Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Guest Author - - Joanna Bourne

Today, we are honored to welcome 2009 RITA Award-winning author, Joanna Bourne to The Romance Dish.  Her newest release, The Forbidden Rose, (Check out Gannon's 5-Star review here) is the much anticipated prequel to her RITA-nominated, The Spymaster's Lady and RITA-winning, My Lord and Spymaster.  Joanna's books are wonderfully rich, historical adventures set in France and England, with writing so exquisite that I find myself catching my breath at the beauty of her words.  As Gannon said in her review of The Forbidden Rose, "I couldn't decide if I should devour it in one sitting, like a decadent chocolate truffle or savor each word like a rich, luscious creme brulee."  Anyone who picks up a Jo Bourne book will know exactly how she feels.  Please join me in welcoming the supremely talented and delightful,  Joanna Bourne.

I am so very pleased to be here today at The Romance Dish, celebrating the release of my next book in the Spymaster series, The Forbidden Rose.

I've been puzzled for a couple of years now about what to say I'm writing. Can I call it Historical Romance Adventure? Historical, because we're set anywhere between the French Revolution and Waterloo -- and isn't that an exciting piece of history? Romance, because every book is, at its heart, the story of a man and a woman finding each other.

But I also want to write an adventure. We talk about strong heroines -- did I say I'm a big fan of strong heroines? -- I want my strong heroine to get out there and do great deeds.

In The Forbidden Rose my Regency spies return to France. It's 1794. Marguerite de Fleurignac, French aristocrat, and William Doyle, British spy, are caught up in the terror of the French Revolution. The fabric of the world has unraveled. The compacts of civilization are broken. The highest ideals spawn the most terrible realities. Treachery makes itself comfy in the salons of Paris.

History is poised on a knife edge. A knife edge is an uncomfortable place to be. What happens when the leader of a secret organization smuggling émigrés out of France is betrayed by those she trusted. When she must walk into Paris, into the very shadow of the guillotine, to protect her followers and her family. When she has no one to turn to but big, brutal-looking, William Doyle . . . and he has an agenda of his own that seems, somehow, to involve her.

It takes a determined woman to match a rough-edged man like Doyle. They find love in the middle of betrayal and chaos. They have to fight tooth and nail to keep it.

And there's the matter of staying alive. They have to do that too.

To celebrate the release of The Forbidden Rose, I'm giving away a signed copy to one lucky commenter.

So tell me . . . what kind of adventure would you send a heroine on?


  1. Congrats on the new release, Joanna. I love strong heroines, too. Being involved in political intrigue is definitely an exciting read. I think I might send a heroine on an adventure to discover a rare artifact in Egypt.

  2. Congrats on the release Joanna I loved both of your other books and have been so looking forward to Maggie and Doyle's story I can't wait to read it.
    I as well love a strong heroine who can stand her ground and putting her into political intrigue is such an adventure.I would like to send a heroine on an adventure discovering a murder perhaps? there are lots that you could choose from.

    Great interview Ladies
    Have Fun

  3. Hi Jane! I also love strong heroines though I don't want them to be as strong as the hero. I still love my alpha heroes. ;-)

    So many delicious possibilities with a romantic adventure in Egypt. Have you read Loretta Chase's Mr. Impossible?

  4. Hi Helen! I just finished Doyle and Maggie's story and, believe me, you will not be disappointed! It's fabulous!

  5. Hi Joanna! I've been chomping at the bit for this story, and have heard such marvelous things about it. No one writes like you do - the cadence and flavor and authentic feel to the world you've created is unmatched. You are a fantastic storyteller :)

    I think any adventure where the woman saves the day for a change is a refreshing read. Using her brain, her common sense, her unflappable charm - much like Bones in the series by the same name. Love that she's incredibly intelligent and confident about it, if a little (okay, a lot) awkward with human interaction. I would love to see a Temperance Brennan-like character written into a romantic adventure.

  6. No one writes like you do - the cadence and flavor and authentic feel to the world you've created is unmatched.

    I couldn't agree more, Stacy. Joanna's books always ruin me for others for a least a week. They're just that good.

    Thanks for stopping by and good luck on the giveaway!

  7. Congrats on the release Joanna! I, too, have anxiously been awaiting this book. I can not wait to find out more about Maggie and Doyle!
    You know I like it when both the heor and heroine are strong characters. Would such an alpha person really be happy in the long run if their partner always needed rescuing? And isn't it nice to be rescued once in awhile yourself? We all need rescuing of one sort or another.
    So what would I send my strong heroine on? I like action, adventure, intruigue and good sex! That said she would have to help in a daring rescue operation --where she would meet her hero. They, of course, would totally rub each other the wrong way at first because theya re both used to being in charge. In the course of the rescue they would have HOT sex, find common ground and rescue the victim. Dare I say at times they would rescue each other as well- emotionally, spiritually or perhaps physically. Guess I will have to write the story in order to find out.
    Thank you for sharing your talent with all of us. You have brought me many hours of reading pleasure!

  8. BTW-- One of these days I will proof read what I write before publishing so there won't be so many typos in it. Sorry!

  9. Cyndi said: So what would I send my strong heroine on? I like action, adventure, intrigue and good sex!

    Works for me! :)

  10. Congrats on the new release. I have read and enjoyed your previous two books. I do enjoy a strong heroine and a hero who can appreciate her. I might send a heroine on a ship or into the desert or maybe to colonial America.

  11. Congrats on the new release Joanna! I too love strong heroines. If i could a heroine to any place in the world it would be the islands of Japan. The plot would be that the heroine's brother is terribly ill and the only way to save him is to get him a herb that only grows in the fields of Japan. The heroine would then have to journey across the continent, Asia, and then finally by sea to get to japan. There she would meet our elusive hero, a Japanese samurai who would aid her on her quest to find the needed herb. ^^


  12. I tend to favor character driven stories, so a journey to an emotional discovery is equally adventurous to me. I admire strong heroines plenty but the heroine still has to NEED the hero on some level to make it a successful romance for me.

    The Forbidden Rose has been on my radar for months, congrats on the release. :)

  13. As I said when Gannon reviewed TFR, my only complaint about Joanna Bourne books is that there are so few of them. But there's always rereading, so even that complaint is tempered.

    I'm with Scorpio on finding interior journeys as adventurous as exterior ones. But one of the best things about the Bourne books I've read is that the action detracts not at all from the rich interior life of the characters. I can still remember my delight upon discovering with my first reading of The Spymaster's Lady that it was not "just another spy book."

  14. Hi Jane --

    Have you read Elizabeth Peters?

    I would love to claim her as a Romance genre writer, but I imagine she thinks of herself as Mystery/Suspense.

    Oh, but I do love her. And I love Amelia Peabody, as well, in all of her books.

  15. Hi Helen --

    In the deepest sense, I think a Romance is about establishing family. About making the interconnecting webs that hold humankind together.

    A Mystery story, if you had to go seeking its deepest meaning, is about restoring balance and truth.

    So with Romance/Mystery, we're dealing with the basics of humankind. That's the bones of a very strong story indeed.

  16. Hi Stacy --

    I love a woman-saves-the-day story myself. So satisfying.
    I also have a deep desire for the hero to be strong enough to come to the rescue. That's part of what makes him a hero.

    Maybe the answer is to fill the plot with so much danger they can take turns saving each other. *g*

  17. Hi Cyndi --

    **In the course of the rescue they would have HOT sex, find common ground and rescue the victim.***

    Ok. I'm ready to read this. Yep. Let's go.

    You are so right about emotional and spiritual rescues. I think every time we write a physical rescue, we have to stop and ask ourselves about these other dimensions.

    Very often, what the hero or heroine needs is not the simple, obvious, fire-breathing dragon killed. It's the internal wyrme of bitterness or self-doubt that must be routed.

  18. Hi Maureen --

    I will have to admit I have not read too many Romances set in Colonial America. I can bring Sergeanne Golon's 'Angelique' series to mind. And Gabaldon's 'Outlander' series.

    Did you know George Washington employed an extensive network of spies? Clever fellows and gals, apparently. Not THAT would be a great place to put a story.

  19. Hi Melissa --

    My kid reads manga. Just mad about it.
    (Did I ever mention that my great secret desire is to see Spymaster's Lady as a manga?)

    A fusion of English Regency Historical and something exotic and Japanese would be superb. Just lovely.

    One of my all time favorite love stories is set in Japan. The Tokaido Road, by Robson.

  20. Hi Scorpio --

    I'm agreeing with you whole-heartedly on the deeper, character-based idea of 'rescue'. An action-adventure scenario of knife-fighting or stomping on the nearest snake is only part of it in a character-based story.

    What's important is that both halves of the hero-heroine duo are involved in every rescue. Neither is an 'object' or a 'goal'.

    And sometimes the rescues aren't about physical danger.

    That's why the, 'I find you worthy of love', or 'You're right in what you've chosen to do', can be as much a 'rescue' as kickng down the door and kneeing the bad guy in the googlies.

  21. Hi Janga --

    I am just an irremediably slow writer. I dither a lot.

    Yes. It's all about the internal journey, isn't it?

    This is what a book can give us that a movie can't and why the greatest actors are not those who can convincingly leap from high buildings,
    but those who can stand in perfect stillness and their faces say about a page and half of internals.
    Just the internals. Those all-important internals.

    Of course, man (... and woman) do not live by internals alone so we arrange a few knife fights.

  22. Hi Karyn --

    There has to be a balance between a strong male and a strong female. I'd hate to see the heroine of the story overshadow the hero.

    I especially like it when the heroine has an agenda of her own -- stuff she is just determined to do.

    Then the hero, no matter how strong he is, has to either help her or get-out-of-her-way-she's-coming-through.

  23. Joanna - I'm looking forward to the new book. I have 2 questions: What was Doyle and Maggie's age in The Spymaster's Lady? For some reason, I think of them as quite a bit older than Robert and Annique.

    Also, I enjoy reading about the French Revolution, yet not many historicals are set there anymore. Did your agent try to dissuade you from using France as a backdrop and to set the entire novel in England? With the number of regencies published ever year, I assume that publishing houses are only buying one type of book.

  24. Hi, Joanna. Congrats on your new release.

    I agree with some of the posts here about the H/H both being strong, but the heroine not being overly so. I like the idea of Egypt for a setting due to the intrigue of Egyptian myths and tombs and artifacts. I always like the Scottish Highlands for a setting, too.

  25. Congrats on the new release! I can hardly wait to read it. If I didn't want to before, I certainly would after reading this interview! It sounds fabulous

  26. Joanna -- I loved the 1st 2 books and have been waiting (im)patiently for Maggie & Doyle's story. It sounds incredible and I'm sure I will love it too. You create marvelous characters and a wonderful story around them.

  27. Hi Penfield --

    ***What was Doyle and Maggie's age in The Spymaster's Lady? ****

    FORBIDDEN ROSE takes place in 1794. Maggie is 23 and Doyle is 29. So that's the age when we first meet them.

    SPYMASTER'S LADY is 1802.

    Doyle is 37.
    Maggie is 31.
    Robert is 27.
    Annique is 20.

    So Doyle and Maggie are a decade older than Annique and Grey.

    All this is allowing for some age wriggleroom depending on the exact date of the story and when birthdays fall, which I have tried not to tied down in exact detail if I can help it because then you forget and slip up and make mistakes in the books that you can't go back and fix and you feel like an idiot.

    *** I enjoy reading about the French Revolution, yet not many historicals are set there anymore. Did your agent try to dissuade you from using France as a backdrop and to set the entire novel in England? ****

    My excellent agent, Pam Hopkins, has always been entirely supportive. It's never -- "Write something that sells," but always, "We ARE going to sell what you've written."

    Conventional wisdom is that Historicals set outside a few favorite times and places do not sell. The marketing people probably have the numbers to back this up.

    My editor at Berkley is taking a chance on me, buying stories set in France. And Berkley is doing it in this economic environment.

    I'd love to see Romances set all over the world, in every conceivable time and place. Maybe we're headed in that direction. It'd be nice.

  28. Hi Deb --

    It's funny. The Scottish Highlands is one place I've never thought of setting a Historical. I've visited Scotland many times, and I love. The Highlands are just of unearthly beauty. But there are no stories there for me, for some reason.

    There is no telling what parts of history we will fall in love with.

  29. Hi dkny --

    I surely do hope you enjoy FORBIDDEN ROSE.

    Let me take just a moment to say that even though the story is placed in a horrific part of history -- this is not a dreadful, sad, terrifying story. I'm looking at folks being strong and brave in bad circumstances, but the emphasis is on how they succeed and how love kinda conquers over the worst the world can throw at you. It's very upbeat.

    No puppies were kicked in the making of this book.

  30. Hi, Jo! I obviously love your books and was thrilled to be able to review The Forbidden Rose!

    I, too, am a fan of strong heroines, but I definitely want my heroes to be alpha. Maybe they can each rescue each other at some point in the story--like Maggie and Doyle *g*--then it's a win/win situation!

  31. Hi gamistress --

    I am so glad you enjoyed the books. I hope it does not confuse and annoy that everything is being written out of order.

    I will tell you that it is downright weird to go back and create Doyle as a much younger man. Yes indeedy.

    One of the sad writer dilemmas is they create all this nifty backstory -- backstory is the history of the hero and heroine before the book starts -- and then they never get to put it in the book.

    I am so lucky that I can go back and write out what happens 'before'.

  32. Hi Gannon --

    Well, I ask you, who'd want a hero who couldn't or wouldn't come rescue you?

    I rather enjoyed writing the turn-around where the heroine rescues the hero.

  33. I rather enjoyed writing the turn-around where the heroine rescues the hero.

    And I enjoyed reading it! :-)

  34. Hello and welcome to The Romance Dish, Joanna! We're so happy you're here with us today. Congrats on your newest release! I can't wait to pick it up!

    I'm a fan of adventure stories (especially historical ones) and love it when one or both of the characters is an archeologist and collects ancient artifacts. I like to go on the adventure right along with them!

  35. I adore strong, intelligent heroines. As for adventures, I don't think I could top putting them in the middle of the French Revolution! Thanks for visiting.

  36. Hi Everybody! I'm away from my computer and have to make this quick. Just want to thank Jo for being here and welcome everyone who has stopped by today! I'll try to get back online later this evening.

  37. Hi Andrea --

    Do I detect another fan of Elizabeth Peters?

    Loretta Chase, 'Mr. Impossible' Yes!

  38. Hi LSU Reader --

    One great thing about writing in the French Revolution . . . you never have to worry about how you're going to menace you protagonists.

  39. Congratulations!
    I like strong heroines, as long as they don't take it to extremes and do something really stupid and put everyone in danger.
    The adventure I'd put her in is a ship that gets attacked.

  40. Joanna, thanks for answering my questions. It will be nice revisiting Maggie and Doyle at the beginning of their relationship. Are there any Scarlet Pimpernel aspects to the story?

  41. Hi chey --

    A ship attacked . . .

    That has promise. Pirates? Much to be said for a hero pirate.

    My favorite pirate book is The Windflower by the Curtises.

  42. Hi Penfield --

    You can't write French Revolution without a nod to the Scarlet Pimpernel. That's the granddaddy of French Revolution adventuring.

    My own organization is a little different from the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel. It's Frenchmen and Frenchwomen, for one thing. And it's not on the Royalist side. Not on any political side, really.

  43. Hi Joanna! Congratulations on your new release "The Forbidden Rose". Your a new author to me and I can't wait to read this series, especially after reading the summery of "The Forbidden Rose" and all the great reviews it's getting.

    I like strong heroines also, but still love the strong alpha heroes the best. I agree with what Gannon said about it's nice to read when both the hero and heroine help rescue each other.

  44. Joanna, thanks so much for a terrific day. Best of luck with the new book!

  45. Late to the party again, Joanna, and wanting to read Maggie and Doyle's story as much as everyone else here. I like seeing the H/h working together on some adventure, solving some mystery to do with a rare artifact, or some ancient mystery.

  46. Hi PamP --

    Never late to the party.

    You know -- in the movie industry, and in books too I guess, they call the object of a quest the McGuffin.

    It's a Hitchcock term. he said, "It is the mechanical element that usually crops up in any story. In crook stories it is almost always the necklace and in spy stories it is most always the papers".

    I'd like to send characters chasing after some magical object. Maybe I'll be able to do that someday.

  47. I can't wait for this book! My own heroine is on looong journey from her native Spain, through France, then across the Mediterranean to Constantinople, in 1492. Travelling is an adventure in itself, never mind all the stuff that happens to her before and after!

  48. Hi Ceniz --

    In a way, I envy you the journey you'll be making with your characters. But that is a hellacious chunk of research there.

    One reason I may write in historical France and England for the rest of my life is that I can't quite face the task of all the new research I'd need if I went elsewhere.

  49. I would send a heroine, a very capable spy off on down a rabbit trail she chooses herself, having noticed someone who seemed suspicious... only to find, after the requisite love scene and angst that he is a spy for her own homeland as well and that they work very well 8~) together!\

    I've not seen your books before- they look awesome and I've ordered a couple from backlist already!

  50. Hi MariElle --

    Sort of 'Alice in Wonderland Meets Jason Bourne'.

    It's easy to forget the internal element. The self-doubt. The head games we play with ourselves.

    Sounds like an exciting premise. I wonder . . .

    (jo tries to think of some way to use this.)