Originally from New England, historical author Allison Chase grew up with a deep appreciation for the rich history of her surroundings, and admits that, "If living in the past is a bad thing, then I've been bad all my life!" She and her family love to travel, especially throughout the British Isles and Ireland, and she's never happier than when exploring historic sites such as castle ruins, ancient abbeys, or the rambling gardens of old country manors. She lives in sunny, warm South Florida with her husband and two daughters. Her latest book, Most Eagerly Yours (see my review here) is the first in her new series, Her Majesty's Secret Servants. Please welcome Allison to The Romance Dish.
I’m so happy to be here at The Romance Dish today! Thank you, Gannon, for inviting me and for that really nice review of MOST EAGERLY YOURS a few weeks ago. :)
When we think of historical romance, we often think of feisty heroines – buxom, vivacious vixens whose seductive powers can bring an alpha nobleman to his knees. But a heroine doesn’t have to be loud or intractable or particularly well-endowed to get her way. Some use much more subtle means to wield their power, ensnaring the hero with little more than a soft word and a significant look. That’s assuming, of course, that they possess…
A Certain Spark
I have heard it said that when Prince Charles decided to marry Diana, it was in large part due to her apparently quiet, compliant nature. He had always loved Camilla but couldn’t be with her (well, turns out he could have), so he chose a wife who wouldn’t have the gumption to interfere in his affairs. His mistake was to confuse shyness with lack of spirit. Oh, wasn’t the joke on him! Diana had, as this particular royal biographer put it, an inner spark that refused to be doused. She possessed an inherent sense of self-worth that told her she deserved better, and that she would NOT accept a pat on the head and slink quietly off into a corner.
Diana’s story reminds me a little of another royal blunder, earlier in history…
When I first started researching the Victorian Age for my new series, Her Majesty’s Secret Servants, I didn’t know a lot about Queen Victoria herself. For instance, I didn’t know she grew up relatively poor, in cramped apartments amid shabby furnishings and threadbare rugs. Since in her early years she wasn’t expected to inherit the throne, her household income was minimal and her illustrious uncles – George IV and the future William IV basically forgot about her most of the time.
But her mother, along with the comptroller of their household, John Conroy, saw the very real possibility that Victoria might be queen someday, so they kept the child under their strictest control, intending to make her so physically and emotionally dependent on them that they would someday be the real power behind the throne.
Ah, but “the best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry…” What those ill-fated co-conspirators failed to recognize was the fierce spark inside that little girl – a fire in her belly that refused to be extinguished. Once Victoria did assume the crown, the first thing she did was banish Conroy from her court and relegate her mother to rooms far, far from the royal apartments in Buckingham Palace. That’s my girl! It makes me want to stand up and cheer out loud!
When I think of strong heroines, it isn’t an ability to level a man twice their size with a well-aimed karate chop, it’s having the confidence to know who they are and what they want, and the brains to out-think anyone who would hold them back. It’s about integrity, self-assurance, and courage.
That’s why when I came up with my new series, Her Majesty’s Secret Servants, I knew young Victoria would make such a wonderful secondary character and a catalyst for the action of the stories. My Victoria knows who she is and what she needs, and she knows she can depend on her childhood friends, the Sutherland sisters, to help her achieve her goals.
The sisters, Laurel, Ivy, Holly and Willow, are kick-butt heroines, not because they posses superpowers or can wield weapons, but because they each have unique talents they know how to use, and because they all have that inner spark to give them courage and drive them to achieve their goals.
In the book one, MOST EAGERLY YOURS, we learn that the sisters themselves are threatened by a mysterious secret from their past that puts them in uncertain danger. They soon realize that their quiet country upbringing was an effort by their uncle to protect them from those dangers, but as Ivy declares in book two, OUTRAGEOUSLY YOURS (December 2010), “Seclusion didn’t make us any safer. The danger was still there, waiting…” These ladies aren’t stupidly throwing themselves into perilous situations, but neither are they about to surrender their hard-won independence or their beloved London Readers’ Emporium, or turn their backs on their queen, to return to the safety and tedium of a sheltered existence.
In MOST EAGERLY YOURS, the eldest sister, Laurel, is the first to be called to the queen’s service…
The Queen is threatened by her jealous cousin, George Fitzclarence, who is known for speaking treason. She asks Laurel to pose as a wealthy widow and use her charms to win George’s trust, then find out what he is might be plotting. Laurel is prepared for the risks of acting a part, but not for the formidable obstacle she encounters in the Earl of Barenforth--George’s friend and a notorious rake, whom Victoria has warned her to avoid...
An undercover agent for the Home Office, Aidan Phillips, Earl of Barensforth, is on the trail of a financial hoax involving alchemy, murder...and George Fitzclarence. When a lovely young widow wanders into his path and turns his well-laid plans on end, he senses she is hiding something. Aidan is no stranger to seduction, or to the wiles of beautiful women. And he intends employing a few wiles of his own to uncover the lady’s secrets...
Most of us at one time or another have had to stand up for ourselves when no one else would. What was the hardest battle you’ve ever had to wage, and what were the results?! I’ll choose a random commenter to receive a copy of MOST EAGERLY YOURS.
Hugs to all,
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