Friday, March 12, 2010

Guest Author -- Miranda Neville

Historical author Miranda Neville grew up in beautiful Wiltshire in southwest England. During that time, she devoured the works of Georgette Heyer, Jean Plaidy and any other historical novels she could lay her hands on. She attended the University of Oxford to study history and spent several years writing catalogues of rare books and original letters and manuscripts for Sotheby's auction house in London and New York. Much of her time was spent reading the personal correspondence of the famous and confirmed her suspicion that the most interesting thing about history is people. Plus, she's a sucker for a happy ending. Her debut, NEVER RESIST TEMPTATION, released in March of 2009, and her newest, THE WILD MARQUIS, hit shelves this week. Please welcome Miranda to The Romance Dish!

The Magic of Bookstores
By Miranda Neville

One of my all time favorite movies is You’ve Got Mail. There’s something about the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan chemistry that’s magic. Plus I adore New York and the film depicts the city at its idealized best. I watched it again the other day and it struck me how dated certain aspects of it are. First there’s that dial-up sound at the opening. It’s only a few years ago that we all accessed the internet that way (and boy was it slow). In the age of broadband and WiFi it seems merely quaint.

The film, if by some sad chance you’ve never seen it, depicts a David and Goliath struggle between the plucky independent bookstore owner (Ryan) and Fox Books, the giant chain run by Hanks. How times have changed. Nowadays we worry about the complete disappearance of the bricks-and-mortar bookstore and the rumored death of one of those corporate behemoths. We’re not worrying about Fox Books coming to the neighborhood; we worry it will leave and there’ll be nowhere to buy books but WalMart and Amazon.

We’re all readers here so I don’t have to sell you on the appeal of bookstores. Not surprisingly, romance writers have often used booksellers as characters.

Sugar Beth Carey, the heroine of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ AIN’T SHE SWEET, doesn’t start out as one. But part of her road to redemption is getting a job in the local bookstore and eventually she opens her own children’s store. (I admit I have some reservations about the economic viability of Sugar Beth’s business but hey, Colin is a rich writer and she sold a Jackson Pollock so she can afford to take a loss).

In Jennifer Crusie’s WELCOME TO TEMPTATION the delectable Phin runs a bookstore as well as being mayor of the town and we’d all like to get between his covers. Going back in time, Pam Rosenthal’s THE BOOKSELLER’S DAUGHTER is a fascinating look at the clandestine (i.e. sexy) book trade in 18th century France. Like all Pam’s writing, the book combines intense eroticism with impeccable research.

As it happens, this month sees the release of two historicals with book trade backgrounds. Kaitlin O’Riley’s DESIRE IN HIS EYES is the second in a Victorian series about a family of sisters who own a bookshop in London. And then there’s THE WILD MARQUIS, by yours truly. I’m also launching a series, about rare book collectors in Regency London.

Juliana Merton is a widow, struggling to keep her late husband’s business afloat, when the Marquis of Chase walks into her bookshop. He needs an expert to help him buy a rare manuscript; she needs a rich client. Never mind that he’s a rake with an appalling reputation and she’s prim and respectable. Both have mysteries in their pasts. These secrets emerge against the backdrop of an important rare book auction and involve clues hidden in books, including a rare Shakespeare edition.

What is the appeal of the bookstore as a setting? Can you think of other books where a main character is a bookseller? One commenter will win a signed copy of THE WILD MARQUIS.


The Marquis of Chase is not a reputable man.

He is notorious for his wretched morals and never received in respectable houses. The ladies of the ton would never allow him in their drawing rooms . . . though some of them have welcomed him into their bedchambers. Rejected from his father’s house at the age of sixteen, he now lives a life of wanton pleasure. So what could the Marquis of Chase possibly want with Juliana Merton, a lovely, perfectly upstanding shopkeeper with a mysterious past?
A moment’s indiscretion?
A night’s passion?
Or a lifetime of love?
Even the wildest rakes have their weaknesses . . .

For more about Miranda and her books, please visit her website at


  1. Bookstores are comfortable, cozy and familiar. We willingly lose ourselves in the stacks, just as we lose ourselves in the books we read. As for other booksellers in novels, Tori Carrington's book “Shameless” features three characters who share ownership of a bookstore/music store/cafĂ©. I enjoyed your column and look forward to reading your book. Thanks for visiting.

  2. It is my dream to own a bookstore, I even love the smell of a store filled with books. My favorites are the ones that have the coffee shops attached with big easy chairs scattered throughout. I suppose to readers like myself a book store setting has all of our favorite things, books and romance, what could be better?

  3. Hello Miranda! It is so wonderful to have you with us today.

    I must tell you that I really enjoyed Never Resist Temptation and am looking forward to reading The Wild Marquis.

    I love You've Got Mail! Such a sweet story. And I love how Tom Hanks' character uses lines from The Godfather as business advice. Too funny!

    I love shopping (and sometimes just browsing) in a bookstore. I think the atmosphere is wonderful. You know everyone there is looking at books and thus you share a common hobby -- reading. And you can find anything you could possible want there. The world is literally at your fingertips.

    Best of luck with The Wild Marquis and thanks for spending today with us :)

  4. Hi, Miranda, and welcome!! We're so happy to have you with us today. Congratulations on the release of THE WILD MARQUIS! It has a gorgeous cover and sounds delicious. :)

    I think Buffie said it perfectly when she said: You know everyone there is looking at books and thus you share a common hobby -- reading. And you can find anything you could possible want there. The world is literally at your fingertips.

    Very well said, Buffie!

  5. LSUReader--I really enjoyed Shameless! I also enjoyed the others in the series, Reckless and Restless.

    Dianna, I loooooove the smell of a bookstore. The aroma of new books mixed with coffee is so comforting to me. Someone should bottle that smell!

  6. I forgot to add that I've never seen You've Got Mail all the way through! I've seen parts of it at different times when it was on TV, but I guess I really need to watch it all the way through!

  7. Hi Miranda,
    You've got mail is one of my favorite movies too. That kid spelling his name, so funny.

    Kathleen saying: That is amazing, you can spell "fox". Can you spell "dog"?

    I love that. Your book sounds great btw and I would LOVE to read it. Take care, Kirsten

  8. I love visiting the little bookstore I frequent. The owners know exactly the kind of books I like to read and are always on the lookout for new authors and books they think might interest me. Isn't that cool?!

    TWM sounds so very good, Miranda! congratulations on its release!

  9. Good morning! It's lovely to be here. Thanks to Andrea, Buffie, Gannon & PJ for inviting me.

    LSUReader. Thanks for the Shameless rec. One for my list.

    Dianna: Hello again. I'll come to your bookstore. The smell of new books + the smell of coffee. Perfect. I've just made a fresh pot and I received my box of author copies of The WIld Marquis yesterday. I could go sniff, close my eyes and pretend I'm there already.

  10. Buffie: Your review of Never Resist Temptation was one of my first and made me very happy.
    Glad to meet a fellow TGM lover. Yes to the Godfather references. And then her intellectual boyfriend gets them too and she's muttering "what is it with men and The Godfather?" Nora Ephron is such a brilliant writer.

    I'll confess I prefer bookstores even to libraries. Pretty stupid of me when I rarely emerge from either without a pile of books and with the latter they are free. Must be the smell :)
    You are correct about that sense of possibility, the vast menu of knowledge and entertainment arrayed for your selection.

  11. Andrea. The Tori Carrington is a series? I feel a trip to the bookstore coming on....

  12. Andrea: You must see You've Got Mail. It's romantic comedy heaven.

    Kirsten - I love that bit too. F-O-X. And then Tom Hanks explains how the kids are related to him.

    Andrea. Go to the video store immediately.

  13. Deb: Sounds like you have a wonderful local bookstore. There's nothing like that personal touch. (especially if it comes with coffee...)

    Perhaps my heroine Juliana would have done better with an expresso machine in her back room. She does serve tea a couple of times but it involves going upstairs and lighting a fire to boil water. These Regency chicks had it hard.

  14. You've Got Mail is one of my most favorite romantic-comedies!

    I love bookstores. I grew up at the library and now I shop at Borders every weekend. Just love the feel of books everywhere.

    Can't think of a book featuring a bookseller but many books feature writers...Dreaming of You, The Spring Fling, Talk Me's not the same, I know, but I tried!

    Look forward to reading The Wild Marquis!

  15. Hi, Miranda! I finally found THE WILD MARQUIS at B & N yesterday. Yay!

    Courtney Milan's Christmas novella, "This Wicked Gift" features a heroine who works in their family's lending library. Does that count? The heroine of Susan Wiggs' Firebrand owns a bookstore. All the other bookstore romances I can think of are contemporaries. Nora has a bookstore owner heroine in both her Three Sisters Island and Key trilogies. Sherryl Woods (Chesapeake Shores series) and Jerri Corgiat (Home series)have bookstore owner heroines too. I wonder what ir means that all these are parts of a series.

    My favorite fictional bookstore is Death on Demand, the bookstore in Carolyn Hart's mystery series. Book #20 in the series will be released next month. I've read the first 19, so I feel at home there. I think that may be part of the attraction of bookstores. Surrounded by books we already love and those we are eager to make part of our lives, book lovers feel at home.

  16. I forgot to say that my favorite part of YOU'VE GOT MAIL is when Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) recommends a Betsy-Tacy book to a young reader. Maud Hart Lovelace's series was among my most beloved books as a child.

  17. Hi,
    Your book sounds magnificent. ^^ I've been wanting to read it for a while. ^^

    I believe bookstores as a setting is quite enjoyable because it gives way for some quirky humor and a relaxed setting. How easy is it for a character to pull a book off the shelf and use the title or topic of it against the other. It's also a great place for the characters to bond.

    Bookstores as a setting will always have a special place in my heart since the first scene where the hero and heroine met in my first romance was in a book store. That book was of course "Anna and the Duke" by Kathryn Smith. The scene is still engraved in my mind. Ewan and Anna are both looking at books and get to talking about Bryon. If they had never met in the bookstore then it's a good chance they might have never gotten together. ^^


  18. Scorpio: it's true there are many writers, perhaps a case of the authors writing autobiographically.

    Janga: wow! Lots of ideas. It isn't surprising that most of them are contemporaries. Providing jobs for heroines in historicals is much harde. As far as the heroes go, they tend to be independently wealthy, or in glamorous occupations such as spy or pirate . I really must read Courtney Milan's novella. I've resisted buying it because I'd already read the other two (previously published) in the volume. But I loved Proof of Seduction and I really want to read William's story.

  19. And Janga, I am SO happy you found my book at B&N

    I loved it in You've Got Mail when Kathleen talks about Noel Streatfeild (and knows how to spell her name). I read those books to shreds as a child, especially Ballet Shoes.

  20. While I didn't meet my husband in a bookstore we spent a lot of early dates in them. It's still one of our favorite places to just hang out. I only occasionally lose him in the history section when his book pile gets to high.

  21. Congratulations on your new release!

    I love to read, and going to the bookstore is like going to the candy store as a kid!

    Somehow I can spend hours and hours in there, yet not go broke. Sometimes I overspend, sometimes I buy nothing...

    I also love to volunteer at our Church bookstore, running the register, or helping with crowd control!

    So, libraries and bookstores are welcome in books! What's not to love?


  22. I can spend hours in a bookstore, just browsing. They're usually quiet and comfortable and your can check out all the new books. My kids go off to the Manga section, and I head for the Romance section, and everybody's happy.
    The last book I read with a bookstore owner was "Gorgeous as Sin" by Susan Johnson. It's got some really hot encounters behind the counter in the bookstore.

  23. Jediskora. What a great thought, a bookstore as a place to stimulate conversation and bonding between characters. I don't know the Kathryn Smith book you mention but I'll have to look for it. I love Kate's books and I love her - my fellow Avonite and one of the world's nicest people.

  24. Lavinia seems to have lived out Jediskora's idea in real life. The family that shops for books together stays together.

  25. Drew. I love both large and small bookstores. The large because of the sheer volume of choice, and the small for the opposite reason: small bookstores reflect the personalities of their owners and clientele. I'm afraid it's not just the big chains that threaten the locals, but also online and ebook buying. I just hope they manage to survive.

  26. Congratulations on your new release!

    Bookstores - what's not to love? It's sad to see that there are less and less brick and mortar stores - but there's nothing quite like being in a book store - it's better than ordering on line. You can touch them and browse through them. My only difficulty in a book store is being surround by so many choices... so many books... and there's only 24 hours in a day.

  27. Hi Miranda! Congrats on the new release and thanks for visiting with us today. It's great to have you here!

    "You've Got Mail" is such a wonderful movie. I watch it every time I run across it on TV.

    I'd love to have a local book shop like the one Meg Ryan runs in the movie. I was visiting a small town in North Carolina a couple years ago and wandered into an independent bookstore in the downtown area. Four people came in while I was there (three adults and one child). They were all greeted by name and asked about the books they had been reading. (the clerk knew what they had bought last time they had been in the store) It was a friendly, cozy, nurturing atmosphere where a love of books was obviously shared by all. Btw, within a few minutes of entering the store, that clerk knew my name, what I was doing in town and what I enjoyed reading...all without making feel as if I was being interrogated.
    I wish I had a bookstore like that where I live.

  28. Hi, Miranda! We're so happy you're here today. I can't wait to read The Wild Marquis.

    I love bookstores--could spend hours in them. I'm especially fond of the ones with a comfy chair that I can sit in and read--preferably with a cup of coffee or tea in hand. :)

    I thought Meg Ryan's store, The Shop Around the Corner, in YGM was perfect. Everyone should have a bookstore like that in their town.

  29. Crowd control at your church bookstore? Sounds like you have an interesting church there, Jessica LOL.
    Talking of churches, I love used book sales as fundraisers. I've picked up some treasures at the library sale, or the thrift store. And they are a guilt free way of unloading books, otherwise things get out of control.

  30. Gorgeous as Sin is going straight on my TBB list, Heather. Hot encounters behind the counter sounds like my kind of book. (TWM has one on a library table)

  31. Maria: Buying online is wonderful when you know what you want, but there's nothing like browsing to discover new authors, or the book you'd never have thought of if you hadn't picked it up in a store.

  32. Miranda, a bookstore is full of possibilities, of escapes. You never know what hidden treasure you'll find on a dusty shelf.

    Owning a bookstore immediately makes a character seem intelligent and thoughtful, two traits I need in a character if I'm going to root for him or her.

  33. I think with a bookstore setting, the h/h already have something in common:love of the written word. It really doesn't matter if they like different genres, it's a starting point in any conversation. As already noted, Nora Roberts has had a heroine as a bookstore owner and Courtney Milan featured a lending library.

  34. Pj: that North Carolina bookstore sounds perfect. There's nothing like the personal touch.

    Gannon: I loved that The Shop Around the Corner was a reference to the original movie. I recently saw it on TCM and it was charming.

  35. PJ, that bookstore wasn't in Hayesville, was it? I have a friend who runs a bookstore there.

  36. Nancy, the bookstore was in Salisbury.

  37. Hi Miranda!

    I can't wait to read "The Wild Marquis" because as you know, I love bookshops too! I think people who love books can't help but love book stores, and when that setting is combined with romance-- something magical happens. That's why I wrote "When His Kiss Is Wicked!"

  38. I know I've read quite a few books where the main character owned or worked at a book store. I can't remember any titles right now.

  39. I love books. And I love hanging out in bookstores watching the people as they browse through the store’s aisles. Because the book a person chooses … or passes on … says a lot about that person. So for me appeal of the bookstore as a setting in a book are the secrets that a character is unknowingly revealing when they show an interest in a certain book!

  40. I’ll be quite honest Miranda. I am very intrigued by your new book, THE WILD MARQUIS. Because there are probably just a handful of people in the world who have your background. You spent several years writing catalogues of rare books and original letters and manuscripts for Sotheby's. Which means you Actually have an intimate knowledge of the world of that you are writing about. How cool is That!?

  41. Hi Kaitlin. Thanks for stopping in. Your When His Kiss Was Wicked had some great book shop scenes. I'm looking forward to reading the next

  42. Julie, my experience with rare books gave me the specialized knowledge for my plot, but the delight of being in a book store can be appreciated by anyone. I think that much has been demonstrated by all the comments on this post.

    I've had a wonderful time visiting with you all at the Romance Dish. Thanks so much.

  43. Book stores give you a group of people you have something in common with. Few people would be there if they didn't like books and/or reading. It gives a common ground upon which a relationship can grow. The small independent stores each have their own special personality and draw a special group of people. It builds its own community.

    Lorna Barrett has The Booktown Mystery series. They are cozy mysteries.

  44. Buffie: Your review of Never Resist Temptation was one of my first and made me very happy

    Well, Miranda, it was a wonderful book! I'm glad my review put a smile on your face :-)

    Will you be attending the RWA National Conference in Nashville this year?

  45. Buffie, yes I will. See you in Nashville.

  46. Oh, that's wonderful news Miranda! See you then :-)

  47. Thanks so much for visiting with us, Miranda! Can't wait to meet you in Nashville!