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I’m delighted to welcome the lovely CHRISTY ENGLISH to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Carol, thank you so much for hosting me! It is an honour to be a guest on your blog. There’s nothing I love more than rakes and rascals…except maybe chocolate.

~~~~~~~

 

R&R:
Could you tell us where you were born and what it was like growing up there?

Christy:
I was born in Nashville, TN, but we moved from there when I was three, so I missed my chance on the Grande Old Opry, which is a relief to country music fans everywhere. J I grew up on the coast of North Carolina in a town called Wilmington, which used to be a lot sleepier than it is now. I loved growing up on the coast, acting in plays and generally having a good time. But always, whatever show I was doing, I was also writing.

Christy English Interview - 4 year old withTypewriter
Aged 4 with my typewriter


R&R
:
How would you describe yourself – temperamental or easy-going?

Christy:
I am definitely easy-going. I have spent a long time working on releasing tension and learning to relax in the midst of tough situations. Like all things in life, it is an ongoing practice, but I get better at it every day.


R&R
:
When it comes to food do you like sweet or savoury or both?

Christy:
I have a huge sweet tooth. I love chocolate, cookies and cake. Sweets really make life sweeter all around.

 

R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Christy:
My laptop. My computer is where I dream my dreams, and where I learn to bring each fantasy to life, one step at a time, until they become the books I love to write.


R&R:
If you were able to afford a second home anywhere in the world where would you choose and why?

Christy:
I would want to have a home in Tuscany for one month every summer. I’d like to drink the wine, eat the food, walk into Florence and see the art. What a place for inspiration and the bliss of story-telling. Something about Tuscany’s green hills feeds the soul.

 

R&R:
Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?

Christy:
I never get embarrassed anymore. I think I’m too old for it now. I make a lot of mistakes, the same as everyone, but they’re always honest mistakes. After I apologize to whoever I might have offended and forgive myself for my misstep, I move on. Life is too short to harbour regrets.

~~~~~~~

 

Thank you for taking time out to be here today and sharing these interesting facts about yourself, Christy

Thank you again for hosting me, Carol. I love your rakes and rascals!

 

If you would like to find out more about Christy and her books, here are the links:

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

(Simply Quartet, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh returns to the elegance and sensuality of Regency England as she continues the enthralling story of four remarkable women–friends and teachers at Miss Martin’s School for Girls. At the center of this spellbinding novel is Anne Jewell, a teacher haunted by a scandalous past…until she meets a man who teaches her the most important lesson of all: nothing is simple when it comes to love.…

She spies him in the deepening dusk of a Wales evening–a lone figure of breathtaking strength and masculinity, his handsome face branded by a secret pain. For single mother and teacher Anne Jewell, newly arrived with her son at a sprawling estate in Wales on the invitation of an influential friend, Sydnam Butler is a man whose sorrows–and passions–run deeper than she could have ever imagined.

As steward of a remote seaside manor, Sydnam lives a reclusive existence far from the pity and disdain of others. Yet almost from the moment Anne first appears on the cliffs, he senses in this lovely stranger a kindred soul, and between these two wary hearts, desire stirs. Unable to resist the passion that has rescued them both from loneliness, Anne and Sydnam share an afternoon of exquisite lovemaking. Now the unwed single mother and war-scarred veteran must make a decision that could forever alter their lives. For Sydnam, it is a chance to heal the pain of the past. For Anne, it is the glorious promise of a future with the man who will dare her to reveal her deepest secrets…before she can give him all her heart.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Every time I read a Mary Balogh novel, new or old, I am struck anew by how much I love her work. She has covered every conceivable subject/scenario in her long and highly successful career with empathy and a deeply insightful understanding of human nature. In Simply Love, the second in her highly acclaimed Simply Quartet she highlights the issues and prejudices surrounding a single mother and her illegitimate child in Regency England. With great understanding, Ms.Balogh immerses us in the life of Anne Jewell, her nine year old son, David, and that of Sydnam Butler, a horrifically scarred veteran of the peninsula wars.

Anne and David are invited to spend a month on the south west coast of Wales in company with members of the powerful Bedwyn family. This unconventional family, with a duke at its head, thumbs its collective nose at the restrictions under which most aristocrats are obliged to live. Kind and thoughtful all, they welcome Anne and David to share their family holiday without reservation. Whilst walking the coastal path on the first evening, Anne happens upon the dreadfully scarred Sydnam Butler, and flees from him in fright. Sydnam is employed by the duke as steward of his estate, and is attempting to carve a life out for himself away from his own overprotective and loving family; he is a man completely lacking in self-pity and understands the picture he presents on first sight.

So expertly drawn is Mary Balogh’s description of this tragic but gorgeous man, that I shed more than one tear on his behalf. Anne is appalled at her own crass behaviour and apologises to him at the first available opportunity. Friendship flowers over the course of the month long holiday further developing into affection, and finally into something more sensual. The traumatic events that led to David’s conception, and the ten years following it, have left Anne emotionally scarred. Sydnam too has scars that run far deeper than the obvious surface ones; it is therefore understandable that two people – starved of physical love and affection, and who have cocooned themselves against further hurt – will find comfort in each other.

Anne and Syndam are wonderful characters – to be honest, if I could hug each of them, I would! They feel so real; their sorrow, their hurt, their lack of confidence, even their prickliness; they belong together, and the tentative progress of their love affair is movingly beautiful. Of course, to quote Shakespeare…‘The course of true love never did run smooth’…they have a lot of soul searching to do before either of them can begin to feel really complete once more. Luckily, they have each other to help in their respective rehabilitation. Their traumatic journey is SO worth the reading or in this case the listening.

The supremely talented Rosalyn Landor gives a stupendous performance in this audiobook, bringing this tremendously poignant story with its large and varied cast of complex characters to three dimensional radiance. I loved all four books in this series but Simply Love is, in my opinion, by far the most emotionally charged. The very fact that this is such a heart-rending story makes the performing of it more difficult, but Ms. Landor handles each character with individuality, consummate skill, aplomb and downright brilliance.

I adored the audio version of Simply Love and it is not necessary to have read or listened to the first in the series, as Ms. Balogh gives us plenty of background information. However, we do meet many old favourites from other series; in my case, from books read years ago. I was surprised how vividly I remembered the characters. Such is the power of a great and memorable author.

MY VERDICT: This is highly recommended and a must read for all lovers of Historical Romance.


REVIEW RATING: STELLAR 5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read June 2016

 

Simply series (click on the book cover for further details):

Simply Unforgettable (Simply Quartet #1) by Mary Balogh Simply Love (Simply Quartet #2) by Mary Balogh Simply Magic (Simply Quartet #3) by Mary Balogh Simply Perfect (Simply Quartet #4) by Mary Balogh

 

This review was originally posted on the Romantic Historical Reviews


(Rules for the Reckless, #4)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

Romance sizzles between a famous heiress and an infamous crime lord in this fourth sexy novel in the Rules for the Reckless series from the USA Today bestselling author of Fool Me Twice.

They call her the “Ice Queen.” Catherine Everleigh is London’s loveliest heiress, but a bitter lesson in heartbreak has taught her to keep to herself. All she wants is her birthright—the auction house that was stolen from her. To win this war, she’ll need a powerful ally. Who better than infamous and merciless crime lord Nicholas O’Shea? A marriage of convenience will no doubt serve them both.

Having conquered the city’s underworld, Nick seeks a new challenge. Marrying Catherine will give him the appearance of legitimacy—and access to her world of the law-abiding elite. No one needs to know he’s coveted Catherine for a year now—their arrangement is strictly business, free from the troubling weaknesses of love. Seduction, however, is a different matter—an enticing game he means to ensure she enjoys, whether she wishes to or not…

♥♥♥♥♥♥

After reading Lady Be Good, I was certainly interested in two of the secondary characters, the beautiful but icy Catherine Everleigh and the ruthless ruler of Whitechapel, Nicholas (Nick) O’Shea. Neither came off as particularly likeable in that book and I was intrigued to see how Ms Duran could not only change my mind about them, but also create a believable romance between two such dissimilar characters both in temperament and social standing.

I like Ms Duran’s effective use of the Prologue to provide insight into Catherine and Nick’s childhoods. This gave me a better understanding of the influences at play in shaping the people they became.

From a very young age, Catherine’s life has revolved around Everleigh Auction House, the family business. She is smart for her age and her father has encouraged and developed her interest in art and antiques to the exclusion of all else. It is a lonely childhood with normal childhood experiences discouraged and no friends. My heart went out to her when she looks out of the window to watch two girls laughing and skipping and convinces herself that she doesn’t need friends when…

She got to come to her father’s auction rooms. No other children were allowed at Everleigh’s. Being here made her special.

Now an expert in the field of art and antiques, Catherine is proud of her business achievements and the auction house has become her life, albeit a lonely one. She has no time for socialising and no interest in fashions, the latest gossip or the latest novels. She and her brother, Peter, have each inherited a half-share in Everleigh’s but Catherine will not acquire control over her share until she marries. In the meantime, her brother controls everything and she is aware that he has been embezzling money from the business to fund his political ambitions and now he is threatening to sell the business. She is desperate to gain control of her share to thwart his plans but the only solution is to marry and…

She knew just the man to bring Peter to heel. All it would require of her was a great deal of…and a reckless disregard for decency and the law.

– the notorious Nick O’Shea.

The letters that pass between Catherine and Nick, when she tries to arrange a meeting with him to discuss her proposition, are not only funny but also cleverly supply details of the circumstances under which they first met.

Forced to fend for himself on the streets of the east end of London at the age of eleven, Nick has clawed his way up to become the wealthy, notorious and powerful crime lord who controls Whitechapel, one of roughest parts of the east end. Despite his reputation, most of the things he has achieved have been through hard work, determination and a keen business mind. The income from his gambling palace and legitimate businesses have meant he is no longer involved in petty crime.

Nick is the sort of hero I adore…rough around the edges but a good man at heart. He truly cares about the weak and vulnerable of Whitechapel and rules through respect rather than fear.

Once this quarter of Whitechapel had looked different— violent, ugly, choked with rubbish. But now it boasted orderly streets, solid tenements, quiet nights, and schools with no seats to spare.

When Catherine puts her “marriage of convenience” proposal to Nick, she never dreams that he has been watching her for years and also sees it as an opportunity to further his own goals.

“I take it that you’re a cynic in matters of love.”
“In every matter, sweetheart.”
“Good. So am I.” “Why, we’re a perfect match, then.”

Cynical they may be but I knew that eventually they would succumb to cupid’s arrow, but it is their journey that kept me captivated. To ensure that the marriage cannot be challenged by Catherine’s brother, it has to be consummated and this scene is both amusing and highly sensual and we discover exactly what is in the package Catherine is carrying!

I enjoyed seeing each of them grow and change during the course of the story. Despite his reputation, Catherine comes to realise that Nick is an honourable, kind and decent man who genuinely cares about the people of Whitechapel. I love how Nick listens to Catherine, respects her opinions, treats her as an equal and never questions her right to work. Nick stirs Catherine’s latent passions and Catherine makes Nick see that he has the ability to fulfil his ambitions.

… she had a way of leading him into dreaming. She made him imagine, hope for, ideas and realities he’d never himself known.

Peter, Catherine’s brother, is a truly nasty piece of work but I love the lengths Nick will go to protect Catherine and enjoyed seeing him scare the hell out her odious brother!

MY VERDICT: A beautifully written story with layered, complex characters and real emotional pull. One I can definitely recommend.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read July 2016


Rules for the Reckless series (click on the book cover for more details):

Your Wicked Heart (Rules for the Reckless, #0.5) by Meredith Duran That Scandalous Summer (Rules for the Reckless, #1) by Meredith Duran Fool Me Twice (Rules for the Reckless, #2) by Meredith Duran Lady Be Good (Rules for the Reckless, #3) by Meredith Duran Luck Be a Lady (Rules for the Reckless, #4) by Meredith Duran A Lady's Code of Misconduct (Rules for the Reckless, #5) by Meredith Duran

I’m delighted to welcome Best Selling Romance Author KATHERINE BONE to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

And what a pleasure it is to be sailin’ in to Rakes and Rascals! Thank you so much for invitin’ me, Lady Carol!!!:)

~~~~~~~


R&R:

Could you tell us where you were born and what it was like growing up there?

Katherine:
I’d love to share more about myself with you! Woot!!! I was born in Texas, but flew to Mannheim, Germany, two months later. My father was in the Army and already stationed there, you see. Would you like to see a picture of me meeting my dad for the very first time? I love this photo of us! (My dad was 19 and my mother only 17. She had never flown anywhere before!)


The rest of my childhood was spent traveling every 2-3 years to another Army base. An odd parallel to pirate nomad life, eh? I learned one important lesson through all my travels. The world is a very small place and people are the same, wherever you go.

 

R&R:
How would you describe yourself – temperamental or easy-going?

Katherine:
That’s super easy. I’m a mixture, (more Heinz #57) but mainly because I’m a perfectionist and I get frustrated when things don’t turn out like I hoped they would. That Type A personality can go against a person sometimes or it can be the burr beneath a saddle. Hey, I look at it this way. What I cannot do motivates me to be the best I can possibly be at the things I CAN do. Woot!!! Turnin’ a frown upside down, eh? It’s THE best remedy to what ails ye!!!

 

R&R:
When it comes to food do you like sweet or savoury or both?

Katherine:
I’ve always had a BIG sweet tooth! Goodness, I’m a sucker for Chocolate Chip Cookies! They’re my go-to comfort food. In fact, almost anything chocolate is! I’ve been making Chocolate Chip Cookies from scratch since I was twelve years old. Huzzah!

 

R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Katherine:
Hmmm… that’s a toughie! Right now, I would have to say my glasses. Can’t see anything up close without them. Buahahaha!!! If Jack Sparrow were askin’ me this question, I’d have to stick with me pieces of eight: glasses, tea, ipod shuffle packed with music, wedding ring, sun screen, pictures of my kids, my cell phone to stay in contact with those I love, and pen and paper to continue to write what comes to mind. Huzzah!!!

 

R&R:
If you were able to afford a second home anywhere in the world where would you choose and why?

Katherine:
Whoaa! Another GREAT question! There’s a reason they call ye Rakes and Rascals, eh? Settling on one place is extremely hard. There are so many places I’d want to live, for a time. I lived in Italy for three years and would love to return there. But if I had to pick one place, it would be a house facing the sea in Cornwall or a castle on the moors in Scotland. (Must be my English/Scots/Irish/Cherokee/Comanche blood!):)

 

R&R:
Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?

Katherine:
Thank goodness you’re only asking for one! There are so many. LOL!!! If I had to choose one that has stayed with me the longest, I would have to admit the moment I got up to speak during an election at my Junior High School in 8th grade. I was running for Sergeant-at-Arms of the Student Council. Had my speech all planned out too. I’d even rehearsed in front of mirrors. But as I stood in front of the student body and introduced myself, making eye contact with the students there, finding some of my smiling friends, I started laughing and couldn’t stop. They literally had to use a stage hook to get me away from the podium. Needless to say, I never gave my speech and I didn’t win. However, good things always come to those who wait. I did win the Giggle Box Award later that year. (I might add that it was the first award of its kind. Heehee!)

~~~~~~~

 

Thank you for taking time out to be here today and sharing these interesting facts about yourself, Katherine.

What a pleasure it’s been to visit with you today! Thank you so much for your generosity and another FABulous interview!

 

If you would like to find out more about Katherine and her books, here are the links:

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter
Katherine’s Amazon Page


(Love by Numbers, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1813 and 1823)

Cover Blurb:

A lady does not smoke cheroot. She does not ride astride. She does not fence or attend duels. She does not fire a pistol, and she never gambles at a gentlemen’s club.
Lady Calpurnia Hartwell has always followed the rules, rules that have left her unmarried – and more than a little unsatisfied. And so she’s vowed to break the rules and live the life of pleasure she’s been missing.

But to dance every dance, to steal a midnight kiss – to do those things, Callie will need a willing partner. Someone who knows everything about rule-breaking. Someone like Gabriel St John, the Marquess of Ralston – charming and devastatingly handsome, his wicked reputation matched only by his sinful smile.
If she’s not careful, she’ll break the most important rule of all – the one that says that pleasure-seekers should never fall hopelessly, desperately in love . . .

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I’m not sure why I have waited so long to read Sarah MacLean’s debut novel because friends have constantly recommended it to me. Well, I’ve finally read it and I absolutely LOVED it! Ms MacLean brings something refreshing to the much used “rake falls for wallflower” trope and I was impressed by her writing and the way she brings her characters to life and makes me really care about them.

I adore Lady Calpurnia “Callie” Hartwell because she is someone I can relate to. Instead of drop dead gorgeous like so many heroines, she is a plain, slightly plump, lace-cap-wearing, 28-year-old spinster with a pristine reputation and the same insecurities I’m sure many of us can share. She is also such a lovable person…intelligent, kind-hearted and funny. My heart went out to Callie when she realises just how boring, staid and uninteresting her life has become and I desperately wanted her to do all those things on her list; to become bold and adventurous and experience life to the full. She deserves it.

Gabriel is charming, devastatingly handsome and one of the most notorious rakes in London but he also has a strong sense of family. It is evident in his love for his twin brother Nicholas and his determination that his illegitimate half-sister Juliana should be accepted by society. I could also understand how the scandalous and painful events of his past have coloured his views on love.

Gabriel and Callie are such a wonderful couple with great chemistry and I loved every moment spent with them – their sparkling dialogue; their first kiss which has an unexpected effect on Gabriel; the amusing whisky drinking episode in the tavern which leaves Callie slightly tiddly; the fencing match resulting in some heated moments; the gambling with the ultimate forfeit; the duel that doesn’t quite go to plan.

They are both on a journey of self-discovery. Gabriel believes himself incapable of love but Callie slowly but surely steals his heart.

“I love you. I love your extravagant name and your beautiful face and your brilliant mind and your ridiculous list and your taste for adventure, which I imagine is very likely going to be the actual cause of my death.”

Callie has always believed she is plain but I love Gabriel for showing her that she is beautiful in all the ways that count.

“Hear me well. I cannot begin to list all the things about you that are beautiful—a man could lose himself in your eyes; in your lovely, full lips; in your silken hair; in your soft, luscious curves; in your creamy, perfect skin and the way you blush and turn it the color of an exquisite, ripe peach. And that’s without considering your warmth, your intelligence, your humor, and the way I am utterly drawn to you when you enter a room.”

Among the secondary characters, I was particularly intrigued by Nicholas, Gabriel’s twin brother, an antiquity expert, and Juliana, their illegitimate half-sister, who is a real firebrand and I’m keen to read their stories.

MY VERDICT: This is an utterly delightful novel and I will definitely be reading the rest of the series. Highly recommended!


REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read July 2016


Love by Numbers series (click on the book covers for more details):

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love By Numbers, #1) by Sarah MacLean Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord (Love By Numbers, #2) by Sarah MacLean Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart (Love By Numbers, #3) by Sarah MacLean


(Maiden Lane, #10.5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian, 1741)

Cover Blurb:

From New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Hoyt comes a delightful Maiden Lane novella that begins once upon a moonlit night—and ends wickedly, wonderfully ever after…

Hippolyta Royle is running for her life. Pursued by hounds on a cold rainy night, the heiress flags down a passing carriage and throws herself at the mercy of the coach’s occupant. Whoever this handsome traveler may be, he is her only hope to escape a terrible fate. But should he agree to escort her to safety, he’s in for much more than he bargained for.

At first Matthew Mortimer doesn’t believe Hippolyta’s story, that she’s a fabulously wealthy heiress who’s been kidnapped. He assumes she’s a beggar, an actress, or worse. But once his new travel companion washes the mud from her surprisingly lovely face, and they share a breathtaking kiss, there is no turning back.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I really enjoyed this latest addition to Elizabeth Hoyt’s fabulous Maiden Lane series. This novella follows Hippolyta Royle’s “adventures” after escaping the clutches of the wicked Duke of Montgomery (DUKE OF SIN)

I love the unconventional first meeting between Hippolyta and Matthew. I had a vivid picture of the wet, bedraggled, dirty, smelly Hippolyta trying to convince a disbelieving Matthew that she is telling the truth and she really is an heiress! It’s hardly surprising he doesn’t believe a word and is convinced that she is either a beggar, an actress or a whore. Given the circumstances, I can forgive his boorish attitude and rather coarse language and to his credit he does take pity on her and offer to give her a lift to the next town.

Well, it was a cold and wet night after all, and he had a bit of soft spot for scamps who could tell a cock-and-bull story with a straight face.

Matthew is both surprised and impressed by Hippolyta’s intelligence and wit and starts to have doubts about his original assumptions. He also feels very protective towards her while she feels safe with Matthew. I love the scene where Matthew walks in on Hippolyta while she is soaking naked in a tin bath, and he sees for the first time just how beautiful she is.

Ms Hoyt is excellent at building sexual tension and those who enjoy their romances with a goodly dose of sexy times will be more than satisfied (no pun intended).

I admire Hippolyta’s spirit when she attends Viscount D’Arque’s ball, knowing the potential scandal it would create, and I love how Matthew is a solid presence, supporting and encouraging her.

…she stumbled a bit.
But Matthew caught her so that none of those watching could see the hesitation. “Head held high, Princess, “he murmured in her ear.

D’Arque and his grandmother, Lady Wimple, also rally round to offer their influential support and it was wonderful to see Hippolyta triumph. I think Lady Wimple sums it up perfectly.

“Well! This is all very satisfactory. I can’t think when I’ve seen a scandal with greater dash.”

I cheered when the blackmailer is well and truly hoisted by his own petard and thoroughly thrashed by Matthew. I also enjoyed seeing, Sir George, Hippolyta’s father, put the final nail in the blackmailer’s coffin.

Last but not least, I must mention Tommy Teapot, Matthew’s pet mongoose, a real charmer who steals very scene he’s in.

My only criticism is that I would love to have spent more time with Hippolyta and Matthew and see them enjoying their Happy Ever After.

Favourite Romantic Quotes

“Beggar or heiress. Princess or pauper. I didn’t give a goddamn who or what you were, Hippolyta, I just wanted you.”

He’d stood by her, had believed in her when she’d been hopeless. Had rescued her and argued with her and made love with her and she…She loved him, her pirate, her husband, her Matthew.

MY VERDICT: This novella is a must read for all fans of the Maiden Lane series. For  those who have yet to read this brilliant series…what are you waiting for?


REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read June 2016


Maiden Lane series so far (click on the book covers for more details):

Wicked Intentions (Maiden Lane, #1) by Elizabeth Hoyt Notorious Pleasures (Maiden Lane, #2) by Elizabeth Hoyt Scandalous Desires (Maiden Lane, #3) by Elizabeth Hoyt Thief of Shadows (Maiden Lane, #4) by Elizabeth Hoyt Lord of Darkness (Maiden Lane, #5) by Elizabeth Hoyt Duke of Midnight (Maiden Lane, #6) by Elizabeth Hoyt Darling Beast (Maiden Lane, #7) by Elizabeth Hoyt Dearest Rogue (Maiden Lane, #8) by Elizabeth HoytSweetest Scoundrel (Maiden Lane, #9) by Elizabeth Hoyt Duke of Sin (Maiden Lane, #10) by Elizabeth Hoyt Once Upon a Moonlit Night (Maiden Lane, #10.5) by Elizabeth Hoyt Duke of Pleasure (Maiden Lane, #11) by Elizabeth Hoyt– 29th November 2016

 

**I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

I’m delighted to welcome Historical Romance author CECILIA GRANT to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

I’m delighted to be here. I love answering miscellaneous questions, so ask away, and get ready for some rambling replies!

~~~~~~~

 

R&R:
Could you tell us where you were born and what it was like growing up there?

Cecilia:
I grew up in Seattle, Washington—perhaps you’ve wondered whether we do in fact have the bluest skies you’ve ever seen? I’d say probably not. The sky does get quite blue, during the two or three months it stops being a dismal gray, and if you haven’t seen many different skies then it might, technically, be the bluest you’ve ever seen. But I don’t know any Seattle natives who think of the blue skies as one of our city’s distinguishing features. Certainly not to the point where you’d write a song about it.

More distinctive is our geography and topography. We’re bounded by Puget Sound on the west and a big lake on the east, with a ship canal cutting west-to-east through the city and another lake thrown in halfway along it. (If you have a day job, there’s a good chance you cross water in your commute.)

We have mountains, too; the Olympics on one side and the Cascades on the other, part of your view in pretty much any direction you look. And hills. There are buildings downtown where you enter the first floor on one side and have to go up to the fourth floor to get out the other side.

I took all this for granted growing up, and only when I went to college in the Midwest, in a city with no hills and nothing to see on the horizon, did I realize how much it mattered. I’ve lived in other places and I like to travel, but this is the geography that will always feel like home.

R&R:
How would you describe yourself – temperamental or easy-going?

Cecilia:
I appear easy-going, but it’s really just the facade of a world-class conflict-avoider. I’m temperamental on the inside.

 

R&R:
When it comes to food do you like sweet or savoury or both:

Cecilia:
Both, though I’d probably give a slight edge to sweet. I’m eating ice cream for dinner as I write this.

 

R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Cecilia:
It’s a tie between two things that used to belong to my maternal grandmother.
First, this curious china pig knick-knack, which I suspect has been in the family since before Grandma was born.

It mystifies me on every level. Why does the pig have a four-leaf clover in its mouth? Why is it posing with this oversized broken egg? What on earth is it supposed to be used for?—obviously something’s meant to go in that hole in the egg, but what? And how did something so fancy and non-utilitarian wind up in the possession of my grandmother’s working-class family?

I’ve tried to research it online, but I’ve never found the right set of terms to google. If any of you has any idea what it might be for, please let me know! Otherwise I’ll have to keep waiting for someone to bring one onto the Antiques Roadshow someday.
I also have Grandma’s original 1917 edition of The Lost Princess of Oz, which I reread countless times growing up.


I love thinking of my grandmother and later my mother reading this same book, and I also just plain love the book. Frank Baum had such a fantastical imagination—the movie really doesn’t do his world justice (just to give you some idea, Dorothy in the books is about ten years old, with bottomless reserves of aplomb, and you’d never catch her singing wistfully by a wagon wheel).

Lost Princess has it all: a mystery, an urgent quest, a six-foot-tall bipedal talking frog who somehow got mistaken for a genius and can’t bring himself to correct the mistake, a wind-up pink bear who can answer any question (yes, they do ask him what happened to Princess Ozma, and you’ll have to read the book to find out why that doesn’t work), and sundry sorts of magic, from a super-strength potion to a flying dishpan to a belt that grants its wearer one wish a day. Recommended!

 

R&R:
If you were able to afford a second home anywhere in the world where would you choose and why?

Cecilia:
Dublin. Imagine being able to just swing by Trinity College and see what page they have the Book of Kells open to, any time you want. And imagine breathing the same air and walking the same streets as so many great English-language writers. You know those lambic beers they brew in a certain region of Belgium, where they don’t have to add brewer’s yeast because the beer just sort of absorbs ambient yeast from the air? When I visited Dublin I felt like the air must be suffused with some kind of writerly yeast, and anyone lucky enough to live there must eventually absorb enough to be able to write something really good.

 

R&R:
Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?

Cecilia:
I have so many embarrassing moments! One of my specialties is embarrassing myself with my clumsy attempts to make friends.

I have a particular memory of when this one friend of mine got engaged: his fiancée was smart, funny, well-read, and just tailor-made to be my new bosom friend, I thought. My own then-fiance and I went over to dinner at their house, and I looked for every opportunity to make a good impression. They were giving us a tour, explaining how they were having to repaint all the rooms because of the unfortunate colors the previous homeowners had chosen, and I said, “Oh, I see what you mean; this green has got to go!” It was one of the rooms they’d already repainted.

Then over dinner, we were talking about our upcoming weddings and I doubled down with an impassioned, red-wine-fueled rant about the wedding-industrial complex and how aggravating it was that women got snowed into thinking they needed to get married in a big expensive elaborate dress that they’d never wear again in their lives—never pausing to consider that maybe my friend’s fiancée was looking forward to wearing a traditional gown and would not appreciate the implication that she was a hapless manipulated consumer. (She did wear a traditional wedding gown, and I’m pretty sure she did not appreciate my rant.)

We never did get to be friends. I don’t blame her. Reading this over, I think it’s kind of a wonder I have any friends at all.

~~~~~~~

 

Thank you for taking time out to be here today and sharing these interesting facts about yourself, Cecilia

It was so nice of you to invite me. I’m crossing my fingers you or one of your readers will have some idea of what my grandmother’s china pig was meant to be used for. (If there’s anyone you can count on for arcane knowledge, it’s a historical-romance reader, right?)

 

If you would like to find out more about Cecilia and her books, here are the links:

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
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