Thursday, December 29, 2011

Today's Special - - Anne Gracie

Janga and I discovered early on in our cyber friendship that we share a similar taste in books so I didn't hesitate when, about six years ago, she strongly encouraged me to try one of her favorite historical romance authors; a writer by the name of Anne Gracie.  The first Gracie book I bought was The Perfect Kiss (fourth in the Merridew Sisters series) and with that one book I was hooked on this exceptionally talented author.  I've since read almost everything she's written (I recently scored Tallie's Knight, a book I've been relentlessly searching for the past six years) and can honestly say she's never disappointed me.  I had the pleasure of meeting Anne in person at the RWA National Conference in 2009.  Just as she had become one of my favorite authors with that first book, it took just one meeting for her to become one of my favorite people.  This irrepressible Aussie exudes warmth, humor and joy - an unbeatable combination.  Please join me in giving Anne a very warm welcome to The Romance Dish! ~PJ

Where do you get your ideas?        
By Anne Gracie

It's a question often asked of authors, and most writers hate it. Not me.  I get ideas for stories all the time - there's no shortage. They come from all kinds of places — a snippet of overheard conversation, an image, a scene in movie or a book where I think, "No, it wouldn't have happened like that," and an idea is sparked.

But most often stories come to me just as I'm drifting off to sleep, or just as I'm waking in the morning. A scene starts rolling in my head like a movie and depending on my state at the time, I'll either scribble it down into the exercise book I keep beside my bed, or stagger out to the computer and type it up. If it's a scene from my current novel, I'll head for the computer, but if comes out of the blue, I usually use the notebook.

I always write it down, because if I let myself drift off to sleep, I know I'll forget it. I've learned that the hard way, waking in the morning, remembering that I'd thought of a really good scene, but with no memory of what it was, except that it was The Best Idea Evah!

So I have a stack of notebooks filled with scribbled down scenes, fragments of ideas, thoughts, possibilities and questions. Most don't make it to a book, but there are some scenes that are so vivid and real, they stay in my head and nag at me. I keep thinking about them and asking myself questions — who are these people, what's this story about? What led to this? Where do they go from here?

These are the scenes that spark books. Some times it turns out to be the black moment that comes at the end of the book (eg Gallant Waif — my first book, the ballroom scene), and sometimes it's the first meeting of the hero and heroine (Perfect Rake — the scene here is almost identical to the scribbled down dawn version in the notebook. My latest book, BRIDE BY MISTAKE also started in this way, with a scene coming to me out of the blue.

A young officer is riding through the mountains of Spain. He hears a scream, high, desperate and female. Being a hero, he rides to the rescue. A young girl is being attacked. There's a short, brutal fight. My hero wins.

The girl is thirteen and fleeing a forced marriage. She's alone and vulnerable and she's the same age as his little sister.

So what does he do?

Reader, he marries her.  He's not expecting to survive the war, and thinks if he does, he'll get the marriage annulled. He places her in a convent in the care of her aunt, and rides away to war. So it's a convenient marriage story.
It took me a while to work out the rest of the story, what happens next, and eventually I realized this might have been the start of their story, but it wasn't the opening of the book. It was backstory.
The book starts eight years later, and Luke is back from the war, a changed man. He's now Lord Ripton and under pressure to marry and beget an heir. The annulment has been refused and now Luke must journey back to Spain, to the place of his worst memories, and collect the wife he hardly knows and doesn't want. Now it's an inconvenient marriage story. At least, Luke reflects, being convent educated, his wife will be dutiful and obedient.

Reader, she isn't.

For years Isabella, my heroine, lived in the convent, dreaming of Luke — tall, dark and beautiful as an archangel — but by the time the story starts, those dreams have withered on the vine. She's no longer waiting for her prince: she's decided to take control of her own life. Here's a short excerpt:

            "I'm leaving the convent." Bella's announcement was followed by a stunned silence.
            "Is he comi—" Paloma began.
            "Nobody is coming for me, Paloma." Bella glanced at Sister Beatriz, who was still asleep, and said in a lowered voice. "I'm leaving anyway."
            "I don't believe you. What will you do? How will you support yourself? Who will protect you? It's dangerous—"
            "I will support myself, " Bella said. "And I will protect myself. I won't stay here, waiting forever for someone to rescue me. Life isn't a fairy-tale."
            "Isabella Ripton," said a voice from the doorway.
            All the girls jumped guiltily.
            "Isabella," Sister Josefina repeated as she entered the door. She was the youngest and prettiest of the nuns, merry and lively and dedicated to her vocation. "Tidy yourself. Reverend Mother wants you in her office. You have a visitor!"
            "A visitor? Who?" In eight years, Bella had never had a visitor.
            Sister Josefina smiled. "Can't you guess?"
            Mystified, Bella shook her head.
            "An Englishman."
            Bella froze.
            Sister Josefina nodded. "Tall, dark, and as beautiful as an archangel."
            Bella couldn't move a muscle. She couldn't utter a word or marshall a single coherent thought.
            "A very stern, very masculine archangel." Sister Josefina sighed. And a blush rose on her cheeks.

   * * * * *
Bella is brave and passionate and loyal and unpredictable and she leads Luke a right merry dance. She's also exactly what he needs.  I loved writing this book and I hope you enjoy Luke and Bella's romance as much as I did.
Do you enjoy convenient marriage stories as much as I do? What are some of your favorites? Leave a comment and you'll be in the draw for a copy of BRIDE BY MISTAKE.

Thank you so much for having me on the Romance Dish. 

Thanks, Anne! I've loved the Devil Riders series and can't wait to start BRIDE BY MISTAKE!



  1. BRIDE BY MISTAKE looks wonderful. Off the top of my head I can't recall the titles of any stories of convenient marriages.

  2. Hi Anne and PJ, marriages of convienence and of INconvience always make for a terrific story in my book,pun intended! Some of Georgette Heyer's books use these plotlines, as do the early Regency's by Stephanie Laurens.

    I enjoy your work a great deal Anne and this one is already On my wish list!

  3. I do love the marriage of convenience stories. I also like the ugly ducklings and I like it even better when the ducklings don't turn into swans but everyone else's views change.
    I like chubby, no where near perfect heroines.

  4. Hi Ladies,

    Anne, I love your books, I started with a Perfect Waltz and Sebastian is still one of my favourite heroes, closely followed by Harry and Dominic.

    I am still searching for some of your backlist Anne, any possibility of digitizing in the future?

    Don't enter me for the comp, my copy of Bride by Mistake is on the way. *g*

  5. Wow, this looks like a great read. Seems like this girl is nobody's fool, and her husband will have his hands full.

  6. Hi Anne,

    Meet you here ;)

    i thought i was a vocarious so every book genre i read especially historical romance with every kind of story i love to read it ;)

    your book sounds great, hope i can read it soon =D

  7. Welcome aboard!!! I loved hearing about your new book and would love to read it. I am adding it to my list of "must reads". I know that I have read stories about marriages of convenience... weren't most of the historicals like that at one time? I love it when they fall in love after they have lived (and loved) together for a period of time. Best wishes with this book... I do look forward to reading it!

  8. Thanks for inviting me, PJ — I'm so pleased to be here.

    Thanks, Marybelle. You've probably read lots of MoC stories, but forgotten that it was a MoC, and only remember the characters. That's what happens to me, sometimes.

  9. hi fsbuchler, I LOVE Georgette Heyer — in fact she's the reason I write regency-era stories. I fell in love with her books when I read my first one aged 11, and never looked back. Her Convenient marriage is a fave — don't you love that scene when a drunken Pel and Pom go into the villain's house.

    Thanks for the kind words. I hope you enjoy my book.
    And thanks for dropping by.

  10. Hi Dianna, this book has two of the three themes you mention. I like imperfect heroines, too, and one of my favorite moments in the first part of the book is where the hero really *sees* her. Such a romantic moment, and she, of course, has no idea.

    Thanks for dropping past.

  11. Aw, thanks, Beebs. I love Sebastian, too — I have a weakness for the quiet heroes, I must admit. And i did love how he tried to order her to obey him and she just... didn't.

    As for the digitizing of the backlist, unfortunately none of it is in my control — I don't own any of the e-rights, so it's all in the hands of the publishers. Write to them.

    Thanks so much for visiting.

  12. Hi Sheila, Isabella is indeed a strong-minded girl — she even surprised me, a few times — but she's also a sweetie. And I must admit, I do like to see a big strong man tangled up in his own feelings, trying to manage a woman.

    And Luke has his hands full in more than one way ;)
    All the best for the draw.

  13. Hi there, Eli, nice to see you here.

    There's nothing better than having a big pile of good books to read.

    Good luck in the draw.

  14. Hi Betty, yes, a, lot of historicals are marriage of convenience stories— apart from being a popular theme, and being historically appropriate, it's also a way to explore the sexual side of the relationship in a way that's historically appropriate as well.

    I write them often, because they're fun. :)

  15. Morning!

    Wonderful to have you with us today, Anne! I've started BRIDE BY MISTAKE and am loving it! (not a bit surprised by that) ;-)

    I'm working today but will be back later to play. Keep those comments coming!

  16. Hi Anne! Great to see you here. :)

    Bride by Mistake sounds great! Isabella sounds like my kind of heroine-one who has a backbone and doesn't suffer fools.

    One of my favorite marriage by convenience stories is Lisa Kleypas's Devil in Winter. Of all the books in the Wallflower series, that's my favorite. And of course, there's Eloisa James's Pleasure for Pleasure whne Mayne marries Josie to protect her reputation after she got attacked by the villain. ::Sigh::

  17. Hi, Anne! We are so happy you are with us here today. BRIDE BY MISTAKE sounds fantastic---can't wait to read it.

    I love marriage of convenience stories. Forgive me for not naming some of my favorites now. We are on vacation, visiting friends, and after a late night, my brain hasn't quite kicked in. Must have coffee! *g*

  18. have loved this series and am awaiting Jan. 3 when the book becomes available and it will be on my kindle!!

    Thanks for writing about where your ideas come from.

  19. This story sounds FANTASTIC - I am a newcomer to your books and cannot wait to get started with them!

  20. "Tall, dark, and as beautiful as an archangel" - love it and then you follow with - "A very stern, very masculine archangel." Sister Josefina sighed. And a blush rose on her cheeks."
    You made a nun blush - gotta read this one!
    Thanks for the giveaway, Anne, and wishing you only the best in the New Year!

  21. I like marriage of convenience stories and ugly duckling stories... :)

  22. I love the "marriage of convenience" trope! Bride by Mistake looks fantastic! Thanks for the giveaway.

  23. Your book looks fabulous and I would love to read it. I love marriage of convenient stories. They always seem to work out in the end for that HEA

  24. Masculine enough to make a nun blush! Now I'm more eager than ever to read Luke's story. And I think I'm on record several times proclaiming the ballroom scene in Gallant Waif as one of my favorite scenes ever. :)

    I love the ripple effect of romance reading. I read Ellen Micheletti's review of Gallant Waif at AAR in in spring of 2001, bought the book, and became an Anne Gracie fan. My raves led PJ to read a Gracie book and PJ's raves introduced other readers to AG. And the circle continues to widen. Wonderful!

    The marriage of convenience is one of my favorite tropes. I have too many favorites to list them all. Some that come to mind immediately are Tallie's Knight by Anne Gracie, Charming the Prince by Teresa Medeiros, A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh (who uses the plot often), Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand by Carla Kelly, and Billy Bob Walker Got Married by Lisa G. Brown. And Forbidden Magic by Jo Beverleym and A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer and . . .

  25. Bride by Mistake sound great. Convenient Marriage stories are one of my favorite types to read.

  26. Congratulations on the new book. I always enjoy a marriage of convenience plot. As already stated, Lisa Kleypas did this with Evie and Sebastian. Sherry Thomas also did it to a certain extent in His At Night.

  27. Anne, Bride By Mistake sounds wonderful. I like the idea of the past good deed shaping the future in a way neither Bella nor Luke expected.

    I also love Heyer. My favorite is Frederica because of the way Jessamy and Felix, as well as Frederica, bring out Alverstoke's better nature despite his reluctance.

  28. Hi PJ, I'm so glad you're enjoying it. Thanks again for inviting me, and for those very kind words or introduction.

  29. Hi Lisa, thanks for dropping by. I hope you like Isabella — she's a complex girl with a big heart.

    I love Devil in Winter — in fact I just passed it to a friend who had never read Kleypas! (I know — shocking, isn't it? LOL) And yes, Pleasure for Pleasure — I might have to reread that. It's been a while.

  30. Hi Gannon, thanks for having me. And no problem with not remembering titles — it's obviously a good vacation, and you deserve to relax. ;)

  31. Hi Gigi/Priscilla, I'm so pleased you've enjoyed the series. It's lovely of you to say so.
    Thanks for dropping by.

  32. Hi Felicia, thanks for visiting. I hope you enjoy my books when you get to them. I know I always like it when I find an author I like and she has a backlist. ;)
    Happy new year.

  33. Hi Amy, I didn't make a nun blush — Luke did. There's a difference. LOL
    Thanks for joining in the conversation, Amy. Happy New year.

  34. Hi May, this is both Marriage of convenience, ugly duckling and a redemption story. Why have one theme when you can have three?
    All the best for 2012

  35. Hi Maria, yes the MoC is a popular trope, and I never get bored with watching a hero and heroine slowly work it out.
    Thanks for visiting. Happy New Year.

  36. Hi Virginia, thanks for dropping by. I hope you enjoy Bride By Mistake.

    Of course in romance books, a marriage of convenience will always work out, but even in real life, a surprisingly high percentage of them succeed. Perhaps it's that people enter them with purely practical expectations, and good will, and so love slowly grows.

  37. Hi there, Janga, it's lovely to see you here. As I said, the ballroom scene was a gift that just came to me.

    I love the ripple effect, too. Word of mouth is the best way to find good books, I think. So many of my reading gloms have been sparked by a friend urging me to read a particular book or author. Actually I think I've found some through recommendations from you, too.

    Thank you so much for your list. I've read all of them except the Billy Bob Walker one, and will see if I can track it down.
    Happy New year, Janga.

  38. Hi Rebekah, nice of you to drop in. I suspect this marriage of convenience club fans is pretty huge -- it's an irresistible premise.
    All the best for 2012

  39. Hi Penfield, yes, both of them are good examples. Lisa Kleypas is a favorite author of mine, and Sherry Thomas is wonderful.
    Happy new year.

  40. Hi Nancy, yes, that good deed comes back to bit Luke in the backside, doesn't it — or at least that's how he sees it at first. He's not al ALL thrilled to be heading for Spain again.

    Frederica is a fave Heyer of mine. When people used to ask me what kind of dog mine was, I often used to say "A Baluchistan Hound" just to see if anyone recognized it. Nope. LOL And I think the restorative pork jelly scene is lovely, too.
    Thanks for joining in the conversation. Good luck for 2012.

  41. To Tame a Dangerous Lord by Nicole Jordan is a good marriage of convenience story. The hero marries a Plain Jane but doesn't count on her being a passionate woman. I love marriage of convenience stories. I like that they can go from hating each other to falling hard for the other person.

    geishasmom73 AT yahoo DOT com

  42. hi Nicola, thanks for that recommendation — i haven't read that one, and plain jane and MoC — what's not to love.
    All the best for 2012.

  43. Hi Anne! BRIDE BY MISTAKE sounds like a must read. Love the cover too. I love marriage of convenience where the couple marries and then falls in love with each other later. This sounds like a perfect book to read while I'm curled up by the fireplace drinking hot chocolate.

  44. Hi Anne, I have not read your books but I am adding to my wish list. Love marriages of convienence and where the hero and heroine refuse to admit they care for each other and have to give in and have HEA. Love them. Thanks for stopping by to chat and share with us.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

  45. Whoops, sorry that last comment of mine was meant to be to Stacie — it was the before-coffee mistake — sorry Stacie.

    Hi Cathy, I've been blessed with this cover, I agree. I hope you enjoy the story.
    All the best for 2012

  46. Hi there, misskallie, thanks for joining in the discussion. These two don't so much refuse to admit they care for each other — they're both determined to do what they have to do, but they differ on that. ;)

  47. Hi Anne, love BRIDE BY MISTAKE's premise. Totally fresh & exciting. Love to read it. Best wishes, Janine

  48. Hi Janine, thanks for dropping by (and for the RTweet.)

    i do try to do slightly different takes on a trope — otherwise it gets boring for me, as well as readers. The setting in Spain is a bit of a risk, though, as I'm told readers don't like foreign locations. I do though.:)

    Happy new year.

  49. Marriage of convenience stories are a favorite of mine. Two of my favorites are Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas and Mrs Drew Plays Her Hand by Carla Kelly but there are a lot that I have really enjoyed.

  50. Is 'convenient marriage' the same as 'arranged marriage'? If so, I recently enjoyed Mary Balogh's 'A Christmas Promise' where the young lady's father arranged her marriage. I find these stories a lot of fun to see how the couple makes their connection.

  51. I do enjoy marriage of convenience stories and the twists and turns they can take. The variation you have put forth in BRIDE BY MISTAKE is going to be an enjoyable read. It sounds like these are two characters are well worth meeting.

    Thanks for another book I look forward to reading. One more for my Wish List. Glad you have those notebooks full of ideas. More good stories for us to read.

    Have a great 2012.

  52. Anne, thanks so much for visiting with our readers today. I'm about a third of the way into Bride By Mistake and loving it!

    Without giving too much away, Readers, I can say that the quiet, obedient, convent-raised wife Luke envisioned is not what he gets and it's oh-so-much fun! :)

  53. Hi Maureen, Lisa Kleypas and Carla Kelly are faves of mine, too.
    All the best for 2012

  54. Thanks for that, Library Pat. I hope you enjoy the book and wish you a wonderful 2012. Librarians do a wonderful job.

    I've just written another blog for a site for writers and I talk about those notebooks.

    PJ, thanks so much for inviting me to visit at the Romance Dish. It's been a lot of fun and I've loved meeting all the readers here.
    And I'm so glad you're enjoying Bride By Mistake. :)
    Happy New year, everyone.

  55. I am soo loate psoting but I too love Anne's books such magical stories that take me far away when I read them and I am soo looking forward to this one.

    I do love a good Marriage of Convience story and I know I have read many and loved them all

    Waving Hi to Anne and the Dishes

    Have Fun

  56. Waving to Helen — thanks for dropping in, and thank you for such lovely words about my books.
    And for 2012, have fun, Helen! ;)

  57. I agree that marriages of convenience stories always make for an enjoyable read. I love it when the Hero and Heroine are finding their way to each other and learning to live, laugh and love and enjoy each others' company.

    One of my favorite marriage of convenience stories was "My Beloved" by Karen Ranney. I was hooked from page one.

    I would love to read "Bride By Mistake". I love the cover art and colors.

    Thank you for this opportunity and Happy New Year to you and everybody else.

    dpd333 (AT) aol dot com

  58. This sounds like it would be a terrific novel to read and Anne Gracie always writes gems! The plot appears as though we have a feisty heroine who will stand up for herself, her beliefs and her true feelings. I'm certainly looking forward to reading this book and have added it to the top of my list! Thanks so much for sharing!

  59. Hi Diane, thanks for coming past to chat. I think for me, the appeal of the convenient marriage plot is the "hothouse" feel, where the growth of the relationship happens much faster than it would under normal conditions.

    And thanks for the compliment on the cover — I know I'm lucky to have it.

  60. Hi Connie, thanks so much for contributing to the discussion — and for the lovely comment about my books.
    Isabella does stand up for what she believes, and she follows her heart, too. I'm very fond of her and I hope readers like her, too.

  61. I adore marriage of convenience stories, and I will usually pick up a book if it gives an indication of having that storyline alone. Here are some favorites: Heaven Sent and Garters by Pamela Morsi, Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas, and The Rules of Seduction by Madeline Hunter.

  62. Hi Anne,
    Bride By Mistake looks fantastic. It's already on my TRL. I can't wait to read it. I agree with Stacie, To Tame A Dangerous Lord by Nicole Jordan. I also just finished a book called The Devilish Montague by Patricia Rice. Loved it, loved him. :)
    Happy New Year everyone and may all your wishes come true.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  63. Hi Rosie, you've listed some excellent authors, there. Thank you. I hope you enjoy my story, too.
    Happy new year.

  64. Hi Carol, thanks for dropping in. I loved the Devilish Montague, too — such a fun book. I was lucky enough to read it in advance, as I blog regularly with Pat Rice on the Word Wenches.
    All the best for the new year.

  65. I read the synopsis of Bride by Mistake, and would love to have a copy. Sounds so good!

  66. Oops, didn't realize we had to post a note regarding our favorite type of marriage convenience stories. Mine is where the heroine is no he most beautiful, or most outgoing, and finds herself married to the most wanted gorgeous man. Of course, he falls for her.