I'm delighted to welcome historical author Lecia Cornwall back to the Romance Dish! Lecia won me over with her debut novel, Secrets of a Proper Countess and has continued to impress me with each subsequent novel that she has published. Her newest, The Secret Life of Lady Julia, gives us an unconventional hero and heroine who leave England for the glittering and intrigue-filled city of Vienna during the post-Napoleon peace talks. It's another winner that kept me reading way past my bedtime!
You can read about Lecia and her books at her website and also find her online at Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Pinterest.
Welcome back, Lecia and congratulations on the upcoming release of THE SECRET LIFE OF LADY JULIA. Will you please tell your readers what to expect from this book?
Lady Julia Leighton was a minor character in How To Deceive A Duke. Engaged to a man she’s known all her life, someone more brother than lover, she takes a risk and flirts with a handsome, charming stranger at her betrothal ball. But flirtation leads to kissing, and kissing lead to disaster. Julia’s life changes completely. When her family disowns her, Julia is forced to take a job as a paid companion, and leave England, heading for the Congress of Vienna with her employer, a junior diplomat. Julia is a woman determined to make a new life for herself. In Vienna, when the British ambassador discovers Julia speaks several languages, he assigns her the task of listening to the conversations of other delegates, and reporting what she hears. Slowly, as her new life unfolds, there’s a new chance at love, if only she can forget Thomas Merritt, her seducer, at long last—but a man like that is impossible to forget! They meet again in very unexpected circumstances, and when Julia’s job as a listener leads her into danger, scandal, and betrayal, only Thomas, a man with a reputation even more tarnished than Julia’s own, can save the day. Julia must choose between the two men who love her. There’s lots of history, suspense, the beautiful backdrop of Vienna, and of course, romance.
Julia and Thomas are certainly not your typical historical hero and heroine. What would you like readers to understand about each of them?
I love tortured heroes with so much to overcome before they can find love! After I wrote How To Deceive A Duke, I wondered just what a ruined lady like Julia might do when her family disowned her, and society turned its back on her. She’d have to make a new life for herself within the limited opportunities open to ladies at the time. She’d need to be brave, resourceful, and careful. Passion, for her, would become a thing of the past, representing her momentary lapse in judgment. Or would it? Passion takes many forms for a woman like Julia, and she explores them all.
Thomas Merritt is one of my favorite heroes! He’s disreputable, he’s honorable, he’s a rogue, he’s a gentleman. He’s utterly, completely delicious! Doing the right thing sometimes clashes with the necessity of surviving, and he’s come up with ways of doing the wrong thing for the right reason in such a way that as few people as possible ever get hurt. Except himself, of course. He’s never forgotten Julia, and the one night they spent together—it’s true love, and guilt and desire. When he meets her again in Vienna, he feels the same old passion, but this time, it could get him shot, or hanged—or worse, he might have to find a way to live without her yet again. There’s a much better man, an honorable, noble military officer who’s proposed to Julia, and can offer her a future. He should walk away again, but can he?
Thomas is one of my favorites too.
I was fascinated by the intrigue and jockeying for position taking place during the Vienna peace
This is one case where the real history was more fascinating than anything I could ever make up! Vienna in 1814 offered the perfect setting for intrigue and romance. The facts about the official events of the congress, including the spies, and the social events are real. So are characters like Talleyrand, Castlereagh and the wonderful Prince de Ligne and Anna Protasoff. Some of the details are subject to artistic license, and Julia and Thomas stepped in to fill fictional roles amid real events. For example, while there was gossip involving the Duke of Wellington and Pauline de Borghese, Julia’s part in that scandal came from my own imagination. If you’re interested in reading more about the events behind the congress, I recommend ‘Vienna 1814’, by David King. It really is an incredible story, filled with spies, lots of sex, parties, diplomatic tantrums, more sex, illicit affairs, princesses, kings, rogues, and some of the most scandalous, incredible personalities in any historical time period.
You sure know how to leave your readers wanting more. The epilogue has me hoping—okay, begging—to know what happens to a certain secondary character. Will there be another book?
Yes! Stephen Ives will get his own story. My daughter was crushed when Stephen lost the girl, and suffered the torments of a broken heart in The Secret Life of Lady Julia. Stephen deserves a happy ending. Never fear—he’ll meet another lady, someone he once spurned in London. Blinded in battle at Waterloo, and accused of some terrible crimes, he’ll need to depend on the heroine to nurse him back to health, and help him restore his honor. Imagine falling in love with someone using every other sense but sight. I am so looking forward to writing this story!
I am so looking forward to reading it!
Let’s talk about you for a bit. Summer is just around the corner. Any fun plans?
It’s going to be a quiet summer. I had surgery a few weeks ago, and I’ve been strictly forbidden from having any fun for a while. Well, actually, I’m just forbidden from lifting anything heavier than ten pounds, and I never could travel light. Thankfully, once my kids reached the age of having summer jobs, and planning family holidays away became a challenge, we instituted “Summer Sundays”. We take turns planning day trips—to mountains, museums, new restaurants, shows, markets, etc. and enjoy the day together. Precious mom moments (and writerly inspiration)!
As for fun, I recently enlisted my children (18 and 21) to help me make a book trailer for The Secret Life of Lady Julia. I wanted to give readers a look at how my books look visually like in my head. My daughter helped me find props, choose costumes at a local thrift store, and stood in for Lady Julia. My son took some wonderful original photographs, and put the whole thing together on iMovie. I wrote the script, chose the music, and the stock photos we used along with our own shots. You can check out our efforts on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEKAHBf7FSI
Will you be at any conferences this year where readers can meet you?
Alas, no—but I am planning on being in New Orleans for RT Magazine’s annual Readers’ convention next spring! My kids are clamoring to come with me. My daughter is a jazz musician and history buff, and my son is an intrepid world traveller and photographer. Until then, I would love to hear from readers—I answer all my e-mails and Facebook messages. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at www.facebook.com/pages/Lecia-Cornwall
You’ve said that you sometimes feel like you were born in the wrong century. If you could time travel, what time and place would you like to visit most?
That is a very tough question! I have a lot of historic heroes! I’d love to meet Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Anne Boleyn. Jane Austen would be fascinating to spend an afternoon with. I’d take tea with Marie Antoinette, and I’d actually love to meet Eva Braun, if only to pick her brain about what made her notorious boyfriend, Adolph Hitler, tick. Winston Churchill would also make an interesting dinner companion.
How do you relax when you’re not busy writing a new book?
Usually by reading a new book! I also love to garden, cook, eat, take photographs, draw, and spend time with my kids as well. Tonight, my daughter and I are attending a lecture about the Secrets of The Sistine Chapel.
If you were conducting a self-interview, what one question would you ask yourself and how would you answer?
Well, the question I ask myself most often is why am I here? Not here on earth, but why did I come upstairs to the bedroom? I get lost in my stories at times, and with one foot in the fictional world, and one foot in the real world, things can get a little mixed up at times. A sweater? My glasses? Book notes? Who knows why I came, but climbing those stairs over and over sure helps work out story problems!
I am working on several new projects this summer. There’s a new Scottish series for Avon Impulse, which is a bit of a departure in location for me, but the stories are set in the same time period as the Regency. The first book takes place at midsummer, and is filled with magic, romance, and two ghosts who return from their unquiet graves to bring the hero and heroine together to break an ancient curse. Trouble is, there’s others who want them apart. I’m having a wonderful time doing the research into midsummer rituals, love spells, and the Scottish history of the time.
Do you have a question for our readers?
What do you like best about a good romance novel? Is it a good story, a sexy hero, hot sex, or the happy ever after moment—or something else entirely?
One randomly chosen person leaving a comment (U.S. addresses only) will win a signed copy of The Secret Life of Lady Julia.