixth Blackhaven Bride book is due out this month. Having had a quick look at who are the heroines of the previous titles, I’m guessing that the sixth book may be about Miss Grey, the governess although I think that Serena’s friend Catherine would make a good heroine for another title.
About the author
Mary Lancaster lives in Scotland with her husband, three mostly grown-up kids and a small, crazy dog.
Her first literary love was historical fiction, a genre which she relishes mixing up with romance and adventure in her own writing. Several of her novels feature actual historical characters as diverse as Hungarian revolutionaries, medieval English outlaws, and a family of eternally rebellious royal Scots. To say nothing of Vlad the Impaler.
Her most recent books are light, fun Regency romances written for Dragonblade Publishing: The Imperial Season series set at the Congress of Vienna; and the popular Blackhaven Brides series, which is set in a fashionable English spa town frequented by the great and the bad of Regency society.
Interview with Mary Lancaster – Author Journey and Writing Career
1. In your bio, you state that your first literary love was historical fiction. Was there a specific book that started that love?
I suppose, looking back, that it might have been LM Alcott’s Little Women! But I can only have been 8 or 9 years old and it was the characters who obsessed me rather than the historical setting. I think it was more reading several very different historical novels that focused my love of the genre. Lorna Doone and The Count of Monte Cristo among the classics, and then I discovered Georgette Heyer and the great Dorothy Dunnett.
2. At what point in your life did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve written stories almost since I could hold a pencil. I was certainly still at primary school when I realized I wanted to be a published author. Of course, real life and self-doubt kept me writing in secret for my own entertainment for years. Then a desire to escape a job I disliked and a somewhat optimistic notion of being able to write at home while I brought up children, made me look seriously at getting published.
3. What does your average writing day look like?
I wake up early, about 6am and drink coffee in bed while writing until I have to get my daughter up for school and rouse anyone else who needs to be up and out. Then I cram in another hour of writing, take the dog for a walk and return to write until my daughter comes home from school.
I’m trying to adjust the balance, because this schedule doesn’t leave much time for housework (which I hate in any case!) but if I’m on a roll, I can’t bring myself to stop until I’m forced to 😊
4. Where can we find you writing? At home, in a coffee shop? With or without music?
I prefer privacy to write, so usually at home. Sometimes I write with music, sometimes without. It depends on my mood and the mood of the book, and what’s going on around me.
I have a pleasant room (known as Mum’s library) where I like to work, surrounded by books and a few favourite knick-knacks we’ve picked up on our travels over the years. And the dog often joins me there on a nearby cushion 😊. Unfortunately, the kids also use this room in the evenings if they have friends in – which at least one of them nearly always does – so sometimes I’m driven away by the mess they leave behind until they’re forced to clear it up!
5. Where do you get the ideas for your books from? Dreams? Real life?
Anything can set me off! A line in a book, an item on the news, the atmosphere of a particular place, a face glimpsed on a train. The whole story of A World to Win was inspired by a man on a Romanian train when I was traveling as a student. An Endless Exile, A Prince to be Feared and Rebel of Ross, were all inspired by sentences read in books when I was researching other things.
Often, it’s the history itself that inspires me initially, but the story waits in the background to be told because the right character or some other spark hasn’t quite brought it alive in my imagination.
6. Do you outline your stories or just start writing and see where the story takes you?
I usually make a brief (and often vague!) outline of the plot and the motivation of the characters, and the first scene or two. After that, I tend to go wherever the story leads!
7. What’s the most discouraging thing about being an author, and how did you get over it?
Rejection. I think most authors would say that! Most of us have been rejected multiple times by several publishers, agencies etc., until you wonder why you bother carrying on. You have to be determined to wade through all of that and keep going. An encouraging letter or a single acceptance works wonders, though!
Nowadays, with so much self-publishing, it’s not always necessary to put yourself through that, but then there’s the difficulty of being seen in such a crowded market place, and lack of sales can be seen as the rejection of readers! As can a poor review. Self-doubts never really go away, but I suppose I get over the tough times by remembering the positives – a reader’s appreciation, or an editor’s praise mean the world!
8. Do you have a favorite book of your own work? Which one is it, and why?
I don’t know that I do have one favourite! I’m aware none of them are perfect and yet I’ve been totally immersed in all of them and like different things about each. I love to make historical figures come alive and if I believe I’ve succeeded, it makes me proud. For those reasons, I like An Endless Exile (about Hereward the Wake) and A Prince to be Feared (Vlad Dracula). But my main aim is always to entertain and I’ve been really thrilled with reader reactions to the lighter Regency romances – the Imperial Season series and especially Blackhaven Brides. I think they’re fun, and I have great fun writing them.
9. How do you come up with the titles for your books?
Various ways! Sometimes, they just pop into my head as I’m writing them, or when I’m writing a summary for submission – inspired by an event or a character or a line in the book itself. Vienna Waltz just seemed to suit the shenanigans of my first story set at the Congress of Vienna, and of course my heroine falls in love during a waltz! The Wicked in the Blackhaven Brides titles is Regency society’s perception of certain heroes or heroines.
When I can’t think of a title, I look for inspiration in quotations – like A Word to Win (Marx) and A Prince to be Feared (Machiavelli).
10. What’s your least favorite part about writing? Writers block, research, etc.?
I love writing (and research!) so it’s hard to think what I don’t like! I suppose it’s when I feel a story might be lagging a bit and I’m not sure whether to push on in this direction and see if I change my mind, or to scrap that part and try something else. I know from experience the same answer isn’t always right!
11. What’s your favorite part of the publishing process? Picking/making the cover, release day, etc.?
I do love seeing a good cover and knowing it’s right! But there’s always a special excitement about a release day celebrations – especially a good release day when you can chat with readers, the first reviews are quick and positive, and you see the sales numbers/rankings begin to climb 😊
12. Any advice for aspiring authors?
I think every author makes their own journey in different ways, but I think it’s always good to keep reading, and not just in the genre you wish to write in. And to write constantly and listen to constructive criticism. Most of all, don’t give up!
13. What are some of your other hobbies, or things you enjoy that’s not writing related?
I love spending time with my family and friends, enjoying good conversation, food and wine. And I love reading for its own sake, and a good film or binge watching a tv series that’s grabbed me. I also like to visit new places and soak up different cultures and different history.
14. Currently, what are some of your favorite books and authors?
I like to read a mixture of genres and both old and new books. I’ve been reading a bit of Gothic romance, recently, by Eve Silver, and have got heavily into Jennifer Ashley’s historical detective series about Captain Lacey. I was also blown away recently when I read Daphne du Maurier’s The King’s General – so brilliant and moving! I also love Toni Anderson’s romantic suspense. And Christopher Brookmyre who writes clever and hilarious Scottish thrillers – I am in awe 😊.
15. What are your short term and long term goals as an author?
Short term, I’d like to keep readers happy with more Blackhaven Brides stories, and expand my readership there – so recommendations greatly appreciated 😊. Longer term, I suppose I’d like to be a recognized bestseller – who wouldn’t? But mainly, I want to keep entertaining with my books.
16. What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?
Next is the 6th Blackhaven Brides book, The Wicked Governess, which should release some time in April.
I’ve also written a novella in the multi-author Marriage Maker series, which should be out later on in the year.
Looking further ahead, there will be at least 3 more Blackhaven Brides books! And I have another book I want to write following on from my medieval Scottish “Ross” series – these are still romantic but veer slightly more towards historical fiction than historical romance.
Honestly, I have more stories in my head than I have time to write them!
Disclosure. This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.