Historical author Miranda Neville grew up in beautiful Wiltshire in southwest England. During that time, she devoured the works of Georgette Heyer, Jean Plaidy and any other historical novels she could lay her hands on. She attended the University of Oxford to study history and spent several years writing catalogues of rare books and original letters and manuscripts for Sotheby's auction house in London and New York. Much of her time was spent reading the personal correspondence of the famous and confirmed her suspicion that the most interesting thing about history is people. Plus, she's a sucker for a happy ending. Her debut, NEVER RESIST TEMPTATION, released in March of 2009, and her newest, THE WILD MARQUIS, hit shelves this week. Please welcome Miranda to The Romance Dish!
The Magic of Bookstores
By Miranda Neville
One of my all time favorite movies is You’ve Got Mail. There’s something about the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan chemistry that’s magic. Plus I adore New York and the film depicts the city at its idealized best. I watched it again the other day and it struck me how dated certain aspects of it are. First there’s that dial-up sound at the opening. It’s only a few years ago that we all accessed the internet that way (and boy was it slow). In the age of broadband and WiFi it seems merely quaint.
The film, if by some sad chance you’ve never seen it, depicts a David and Goliath struggle between the plucky independent bookstore owner (Ryan) and Fox Books, the giant chain run by Hanks. How times have changed. Nowadays we worry about the complete disappearance of the bricks-and-mortar bookstore and the rumored death of one of those corporate behemoths. We’re not worrying about Fox Books coming to the neighborhood; we worry it will leave and there’ll be nowhere to buy books but WalMart and Amazon.
We’re all readers here so I don’t have to sell you on the appeal of bookstores. Not surprisingly, romance writers have often used booksellers as characters.
Sugar Beth Carey, the heroine of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ AIN’T SHE SWEET, doesn’t start out as one. But part of her road to redemption is getting a job in the local bookstore and eventually she opens her own children’s store. (I admit I have some reservations about the economic viability of Sugar Beth’s business but hey, Colin is a rich writer and she sold a Jackson Pollock so she can afford to take a loss).
In Jennifer Crusie’s WELCOME TO TEMPTATION the delectable Phin runs a bookstore as well as being mayor of the town and we’d all like to get between his covers. Going back in time, Pam Rosenthal’s THE BOOKSELLER’S DAUGHTER is a fascinating look at the clandestine (i.e. sexy) book trade in 18th century France. Like all Pam’s writing, the book combines intense eroticism with impeccable research.
As it happens, this month sees the release of two historicals with book trade backgrounds. Kaitlin O’Riley’s DESIRE IN HIS EYES is the second in a Victorian series about a family of sisters who own a bookshop in London. And then there’s THE WILD MARQUIS, by yours truly. I’m also launching a series, about rare book collectors in Regency London.
Juliana Merton is a widow, struggling to keep her late husband’s business afloat, when the Marquis of Chase walks into her bookshop. He needs an expert to help him buy a rare manuscript; she needs a rich client. Never mind that he’s a rake with an appalling reputation and she’s prim and respectable. Both have mysteries in their pasts. These secrets emerge against the backdrop of an important rare book auction and involve clues hidden in books, including a rare Shakespeare edition.
What is the appeal of the bookstore as a setting? Can you think of other books where a main character is a bookseller? One commenter will win a signed copy of THE WILD MARQUIS.
The Marquis of Chase is not a reputable man.
He is notorious for his wretched morals and never received in respectable houses. The ladies of the ton would never allow him in their drawing rooms . . . though some of them have welcomed him into their bedchambers. Rejected from his father’s house at the age of sixteen, he now lives a life of wanton pleasure. So what could the Marquis of Chase possibly want with Juliana Merton, a lovely, perfectly upstanding shopkeeper with a mysterious past?
A moment’s indiscretion?
A night’s passion?
Or a lifetime of love?
Even the wildest rakes have their weaknesses . . .
For more about Miranda and her books, please visit her website at http://www.mirandaneville.com/.