The Not-So-Secret Interview With Lauren Willig


The Riskies are delighted to welcome Lauren Willig as our guest today!

Lauren’s latest book, The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, has just been released, and continues the series begun in The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. And it’s also just made the New York Times Extended Bestseller List! WTG, Lauren!

Lauren has a lot of degrees, and if she weren’t such a lovely, funny person, you’d hate her because she is so multi-talented and smart. She’s returned to her native New York, and is writing full-time, having (gladly) given up her her career as a lawyer.

Learn more about Lauren at www.laurenwillig.com.

And enter a comment or question for Lauren by midnight Sunday, February 1 for a chance to win an autographed copy of The Temptation of the Night Jasmine (winner to be chosen by the Riskies).

Q. Tell us about how you came up with this series.

In 2001, I was a second year grad student pursuing a PhD in English history. That April, I staggered home from my General Exams, tripped over a pile of library books, and vowed, as the microwave was my witness, that I wasn’t going to so much look at a seventeenth century manuscript until the following fall. I was sick of footnotes, sick of the basement of Widener Library, sick of… well, you get the idea. I settled down with a big pile of Julia Quinn novels and BBC costume dramas and decided it was an excellent time to write a romance novel.

I toyed with the idea of a novel set around Luddite unrest in 1811 (since electronics break down as soon as I enter a room, I’d always felt a sneaking sympathy for the Luddites). But Fate stepped in, in the form of my DVD pile. I was watching the Anthony Andrews Scarlet Pimpernel, an old, old favorite of mine, while eating one of those miracles of haute grad school cuisine—a microwave hot dog adorned with squirty cheese. I watched with a connoisseur’s detachment as Sir Percy dispatched yet another round of gullible French guards. There was something wrong there. Not with Anthony Andrews (how can one not love Anthony Andrews as that demmed elusive Pimpernel?), but with the whole scenario. He had it too easy. His men all followed his commands without question; his wife mostly stayed out of the way; and the evil French spies all did exactly what evil French spies were supposed to do.

Someone, I decided, enthusiastically squirting an extra round of cheese onto my hot dog, needed to mix things up a bit. What if you had a super-dashing English spy bedeviled, not by the French (they’re always so easy to thwart), but by a young lady set on tracking him down—so she can help him? Every spy’s worst nightmare! I bolted for my computer and thus the original Pink Carnation book was born.

Q. Did you imagine, when you were writing your first book, that it would now be in its fifth installment?

It seemed miracle enough that the first one made it into print! I knew how slim the odds were. I had sent off manuscripts before and had them promptly sent back. As I was working on The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, I was also teaching two sections of a class on the Second British Empire. I scribbled down wistful ideas for future books Pink books—including the 1803 rising in Ireland that became the basis of The Deception of the Emerald Ring, and the conflicts in India that provided the plot for the sixth book in the series—but I knew that it was all a pipe dream and the odds of my ever getting to use those notes were slim to nonexistent. I really can’t quite believe that I’m up past five books and, yes, I got to use my Irish rebellion and my India idea and I still get to go on writing more…. Excuse me. I need to go pinch myself again.

Q. How long did it take? Was this an easy or difficult book to write?

I wrote this book in a manic three month haze. I left my job as a lawyer at a large New York law firm in January; my deadline for The Temptation of the Night Jasmine was March 31st. I stocked up on food, permanently staked out my favorite table at my local Starbucks and wrote. All in all, I’d say this was one of the easiest books so far. I love both Charlotte and Robert and their story swept me along with it until I found myself, confused and gasping, back in a rainy New York March, wondering where the past few months had gone. I know I went on a book tour for The Seduction of the Crimson Rose at some point in the middle there. I must have eaten and slept and occasionally spoken to friends and all those other things, but I don’t really remember any of that. Those months galloped past in a blur of gilded palace antechambers and smoky hellfire caves. It was exhausting and wonderful.

Q. Tell us more about your characters. What or who inspired them?

As I was planning it, I jokingly called this book my Judith McNaught tribute book. My previous heroines have been cast along very different molds, but Charlotte, the heroine of Night Jasmine, is a McNaught girl—erudite and innocent all at the same time, perceptive about some things and very naïve about others. There is also a lot of me in her: a lifelong bookworm, Charlotte interprets the world around her through the plots of her favorite books, a practice that doesn’t always correspond to reality.

As for Robert, the hero, he’s an amalgam of a number of literary influences, including Richard Sharpe and Tom Jones. What they all have in common is their uncomfortable place outside the usual societal framework, saddled with a disconnect between their upbringing and position. In Robert’s case, although a series of deaths rendered him a duke, he was raised by a brawling wastrel of a father in low circumstances and then ran off to join the army in India as a teenager. He finds himself at the apex of a society whose rules he doesn’t know and whose members he finds alien and a little intimidating. He admires—and is intimidated—by Charlotte’s easy familiarity with that world just as Charlotte admires and is intimidated by what she perceives as his worldliness.

Q. Did you run across anything new and unusual while researching this book?

This book has been one of my favorites to research. The hero, Robert, is on the trail of a traitor who murdered his mentor by shooting him in the back at the battle of Assaye. He manages to track the malefactor to the Hellfire Club, which meant that I had a fascinating time reading up on the practices of the mid-eighteenth century groups who set the Hellfire trope for generations to come. What surprised me there was how wrapped up in the governmental administrations of their day the early Hellfire groups were—and that they didn’t call themselves the Hellfire Club! The name was a later invention. The most famous of the earlier groups called themselves the Friars of St. Francis of Wycombe or the Monks of Medmenham.

Meanwhile, my heroine, Charlotte, is a maid of honor to Queen Charlotte, which gave me an excuse to read up on life in the royal court in 1804, the same year that George III went mad for the third time (the second time had been in 1801). Most of us have some idea, thanks to The Madness of King George, of how his illnesses went, but reading about the sheer agony of some of the remedies employed—bleeding, blistering, cupping, purging—was truly eye-opening. It’s a wonder that the cure didn’t drive him around the bend!

Q. What is it about the period that interests you as a writer?

My books so far have all been set in 1803/1804. The first madness of the French Revolution has died down—it has been a full decade since the Terror—but the French government keeps changing, their armies keep marching, Europe is in upheaval, manners and mores are in flux, and no one knows quite how it’s all going to fall out in the end (not unlike our own current period!). It’s an era that doesn’t quite belong to the eighteenth century, but hasn’t taken on the patterns we think of as belonging to the Regency a decade later. I love all that energy and uncertainty and the idiosyncratic cast of characters that goes with it: George III, who keeps lapsing into madness and recovering, sending the government into fits every time he does (I used that as the basis for Night Jasmine); Napoleon and his band of ridiculous relatives…. I could go on and on.

Q. What do you think is the greatest creative risk you’ve taken in this book? How do you feel about it?

I felt like I was taking a big risk with the structure of this book, which divides into two segments. For the first quarter of the book, my hero and heroine seem to be dancing their way blithely towards happily ever after. It’s a self-contained segment in more ways that one, a Christmas house party at the ducal estate that lasts from Christmas Eve until Twelfth Night. While the darker notes are there, Charlotte and Robert use each other as a means of keeping unpleasant realities at bay for the duration of the Christmas season. Realities being realities, their mutual fantasy land falls apart on Twelfth Night, opening the door to the main body of the book, where they are forced to re-learn each other in a more realistic way. In the end, although I was worried about being able to pull it off, I think it was the only approach that would work for these particular characters. Each had to be forced to re-evaluate their priorities and prior convictions before they could come together in a real way. I like the contrast of the effortless happily ever after—the one that didn’t work out—with the hard won happily ever after that they finally achieve.

Q. Is there anything you wanted to include in the book that you (or your CPs or editor) felt was too controversial and left out?

Funnily enough, there was…. My editor was worried by the fact that the hero and heroine of this book are cousins. Although marriage between cousins wouldn’t have been uncommon at the time, she was concerned that a modern audience might be, well, grossed out by it. In order for the plot to work, the cousin thing couldn’t be taken out entirely—the hero, descended from a black sheep branch of the family, has come to reclaim his inheritance and has lots of guilt feelings about usurping what he doesn’t believe to be rightfully his—but we agreed that I would remove every place the hero and the heroine called each other “cousin” in the first few chapters. I was sad to see that go, since I felt that their transition from thinking of each other as “cousin” to first names signified their changing perceptions of each other, but I did see her point about it being potentially incestuous sounding.

Q. What are you working on next?

The answer to that is easy—another Pink Carnation book! I call this one my India book, since it’s set in Hyderabad in 1804. The heroine of this book, Penelope, managed to disgrace herself during Night Jasmine and was sent off to India, along with her new husband, to give the scandal time to die down. India in autumn of 1804, however, isn’t exactly a peaceful place to be. I had an amazing time reading travelers’ narratives and letters to get a sense of the English experience in India at the beginning of the nineteenth century. It differed markedly from the world of the Raj that developed later on—and it also made a very nice change from writing about Almack’s Assembly Rooms!

Q. Is there anything else you would like readers to know about you or your books?

All of the books have a modern framing character, a Harvard grad student researching her dissertation in London (all too familiar for me!), who comes upon a well-guarded cache of family papers and their handsome owner (sadly, not so familiar for me). I invented Eloise partly because it was fun to have a way to sound off about grad school and the vagaries of contemporary life. But one of the joys of using Eloise as a framing device is that—in theory, at any rate—the historical story is all filtered through her imagination. That meant I get to have my characters shout things like, “Follow that sedan chair!” or flip through The Cosmopolitan Lady’s Book for fan-wielding tips (in Night Jasmine, my hero went to a Hellfire Club event, but didn’t inhale). All complaints about historical inaccuracies should be addressed to Eloise in London, SW2….

Thank you so much for allowing me to call on you here at Risky Regencies, and to natter on like this! It has been simply lovely. Warmest regards to all!

Thank you, Lauren!

And remember to post your comments by midnight today to get a chance to win a copy of Lauren’s latest book.

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48 Responses to The Not-So-Secret Interview With Lauren Willig

  1. Margay says:

    Lauren, I have to say that this is one of the most imaginative and interesting series of its kind. I look forward to reading more!
    Margay

  2. Lana says:

    Lauren,

    I love this series! Honest! I even gave them the demmed elusive (and sadly obscure) Hoyden Award over at my blog last year.

    I’m so pleased that there are more adventures to come. I love unusual historical settings, especially with a high degree of swashbuckling (and yelling follow that sedan chair!).

  3. Lauren, I actually have your books on my TBR stack and haven’t started them yet ! I tend to use great reads as my reward for getting a certain number of pages done on my WIP ! After reading this interview I think I need a reward now!

    The entire series sounds fascinating. I love the research you’ve done and the modern frame you’ve added to the stories.

    It really is interesting that while the people of the ton in nineteenth century England saw no problem with cousins marrying, modern society just can’t get their heads wrapped around it.

    What are some research books/resources you recommend?

  4. Lois says:

    Hi again and fancy seeing you here! 🙂 Don’t add me to the hat since I already have the book — and boy did I like it!! Just wish time sped up a bit more so we don’t have to wait for the next one! 🙂

    Lois

  5. buddyt says:

    Hi Lauren,

    I have seen the books in your series around but have not read any of them yet although I intend to because I am interested to see what you have done with the “Scarlett Pimpernel” type of advneture that they seem to be.

    All the best.

    Carol

  6. Megan, thank you for the way too generous introduction! All of that funny and smart stuff goes right back at you (what was it we all used to say in school? “I’m rubber and you’re glue…” or something like that?)

    Margay, I’m so happy you’ve enjoyed the series!

    Lana, thanks so much. I am so tickled at having been the recipient of that demmed elusive Hoyden Award (never obscure– always elusive!).

    Hi, Louisa! I have a partial list of some of the research books I’ve used up on my site: http://www.laurenwillig.com/diversions/bibliography.html
    I’ve broken up the research sources by book, so the England oriented ones are clustered around “Black Tulip”, “Crimson Rose”, and “Nigth Jasmine”, while “Emerald Ring” is mostly Ireland, “Pink Carnation” France, and Book VI India. If anyone has any suggestions for good sources you don’t see on those lists, please do let me know!

    By the way, Louisa, self-bribery is my absolute favorite way of getting pages done, too. (Lattes, novels, getting to watch BBC costume dramas– the multi-episode ones are great for personal bribery purposes.) I hope that WIP is zooming along!

    Hi, Lois! Fancy meeting you over here. : )

    Carol, I hope you enjoy the books!

  7. Hi Lauren,

    Congratulations on making the TNYT extended list! I loved The History of the Pink Carnation, but sad to say, like Louisa, the rest of the series are on my TBR pile, hopefully as rewards as I plow thru the stack of research books for my next set of Scandalous Women. I’m dying to head over to your web-site to get a gander at your research sources.

  8. Carol says:

    These sound like great fun; they’re going on my To Read list immediately. (I may have to unsubscribe in self-defense, that list just keeps getting longer and longer!)
    –another Carol

  9. Lauren,

    I read Pink Carnation while on vacation in Europe(appropo, yes?). I sound like a broken record with all the other comments when I say the others are in my TBR pile.

    May I say that your publisher has, IMHO, done a great job with your covers. They’re very lush and historic, and I’m always drawn to them in the bookstore.

    Congrats on your successful career. We all look up to you!

    Christine Trent
    http://www.ChristineTrent.com
    “The Queen’s Dollmaker”
    Coming early 2010 from Kensington Books
    Did a dollmaker conspire to smuggle money and jewels to the imprisoned Marie Antoinette inside fashion dolls?

  10. Virginia says:

    Hi Lauren, great interview. I am looking forward to reading this series also. I love reading historcal books, they are my favorite. Was being a lawyer more stressful then being a writer? Is that why you gave it up?

  11. Christine, congrats on your upcoming release! I wish it were coming out even sooner.

    I agree, I’ve been incredibly blessed with the covers of the Pink books. The Dutton art department has done an amazing job, particularly with trying to find portraits of women that match the heroines/moods of the books.

  12. Hi, Virginia!

    Bizarrely, I’d say I stress my self out more as a writer than I did as a lawyer, the difference being that it’s self-imposed rather than other-imposed stress. I’m very good at self-imposing stress. It’s a gift.

    What made the law job super stressful was that I was writing under deadline at the same time. By bizarre coincidence, I signed my first book contract my first month of law school, so I spent several years juggling two lives, writing a book a year in law school and continuing that when I went on to the firm.

    It’s nice to have just one life now… but it does give me more time to drive myself crazy over the books.

  13. Cara King says:

    Thanks so much for being here, Lauren!

    Ooh, I have so many questions for you! But I’ll have to limit them to just a few, because the kitten is about to sit on the keyboard:

    1) How do you feel about your gorgeous new cover style (Jasmine, Rose) vs your gorgeous old cover style (Carnation, Tulip, Emerald)? (FWIW, I think your new ones may be even more wonderful than your older ones, but I see now that I never got Crimson Rose, perhaps because it looked different and I didn’t realize it was yours! Must go remedy that at once.)

    2) Did you have to research whether or not the Scarlet Pimpernel was in the public domain (or, indeed, even a trademark), or was that a simple question (being a lawyer and all)? 🙂 (I was wondering, because I looked into the same subject at one time, and was confused by the fact that Orczy’s first Pimpernel book was (IIRC) old enough to be public domain, but her later ones weren’t…leaving me very confused!)

    3) By the way, just thought I’d mention, this Tuesday here at Risky Regencies we’ll be discussing the Leslie Howard Scarlet Pimpernel, and on the first Tuesday of March, we’ll be discussing the Anthony Andrews Pimpernel! 🙂

    Okay, cat wins…great to see you here!

    Cara

  14. Tasha says:

    Lauren! Thank you so much for your lovely series of books. I’m a med-student and your books are sometimes the only way I stay sane! Thank you for creating this world that I can escape too and forget about all the material I have yet to cram into my brain. Keep writing them please, every single book is a gift!

  15. Yay, Lauren Willig is in Da House. Congratulations on making the NYT Extended List. Much merry-making in the Willig household, I hope.

    First things first, Lauren, c’mon, ‘fess up. What’s the name of the Goddess of Fabulous Book Covers and how do you propriate her? All of your covers have been fantastic!

    As you know, I’ve been dying to read JASMINE for a long time now. So, hooray, for it being out on shelves.

    Sync me, the girl’s a fan of Scarlet Pimpernel. Hope you liked the Leslie Scarlet one, too. The Riskies are discussing it here on Tuesday.

    About your India book… Did your editors come to a consensus on the flower name? I remember us talking and chuckling over on your Facebook fan page over it.

  16. SARA says:

    Lauren – I love, love, love the books! *and I love, love, love all the Shakespeare references :)*

    Have you ever considered writing about another historical era? Or writing about another country? Like Ireland or France from the other side’s perspective?

    Thanks!
    Sara

    P.S. If you ever need anyone to pre-read your books before they go to press….feel free to send them my way! *wink wink*

  17. Rachel says:

    Lauren, I love your books – I haven’t gotten around to getting this newest one yet, but I can’t wait- thanks for being such a fun writer!

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. Thanks, Tasha! I’m so glad that the books have helped you through the med school woes…. My fiction reading skyrocketed during law school for the same reason– I was up to two romance novels a day at one point!

  20. Hi, Cara! Thanks so much for having me here in your demesne!

    I’ll admit, I’m a cover yes man (yes woman?). My automatic reaction to pretty much whatever they show me has been, “Oooh! Pretty!” I was a little surprised when they went from full-length portraits to big heads with “Crimson Rose,” but I think it is, in its own way, a more sophisticated look (and I just love, love that they used Lady Hamilton for “Crimson”– so appropriate!).

    The copyright issue is a more complicated one. Honestly, now I wish I hadn’t taken so many “coffee breaks” in the middle of my thrice-weekly two hour copyright class in law school. Basically, Orczy’s work is out of copyright in the U.S., but still in copyright in the U.K. and the EU, where my books are also published. There’s a grey area around what one can safely use and what one can’t, which is intensively fact dependent and varies from case to case, based on how much was used, what kind of material was used, and how widely the work has been referenced in the public domain before. So referring to the Pimpernel in passing is safe, quoting from one of Orczy’s books would be suicidal, and having the Pimpernel appear would be defensible in theory but a bad idea in practice.

    So excited for the Tuesday discussion of the Leslie Howard version of “The Scarlet Pimpernel”!

    Hope the cat is enjoying the keyboard. : ) My college roommate’s cat prefers to munch on her mice cords….

  21. Hi, Sara! Thanks for the pre-read offer. You might regret that. : )

    I certainly do want to write in other eras– and from other viewpoints– one of these days. My real scholarly period is Tudor/Stuart, so I have vague ideas for novels set in those periods, and I spent a chunk of this fall amusing myself by researching privateers in the Caribbean in the 1670s. But all of that is currently on hold while I work on another Pink book….

  22. Welcome to RR, Lauren! I’m part of the club of “read the first book, the others are on the TBR mountain” (it’s become a TBR mountain range at this point), but I adore the fun swashbuckle-y intrigue of the stories. 🙂 (and the purty covers, of course, LOL)

  23. Hi, Keira!

    Maybe it’s all those chickens I’ve been sacrificing? Seriously, though, I just thank my lucky stars every time I look at my bookshelf.

    Still no India book title yet…. I’ll keep you posted as new developments ensue!

  24. Oh, and my scholarly period is also Tudor/Stuart, so I really hope you do those books one day!!

  25. M. says:

    What a fun-sounding series! I must be one of the few who have never seen ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’ (am I the only one who hears ‘Scarlet Pimple’ instead? that’s a real blow to the hero’s heroism, right there).
    ‘..as the microwave was my witness..’ Ha!
    ‘…but he didn’t inhale….’ Haha!

    If the books are funny, I’ll have to seek them out for a Laughter Review on my blog..

    (no need to enter my name – still basking in previous Risky good fortune)

  26. Lauren,
    I stumbled on your books by accident but was thoroughly hooked after the first. And luckily, I had three more to read in quick succession. I’m a sucker for a series!

    I look forward to reading Jasmine, though it will be hard to top Rose. Vaughn is my absolute favorite of your heroes. I can’t resist that mysterious, oh-so-villainous, tortured type.

    Alix
    http://www.alixrickloff.com

  27. Diane Gaston says:

    Lauren, thank you so much for visiting the Riskies. I’m in awe of all you’ve accomplished! And delighted that you had the courage to leave the day job (as a lawyer, no less) to write. Hitting the NYT extended is absolutely terrific!!!!

  28. SJ says:

    Great interview, thanks. It’s such a fun series – I discovered and devoured all of the first four books last year, and I’m really looking forward to reading Jasmine. Book six in India of course sounds fab, too.

    Just curious when we’ll get Jane’s book (will that be book seven)?

  29. AngelB says:

    Thank you Lauren for your books. Your research and hard work really shows. In addition, I do appreciate you explanations at the end of each book explanation the “fictionalization” of the history portions of your novels.

    So, my biggest question for you is: Who do you want to win the game today? ha! (Sorry had to ask as I’m a football fan who likes chit lit!)

    Seriously, though, with the next book going down to India, how many of the other charters from previous Pinks will follow? Will we being seeing our friend the Pink Carnation again??

    Thanks again for your wonderful work!

    Angel

  30. I love these books and have raved about them on every message board I belong to. I went to my library this past Friday afternoon and was crestfallen that they didn’t have this latest installment. Genius that you balance two time periods in such a clever way. I hope you go on with the series forever…or at least as long as you love to write them. 🙂

  31. Amanda, my TBR pile sometimes feels more like a mountain range! I loved your guest blog on History Hoydens the other week, by the way.

  32. Thanks, M! I love people who get my jokes.

    I blame my sense of humor on “Blackadder”– I was watching it yet again last night, and no one does those historical jokes with a modern twist better than he does.

  33. Hi, Alix!

    There’s nothing better than stumbling on an author with a backlist (that happened to me with Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Lisa Kleypas– sadly, I’m all caught up now).

    There’s a Vaughn-esque figure in “Night Jasmine” (Sir Francis Medmenham), and I really had to fight against the urge to turn him into a potential future hero. After all, not every rake can be redeemed– can they?

  34. Hi, Diane! Thanks so much for having me here! I’m still jumping up and down and making squealing noises over the NYT thing…. Too, too unreal.

  35. Hi, SJ!

    I’ve always planned for Jane’s to be the last book (set in Portugal during the Peninsular War!), but the series seems to be growing much longer and more complex than I had ever envisioned. Currently, I’m contemplating giving Jane not one, but two books, one to come towards the middle of the series (probably Book VIII), the other to be her final, Peninsular War happily ever after book. But it’s still up in the air right now.

  36. Hi, AngelB!

    Wait, there’s a game today? : )

    With Book VI in India, five months from England by sea, we don’t see much of our old characters in that book (other than a cameo from Charlotte, the heroine of “Night Jasmine”), but we do meet a bunch of characters who are going to be extremely important in the following books. Starting with Book VII, the scene moves back to Paris and the League of the Pink Carnation. Book VII and VIII (if they go as planned) focus heavily on Jane’s operations in France.

  37. Thank you, Maggie!! I hope your library gets “Night Jasmine” in speedily, so you’re not left in suspense too long. And I’m more than happy to keep writing Pink books as long as you’re willing to keep reading them…. : )

  38. Maureen says:

    I have the first book, The Pink Carnation one, in my TBR pile and I definitely have to pull it out and read it.

  39. Hi Lauren, it’s great to have you here and major congrats on the NYT extended list!

  40. Susan/DC says:

    I very much enjoyed the first two books in the series, and now I see one reason why: both Ms. Willig and I spent far too much time in the bowels of Widener Library, and clearly our senses of humor were similarly warped by the experience. Although I am grateful to Widener for the fact that I discovered PG Wodehouse there while looking for some other, long forgetten author I needed for a class.

    I must admit, however, that even though I know it’s historically accurate, I’m one of the modern readers who is squicked out by cousins marrying. Perhaps if they are third cousins once or twice removed I could deal with it, but anything closer, no. Sorry.

  41. AngelB says:

    Thanks Lauren for your response and for the hints of what is yet to come. And I apologize for the horrible typing and grammar in my first post. 🙂

  42. Deborah says:

    Great interview! I love historicals. Your book sounds wonderful!

  43. WOW, Lauren. This thread has been hopping all day long.

    It’s wonderful to see how your series arc takes your character hither and yon, England, France, Indian, Portugal, etc. How much of the Spice Trade routes and other trading tussles with the Arabs and amongst the Europeans do you feature of book V, VI and onwards?

    In order to be able to do an adequate job, your spies have to understand local societal mores and cultural cues in order to blend in. What research did you do for this to come about? Thanks.

    And from all this discussion, I’m dying to read JASMINE.

  44. Cara King says:

    As to the cousins thing — maybe it was because I started reading Louisa May Alcott at a young age, but I just don’t get why it throws some folks off so much… Anyway, I always think it must be unfortunate to be so put off by it in fiction, because it means several Jane Austens & LM Alcotts will read quite differently! (I wonder if that’s one more reason why so many folks have difficulty with Mansfield Park??)

    Cara

  45. Cara, you’re right. Cousins marrying cousins still happens in this country, too, but they’re derogatorily called rednecks. I suppose readers take this attitude with them even when reading historicals, forgetting that it’s not what’s right for them that matters to the story, but what’s right for the characters. Otherwise why read historical fiction, if it is the history you cannot abide?!?!

  46. Alex says:

    I love these books. My friends from a William and Mary summer program debated about them all the time there (due in part to no cute guys that actually enjoyed history, Colin is our dream guy). I have always loved English history and this just brings it all to life. I love the characters and the out comes. As long as Colin and Eloise stay together I will be happy no matter what. These books never disappoint and I hope that the next book about Penelope is just as good (and hopefully she does not fall for Lord Freddy, he doesn’t have any hero qualities, at least no yet, and well Tommy does). Thank you for continuing to write and not stopping, there is nothing as devastating as finding your favorite book series ending. I love every minute I read in them!

  47. Anonymous says:

    Lauren, I love your books because they are really 3 stories in one – The budding romance of Eloise and her English boyfriend, the story itself, and your own biography which tells of your travel from grad student to lawyer ( does the world really need another lawyer?) to discovering what we readers already knew – you needed to become a full-time author ! I await your next release date.

  48. I haven’t read very many romance novels, but I highly enjoy the ones that end in tragedy. I also love when they have huge twists that change how everything finishes in the end. The typical “happily ever after” endings are too boring for me.

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