A few years ago, I went to India with my husband. That summer I’d been hearing a lot about a newish historical romance author, Meredith Duran, and her debut The Duke of Shadows. Since it’s set in the part of India I was going to, I made sure to read it before traveling.
What a gorgeous novel! As I walked around several Indian cities, visiting monuments and reading about their history, I had Meredith Duran’s story playing through my mind. Not only that, but the novel’s depth and beautiful use of language changed my perception of romance as a genre.
I’m honored to welcome Meredith here today. She’s giving away a copy of her upcoming release, At Your Pleasure, to one person who leaves a comment.
Thanks for being here today, Meredith!
Thank you for having me!
1. For most of your career as a novelist, you’ve also been working on a PhD in anthropology. After spending years watching my husband work on his PhD, all I can ask is how on earth have you managed it all??
Actually, I’ve found the two pursuits quite complementary. For example, the research library at my university not only is filled with books necessary for my dissertation research, it also has Baedeker travel guides to London from the 1880s and 1890s, and original copies of the Tatler from the early 18th century.
I can’t tell you how inspiring it is to be reading—and handling—the actual books that my heroines might have read!
2. Your novels are incredibly sensuous, and the sensuality is heightened by your focus on small details, subtle messages between two lovers. What draws you to explore these details of relationships?
I’ve always admired writers who manage to immerse you in a multisensory experience of the moment. Judith Ivory, for instance, is extraordinarily gifted at this; just consider the scene in Untie My Heart when Stuart walks into the bank and the heroine is overwhelmed not only by his face, his manner, his voice, but also by the flow and cut of his coat, the way he seems to charge the air around him.
What makes a scene sensuous are precisely these details, and when I’m writing, I imagine myself in that scene and try to communicate exactly what brings that scene alive to me. It feels a bit like acting, in fact!
3. I absolutely love Untie My Heart, and that’s one of my favorite scenes! Now, the covers of your novels have gone from very chesty (with some impressive guns on Phin in Written on Your Skin) to ladies in the mood for love. Do you have a favorite cover?
My favorite cover remains A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal. The cover model’s slight smirk so perfectly captures Nell’s attitude!
4. Unlike your previous novels, which are Victorian, At Your Pleasure is set in the early 1700s. What made you decide to explore a new time period?
I’ve wanted for a while now to write in a period when swords were the primary method of self-defense, fire (be it in the form of candles or rushes or what have you) afforded the only light, forests were actually dangerous, and the only way to get around the country was on horseback.
That said, what inspired At Your Pleasure was the story I wanted to tell. Long before I knew the time period in which I would set it, I had the idea of a star-crossed love, and two people who were meant for each other but who absolutely could not be together because of the laws of the land.
Now, normally I write romances set in the late Victorian period. While the prejudices that existed in that time period certainly had the potential to complicate romances, the kind of story I had in mind required an era when particular social differences literally spelled possible death for those who dared to love across those boundaries. 1715 – the year of the first major Jacobite rebellion in England and Scotland – was the natural setting for this tale.
The hardest thing about setting this story in 1715 was the relative lack of primary sources. Writing about the late Victorian period, I got quite spoiled by the abundance (and easy accessibility) of diaries, letters, and autobiographies written by women of that time.
5. In your 2011 release, A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal, the hero Simon is passionate about old books and the tiny bits of obscure knowledge they share. I know you’re also a big fan of books published long ago, and that shines through in the fascinating details you include in your novels. What books did you rely on for At Your Pleasure, and what are some of the strangest facts you learned from them?
When writing At Your Pleasure, my favorite discovery was what might have been the first women’s magazine in history: The Female Tatler, a journal written by several anonymous women (and men trying to sound like women, perhaps!) from 1709-1710. Several passages are available online and what delighted and amazed me was how familiar so many of the authors’ concerns still feel to women today: fashion, romance, marriage, children…
They say the past is a foreign country, but I think that for any historical fan, the magic lies in realizing how much we have in common with women who lived and loved hundreds of years ago.
Meredith is giving away a copy of her latest release, At Your Pleasure, to someone who leaves a comment here. Winner will be chosen on Tuesday April 3rd!
At Your Pleasure
Glittering court socialites and underworld cutpurses alike know that Adrian Ferrers, Earl of Rivenham, is the most dangerous man in London. Rivenham will let nothing—not the deepening shadow of war, nor the growing darkness within him—interfere with his ambition to restore his family to its former glory. But when tasked by the king to uncover a traitor, he discovers instead a conspiracy—and a woman whose courage awakens terrible temptations. To save her is to risk everything. To love her might cost his life.
Lady Leonora knows that Rivenham is the devil in beautiful disguise—and that the irresistible tension between them is as unpredictable as the dilemma in which Nora finds herself: held hostage on her own estate by Rivenham and the king’s men. But when war breaks out, Nora has no choice but to place her trust in her dearest enemy—and pray that love does not become the weapon that destroys them both…