Thursday, May 20, 2010

SILK AND SCANDAL! Meet the ladies....

Welcome back to the Historicals authors of the Silk and Scandal miniseries - let's get up close and personal with the heroines!


In November you met the heroes of the new Harlequin Historical miniseries Regency Silk & Scandal. (Refresh your memory here!)
Now for an introduction to the exceptional ladies who beguile, bewitch and ultimately capture them!

From Louise Allen, author of THE LORD AND THE WAYWARD LADY (Book 1) and THE OFFICER AND THE PROPER LADY (Book 7:)

I was lucky enough to have two heroines to discover – Nell Latham, the “wayward lady” of the first story and Julia Tresilian, the “proper lady” of the seventh.

Nell certainly strikes Marcus Carlow, Viscount Stanegate, as wayward, but it isn’t wilfulness that has made her independent, determined and disinclined to do what an apparently cold aristocrat wants, but circumstances. Neither of them knows it at first, but their pasts are linked by an old scandal and tragedy and their meeting is the first move on the chessboard by the shadowy figure who has vowed vengeance on three families.

Nell has come down in the world from a hardly-remembered life of luxury to a hand to mouth existence as a milliner. Tall, thin, tense – there is nothing in Marcus’s first glimpse of Nell to attract him except her courage and her voice. As we both got to know her better the real Nell emerged – intelligent, sensual, beautiful in an uncommon way. I knew I had found her when I saw this lovely fashion print: it seems to show her deep in thought, studying one of the clues to the mystery.

I met Julia Tresilian face to face in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon. My shriek of recognition brought two guards and several visitors to the scene and my embarrassed husband dived for cover behind a large urn. But there she was, head and shoulders in her glass case – innocent, serene, determined – and my husband was eventually prevailed on to photograph her.

Julia is in Brussels in 1814 hoping for a good marriage: the last thing she needs is a rakehell cavalry officer whose courage and looks are no compensation for the ruin that associating with him would bring a very proper young lady. But Hal Carlow is caught up in the hell of Waterloo and Julia will not abandon him – even if it means searching for his body on the battlefield. What neither of them realise is that Napoleon is not the only person threatening Hal’s life: he is as enmeshed in the lethal mystery as his brother Marcus. To Hal’s amazement the virtuous lady will throw reputation to the wind if that is what it takes to be with her most unsuitable lover.

I grew very close to my two heroines as we wrote Regency Silk & Scandal – I hope you enjoy meeting them and discovering their unfolding love stories as the mystery intensifies.

From Christine Merrill, author of PAYING THE VIRGIN’S PRICE (Book 2) and TAKEN BY THE WICKED RAKE (Book 8:)

When it came time to find a heroine for Paying the Virgin’s Price, she fell quite naturally into place for me. I had already decided that the hero would be a gambler. And at some point, in plotting and naming characters, my mind turned to Guys and Dolls, and found Nathan Detroit. And thus, Nathan Wardale was named.

Although I could hardly repopulate England with New York toughs and lowlifes, it was no real stretch to change the proper Sergeant Sarah Brown into the Regency archetype of a lady’s companion for the Carlow sisters. In Diana Price, I had someone smart, organized and almost preternaturally virtuous to keep one step ahead of the girls, and set them a good example. I gave Diana a reason to hate gambling in general, and Nathan in particular. And then, I launched her at him and let the fun begin.

After a little searching, I found the perfect heroine picture of Diana/Jean Simmons. Even the dress is right!

When it came time to write Taken by the Wicked Rake, I had the name of my heroine, before any other detail. I’d always loved the name, Verity. And I thought that, for a series that involved a mystery, it would be good to end with someone who was the embodiment of truth.

I knew what the other members of her family were like, and made a baby sister that would suit them. Verity Carlow was eager to please her family, and yet frustrated at the limitations placed on her by society. She wanted to spread her wings, but was wondering if she would ever have the chance. She had also seen the happy endings of all the other characters in the series, but had been sheltered from much of the darkness they’d experienced. This might make her a little reckless. Though she was intelligent, she was still quite naïve.

But in choosing a face, I was drawing a blank. I knew she had dark blonde hair and hazel eyes, but that was all. Pictures of actresses I found were all too pretty, or too familiar. When I looked at the face, I didn’t want to think of anyone but Verity.

So I went to a website I use sometimes, called which allows you to blend different pictures to get a new face. And I made her up. My heroine is a cross between Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan.

From Julia Justiss, author of THE SMUGGLER AND THE SOCIETY BRIDE (Book 3:)

Since Lady Honoria Carlow, heroine of book 3, was the daughter of one of the families we created for the miniseries, her name, age, and background were already determined. But we’d established only a brief sketch of her personality.

I like parallels, so I was drawn to the idea of an innocent targeted for ruin by the revenge character in retaliation for the ruin of his life by the original scandal. Fueling the desire to target Honoria is the fact that, of the three friends involved in the murder and hanging, only her father escaped the debacle with title, reputation and fortune intact. What better way to hurt him than by destroying his innocent daughter?

Except for the plan to work, she couldn’t be entirely “innocent.” For even her own family to believe she might have been reckless enough to set up a rendezvous with an older roué to make her fiancé jealous, she must already have been skirting the edges of propriety. So the tempestuous character of Honoria began to take shape.

When she flees to the Cornish coast, the future as she’s always imagined it forever destroyed by the scandal, the angry and despairing Honoria must figure out what to do with her life.

It seems all of a piece that she should find herself instantly attracted to a most unsuitable gentlemen. No matter that he’s a local celebrity—and devastatingly attractive—Lady Honoria Carlow and the captain of a smuggling cutter should not even be on speaking terms.

But as Honoria begins to discover who she truly is, she finds Gabe Hawksworth is much more than he seems. And an attraction that should never have been turns into a love impossible to deny!

How do I picture Honoria? Think Vivian Leigh, vixen of “Gone with the Wind” and “That Hamilton Woman” fame, with wavy golden-brown hair and grey-blue eyes!

From Gayle Wilson, author of CLAIMING THE FORBIDDEN BRIDE (Book 4:)

I was very excited to begin my research for Claiming the Forbidden Bride, primarily because my heroine, Nadya Argentari, is a beautiful Gypsy healer. During the Regency period it was believed the Roma originated in Egypt, hence the inaccurate name. In actuality, the Roma, or Rom, began to migrate from northern India sometime in the 11th century. From there they spread throughout Europe, retaining much of their original language, their customs, and their nomadic lifestyle.

In picturing my heroine, I was influenced by that information. I had just re-watched Slumdog Millionaire and the image of its heroine, played by Indian actress Freida Pinto, stuck in my mind. I also have an Indian neighbor, whose beauty and charm firmly cemented the emerging picture of Nadya as someone who would clearly demonstrate the ethnic roots of her people.

In the course of my research, I also discovered that women often played major roles in Roma society. My heroine’s knowledge of herbal remedies is greatly valued, and during the course of the novel, she saves the hero’s life as well as the lives of several others. Nadya’s grandmother, Magda, also influences the outcome of the novel with her own powerful presence within the kumpania. I really enjoyed learning about the Rom and hope that I have accurately portrayed these interesting people and both these strong, courageous women in my story.

From Annie Burrows, author of THE VISCOUNT AND THE VIRGIN (Book 5:)

When we blogged about how we created our heroes for this series, I admitted that my inspiration came from chat on this site about the need for more blond men in tight breeches and ruffled shirts. (Shallow? Moi?)

In total contrast, it was my heroine’s personality that came to me first. As we discussed the events that serve as a background to all our stories, I realized that these would have a very serious impact on her. Her father was murdered, her mother had a sort of nervous breakdown, and then remarried in an attempt to escape the scandalous associations of her first marriage. With so much going on, Imogen got neglected, and, in an effort to get her very superior new stepbrothers to notice her, she became a complete tomboy. When she eventually does go to London for a season, she feels like a fish out of water amongst the all the very prim and proper society misses. She is more used to climbing trees than sitting in a drawing room making polite conversation.

Obviously, it does not take her long to start getting into scrapes. As her exasperated aunt remarks, even when she is not looking for trouble, somehow it always manages to find her.

As for her appearance... no pic to go with this as I'm afraid Midge defies description!

From Margaret McPhee, author of UNLACING THE INNOCENT MISS (Book 6:)

In Unlacing the Innocent Miss, my heroine undertakes a journey in more ways than one.

At the start of the story Miss Rosalind Meadowfield is a mild mannered paid companion to an elderly dowager. But Rosalind’s meek and quiet demeanour has been forged by the necessity of her situation. Throughout the years she has had to become a woman who must blend unnoticed with the background, a woman who is resigned to a life of loneliness and servitude in order to hide a dark secret from her family’s past. But events conspire to ruin all of her plans and life takes a vastly diverse path for Rosalind when she is forced to flee the length of the country to the wilds of Scotland. Through the trials that she faces quite a different woman is revealed, one that is courageous and determined and passionate. And as the tough, handsome thief-taker sent to find her, Will Wolversley, or Wolf as he is known, experiences first hand, one who is also stubborn and defiant, and with a gritty measure of pride. Rosalind has to overcome the worst of her fears and in doing so she realizes her self and ultimately finds true love.

I envisaged Rosalind as pale with long dark hair and clear hazel eyes. She is kind and gentle, with a wonderful smile and a warmth about her. When I searched for a picture of someone to match the image of Rosalind in my head I found that perhaps Dr Allison Cameron from television’s House drama comes close.

Ready to be swept away by the heroes and heroines of REGENCY SILK AND SCANDAL? Louise Allen’s Book 1, on sale now at and, will appear soon at your favourite bookstore!

AND as an extra bonus - the authors have banded together to bring you an online read at eharlequin!  Read Seduced By The Dark Stranger!

The books in the series go as follows:
The Lord and the Wayward Lady by Louise Allen
June 2010

Paying the Virgin’s Price by Christine Merrill
July 2010

The Smuggler and the Society Bride by Julia Justiss
August 2010

Claiming the Forbidden Brideby Gayle Wilson
September 2010

The Viscount and the Virginby Annie Burrows
October 2010

Unlacing the Innocent Missby Margaret McPhee
November 2010

The Officer and the Proper Lady by Louise Allen
December 2010

Taken by the Wicked Rake by Christine Merrill
January 2011


  1. Biddy, the authors can't either! Except for Louise, who was lucky enough to snag an order of the bundled volumes of books 1-4 and 5-8 briefly offered on the Mills & Boone website before they sold out, none of the other authors have yet read each other's books. So we'll have to wait month-by-month like everyone else to see the story unfold.

    Fortunately, Book 1 can be ordered online now, and Book 2 should be available soon, so I should be able to have that in hand shortly. Of course, once we reach the end of the series, I'll have to re-read them all together, too.

    Hope you'll enjoy!