Adam Montclair--one of the most successful agents at the Home Office--rubs elbows with the highest levels of society. Even so, he wasn’t to the manor born. No matter how much he desires Em, as a match he is completely unsuitable. While it pains him to be near her, it’s a punishment he richly deserves. Now on a mission to uncover a plot against the government, Adam knows Em's uncanny ability to recall voices will be essential. Yet as the two thwart the dangers in their path, it may become impossible to deny that Em is essential to happiness itself . . .
Welcome to the blog, Rachael, and congratulations on tomorrow’s release of the newest book in your The Muses' Salon series. What should readers expect from Brazen in Blue?
A runaway bride, a dangerous criminal, a retreat to an almost magical island, and a great big faithful dog.
Second-chance romance is one of my favorite tropes. What is it about this trope that you enjoy as an author?
In terms of plotting, second-chance romance gives me so much to work with. The characters have already been in a relationship before, and for whatever reason it didn’t work out. So immediately there’s a tension that it could fail again. This also solves the problem of making the attraction believable. When characters meet for the first time at the beginning of a book, I have to work really hard to convince the reader that their attraction is real or justified. But if the characters already know each other, if they have a history, then it also sets up a bit of a mystery: why didn’t it work out? who or what was at fault? And the reader can enjoy piecing that together as the plot progresses. As an author, it helps create tension if the characters have already wounded each other in some way, and part of the progress of the romance, then, is to heal that wound so that the characters can move forward.
I adored the dogs in this book, especially Queen Bess. Do you have pets? Are they your writing partners or writing distractions?
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have animals—and all of my books have a critter of one sort or another in them. Since our ancient cat died, we have just the dogs now, a sweet pack of three, all rescues. The eldest, a terrier mix, is quite old and mostly deaf, so unless one of the other dogs alerts to her to something interesting outside, she sleeps on a bed next to my desk. The youngest—an incredibly smart (and devious) black lab mix—positions herself in the room outside my office where she can watch all the movement in the house. My middle dog—a gentle vizscla/hound mix—stays close by me, and she has a pretty infallible sense of when I need a break. She will stick her nose inside the bend of my elbow as I type and refuse to move until I stop and do what she wants. Though they are sometimes distractions (especially when they spot a chipmunk outside the window), they are more often lovely companions in a process that is by its nature solitary. I can’t imagine writing without them near.
I love the life philosophy of Adam’s female relatives. Do you have a skill (other than writing) that brings you pleasure?
I have a number of interests that give me pleasure, but which I wouldn’t call skills per se. This year, I dug a small pond outside my office and put koi and water plants in it, and I delight in watching them (and the several kind of frogs that now hang out there). I’ve been (slowly) learning how to identify birds and their songs, and I love listening and watching. I also have a garden every year, and for the last several seasons, I’ve been planting more intentionally for bees, birds, and butterflies. I can grow a pot of herbs (which —other than tarragon—are fairly indestructible), but this year, like many other people, I added vegetables. But that wasn’t much of a success. Other than a nice crop of potatoes and shallots, I mostly created a banquet for all the critters in my neighborhood. This week, I’ve been watching a baby groundhog eat an enormous gourd vine that has flowered too late to bear, and I haven’t been able to bring myself to stop her.
Speaking of Adam’s relatives, will we be seeing more of them in the future? In, perhaps, their own books (she begged, entreatingly)?
I’m so glad you enjoyed them! It’s an interesting situation: six cousins (2 sets of 3 sisters) all living on a piece of land cut off by the tides. And they are all artists in some way—whether painting, or weaving, or embroidery, or cooking. And there’s a hint of magic surrounding their island. As I was writing, I kept discovering snippets of their individual stories (one even involving pirates!), and I’d like to pursue those. So, yes, I do think they deserve their own books.
What’s next for The Muses' Salon?
There’s one more book in this contract. Wicked in White picks up several months after Brazen in Blue. Cecily, Duchess of Rokeby, recently widowed, has returned to London to settle her brother’s estate and to solve a puzzle he sent her shortly before his death. An antiquarian, her brother owned a vast collection of ancient artifacts, but when she arrives at his London home, they are gone, sold, she assumes, but there’s no record of when, why, or to whom. And without the artifacts she has little hope of solving his puzzle. For help, she turns to her brother’s best friend, Simon Worsham, a man who had, long ago, rejected her advances. The attraction still arcs between them. But shortly after she renews her acquaintance with Simon, Cecily is approached by her old teacher, Mrs. Flint and school chum Lady Olivia Walgrave (both from Tempting the Earl) who believe the man arrested for being the master criminal Charters has been framed. And who was the lead investigator in that case? Simon. It’s a delicious conflict that leads to all sorts of misunderstandings…and opportunities for attraction.
Let’s play a quick round of complete this sentence.
On warm, summer days, I want to…dig in my garden.
When I need to quench my thirst, I reach for… a cool glass of water or an herbal iced tea. I’m particularly fond of a particular Peach Fruit tea—which is just chopped-up dried peaches. Yum.
The book I’m most eager to read is…Julia Spencer Fleming’s Hid from our Eyes, which came out a few months ago and is on the top of my to-be-read pile. It’s been seven years since Spencer-Fleming’s last Clare Fergusson mystery, and I’ve reread the series in anticipation.
My favorite summer treat is…a tie between peaches and blackberries.
The musical artist (or song) that can always get me dancing is…Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. My Daddy, a Fort Worth native, loved Texas swing, and I grew up listening to it. So while many other songs or artists pull me to my feet, I can’t resist a little two-step around the living room when I hear Bob Wills.
The characteristic a hero must have to win my heart is…kindness. For me, the hero must at some point set aside their own interests to care for another person’s.
Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Rachael. Would you like to add anything else or ask the readers a question?
I would love to know either about your readers’ animal companions or the books they love that have animals as characters.
One randomly chosen person who comments on this post before 11:00 PM (Eastern), August 25, will receive an e-book copy of Brazen in Blue.
*Must be 18 or older