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.
When 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?
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.
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.
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.
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 sins.
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.
“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.”