The Jaunty Quills are excited to welcome back historical romance author Theresa Romain. Theresa’s upcoming release is To Charm a Naughty Countess. Keep reading to find out how to win a copy!
Shana: Welcome back, Theresa. The important question first: How is Little Miss R?
Theresa Romain: She’s doing great—thanks for asking! (Readers, Little Miss R is my kindergarten daughter, who seems to be a romance heroine-in-training just like Princess Galen.) Lately she has started writing her own books, which have “chapters.” I put that in quotation marks because each chapter is about one sentence long. But she’s so proud of her stapled-together stories! The last one was about two kids whose mom made them work a lot; not sure what she is trying to tell me. J It’s fun seeing her discover the joy of words—not just reading them, but writing them too.
Shana: Tell us about To Charm a Naughty Countess. This is part of the Matchmaker Trilogy, of which It Takes Two to Tangle was the first. The heroine, Caroline, was introduced in that book, right? What makes the Countess of Stratton so naughty?
Theresa Romain: She’s naughty because she doesn’t play by the rules of romance or society. For example—in the first chapter of the book (which you can read on my site), we see her in bed with a lover. Sometimes historical romance heroes get to start the book that way, but how often does a heroine have a lover? It was fun swapping the usual gender roles for this book. Since Caro is widowed and wealthy and knows she’s beautiful, she takes her pleasure where she wishes.
As for her attitude toward society: Because she once had neither rank nor reputation, she doesn’t take them for granted—and she can’t bear the idea of losing them again. And so she breaks through the strata of society by being pleasant to everyone. She wants to make herself socially indispensable.
Of course, this comes at a high price. Being Caroline—always entertaining, always on display—is exhausting, and it’s all a surface. No one knows what she’s truly like or what she really wants, because she doesn’t dare let anyone see. She doesn’t dare risk losing the goodwill of society.
Until our hero turns up, that is.
Shana: The hero in To Charm a Naughty Countess is rumored to be mad. The blurb mentioned anxiety. We don’t often think of people suffering anxiety in the nineteenth century. It seems more a product of current times, though I know people in every time think their period is the most stressful ever. Did you research anxiety and the treatments for it then?
Theresa Romain: I did research anxiety, because I needed to know if that was even a concept in peoples’ minds at the time. And as a general word for anguish or distress, it’s been around since the 1500s. So during the Regency, people might have used “anxiety” to talk about a feeling rather than a condition or diagnosis—which does still make sense to us today.
Of course, Michael doesn’t like to talk about his anxiety at all. About some things, he’s very confident, such as his ability to handle his dukedom’s affairs. Emotional matters and social situations are different, because they’re out of his control, and that’s what triggers his anxiety.
Two hundred years ago, there was no such thing as mental health treatment or medication—and even today mental health diagnoses aren’t as well understood by most people as physical ailments. I wanted to give Michael a hope for recovery that would have seemed plausible in the Regency, and one way that jumped out at me is what we today call cognitive behavioral therapy. Caroline uses these methods, which seem like common sense to her, to get Michael to confront the false beliefs at the heart of his anxiety. But his recovery is on his own shoulders.
Shana: Tell us about your writing schedule and style. Plotter or pantser? Early morning, midday, or late at night? Daily goal or whatever you feel like? Any must-haves when writing?
Theresa Romain: Coffee is the only must-have to get me started. Everything else varies! I usually start with a synopsis or outline for my editor, so I have to come up with the bones of a plot and a basic idea of character. Details get filled in as I write, and sometimes the story or characters twist in a way that surprises me. I do most of my writing during the day while my daughter’s in school, but every day is different since I have another job too. Sometimes I get more writing done in the evening, and I even have a notepad on my nightstand to jot down middle-of-the-night ideas (though my writing’s usually illegible in the morning). I set weekly goals to keep me progressing toward deadlines…but sometimes that deadline itself is also very motivating.
Shana: Finally, tell us what you have coming next.
Theresa Romain: Thanks for asking! To Charm a Naughty Countess is the second book in my Matchmaker trilogy, and the third will be out next January. It’s called Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress, and readers will meet the hero and heroine as secondary characters in Countess. That book is set in Bath, which I loved researching—and let me just say the characters’ backgrounds led me down some interesting research pathways as well.
I’ll have another release before then, though. The fourth historical romance in my Holiday Pleasures series—Season for Desire—will be out in October. The hero’s a grumpy American who sets off fireworks (the romantic kind, not the literal kind) with a woman who seems to be a spoiled aristocrat, but who proves to be more than either of them expects.
Readers, now it’s your turn. While Michael can handle matters of business with great confidence and efficiency, the only part he really likes about a ton ball is the end of it. What would be your favorite part of a ball? Would you dance every reel with dashing young nobles, or would you rather find a special someone for a quiet walk in the garden? Or maybe you would enjoy tasting the lobster patties—or spiking the punch?
One reader who comments will be randomly chosen to win a copy of To Charm a Naughty Countess. This giveaway is open to entrants from U.S. and Canada. The winner will be announced and contacted Sunday.
TO CHARM A NAUGHTY COUNTESS
CAN A RECLUSIVE DUKE…
Brilliant but rumored mad, Michael Layward, the impoverished Duke of Wyverne, has no success courting heiresses until widowed Lady Stratton takes up his cause–after first refusing his suit.
WIN LONDON’S MOST POWERFUL COUNTESS?
Caroline Graves, the popular Countess of Stratton, sits alone at the pinnacle of London society and has vowed never to remarry. When Michael–her counterpart in an old scandal–returns to town after a long absence, she finds herself as enthralled with him as ever. As she guides the anxiety-ridden duke through the trials of society, Caroline realizes that she’s lost her heart . But if she gives herself to the only man she’s ever loved, she’ll lose the hard-won independence she prizes above all.