Juliana Gray Talks Shakespeare, Tuscany, History, and Dukes! Plus, A Giveaway!

I’m so thrilled to welcome Juliana Gray to Teatime today! She writes wonderful historical romances, and I had the pleasure of meeting her last December at Lady Jane’s Salon. I can attest that she is as lovely, smart, witty, and laugh out loud funny as her books! She’s here today to talk about her latest release, A Duke Never Yields, the final book in her Affairs by Moonlight series. ย I’ve read ADNY, and it was fabulous, as was the rest of the series. ย Without further ado, take it away, Juliana! ๐Ÿ™‚

1. Can you tell us about A Duke Never Yields and the Affairs by Moonlight trilogy?

Juliana: *clears throat* Disenchanted with their London lives, three English lords and three English ladies have embarked on a year’s chaste retreat to a castle in Tuscany, except that their fabulous (and rather mysterious) lodging appears to have been mistakenly leased to both parties. Each book in the series focuses on the romantic escapades of one of the couples, and by the time we reach A DUKE NEVER YIELDS, only two lovers remain: Arthur, the Duke of Wallingford, and Miss Abigail Harewood.

Lisa: Like I said above, I adored ADNY and Abigail and Wallingford are my favorite couple in the series. I really admire how you managed to work the same scenes into all three books, but from the different perspectives of each hero and heroine. Brava to you, for I know it couldn’t have been easy!

2. What was your inspiration for the book and the series?

Juliana: Well, I began with Shakespeare’s play Love’s Labour’s Lost, which has a similar (and, to me at least, irresistible) setup: a party of noblemen swears off wine and women for an academic sabbatical, and naturally a party of beautiful Frenchwomen lands on their doorstep right away! But the characters and love stories in the Affairs by Moonlight are really their own, and when I decided the castle should have an ancient curse upon it, I turned to Italian opera, which of course is brimming with murder and vengeance and curses. So I was really marrying that over-the-top melodrama of the past with a kind of screwball sensibility you get from the best of Shakespeare’s romantic comedies, and just let loose with my madcap self. It’s pure fun, though of course the point of a retreat in Tuscany is to dig deep into your true self and become that better person hidden inside, and each of my characters takes that journey as well.

Lisa: I am a huge fan of The Bard, so the Shakespeare influence was an instant sell for me! And I’m an opera buff too, though Carmen is my favorite, which is in French, lol.ย 

3. What drew you towards writing historical romances as opposed to contemporary, paranormal, or other romance sub-genres?

Juliana: To start off, I just love history, always have, and in particular that sense of being taken into another world that still has all the familiar signposts of human nature and human sexuality. In historical fiction, you can write sensibly about honor and virtue and sacrifice–all those words that were made ridiculous on the physical battlefields of the First World War and the cultural battlefields of its aftermath–and it’s not problematic, there’s not this counter-pull from the surrounding zeitgeist. Yes, it is fantasy, and often bears little resemblance to historical life as it was actually lived, but it’s fantasy that’s grounded in that historical reality, and (to me at least) feels therefore within reach. Now, I do love reading contemporaries and some of the less-furry paranormals (and the Affairs by Moonlight has its own zing of the supernatural), but I just don’t feel it’s my natural voice. For one thing, I’m not nearly current enough on popular culture!

Lisa: I was a history major in college, so I definitely share your love of history, and agree totally that part of the draw of a great historical romance is that it can transport you to a different time and place!

4. What can you tell us about the hero and heroine Wallingford and Abigail? Did you have any celebrities in mind when you created the characters, or any point of visual reference?
princess-diana-william-and-harry

Juliana: Oh, I love these two! Wallingford is your classic Victorian aristocratic, very full of himself, and naturally so because he’s been brought up to be a duke, and never received any real affection from his family. So if you’re a naturally indrawn personality like Wallingford, it’s going to be very hard for you to learn to relate honestly to people, to have an equal exchange, and especially so with women. (Imagine today’s celebrity bubble times ten!) Abigail, on the other hand, is a ball of fun, lovely and lively and clever. She was raised without much supervision and has no real appreciation for the strictures of society, and she’s somehow managed to subvert all the accepted norms, which (as we’re beginning to discover, through diligent research) many Victorian women actually succeeded in doing. She doesn’t care that Wallingford is overbearing and a bit selfish, because she’s strong enough to push back, and because she only wants him as a lover. As their feelings deepen, though, she has a problem: How can she forge a life with an English duke, the highest of the high, and still remain herself? And Wallingford learns that if he wants to be worthy of a woman like Abigail, he has to learn how to be human and empathetic, when that’s never been asked of him before. I didn’t have any particular celebrities in mind here, but I’ve always been fascinated with the way Princess Diana dealt with the raising of her sons, taking them to McDonalds and Disneyland, engaging them in ordinary activities, in order to counteract that incredibly isolating and myopic effect of a privileged upbringing. It’s that sort of softening influence that Wallingford lacked, and he’s got a lot of ground to make up! I won’t reveal how he does it, but let’s just say it’s the age-old way that kings were made to understand the humble life.

Lisa:I absolutely fell in love with Wallinford and Abigail. And one of my favorite parts of ADNY is how Wallinford matures and grows as a character. Abigail was such a fun and lovely character-someone I’d definitely have as a girlfriend!


5. What is next for you now that the Affairs by Moonlight Trilogy? (feel free to plug A Hundred Summers as well as your next series! :))

Juliana: My next trilogy launches in June with How to Tame Your Duke, so there’s no rest for the wicked! It’s set in the same 1890s period as the Affairs by Moonlight, and with a couple of familiar characters, but the setup is all-new: Three princesses are forced to flee their homeland and disguise themselves in three English households, which of course all happen to have eligible aristocratic bachelors conveniently near. I have to say I really fell in love with the first of my heroes, the Duke of Ashland — he is just so fierce and true. As you may know, I also write mainstream historical fiction as Beatriz Williams, and my second hardcover novel, A Hundred Summers, will be released a few days before How to Tame Your Duke (I’m still not quite sure how I’m going to juggle that!). It’s a love triangle set in a rarefied summer beach community in New England during the summer before the great hurricane of 1938. A completely different voice, but I do love mixing it up!

Lisa: I can’t wait until How To Tame Your Duke releases! ๐Ÿ™‚ And A Hundred Summers sounds wonderful too. I really admire how you manage writing under two pen names and keeping up such a demanding and hectic writing schedule!

Also, these six questions are some “Get to know you questions.”ย 

1) What was the first romance novel you ever read?

Juliana: Lady Vixen, by Shirlee Busbee. I still have a soft spot for English gentlemen disguised as Caribbean privateers, and the women dressed as cabin boys who love them.

Lisa: Lady Vixen sounds great! It reminds me of Johanna Lindsey’s Gentle Rogue, where the heroine Georgina disguises herself as a boy and ends up as the hero James’s cabin boy.ย 

2) Your house is on fire โ€“ which five romance novels do you grab on your way out?

Juliana: Okay, assuming I can’t find my Kindle in time, I’ll go with the aforementioned Lady Vixen for sentimental reasons (and because it’s both out of print and undigitized), Flowers From the Storm by the irreplaceable Laura Kinsale, one of Lisa Kleypas‘s Wallflower novels chosen at random, Meredith Duran‘s Bound By Your Touch, Elizabeth Hoyt‘s The Raven Prince, Eloisa James‘sโ€ฆoh, shoot. I’m out of books!!

Lisa: LOL! It’s tough, isn’t it? It’s times like this I’m grateful for my Kindle too. Lisa Kleypas and Eloisa are some of my favorites too. ย 

3) What is your secret passion?

Juliana: Old school bacon-and-egg breakfasts at my local diner, and keep the coffee coming. (Well, I guess it’s not secret anymore!)

Lisa: I love diner breakfasts too! The calories are more than worth it. Whenever I’m in NYC, I always try to find a new diner to check out.

4) Why do you write romance?

Juliana: Oh, my answer to this question could go on for pages, but here’s the nutshell version: Of all our human endeavors, the desire to love and be loved and (with luck) to leave behind some living proof of that love, is the most compelling. So it seems obvious that this quest for love should reveal all the true and nuanced shades of our character, should drive us to our worst and our best, should allow us the greatest pleasure and the most painful vulnerability: in short, the makings of a perfect novel.

Lisa: Love this! So eloquently stated. Like I stated in my review of ADNY at The Romance Dish, what resonated most to me about Abigail and Wallingford is how they clashed at first, but in the end, were so perfect for one another. They each found the person who loved and accepted them for their worst selves, but empowered them to be their best selves in each other. Le Sigh!

5) Is there anything in your book that comes from personal experience?

Picture of the Tuscan countryside. Isn’t it gorgeous??!!

Juliana: You mean aside from all that rampant and never-ending sex? *coughs* Well, I have traveled through and adored Tuscany, so much of the description and sense of place comes from my own observations. And there’s a point when Abigail is at her most vulnerable, when she’s considering the fact that Wallingford has had all those women before her, and whether she can trust him to be faithful: I think we’ll all experienced that at some point, coming to terms with the fact that there were other lovers, or there are other lovers, or perhaps that there will be other lovers. In that respect, Abigail isn’t quite so strong and unconventional as she’s always thought.

Lisa: LOL! I would love to visit Italy and see Tuscany for myself someday. That scene when Abigail wrestles with those demons was achingly sad, and beautifully written!

6) What is your favorite kind of tea, and how do you drink it?

Juliana: I love a good basic fragrant Earl Grey with just a touch of honey. If it’s served with a tower of exquisite sandwiches, tender scones, and crumbling pastriesโ€ฆwell, all the better!

Lisa: You are a woman after my own heart, Juliana. I’m not much of a tea drinker myself, but I am all about the scones, pastries, and tea sandwiches. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thank you so much for stopping by Teatime today, Juliana! It’s been lovely having you.

GIVEAWAY! Juliana has generously offered to give one lucky reader a copy of ALL THREE books in her Affairs by Moonlight Trilogy-A Lady Never Lies, A Gentleman Never Tells, and A Duke Never Yields! (US only) To enter, just comment below! Tell us-have you ever been to Italy? Some romances take place in interesting and unique settings-which are your favorites? ย If you had to be secluded and segregated from the opposite sex for a year, where would you go?

Connect with Juliana online:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Connect with Beatriz Williams online:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Buy A ย Lady Never Lies at Amazon and B&N ย A Gentlemen Never Tells at Amazon and B&N A Duke Never Yields at Amazon and B&N

Pre-order How To Tame Your Duke at Amazonย and B&N and A Hundred Summers at Amazon and B&N

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49 thoughts on “Juliana Gray Talks Shakespeare, Tuscany, History, and Dukes! Plus, A Giveaway!

  1. I would go to some island like around Tahiti and spean my time reading or lounging in the sun…with SPF 30, of course! Thank you for the giveaway. Love Ms. Gray’s books.

    annfesATyahooDOTcom

  2. I would go to London or Paris or Moscow or St Petersburg.Someplace with lots of museums and points of interest to explore.

    I haven’t read any Juliana Gray books yet, but I do have Overseas in my TBR pile.

  3. Hello, Juliana! Congrats on your latest release. Lisa has raved about this series to me–I must find the time to read it! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I have not been to Italy, but would love to go someday. Actually, I would love to visit the UK, too. I think it would be awesome to see some of the places that I read about. I wish you much success!

    • Hi Andrea! Thanks so much for coming by! ๐Ÿ™‚ Italy is at the top of my visit list too. I would LOVE to go. The history, culture, and food is just amazing. I think you’d really like London too-I know I did. Just watch out for the cars coming from the opposite direction ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. I have never been to Italy. We lived in England for several years and got to a lot of places but never made it to Italy. Someday though

    • Hi Alisha,
      Here’s hoping you make it to Italy someday! And wow, getting to live in England for a few years must have been an incredible experience! Thanks for coming by and commenting.

  5. I am 3/4 of the way through ADNY and I have read the other two books in the series as well! Can’t wait for the new series to start!

    If I was going to sequester myself I would go somewhere in Asia – perhaps Singapore or Shanghai and spend the time learning a non-Western language.

    • Hi gkravitz,
      I think Singapore or Shangi is definitely an adventurous choice! ๐Ÿ™‚ Reminds me of Eloisa James’s Paris In Love when she and her family spent a year in Paris and just immersed themselves and thew themselves into the experience despite lack of knowledge of French.

      I definitely can’t wait for How To Tame Your Duke too!

  6. I’ve always wanted to go to Italy. The closest I’ve been is the airport in Rome. I hope to rectify that one day.

    The romance novels with the most unique settings that I have read have all been written by a single author:Christina Courtenay. Some of her locales have been Japan and Sweden. They were just wonderful!

    If I had to be secluded for a year, I’m not sure where I’d go. Anywhere as long as I had access to the internet. I’d need books for my kindle!

    • Hi Cee,
      I’ve been there too. i’ve had layovers in O’Hare and SF, but that doesn’t quite count, even those those two cities are ones I’ve always wanted to visit. lol

      I’m not familiar with Christina Courtenay, but will definitel have to check it out. Have you read Carrie Lofty’s Christie series? She picks unique settings such as South Africa and Glasgow as settings. I believe the next book is set in Australia and I can’t wait to read it.

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

  7. Sadly, I never been to Italy, but I’ve always wanted to go. One of my friends is Italian and her family was very Italian… if that makes sense. ๐Ÿ˜„ So, growing up I had a taste of Italian culture, if you will… I loved having dinners with her family, and talking with them. Her parents would try to teach me Italian words, but it didn’t go very well. LOL Loved the food, too! Yummm, there is nothing like lasagna and spaghetti made from scratch and the espresso had me wired for the night and the following day, haha. I would love to actually go to Italy to immerse myself in the beauty and culture of the place. And the people, too. (And if I could, I would eat Italian food every day, ugh)

    As for interesting and unique settings in romance novels, my favorites are Jill Shalvis’ Lucky Harbor and Tessa Dare’s Spindle Cove. I loved how the settings were treated with as much importance as the characters in the stories. And I just fell in love with them. So much so that I was ready to pack my bags and head straight over. ๐Ÿ˜„

    Now, if I were secluded with a certain man, I would like for it to be a place that is unknown to me. I wouldn’t wish for it, I would like for it to just happen. Call me a romantic, but yeah, it would have to be anywhere… like the saying, just have to be in the right place at the right time (and it better be with the right man LOL).

    Wow, look at me writing on and on, let me just say that I love the idea of two separate parties being stuck in the same lodgings. Haha, I could picture the confusion and the excitement. Definitely adding A Duke Never Yields to my TBR pile and check out the rest of the books too, hee. (because really, I think for this one I would want to read them in order. LOL And seeing how each couple fall in love *happy sigh* XD)

    Thank you to Juliana (congrats on the new release!) and Lisa for such a fun post!

    • Hi Carrie!
      Thanks so much for coming by and commenting, and for your kind words about the blog and post!

      Spindle Cove and Lucky Harbor would be awesome places to visit! If only they were real. ::Sigh:: Luckily we have Jill and Tessa’s fabulous and wonderful books, so we can visit any time we want. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Hope you do give the Affairs by Moonlight trilogy a chance! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you, Carrie! I made sure each book could be read on its own, but I do think it’s more fun to take them in order. (I may be biased, of course!) Hope you enjoy them all! Juliana ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. The series sounds interesting.

    I haven’t been to Italy. I’ve enjoyed Joanna Bourne’s spy books because they’re set in both England and France during the French Revolution.

    • Hi Kim,
      I agree with you that Joanna Bourne writes incredible books. If you’re intrigued by the Napoleonic era, It sounds like you’d also enjoy Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnations series too!

  9. I love this premise. I’ve never been to Italy, but I would love to visit at some point. I’m a sucker for Russian and eastern European literature, so I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for any romances set in that general area. I would love to spend a year exploring the once-was-Austro-Hungarian Empire.

    • Hi Analysismachine,
      Russia and Eastern Europe would be an interesting place to visit-it has such a deep and fascinating history! I’ve never had the courage to tackle Tolstoy, Chekov, and Dostoevsky. Their works are just so tragic and I’m all about the happy ending, lol.

      • You are so right about Russian literature… it is absolutely a downer, but it has this sweeping, epic feel (almost a gravitas, if I can use that word in this context) that appealed to me when I was younger. These days, I feel that there is already so much unpleasantness in life, so much hard, cold reality, that I want to protect myself from it. So I read romance, because romance novels tend to focus on the good things in life and to posses an inherently positive perspective that I choose to cultivate in myself. We should all be about the happy ending, right? Cheers! — Kelly

  10. I was just wondering if this was inspired by “The Enchanted April” at all. It’s what comes to mind when I think of romance and Italy in the same sentence. ๐Ÿ™‚

    My dream is to visit London, and this has just become financially a possibility. The stumbling block is still my son, who would probably refuse to eat anything the entire time we were there and can’t be left alone. Sigh.

    • Hi willaful,
      I’m not familiar with “The Enchanted April”, so will have to check it out!

      I hope your dream of visiting London works out someday! When our family visited Paris and London, we visited lots of local markets and bought fixings for sandwiches, etc. It cut down on food costs and could be a solution for your picky eater son. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • You know, I wasn’t specifically thinking of “Enchanted April” when I outlined the books, but there is a whole subgenre of books with that theme — jaded English or American encountering the simplicity and passion of Tuscany — going back to Henry James, and I was certainly tapping into that. I love that theme of rebirth and renewal! Do hope you get a chance to visit London! Juliana ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Wonderful interview, Juliana and Lisa! I’ve heard so many wonderful things about this trilogy, Juliana. I’m looking forward to reading it.

    I’ve been lucky enough to visit Italy three times and have fallen more in love with the country and people on each trip. Tuscany is my favorite region and if I ever hit the lottery, I’ll be visiting every year. I’d love to see it in all four seasons. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi PJ! Thanks so much for coming by and commenting. ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope you’ll enjoy Juliana’s books as much as I do!

      I’ll join you in wishing I won the lottery. There are so many places I’d love to visit, and winning the lottery would go a long way in making those dreams a reality, lol. I bet Tuscany would be stunning year round!

    • Hi Annah,
      I think that’s part of what I love most about reading and books-you get to be an armchair traveler and go all over the world without leaving the comfort of your couch. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve already mentioned Eloisa’s Paris in Love, and Lila DiPasqua sets her books in France as well.

  12. I’m new to juliana’s work but looking forward to reading her. I have never but to Itay (epcot doesn’t count) Maybe after this trilogy juliana can set her next story in Venice. with a cabin “boy” and the captain

    • Hi Michelle,
      I hope you enjoy Juliana’s books as much as I do! I believe Juliana’s next series takes place back in England, but your cabin “boy” and captain in Venice idea sounds promising too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  13. I liked the first two of this series (but could do without the enchanted castle), looking forward to the last. Sicily is my favorite of all the spots in Italy I’ve been.

  14. I have never been to Italy. I don’t think that would be an option at this time. I actually have found in some of the romance that I have read took place in India which was cool. I don’t know where I would be secluded, but it has to be someplace warm is all my requirement. ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Oh, what was the book set in India? It sounds interesting. Unfortunately, Italy isn’t an option at this time either. ::Sigh:: But a girl can dream, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I’m with you-I tend to prefer warm locals, but not too hot either!

  15. I’ve never been to Italy. I like Regency and Medieval historicals. If I had to be secluded I’m not picky…except it better have books!

    • Hi Marcy,
      I remember Jude Devereaux medievals-the Velvet series comes to mind as a favorite. I wonder why there aren’t more of those written these days. huh. And I’m with you, I can’t go anywhere where there are no access to books, lol.

  16. I vote for the very remote French islands of Marie Galante and Desirade (near Guadeloupe, in the Caribbean). Exotic enough to be interesting; small enough to be intriguing. Thanks for the giveaway! I adore Juliana Grayโ€™s books!

  17. Sorry I’m so late to the party. Welcome, Juliana!! (My daughter’s name too!) I’m under deadline and am peaking out of my cave. Thank you for appearing on our blog!!!

    Italy is breathtaking, isn’t it? I had the great fortune of living in Northern Italy, 30 minutes from Venice for 3 years. Wonderful people, so giving and loving. I’m definitely putting your series on my list, Juliana!! Wishing you the greatest success!!!

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