New Zealander Bronwen Evans grew up loving books She’s always indulged her love for story-telling, and is constantly gobbling up movies, books and theatre. Her head is filled with characters and stories, particularly lovers in angst. Is it any wonder she’s a proud romance writer?
She writes both historical and contemporary sexy romances for the modern woman who likes intelligent, spirited heroines, and compassionate alpha heroes. Her 2011 debut novel, INVITATION TO RUIN, received a 4.5 star rating from RT Book Reviews and was nominated in the RT Reviewers’ Choice awards – Best First Historical.
Bronwen loves hearing from avid romance readers at firstname.lastname@example.org You can keep up with Bronwen’s news by visiting her website www.bronwenevans.com
Please give Bronwen a warm welcome back to the Romance Dish!
Wuthering Heights. Was it all Catherine’s fault?
I’m so pleased I write romance, the happy ever after type of love story, where you have true heroes and heroines. I’d find it very difficult to write a romantic tragedy because I’m not sure I could write a story where I didn’t like the main characters.
I watched the BBC version of Wuthering Heights again last night. I’m still not sure how I feel about the story or the two main characters. On the one hand, I understand Heathcliff’s character and the psychological reasons behind his demeanor, but only to a certain extent will I excuse his behavior. In fact, as the story unfolded I began to hate him more and more. Hero material he definitely isn’t. Or is he?
Perhaps he didn’t fall in love with the right woman. They say a woman maketh the man. Perhaps Catherine was not strong enough to help him overcome the ghosts of his past. What would have been the outcome of this story if the heroine had been stronger? I suspect if Heathcliff had fallen in love with my heroine, Rheda Kerrick, from my latest Regency romance, Invitation to Scandal, the outcome of the story would’ve been different.
Rheda Kerrick typifies a heroine. She has beauty, brains and fights for the underdog. She has her own code of honor and although she’s prepared to bend the rules, she only does so when forced to protect her friends and family. Don’t get me wrong, she has her faults and this makes her come across as human. Here’s a taste…
“I have been beating the odds for over five years, Meg,” Rheda said quietly, “and I will not stop now. Not for the Revenue men, nor fines, nor all the rest.”
Meg paused in adding more stew into a bowl. “Not even if the coin involved in your smuggling ends up in Napoleon’s coffers?”
Rheda hesitated, then shrugged her shoulders. “Incidental, and not my intent. That’s why I only trade in goods which I sell for coin. In any event, when I get my horse stud started, I’ll be helping the war effort. I’ll supply our troops the finest cavalry horses and be done with smuggling.” She tried to end on a triumphant note and smiled brightly. “I just need a bit more time.”
“That’s what you’re running out of. The government’s determined to stem smuggling. And you know what they’ll do to you if you’re caught?”
Rheda nodded and looked away, into the bubbling pot. Yes, she knew. Prison. Or if she was really unlucky—transportation.
Meg shoved a bowl filled with stew into Rheda’s cupped hands. The broth inside was warm, but Meg’s next words chilled her. “There’s been news, Rhe. They’re stepping up their patrols of the beaches. There will be Revenue men in every port, on every beach. Any time. You need to find a way out. Now.”
She looked out the window, down the path to where she’d last seen Lord Strathmore. Was her hunch right? Was he a government man? She cupped the bowl tighter, so that the warmth started to chase away the chill seeping through her bones. Whether he was or wasn’t, he was still trouble. Or maybe he was just what she needed. Her brain began whirling with ideas. “I might just have found a way,” she murmured.
The sound of the boys slurping their food and the crackle of the stove were the only sounds in the stuffy room. Rheda silently ate her stew, all the while thinking up her grand plan.
Glancing at Meg she stated, “I only need a few more months. I’m quitting at the end of summer. I should have enough stores by then to carry everyone until I sell the first foal.”
Meg’s face screwed up. “Foals? What foals? I thought you couldn’t afford a stallion?”
Rheda moved to hug Meg good-bye. “I don’t, but Lord Strathmore may come in useful there. Or at least his stallion.”
Meg pushed her away. “I don’t like that look on your face. It means trouble. What are you planning? You can hardly ask to borrow his horse when you’ve just pretended you’re someone you’re not.”
She slid Meg a sly smile and made her way to the door, her shoulders straight, her step light. “Who said I had to ask?”
“Lordy,” Meg said as if in prayer, “you’re inviting trouble.”
The trouble with making Catherine the heroine in Wuthering Heights is that she is selfish. Selfish is definitely not a pleasant trait in any heroine. Not many of us like selfish people.
Nothing clearly demonstrates the difference being a romance novel and a romantic tragedy than Wuthering Heights. Quite frankly, I think that Catherine and Heathcliff were a pair of tragic, star-crossed lovers that were never going to have a happy ever after, mainly because they were totally ill-suited.
Even if Catherine hadn’t married Edgar, the pair would never have made it as a couple, because not only was Catherine not heroine material, Heathcliff was certainly not heroic.
1. He holds consistent MORAL values – Heathcliff doesn’t appear to have any moral values
2. He takes responsibility for his actions – Heathcliff was partly to blame. He MUST face the fact that he didn’t send word to Catherine for over three years. No woman waits forever if ignored, nor should she have to.
3. He cherishes that which genuinely matters – Heathcliff doesn’t seem to cherish anything except revenge.
4. He takes extraordinary action to preserve what matters—Heathcliff did his best to destroy the one person he said he loved.
My hero in Invitation to Scandal, Rufus Knight, Viscount Strathmore is a delicious hero. He is fighting to clear his late father of treason so that his mother and younger sister can be accepted back into Society. He sacrifices everything to protect his family. He gives up his life to enter the secret service in order to atone for his father’s sins. He has honor and integrity and a moral code, as this excerpt demonstrates.
Rufus refused to notice the shaking in his fingers as he poured himself a stiff brandy. He could barely swallow the liquid past his guilt.
Had he learned nothing? He’d let his rampant desire for a woman cloud his judgment for a second time. Upon entering her room and seeing her lying naked in the tub, he should have immediately turned around and escaped. He should have let Stephen retrieve her. Could have, should have, would have . . . But one step into the room was all it took for his resolve to crumble, for his driving need to possess her rise up from the ashes like the phoenix and burn every other thought out of his head.
His gut swirled in agony as the fiery liquid hit. He clenched his fist tightly around the glass. The thought of Stephen seeing Rheda’s nude body, touching her body—he wanted no other man to see her, or have her. The words, you’re mine, pounded through his brain. [CLUE TWENTY: SMUGGLER]
She was certainly his now. He’d taken her virginity. He didn’t want to focus on the implications his bedding Rheda wrought. Finding Daniel and capturing the spy had to come first. He’d deal with the aftermath later. He hadn’t even withdrawn. What if he’d gotten her with child?
He took another swig of his drink.
Tonight had been an unmitigated disaster all around. He’d let Daniel slip through his fingers. He’d been knocked unconscious. He’d let smugglers escape, and worst of all he’d taken great pleasure in deflowering Miss Rheda Kerrich.
There would be a price to pay for each of his failures.
With a grim smile he recognized which one of his mistakes would demand the worst punishment. Rheda.
On the heels of his disparaging thoughts, the door opened and Rheda swept into the room. The fresh scent of orange blossom sent his senses reeling.
“I am here as you commanded, my lord,” she said, her tone sweet and slightly mocking. Then she curtsied deeply, almost to the floor.
For a moment he could not respond, deafened by his own heartbeat. Rheda’s spirited beauty made speech impossible. He gazed, riveted, upon that perfect heart-shaped face, sleekly framed by her long golden tresses spilling over her shoulders like a silken waterfall.
The golden flecks in her tawny green eyes sparkled with anger. Her tall, slender, and luscious body was once more fully clothed, but now that he’d seen the delights that lay underneath, Rufus’s memories became feral.
It took a supreme effort of will to pretend a casualness he did not feel. His pride and the raging hunger to take her again made his voice sound harsher than he’d intended. “Do you know what the Crown does to traitors? Have you ever seen a man hanged?”
Poor Rufus, he’s met his match in the determined and resourceful Rheda. I feel sorry for Heathcliff. If he’d met a woman like Rheda, perhaps his life would not have been the living hell it obviously was.
It just goes to show that the saying ‘behind every great man is a fabulous woman’, is not wrong. I prefer, ‘beside every great man stands a woman’.
The characters in Wuthering Heights prove to me, that when writing a great romance novel, and if you want to ensure the reader gets their ‘happy ever after’, you need pretty special men and women. I hope if you read Invitation to Scandal you’ll think Rheda and Rufus are pretty special too.
Tell me who your favorite hero and heroine are and be in to WIN one of three SIGNED copies of INVITATION TO SCANDAL. (Giveaway open world-wide.)
Invitation to Scandal
Her secrets are coming undone...
Plagued by scandalous rumors, Rheda Kerrich will stop at nothing to restore her reputation and make an honest living for herself-and she's determined to do it without a husband. But times are hard, and smuggling is a risky though profitable trade. So when a dashing agent for the English government catches her in the act, she desperately resists his charms and conceals her illicit profession. Until she realizes he may be the key to her ultimate freedom-and unbridled passion.
Rufus Knight, Viscount Strathmore, has never had trouble beguiling the ladies of Kent. When his search for "Dark Shadow," a cunningly elusive smuggler, leads him to alluring and headstrong Rhe, her objections to his amorous advances merely incite a tantalizing game of cat and mouse. Soon, they'll find the very secrets driving them apart could ensnare them in a love they can't escape…
The INVITATION TO ROMANCE Book Tour Grand Prize – A $200 Amazon, or B&N Voucher, PLUS… A Book Basket of a collection of 30 ‘SIGNED by the AUTHORS’ books…
There are 30 clues that must be collected to be eligible for entry into this contest. Collect all the clues and spell out a paragraph relating to Bronwen’s 1 May 2012 Regency release – INVITATION TO SCANDAL.