Today we’re going to talk about hot Englishmen. My June release, About Last Night, is set in London. It pairs Mary Catherine, a bad-girl heroine from Chicago, with an upper-crust English gentleman/banker hero. His name is Nev, but Cath usually calls him “City” because he works in the City of London (London’s financial district). City is, essentially, Prince Charming in a suit.
So why London?
Excellent question. I could pretend that I had lofty reasons having to do with character development and narrative arcs and market research and so forth, but, uh, no. The fact is, I think Englishmen are sexy. I’m a former college English major turned historian of Victorian Britain turned romance novelist. I’ve lived in and around London twice, which is long enough to observe all kinds of interesting differences but not long enough to really go native in any meaningful way. Which means it’s exactly the right amount of time to develop a lifelong crush on the English.
Why did I cast an Englishman as the hero of this book? I simply couldn’t resist. Because when you cast your fantasy Brit as the hero of your novel, you get to write scenes like this…
“I do have a weakness for the bacon-sandwich hangover cure,” she admitted. “But it seems a little lowbrow for you, City. I can’t imagine you drunk, much less hungover.”
He took a few steps closer and studied her, an unabashed appraisal that should have been rude or even scary but instead sent syrupy heat creeping through her abdomen. “Considering you don’t know my name, you seem to have a lot of ideas about me.”
Oh, she had ideas. She had a whole slew of new ideas about him, and she needed to find an exit strategy quick, because none of them was on the list of things she was supposed to be thinking about. Banker, she reminded herself. He’s a banker, a very boring banker. Enough already. Just, whatever you do, don’t flirt with him.
“I don’t need to know your name. I’ve seen you around, and I know your type.”
Aaaand she was flirting with him.
It won her a smirk. “What’s my type, then?”
“For starters, you come from money. You went to expensive boarding schools, graduated from either Oxford or Cambridge, and now you work at a bank in the City—thus the name.”
He frowned and wiped his hand over his mouth. What a mouth.
“Just let me know when I get something wrong,” she offered.
“By all means, carry on. You’re doing a brilliant job so far.”
“Which was it, Oxford or Cambridge?”
“Cambridge. Trinity College.”
She resisted the urge to gloat. Gloating was well outside the range of acceptable responses to City on this particular morning.
So is flirting with him.
Right. But it was so much fun. She hadn’t flirted in ages.
“Let’s see,” she said. “I know you like to jog. Judging by those shoulders and arms, I’d say you also row, yeah?”
“Some. I play rugby, too.” He gave her half a smile, and she made an effort to suppress the image of City in a rugby jersey with pink cheeks and dirty knees, tussling over a ball. A human orgasm.
Her good sense was now officially yelling Mayday!
She was now officially ignoring it.
“What do I do for fun, then?” He stepped even closer. This flirtation had turned into a two-way party. She needed to find a method of steering the conversation back toward bacon sandwiches and, say, the location of her skirt, because it probably wasn’t good that she could smell him now, and on this man linseed oil was an aphrodisiac.
“Well, you go to the symphony, spend weekends in the countryside, and date women who wear twinsets and have names like—”
Without the least bit of warning, he kissed her. Not a preamble sort of kiss, either. No, he really kissed her, one huge hand cupping the back of her neck, and his warm, firm lips knew exactly what they were doing, which was driving every single thought from her head. Only the man remained, the mouth, the sensations coursing through her, heating her up from the inside. Heating her up fast. Could all bankers kiss like this?
Cath rose on her toes, angling her mouth and pressing closer, but he pulled back a few inches. Then a few feet.
She wanted to say something. The only word that came out of her mouth was a shaky “Whoa.”
Now, it might be argued that Englishmen are not the darlings of contemporary romance. That there could, in fact, be sales ramifications for setting your book in London and casting a buttoned-up banker named “Neville Chamberlain” in the role of “hero.” And yeah, okay, that’s a valid point. We can’t get enough of those Regency dukes, but somehow the contemporary Englishman has a bad rep. Or at least, he has a rep for being less sexy than the Greek shipping magnates, the Italian sports car drivers, the American cowboys and sports heroes, the brooding Russians, the dirk-wielding Scots… but to that, I say “Nay!”
Nay! Englishmen are hot. It’s a fact. And if you don’t believe me, I know this book that might change your mind…
How about y’all — does an English accent make your knees go wobbly, or do you prefer your heroes homegrown? Comment away, and I’ll pick one random commenter to win a $10 gift card and a copy of the book from Amazon or Barnes and Noble!
Ruthie Knox figured out how to walk and read at the same time in the second grade, and she hasn’t looked up since. She spent her formative years hiding romance novels in her bedroom closet to avoid the merciless teasing of her brothers and imagining scenarios in which someone who looked remarkably like Daniel Day Lewis recognized her well-hidden sex appeal and rescued her from middle-class Midwestern obscurity. After graduating from Grinnell College with an English and history double major, she earned a Ph.D. in modern British history that she’s put to remarkably little use.
These days, she writes contemporary romance in which witty, down-to- earth characters find each other irresistible in their pajamas, though she freely admits this has yet to happen to her. Perhaps she needs more exciting pajamas. Her debut novel, Ride with Me, came out with Loveswept (Random House) in February.
Preorder/order links — only $2.99
Amazon — http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006XWY424
Barnes and Noble — http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/about-last-night-ruthie-knox/1108296251?ean=9780345535160
iBooks — http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/about-last-night/id479800484?mt=11
Want to find out more about Ruthie (one of Kristan’s favorite authors?)
Ruthie Knox website — http://www.ruthieknox.com/
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