It's always a pleasure to welcome Manda Collins here at The Romance Dish. Manda has been a friend for many years and over the past few I've been delighted to add published author to that friendship label. Manda writes the kind of books I love to read, filling them with vibrant characters, fast-paced stories and a perfect blend of mystery and romance. She's here today to chat about her new book (out today!) that kicks off an exciting new series about a curricle racing club in regency England. I've read it and it's terrific; in my opinion, her best work yet. I can't wait for her to tell you all about it. Please give Manda a warm welcome!
Welcome back, Manda! You have a new series that kicks off today. Who are the Lords of Anarchy and what will their series be about?
Thank you so much for having me back, PJ! I love visiting The Romance Dish! The Lords of Anarchy are a Regency-era driving club who are notorious as much for the things they do aside from driving as they are for their skills with the reins. The series focuses on stories that have some connection with the club, either peripherally, or on club members themselves. It will vary from book to book.
A GOOD RAKE IS HARD TO FIND (love that title!) is the first book in the series. What should readers expect from this story?
Thank you for the title compliment! I love it too. This story centers around Miss Leonora Craven and Lord Frederick Lisle (whom you might remember from his cameo in his brother Archer’s book, WHY LORDS LOSE THEIR HEARTS), who were betrothed once upon a time, but for reasons broke it off. But when Leonora’s brother—a member of the Lords of Anarchy—is killed during a curricle race, she has to seek out Freddie’s help to find out the real story of what happened. Readers should expect romance, angst, humor and mystery—all rolled into one!
I love second chance romances. What is it about this trope that inspires you as an author? How did Leonora and Freddy convince you they deserved a second chance?
Obviously it’s a trope I love too. There’s just something inherently fascinating to me about the possibility of a love gone wrong being righted. And to many other authors, too! When I was brainstorming this story, I already knew Freddie from Archer’s book and I wanted to tell his story. But he’d just come back to England after years on the Continent. And as I started to unravel why, it came to me that he had gone away because he’d had his heart broken. Freddie is a pretty strong character so I knew he needed an equally strong heroine. And who better to tame a player like Freddie but a woman who is famous in her own right and an intellectual to boot. I knew these two crazy kids needed to get a second chance and so I started writing their story.
What inspired you to create a series of books centered around the members of a driving club? Were there actual driving clubs of this type in England or is this a product of your imagination?
The current popularity of Motorcycle Club romances (thanks, I think, in no small part to the television show Sons of Anarchy) got me to thinking about how I could adapt that concept for the Regency audience. I knew a bit about The Four Horse Club, aka The Four-in-Hand Club (though this is often referred to as a misnomer), from other Regency stories. They were pretty notorious during the Regency era and the Prince Regent was their most famous member. By the time my story begins, the original FHC had been dissolved then re-created, and they were known for driving coach and fours. So, I decided to create a variation of my own. A club for curricle aficionados. I couldn’t find any proof that any curricle clubs actually existed, but I decided to create one rather than tampering with the actual historical FHC.
I really enjoy the mysteries that you weave through your stories. To which authors do you turn when you want to read a good mystery or mystery/romance?
Thank you so much! A Nancy Drew book was the first chapter book I remember reading, so I’ve been reading mysteries longer than romance. So I enjoy stories that blend together my two favorite genres. I am a huge romantic suspense fan, so Karen Rose and Laura Griffin are essential reading for me. I also enjoy the romantic suspense stories of my blogmates Rachel Grant, Gwen Hernandez, Carey Baldwin and Krista Hall. And for straight up mysteries, I love Karin Slaughter, Jane Casey and Sharon Bolton. There are a lot of fantastic writers of suspense and romantic suspense out there these days.
The Easter Bunny will be making his rounds in a few days which, of course has everyone voicing their opinions on that age-old question: to Peep or not to Peep. What goodies would you want to find in your Easter basket? Cadbury eggs? Marshmallow filled bunnies? Peeps? Or maybe something else?
I definitely have a soft spot for Peeps! I prefer chocolate, of course, but Peeps will do in a pinch. And I like Cadbury eggs, but I try to eat them in moderation. Since I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, I’ve actually had to search out alternatives to the usual candy treats. My favorite discovery is stevia sweetened chocolates from Chocorite. It’s actual chocolate, it just uses stevia instead of sugar. With one carb and few calories, it’s guilt-free and hits my chocolate spot!
I saw a segment on TV recently about it never being too late to learn a new skill. Leonora, the heroine of A GOOD RAKE IS HARD TO FIND is a successful poetess while one of her best friends, Hermione is a skilled carriage driver. What new skill would you like to learn?
Oh gosh! That’s a tough one. Something I’ve been thinking about lately, though, is that I might like to learn how to draw or paint. My great-grandmother, grandmother and sister are all visual artists and I’d love to be able to follow in their footsteps.
Will you be attending any conferences or book signings where readers will have an opportunity to meet you this year?
I’m planning to attend the Romance Writers of America in New York City this summer. I had to get waitlisted for the Literacy for Life signing, but I will definitely be at the St. Martin’s Press signing. And it’s always possible that I’ll attend some other smaller conferences this year. I tend to play those by ear.
I just turned in edits for the second Lords of Anarchy book, GOOD EARL GONE BAD, which is the story of Leonora’s friend, Lady Hermione Upperton and the Earl of Mainwaring. I’m hoping readers will like this opposites-attract story as much as I enjoyed writing it!
I'm really excited about this one!
Thanks so much for visiting with us, Manda. Would you like to ask our readers a question today?
Thanks again for having me here, PJ! And I’d love to know what your readers think about reunited lovers stories! I’ll give a copy of A GOOD RAKE IS HARD TO FIND to one lucky commenter!
Find more information about Manda Collins and her books at her website. To connect with her online, visit her on Facebook.