Monday, July 30, 2012

Male on Monday: Gilles Marini as Leo Fitzmanning?

Award winning Harlequin Historical Author Diane Gaston explains about the instpiration which is Gille Marini

I am so pleased to be the Male on Monday guest, because my latest hero, Leo Fitzmanning is one of my favorites. I was dying to write Leo’s story ever since Amanda McCabe, Deb Marlowe and I created the Fitzmanning Miscellany, the scandalous, but loving, family whose stories began with The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor.
The Fitzmanning Miscellany, as the Regency’s ton dubbed them, were the progeny mix of his, hers, and theirs. The parents were the Duke of Manning and his live-in lover of many years, Lady Linwall. His were two legitimate sons and one illegitimate daughter; hers was a son from whom she was estranged; theirs were a son and two daughters.
All of Leo’s siblings received their own stories in The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor (anthology Harlequin Historical 2009); The Shy Duchess (Amanda McCabe, HH 2011); and How To Marry A Rake (Deb Marlowe, HH 2011). Now it was Leo’s turn in A Not So Respectable Gentleman?
Leo is the only illegitimate brother in the Fitzmanning Miscellany. What would it be like, I wondered, to be a younger son of a duke who had an entirely different place in society than his older, legitimate brothers? No matter how loved, I thought, at the core of his emotions Leo would feel born of sin, a bastard, never as worthy as his older brothers, always in their shadow. Wouldn't it be worse for him, then, if his brothers were fiercely protective of him, insisting he be treated as if his wasn’t a scandalous birth?
In A Not So Respectable Gentleman? Leo worked hard to prove himself worthy of respect. Just when his goals were in reach, a devastating fire destroyed everything. He even lost the woman he loved. And Mariel Covendale rejected him because of his birth--or so he thought.
What was the use of trying? If he, the bastard, could not win the woman he loved, he would instead live down to what society expected of him. He would become a gambler, a rake, the most disreputable man he could possibly be. Then some of Leo's more clandestine activities bring him back to London from the Continent and he discovers that Mariel is being forced to marry an sadistic fortune hunter. In order to rescue her from this fate, Leo must rejoin the society he detests and even seek the help of his siblings. Soon he realizes his desire to help Mariel is anything but respectable.
When I saw this photo of Gilles Marini, I knew immediately that I’d found my visual inspiration for Leo. French actor and model Gilles Marini first exploded onto the scene in the Sex in The City Movie, as the Cassanova next door to Samantha’s beach house. He’s since appeared in Brothers and Sisters, Switched at Birth, and several other TV shows including the Dancing With The Stars just two days ago!
But it turns out that Marini is not the “bad boy” Leo has become. Marini is a family man, happily married since 1998 with two beloved children--a quite respectable gentleman!
(By the way, don't you think the cover artist got very close to my conceptualization of Leo?)
To find out more about Diane Gaston and her wonderful Regency Romacnes, visit her website

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