Interview with Isobel Carr

Let’s Give a Big Risky Welcome to Isobel Carr!

Today I’m thrilled have Isobel Carr visiting the Riskies to tell us about her new book, Ripe for Pleasure, dish some secrets and give away some books.

Welcome to the Riskies Isobel!

About Isobel Carr

Isobel is originally from Boulder Creek, California, but she’s lived in the Bay Area (San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland) since finishing undergrad at Hollins College in Virginia and moving “home” for graduate school. Her BA is in philosophy and English (wrote her thesis on the Absurd Skeptical Hero as the living embodiment of the existentialist), but she minored in creative writing and history. She won the Intro Journals Award when she was an undergraduate, and went on to study poetry at San Francisco State University under Frances Mayes (yes, as in Under the Tuscan Sun).

After finishing graduate school, it became painfully clear that a job in the arts wasn’t going to pay enough to eat, so she set about looking for a “real” job and ended up putting the analytical skills she learned as a philosophy major to work as an international trade consultant (basically, she fights with lawyers for a living). When not doing that, Isobel is usually writing, though very occasionally she still takes a day to go to a historical re-enactment . . . in the name of research of course.

Currently, she lives in a 1916 bungalow in Oakland, California with her Mastiff, Clancy, a crowntail betta named Nigel, and Nigel’s minions, the kuhli loaches (who can’t be told apart, and thus do not get names). If you’re ever at The Heart and Dagger by Lake Merritt and you see a woman with a giant, dark-brindle dog, say hi. There’s a 99.9% chance it’s Isobel. You can find her as Isobel Carr on both FaceBook and Twitter.

Ripe for Pleasure

London’s most sensual former courtesan, Viola Whedon, is incapable of being seduced-she does the seducing. Until she meets Leonidas Vaughn. Her salacious memoirs have made her the target of half the lords in England, and Vaughn is the only man she can turn to. When he promises to protect her-and to make her beg for his touch-the alluring beauty finds both offers impossible to refuse.

Leonidas Vaughn secretly believes Viola possesses a fortune given to his family by the King of France. So the strong and sexy Vaughn charms his way into Viola’s life . . . and her bed. But when their arrangement is consummated, he’ll experience pleasure far beyond his wildest fantasies-and realize his heart may need the most protection of all.

Carr is a born storyteller. — RT Book Reviews

Buy Ripe For Pleasure
ISBN-10: 0446572756

Read an Excerpt (pdf)

1. Tell us about your book (or the series)

RIPE FOR PLEASURE is the first book in the LEAGUE OF SECOND SONS series. I’ve always been intrigued by younger sons. Wellington was a younger son. So was Nelson. So was Charles James Fox. And so is Lord Peter Wimsey in Dorothy L. Sayers’s brilliant books, which I was reading at the time. These guys have to find something to DO with themselves. They have to make their own way (to a certain extent). I just think they have more scope than a man who’s fated to inherit a title and money, but has to wait in the wings for his father to die before he actually has any power (there’s a reason why kings and princes rarely get on).

I was watching THE LIBERTINE, and loving the sexy carriage ride after the opening monologue. The whole idea of abducting a wife, of her being complicit in it, got me thinking about the profound changes caused by the Marriage Act of 1753. If you could no longer easily abscond with an heiress, what might you do to better your odds? Who would you rely on? A club, made up entirely of younger sons, seemed ideal (and utterly practical).

Everything just kind of fed into the idea (because, really, it all feeds the beast one way or another). I’d been kicking around the idea of using the lost fortune the King of France sent to support Bonnie Prince Charlie in a book, and I’d also been toying with a courtesan heroine who was publishing her memoir, a la Harriette Wilson. I ended up combining all my ideas into one plot and calling it NO GENTLEMAN (because really, the hero is behaving very badly at the outset, when he’s planning on seducing the heroine and stealing a fortune out from under her). We lost the title due to another author’s series already having something quite similar in the works [shakes fist at Eileen Dryer], but I love the titles we hit upon for the series. So sexy, and unusual enough that I think they stand out in a sea of “How to F*ck a Duke” titles (as my editor calls them, LOL!).

So in RIPE FOR PLEASURE, we have Lord Leonidas Vaughn, new owner of his grandfather’s hunting box, frantic to keep it, but without the fortune to maintain it. He finds hints of Jacobite treason in the family tree and sets out to find the missing money. It’s not fun and games for him. He HAS to find it, or he’ll have to sell the estate he loves.

The last known whereabouts (per the letters he finds) are a house in London. A house that now belongs to a retired courtesan who’s making the male half of the ton miserable with her memoir. Leo sees the perfect opening to insinuate himself into her life and hunt for the treasure . . .

2. I hear you have a cute little dog who inspired one of the characters in RIPE FOR PLEASURE. Is that true?

I’m not sure “cute” is the word most people would use for my 170lb drool machine, but I think he’s cute, LOL! My friend Jess calls him a handsome beast, and my mom calls him disgusting. The truth is somewhere in-between.

Clancy is a 2 year-old Mastiff mix (momma was a Bullmastiff and daddy was a Neapolitan Mastiff), and he does seem to have the magical ability to make other people want to own a giant breed . . . after I got him, my best friend and her husband went and got a girl from the same litter, and then my sister did the same. Last Thanksgiving my best friend from college came to visit, and he promptly went home to Manhattan and got a Giant Schnauzer puppy. There’s just something undeniably awesome about having a person-sized dog. They’re so huggable. And boy do you feel safe!

The mastiff in RIPE FOR PLEASURE is probably more like a combo of my boy’s sisters and the Staffordshire Terrier I had before him, but yes, still inspired by “my” dogs. Clancy is super mellow, while his sisters are bit more obvious about being “on guard” (but when we have them all together, the girls are the second line of defense, and he’s clearly expected to meet whatever bogyman they’re identified head-on).

3. A lot of our readers probably already know about your expertise in period clothing, but could you tell us about that anyway? How’d you get into the area and what do you think led to the development of your expertise in that instead of something like, uh, doorknobs?

Well, those who know my secret, alternative identity might, LOL! But I imagine my background is new to a lot of people. I grew up doing historical re-enactments of all kinds, so costumes and history were simply an everyday part of life. There were always events to go to, new costumes to be made, and weekly “stitch and bitch” sessions (frequently accompanied by costume dramas). My first solo costume project came when I was twelve. I’d picked out a 12th century Spanish gown and my mom just laughed and said, “You want it, you make it.” So I did. After college, I fell in with a group of truly crazy re-enactors who wanted everything to be uber-period. They researched period sewing techniques and made all their costumes by hand. They made their own trim. They made their own hook and eyes. I tried to resist, but eventually I succumbed, and I couldn’t be happier. I LOVE hand sewing, though I don’t really have time to costume right now. *sigh*

4. What’s the strangest or most surprising historical fact you’ve learned? Bonus points if the answer is Risky!

Hmmmmmmmmmm. So many options . . . but the “riskiest” is probably the stuff in “Aristotle’s Masterpiece”. There are recipes for tonics to purge “moles” and bring on menses. Basically, it’s an 18th century morning after pill.

The most surprising, and annoying, historical fact is that scones are Victorian! Oh, the word was in use, but a scone in late-Georgian/Regency England was a type of Scottish griddle cake (peasant food)

5. If you had a bazillion dollars, what would you buy me? (I would buy you the V&A, just so you have a benchmark.)

Well, if you’re getting me the V&A, I’ll get you the Kyoto Costume Institute, and then we can join forces, move them both to San Francisco, and make the mean girls at the MET cry.

Give Away!

I’ll be giving away 5 copies of RIPE FOR PLEASURE here on Risky Regencies today. Let’s make it simple: What the title of the second book in the LEAGUE OF SECOND SONS series (answer can be found on my website or on Amazon)?

So, leave a comment folks!

About carolyn

Carolyn Jewel was born on a moonless night. That darkness was seared into her soul and she became an award winning and USA Today bestselling author of historical and paranormal romance. She has a very dusty car and a Master’s degree in English that proves useful at the oddest times. An avid fan of fine chocolate, finer heroines, Bollywood films, and heroism in all forms, she has two cats and a dog. Also a son. One of the cats is his.
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25 Responses to Interview with Isobel Carr

  1. Hello, Isobel ! I am so looking forward to reading this book! I truly enjoyed your Kalen Hughes books and it has been a long wait for the Second Sons series!

    Clancy IS a handsome fellow. As the former owner of Great Danes I know exactly how you feel about “people-sized” dogs. I still miss my Glory, my deaf Dane who I lost to bone cancer two years ago at the age of ten. She was a cover hog and insisted on having TWO pillows in bed.

    I’ve loved all of your clothing classes and like you I love to sew, but never seem to have the time anymore.

    What is the one clothing mistake you find most annoying in Regency historicals?

    And I am looking forward to reading the second book in the Second Sons series – Ripe for Scandal !!

  2. Isobel Carr says:

    Hey, Louisa. I LOVE Danes!!! I’ve applied for several deaf puppies with the local rescue, but haven’t been lucky enough to get one yet.

    The clothing mistake that irks me the most is either the lack of a corset (esp when it’s made out to be some kind of proto-feminist statement) or the line of tiny buttons down the back of the gown. Both make me grind my teeth.

  3. Virginia C says:

    Hello, Isobel! “Ripe for Pleasure” is one of my all-time favorite guilty pleasure covers. I would absolutely love to win a copy, and I would devour it with much pleasure and no guilt!!!

    Love the name “Leonidas” ; )

    “Ripe for Scandal” is book #2 : )

    US Resident, GFC Follower, Subscriber

    gcwhiskas at aol dot com

  4. Isobel Carr says:

    Hey, Virginia! I really love the covers Grand Central has come up with for me so far (Scandal’s cover is even better than Pleasure’s IMO *grin*). I’m dying to see what they do for the third book . . .

  5. Amanda says:

    Wow, period sewing? That’s hardcore! I sew (with a machine) when I have time. Though lately my passion has been to purchase thrift clothes and then “mash them” with other items to become a costume.

    Your book (and you!) sound amazing. I love what your editor calls the period. Also your comment about younger sons made me realize that I should ask my creative partner is such issues exist in our story. Thanks!

    Your second book is “Ripe for Scandal.”

  6. Isobel Carr says:

    Hi, Amanda. I actually really like hand-sewing. It’s slow, but kind of restful, and there are certain things that you just can’t duplicate on a machine (I’m not opposed to using my sewing machine for long seams where the stitching won’t show, but then I lose points in my circle of insane re-enactor friends).

  7. Tracy Grant says:

    Great interview! I love the concept for this series. It was so fun reading about how you came up with it. I find so often ideas for series or books come from a confluence of different things–what one’s reading at the time, movies, something in the news, a piece of historical research. It’s so interesting how all the different pieces come together.

  8. Isobel Carr says:

    Totally, Tracy. I always find myself jotting ideas down for latter while I’m reading, watching TV, messing around on the Daily Mail, whathaveyou.

  9. Maureen says:

    Hi Isobel,
    Congratulations on your new book. It sounds like a story full of intrigue. I like the idea of stories about younger sons, they definitely had to figure out what their place was. I see that the next book in your series is Ripe for Scandal.

  10. Isobel Carr says:

    Hello, Maureen!

    The younger son stuff is fun to figure out (esp as I don’t want to bog the books down with too much Whig/Tory political stuff). I’ve got one MP in the group so far, and his book is going to be a real challenge!

  11. I actually came across your book yesterday and instantly placed it on my wishlist. Love the covers of your books. Also, they look really good. I can’t wait to read them. The title for your next book is-
    Ripe For Scandal.

  12. Barbara E. says:

    I enjoyed the interview and I’m looking forward to reading Ripe for Pleasure, and the second book in the Second Sons series – Ripe for Scandal.
    I like big dogs, and I enjoyed your story about your lovely big boy. The only thing I have a hard time with is all that slobber, it goes everywhere, LOL.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com

  13. Jane George says:

    It’s high time for a Second Sons Series. I’m looking forward to these!

    As far as big dogs, I’m enamored with Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs. They’re not quite Mastiff-sized but still huggable and heroic.

  14. Isobel Carr says:

    @Danielle: Thanks. I really do believe they knocked the covers out of the park.

    @Barbara: I grew up around Newfs, so Mastiff slobber is NOTHING. I swear to you, the universe is held together with duct tape and Newf drool.

    @Jane: Swissies are awesome. I really like them. Anything in the 100+lbs category is good with me.

  15. I hope you get the opportunity to share your life with a deaf Dane. Glory was my FOURTH deaf Dane. The past few years have the been the longest I have gone without one. Each of mine lived nine plus years – far too short a time to share with such extraordinary creatures.

    And I agree with you about Scandal’s cover. I LOVE the colors in it!

    Making a note to myself – heroines MUST wear stays (mine do!) and I assume you mean most dresses don’t have all those buttons, do they!

  16. Dtchycat says:

    Ripe for Scandal!

    Hi Isobel – I am looking forward to reading this book, I love the cover. I love that you sew your own period clothes! I just love period clothes – I went to a medieval themed wedding and had a blast making my costume so I wore it to a medieval fair! Thanks for the interview, I love reading about authors!

  17. Diane Gaston says:

    Belated welcome to the Riskies, Isobel. I was out of town. (and I’m a cat person)

  18. Alison says:

    I think the idea for ‘LEague of the Second Sons’ is brilliant! And I’m so pleased to learn that you enjoy handsewing too. I make clothes (when I have time) and handsew because I honestly find it quicker than machining. And the number of people who say ‘But raen’t you afraid it will fall apart?’ ‘Um, no. I made it and I could bore you with the technicalities of why not but I won’t. Just believe me when I say the fabric will go before the stitching’. Sorry – hijack.
    Oh, and the second title is “Ripe for Scandal!.

  19. Isobel Carr says:

    @Louisa: Yes, I mean that the dresses didn’t have them. 2-6 buttons, only on the short bodice, and not tiny pearl ones.

    @Dtchycat: I love theme weddings, and Medieval costumes are a blast. I’ve certainly made my fair share for the SCA.

    @Diane: Thanks!

    @Alison: It’s cause they’ve never heard of backstitching! My hand-sewn seams are FAR stronger than one sewn on a machine, LOL! I’ve heard the same thing from people. Do they think all clothes were flimsy before the Victorian era? Or do they just not *think*?

  20. Isobel Carr says:

    Thanks so much for having me, ladies!

  21. Virginia says:

    Ripe for Scandal is book two in the series and it comes out in Aug.

    This sounds like a fantastic series and I can’t wait to get started on it.

  22. KimberRoo says:

    Love the dog – our furry son is a giant schnauzer mix who is a bit too intelligent for our own good!

    Looking forward to “Ripe for Scandal.”


  23. Isobel Carr says:

    @Virginia: Hope you enjoy the series.

    @KimberRoo: My best friend just got a Giant Schnauzer/Standard Poodle puppy! She’s sooooooooooo cute. And smart. She totally makes Clancy look like the dunce of the dog world. When confused, he just plows ahead. Kara mulls stuff over and plots.

  24. Jeanne M says:

    Hi Isobel –
    After I read this I went to you website but didn’t see a link to sign up for a newsletter. Hope you’ll be adding a link to your webpage.

    Ripe for Pleasure sounds like it will definately be a lot of fun to read and I already can’t wait for Ripe for Scandal to be released. I love the covers on both books and hope there are many more books in the series yet to come.

    I’m definately picking up copies for my second son’s wife! I know that with all his quirks of being the “second born” she’ll really get a kick out of them (and maybe be able to give you a few hints for the 3rd or 4th book to come).

  25. Isobel Carr says:

    @Jeanne: I totally forgot to add a mailing list. Whoops! Thanks for reminding me.

    If you go to and join the one there, you’ll get transfered over.

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