Erica’s Dark and Dangerous Rogues

Amy here.  This is my last post with Teatime Romance. I thought I would write about what an amazing experience it’s been or all the great friends I’ve made, but that’s sappy. Instead I’m going out the same way I came in with a kick-ass great debut author: Erica Monroe.

I’ll still be around on my own blog and haunting Facebook and Twitter. Now, check out Erica and her amazing book. I’m not saying that because she’s my friend an critique partner, either. It’s truly a great read. Enjoy and stay in touch.

erica-monroeWhen we first launched Teatime Romance in September 2012, I had just started drafting what would become A Dangerous Invitation, the first book in my Rookery Rogues series. A little over a year later, I’m proud to be the final entry into Amy’s debut author series.

How did you start writing?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve told stories. I was blessed with teachers who not only realized that I had talent, but who nurtured me and helped me grow as a writer. In college, I started out as an English major but quickly switched to focusing on writing. (And ended up with an English minor anyhow, due to my love of Brit lit and Shakespeare!) I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to do with my major, so I ended up in the secretarial field. About three years ago, I started to really read Regency romances when a friend introduced me to them. I was hooked. Previously, I’d dabbled in contemporary short stories and sci-fi, but the historical genre fit both my voice (all those years of reading Dickens, Eliot, Austen, etc.) and my love to research.

When did you realize you wanted to be a romance author?

 

RWA Together

RWA Together

I started seriously pursuing romance almost two years ago, when I moved to North Carolina. In January of 2012, I joined the Romance Writers of America and that really changed everything for me. I had joined Twitter the prior year, and through Twitter I’d started to talk to other authors with an interest in history. I queried them for advice, and they suggested I join RWA. Being part of RWA has given me access to such amazing resources and people.

Through Twitter, I met some members of the Heart of Carolina chapter, the Raleigh-Durham chapter of RWA. My husband and I were both trapped in jobs where we couldn’t move higher on the ladder. Raleigh promised growth for both of us. Because of HCRW, I suddenly had a bunch of people wanting to help me. I learned how to edit, when previously I’d just been free drafting. I learned to stick with a project.

But I think everything really started to click when I found about the rookeries in London. Those poorer areas seized hold of my imagination and wouldn’t let go. I read romances that had a darker voice—Meredith Duran, Cecilia Grant, Maire Claremont—and I realized hey! I could do that! I didn’t have to be completely traditional in my approach. I could show the emotional angst of a relationship.

That sold me.

Why did you decide to self-publish the Rookery Rogues?

As regular Teatime readers know, I am a control freak. I have a little trouble—okay, a lot of trouble, shut up MrMonroe—with the idea of other people handling things for me. It also makes me crazy to wait on things. Because of that, self-publishing appealed to me. I wanted to be the one in the driver’s seat, making the decisions about my craft. I also don’t like the idea of anyone telling me I can’t do something, so having to bend someone else’s will really annoyed me. I wanted to write the stories that I’M passionate about without having to consider if my agent or publisher would like it.

With Vanessa Riley at the Beau Monde Conference

With Vanessa Riley at the Beau Monde Conference

In that vein, when I started to plan out the Rookery Rogues, I realized this was going to be a series that would be a drastically hard sell to publishers. Not that it wasn’t good enough, or that it wouldn’t have a market—but the combination of suspense, darker elements, grit, and the lower class setting make it anything but your usual fare for historical romances. I could wait a long time, trying to convince people to take a chance on what is the very definition of a niche romance, or I could seize the opportunity and publish it myself.

So far, so good! I had a lot of help. I got a great photo from Jenn LeBlanc at Studio Smexy, and Rachel Rivera at Parajunkee Designs worked with me on my cover. Isobel Carr did my print layout, George from Dead River Books was amazing at formatting, Deb Marlowe advised me. Emma Locke and Darcy Burke have fielded all my self-pub questions and been invaluable to me.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on putting a short prequel to A Dangerous Invitation, which is called A Wayward Man. I want it to be available for free to readers as an introduction to the series. Then, I’m working on a novella called Secrets in Scarlet, which is Poppy O’Reilly and Thaddeus Knight’s story.
What kind of tea do you like?

Normally, I’m far more of a coffee drinker. But in the wintertime, there’s just something about hot tea. I’m drinking a lot of black teas lately. I have a soft spot for Bigelow because that’s what I grew up drinking. Raspberry Royale, Constant Comment, Lemon Lift, English Breakfast…all favorites.

About Erica..

Erica Monroe writes dark, suspenseful historical romance. Her debut novel, A Dangerous Invitation, Book 1 of the Rookery Rogues series, released in December 2013. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina, and the Beau Monde Regency Romance chapter. Erica can also be found blogging every other Saturday at Teatime Romance. When not writing, she is a chronic TV watcher, sci-fi junkie, lover of pit bulls, and shoe fashionista. She lives in the suburbs of North Carolina with her husband, two dogs, and a cat.  Connect with her on her website.

You can purchase the e-book for A Dangerous Invitation at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooksAll Romance E-Books,
or Smashwords.  Paperback is available through CreateSpace and Amazon.

A Dangerous Invitation

One fatal mistake cost Daniel O’Reilly the woman he loved, spiraling him toward drunken self-destruction. Now sober, he’ll have to prove he’s innocent of the murder he was accused of three years ago. But pistol-wielding Kate Morgan hasn’t forgiven his Rookery_eBOOK_Smsins.

Torn from her privileged existence by her father’s death, Kate Morgan has carved out a new independent life in the Ratcliffe rookery as a fence for stolen goods. Daniel’s invitation to assist him jeopardizes her structured existence. Yet Kate can’t resist his touch, or the wicked desires he stirs within her.

As their renewed passions grow reckless, their investigation takes them through the darkest and most depraved areas of the City. To catch a killer, they’ll have to put secrets behind them and trust only their hearts.

Excerpt

“What part of ‘I shall make you bleed’ did you not understand?” Kate kept her hands hidden behind the solid wood of the banister, preferring him to think she might be armed.

He rounded the last step, coming to a stop in front of her.

Kate retreated against the bannister, which came up to her hips. “Why are you here, Daniel? I already told you I wouldn’t help you.”

“I need to know.” Daniel took another step forward, effectively boxing her up against the bannister.

She leaned back further, unbalanced. What did he need to know? Who had killed Dalton? If she believed him? Or worse, if she still loved him?

Cold air swept in through a broken window on the first floor, ruffled the knotted ribbon of her straw hat underneath her chin. Her fingers clenched around the worn wood of the railing, gripped so tightly her knuckles became white.

She might never feel sure of her footing again.

“You let it pass for three years,” she charged. His urgency made no sense.

“I shouldn’t have. I won’t this time. Dalton deserves justice, and so do I. I’m going to investigate Dalton’s murder whether or not you help me.” Daniel brought his hand to rest on her arm, heat penetrating through her greatcoat. “But truly, I came back for you.”

He leaned his head down, so that their eyes met. His gaze pulled at her. Her body longed for his touch, craved it, as if he was the answer to every question she’d had in the past three years. He could not love a woman so wrecked.

She retreated back again. Bent against the bannister, it sagged against her weight and a threatening groan echoed from the wood. She didn’t move, knowing that if she did she’d be back in his arms within seconds.

He took one look at the bannister, then at her, and tugged her closer to him. His hold was strong, but not unrelenting. She was flush against him, so close she could feel the beating of his heart. Warmth replaced brisk wind, and his presence blotted out loneliness until she was part of something greater, something powerful beyond herself.

She feared that heady sensation. Passion didn’t stick to predetermined routes and checklists.

When he spoke, his breath tickled her skin. His voice rumbled in her ear. “I don’t want to lose you again.”

A tremble tore through her. In those few months after he left, she’d woken with those words on her lips, whispers from dreams wherein he’d fulfilled his promise to return for her. He was here, and she forgot the reasons why she should loathe him.

Everything but the smell of bergamot and cloves disappeared. An altogether familiar aroma, one intrinsically locked in her mind as his, yet different this time without the overlay of pine needles. It enveloped her, clouded her senses. She lifted her head from his chest.

She looked him in the eye. But that was a mistake, for his eyes shone with the same desire she kept trapped.

“If I didn’t know better, I might believe you.” She forced herself to step away from him. “I can’t be with you again.”

“Kiss me.”

Susanna Ives’ Wicked Little Secrets

SusannaIvesToday I welcome the lovely Susanna Ives to Teatime Romance.

Thank you for the invitation to the lovely Teatime blog and the delicious cyber scone.  I’m the author of rather naughty historicals, but I’ll try to behave myself in this proper, elegant setting.

Tell us about yourself and your release.

I feel like I’m standing in front of the classroom at show and tell, holding out my shiny brand new book Wicked Little Secrets.  Here’s its sexy blurb:

Vivacious Vivienne Taylor has finally won her family’s approval by getting engaged to the wealthy and upright John Vandergrift. But when threatened by a vicious blackmail scheme, it is to her childhood friend that Vivienne turns; the deliciously wicked Viscount Dashiell.

Lord Dashiell promised himself long ago that his friendship with Vivienne would be the one relationship with a woman that he wouldn’t ruin. He agrees to help her just to keep the little hothead safe, but soon finds that Vivienne has grown up to be very, very dangerous to all of Dash’s best intentions.

I’m Susanna Ives.  I drive my beloved children around to school or classes, help develop web pages, minimally take care of my home, and talk to my friends on Facebook (or, gasp, sometimes in person!). I’m not such a good cook, so I won’t be sharing any recipes. On the surface, I appear quite normal, if not dull, but in my fantasy, fictional writing world, I’m insanely interesting and six inches taller.

You’ve had an interesting journey to publication. Please tell us about it.

It feels like I’ve been writing a long time even though I have only two published books.  I might be approaching the famed 10,000 hours in another few months if I haven’t already. I started writing when I became a stay-at-home mother. I loved being with my children, but changing diapers, playing on the activity mat,  and keeping them from sticking their tiny fingers in electrical sockets didn’t satisfy my creative drive. So I started scribbling in notebooks while my children banged on pots. Then I joined The Beau Monde, the Regency special interest chapter of the RWA, and a fabulous group of writers. If you’re writing in or around the Regency era and you haven’t already joined this amazing group, stop reading and hurry over to the Beau Monde web page and fill out the membership form!

So, I was working on what I thought was going to be a masterpiece of romantic literature (laughs). So confident was I in my work, that I entered the first chapters in the Beau Monde’s Royal Ascot romance writing contest.  I think I received the lowest scores in the contest that year.

Nonetheless, I lurked about the chapter email loops, still scribbling on my poor misunderstood romantic masterpiece.  The next year when the Royal Ascot came around, I swore I wouldn’t enter. My feelings were too hurt.  But, and I probably shouldn’t admit this, I had to prove something to myself: I was better than the previous year’s dismal performance.

So bad Susanna wrote fifteen pages of a story about a lady who wanted to turn her clueless, farmer neighbor into a rake. I titled my entry Rakes and Radishes.  And it was a finalist! With just fifteen completed pages, I was sure that I was going to get the call. (laughs again, this time with bitter edge)

Let us put aside the rejections, a new story that fell apart, and the completed Rakes and Radishes manuscript that I hid away in a drawer, and summarize the next year and a half as “a learning experience.”

I wanted a fresh start with a different era. So I decided to write a naughty, comedic Victorian, cramming it full of Victorian clichés. And Wicked Little Secrets was begun. At that time, I was in several writing groups, getting some pretty heavy critiques, and really focusing on my craft.  About halfway into the writing process, another wonderful writer friend said she would recommend Rakes and Radishes to a new all eBook press.  After sitting quietly in some obscure folder on my hard drive, I took the old MS out, polished up its query letter and synopsis. However, the night I sent out that query, I also emailed one to another new publisher: Carina Press. I had very little hope.

Then the amazing Carina Press called and offered to publish Rakes and Radishes!

I’m going to leave out some steps here, except to say that after the Carina Press publication I spent a great deal of time revising Wicked Little Secrets. Then something amazing, Cinderella-like happened: I got a wonderful agent. Wicked Little Secrets was sold to the fabulous Sourcebooks Casablanca. Last week it was released, and I’m thrilled.

Is this book part of a series? What’s next?

It’s part of a three book series set in the Victorian Era. I’m superstitious about revealing what I’m working on, so I’ll remain silent for now.

Ah, come on! Oh well.  Everyone has their absolute favorite books that they’d save from a fire. What are your five favorites?

Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Tao Te Ching.
My childhood copy of A Little Princess
A particular research book titled White-Collared Crime in Modern England.
My children’s signed copy of The Oddhopper Opera
One of the few printed versions of my first book Rakes and Radishes

This being a tearoom, how do you like your tea?

Yorkshire Gold with almond milk, vanilla, and sugar.

My favorite!  Wicked Little Secrets is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

WICKED LITTLE SECRETSWicked-Little-Secrets72

It’s Not Easy Being Good…

Vivacious Vivienne Taylor has finally won her family’s approval by getting engaged to the wealthy and upright John Vandergrift. But when threatened by a vicious blackmail scheme, it is to her childhood friend that Vivienne turns; the deliciously wicked Viscount Dashiell.

When Being Wicked is so Much More Exciting…

Lord Dashiell promised himself long ago that his friendship with Vivienne would be the one relationship with a woman that he wouldn’t ruin. He agrees to help her just to keep the little hothead safe, but soon finds that Vivienne has grown up to be very, very dangerous to all of Dash’s best intentions.

About Susanna

Susanna Ives grew up in the rural South, where she spent most of her youth at the local theater, acting in productions, working in the lighting booth, and building sets. Eventually she left her small town for the city lights of Atlanta, where she attended college and worked in corporations as a multimedia developer. These days she chases after her two curious, energetic children, designs web pages, and writes.

You can learn more about Susanna Ives’ work at:

 Website/Blog  | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Google+

 

Sex, Love & Stilettos with Lauren Layne

headshot-circle-smallThis summer I had the opportunity to read Lauren Layne’s debut novel AFTER THE KISS. I was hooked. I was left wanting more! The wait is almost over!  Today we welcome Lauren Layne to the Tearoom to celebrate the release of her latest romance LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH. Welcome Lauren!

Tell us about yourself:

Well, right now I’d have to describe myself as a recovering city girl. Up until recently, I lived in New York City, in one of those tiny apartments that non-Manhattan people think of as a closet. Currently, I’m living in the Pacific Northwest (about an hour south of Seattle) with my husband and bratty dog. And while I do sort of miss NYC’s infectious energy, the change of pace has been refreshing!

So, you wrote a book… Continue reading

Who Says Romance Isn’t Real?

r&a-bowlingToday’s blog is to celebrate my wedding anniversary to my husband. We’ve been married for 32 years. I don’t do many personal type blogs, but I had to share with you the amazing man I call my husband.

There are days it feels like forever. There are days it feels like yesterday. We are blessed that there are more days like the later than the former. He’s my biggest fan and my best friend. We’ve laughed, argued and loved through good times, bad times, two kids, dogs and an empty nest. Continue reading

Debut Author Maggie Brogden and her Irish Imps

MaggieI love welcoming debut authors. There is just something about that first book being released and the excitement you feel. I also like to live vicariously through my debut authors until my day comes.  Today I want to introduce you to Maggie Brogden who is starting a whole new genre with her debut book, Spittin’ Grits. What kind of genre?  Spittin’ Grits is a hicklit paranormal — perfect for Halloween. It’s also an hysterically funny read.

Maggie, welcome to Teatime. What got you into writing? Continue reading

Regina Jeffers: Jews in England During the Reign of George III

Regina-270x300The next book in my highly popular and award-winning Realm series contains several Jewish characters. When I started writing A Touch of Love, I was most concerned with portraying the Jewish population as it really occurred at the time. I spent countless hours in research, even setting several of my Jewish friends to the task of finding me volumes not readily available. Georgette Heyer’s Jewish characters were often criticized as too stereotypical. Therefore, I meant to avoid that issue. Each of the books in this series addresses a different issue: family abuse, religious sects, anorexia, etc. A Touch of Love addresses issues of “prejudice” in Regency England among social classes and religions.

Jews in England During the Reign of George III Continue reading

Why Books are Like Crack (and a giveaway to feed the addiction)

addiction-prv1Do you have a book addiction? Here’s a quick poll to find out:

  1. Do you forgo sleeping, eating, or Adam Levine on the Voice to finish reading a book?
  2. Has your significant other disabled the one-click purchase on your Amazon account?
  3. When you fall in love with an author, do you go and buy the backlist so that you can satisfy your craving for more?
  4. Have you sneaked the book to work so you can read during conference calls?
  5. Have you burned dinner because you were so deep in the story?

If you’ve answered yes to three or more of these questions, you are addicted – to reading. Continue reading